2005 Nissan Titan: Make Room At The Top

When Nissan threw their hat into the full-size pick-up ring, they didn’t tip toe around the competition – they came out swinging and aiming square for the jaw. Today and no longer a rookie, the Nissan Titan hasn’t lost any of its passion – Nissan introduced a host of subtle improvements and refinements intended to solidify the Titan as the heavyweight champion of the full-size truck market.

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When Nissan threw their hat into the full-size pick-up ring, they didn’t tip toe around the competition – they came out swinging and aiming square for the jaw. Today and no longer a rookie, the Nissan Titan hasn’t lost any of its passion – Nissan introduced a host of subtle improvements and refinements intended to solidify the Titan as the heavyweight champion of the full-size truck market.

For 2005, the Nissan Titan adds a power-operated rear privacy back glass (ala the Toyota Tundra), front and rear active head restraints, a dampened tailgate assist system that makes opening and closing the tailgate easier, refined exterior styling and new exterior and interior color choices. By our scorecard, those are a lot of enhancements for a vehicle just one year old.

But to rise up from the ranks of contender to champion requires dedication, improvement and refinement – exactly what the doctors at Nissan ordered for the Titan. Starting with an already excellent platform, the 2005 Titan is more than ready for primetime. Our Nissan Titan Crew Cab LE 4×4 arrived dressed to the nines and optioned with just about every gadget Nissan had to offer, including the $1800 Rockford Fosgate package that includes a 350-watt premium audio system with in-dash six disc CD changer, 10 speakers, 8-way power driver’s seat with adjustable pedals, and an electronics package that includes auto dimming rearview mirror with compass and temperature display and a universal garage door opener system.

The big Titan also included a $950 off-road package with 17″ alloy wheels, a $850 “Big Tow” package that bumps towing capacity to a staggering 9,400lbs, a $1,450 DVD mobile theater package, a $900 utility bed package and a few extra options like bedliner, floor mats, and so on. All told, our Titan weighed in at a middle-weight $34,260, including destination fees – not bad for a truck with so many options, and downright cheap when you compare it to offerings from the reigning truck champs like Ford and GM. For comparison, our long-term Toyota Tundra Double Cab stickered at $40k and didn’t include a DVD player or premium sound system. The competitive nature of the Titan doesn’t stop at the options-to-price ratio; pop the hood and you’ll find one of the most powerful V8 motors in the business. The Titan offers just one engine option, but what a wonderful engine it is. The Endurance 5.6L 32-valve V8 features an all aluminum block (with cast iron cylinder sleeves) and heads, and delivers a pummeling 305 horsepower and 379 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated with a 5-speed automatic transmission that delivers shifts that are smooth, yet jab-accurate. All of that power translates into performance figures that are more sports car than utilitarian. We observed zero to sixty times of 7.3 seconds and quarter mile results of 15.4 seconds at more than 90 mph.

Not bad for a truck that weighs 5,100lbs and measures in at more than 18-feet in length. Those 18-plus feet are carried on a wheelbase that measures 139.8 inches – one of the biggest in the business. On the road, the fully boxed steel ladder frame provides a rigid, vibration-free platform that does a great job of isolating road and surface irregularities from the passenger compartment. Double wish-bone front suspension pieces and dual-rate rear leaf springs supplement the ride quality while providing enough support for the Titan’s 1,453lb payload rating.

Handling is more than respectable for such a big truck, but highway cruising is what the Titan does best. Forget about trying to run errands around a crowded city – the Titan is difficult to squeeze into tiny parking stalls – let the Titan stretch its legs and exercise that big motor on your favorite stretch of highway. With minimal wind and road noise finding its way into the cabin, you can take full advantage of the 350-watt sound system, the comfy and supportive seats, and ample space. Don’t worry about bringing a map, either – the Titan provides an optional 6.4-inch, DVD-based in-dash navigation system.

The climate control system is simple and straight-forward, and delivered an arctic blast of refreshing A/C, even in the 100+ degree temperatures in which we tested the Titan. The leather-wrapped shift knob was a nice touch, as are the numerous storage compartments. There’s a cavernous center console bin with map pockets on each side, plenty of cup holders, and additional “pockets” in the dash. And speaking of the dash, the instrument cluster is clean and easy to read; our model included an optional transmission oil temperature gauge.

Out back, Titan owners will find one of the best truck beds in the business, thanks in large part to the optional Utili-track channel system that’s a part of the $900 Utility Bed package. This ingenius system allows you to quickly and easily secure cargo. The Utility Bed package also includes a factory applied spray-in bedliner, a 12-volt outlet in the truck bed, and the driver’s side lockbox – an environmentally sealed storage compartment located behind the left rear wheel. At first, it looks a bit odd, but it’s ultra-handy.

Speaking of looks, we love the brawny look of the Titan. The big chrome grill almost seems to snarl tauntingly at other vehicles, as if to say, “Go ahead, make my day…punk.” No one ever said fighters had to be pretty, but we think the Titan is ruggedly handsome – the wheels fill the wheel wells nicely, the full-size door handles are functional and attractive, and the chrome accents are a nice touch.

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The Achilles heel of the Titan may be its brakes. And while they do an adequate job of stopping the Titan (we observed 70 to 0 stops of 187 feet), they don’t inspire as much confidence as the rest of the truck does. There’s a bit of “pedal lag,” meaning that the pedal drops a bit before the brakes begin to activate. This can lead to a momentary feeling of panic as you wonder if the brakes are going to wake-up and do their job. The lag takes a little getting used to and can lend itself to some herky-jerky stops, but we managed to deliver smooth stops after a few days of driving.

Aside from that minor complaint, the Nissan Titan is well rounded and world-class. The Titan delivers a level of fit and finish that few others do, and it dishes out performance like Tyson used to dish out KOs. The Titan combines flexibility, versatility, purpose and value – key features often overlooked by truck and SUV buyers. The Titan one of the few trucks that we’ve driven that is just as happy to haul family members to a movie or groceries home from the store as it is hauling horses or large appliances. It also delivers tremendous value – our fully loaded test mule stickered for more than $5,000 less than its competitors, and is another reason we’re happy to crown the 2005 Nissan Titan as champion of the (truck) world.

Nissan, Road Tests, Trucks, Used Car Reviews , , , ,

Written by Roadfly Charlie

Charlie is Roadfly’s founder and publisher, and was taught to drive by his father in a 1974 Porsche 914. That made poor Charlie a Porsche fanboy for life, and after driving a 911SC at 16, he bought and campaigned a variety of 944s at racetracks up and down the East Coast, earning awards and track records in his twenties. Charlie never really got over the car bug, and after a career in real estate development he founded the Internet media firm that became Roadfly. Charlie lives in McLean, VA with his wife and two daughters, and between the demands of family and business doesn’t have much time to play with cars anymore, excluding the machinery we review.

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