Think of green vehicles and rarely do full size pickups come to mind. Aren't they those funny little bubble shaped technologically morphed cars, the darlings of the Hollywood tree huggers, that have been cruising around for the past few years?
Hybrids aren't the only vehicles to offer fuel savings through advanced technology, however. A growing number of alternative, or flex-fuel vehicles (FFV), are making their appearance in American auto showrooms. For 2007, Nissan's full-size Titan pickup truck becomes one with a version capable of running on a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline called E85. When there's no E85 pump around, it's back to straight gasoline for the duration.
According to Nissan, the FFV Titan will be sold mostly where corn, soybeans and other plants are grown and can be converted into ethanol. (An upcoming Altima hybrid initially will find buyers in eight coastal area states with stringent emissions standards.)
The base for the FFV Titan is a common fuel tank that can accommodate E85 and other fuel blends. Ethanol is considered environmentally friendlier than gasoline since it reduces greenhouse gas emissions blamed for causing global warming.
But beyond its unusual appetite for guzzling down a blended fuel cocktail, the Titan continues its effort to take share from the well established U.S. pickup truck market. With a powerful all-aluminum 5.6-liter V8 engine designed for heavy duty work, it has to help in that goal to have fuel savings gained by substituting a renewable energy source rather than the skyrocketing price of fossil fuel based gasoline.
The 2007 Titan, in 2WD or shift-on-the-fly 4WD and three trim levels, gains increased horsepower (317) and torque (385-lb. ft.) for more utility. A standard, heavy-duty five-speed automatic transmission helps tow as much as 9,500 lbs. A "Utili-track" tie-down bed system keeps truck bed loads in place.
FFV Titans, in King Cab and Crew Cab versions, start in the mid $20K
range and have best fuel economy of 14/18 in two-wheel-drive. Using
flex fuel could trim mileage a bit -- to about 10/13 according to EPA
Nissan also has a hybrid version of the Altima sedan, reviewed in the
upcoming RTM Sedan Buyers Guide in June.