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Nissan Frontier - 2006 Pickup Truck Buyers Guide

2006 Nissan Frontier Road Test Review
Martha Hindes

Nissan Frontier
Nissan Frontier

You could call Nissan's midsize Frontier pickup a Titan on a 30-day diet. Sporting all the hunky, brawny looks of Nissan's full-size pickup, the smaller Frontier -- redesigned last year -- hangs tough, but in a smaller space.

Stretch out the look with the King Cab or Crew Cab model, and it still commands big brother respect. Family resemblance is there in the bold face and deep set fascia, high arched, rimmed wheel wells and sporty roof rack. Underneath, there's the same rugged sus-pension design, sprayed on bedliner for truly practical use, and fully-boxed, steel frame. That's not surprising since the new Frontier is derived from the Titan's F-Alpha platform that also underscores Nissan's rugged, true sport utility Xterra.

For 2006, the second year of its revision that added 9.8 inches to the wheelbase for solidity and a nearly five-foot truck bed, Frontier gains some features and enhances others. The King Cab XE gets a power package option. While the dash is functional and handsome, top-line LE and Nissan Motorsports "NISMO" off-road/sports editions add chrome trim. A locking glove box is standard. In addition to the newly available satellite radio configuration are three standout exterior colors -- Red Alert (bet that caught someone's attention), Red Brawn and Majestic Blue.

Powering the Frontier on all but the base model is a gutsy 4.0-liter, 265-horsepower V-6 for authoritative power and 284-lb. ft. of road kicking torque. There's a six-speed manual for serious players or five-speed automatic for tamer drivers. The King Cab, 2X4 base model gets a 2.5-liter, 154-HP inline four, with five-speed manual or automatic. Both cab versions are available in four-wheel drive, with enough chutzpah to handle heady duty hauling or for dredging through uncharted terrain.

Fuel economy (estimated 15/20 MPG for the V-6) isn't great, but bests the Titan's 14/18. Stripped to the basics, Frontier enters the market at an impressive $15,900 ($25,150 base for the top-line NISMO 4X4). Expect higher prices with such add-ons as air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry or a full airbag system. Otherwise take key. Enjoy.