has received considerable praise since it was introduced for its power,
towing capacity and work-truck capability. The 305-horsepower, 5.6-liter
V8 engine is very impressive with its 379 lb-ft of peak torque at 3600
rpm. That beats any other standard engine in a half-ton, crew-cab pickup,
but how does it compare with top-of-the-line engines from the competition?
Ford: 5.4-liter V8, 300 horsepower, 365 lb-ft at 3750 rpm
GM: 5.3-liter V8, 295 horsepower, 335 lb-ft at 4000 rpm
Dodge: 5.7-liter V8, 345 horsepower, 375 lb-ft at 4200 rpm
Toyota: 4.7-liter V8, 282 horsepower, 325 lb-ft at 3400 rpm
Combined with a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic, we had plenty of power
to haul our load over canyon roads on a 400-mile round trip. Manually
downshifting for hills was a breeze with the gated shifter: just tap it
to the left for 4th Gear. But the electronically controlled transmission
did an excellent job on its own of reducing gear hunting when the engine
was asked for a little more power. We averaged just over 16 mpg on our
trip. EPA fuel economy estimates are 14 city/19 highway.
mid-trim SE was quite comfortable. The bucket seats are large and easy
on the back for long cruises. The adjustable pedals and tilt steering
wheel accommodate just about any size driver. The dash layout is functional
with large knobs and generous vents. Interior lighting was also exceptional
with sufficient candlepower from map lights and IP lights that are easy
on the eyes during nighttime cruising.
model had two impressive entertainment options. The $1800 Rockford Fosgate
package featured a pounding 350-watt audio system with 6-CD in-dash changer
and 10 speakers, including a subwoofer. Even though it’s pricey,
sound quality was outstanding at every level and with all types of programming.
We also had the $1450 DVD rear video theatre system with a 7-inch color
monitor and wireless headphones. The DVD player was located in the center
console, allowing access by either the driver or rear-seat passengers.
A dual-media capability allowed driver and passengers to listen to different
CDs or radio and CD.
We rate overall ride quality high, even though the cab is not as quiet
as the Ford. Our only real problem was visibility. The A-pillars are huge
and the high profile hood makes judging the curbs a little tenuous. The
good news is that Nissan offers large, extendable mirrors matched with
a separate, smaller convex mirror for wide-angle viewing.
Our 5019-pound 2-wheel-drive Crew Cab SE had a base price of $26,700
but that includes a stunning list of standard equipment:
4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes
5-speed automatic transmission
18-inch alloy wheels
Sliding rear window
Air conditioning w/ rear ducts
CD player w/ 8 speakers
Power windows/door locks
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
the entertainment and utility options already listed, our test truck had
a $950 Off-Road Package (Rancho shock absorbers, lower 3.36:1 rear axle
ratio, fog lamps, tow hooks and skid plates), $850 Tow Package (Class
IV hitch, tow mirrors, heavy-duty battery, transmission temperature gauge
and Vehicle Dynamic Control w/ active-brake limited slip), $100 splash
guards and $110 floor mats. Total MSRP: $34,260. The only other option
we would have preferred is the $850 side airbag package.
Nissan’s fullsize truck sales haven’t reached early goals
yet, despite impressive features for the cost, strong engine, max towing
capacity of 9500 pounds, spacious crew cab cabin, glowing reviews and
winning a few multi-truck shootouts. Word is spreading, although not as
fast as Nissan would like, about the value and capability of the Nissan’s
first fullsize truck. One problem, according to a Nissan official, is
that many owners of Big 3 trucks who want to switch are “upside
down” on their current loans. That means they owe more on their
loan than their truck is worth, so working a trade-in deal is more difficult.
Those owners find it easier to fold in the balance with another purchase
from the first dealer and finance company and forget about the Nissan
Our test vehicle was a 2004 model but we hear of some interesting improvements
and options for 2005, including:
Power up/down rear window w/ defroster for crew cabs
Dampened tailgate assist
Brushed aluminum interior trim on LE trims
Spray-in bedliner available as stand-alone option on base XE trim
New badging on front doors that say, “V8 Titan”
2 new exterior colors: Red Alert and Steel
the fullsize truck market, Nissan isn’t trying to reinvent a true
American icon. This truck was built with extensive American input and
matches the Big 3 in half-ton capability while promoting Japanese virtues
of fit ‘n’ finish and a little bit of technology (the Toyota
Tundra is the only other fullsize truck that offers a vehicle stability
control option). The Titan offers snappy throttle response, solid handling,
comfortable ride, generous interior dimensions and a respectable 6486
GVWR. It deserves a look by anyone cross-shopping half-ton crew cab pickups.