In addition to performing serious home-improvement tasks, this big maroon truck helps out when we want to go have fun. Of note, a photo-location-scouting trip to the Eastern Sierras resulted in a flat rear tire, but we found it easy to bolt on the spare and continue kicking up dust at one of our favorite playgrounds. Also, assistant art director Danny King packed the Titan with camping gear and people and was happy to report the rear-seat passengers couldn't stop talking about how much legroom they enjoyed.

Our last trip to the dealer cost us $83.30 for the required 7500-mile service, but included a new passenger visor (ours broke), a new head unit for the radio (AM reception was really bad), and a reattached inner fenderwell liner, which had come loose during driving. In a few thousand miles we'll take the Titan to the dealer for its 15,000-mile service and bring with us a list of tidbits that plague the truck: the dash-mounted power point is dead, ABS warning lamps are on, and the radio's AM reception is on the fritz--yet again. Although they're minor annoyances and will most likely be covered under warranty, it's still disappointing. In the meantime, the sunny Florida weekends beckon, and this truck is ready for the chores we'll toss at it.

2004 Nissan Titan 4x2 SE Crew Cab
Base price $26,700
Price as tested $32,240
Vehicle layout Front engine, 2WD, 4-door, 5-pass
Engine 5.6-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8
SAE net hp @ rpm 305@4900
SAE net torque @ rpm 379@3600
Transmission Five-speed automatic
0-60 mph, sec 7.2
EPA, city/hwy 14/19
Total mileage 13,771
Average test mpg 14.7
Observed worst mpg 7.8
Observed best mpg 18.0
Average distance per fill-up, miles 213
Average cost per fill-up $30.91
Average cost per gallon 2.20
Number of services 1
Overall service cost $83.30
Problem areas Poor radio reception