REVIEWS: Review: 2005 Nissan Titan

August 15, 2005
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Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge--in that order--own the market for full-size trucks. Each manufacturer sells hundreds of thousands of pickups every year to fiercely loyal owners. Beyond the barrier of deep-rooted patriotism, there has been good reason Japanese-brand pickups haven't made the big leagues in truck sales: No import pickup has ever measured up to the domestic-branded trucks in power, payload, size, or tow capacity--until now.
369 0507 Opt1z Review Nissan Titan+2005 Nissan Titan+Full Driver Side View
Toyota has attempted to compete with the F-150, Silverado, and Ram with two generations of truck, the T100 and Tundra, with limited success due to their 7/8-scale size and power. The T100 didn't even offer a V-8 engine. Lessons learned from Toyota prepared Nissan for its first full-size offering, the Titan. Nissan knew that its truck had to be as big, bold, and capable as the best from Detroit, or it would be a costly enterprise to chase a small slice of the expansive full-size truck market. In this respect, the Titan is a smashing success. The Titan addresses all of the most important needs and desires of typical full-size truck buyers, and does so at an appealing price point. The half-ton Titan was primarily designed, developed, and engineered Stateside to meet American tastes, and it's even built here, at a brand-new plant in Mississippi.
Like competing trucks from Chevy, GMC, Ford, and Dodge, the Titan is offered in an extended-cab format, which Nissan calls King Cab, and a Crew Cab, with four full-size doors. Recognizing that traditional, two-door, regular-cab trucks are a rapidly dwindling niche, Nissan elected not to offer such a configuration for the Titan. Titan buyers can choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive and among base XE, mid-line SE, and luxurious LE trims. To ensure maximum return on the Titan investment, Nissan has used the stout basic platform to also underpin the Armada, Frontier, Pathfinder, Xterra, and Infiniti QX56.
The Titan is no wallflower. Nissan very deliberately gave the truck a butch appearance to drive home the fact that it's here to battle the, well, titans of the industry--F-150, Silverado, and Ram.Its boldly sculpted sheetmetal, vertical-strut grille, chromed visage, and aggressive stance announce that it's a truck with serious capability. Since the Titan's debut, its masculine arc-driven design theme has spread to the Armada and Pathfinder SUVs, as well as the Frontier pickup, taking "brand identity" to the extremes. But there's more to the Titan than a handsome face; the exterior boasts some truly standout features.
Most notable among them are the King Cab's Wide-Open rear doors, which have two-stage hinges with four axes of rotation. The half-sized rear doors first swing open to a conventional 85 degrees, similar to those of other extended-cab pickup trucks, but they can swing open even farther--up to 168 degrees--against the truck's flanks. Don't worry: the hinge stops prevent the doors from actually making contact with the sides of the vehicle, even if children bang them open carelessly. The Wide-Open doors allow easier ingress/egress of people and loading of cargo into the rear of the cab, especially in tight parking situations. Unfortunately, as with all clamshell-style doors, rear-seat occupants are not able to exit the Titan until one of the front doors is open.
The Titan King Cab's cargo bed is 6-feet 7-inches long, while the Crew Cab's is a foot shorter--with today's longer passenger cabs, eight-foot-long cargo beds are an endangered species. Both King and Crew Cabs, of course, have enough room between the wheel wells for four-foot-wide building materials. A first for any production pickup, both variants can be equipped with an optional, factory-installed, spray-on bed liner. This specially developed, durable resin material is thinner than drop-in bed liners and, unlike aftermarket applications, is covered by Nissan's warranty.
Another available cargo bed feature is the Utili-track tie-down channel system, which includes five C-section rails mounted in the bed floor and sides. Removable cleats slide into the channels, creating hefty attachment points for securing cargo. Bed dividers, sliding cargo trays, modular storage units, bicycle and kayak racks, and other accessories are also offered by Nissan dealers. Outside the box, behind the driver's-side rear wheel, is a clever locking compartment handy for small tools, gloves, ropes, and other emergency gear.
369 0507 Int1z Review Nissan Titan+2005 Nissan Titan+Full Seating View
The Titan is no wallflower. Nissan very deliberately gave the truck a butch appearance to drive home the fact that it's here to battle the, well, titans of the industry--F-150, Silverado, and Ram.Its boldly sculpted sheetmetal, vertical-strut grille, chromed visage, and aggressive stance announce that it's a truck with serious capability. Since the Titan's debut, its masculine arc-driven design theme has spread to the Armada and Pathfinder SUVs, as well as the Frontier pickup, taking "brand identity" to the extremes. But there's more to the Titan than a handsome face; the exterior boasts some truly standout features.
Most notable among them are the King Cab's Wide-Open rear doors, which have two-stage hinges with four axes of rotation. The half-sized rear doors first swing open to a conventional 85 degrees, similar to those of other extended-cab pickup trucks, but they can swing open even farther--up to 168 degrees--against the truck's flanks. Don't worry: the hinge stops prevent the doors from actually making contact with the sides of the vehicle, even if children bang them open carelessly. The Wide-Open doors allow easier ingress/egress of people and loading of cargo into the rear of the cab, especially in tight parking situations. Unfortunately, as with all clamshell-style doors, rear-seat occupants are not able to exit the Titan until one of the front doors is open.
369 0507 Int2z Review Nissan Titan+2005 Nissan Titan+DVD Screen View
The Titan King Cab's cargo bed is 6-feet 7-inches long, while the Crew Cab's is a foot shorter--with today's longer passenger cabs, eight-foot-long cargo beds are an endangered species. Both King and Crew Cabs, of course, have enough room between the wheel wells for four-foot-wide building materials. A first for any production pickup, both variants can be equipped with an optional, factory-installed, spray-on bed liner. This specially developed, durable resin material is thinner than drop-in bed liners and, unlike aftermarket applications, is covered by Nissan's warranty.
Another available cargo bed feature is the Utili-track tie-down channel system, which includes five C-section rails mounted in the bed floor and sides. Removable cleats slide into the channels, creating hefty attachment points for securing cargo. Bed dividers, sliding cargo trays, modular storage units, bicycle and kayak racks, and other accessories are also offered by Nissan dealers. Outside the box, behind the driver's-side rear wheel, is a clever locking compartment handy for small tools, gloves, ropes, and other emergency gear.
Driver and passenger front airbags with dual-stage inflators are standard on all models. Sensors determine the front-seat passenger's weight to inhibit deployment if there's no occupant or if a small child is present. Front-seat side airbags and roof-mounted curtain airbags for all outboard passengers, a first in full-size pickups, are optional in all models. When these airbags are installed on the SE or LE trim levels, vehicle dynamic control (a.k.a. stability control) is included in the package. The front seatbelts have adjustable upper mountings to better accommodate drivers of varying heights, plus pretensioners and load limiters. The front seats feature "active" headrests that help avoid whiplash injuries. All outboard seating positions are equipped with three-point seatbelts. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock are standard on all models; the Dodge Ram, in comparison, offers only rear-wheel ABS as standard and four-wheel ABS as an option.
Unlike its competitors, all of which offer a base V-6 engine and at least a couple of different V-8s, the Titan has one powertrain: a 5.6-liter/305-horse DOHC V-8 that produces a substantial 379 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The competition offers several engines, requiring a couple steps up to cross the 300-horse mark. Measuring up, the F-150 drivetrain range peaks at 300 hp, and both Ford and Chevy still make do with four-speed automatics.
Coming out swinging, these horsepower and torque figures allow the Titan to tow up to 9,500 pounds when equipped with the optional tow package. A 4x4 King Cab reaches 60 mph in a respectable 7.7 seconds. The Titan's powertrain is shared in the Nissan family with the full-size Armada and its twin, the Infiniti QX56 luxury SUV. We hope the 4.0-liter V-6 used in the Pathfinder becomes available in the future on the Titan, giving it a lower-cost model with improved fuel economy. At 270 horses, this engine would best the base offering in the segment.Four-wheel drive Titans have an electronically controlled, part-time transfer case with three dash-selected settings: two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive high, and four-wheel drive low. An available off-road option package includes stiffer dampers, a lower final-drive ratio, white-letter all-terrain tires, and an electronically locking rear differential.
369 0507 Dashz Review Nissan Titan+2005 Nissan Titan+Front Dashboard View
The Titan's big V-8 accelerates smartly both from a standstill and at speed during passing maneuvers, and it works seamlessly with the five-speed automatic transmission. The engine is coarser and noisier than the Toyota Tundra's, which is also a modern, double-overhead-cam design, but it's more refined than the domestic competition. Power is on par with that of the top Chevy and Dodge offerings, though the Nissan Endurance V-8 is more eager than the Ford 5.4-liter Triton V-8. Titan's power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is best in class, with a hefty, precise steering-wheel feel. Also, the Titan has far better body control than either the Dodge Ram or the Chevy Silverado, making this truck easy, and enjoyable, to hustle along a twisty road. Its ride quality isn't quite the equal of the silky Tundra's. Bottom line is that the Titan stands tall in all performance considerations.
Full-size-pickup shoppers who have the self-confidence to show up at a job site in a Japanese truck ought to consider the Titan, but so far there aren't a lot of Titans in hard-hat zones. Instead, Titan appeals to suburban buyers who use their trucks for light chores, towing boats, and as a general family vehicle. Since this is a true full-size truck, it has all the disadvantages attendant to that role: It's heavy, it's bulky, it's difficult to park, it guzzles gasoline, and it's tall, so you have to climb up into it. That said, its abundant convenience features, spacious interior, capable handing, and eager powerplant make it quite a livable daily commuter. Titan is offered with a three-year/36,000-mile overall warranty, plus a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. As with most pickup families, there's significant variation in value among configurations, with the King Cab XE 2WD standing as an Excellent value. Be sure to check the IntelliChoice Ownership Cost Value Ratings on other iterations to ensure you make an informed purchase decision.
Watch out, Detroit, Nissan offers a truly competitive full-size pickup with the power, refinement, and features to gain traction in the segment long-dominated by the Big 3.
What's Hot
  • Strong, standard V-8 engine
  • Roomy, well-designed cabins
  • Innovative cargo-bed features
  • What's Not
  • Still faces image problems
  • No heavy-duty or V-6 model
  • Some interior materials are flimsy
  • Launched for the 2004 model year, the Titan for 2005 has only a few changes. The Crew Cab model now has a standard power-operated up/down rear window with defroster. The tailgate now has a damping effect that makes it easier to open and close; the front seats have whiplash-prevention active head restraints; and there is a new exterior color --Red Alert-- and one new interior shade--Steel.
    369 0507 Opt2z Review Nissan Titan+2005 Nissan Titan+Rear Cargo Space View
    The factory-installed, spray-in bedliner is a must for anyone who uses his or her truck like a truck, and to have a Titan without the Utili-track cargo-tie-down system would seem a shame.

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    Cost to Own
    Depreciation
    36%
    Depreciation
    $17287
    Insurance
    $7230
    Fuel Cost
    $15724
    Financing
    $3042
    Maintenance
    $3491
    Repair Costs
    $724
    State Fees
    $468
    Loss in Value + Expenses
    = 5 Year Cost to Own