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Expedition Portal Build: 2006 Feature Vehicle Nissan Frontier – Introduction

If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them
tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. 

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery


By Mark Stephens
Images: Mark and Brooke Stephens

Why this vehicle?

Text Box: Technical Specs: Make: Nissan Year: 2005 Model: Frontier, SE Crew Cab Engine: dohc V6, 4.0L, 241 cu. inches Suspension, Front: Independent, coilover Suspension, Rear: Leaf spring packs Wheelbase: 125.9' Overall Length: 205.5' Overall Width: 72.8' Overall Height: 70.1' (stock) Curb Weight: 4226 lbs (stock) GVWR: 5666 lbs (stock) Standard Payload: 1482 lbs (stock) Fuel Capacity: 21.1 gallons Horsepower: 265 hp @ 5600 rpm Torque: 284 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion (engine speed sensitive), 20.4:1 ratio, 3.55 turns to lock Bed Width: 61.4' (@ C-channel) Bed Length: 59.5' Bed Depth: 18' My wife liked it, that’s why. Seriously, though, within the next year we expect to start the blissful adventure of raising children; we began our life together with rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, backpacking, and general camping. Our kids will enter the world doing the same things; we embrace the idea of teaching them to long for the endless immensity of wilderness, like Saint-Exupery says. We also started our life together in a 2002 Jeep Wrangler, so we need a vehicle with more cargo space and better comfort for long days on the highway or trail.

Behold, I give you our 2005 Nissan Frontier.

The late model Nissan Frontier exhibits several features that make it a viable choice for expedition and adventure travel:

  1. Nissan makes a reliable and dependable vehicle
  2. A comfortable independent front coilover suspension with a solid rear axle
  3. Moderate payload of 1482 lbs
  4. Selectable four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case
  5. Crew Cab configuration for significant inside storage
  6. This mid-size truck has the agility to maneuver through tight trails if necessary
  7. 5’ x 5’ bed with an 18” depth has a reasonable amount of storage space, along with factory utilitrac system with moveable tie down cleats
  8. Fully boxed frame that shares the platform with the popular Titan and Xterra

With these key features, I have a solid starting point for building my adventure vehicle.


What it’s for, and where will we go?

Got my wanted poster stretched from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego

-Roger Clyne

We have keen goals for visiting remote and charming places within the Southwest and Mexico with our children: El Camino del Diablo, missions of northwestern Mexico, the Baja Peninsula, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and the National Parks of Utah are just the major points on the list. A biking trip through Denali National Park – and with a kid in tow, mind you – will be the highlight of our 2007 Summer.

The four-door pickup truck arrangement appealed to our tastes, and satisfied our requirements for more cargo and passenger space. Simply put: it’s for hauling stuff to help us survive in style while visiting some interesting places. Now we are going to share all of the modifications and improvements to the vehicle in this build series.


What are we going to do to it, and how are we going to do it?

So far we’ve made these changes:

  1. All terrain tires
  2. Small suspension lift
  3. Rock sliders
  4. GPS
  5. CB radio
  6. Roof tent over the bed
  7. On-Board freshwater system complete with a shower
  8. Rear bumper with tire swing-out and recovery points

So far the goals I have are the following:

  1. Dual battery system
  2. Power inverter
  3. Expedition fridge-freezer
  4. Truck bed tool box
  5. Front bumper with recovery points
  6. Auxiliary lighting
  7. Mountain bike mounts
  8. Truck bed tool box
  9. Improved rear suspension to handle the load
  10. Extended brake lines

And these items are interesting, but not quite priorities:

  1. Snorkel
  2. Video monitor system for rear view

Just as much, we are considering all options for mounting the Eezi-Awn tent. Currently we have two steel load bars spanning the bed to support it. While it is practical, it is not a very polished method. As the trips go by, we will eventually figure out what will be best.

So, follow along as I chronicle our build project for the 2005 Nissan Frontier.

Go to: Part One