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The Nissan Titan delivers dazzling performance with a powerful 5.6-liter V8 and responsive five-speed automatic. Its handling is equally responsive, making it among the most enjoyable of the full-size half-ton pickups. Brakes, suspension, drivetrain work together for quick response. This is a serious pickup that pleases the senses.
Titan offers more emotional appeal than some of the other trucks. It was the first truly full-size pickup in nearly 25 years from anyone other than the Big Three, and the first ever from a company whose world headquarters are located outside of North America. (The Titan is significantly larger than the 2006 Toyota Tundra, which is about 7/8-size.)
When designing the Titan, Nissan benchmarked the best pickups and decided to raise the bar. Titan would be big and roomy, and it would not be a shrinking violet in terms of styling or performance. As a result, the Titan excels at roominess. There's lots of headroom up front and the back seats of Crew Cab models offer plenty of legroom. Its V8 engine generates strong torque; and there is no V6 or base motor. Titan can tow up to 9,500 pounds. Four-wheel-drive models boast high ground clearances and generous approach angles.
Clever innovations improve on the traditional pickup. Among them: a factory-applied spray-in bedliner, a C-channel tie-down system for securing cargo and accessories, and a stash box integrated into the driver's-side rear fender for storing a tow hitch or other small items. The rear doors on the King Cab open nearly 180 degrees for quick access. A dampened tailgate assist reduces effort when opening and closing the tailgate. The Crew Cab has a power retractable rear window with privacy glass and an electric defroster.
There are no major changes for 2006, only adjustments to standard and optional equipment lists.
Designed in California, the Titan is built near Jackson, Mississippi, and its high-tech V8 is built near Nashville, Tennessee.
Driving the Nissan Titan is a pleasure. For starters, it offers brilliant throttle response. Its powertrain is perhaps the most responsive among the full-size pickups with comparable engines. The Titan always feels alert and wide awake, like it started the morning with a double espresso. The V8 delivers quick acceleration performance whether launching off the line or pulling a quick pass at speed. It isn't a whisper quiet engine, but has a deep exhaust note that sounds pleasing when accelerating.
The five-speed automatic is equally responsive, quickly downshifting whenever needed. With five gears to choose from, it can always find an appropriate ratio for smooth, rather than abrupt, downshifts. The transmission features a Tow/Haul mode to reduce unnecessary shifting and heat buildup.
Nissan's 5.6-liter V8 produces 300 horsepower. Doubly welcome is the well-shaped torque curve with a peak of 379 pound-feet. The Titan's engine delivers 90 percent of that peak torque across a wide band down to low rpm. Torque, that force that propels you from intersections and pulls heavy trailers up long grades, is particularly important when towing and hauling.
Nissan's Endurance V8 is a modern design with double overhead-cams and 32 valves designed to balance performance and fuel economy. Titan 2WD gets EPA ratings of 14/19 mpg City/Highway, while Titan 4WD models are rated 14/18 mpg. Regular unleaded is recommended.
Towing capacity is 9,500 pounds, which is more often seen in heavy-duty 3/4-ton trucks, not light-duty 1/2-ton trucks like the Titan.
Handling is quick and agile. It's easy to drive the Titan smoothly or quickly or both at the same time. Ride quality is good in most situations, though we found a rippled, well-traveled section of I-405 in Los Angeles that generated an uncomfortable harmonic in a 4WD model. A 2WD Crew Cab we drove seemed to offer a better ride.
Braking is accomplished with four-wheel disc brakes. It's easy to modulate the brakes for smooth stops in everyday driving. Anti-lock brakes come standard with electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist. (ABS helps the driver maintain steering control in a skid. EBD improves balance and stopping power by apportioning the braking force to whichever tires are getting the best grip. Brake Assist helps ensure full braking potential in a panic stop.)
4x4 models offer a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system with an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. Simply turn a knob to shift from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. This can be done while driving. At very low speeds, almost a full stop, push in the knob and turn it to shift into low range. The low creeper gear keeps steep descents in the comfort zone. An off-road package includes an electronically activated locking rear differential to help the Titan slog through the toughest conditions.
The Nissan Titan is a serious, full-size pickup boasting brilliant throttle response and agile handling. It can tow up to 9,500 pounds. Its cab is big and roomy. And it's loaded with innovations such the spray-in bedliner and a track system for cargo and accessories. The King Cab boasts a clever door that opens nearly 180 degrees. The Crew Cab has super roomy back seats. All of that puts Titan in the front row of a class of superb trucks.
Denise McCluggage filed the original report; with NewCarTestDrive.com correspondents Mitch McCullough and Greg Brown reporting from Los Angeles.
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