As upsized goes, so goes the world. That could be Nissan's philosophy as it moves to fill in the chinks while staking an even greater claim to the American pickup truck market.
This third generation Frontier starts where its rather lackluster predecessor left off, while it aims to capture more U.S. truck buyers who in the past chuckled at cute dog-truck ads but didn't budge with their wallets.
The new, 2005 model adds power, size and attitude. Those are fixes that don't move it too close to its full-size big brother Titan, but definitely keep the family traits. Nissan cites a lot of sharing between the two: All-steel frame based on Titan's foundation; suspension design; truck bed tie-down system; and factory applied spray-on bedliner.
A major change is the new 4.0-liter V6
powerplant adapted for truck use from the VQ series used
in the Z350 and other Nissan car-based vehicles. Nissan
says the 265-horsepower and 285-lb.ft. of torque provides
more power than in any other midsize pickup, a definite
fix from the old, underpowered Frontier that drew derision
from a lot of corners. A 2.5-liter inline four remains in
the mix. There's two-wheel or four-wheel drive with high
and low modes. Shifters are five-speed auto or six-speed
With only King and Crew cab models in the lineup (more visual bulk), there's no sense of wimp factor carry-over. Short overhangs front and rear, plus powerful fender treatments add punch. This Frontier was designed for duty, with a 6,500 max towing capacity for equipped models. Off-road capability comes from enhanced traction control, including 4-wheel limited slip, high pressure performance shocks, hill descent control and hill start assist.
Interior room surpasses the previous Frontier's, with enhanced safety features (available side-impact and side curtain airbags) and comfort features (available leather and heated seats) among plusses. Models are XE, SE, LE and NISMO, with manufacturers suggested prices for King Cab versions ranging from $15,600 to $24,800 and Crew Cabs from $20,650 to $26,850.