We drove the new Titans on and off the pavement through the farmlands and back highways of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The soft, sandy trails of Midwestern crop country weren't much of a challenge for the Moab-tuned, off-road prowess of an SWB PRO 4X Titan Crew Cab. Still, there were several sections with deep ruts and sudden grade changes where jounce and rebound control were surprisingly good--the shocks and suspension soaked up some hard trail hits. And the Titan's driver position and tapered nose provided good sightlines over the hood through tight turns and over obstacles.

For highway driving, we switched to an LWB Titan Crew Cab LE. The 159.5 inch wheelbase was an advantage, especially for our 100 plus-mile trip back to the hotel. Not only did the added length make room for extra gear in back, it also smoothed the ride over rough pavement in the right lane caused by the relentless flow of big rigs.

The Titan's standard 5.4 liter Endurance V 8 still proved highly competent moving the truck along at more than 75 mph, even though it hasn't been updated since last year's bump to 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. However, Nissan has increased fuel capacity. All LWB Titans benefit from a 37 gallon gas tank that can provide an unloaded cruising range of more than 600 miles, or well over 200 miles at full GCWR when towing a 9500 pound trailer.

All 2008 Titans also receive updates to the interior and exterior. The changes aren't dramatic; they're more refinements than anything else. Nissan got the message loud and clear: earlier owners were disappointed with the truck's fit, finish, and materials quality. In response, the truck maker has invested extra dollars to spruce up appearances. Again, special attention has been given to the needs of commercial buyers, who can now purchase the entry-level XE truck with a vinyl floor.

Nissan originally had lofty goals to sell 100,000 Titans per year when it launched the truck in 2004, but it's actually averaged about 85,000 annually and sales are down slightly in 2007. In its favor, the recent changes are well executed and competitive. Now, if Nissan planners would throw a diesel V 8 from Navistar (see news item in Max Payload) under the hood, they'll get more commercial buyers than they'd know what to do with.