It is not every year an automobile manufacturer decides it wants to step into the fullsize truck market - arguably the most profitable and competitive automotive market on the planet. Apparently, the stars aligned just right, and Nissan decided it was its turn to show America the type of fullsize truck it could build. This was no easy task as Nissan designed an all-new chassis, powertrain, and transmission to go head-to-head with the Americans and Toyota in the hot 1/2-ton category.
Our Titan was equipped with Nissan's all-new 5.6L DOHC V-8 and five-speed automatic transmission, which served up impressive power and blazing performance. Not one tester was left unimpressed by the way the Nissan builds speed with its locomotive-like torque. While being pressed back into your seat, you should enjoy the exhaust, which sounds purely aftermarket. The engine works well with the transmission, and firm, quick shifts are the norm. Steering feel was as good as the competition, and the ride quality was acceptable. If there was one other area which the Titan performance excelled, it was in the braking department. The Titan brakes were phenomenal, and panic stops were free of fade and consistent. This performance was bested only by the SRT-10 and the SSR - and not by much.
In the cab, the interior design drew mixed reviews. Everyone agreed the Titan was spacious, and we all enjoyed the amount of storage spaces and cubbyholes throughout the interior. The full complement of gauges was a welcome touch, as were the giant towing mirrors. While the dash wasn't as pleasing or user-friendly as some of the competition, it did offer a dose of style, with big useful buttons and switches - even if we found some of them in somewhat awkward locations. Our truck was a preproduction model and had too much wind and road noise - which we expect to be fixed in the production models.
The Titan comes to the table with many innovations that give it value over the competition, such as rear extended cab doors that open 180 degrees, a factory-applied bedliner, a cargo compartment in the rear quarter panel of the bed, and an exceptional tow rating of 9,500 pounds. It also has the coldest blowing A/C we have ever felt - easily bringing the temperature of the giant interior to arctic levels.
When it came to styling, our judges were torn. Some editors felt the exterior was daring and clean, while others felt less chrome and a little more time is needed for Nissan's statement to grow on them. At the end of the testing, we all agreed that Nissan put a competent and credible challenger into the ring. While it is probably the most serious first-time challenger the domestics have ever seen, a little more fine-tuning could easily turn this challenger into a defender.