Weidel on Wheels: Titan — get it before it’s gone for good

Powerful, well-mannered Nissan truck that didn’t catch on will end in 2010
By: Jeffrey Weidel, Special to Gold Country Motoring
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Do your future plans involve buying a Nissan Titan? Better not wait too long or a used one will be all that’s available. After a seven-year run that proved rather unsuccessful, Nissan will pull the plug on its full-size pickup after the 2010 models leave the production line at its Mississippi plant. When it debuted in 2003, the Titan was quite a promising newcomer. Yet a somewhat indecisive consumer base never was entirely sold on Nissan’s first major attempt to corral the big truck buying public. Failing to meet buyer expectations was part of the problem. One cause of the Titan’s tepid sales was no available V6 version, which most of the competition now offers for more fuel-conscious truck shoppers. A longer bed would have helped as well — another thing its rivals seem to have realized while Nissan resisted making any significant changes during the past five years. Still, that doesn’t mean Nissan will quit trying. Reportedly in 2011 its next full-size truck will resemble a Dodge Ram and will be equipped with powertrain components built by Dodge. Despite the lack of general approval, I’ve got no major complaints with the Titan, which comes in four trim levels. It showed a lot of versatility on a trip to Lake Tahoe, powering over the mountainous terrain with ease, maneuvering adroitly in a smattering of snow and showing more handling capability on pavement than expected. Even its harshest critics have to agree that the Titan is a performance-laden truck. Available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive (I had the four-wheel drive), the brawny Titan is a behemoth with a 5.6-liter, V8 engine with 317 horsepower. The transmission in tow-haul mode can pull up to 9,500 pounds. While other full-size trucks can match those dimensions, very few can do it while offering a smooth ride. The Titan transmission shifts almost effortlessly and it doesn’t matter if the road traveled is a city street or a lonely stretch on a mountain pass. While those qualities are indeed enviable, what’s not so cool is the gas mileage, which averages between 12 to 17 miles per gallon. And skew that to the lower figure during my time with the Titan and its massive 37-gallon fuel tank. Even the Titan’s most ardent critics will agree that the overall interior design is appealing and functions well. The controls are easy to master, there are numerous storage bins, and the seats provide solid comfort. However, not everyone will appreciate that the rear doors can be accessed only with the front door open. ----------- Nissan Titan Price: Starting from $28,150 to $39,350 Mileage estimate: From 12 mpg city to 17 mpg highway Power: 5.6-liter, V8 engine with 317 horsepower Standard features include: Anti-lock disc brakes; traction control; center console; split folding rear seat; removable locking tailgate; keyless entry; six-speaker stereo system with MP3, CD-rom capability, in-dash CD changer; power rear window; full-size spare tire