2004 Nissan Titan
This 2004 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Nissan has beaten other foreign automakers to the punch by offering the first full-size pickup truck that is fully competitive with big American pickups.
The lucrative full-size pickup market long has been dominated by domestic automakers. In fact, the three top-selling vehicles last year were big pickups from Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge, in that order.
The Titan can't match the wide variety of trim levels offered by big U.S. pickups, which means it initially can't approach their sales volumes.
Just give the Titan some time. It's from a $1.43 billion Mississippi plant that easily can increase production. Japanese automakers traditionally enter a market slowly with carefully developed products, then quickly pick up steam.
The Tundra has a 240-horsepower V8, and that's not enough power to seriously compete in the full-size pickup market. Toyota's new concept FTX pickup hints at its larger, more powerful 2006 pickup. That one will be built at a major new Toyota plant in Texas with lots of production capacity. See what we mean about picking up steam?
Plenty of Power
Nevermind the higher U.S. horsepower ratings because the Titan's high-torque V8 lets it out-accelerate the American pickups and the Tundra in the 0-60 mph sprint, which is indicative of overall acceleration capabilities. That's largely because the Titan is much lighter than the leading three American pickups and isn't much heavier than the Tundra.
More proof needed of the Titan's might? It can tow up to 9,500 pounds and has a 1,640-pound payload capacity.
The sophisticated Titan V8 is hooked to a standard, responsive 5-speed automatic transmission with tow-haul modes.
Fuel economy is an estimated 14 mpg in the city and 18-19 on highways, which is OK for a powerful, full-size pickup.
Three Trim Levels
The quick steering has good road feel, and the wheel is adjustable. Handling is quite good for a full-size pickup, partly because the engine is set way back for better weight distribution. However, plenty of room is needed for maneuvering in tight quarters.
Even the XE is fairly well equipped, although one must move up to the SE to get standard items such as power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry. The LE adds features such as heated front seats and leather upholstery.
The extended cab version has rear-opening back doors without outside handles that won't open independently of the front doors. The rear doors are hinged to open flat against the body sides, making them handy in tight parking areas. The crew cab has four regular car-like doors with large outside handles that lead to a roomier rear seat area.
I drove both versions and found legroom in the King Cab is tight for a 6-footer behind a driver with his seat shoved roughly halfway back. The Crew Cab provides plenty of knee room for back-seat occupants and has rear windows that roll all the way down.
Cargo bed lengths are 78.9 inches for the King Cab and 67.1 inches for the Crew Cab. The XE standard front bench seat is optional for the SE and LE, which have more comfortable front bucket seats, console and a floor-mounted shifter.
Two Drive Systems
Anti-lock brakes are standard. Traction control comes with 4-wheel drive and is optional for the rear-wheel-drive Titan.
Titan "firsts" are a factory spray-in bed liner to prevent the bed paint from getting chipped by cargo, a locking storage cabinet in the left rear fender and adjustable cargo-bed tie-downs. There's also a fold-flat front passenger seat and a cargo area light with illumination for the tailgate, which is very heavy.
Helpful Running Boards
The dashboard has easily reached controls, and gauges can be read at a glance. Audio system controls are small, but climate controls are large. Fold-up rear seats considerably increase the interior cargo area.
The Titan should be making American truck producers nervous. It offers more than some rivals for the money—another market entry practice of Japanese automakers—and is generally darn good.