On a trout-fishing trip in the fade of fall in northern New Hampshire, we filled it with firewood for a campsite and loaded it with kayaks as well as camping and fishing gear. We also expected it to protect our fishing rods and delicate collections of hand-tied flies. Then we asked it to perform like a brute, traveling over back trails and jaw-jittering back roads.
Our test truck, the 2008 Nissan Titan 4x4 SE, proved sedan-smooth in highway cruising up through what locals call "The Notches," yet it was nimble, stable and quiet on the rough roads that wind toward Maine, Vermont, Canada and, we hoped, a pan full of trout.
This is a big truck that sometimes requires multiple turns and fixes to park at the supermarket. But it does have reasons to exist: for work at construction sites, as a heavy home hauler or farm wagon, and, in this case, for sporting uses.
Like all pickups, it is easy to build on the base-price model, depending on what you need or want and how much you are willing to pay. But consider what's included in the $32,000 base price. There are four doors leading to a spacious interior with lots of leg room fore and aft and overhead clearance that can accommodate the tallest occupants. Typical of Asian manufacturers, Nissan made all the interior controls big and easy to figure out.
The standard 5.6-liter V-8 puts out 317 hp, which doesn't sound overwhelming for a crew cab truck with a 7-foot, 3-inch bed. Still, it was powerful on highways and surprisingly quiet even when pushed hard. Surprisingly for a pickup, the rear wheels remained stable even in situations where you might assume four-wheel drive would be needed.
Nissan Titan 4X4 SE
TYPE: Full size four-wheel-drive pickup truck.
BASE PRICE: $32,000 ($40,350 as tested).
ENGINE: 5.6-liter V-8 generating 317 hp.
EPA MILEAGE EST. : 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway.
OPTIONS: Steering wheel audio controls, backup sonar warning, hands-free telephone for $2,250; $1,450 DVD player and remote control; $1,200 front seat side air bags, roof-mounted head bags and dynamic vehicle control; $450 tow package with hitch, electric harness and heavy-duty battery.
And four-wheel drive is available through a two-speed transfer case with both Hi and Lo, shift-on-the-fly options. Yet field to stream, and even on late-night runs as we cruised looking for moose in full rack, we did not need that extra oomph. The set and strength of the rear wheels and their push were plenty. I can only wonder how much of a powerful, forward-pushing rig this would be in deep snow or an ugly bog.
Our test model came with 18-inch alloy wheels, a locking tailgate and cargo-bed light, tow hooks up front, an eight-speaker sound system, a front passenger seat that folded flat to act as a tray, a 60/40 split rear seat that folded up for cargo, and an electronic brake force distribution system.
The throttle response was delicate in a way that isn't normally found in a truck, with the slightest of touches or back-offs yielding appropriate changes in aggression.
We ended up with a price tag of more than $40,000 for our test vehicle. Some of the add-ons were necessary, some were not and others should be standard. Want floor mats? They cost an extra $125.
:upsidedow All that said, we were not good to this truck. But it sure was good to us.
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