Nissan is in bulk-up mode for 2005, and the Frontier is no exception. It’s now difficult to call this a compact pickup. Compared to the 2004, its wheelbase is 251 mm longer; the King Cab is 66 mm longer, while the Crew Cab is 143 mm longer. Both engines have been upgraded: the 2004 2.4-litre four-cylinder is now a 2.5-litre, making 11 more horsepower, while the 2004 3.3-litre V6 is now a 4.0-litre V6 that makes 55 more horses.

The Frontier’s fully-boxed, all-steel frame is based on the company’s F-Alpha platform, which is also the basis for the full-size Titan, as well as the Pathfinder, Armada and Xterra SUVs. The Frontier also shares many of the Titan’s suspension components, including the steel control-arm front suspension and solid-axle, leaf-spring rear suspension, as well as the Titan’s spray-in bedliner and Utili-track tie-down system, which uses removable cleats that can be slid around for a variety of attachment points for securing cargo. The new engine is also used in Nissan’s SUVs.

The Frontier comes in King Cab or Crew Cab configuration (there is no regular cab) and in two-wheel or four-wheel-drive, making for a large number of variations. The King Cab has small, rear-hinged rear doors, while the Crew Cab comes with four independently-opening doors. The King Cab comes with the V6 or a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder; the Crew Cab is strictly six-cylinder. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic on the V6; the four-cylinder comes with a five-speed manual.

The revised styling is also in line with Nissan’s new corporate truck face, which started with the 2004 Titan. With the exception of the X-Trail, all Nissan pickup trucks and SUVs share a similar front end, with bold upright grille bars, large headlights and open front fascia. Nissan says the Frontier is the most powerful V6-powered compact truck in the industry.

Even the base XE King Cab comes well-equipped, with air conditioning, cloth seats, CD player with four speakers, floor mats, folding rear jump seats, tire pressure monitor, four-wheel ABS with electronic brake distribution, 15-inch steel wheels, sliding rear window, and variable intermittent wipers. The SE V6 adds alloy wheels and power equipment, while the top-line LE includes side and curtain airbags, an MP3-capable stereo, two-wheel limited-slip differential and the High-Utility Bed with the spray-in bedliner and cargo system. In 4×4 configuration, the SE and LE add shift-on-the-fly 4WD and four-wheel limited-slip.

Crew Cab models are similarly-equipped to the King Cab line, but the LE Crew Cab adds a Rockford Fosgate audio system, heated leather seats, airbag package, aluminum roof rack, power sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels with matching spare. The SE Crew Cab adds shift-on-the-fly 4WD and four-wheel limited-slip, while the LE 4×4 adds Vehicle Dynamic Control, leather seats and the airbag package.

Both versions of the 4×4 are also available with a new Nismo Off-Road package, which includes a locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, 16-inch BFG Rugged Trail tires, hill start assist and hill descent control.

The Frontier is built in Smyrna, Tennessee.

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