- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

Nissan’s 2009 Titan 4x4 Pro-4X King Cab test truck showed up with strong ready-to-work credentials. Name it - toting, towing or off-road duty - the Pro-4X is up for the challenge. Base priced at $33,680, the tester is packed with options for workhorse capability and convenience.

At the heart of this rugged full-sizer (also available in a Crew Cab version) is the Titan’s standard 5.6-liter Endurance V-8, delivering 317 horsepower and 385 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated with a five-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy is estimated at 12 miles per gallon city and 17 mpg highway. It’ll tow 9,300 pounds and tote 1,870 pounds in its standard 79.1-inch-long short bed.

Adding $1,250 for a Max Utility Package, the Pro-4X’s towing capability is enhanced with a Class IV integrated receiver hitch, seven-pin wiring harness, trailer brake prewiring and power heated extendable tow mirrors. Included in the package to make cargo-hauling easier is a Utili-track channel system, factory-applied spray-on bedliner, tailgate area lighting and 12-volt power outlet.

These extras were appreciated when the test truck’s bed was put to work, hauling heavy and awkward appliances. The spray-on liner — covering the bed’s floor, sides and rails, as well as the inner tailgate wall — is a tough coating that takes the worry out of toting hefty cargo with sharp, paint-scarring projections. The four adjustable tie-down cleats are easily moved into position to anchor the web of bungee cords used to secure the appliances.

Another cargo-box option adding convenience is a $280 sliding bed extender — a moveable tubular cage that can be slid along the Utili-track channels and flipped fore or aft as necessary. It’s especially useful as a barrier, positioned toward the tailgate, to keep cargo (groceries and luggage included) from sliding across the load floor. Adding to cargo-loading ease is a standard Easygate dampened tailgate-assist, and small items can be stowed in a standard lockable integrated bedside storage cubby.

As the Pro-4X name implies, a focus of the pickup’s design is off-road readiness. Switching to 4H or 4LO four-wheel-drive modes is accomplished electronically via the simple turn and push of a center-stack-positioned knob. Further assistance to gain traction in the rough stuff comes with a lower final drive ratio (3.357) and standard electronic locking rear differential. The Pro-4X rides on 18-inch aluminum-alloy off road wheels, wrapped by BF Goodrich Rugged Trail P275/70R-18 tires. Extra skid plates shield the transfer case and oil pan.

Despite its built-for-the-trail engineering, ride quality is good not notably different from the two-wheel-drive trucks. Comfortable seats play a part in this ride comfort.

While trekking through the wilderness, life is civilized on the inside. The test-truck gets an extra dose of luxury with a Driver’s Convenience Package, which adds $2,650 to the price tag. Highlighting the package are upscale-looking leather front captain’s chairs with the well-bolstered cushions and seatbacks traced in red stitching. The steering wheel and shifter knob also are covered in red-stitched leather, and “PRO-4X OFF ROAD” is embroidered on the seatbacks.

Premium stereo sound is another plus of the package. Surrounding passengers with music is the 350-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, delivering sound via eight speakers, including a subwoofer and center speaker. Other package extras are a XM Satellite Radio (includes activation and three months of service), Homelink Universal Transceiver and heated outside rearview mirrors.

A standard feature providing an at-home feel is the lockable console. Designed for flexibility, the unit has the capacity to hold a 1-liter beverage bottle or — by adjusting dividers — a variety of items, including hanging file folders.

In the rear compartment, a 60/40-split folding bench accommodates up to three passengers. Wide-Open rear doors, which open 168 degrees, ease rear-compartment entry and exit.

On the outside, the Pro-4X is distinguished from other Titan family members by the aforementioned off-road wheels, identifying decals splashed on the rear fenders, halogen fog lights, and body-colored grille and bumpers. Nissan’s Pro-4X is a standout among pickups. It’s cool and capable, and tailored for consumers with serious workhorse needs.

• Tim Spell is automotive editor for the Houston Chronicle InMotion section.

COPYRIGHT, MOTOR MATTERS, 2009


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