2004 Nissan Titan
This 2004 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2013.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Import car, truck and sport utility owners who haven't quite found the right full-size pickup truck yet have a new choice this year.
Nissan's new, brawny truck, the 2004 Titan, is intended to show that a Japanese brand can build and sell a true full-size pickup with V8 power and ample dimensions that are competitive with the domestics.
Even better, the Titan comes with a number of truck innovations not offered by the domestics.
These include an optional, factory-installed and warranted bedliner—no more aftermarket liners needed —and a standard 5-speed, rather than 4-speed, automatic transmission.
There's also a standard, specially hinged rear door on Titan King Cab models that bends back like an airplane door and does away with the parking lot quandary of how to access the rear seat area without getting stuck in a clamshell maneuver between front and rear doors.
Other innovations: Helpful lighting that illuminates the tailgate area when the tailgate is down and items are being loaded or unloaded or when the tailgate is used as a work station, and a small, locking, storage area for small tools that's outside, in the rear fender.
Additionally, there's an optional, factory-installed cargo tie-down system for the Titan that uses bed channels and specially designed tie-down cleats to provide amazingly flexible cargo storage. These tie downs are expected to accommodate growing numbers of bike and kayak racks and other accessory storage systems.
Pricing starts in the $20,000s
There's not a big price penalty to buy the Titan. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price at introduction was $22,400 for a Titan King Cab model and $25,100 for a Crew Cab.
This compares with $21,215 MSRP for a base, 2004 Ford F-150 regular cab model that's a new design and $23,865 for an F-150 SuperCab model. The F-150 is the top-selling full-size truck in the U.S. and the best-selling vehicle, period, in the country.
Note that like Ford's redesigned 2004 F-150, all Titans have a V8 and four doors of some sort. In the Titan King Cab, the rear doors are rear-hinged and smaller than regular vehicle doors and the pickup bed is 6.6 feet long. The Titan Crew Cab has four regular-sized, front-hinged doors and a 5.6-foot-long bed.
Nissan officials said it was important that they establish the Titan as having domestic-truck dimensions and they've done it. For example, the Titan's 224.2-inch overall length and overall width of 78.8 inches rival that of the F-150.
Toyota's Tundra pickup, which has a starting MSRP around $16,000 for a 2004 Regular Cab with two doors and a V6 and more than $25,000 for a 2004 Double Cab model with four front-hinged doors and V8, also is listed as a full-size pickup.
Many American truck buyers have considered the Tundra, which was introduced in 1999, a slightly smaller full-size truck because some dimensions haven't matched those of domestic pickups.
In contrast, the Titan is so large that some Nissan dealers had to remodel showrooms and service areas to accommodate it.
A telling ride
Many pickups can provide decent ride quality when the bed has something heavy inside. The Titan, with a fully boxed ladder frame, double wishbone front suspension and rigid leaf rear, does so even with the pickup bed empty.
Built on a new, full-size truck platform, the Titan doesn't punish riders with shudders and undue bounciness, and steering has commendable on-center feel.
Indeed, in back-to-back drives, on road and off, of the Titan vs. the Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra and previous-generation F-150, I came away preferring the Titan's ride, which is a cross between nicely controlled and nearly sporty.
In contrast, the Silverado had old-style bounciness, especially at railroad crossings, where the truck nearly skittered over into the oncoming lane of traffic.
The Tundra had too much of a cushioned ride and made me feel a bit too isolated from the road or trail.
The 2003 F-150 didn't provide the firmness and torsional rigidity of the Titan, but I have to say that since then, I've tested the 2004 F-150 and found its handling and sense of road manners to be much improved over its predecessor and not too far from that of the Titan.
The test Ram, with sport suspension and large tires, came close to the Titan in conveying a controlled ride with commendable handling characteristics.
V8 power only
Power is palpable and comes on steadily and quite smoothly in the Titan. I merely touched the accelerator, and this truck reacted. If I pressed a bit harder, my neck and head would be propelled back into the head restraint.
It was all accompanied by a constant, deep, sporty, almost hot-rod exhaust note that isn't found on the regular production models of F-150, Silverado or Tundra. But the Dodge Ram does share its deep, V8 sound with riders, too.
I didn't lack for power in the Titan, neither on-road nor off. Passing on highways and country roads never brought consternation.
Fuel economy is estimated at just 14 miles a gallon in city driving, as you'd expect when an engine delivers a stout amount of torque.
Note the Titan's 379 lb-ft of torque is more than the 365 lb-ft at 3750 from the 300-horsepower 5.4-liter Triton V8 in the redesigned F-150 and 360 at 4000 rpm from the 300-horsepower 6.0-liter Vortec V8 in regular production Silverados.
The Silverado can be had in a pricey SS form, where the V8 produces 345 horses and 380 lb-ft at 4000 rpm.
Meantime, the Tundra's 240-horsepower 4.7-liter i-Force V8 delivers a maximum 315 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm.
While some competitors, such as the Tundra and Silverado, offer V6s, too, there's no V6 at this time for the Titan.
Towing capacity for the Titan is 9,500 pounds, which is more than the 7,200 maximum for the Tundra and the 9,200 in a light-duty Ram. But it's less than the 9,900 pounds offered in the redesigned, 2004 F-150.
Interior is roomy, modern
In fact, during my test drive of a King Cab 4X2 model, when my purse slid across the front passenger seat during a turn and lodged in the front-passenger door map pocket, there was no way I could reach over and retrieve my pocketbook.
I had to stop, park the truck and walk around to the passenger door from the outside to get at my purse. After this, I made sure to put the purse into the roomy, open center console storage area, where it fit nicely.
Specifically, the 40.4 inches of rear-seat headroom in the Titan Crew Cab beats the 39.6 inches in the comparable, 2004 F-150, the 39.9 inches in the Silverado, the 40.2 inches in the new Tundra Double Cab model for 2004, as well as the 40 inches in the Dodge Ram Quad Cab.
The Titan Crew Cab also bests the other competitive models in rear legroom.
Controls, such as the heating and control knobs, as well as door handles inside are beefy, so they work well with a woman's hands or a guy's hand wearing gloves. In fact, the steering wheel in the Titan is the largest Nissan has ever used for a passenger vehicle. This compares with the Tundra, whose steering wheel is the same as the one used in the Toyota Camry family sedan.
I noticed the Titan driver seat cushion is generously deep and extends all the way to the back of my knees.
Watch as you drive the Titan through crosswalks, though, as the sizable pillars around the Titan's windshield can obscure the view.
I also found the radio face reflected annoyingly in the back window of the Titan King Cab, and the side windows in the King Cab open manually, like those in a minivan.
Nissan adds some notable options for this truck, among them front-seat side and curtain airbags, a Rockford-Fosgate stereo, rear DVD entertainment system and a navigation system.
Bed sizes and styles are not as diverse as those for the domestic full-size trucks. The F-150, for example, offers beds that are 5 feet, 6 feet and 8 feet long.
However, Nissan officials, recognizing that the majority of full-size, domestic truck owners are extremely loyal to the brand of truck they own, hope that shoppers who are familiar with Japanese brands and the quality they're known for will want to try the Titan.
Indeed, while the median age of full-size truck buyers today is 50 with typical household income between $65,000 and $75,000, Nissan said Titan buyers are likely to be younger and a bit more affluent.