2004 Nissan Titan King Cab 4 x 4 LE
Nissan’s King Cab Titan 4 x 4 can pull a trailer, haul the groceries, cart the kids and carry you to and fro.
Until recent years, when you spoke of a vehicle with a 9,000-plus-pound towing capacity, you likely were talking about something with dual rear wheels, a big noisy diesel and a manual transmission with a “granny gear.” That also meant that whatever you were talking about was less than ideal for parking at the local Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor or popping into the grocery store for milk and a loaf of bread.
Advances in powertrains and chassis technology have made it possible to tow a sizeable trailer yet still have a truck that you can use as a primary vehicle. Nissan’s Titan is a product of those advances, which was no accident.
“Trucks have become a necessity rather than an accessory for active lifestyles, so we had two goals,” said Mark McNabb, Nissan division’s vice president and general manager. “To meet or exceed the capacities and capabilities of the gold standards in the class, and then bring to the table fresh ideas that had never been done before.
“We let owners tell us and show us what they felt was missing in the current offerings—more storage, more carrying flexibility and the more assertive styling,” McNabb added. “Then we added some ideas and targets of our own.”
In terms of storage, perhaps the most innovative feature is the locker behind the rear wheel on the driver’s side. The locking compartment featured a sealed door with two adjustable shelves. We could find no evidence of water intrusion, but the seal did permit dust to enter the compartment, so whatever you stash in there, make sure it’s something you don’t mind getting dirty.
The Titan’s bed also came with some features that owners often add later from the aftermarket. For example, the bed came from the factory with a spray-in liner, a feature that required Nissan to invest an additional $20 million in its manufacturing facility in Canton, Miss.
The bed also came with Nissan’s new Utili-track System, which featured two C-channels on the bed floor, one on each bedside and one on the bed header panel. Adjustable cleats slide into the C-channels to give the user endless configurations with which to tie down cargo. Rated at 500 pounds of capacity, the cleats slide in and out of the channels for easy cleaning.
A first for the industry, the Titan King Cab’s forward-opening aft doors swing out to nearly 180 degrees, folding almost flat against the bedsides and offering best-in-class access to the rear of the cabin. Mounted on two-stage hinges, the doors swing out on four axes of rotation. The convenience is undeniable, but the doors felt a little wobbly on their hinges when opening. When they were closed they did rattle a little over rough pavement.
Part of that may have been due to the stiffly sprung four-wheel drive suspension. Coupled with the heavy driveline, the stiff springs made the ride firm, but to perform its off-road functions, a suspension system needs a little muscle.
Normally, we don’t get much use out of four-wheel drive, other than at slippery launch ramps. However, after the photo shoot, we locked it in and took on some steep gradients. The system worked well. It was quiet and easy to engage. Just shift to neutral and twist a knob on the dashboard. We approached the hills from head-on, at an angle and in parallel fashion. The short front overhang was a blessing because the bumper never rubbed terra firma. No doubt the bumper’s curved underside helped, as much functional as it was a styling cue.
In fact, the Titan boasts a lot of styling cues, which also was no accident. The hard, purposeful lines of the front end and fenders give way to a slim waist, then terminate in faux wheel bulges on the bedsides.
If it were our money, we’d still opt for the four real doors of the Crew Cab model. The real doors don’t add any length to the wheelbase—it does shorten the bed by nearly 12 inches—so it doesn’t make the truck any more cumbersome to drive or park in tight spaces. It does provide a lot more room inside, especially in the backseat, which was as roomy as a Sedan Deville.
The King Cab is about what you’ve come to expect from extended cab models, a backseat that’s fine for children, but isn’t as accommodating to adults.
The front seats were good, comfortable for long trips. For instance, we took the Titan from Ventura, Calif., to San Diego to participate in Mazda’s Rev it Up autocross challenge. During the 200-mile jaunt, we hit every kind of traffic imaginable, from stop-and-go parking lots to irritating slow down and speed up surges. Despite the inability to use the cruise control, we never grew tired or achy. Though comfortable, the seats could use a bit more lateral support and more range of adjustment, something we noted in the Crew Cab tested in May 2004.
We’d also like to see the feel improved on the braking system. Like the Crew Cab’s tested in May, the King Cab’s pedal felt a bit soft at the top of its travel, and offered little in the way of feedback, but as pressure increased, feel improved.
We did, however, love the powertrain. Nissan’s 305-horsepower 5.6-liter DOHC V-8 offers up 379 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. Combined with the five-speed automatic transmission, which featured some wisely chosen ratios, the engine always had lots of power on tap at any legal speeds. It made it as fun to drive as it was suited for towing, which made it an ideal truck if you can only own one.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... 14 mpg
Highway… 18 mpg
0-60 towing... NA seconds
40-60 towing... NA seconds
0-60 non-towing... 8.74 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 5.03 seconds
Engine... 5.6-liter DOHC V-8
Horsepower... 305 @ 4900 rpm
Torque... 379 pound-feet @ 3600 rpm
Compression ratio... 9.8:1
Transmission... five-speed automatic with tow mode
Axle ratio... 3.36:1
Fuel capacity... 28 gal.
Tire size... P285-70R-17
Brakes... Four-wheel disc with antilock
Suspension... Front: double A-arm with coil-over shocks; Rear: multleaf with live axle.
Tow rating... 9,400 lbs.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 6,486 lbs.
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 8,994 lbs.
Overall length... 224.2"
Maximum width... 78.8"
Curb weight... 5,287 lbs.
Price as tested... $33,100
Formula 271 FAS3Tech
Customer service... 800-647-7266
Web site... www.nissan-usa.com