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2005 Nissan Frontier - The New Frontier

Fantastic Four And Then Some.

Brandan Gillogly
May 1, 2007
Photographers: Brandan Gillogly
Photo 2/37   |   2005 Nissan Frontier left Side
In an article that inspired our Fantastic Four series, we showed readers how a Nissan Titan can become a totally different beast after a couple of days of wrenching. This time around, Nissan's mid-sized offering will be the lucky recipient, as a 2WD V-6 Frontier will get Calmini's newest 5-inch lift, JBA's latest exhaust system, an Advanced Flow Engineering (AFE) intake, BFGoodrich tires, and American Racing wheels. A few years ago, the Frontier was practically an also-ran as far as compact pickups went, but since the redesigned '05 model hit the streets with its increased size and bigger V-6 engine, aftermarket companies have given it the attention it deserves. Calmini has been providing lift kits for Nissan's mini trucks for years, but the addition of the 4.0L VQ40DE engine allowed the Frontier to power the extra mass of larger tires without a compromise. Read along as the Frontier began at JBA's Performance Center in San Diego, where its VQ engine got the breathing it needed. Then, the Frontier moved on to Wheel and Tire Connection in Lake Forest, California, where it was given a new stance for the final transformation.
Photo 36/37   |   2005 Nissan Frontier bf Goodrich All Terrain
BF Goodrich's All-Terrain T/A tire has been a staple off-road tire for decades. Its newest applications include: 22-, 20-, and 18-inch sizes, such as these 285/65R18s. They added off-road capability without adding annoying noise on the road. We made sure to move the tire pressure sensors from the factory wheels when we mounted them onto the new wheels. These wheels are the latest from American Racing and are now available with Teflon coating that helps keep brake dust and grime from accumulating. The baked-on finish also gave the Frontier a stealthy appearance that we really liked with the charcoal paint.
Time Spent Working: 13 hours
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate
(Mostly a bolt-on affair, but some grinding, welding, and drilling were involved.)
Advanced Flow Engineering intake PN 54-10492 MSRP $293
American Racing Fuel wheels MSRP $220
(four needed)
BF Goodrich Radial A/T 285/65R18 MSRP $275
(four needed)
Calmini 5-inch Lift Kit PN 17500 MSRP $1,295
Carriage Works black billet upper grille PN 42323 MSRP $165
Carriage Works black billet lower grille PN 42333 MSRP $110
JBA Cat4ward headers PN 1410SJS MSRP $625
JBA Stainless exhaust system PN 40-1410 MSRP $480
Total Cost: $4,948
(Not including labor)
Photo 37/37   |   2005 Nissan Frontier dynameter Readings
From the Driver SeatWe were very happy with the installation and results of the JBA kit and AFE intake. The owner reported an increase in mileage from 14/18 to 16/22, before the lift was installed. After the lift, mileage returned to 18 highway. That sort of increase would be worth the time and money by itself, as the fuel mileage would pay for itself over the course of the vehicle's life, but the added power and great exhaust note completely changed the vehicle's attitude. The peak numbers for both power and torque were up about 30, which is impressive, however, the biggest gains were found below peak, where the engine will spend most of its time. The air/fuel meter showed that the engine ran rich as it approached full throttle, and the intake and exhaust leaned it up a bit, but it still ran conservatively rich, so we don't see any possibility of lean conditions. The Calmini lift went on with only minor problems, and one was likely our fault. The first problem was the rear brake-line extensions, which seemed like they were designed with a slightly different (possibly pre-production) model in mind. This was a non-issue, however, because the factory brake lines had plenty of slack even at full droop. The second problem is that at full steering lock, the tie rod end rubbed the inside of the wheel. Since the American Racing wheels were 1/4-inch off of the Calmini recommended backspacing, that was likely our fault, but it's only at full lock and it's only a slight rub. The tires are the same overall width and diameter as Calmini recommended, and with just minor air-dam trimming, there was no rubbing. The only other issue was that at full droop, the large-diameter JBA exhaust tip had 1/4-inch clearance from the Calmini shackles. At normal ride height, the shackles pushed the exhaust tip. Since the exhaust was already welded, the best solution would probably be to cut and re-weld a hanger to add clearance, but so far the rubber exhaust hanger seems to have shifted enough to offset the shackles. After some off-road testing, the owner was satisfied that nothing was lost in the comfort department, and quite a bit of wheel travel and extra ground clearance aided in navigating the rocky terrain. The grille install took 20 minutes, and could not have been much easier.


JBA Headers
San Diego, CA 92120
Advanced Flow Engineering (aFe)
Corona, CA 92879
American Racing Custom Wheels
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221
Carriage Works, Inc.
Grandview, MO 64030
Wheel and Tire Connection
Irvine, CA 92618
Calmini Products, Inc.
Bakersfield, CA 93313



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