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New Product in Brief: 2005 Nissan Frontier/Xterra

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 Frontier (left) and Xterra share the same chassis, suspension and 4.0L V-6.
At the heart of the new Xterra and Frontier is a revamped VQ engine. Formerly a 3.5L V-6, it has now been pushed to 4.0L.

These new engines are made at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tenn., engine plant. The increased cylinder length/volume was to provide an engine with even more low-end torque, lending itself to SUV/Truck applications.

These new VQs also feature continuous valve timing control. The new V-6 produces 265 hp and makes 284 lb.ft. of torque and is offered in 5-speed electronically controlled automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.

F-Alpha Structure

Shared with the rest of the Nissan Truck/SUV family is the full-boxed Frame; known inside the company as the F-Alpha Structure. This design has been spread through the line including Pathfinder, Titan, Armada, Frontier and Xterra. The frame is made from a combination of high tensile and super high tensile strength steel which, according to Nissan, offers its vehicles a 22 percent weight savings over a conventional steel frame. The fully boxed architecture also provides a greater amount of rigidity which is commensurate with the overall ruggedness Nissan wants to bring to this part of the product lineup.

Further vehicle design calls for no parts to hang below the frame rails creating a truer ground clearance. For Xterra, the actual figure is 9.5 in. with approach and departure angles of 33.2 in. and 29.4 in. respectively. Frontier has a 10.1 in. ground clearance with an approach angle of 32.6 degrees and 23.3 degree departure angle.

Suspension, Steering, Brakes

The ’05 Xterras have an independent all-steel double-wishbone front suspension with a stabilizer bar and a solid axle leaf spring suspension out back. Steering is derived from a power assisted rack and pinion setup. The brake package is comprised of four wheel discs with ABS and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). sixteen-in. wheels are standard, 17s are optional as are high-performance gas shocks. The Frontier also features 4-wheel discs with ABS, the same front suspension, and optional 17-inch tires. The Frontier features a rigid leaf spring rear suspension and like the Xterra has the power-assisted rack and pinion steering.

Exterior Styling

While the vehicle on the whole remains very similar in looks, some tweaks have been made to the visage of this SUV. The gear basket on the roof has been replaced with a roof rack/lid. Side running boards are still available while a new rear bumper has been added. This new bumper features a side step which basically falls right between the wheel and the payload of the rear hatch. This addition was made solely based on focus groups and Nissan learning that many Xterra owners were tying gear to the roof and needed an intermediate to step while traversing the vehicle.

Nissan made a conscious effort to provide some likeness throughout the truck/SUV line, in the front fascia/grill area. While the Xterra, Frontier, Armada, Pathfinder and Titan all have their own idiosyncrasies there is more homogeny than difference in the approach vista of these vehicles.


Front and side impact airbags are standard on both Frontier and Xterra; both have the optional side curtain airbags as well. Vehicles also feature Nissan’s zone body construction (front and rear crumple zones) as well as the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system, designed to better restrain smaller occupants.

2005 Nissan Xterra/Frontier

What they are: SUV/Midsize Trucks
Who they’re for:Xterra for the active lifestyle late 20s – early 30s
Where they’re built:VQ engines built in Smyrna, Tennessee
Parent company:Nissan Motor Company
Competitors: Xterra – Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Hyundai Santa Fe,
Mazda Tribute, Kia Sorrento, Isuzu Rodeo

Frontier – Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, Dodge Dakota
Engine:4.0L OHV V-6
Horsepower: 265 HP at 5,600 RPM
Torque: 284 lb.ft. at 4,000 RPM
Wheelbase:Xterra – 106.3 inches
Frontier – 129.5/139.3
Curb Weight:Xterra SE – 4,350 pounds
Frontier – Crew Cab SE 4×4 – 4,435, King Cab SE 4×4 – 4,323
EPA Economy:Xterra -TBD
Frontier – 20 highway/16 city
What we think:Xterra continues to be a nononsense offering for the buyer who wants an SUV that can actually be taken off-road regularly. The new powerplant can only help retain legacy customers and the addition of an optional Rockford Fosgate premium audio system shows an understanding of the core customer.

In the case of the Frontier, everybody has been talking about the incredible shrinking segment (mid-size trucks) but as some execs have commented, that is partially due to stale product offerings in that segment. Nissan took a look at what people were buying throughout the pickup world and tried to offer them all of those things in one package.

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