2004 Nissan Titan 4 x 2 SE Crew Cab
Nissan set out to build a full-size pickup on par with established models from the Big Three. Consider it done.
While arranging for our weeklong test with the new Titan Crew Cab, Nissan’s manager of product public relations, Dean Case, stated that the company aimed its new full-size model line at consumers who use their trucks for towing.
“That market is very important to us,” Case said. “We’re anxious to provide Titans and Armada SUVs to press outlets who specialize in towing. …”
Having spent a week with Nissan’s Titan Crew Cab, we’re convinced Case wasn’t just regurgitating disposable corporate blather. Not only does the Titan surpass the Toyota Tundra in terms of towing capacity, but it also gives buyers a viable fourth option when considering a genuine full-size truck.
For example, if you were to test drive a model-year Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra, a Ford F-150 then a Toyota Tundra, it’s likely the Toyota would be the first to be scratched from the list. It’s just not as much truck as those from domestic automakers. Now, add the Nissan Titan to the end of that test-drive list, and it’s entirely possible that one of the domestics would be eliminated first.
For starters, the Titan is a genuine full-size truck, whereas the ’04 Toyota falls somewhere between a midsize, such as a Dodge Dakota, and a full-size truck, like the Ram. That full size carries into the interior of the Titan, which Nissan claims is the largest of any half-ton pickup.
If it is true, it isn’t by much, but the interior size was comparable to those of domestic trucks. With the rear bench seats folded up against the rear wall, there was a full 3 feet of floor space available, enough to tote a couple of Labrador retrievers with room for them to wag their tails.
Flip the rear seats down and there is ample room for three adults shoulder to shoulder. Even if the front seat is all the way back, there was room in the rear seat for a 6-plus footer to sit comfortably. There were two cupholders in the rear of the console and two more in the center flip-down armrest.
The test vehicle came with the popular package option group, which included a six-disc in-dash changer, rear overhead console with media controls and dual headsets, an auto-dim mirror with compass and temperature display, a universal garage door opener and an eight-way power driver seat with adjustable pedals.
At $1,300, the package is a bargain. The driver seat offered ample thigh support, but could have used more range of adjustment and a bit more lateral support. Covered as it was with the no-nonsense, dirt-resistant material, the seat allowed the driver to slide sideways in modest turns and curves.
The Titan also came with the $850 Big Tow package, which included extendable tow mirrors, a transmission temperature gauge, a lower final-drive ratio, a vehicle dynamic control system, a receiver and wiring harness. The package also bumped the towing capacity from 7,200 to 9,500 pounds.
The extending mirrors were nice, but on the Titan, they weren’t really necessary during our tests. The top two thirds of the mirror was standard flat glass on the top—slightly convex on the right-hand side—and the bottom third was convex glass. The combination worked so well, you could watch your trailer wheels round a curb without leaning forward to achieve the proper sight angle.
We also appreciated the vehicle dynamic control and the tow mode. VDC eliminates wheel spin, which would be handy at muddy camping spots and icy roads, but the system did add a second to our zero–to-60-second acceleration times. At the ramp, the torque converter flared to 2,000 rpm and pulled an 8,000 trailer without exceeding 2,500 rpm. Now that’s usable torque.
The tow mode button worked seamlessly. About the only noticeable trait was that the five-speed automatic would wind out each gear just a bit longer. On flat sections of freeway it would eventually find fifth gear.
When it did change gears—with or without a boat in tow—shifts were quick and smooth with just a gentle surge forward. Even with five gears, transmission busyness was not an issue. It’s clear that engineers spent considerable time mapping the transmission’s functions.
With the cruise control engaged at 60 mph, the engine was spinning at a leisurely 1,600 rpm. The truck wouldn’t maintain 60 mph up a 2-mile-long 7 percent grade—it did maintain 55 mph—but it climbed it without protest. Revved to 3,400 rpm in third gear, neither the oil pressure, coolant temperature or the transmission temperature budged. We’d prefer numbers over the ambiguous C and H readouts.
With a trailer in tow, the ride was decidedly firmer than without. With no boat shackled to the back, the ride was decent for a pickup with multileaves and a live axle. In comparison, Nissan’s Armada, with its independent rear suspension, was far more compliant, yet still pulled up to 9,100 pounds.
Each truck offered good braking systems. The Titan’s pedal was a little soft at the top of its travel, but the feel improved the harder you pressed on it. That might have been engineered in to keep the pedal from being “touchy,” but if you didn’t know it had four-wheel discs, you might guess it had drums at the rear. Its antilock function, on the other hand, worked admirably. Though it was a little noisier than most of its competition, it worked smoothly and engaged at the proper threshold.
It seems odd to say that Nissan has built a full-size truck that is comparable to those from domestic builders, but it’s also true. With lots of torque down low in the rpm range, a resonant rumble from the exhaust and lots of room inside, the Nissan Titan Crew Cab feels, well, very American. After our week with the Titan, we can see that the market built this truck as much as engineers and designers. The end result is a truck that can compete in the full-size truck arena.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... 14 mpg
Highway... 19 mpg
0-60 towing... 22.18 seconds
40-60 towing... 10.56 seconds
0-60 non-towing... 8.21 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 4.86 seconds
Engine... 5.6-liter DOHC V-8
Horsepower... 305 @ 4,900 rpm
Torque... 379 pound-feet @ 3,600 rpm
Compression ratio... XX:1
Transmission... Five-speed automatic with tow mode
Axle ratio... 3.36:1
Fuel capacity... 28 gal.
Tire size... P265-70R-18
Brakes... four-wheel disc with antilock
Suspension... Front: double A-arm with coil-over shocks; Rear: multileaf with live axle
Tow rating... 9,500 lbs.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 6,651 lbs.
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 16,151 lbs.
Overall length... 224.2"
Maximum width... 78.8" w/o mirrors
Curb weight... 5,066 lbs.
Price as tested... $29,500
Formula 271 FAS3Tech
Customer service... 800-NISSAN-6
Web site... www.nissanusa.com