Review: 2005 Nissan Titan

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The Manufacturer

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.

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.

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.

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