Full 2006 Nissan Frontier Review
What's New for 2006
There are only minor changes to this Nissan truck for 2006. A power package with keyless entry, cruise control and power windows, locks and mirrors is available for the King Cab XE, and NISMO and LE models now have chrome accents on the gauge cluster and air vents. Additionally, manual transmission-equipped NISMO models have a new shift knob for 2006.
Fully redesigned for 2005, the Nissan Frontier is now one of the better midsize pickups available. Its current styling apes that of its bigger brother, the Nissan Titan, and it also shares a number of significant features, such as a factory-applied spray-in bedliner, a useful bed channel tie-down system and a fully boxed, all-steel frame that makes it tough enough for extreme off-road conditions.
The Nissan Frontier shares its suspension layout and many component designs with the Titan, including a double-wishbone front suspension and leaf spring rear suspension. The Frontier Crew Cab is identical in length to the extended-cab (King Cab) version, but a larger rear-seating area and forward-hinged rear doors make it a flexible vehicle for family use -- at the expense of some bed space. Interior storage space is also an important consideration when you're buying a pickup, and both the King and Crew Cab feature reconfigurable rear seats. Note that the Frontier is not available in a regular-cab version. In a sign that Nissan is serious about dominating the compact truck market, the Frontier's top engine is a 4.0-liter V6 with 265 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque.
With that kind of power onboard, the Frontier boasts a maximum tow rating of over 6,500 pounds, according to Nissan. A 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine is standard on the base Frontier King Cab model. Also offered are supplemental front-seat side-impact airbags and available supplemental curtain airbags for side-impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. With a tough look, innovative features, big horsepower under the hood and a high level of all-terrain capability, the 2006 Nissan Frontier provides serious competition for the Dakota and Tacoma. This is good news for compact/midsize pickup buyers, who have plenty of worthy candidates to test-drive when it comes time to shop.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Nissan Frontier comes in two body styles -- extended cab (known as King Cab) and crew cab. The King Cab has fold-up jump seats and reverse-opening doors, while the Crew Cab has a larger cabin with fully usable rear-seat accommodations (that also fold up) and conventional rear doors that offer easier access to those seats. Available trim levels include XE, SE, LE and NISMO; all can be had with two- or four-wheel drive, except the XE which is 2WD only. The XE comes with only the basics, including cloth front bucket seats and 15-inch wheels. The SE adds more features, including 16-inch wheels, air conditioning and a CD stereo, while the LE includes 17-inch alloys, keyless entry, cruise control and power windows, locks and mirrors. The NISMO trim, with its special suspension and tires, is for those people who plan to do serious off-roading with their Frontier. A leather upholstery package with power front seats is available on the LE, and a premium Rockford Fosgate with an in-dash six-CD changer is optional for LE and NISMO.
Powertrains and Performance
The XE comes with a 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine rated for 154 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque; it can be paired with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. All other models come with a 4.0-liter V6, which produces 265 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices on the V6 include a six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic. Towing capacity is 6,500 pounds.
Four-wheel disc antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution are standard on all Nissan Frontier models. Optional are front-seat side-impact airbags and curtain airbags that provide side-impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. In NHTSA crash testing, the Frontier earned four out of five stars for driver and front passenger in frontal impacts. In side-impact crash tests, it received five stars for both front- and rear-seat occupants.
Interior Design and Special Features
The roomy cabin offers straightforward controls, comfortable front seats and an attractive design, though excessive use of hard plastic detracts from the overall look. The 2006 Nissan Frontier offers a utility bed package that includes a factory-applied spray-in bedliner and the "Utili-track" tie-down system. The tie-down system provides extra cargo hauling flexibility through the use of five special "C" cross-section rails mounted in the bed (two channels in the bed floor, and one each on the bed side rails and the bed header panel). Removable utility cleats slide into the channels to provide a wide range of attachment points for securing cargo. In addition to the tie-down cleats, a full range of accessories are offered for use with the channel system, including bed dividers, sliding cargo trays, modular storage units and bike racks.
Step on the V6's throttle in this Nissan truck and you get instant results, thanks to plenty of low-end torque and well-tuned transmissions. Ride quality is a bit choppy, though the steering is tight and communicative for a compact truck. Advanced off-road systems like downhill assist control and hill start assist make off-road models capable performers in the rough stuff.