Nissan Titan Review

William C Montgomery
by William C Montgomery
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nissan titan review

When it comes to full size pickups, three words have dominated headlines over the last six months: Toyota, Toyota, Toyota. Can the Tundra penetrate the Big 2.5’s final sanctuary? Who will crumble first, GM or Ford? It’s made in Texas! Yada, yada, yada. But Toyota’s not the only American-made foreign brand playing in the full-size pickup truck sandbox. Nissan was here first and they’re not going away. So can this Mississippi Titan play ball or is it destined to remain a third-string niche player?

Nissan jumped feet first into the full-sized truck market with their 2004 Titan model. Wide columns of chrome in the grill and front fascia projects mass and solidity. The now familiar look has aged well and bespeaks design originality. And there you have it.

If you’re asking “What pickup would John Stuart Mill Drive?”, Nissan gets high marks for glove-friendly door handles, standard factory spray-on bed liner, Utili-track cargo restraining system, a 12-volt bed outlet and a hidden strut that eases tailgate opening and closing. Gadget lovers will appreciate the “climate-resistant” lockbox positioned in the driver’s side rear quarter panel– until the the real world dents the panel and renders the cubby “climate-tolerant."

The Titan’s practicality continues with front seats that fold flat, providing blue print-wielding contractors with a useable work table. The Titan’s center console storage is large enough to stow and secure a laptop computer or, for Luddite load luggers, hang a few file folders. Pickup truck buyers love these features so much Nissan’s competitors have copied them.

Nissan’s laid out the interior controls and gauges logically, with genre-appropriate austerity. The Titan Crew Cab supplies abundant room for four husky carpenters or a family of five. Dashboard and door panels are appropriately washable. Passengers who utilize valet parking at Kennedy Center events will wrinkle their noses at the Titan’s confines. But that’s okay; this truck isn’t for them.

Country music lovers will applaud the Titan’s optional Rockford Fosgate 10-speaker audio system, including a bottom-tickling under seat sub-woofer. Other optional creature comforts include MP3 player connectivity, satellite navigation and radio, a DVD player and backup sonar.

What lies beneath is what usually gets hardcore pickup truck buyers blood a pumpin’. Nissan uses a fully boxed ladder frame supplied by Tower Automotive. Ford F-150 aficionados point out that the Titan’s “boxed” rails are really two C rails bonded together, rather than formed from one piece of material. Yes, well, the Titan’s frame’s cross members are welded into place for extra strength, rather than riveted. Overall, it's a professional grade tool, ready for years of action.

Most full size pickup trucks offer a wide array of engines of varying displacement: six-cylinders, diesels and big bore V8’s. Nissan keeps it simple: you get your choice of a 5.6-liter V8 married to a five-speed cog swapper or somebody else’s truck. For 2007, Nissan’s engine savants have finagled four percent more power from their 32-valve mill, boosting grunt to 317hp and 385 lbs-ft of torque. Too bad they forgot to do something about the abysmal 14/18mpg efficiency.

Still, it’s a dearth of power compared to Tundra’s 381hp and 401 ft.-lbs. of twist. But the Titan isn’t about to be left in the dust. A low first gear ratio and impatient torque converter get the 5,323lbs leviathan moving in a hurry– sometimes a little too quickly. Thanks to the standard limited-slip differential, I painted two symmetrical 10’ black lines on the concrete when I launched from a four-way stop. Fortunately the cop right behind me had better things to do than write a love letter to my spastic right foot.

My test truck’s [optional] Rancho performance shocks helped give the Titan surprising poise when maneuvering. Nissan’s pickup truck is decidedly more athletic feeling than Toyota’s new Tundra. For that matter, the Titan’s considerably more agile than trucks from Ford, GM or Dodge. The Titan’s no Lotus Elise through the slalom, but it delivers far more confidence through a cloverleaf than any of its rivals.

When Nissan first ushered the new Titan onto American dealer's showroom floors, the 'Merican made pickup was considered big, bad and bold. Since then Ford, GM and Toyota have updated and enlarged their models. These days, the Titan looks a whole lot less Titanic, and its prospects have dimmed.

Since the Titan’s introduction, Nissan’s plant has been operating just below its 90k units per year capacity. While not an abject failure, it’s not the runaway success Nissan envisioned. Reliability issues have certainly not helped it chances. And now Toyota’s entrée with a true full-sized truck is forcing deep discounts at Nissan dealerships. For buyers, that's a good thing. The Titan is a worthy (if sometimes quality challenged) competitor in a field crowded with excellence.

William C Montgomery
William C Montgomery

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  • Tundrasam Tundrasam on Dec 03, 2007

    The truck market and mainstream auto press has forgotten one of the best kept secrets and values of the past 3 years. That is the 2005 and 2006 Toyota Tundra Double Cab.

    Toyota made significant changes to the engine and size of the truck resulting in a true full size truck, with the variable valve v8 and 5 speed automatic. The mainstream automotive press barely noticed this but it demonstrated just how ferocious Toyota was willing to compete in the full size truck market by changing the scaled dimensions of the Tundra to sell just two more model years.

    The 2005/2006 tundra weighed subtantially less than the current crew max beast, drove "smaller" than its size, was as quick if not quicker than the Titan, offered vehicle stability control, and provided a perfect size "Goldilocks" back seat. If you look at the current Toyota line up the double cab back seat space is too small and the crew max is too big. Furthermore, you give up a 72 inch bed to get a Tundra crew max.

    The 2005 Tundra gave you 37 inches of comfortable back (stadium) seating with a 72 inch box. That is a combination that is a sweet spot in full size four door pickups that Toyota has left behind or forgotten. Toyota's heavily incentive leases on the 2005 and 2006 Tundras means a bargain lease transfer or 2 to 3 year lease/trade return will be a fantastic deal for someone who wants to buy a truck equal too or better than a Titan, and lighter/easier on the eyes than the current Tundra.

    Toyota may have committed a significant mistake in attempt to beat the competition, they made their new truck into the fat ugly American forsaking the genius packaging balance sine qua non of Japan.

  • Designbo Designbo on Dec 31, 2007

    Have a 2005 titan and to tell you the truth, this is the best truck for the value... Rides good, looks good and when you want power, it's there in an instant. Only one compliant as if this is real nit-picky, the automatic seat adjustment is a little touchie sometimes and can be a problem if you don't sit right in seat.. at 6'-3" and 250 lbs can sometimes get a little too far off to the left and the automatic seat adjustment will be touched off..But to me it's the best of the bunch. Ford forget it, Chevy's don't look good, dodges are not for me.. the Toyota's have priced themselves out of the market with what you get... Also have a Murano which my wife will kill over. Have had no issues as some have stated with reliablity.

  • Analoggrotto Where is this now? Dead. The Kia Soul rules this segment as Kia rules every segment, and Genesis above it rules the luxury realm.
  • Oberkanone Nope. $8 grand for $120k miles economy hatchback is too much. Over 10 years old. Condition does not change the result.
  • Master Baiter ____________ doesn't want electric _____________.
  • MaintenanceCosts Too bad it's not a Sport; the styling on those is a bit nicer. There's a first-gen Fit Sport with some subtle mods (lowering, perfectly chosen wheels, tint) that used to live in my neighborhood and it may be the best-looking subcompact I've ever seen.
  • Oberkanone BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen have different fleet emissions rules than Stellantis and other manufacturers. This is unfair trade practice and California is the leader of this criminal conspiracy. Unified emissions regulations are needed. Disjointed patchwork of CARB and Federal emissions states results in harm to our economy inefficient manufacturing. CARB emissions regulations violate the Commerce Clause by engaging in extraterritorial regulation.