2005 Nissan Frontier

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2005 Nissan Frontier Review

A mid-size pickup truck with power more comparable to a full-size vehicle.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Nissan Frontier is a midsize pickup truck with a full-size engine. The cabin is relatively spacious, allowing it to be a more practical option than most other pickup trucks of the same size for carrying people. The Frontier is a well-made vehicle that can go off road, allowing it to be a useful option as a work vehicle.

The 2005 Frontier is designed around providing a large amount of power in a relatively small package. The standard engine is a 256-hp V-6, which is a substantial increase over the 180-hp standard engine of older models. Due to the smaller size of most trucks with an engine of this size, the Frontier's acceleration is much better than most comparably-sized vehicles.

The options for the Nissan Frontier differ between the engine setup. The different models can be two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) and come with a manual or automatic transmission.

The Range

Body Styles: king cab pickup truck, crew cab pickup truck
Engines: 4.0-liter V-6, 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: Nissan Frontier XE, Nissan Frontier LE, Nissan Frontier SE, Nissan Frontier NISMO

What's New

Originally, the Nissan Frontier was a compact pickup truck with relatively few options. The 2005 Frontier features a significant design overhaul from the older models, changing from a compact to midsize truck. The redesigned Frontier more closely resembles the full-sized Nissan Titan than the older Frontiers. The 2005 Nissan Frontier is larger and more powerful than would be expected from a truck its size.


The 2005 Nissan Frontier is an extended cab pickup truck. Due to the extended cab, the bed size is relatively small, even for a mid-size pickup. King cab models have a 73.3-inch bed, while crew cab models have a 59.5-inch bed. The truck uses the same overall body platform as the Nissan Titan and Armada and closely resembles all of these vehicles. Regardless of the cab option, the Frontier is 205.5 inches long, and the vehicle has a 125.9-inch wheelbase.


The front seats for both the crew and king cab models are fairly spacious in the Frontier. It is much roomier than would be expected for a pickup truck of this size. The rear seats, however, are a different matter. Somewhat counter intuitively, the king cab is the smaller of the two options. The rear seats are so small that it is very difficult for full-sized adults to actually sit in the back. The rear seats on the larger crew cab are still uncomfortably small, but it is significantly more practical to use them for passengers than the king cab rear seats. In both cases, the rear seats are better for hauling additional cargo rather than passengers.

The Frontier has some surprisingly intricate sound system options. While four speakers are standard, this can be increased to eight. In addition, a six-disc CD changer system, MP3 player, and XM or Sirius satellite radio options are available.

Performance & Handling

Excluding the XE, all of the 2005 Nissan Frontier models comes with a four-liter, V-6 engine. The Frontier XE reduces this to a still brawny 2.4-liter, V-6 engine. With most of the vehicles rated at 256 horsepower, the Frontier has a lot of power behind it. In fact, it is rated for a towing capacity of 6500 pounds. The fuel economy of the Nissan Frontier is dependent on whether it is a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive model.

Due to the power of the engine, despite the relatively small size of the truck, the Nissan Frontier has excellent acceleration for its class. The advantage does become less noticeable when it is used to haul heavy cargo.

The handling is fairly mediocre for a pickup truck. The Nissan Frontier has a slightly wider turning radius than average, but this should not be noticeable during most driving situations. There are better handling vehicles than the Frontier, but it handles about as well as any of its competitors. Drivers that are used to pickup trucks should have no surprises when operating a Frontier. As can be expected with any pickup truck, the handling decreases substantially with extremely heavy loads.


The Nissan Frontier has front and full side curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes are a standard feature, but traction control and the anti-skid system are optional features. While relatively sparse, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests are quite high in most situations. The Frontier earned a four star rating in frontal collisions and a five star rating in side collisions. The only negative was that the incidence of leg injuries during collisions was slightly higher than average.

EPA Fuel Economy

Nissan Frontier King Cab, XE: 19/23 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier King Cab, SE: 15/20 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier King Cab, Nismo: 15/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier King Cab, LE: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, Nismo/LE: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, SE: 15/20 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Powerful engine
  • Rugged construction

You Won't Like

  • Small rear seat
  • Small bed

Sum Up

A mid-size pickup truck with power more comparable to a full-size vehicle.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Dodge Dakota
  • Ford Ranger

See the New 2014 Frontier.

Front & Driver Side View

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