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The Titan is powered by a brand new 5.6-liter V8 engine sharing only its bore centers, the distance between each cylinder, with it’s Infiniti V8 cousin that also has the same displacement.

"Make no mistake," says Larry Dominique, Titan chief product specialist, "this engine is designed as a truck engine with a high, flat and long torque curve that full-size truck customers demand. Nissan will be best in class when it comes to horsepower and torque," according to Dominique.

Dominique says Nissan is also gunning for best in class fuel economy. "We are looking to beat (Toyota) Tundra's figures."

A V6 engine will probably be added a few years after launch.

Nissan will not stop at engine power and efficiency in its quest to be recognized as a true full-size competitor.

Dominique says “We did not decide to enter the full-size truck segment as an also ran. The intention is clear. Go after the heart of the market with a truck that is more capable than any of the other offerings, with the most desirable cab configurations."

Inside the cab the Titan has a dash slightly similar to Ford's new 2004 F-150. It features the first gated shifter for a truck, allowing drivers to switch between 4th and 5th and 1st and 2nd gears with left to right motions, preventing missed shifts that might occur when the shifter is pulled straight up or down.

There will be four trim levels for the Titan. E will be a spartan utility trim, XE will be geared for work trucks, SE will be for high volume sales and LE will be for luxury buyers.

A bench or bucket seats can be ordered for front passenger seating.

At its debut the Titan will also offer a factory spray-on bedliner. Unlike spray-on bedliners available through the automotive aftermarket that measure up to 8-mm in thickness, Nissan's spray-on liner will only be 2-mm thick. A special paint booth was created at the Canton, Mississippi factory to apply the durable coating which will also be covered under the truck's warranty.

The bed also features rolling dividers that move along channels and a rail system that provides cargo tie-downs in many different configurations. The tie-downs aren't special. You can buy from Home Depot, Lowes or other local suppliers.

There is a lockable storage panel on the driver's side rear quarter-panel that's nearly watertight to store items like a trailer hitch, cargo box tie-downs or other small to medium size items you don’t want in the cab or rolling around in the truck's bed.

Two bed sizes will be available at launch, 5-1/2 and 6-1/2-foot boxes, though the crew cab version will only be available with the short box.

Nissan expects to sell 100,000 Titan's in its first fiscal year of availability (August 2004 - March 2005) after the truck goes on sale December 1, 2003.

Dominique told us, "The goal is to get 1 truck to the top 800 Nissan dealers during the first four weeks of November."

Further reinforcing just how big a truck the Titan is, Dominique says, "As part of this prep time all Nissan dealers have been audited and their stores are being upgraded to make sure their dealerships and repair shop lifts can handle a truck as big as the Titan."

That's pretty big in our book.

We'll have a better idea if the Titan is full size contender or pretender after we drive it in June.

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