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by Steve Siler

Nissan Titan
2003 Nissan Titan

Nissan's first try at a full-size truck is bound to shake things up at least as much as Dodge did with its bad boy Ram back in '94 and Toyota did a few years later with its wonderfully refined Tundra.

Now, unlike the Tundra, the Titan is not going to face criticism for being too soft, or too small. It indeed is as massive as it looks. And like its little brother, the Frontier, the Titan will only be available in King Cab and Crew Cab configurations. Unlike the Frontier, however, the King Cab model will have rear access doors to make getting into the space behind the front seats easier for people and things. In fact, those rear doors will swing rearward a full 180 degrees to make loading of people, cargo and groceries a cinch. The Crew Cab is even more accommodating, but with exterior length so considerable that perhaps it should be called the Titanic, not the Titan.

Both offer spacious interiors, designed in as avant garde a fashion as any recent Nissan. The plentiful metal trim on the dash, doors and steering wheel-a fresh change from the conservative interiors we've seen in the truck world for so long.
The Titan promises to do well what trucks traditionally do best: haul. Behind that big blunt nose is a 5.6-liter V-8 that makes over 300 horsepower (final specs weren't available at the time of writing) and about 375 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a 5-speed automatic as standard equipment, whereas automatics are optional on most of its competitors.

All said, it can tow up to 9,400 pounds. The bed itself has a standard sprayed-in bed liner to keep things attractive even after years of abuse. There also is a small cargo cubby located just aft of the driver-side rear wheel for things like jumper cables or work gloves. Cool.