2004 Nissan Titan Four Seasons Test

Charlie Magee
Front Right Side View

Overall, though, there were few complaints about the utility of the Titan's King Cab interior, which is so roomy, so versatile, and so full of useful storage it could serve as a studio apartment if it had a hot plate. Actually, we did install an auxiliary heating device, a Webasto gasoline-fueled heater that warms the coolant that circulates through the heater core. This allowed us to stand inside our homes on frigid Michigan mornings, press a remote, and warm the Titan's cabin before we braved the elements, all while consuming less fuel and producing less emissions than conventional remote-start systems.

Our Titan comfortably accommodated drivers running the gamut from a petite five-foot woman to a six-foot, five-inch, 252-pound man, both of whom, coincidentally, complained that the bold instrument panel was "too much in your face." There were also a lot of logbook complaints about the vision-obstructing A-pillars, which Phenix likened to sheetmetal bell-bottoms and senior editor Joe Lorio to "an East German gymnast's thighs." Tech editor Don Sherman retorted: "The heavier the vehicle, the stouter the pillars to keep the roof intact in a rollover." And at 5260 pounds, the Titan is one heavy vehicle.

Interior Dash Side View

Which is why Nissan equipped it with such a powerful standard engine, one that enabled our test truck to reach 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds. The 5.6-liter DOHC V-8 sends an ample 305 hp and 379 lb-ft of torque through a silky-smooth five-speed automatic transmission, a powertrain combo that nobody--including our readers who own Titans--found fault with, other than to note the overly aggressive throttle tip-in, a common Nissan and Infiniti trait. As for towing, the Titan effortlessly hauled a ten-foot, single-axle trailer loaded with cedar shingles to northern Michigan, then proved its mettle again back in Ann Arbor by whisking home an editor's hydraulic-dump, double-axle trailer laden with two tons of driveway pebbles.

Despite its size and its high hoodline, which, as Lorio pointed out, "causes surrounding cars to disappear," the Titan's eager powertrain, superb steering, stout chassis, and reasonably comfortable ride made it a surprisingly pleasant highway companion, which helps explain why we drove it to both coasts and repeatedly to northern Michigan.

Interior Steering Wheel Side View

For all its basic appeal, though, the Titan didn't age particularly well. Nothing major failed, but there were lots of niggling issues that tested our patience and left lasting negative impressions. Interior quality was lacking and was nowhere near the class-leading F-150's. The handle in the door jamb of the passenger's-side rear door broke, and replacement parts were back-ordered. The seat upholstery didn't seem to be in it for the long haul. The metallic finish around the steering wheel radio buttons surrendered to our thumbs and fingernails. The molded plastic surrounding the tailgate lever came off in our hands. The uninspiring thud of the front doors closing loosely over the rear doors worsened over time. Rust developed around the opening of the handy little driver's-side lockbox behind the rear wheel. New front brake pads were installed at about 25,000 miles, which seemed a bit premature, and the front rotors had to be replaced entirely at 27,000 miles.

There's no question, though, that the Titan is fully competitive with half-ton trucks from Detroit, and consumers are slowly getting the message. Everywhere we went in the Titan, it was noticed, and by the right people. The guy at the plumbing supply warehouse. The University of Michigan skilled tradesman who pulled up alongside us at an intersection in his work van, gave the Titan a long, hard glance, and shouted out approvingly, "That really is a full-size truck." Not to mention random male admirers of assistant art director Nicole Lazarus, a young lady of fine bearing and carriage, who found that "boys were always shocked to see a girl fall out of the driver's seat. I think they were both impressed and jealous."

Rear Left Side View

With the Titan, Nissan delivered on the primary truck attributes: size, powertrain, utility, and capability. Now it just needs to perfect all the details that contribute to an outstanding ownership experience. After all, Toyota's all-new, truly full-size, next-generation Tundra is only a year away.

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