Road Test: 2008 Nissan Titan LWB
More Bed Length and Strength from a Longer-Wheelbase Titan
In the full-size hauler universe, personal-use buyers only make up about 25 percent of truck owners. And as gas prices and interest rates have climbed, personal-use buyers have been leaving the market in droves for other vehicles. With its new Long Wheelbase Titan, Nissan's looking to appeal to the other 75 percent--farmers, contractors, and other businesses--who depend on their trucks to earn a buck. So Nissan is moving the Titan away from where the lifestyle shopper is headed. The truck's bigger than it was before, thanks to the addition of two new longbed models, and it has a slew of upgrades that improve capability and comfort.
The Titan's product-planning manager, Paul Fisher, who oversees all the upgrades, says, "We feel it's very important for the Titan to be perceived not only as a private-use vehicle, but also as a work-use vehicle."
At 20.3 feet from nose to tailgate, the new Titan King Cab and Crew Cab longbeds are 20 inches longer than the short-wheelbase counterparts they supplement. They cut work-tough profiles that look more appropriate in the parking lot at Home Depot than in your driveway.
The King Cab has an 8.2 foot box instead of the standard 6.5 foot cargo space. It's ready to swallow 4x8 sheets of plywood without needing a bed extender, while the Crew Cab's 7.3 foot bed can haul around 85 percent of the ATVs and motorcycles out there with the tailgate closed and locked. Previously, it only was available with a 5.5 foot rear deck. The Titan LWB Crew Cab also can claim bragging rights to the longest bed available among half-ton pickups.
But it takes more than long beds to get the attention of commercial-truck buyers who need a mobile workshop as much as they need transportation to and from a job site. Nissan responded to the tool-toting needs of true truckers by giving the Titan a 33 percent boost in standard payload capacity, to just over 2000 pounds in the 140 inch Short Wheelbase King and Crew Cab two-wheel-drive trucks. Nissan beefed up the rear axle, strengthened suspension components, and increased front brake size to achieve this. Its 2000 pounds now beats the 1890-pound standard payload capacity of a similarly configured Ford F 150.
Revising the suspension also evened out the Titan's stance, so it no longer looks as heavy in the nose, an attribute that made earlier editions of the truck look more like a midsize. And though the front discs may be a bit smaller than those on the new Tundra, Nissan engineers are quick to indicate that it has 80 square inches more surface area for the brake pads to sweep because Tundra uses a larger center hub.
Nissan also introduced a new PRO 4X off-road model that's been slotted between the midpriced SE and premium LE. It comes with Rancho-supplied shocks, 18-inch wheels and BFGood-rich off-road tires, extra skidplates, and Eaton's electronic E-locker--the only electric rear-differential locker available on a full-size pickup.
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.
|2008 Nissan Titan LWB 4x4 Crew Cab LE|
|Location of final assembly||Canton, Mississippi|
|Body style||4-door pickup|
|EPA size class||Standard pickup truck|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, 4WD|
|Airbags||Front, front side and side curtain (opt)|
|Engine type||90 V-8, alum block and heads|
|Bore x stroke, in||3.86 x 3.62|
|Valve gear||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl, VVT|
|SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm||317 @ 5200|
|SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm||385 @ 3400|
|Transmission type||5-speed automatic|
|Final drive ratio||2.94:1|
|Indicated rpm @ 60 mph||1850|
|Crawl ratio (1st x axle gears x low range)||33.4:1|
|Recommended fuel||Regular unleaded/E85|
|Track, f/r, in||68.1/68.1|
|Headroom, f/r, in||41.0/40.4|
|Legroom, f/r, in||41.8/40.4|
|Shoulder room, f/r, in||65.1/64.6|
|Ground clearance, in||10.5|
|Approach/departure angle, deg||30.4/27.2|
|Load lift height, in||37.0|
|Base curb weight/as tested, lb||5618/5918|
|Weight distribution, f/r, %||58/42|
|Max payload capacity/as tested, lb||2062/1852 (SWB 2WD CC)|
|Max tow capacity/as tested, lb||9500/9100 (SWB 2WD CC)|
|Fuel capacity, gal||37.0|
|Construction||Fully boxed ladder frame|
|Suspension, front/rear||IFS, coil spring/live axle, leaf spring|