You don’t come to Texas and sell a tin truck with a puny engine. You bring the grunt and sell it like a man, stand it up and let the metal do the talking – which is where Nissan is at with the 2005 Frontier. In this case, what the metal says is that those used to grinding away in the old Frontier will want to shout with glee when they drive the 2005 model. The 265 horsepower engine, a modified 4.0-liter VQ engine built in Decherd, Tennessee, puts out 284 lb. ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm, right in the neighborhood where trucks need it most. On the flatland of Texas, the Frontier galloped along highway like a gazelle and was quite at ease in bumper-to-bumper traffic situations.
The speed sensitive rack and pinion system surely had something to do with this, and the engine is, frankly, a gem -- and is the same one used to power such cars as the 350Z, Maxima, Altima, Murano and Quest, though tuned for truck use and bored out for more power. Nissan claims that it is the most powerful engine in the mid-size segment – it beats the Tacoma by 20 horsepower -- and it’s not a stretch to claim that this is flat out the best engine. Towing capacity is 6,500 lbs for all but the four-cylinder model, which comes in at 3,500 lbs. Just as important, however, is that the engine is mated well to a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual that manages that power well, and provides a nice, steady ride. According to Nissan numbers, gas mileage should range from a high of 22/25 for the base King 4x2 XE to a low of 17/21 for a Crew 4x4 SE, which matches up pretty well to the Toyota Tacoma. Real-world gas mileage should be less.