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2005 Nissan Frontier NISMO Long Termer

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on July 1, 2006
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Photographers: Ken Brubaker

This is the third report with our '05 Nissan Frontier, and so far it has done everything from daily-driver commuter duty to acting as a chase vehicle for Four Wheeler outings. So far, we can't say enough good things about this truck, especially in regards to its superb fun-to-drive factor and excellent four-wheeling skills.

The Frontier is the type of vehicle anyone can hop in and drive right away; the learning curve is very short, and the truck is so ruggedly built-with its vitals tucked up above the framerails and ample skidplating-that it is very forgiving to drive. Even novice four-wheelers have found this truck easy to use in the dirt-well, once they figured how to operate low range and the rear locker. The six-speed manual transmission is one of the best ones on the market, although Reverse can be elusive for those who don't know to push down.

Our Frontier's optional P265 BFG Rugged Trail T/A tires are a terrific street-and-trail tread, and ours have held up splendidly despite 100-mile daily commutes, high-speed desert flogs, and hundreds of miles of rock trails.

Testers are still commenting on the right-on exterior styling, while the staff is still split on the interior. Some applaud the back-to-basics materials and styling, while others lament Nissan for not luxing it up like Toyota has done on the Tacoma. On the flip side, a number of logbook entries have staffers who swore by the Toyota now noting that the Frontier is higher up on their personal list.

While our extended-cab has proven useful, those testers with families wished we had ordered the Crew Cab version, with its real rear doors and fullsized seats, as opposed to the fold-up jumpers in the rear of our truck. We suppose this would make the "Are we there yet?" questions less frequent with the kiddies basking in their own space and us not having to yell "shotgun!" when two or more are vying for seating accommodations on the way to lunch.

With one more quarter left on our Frontier loan until we have to say goodbye, we are going to be enjoying every minute of it. Living with the Frontier for the last nine months or so has proven what a capable little truck Nissan can produce. Nissan has done a good job on the Titan, but a fantastic job on the Frontier-a fun little truck that does everything well.

Report: 3 Of 4
Previous reports: Jan '06, Apr. '06
Base price: $22,100
Price as tested: $26,050
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic part-time two-speed

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 12,307
Miles since last report: 3,388
Average mpg (this report): 16.7
Test Best tank (mpg): 18.85
Test Worst tank (mpg): 11.70

10,000-mile service: Oil and filter
Cost: $25.10
Problem areas: Squeaky suspension

What's Hot, What's Not:
Hot: Acceleration and handling, great suspension and brakes
Not: Utilitarian interior, starting to hear some squeaks

Logbook Quotes:
* "I love this truck, it is so damn solid!"
* "It is surprising that the tires rub on the mudflaps."
* "Feels like a giant sport bike."
* "Great brakes-modulation is easy with the strong firm pedal."
* "If you have kids, get the Crew Cab."
* "More fun than a date with Salma Hayek. Well, almost."

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