- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2003

Nissan’s first entry into the full-size truck marketplace is truly a worthy challenger for the rest of the players. The Titan is no “wannabe” full-size truck as some imports have been in the past — it is the real deal. It is big, bold and capable in all of its six configurations. The platform is shared with the new, full-size SUV — the Pathfinder Armada. Power for both new vehicles comes from a 5.6-liter DOHC, 32-valve V-8 that pumps out 305 horsepower and 379 foot-pounds of torque. The muscular V-8 connects to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.

Titan will be available in two cab styles: King Cab and Crew Cab, with no Regular Cab offered. One may go with a rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive configuration. The King Cab comes with a 6-foot, 6-inch bed, while the Crew Cab bed measures a foot shorter. Three trim levels will be offered: XE; SE; and flagship LE. Option packages allow for personalization and in meeting individual needs and requirements.

Styling is bold, muscular and “in-your-face” with strong sculpted character lines and suggested separate fenders fore and aft. Rear access doors on the King Cab versions open an accommodating 180 degrees for ease of entry and exit.

Highly useful features include: a locking tailgate; a 12-volt bed utility power outlet with a first-in-class tailgate illumination; a climate-resistant, lockable left side bed outer storage compartment with a two-position adjustable tray and removable rubber mat; a sprayed-in bed liner; and a unique Utili-track bed channel system with adjustable aluminum-alloy tie-down cleats with available accessory racks, trays, dividers and modular storage systems.

The Titan, conceived, developed, styled and engineered primarily in North America, was made to work, with a towing capacity of up to 9,500 pounds for both King and Crew cabs, and a payload capacity of 1,643 pounds for the Crew Cab and 1,799 pounds with the King Cab version. The Titan will be assembled at Nissan’s new $1.43 billion manufacturing facility in Canton, Miss.

The national press launch for the Titan took place in California’s beautiful Napa Valley, where I was able to experience preproduction versions of all trims and configurations. I later tested a preproduction Titan King Cab SE finished outside in a Brilliant Silver metallic and inside in a two-tone cloth treatment. As of this writing, official pricing had yet to be established, and EPA mileage estimates hadn’t been certified.

The 2004 Titan is a winner. Despite the fact that it is Nissan’s first entry into the full-size truck market, it should give cause for concern to competitors. It seems to do everything very well.

The new engine delivers more than ample power with an authoritative exhaust note. The transmission goes through the gears smoothly and effectively without searching and delays. Even unladen, the ride quality is more comfortable than what one would expect from a truck. Handling characteristics are positive and on-center with excellent road-holding properties.

The cab interior feels larger than many competitive makes, but less spacious than others — it is comfortable and accommodating nonetheless, with switchgear and controls sensibly placed for user-friendliness. Unique and ample storage solutions abound throughout. According to Mark McNabb, Nissan Division vice president and general manager, “One of the first targets in developing the new Titan was to fit in before we could stand out.”

The Titan seems to have scored a target bull’s-eye on fitting into the full-size truck segment and once consumers have made objective comparisons to the competition it should have no trouble at all in standing out. It is bigger, bolder and better than Nissan trucks before it, and should prove to be a worthy contender in the marketplace.

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