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MUSCLING INTO NEW TERRITORY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, May 29, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Nissan Titan 4X2 LE

MUSCLING INTO NEW TERRITORY By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The all-new Titan has all the meat and potatoes that pickup truck consumers want from their trucks - bold and rugged styling, a powerful V8 engine, well-mannered on-or-off the road, comfortable, roomy and safe on the inside, and with the ability to easily haul up to 9,600 pounds.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

Nissan engineers and designers did their homework well and incorporated a pickup truck that also offers more legroom, a five-speed automatic, and a factory 'spray on bedliner' not offered by the competition. The all-new 2004 Nissan Titan is big and tough. Its foundation is the same found underneath any of the Big Three's full-size pickups - a steel ladder-type frame that is fully-boxed and welded for added strength and rigidity. All body panels are two-sided galvanized steel for strength and durability. The styling is bold and brash with Nissan's signature three-piece grille covered in shinny chrome, flared fender wells, powerful halogen headlamps behind clear lens, a big lower bumper with a deep and wide center air-intake, also covered in shinny chrome, with integrated, round fog lamps, and up top a domed hood arching up to a steeply raked windshield. Front tow hooks come standard on 4X4 models. The power remote-controlled and heated side mirrors are big, bi-plane designed and give excellent rear-side vision. The big, chrome covered door handles are also easy to use.

There are two Titan models to choose from - the extended four-door King Cab and four-door Crew Cab. As a result of both Titans sharing the same 139.8-inch wheelbase and 224.2-inch overall length, the hinged doors on the Crew Cab come with the shorter five-feet, seven-inch bed, while the comparably shorter King Cab features the longest available six-feet, seven-inch bed. The Titan's bed may not be the largest in the segment, but it does do the job. Rails built into the bed floor and sides can be fitted with an optional divider, tray or toolbox (or any combination of the three) that slide fore and aft to make work and play easier. Standard Utili-track tie-downs also make hauling cargo flexible. Other accessories for the bed include a flip-out bed extender, and overhead ladder racks. As I mentioned before, Nissan will build Titans to order with a factory-applied spray-in bed-liner. The Titan is also the only full-size pickup truck offering a lockable, outside storage compartment found on the driver's-side lower rear fender.

Under the Titan's doomed hood lies the heart of the truck, Nissan's biggest gasoline engine ever, a 5.6 liter 'Endurance' DOHC, all-aluminum V8 with Nissan's Variable Intake System. The Endurance V8 engine pumps out 305 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 379 pounds feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. The powerful 'Endurance' V8 engine is mated to the segment's first five-speed automatic transmission that comes with a dash-mounted tow switch. The five-speed automatic upshifts and downshifts quickly. The standard Titan comes with rear-wheel drive and is also offered with electronic 4X4. Just turn a rotary dial to the right and you can go into part-time 4X4, full-time 4X4 high, and full-time 4X4 low. The Titan's engine-speed sensitive rack & pinion steering is much more communicative to the driver than most of the competition's models.

Underpinning the all-new Titan is an independent double-wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar, gas-charged shocks and coil springs, while the solid rear Dana axle features rigid leaf springs and gas-charged shocks mounted outside of the frame. With such power and strength, the Titan can tow up to 9,500 pounds.

On the road, the Titan is surprisingly nimble. The big shocks and big tires soak up rough paved and rutted washboard off-road trails. The turning circle is a relatively short 41 feet. Quickly and safely slowing the Titan down from speed are big power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 12.6-inch vented discs and 12.6-inch solid discs in the rear. These powerful brakes are enhanced with ABS, Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBFD, and Active Brake Line Slip (ABLS). To control unwanted rear-wheel slippage is Traction Control that can be turned on or off with a dash-mounted button. The all-new Titan rides on standard 17-inch tires/wheels or optional P265/70R18 Goodyear Wrangler tires wrapped around 18 x 8 inch alloy wheels. With all of this substantial power and performance, the all-new Titan can hold's it's own going head-to-head with the Big Three's competition.

On the inside, where you will be spending your time, is where Nissan has taken the lead with class winning legroom, ergonomics, luxury and safety features. All four doors open wide for easy entry and exit with grab handles placed above each passenger door and on each A-pillar up front. There is lots of room all-around you. The front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive. The rear bench can easily accommodate 3-adults and features a pull-down center console and behind the front console are air-vents to bring air into the rear section while dual-cupholders pop out from the bottom.

The instrument panel facing is the only item that disappointed me with its cheap, hard plastic material from one end to the other. I did like the layout though with the driver's cockpit featuring all buttons, switches, and dials within easy reach. The instrument cluster is easy to see and understand, power-controlled foot pedals for the right distance to your feet, and the leather wrapped/tilting steering wheel feels great in my hands. The three-spoke steering wheel also comes with controls for cruise control and the superb, but optional, 350-watt, AM-FM six-CD player, Rockford Fosgate 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer. The ignition switch is found on the dashboard, just to the right of the steering column. Other optional electronic goodies include DVD player with rear-seat pull-down, seven-inch LCD color screen and DVD-based navigation system. The legroom is great with 41.8 inches up front and 40.4 inches in the rear. The large center console has a deep indent on top with a ribbed rubber floor to enable you to keep items that you might need on your trip close at hand. The inside of the console is big but the DVD player is mounted there cutting down on usable space. To remedy this is a large open bin just aft of the console and I loaded it with what I would have put into the center console. Just aft of the center console is a gated, leather topped stick shifter. To the right is a flip-open dual cupholder that also can be used for storage. Each of the four doors have storage pockets for maps, newspapers, etc.

The front passenger seat back folds flat and has multiple uses with its hard surface. The center control stack is smartly arranged with big climate control dials, and push buttons for the audio system. My test vehicle also came with an optional electrochronic rearview mirror with compass direction/outside temperature readouts and a manual operated sliding rear window. Standard features in the Titan include a 28 gallon fuel tank, power windows/door locks, variable intermittent speed sensitive windshield washers, 60-40 split rear seat that folds up for added interior cargo space, door foot well lights, overhead console, 12-volt outlets with one mounted on the rear lower fender, map lamps and thick pile carpeting with floor mats. My LE model also came with optional running boards, an electric glass sliding sunroof, leather trimmed, heated and 8-way powered front seats with a memory system for 2-drivers.

Safety and security are first class with an advanced airbag system featuring dual stage supplemental front airbags, side airbags and side-curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, 3-point safety belts for all 5-seating positions with front seat belts having pretensioners and load limiters, pipe steel side-door guard beams, front crush zone, energy absorbing steering column, LATCH system for child seats, low tire pressure warning lamp, vehicle security system and vehicle immobilizer system.

The all-new Nissan Titan is a great first effort by Nissan to go after the over 1-million new full-size pickup truck buyers. Pickup truck buyers are very brand loyal, going for what they know and like, but today's consumer is smarter and more conscience than ever before. The Titan is innovative and engineered to take on the competition and may well find success with a sizeable market share. I was impressed and would consider a purchase.

Prices for the all-new Nissan Titan range from $22,000.00 all the way up to $40,000.00. My fully loaded 4X2 LE model was stickered at $38,000.00.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Nissan products, go to www.nissanusa.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Nissan Titan 4X2 LE Price: $38,000.00 Engine type: 5.6liter, DOHC, 32-valve, all-aluminum alloy V8 Horsepower: 305 at 4,900rpm Torque: 379 at 3,600rpm Drive configuration: Front engine rear-wheel-drive or optional 4-wheel drive Transmission type: 5-speed automatic with tow mode Front suspension: Independent double-wishbone with coil springs, gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Dana axle with rigid leaf springs and gas-charged shocks mounted outside of the frame Wheels/tires: P265/70R18in. Goodyear Wrangler/18X8in. aluminum alloy wheels Brakes: Front: 12.6in. vented discs Rear: 12.6in. solid discs ABS, BA, EBFD, ABLS Overall length: 224.2in. Overall width: 78.8in. Overall height: 76.7in. Curb weight: 4,966lbs. 4X2 EPA mileage: 14mpg/city, 19mpg/highway 0-60mph: 7.2sec.

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