2005 Nissan Frontier 4WD Page 1

In recent years, Nissan’s compact pickup has earned a solid reputation and been serious competition for Ford, Chevy, and Toyota. While Nissan has long been respected for compact pickups, the company just in the past year entered the market with its first full-size pickup, the Titan — all-new, domestically built, V-8-powered.

The Titan kicked off a new family of Nissan trucks. The acclaimed boxed-frame platform has already birthed the Armada full-size SUV, then the Pathfinder mid-size SUV, now a new Frontier, and soon, a new Xterra, the youth-activity-oriented SUV.

But for now we’ll concentrate on the Frontier. The most obvious first impression is that it’s larger. Wheelbase is the same for all Frontier models — a long 125.9 inches, up nearly ten inches from the former Frontier. The overall length has gone up by 2.6 to 5.6 inches. The new truck not only rides higher, but it has a taller cabin, too, so it gains at least three inches in height; more width, too. There are only two bed lengths — 73.3 inches for the King Cab, and 59.5 inches for the Crew Cab.

The King Cab has two small, rear-hinged doors providing access to the smallish space behind the front, where resides a small back seat that children can be happy with or that two adults can marginally use in an absolute pinch. The Crew Cab offers a full-size back seat like an SUV, with normal forward-opening doors, easy entry, and enough space for two adults to sit for extended trips. The two-seat standard-cab model is gone, reportedly due to a lack in demand.

The XE 154-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder model, available only as a 4x2 King Cab, will be the price leader, offered only with a five-speed manual or an automatic. Nissan says that less than 15 percent will be equipped this way. We didn’t get a chance to drive this model, so we can’t comment on its performance. The outgoing Frontier had acceptable performance with the standard cab and manual transmission, when there was no load to haul, but the new Frontier is somewhat heavier.