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2004 Nissan Titan Mid-Size Pickup Truck

Review of the 2004 Nissan Titan Mid-Size Pickup Truck

What was tested: 2004 Nissan Titan 4x4 SE

MSRP As Tested: $32,450

Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Pickup Truck

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 14/19

When you grow up in rural East Texas, you know what loyalty is. It's what a man feels for his pickup truck.

As a boy, it wasn't uncommon for me to hear someone say, "My daddy drove a Ford 'til he died, and I'm gonna drive a Ford 'til I die," or some variation with either Dodge or Chevy. Texas men are more devoted to their trucks than to their wives.

That's why Nissan's in for some trouble.

It's not that the new Titan pickup is bad. In fact, it's probably the best full-size truck in America, with rugged good looks, a hardy driving feel and earth-shaking performance.

Just try telling that to a man who plans on driving a Chevy to his deathbed.

Nissan really hit the sweet spot of the American truck market with the Titan, certainly getting much closer to a bull's-eye than any Japanese brand has to date. Toyota's Tundra is getting closer in size and power, but it's still far from a traditional American truck because it rides -- and even subtly looks -- like a sissy.

The Titan, on the other hand, is the real thing.

Just climb in the cabin and shut the granite-like door, and you immediately know you're sitting in one tough machine. You sit high in a big, wide captain's chair -- the kind you imagine a Mack Truck has -- and look out over an expansive hood that's long enough to land a Cessna.

Turn the key, and you know you're sitting in a monster. A big V8 engine rumbles to life with a deep, throaty roar -- the kind of contrabass thunder you can feel down to your bones -- and you have to repress the urge to tap the gas peddle a couple of times to hear it again and again, louder and louder.

Take the Titan on the road, and you immediately notice it has a certain primal heft that makes it feel like a truck should. While the Tundra drives a little too much like your mom's Camry, the Titan bounces and waddles just enough to make it feel like it could have evolved from the Model T.

But the blue-collar feel isn't what matters. For that, we look at the performance, where it actually beats or matches the American-brand trucks in every important category.

Compared to other trucks in its class, it has the most torque, the most headroom, the most interior volume (for the Crew Cab model), best 4x4 ground clearance, best 4x4 approach angle, and the biggest 4x4 tires. And in the all-important towing category, it can haul up to 9,500 pounds, matching the new Ford F-150.

For now at least, both the F-150 and the Titan stand head and shoulders above the full-size truck competition. Sure, it sounds blasphemous for a truck purist, but they're the best simply because they're the most refined. They can haul like the dickens, but they're still quiet enough and comfortable enough to enjoy a Hank Williams tune on the highway.

Despite the Titan's numerical edge over the Ford -- and, subjectively, its better looks -- I don't expect to see Ford lose the truck sales battle to a Japanese brand any time soon.

Once burly Texans say they'll drive a Nissan 'til they die, then Ford will have a problem.

Pros: It's a real American brute only with a Japanese name. It offers best-in-class size and performance at a reasonable price.

Cons: Ford's new F-150 has both the heritage and the substance to nearly match the Nissan. Besides, "Nissan" just doesn't have the same manly ring as "Ford," "Chevy" or "Dodge."

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 9
  • Performance: 10
  • Price: 8
  • Handling: 8
  • Ride: 9
  • Comfort: 10
  • Quality: 10
  • Overall: 9

More Data

Seating: 5.

Number of Rows: 2.

Length in Inches: 224.2

Weight in Pounds: 4966 lbs. - 5341 lbs.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 28.0