Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • crew cab
  • ext. cab
  • transverse front-engine/4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,900 – $31,300*

2005 Nissan Frontier

2005 Nissan Frontier

2005 Nissan Frontier

  • Acceleration (S models with manual transmission)
  • Fuel economy
  • Handling
  • Interior materials
  • Rear-seat room
  • Steering feel

Frontier stands out in the compact-pickup market with a powerful V6, useful size that isn’t too big, and options that appeal to off-road enthusiasts. Ride and handling are also good for the class, though the interior disappoints with too many hard plastic surfaces and little back-seat room.


Nissan’s compact pickup trucks were redesigned for 2005. Frontier came in extended King Cab and Crew Cab body styles. King Cabs had flip-up rear seats and rear-hinged back doors that didn’t open independently of the fronts. Crews had a fold-down rear bench and four conventional doors. King Cabs had a 6.1-ft bed, Crew Cabs a 5.0-ft bed. Based on a shortened version of Nissan’s full-size Titan pickup platform, the ’05 Frontier was 9.8 inches longer in wheelbase than the 1998-2004 Frontier and as much as 12.4 inches longer overall.

XE, SE, LE, and NISMO models were offered; XE was exclusive to King Cabs. The NISMO Off-Road was named for Nissan’s motor sports arm. Both cab styles were available with rear-wheel drive or 4WD that should not be left engaged on dry pavement but included low-range gearing. Standard on XE was a 154-hp 4-cyl engine, replacing the previous Frontier’s 143-hp 4-cyl. Standard on all other models was a 265-hp V6, replacing 180-hp and 210-hp V6s. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard with the 4-cyl, a 6-speed manual was standard with the V6; the available automatic was now a 5-speed instead of a 4-speed.

Frontiers came with antilock 4-wheel disc brakes. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows were available. Traction control and an antiskid system were optional. NISMO models had Bilstein-brand shock absorbers, skid plates, locking rear differential, and all-terrain tires. They also offered Hill Start Assist, which prevented sliding backward, and Hill Descent Control designed to limit speed down steep slopes. The ’05 Frontiers were available with a factory spray-in bedliner and Nissan’s Utili-Track cargo-bed system with adjustable tie-downs and storage accessories. Other options included heated front seats and a tubular roof rack.

Yearly Updates

2006 Frontier
There were no significant changes for the 2006 Frontier.
2007 Frontier
A longer available bed for Crew Cabs was the main 2007 news for Nissan’s compact pickup truck. The King’s 6.1-ft bed was newly available on SE and LE Crews.
2008 Frontier
The 2008 Nissan Frontier was largely unchanged.
2009 Frontier
The 2009 Nissan Frontier was little changed except for slightly freshened exterior styling.
2010 Frontier
The 2010 Nissan Frontier saw no significant changes.
2011 Frontier
Frontier received new trim-level designations for 2011. S, SV, and off-road PRO-4X replaced XE, SE, and LE. The Crew Cab offered a top-line SL trim as well.
2012 Frontier
There were no noteworthy changes to the 2012 Nissan Frontier.
2013 Frontier
Frontier added a new model called Desert Runner for 2013. A Value Truck Package replaced the previous SV Premium Utility Package, and most models added some standard equipment. Fuel economy was also supposedly improved thanks to reduced engine friction and aerodynamic enhancements.
2014 Frontier
New standard features for the 2014 Frontier included Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel audio controls, and cruise control. The optional navigation system added voice recognition and NissanConnect Apps smartphone integration.


transverse front-engine/4-wheel drive

Frontier is available with either a 154-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, or a 265-horsepower 4.0-liter V6. A 5-speed manual transmission is available for 4-cylinder models, a 6-speed manual for V6 models. A 5-speed automatic is available for both engines.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 154
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 173
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/241
Engine HP 265
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 284
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic

Road Test

Frontier’s V6 has class-leading horsepower. It’s strong from a stop and around town, especially in lighter King Cabs. The automatic transmission kicks down quickly for good midrange passing punch.

Fuel economy is less impressive. Consumer Guide’s test 4WD Crew Cab with automatic transmission averaged a thirsty 14.5 mpg in mixed driving.

Frontier’s ride is firm but absorbent. Sharp ridges register noticeably, but are never jarring. Typical truck-like bounding and jiggle over bumps is quickly quelled.

Frontier steering is weighty and direct, though slow enough to frustrate close-quarters maneuvering. Body lean evident in corners but well controlled, and Frontier never feels tippy.

Inside, major controls fall within arm’s reach, though some feel light and plasticky. Hard plastic used for dashboard, console, and door panels is merely serviceable.

Drivers and front passengers will find good head and legroom. The seats are comfortable, but could use more side bolstering to hold front passengers in place through turns. Wide front pillars that get wider at the bottom can block visibility to the front sides. Rear visibility s excellent.

Things are more crowded in the back seat. King Cab’s rear seats more suited for packages than people. Only small children will fit. Children are also best suited for the larger Crew Cab. Room is tight with seats even halfway back, and headroom is lacking for anyone over 6 ft–especially with available sunroof.


Model Tested: Nissan Frontier 4WD LE Crew Cab with automatic transmission

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 6

Total: 46


crew cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
125.9 205.5 72./8 70.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1482 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 38.7 42.4 33.6
ext. cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
125.9 205.5 72.8 69.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1583 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.7 38.3 42.4 25.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Frontier crew cab


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: Air bag warning light may illuminate signaling failure of the system due to water intrusion in the front crash zone sensor and a campaign was issued to vehicle owners in salt states. (2005-09)
Cold-starting problems
Description: In very cold weather (10 degrees F or below) following a cold soak, the starter may not work after a short trip requiring replacement of the intelligent power distribution module. (2005-06)
Engine noise
Description: A rattle noise from the 4.0L engine at around 2,000 rpm is the power valve actuator dithering and can only be corrected by replacing the manifold complete with new valve. (2005)
Engine noise
Description: Chirping noise, especially on startup, on 4.0L V6 due to drive belt slippage requiring revised belt and tensioner. (2005-07)
Description: On trucks with manual seats, the seat back may not move fore and aft due to separation of the linkage, which must be replaced. (2005)
Description: On crew cab models, the jump seat won’t stay up requiring replacement of the hinge locks. (2005-07)
Vehicle noise
Description: Popping and squawking from the front end over rough roads, speed bumps, etc. requires replacement of sway bar bushings with improved ones. (2005-10)
Description: The power windows may quit working if the battery is disconnected or if the window fuse blows requiring reprogramming the windows. (2005-08)
Description: The auto-up feature may not work if the battery was disconnected or the power window is cycled numerous times without going fully up or down and must be reinitialized. (2007-09)
Description: Bed rail caps may be missing on some vehicles that were supposed to include them. (2013)
Electrical problem
Description: The electrical system could be damaged, or even start a fire, due to a short if trailer wiring is connected wrong. The company was updating earlier models with revised body control module and wiring harness, but only on vehicles that entered the shop so it is important to check that this service was performed. (2005)

Recall History

2005-06 Frontier
Description: On certain King Cabs, in a side impact crash, the fuel-filler cap may become dislodged, creating a fire hazard.
2005-09 Frontier in certain states
Description: A mixture of snow/water and salt can enter into the front crash zone sensor housing. It may rust and result in a signal interruption. If this happens, the red air bag warning light will illuminate. This issue could result in the non-deployment of the driver and passenger front air bags in a crash. Dealers will replace the front CZS with a counter measured sensor.
2005-2006 Frontier
Description: The intelligent power distribution module (IPDM) assembly contains an engine control module (ECM) relay that has a diode for electrical current noise reduction. The ECM relay may allow silicon vapor to form and, over time, this could cause engine stalling increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the ECM relay inside the IPDM assembly. This service will be performed free of charge.
2006-08 Frontier
Description: The fuel gauge may inaccurately display that the vehicle still has some fuel, typically about one quarter tank, when the fuel tank is empty. This could cause the vehicle to run out of gas and stall on the highway, which could cause a crash. Dealers will replace the fuel sender unit inside the fuel tank with a new improved sender card.
2008 Frontier
Description: The tire information label lists an incorrect vehicle capacity weight, according to Federal regulations. Nissan will mail a correct tire information label and installation instructions to owners of the affected vehicles.
2010 Frontier
Description: On some of the potentially affected vehicles, the fasteners securing the passenger front air bag module and the steering shaft positioning bracket may not have been tightened to the proper torque specification. In the event of a crash, the passenger front air bag deployment trajectory might be affected. The fasteners could possibly come out of the steering column positioning bracket increasing the risk of a crash.
2010 Frontier king cab
Description: Child Restraint Anchorage Systems: The weld between the tether anchor and the seat gusset bracket is out-of-specification. As a result, and based on Nissan’s engineering judgment, the tether anchor could separate from the seat when tested under the conditions required by the standard. In the event of a crash, the tether anchorage could separate from the vehicle seat.
2011-2012 Frontier
Description: Weak bolts connecting the engine oil filter and cooler to the engine may break and cause an oil leak, causing the engine to seize.
2012 Frontier
Description: Front wheel hubs may not meet hardness specifications and may prematurely wear and crack.
2012-14 Frontier
Description: Certain 2012 through 2014 model Nissan Frontier vehicles made between November 28, 2012 and December 17, 2013 may have had a circuit breaker incorrectly installed. Because of this the wiring harness may contact a metal bolt which can wear through the covering on the wires, possibly causing an electrical short or fire.
2014 Frontier
Description: Certain 2014 model Nissan Frontier Crew Cab vehicles made between June 11, 2014 and June 26, 2014 may have an out-of-specification anchor nut installed on the plate where the rear seat belts are anchored. This can result in the anchor bolt not being anchored as designed which could effect the performance of the seat belts in a collision.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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