2010 Nissan Titan Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Powerful full-size pickup with capability and refinement.
The Nissan Titan is a full-size pickup with lots of power, ample capabilities and a level of refinement that adds to its appeal. There are two body styles: The King Cab has rearward-opening rear doors. The Crew Cab is a conventional four-door configuration and offers a choice of short or long cargo beds. The only engine choice is a very powerful 5.6-liter V8 that makes 317 horsepower; it is matched to a five-speed automatic transmission. The Titan is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive and has a maximum towing capacity of 9,500 pounds.
On the outside the Titan has a rugged, purposeful look. Inside, you'll find an attractive, user-friendly interior. There's room for a family of five or four burly fishermen. Titans range from utilitarian models with crank windows to leather-lined cabs befitting a luxury SUV. You really can have it just about any way you want it.
The strong V8 engine gets the done. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 13 mpg City, 18 mpg Highway with two-wheel drive. This is a truck for true truckers. If you have no need for its stout capabilities to haul or tow heavy and/or big things, you may be better off with something smaller and more efficient. However, if the Titan's robustness and its ability to deal with tough jobs and heavy loads, such as pulling a toy box full of dirt bikes and sand buggies, is just what you need, then the Titan will certainly deliver while cradling you in comfort and convenience every mile of the way.
For 2010, Titan receives some upgrades. On the safety side, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control, and Active Brake Limited Slip are now standard on all models. There have also been changes and additions to the available options and packages which, basically, make it easier and less expensive to equip the Titan with the features most buyers want in order to suit individual preferences.
In short, if you need a full-size pickup with power to perform and deal with heavy loads, and with plenty of room inside, and you'd also like the comfort and convenience of the Titan's level of refinement, then it definitely should be on your shopping list.
The 2010 Nissan Titan comes in a dozen versions, sorted by cab style, cargo-bed length, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, and trim level.
The King Cab, with its rearward-opening doors, is available in XE, SE and PRO-4X trim levels. The Crew Cab, with its full four-door configuration, is available in XE, SE, PRO-4X and LE trim levels. The PRO-4X models are available only with four-wheel drive; all the others offer a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. King Cab versions have a cargo bed that measures 79.1 inches long. Crew Cab models offer a cargo bed of 67.3 inches (a little less than six feet). Crew Cab SE is available with a long bed that measures 87.0 inches.
Nissan King Cab XE ($26,320) comes with cloth seating for six, active front head restraints, full instrumentation, cruise control, split fold-up rear seats, 18-inch wheels. Crew Cab XE ($28,870) also gets power windows and door locks. The XE Popular Equipment Package for King Cab ($1,090) and Crew Cab ($1,140) adds alloy wheels, overhead center console, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, remote keyless entry, Class IV hitch receiver and seven-pin wiring harness, along with pre-wiring for a trailer brake controller. Options include a bed extender ($260), splashguards ($115), rear bumper step assist ($225), under-seat storage ($150), auto-dimming mirror ($230).
Titan SE King Cab ($28,320) and Crew Cab ($30,520) upgrade with alloy wheels, chrome bumpers, upholstery and seating upgrades, a CD changer, power mirrors, tailgate assist, sliding rear window, and conveniences such as remote keyless entry and illuminated visor mirrors. Crew Cab SE is available with a longer cargo bed ($450). Four-wheel drive ($2850) is optional.
Options for Titan SE: The SE Value Truck Package ($1,350) includes front captain's chairs, eight-way power driver's seat, fog lights, Bluetooth, floor mats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, rear sonar system, and other features. The SE Popular Equipment Package ($1,100) features interior trim upgrades. The SE Premium Utility Package ($1,910) includes a Rockford Fosgate audio system with six-CD changer and eight speakers, XM Satellite Radio, power-adjustable pedals, HomeLink garage-door opener, dual power and heated extendable tow mirrors, and a lot of utility features, including the Utili-track Bed Channel system, spray-on bedliner, lockable bedside storage, front tow hooks, a lower axle ratio for better pulling power, and other worthwhile items. The SE Utility Package ($950) includes the cargo-bed-related items from the Premium Utility Package.
Titan PRO-4X King Cab ($34,050) and Crew Cab $36,420) come standard with four-wheel drive and larger, more aggressive tires, off-road suspension tuning, 3.36:1 axle gears, electronic locking rear differential, skid plates, two-tone cloth upholstery, body-color bumpers, unique upholstery and instruments, and double sun visors. The PRO-4X is similar to the SE in level of trim. Options include the Premium Utility Package ($1,560) and a Leather Package ($2,230) that includes leather upholstery, heated front seats and memory for the driver's seat, pedals and outside mirrors.
The Titan LE Crew Cab ($36,420) features leather power seats, a Rockford Fosgate sound system with XM radio, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, woodgrain trim, Bluetooth, double overhead consoles, 20-inch wheels, fog lamps, and chrome power folding heated mirrors. Titan LE Crew Cab is available with four-wheel drive ($39,120). Options include a Technology Package ($2,000), which includes a power moonroof and navigation; the LE Max Utility Package ($500), which adds towing and utility enhancements; DVD entertainment ($1,000).
Safety features include frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control, and Active Brake Limited Slip.
Everything about the appearance of the Nissan Titan is big and bold, from the expanse of chrome on the bumper and grille to the creased fenders. It fills up its space on the road and you won't mistake it for something else. This is a big, brawny truck and looks it.
The Titan also delivers a high level of function. Maximum payload tops 2,000 pounds on certain versions. Vehicles with tow or Utility packages can be rated to tow up to 9,500 pounds. Available towing features include extendable dual-element mirrors, a transmission temperature gauge, lower axle ratio, and other items. Also available is a cargo track retention system (bed sides and floor). An innovative storage box in the rear fender is ideal for wet tow straps, chains or tie-down straps. The locking tailgate is damped and assisted for easy open and close. This truck has been built for work.
King Cab versions have a cargo bed that measures 79.1 inches long (almost seven feet). Crew Cab models offer a shorter cargo bed, due to their longer body length, of 67.3 inches, which is a little less than six feet. The Crew Cab SE trim level is the only one available with a choice of a longer cargo bed that measures 87.0 inches, which is slightly over seven feet. However, the longer cargo bed comes with a wheelbase that is also about 20 inches longer, at 159.5 inches compared to 139.8 inches for the Crew Cab with the shorter bed, and that longer wheelbase could definitely hinder maneuverability in tighter spots.
The Nissan Titan cabin serves very well for truck duty, yet with comfort and convenience. It's refined and is in every way a nice place to be for traveling, whether it's to the job site or towing the boat to the lake.
Dash and door panels are easy to wipe off plastic yet do not give the impression of cost-cutting in materials. The instrument layout provides complete information and has a coherent, sophisticated look. On PRO-4X models the gauges are white-faced and sporty. LE models have enough wood-like acreage to fit in a luxury utility. The Titan can be equipped with a six-person bench seat interior or with captain's chairs in front for a five-seat capacity. Our only complaint, and it's a little one, is the tilt-and-telescoping steering column adjustment that is spring-loaded and requires you to tilt-and-telescope the wheel with one hand while the other holds the release.
You sit high and comfortable in the Titan, not squeezed but not loosely floating about. Visibility is excellent to all corners, although shorter drivers may not like the large base on the windshield pillar. The view rearward is very good, especially with the tow mirrors. An optional rear-view camera is available and we found it eased trailer hitching.
The center dash section has controls for audio, climate, navigation, and switching duty (tow mode, VDC-Off, differential lock, etc.) with an integrated look. It looks good and easily provides plenty of space for things like the dual-zone climate control on LE models.
All controls are logical and sensibly arranged, although traditional pickup truck buyers who go for six seats will have to adapt to wipers and shifter on the same side of the wheel. With deep bins in the center console and smaller ones along the sides, big door and seatback pockets, and generous cup holders, you'll find a place to put virtually anything.
Entry and exit is simple. Running boards are available if you value deportment above ground clearance, but we often find running boards more in the way than helpful.
The rear doors on King Cabs swing almost 170 degrees for easy access and there's room back there for six-footers on short-to-moderate-length trips. Crew Cab rear seats are downright spacious and eclipsed only by the Toyota Tundra CrewMax.
You won't see any of the noise-reduction materials inside (unless you're under the dash installing a brake controller with the tow-package pigtail), but if you've ever been in an earlier (pre-2008) Titan you will notice the current models are much quieter and smoother.
The Nissan Titan has been recognized for its stout drivetrain. It comes standard with the big V8 and a five-speed automatic transmission. Although it doesn't have as much horsepower as GM's larger V8 choices or Dodge's Hemi, it's great on torque. We think a Titan will outrun many pickups and deliver competitive mileage to similar configurations; only the Tundra's 5.7-liter/six-speed automatic and GM's 6.2-liter/six-speed automatic combinations challenge it. The exhaust keeps the V8 rumble so adored by truck buyers while eliminating the drone that could wear on long highway trips.
The fuel economy is not great, but then, this is a big, strong truck. The EPA ratings are 13 mpg City, 18 mpg Highway with two-wheel drive and 12/17 with four-wheel drive. If you want a vehicle with this level of capability, it will deliver this level of fuel economy.
We found the transmission responds smoothly and crisply as conditions dictate. A proper gated floor shift allows direct access to any gear without pressing any buttons, and a comfortable grip and good location adjacent to the driver's leg encourages one to use it.
Four-wheel drive and low range are electrically shifted by a rotary dash knob. The electric-locking rear differential (PRO-4X only) is more effective in severe terrain than the all-wheel electronic traction control of regular 4WD Titans and most competitors. There is no automatic 4WD setting for on-road use, but if the electronic traction aids and common sense aren't enough perhaps you should be in 4WD high range.
Pickup trucks aren't held in high regard for ride comfort or handling prowess yet they have made strides in both. The longer wheelbase only betters cruising comfort but even the short-wheelbase Titans will generate no complaints, at least not from anyone who knows what a ton of payload means. Off-road biased suspension tuning with lots of travel, shocks built specifically for it, and large tires on the PRO-4X contribute to ride softness without giving up control, while the 20-inch wheel/tire combo on LE models offers crisper turn-in for cornering but transmits bumps more.
The brakes have significant swept area, a prime indicator of braking capacity, and the Titan has performed well in braking performance tests.
The 2010 Nissan Titan boasts a robust powertrain with responsive acceleration, good brakes, a comfortable cabin and plenty of feature choices. But pickups are all about carrying or towing stuff and the Titan will get those jobs done, with payload ratings that reach above 2,000 pounds, and good towing performance.
G.R. Whale filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Minneapolis.
Nissan Titan XE King Cab 2WD ($26,320); XE Crew Cab 4WD ($31,720); PRO-4X Crew Cab 4WD ($36,250); LE Crew Cab 4WD ($39,120).
Options As Tested
PRO-4X Premium Utility Package ($1,560).
Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X ($36,250).
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