Nissan Titan, the new Full-Size
Muscle Truck and Pathfinder Armada SUV.
I drove, pulled, climbed and squealed the tires in California's wine
country with the newest full-size truck, the Nissan Titan and the Pathfinder Armada SUV. Did I
mention the black marks. It's fun to have power instantly, releasing a deep
throaty exhaust note that will remind you of your high school muscle
car. Six brands of
full size trucks, why should cars have all the choices?
Crew Cab with 5' 7" bed.
Very roomy interior, the rear seats fold up and the front passenger seat
I remember looking at the first Datsun King
Cab at Sterling many decades ago, and it seemed like a good idea. My uncle
Jerry had a Nissan diesel pickup truck in the eighties that was well built, actually Nissans have been
around the longest in mini-trucks in this country. Ford had a Courier
mini-truck made my Mazda, Chevy had a LUV made my Isuzu and Dodge had a Ram
50 by Mitsubishi. Those mini-trucks were kind of handy, like a motorized
wheelbarrow. I even had a few of those mini-trucks, but don't tell anyone.
It's going to be different with the new
full-size Nissan truck, called Titan, I guess so you don't think small this
time. And it's certainly not small, the dimensions put it in the same size
cateragory as the GM 1500's and Dodge 1500 and the old Ford F150. As the
2004 Ford F150 has grown. Most modern trucks computers control the throttle
by wire. And with that manufactures don't usually give you all the juice at
the start. Nissan recognized the marketing value of having full throttle at
the get go. It's fun squealing the tires at will, and with the gated
shifter, you can up shift and down shift like a manual tranny. This can be
valuable, leading a trailer down hill. Even the column shifter can be
manually shifted through all 5 gears with a toggle switch on the shifter
When you use the low range of the transfer
case with optional 4x4, the computer maps a different throttle setting so
you don't do too much headrest ping pong flying down the road. But it does
make you feel younger when flooring the foot feed, plants you in the seat!
Double hinge doors make
the King Cab truly accessible opening almost 180 degrees. The rear seats fold up,
allowing incredible interior space. Many great ideas in the Titan truck that makes it a true threat to
Detroit's domestic truck dominance. The King Cab comes with a 6' 7" bed.
When the Toyota Tundra replaced the T100 you
could still tell Toyota didn't understand the way a lot of Americans use
their trucks. The Tundra is a quality truck, but it's really made for car
drivers. Pickup trucks are the preferred mode of transportation for people
who what to set higher, see farther, feel safer from a mass of metal and
haul and tow anything. I'll give Nissan credit for taking the time to ask
American truck owners what they like and what they want in a truck. They
don't have all the different configurations that the big three have yet, so
they have targeted the recreational buyer more than the fleet owner. There
is only one engine and one transmission available, two cabs, two bed lengths
and 4x2 or 4x4. But don't feel bad because of a lack of choices, the all
aluminum, cast iron sleeved 5.6L V-8 puts out 305 horsepower @4900 RPM with
379 lb-ft of torque at @ 3600 RPM. 90% of the torque is available at 2500
RPM. This translates to a trailer capacity of 9500#'s. These impressive
stats puts Titan in the middle of the pack for power, beating Toyota and the
new 2004 Ford F150 for horsepower and torque. Nissan has one Running Rascal
even on cheap gas 87 octane.
I drove the Nissan Titan and new full-size
Pathfinder Armada SUV with the same engine and transmission through the
hills of Napa Valley CA. 500 miles of grapes growing up and down hills along
the Silverado highway with curvy roads made for sport cars and "muscle
trucks". Once in awhile I'd have to slow down for the Lamborghini's putting
along their way to Pebble Beach. This is where the gated shifter was a
blast! Even if you just let the transmission shift itself, the shift points
are set at the right RPM torque curve for instant power. Using the tow mode
in 1rst and 2nd will hold the gears longer to allow the biggest load have
full power between shifts
and for lower speeds in slow traffic as to not shift too
I did pull an approximately
7000# boat around and you know it, I squealed the tires at will. Of course
that was my option, the truck was totally controllable when I wanted to act
civilized. We also climbed a rocky road never needing to use the 4x4. The
truck handled the speed bumps, (craters) and curves with ease and little
with the console automatic was fun
with great control for manually going through the gears up and down to
control that trailer following you. We like manual transmissions for
control and the fun part of driving, but then there are stop signs,
traffic lights, coffee cups and cell phones so I have to have auto
trannies. Here is the best of both worlds. The control knobs on the dash are
big for your gloves, it will be winter again. Click on the picture to
enlarge and click the back button to return for the rest of the story.
Trailering. I'm seeing an increase in
1/2 ton trucks being used to pull trailers. 2-horse goosenecks are becoming
more popular. And Nissan gave Titan the equipment to handle trailers with
trailer mirrors that telescope, the torque converter locks in 4th and 5th
gear, tranny temp gauge is optional with the tow package along with a class
4 receiver hitch, tranny cooler, and trailer wiring harness. The frame
is boxed but not hydro formed. The receiver hitch bolts to the bottom of the
frame like GM and Fords 3/4 ton trucks. Both front and rear axles are from
well known Dana with the rear being a Dana 44. The engine holds 7 quarts of
oil, another clue of how serious Nissan is about Titan being the real deal.
Maximum trailer capacity is 9500#'s.
The Titan offers traction control on both
front and rear axles. Later an e-locker will be available on 4x4 which can
be turned on in low range. The tranny pan has a drain plug, which I was glad
to see, since pulling trailers does mean changing oil more often. 4-wheel
12.6" disc brakes, 4 wheel 4-channel ABS which controls the traction
control. Instead of twin fans side by side, Titan has one on the outside of
the radiator and one on the inside. Does that make it a push pull fan? So
much done well on the Titan, I'm looking forward to my week of pulling
trailers with it in the Rockies.
The bed of the Utili-track
System. 5 channels to attach to. Securing cargo properly is another
safety feature I appreciate. We've all seen what happens when things
blow out of the truck we're following and exciting evasive maneuvers
test our set belts.
With 5 C-channels on the
sides, floor and bed front, the options are endless. It's cargo
management 101. A sprayed-in factory bedliner, complete with factory
Oh yeah, the bed, well it starts with a
standard bedside tool/storage box on the drivers side behind the rear wheel
of the bed. It has a movable shelf and comes in handy for a hitch drawbar or
all the tie down straps you can use with the Utili-track bed. My dad's 72
GMC had a toolbox in the bottom below the bed floor. We had our tire chains
it. Who had 4x4 in 72? The optional Utili-track will start a new wave
in truck beds. I can tell Nissan has been visiting SEMA looking at
aftermarket options. This bed comes with a factory sprayed in bedliner with
a full factory warranty. Then there are 5 C-channel tracks that allow any
option you can think of to be tied to them. We were shown adjustable cleats
that could tie down motorcycles or feed bags. Another option is a bed
divider that slides in the floor and bed rail channels to lock in place
where you need them. Even a tonneau cover will clamp to the tracks.
I should have thought of some of this stuff.
Nissan must have talked to some farmers. They had a crossover toolbox
attached to the side rails, that was nice, it would slide out to the back.
It looks to me like the new bed slides where a tray will slide out the back
of the truck bed for easy access is going to be one of the more popular
aftermarket products you will see more of. The Nissan bed also comes with a
12-volt outlet near the rear and when you open the tailgate with the cab
lights on, you have a light on each side of the rear bed frame. What a
tailgate party with 12 volt for the ice box and lights to see who you are
setting next to.
Nice trailer mirror,
remind you of a Ford F250, it should the same Australian company makes
both. Chrome mirrors, Chrome grill and mostly chrome front bumper.
Safety, another truck first is Vehicle
Dynamic Control option. Yeah I'm talking about YAW and Gyro's again.
Continental makes the Electronic Stability Control System for the Titan that
detects if the truck is going in a direction different from the steering
direction. Now talk about safety! The truck, through it's ABS brakes,
traction control, and throttle decelerator can correct over and understeer providing
safe control on slick, loose surfaces as well as curves. This is exceptional
considering how a empty truck can fishtail easier than a car without
efficient cargo weight to balance the distribution of the load on each axle. VDC is included in the Tow Package. The Titan also has Electronic Brake
force Distribution to adjust braking force based on the load the truck is
carrying. Rounding out the safety features is the standard Tire Pressure
Monitor System, telling you when your tires are over or under inflated. I
think all trucks and trailers should have this system. Knowing of a low tire
before it gets hot enough to blow would save lives, tires and those
stressful moments when you hear the noise then fell the vibration in the
steering wheel as you try to get over to the shoulder of the road.
The rear leaf springs are
mounted outside the frame to lower the truck and use the frame to
protect the power train. Looking under the frame was very clean with
nothing hanging down to be damaged off-road. Pay attention to this GM,
no need for cross members hanging below the frame. The off-road package
has 4 skid plates Rancho shocks and larger tires.
Seventeen inch tires are standard on the XE,
with 18's standard on the SE and LE models. Titan's on center power
rack-and-pinion steering is tight and precise feeling more like a car than a
full size truck. The steel double wishbone front suspension gives smooth road handling leaving the rear leaf suspension mounted to the
outside of the boxed frame for load carrying and a nice low stance that is
easy to climb into. Nice to be able to step up into a truck without a
ladder. The older I get the less truck climbing I like to do. The front
visibility is great looking over the short hood. The A-pillar (holding the
windshield) is far enough forward and the ceiling high enough to wear Hoss's
10 gallon hat.
The stiff boxed frame kept
the truck tight allowing the road impact to move the suspension instead
of the frame. The Class IV hitch with the towing package bolts to the
bottom of the frame like we seen for decades in the other trucks.
Click on the picture to the right.
The rear axle ratio's are different from what
you are used to. The standard ratio is 2.93 and the towing package or
off-road package lowers you to 3.35. Higher than you are use to in a full
size truck. Nissan claims that with the lower transmission ratio's they've
incorporated into the 5-speed automatic transmission, that the power to the
rear wheels is equivalent to a 4.10 axle ration with a 4-speed automatic
transmission. The Titan had no problem pulling the almost 7000# boat at any
speed I could achieve weaving around the Lamborghini's on the Silverado
highway. I'll know more about how these higher ratio's perform pulling a
trailer when I can tow up I-70 and Vail Pass.
More Pictures, since you can't touch it till December.
I couldn't wait for my truck, showing
my favorite wheels and look GM, nothing hanging
under the frame.
like large consoles, (left) padded
and divided like a Dodge. This is what I want, a crossover toolbox that
can be slid to the end of the bed (right)
click on pictures
Plug in your refrigerator
or boom box for your tailgate party in the bed 12 volt
Turn a reporter lose in the hills of
California and I'll find trails to explore.
Look there's leg room in
the back row of the crew cab, flip up both seats and.....
there's room for
the saddles inside and the $6 a bale hay.
I like having the
fuse box in the engine compartment instead of tucked under the...
Starter may be dependable
but when it goes, off comes the intake manifold.
Lighted tailgate, so you
can see who you are setting by on the tailgate
Double hinge on the King
cab door, you'll see it copied in the future.
Armada SUV full-size
Born this year like the
Titan, the Nissan Pathfinder Armada, they share engines, transmissions
Nissan's first full-size SUV, the Pathfinder
Armada shares engines and transmissions with the Titan truck along with the
safety features and a standard side curtain air bag that covers all three
rows of seats.. Both the Titan and Armada have a "chiseled look" nose that
makes their brand highly recognizable. Self leveling air shocks available on the Armada are designed
to level you while towing a trailer which will be an asset with the rear
independent suspension. With a slightly lower towing ratings than the Titan
and a shorter wheelbase, the Armada is a very versatile SUV.
for eight with the standard 3rd row seat. Also standard backup sensor will
produces a solid tone 6 inches from the bumper. Running boards are standard.
The optional power rear lift gate is a handy feature when your hands are
full. A unique feature I liked on the Armada was the 2nd and 3rd row of
seats fold flat fast and the front passenger seat folds over forward to load
that long extension ladder or planks. Up to 14 cup holders for the eight
passengers, this full-size SUV shows the direction American buyers are
headed from mini-vans to more stylish larger SUV's. The Armada should be in showrooms
soon, with the Titan out in December.
Independent rear suspension is the
future with SUV's nice ride, which also gives you more leg room for the
third row seat.
The auto air ride will level the Armada
when pulling your trailer with a 9100# trailer capacity.
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