2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Pity the poor pickup truck buyer. Back when domestic brands were the only choices in the full-size pickup market, it was a tough enough to decide between the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, and Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra twins. Now the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan have joined the mix, it’s an even tougher decision.

Introduced in 2004, the Titan is the newest and probably the least appreciated of the six full-size trucks on the market. I doubt many domestic truck buyers consider a Titan when they’re shopping for a pickup: it’s probably not even on their radar. But after having driven the Titan (and all five of the other half-ton pickups in the past year) I can tell you that the Titan is an earnest competitor in this class.

Built like an American truck

Firstly, if it didn’t have a Nissan badge in the grille, you might not guess this truck is “Japanese”. Unlike Honda’s mid-sized Ridgeline pickup which has a unique unit body design and a transversely mounted engine with full-time four-wheel drive, the full-size Titan sticks to the tried-and-true American pickup truck format. It offers a strong fully boxed steel ladder truck frame, an independent front suspension, solid axle rear suspension with leaf springs, a torquey 5.6-litre DOHC 32 valve V8 under the hood, and is available with rear-wheel drive or a part-time four-wheel drive system with a two-speed transfer case with a Low Range.

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
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In terms of towing capacity, horsepower, torque, cargo capacity, interior room, and standard features, the Titan is competitive with any other full-size pickup on the market, in its class. All Titans offer a standard 305 horsepower 5.6 litre V8 that has a class-leading 379 lb-ft. of torque (for half-tons starting under $45,000) mated to a standard 5-speed automatic transmission. Two box lengths are available (2005 mm/78.9 in King Cab, and 1620 mm/63.8 in. Crew Cab), and towing capacities range from 2948 kg (6500 lbs) to 4309 kg (9500 lbs)(with optional towing package).

But with the Titan, your choice of bodystyles and powertrains are limited. It’s available only as a half-ton truck in two bodystyles, crew cab and extended cab (King Cab), with one engine/transmission combination. Unlike its domestic competitors, the Titan is not available with a standard V6 or an optional V10 or diesel engine. It’s not available with a manual transmission, a regular cab bodystyle, or an 8-foot box. And it’s not offered in three-quarter ton or one-ton models.

And there’s one other drawback: its payload capacity is lower than many of its competitors. Depending on the model, the Titan’s payload capacities range between 543 kg (1197 lbs) and 719 kg (1585 lbs). The Titan King Cab 4X4, for example, has a payload capacity of 1377 pounds. The Ford F-150 SuperCab 4X4 with a 5.4 litre V8 and a 6.5-foot box has a payload capacity of 1677 pounds. I find this curious since the Titan has plenty of power and torque and a strong towing capacity.


Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cabs come in three trim levels: XE 4X2 ($32,398), SE 4X2 ($35,698), SE 4X4 ($39,698), and LE 4X4 ($45,398)

My particular test truck was a ‘Matador Red’ Titan King Cab SE 4X4 with part-time four-wheel-drive and an optional towing package which raised the maximum towing capacity from 7400 lbs to 9400 lbs.

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
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My truck had $4,400 worth of options: An Off Road and Audio Package ($1,800) which included P285/70R-17 OWL off-road tires, 7-spoke alloys, Rancho shocks, locking rear differential, fog lights, and a 350 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with a 6-disc CD changer.

As well, my Titan 4X4 had the optional Tow and Utility Package ($2,600) which included a Class 4 hitch and 7-pin harness, 9400 lb. towing capacity; extendable side tow mirrors; 3.357:1 final drive ratio; Utili-Track Channel system and 4 tie-down cleats, 8-way power driver’s seat, 12-volt powerpoint in the box, a storage box in the rear fender, spray-in bedliner and bedside storage, rear back-up sensors, Homelink, compass, outside temperature gauge, and power adjustable pedals.

All of this, plus $1,330 for Freight and $100 for A/C tax came to $45,531.

Yes, that is what it costs for a nice 4X4 extended cab pickup truck these days.


Interior impressions

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
Click image to enlarge

Getting into the Titan’s driver’s seat is a tall step up, as it is for most 4X4 pickups. Once in, the cab is very roomy and comfortable, with plenty of headroom, legroom, and hiproom. The power front seats are wide with big side bolsters for support, and the driver’s seat is multi-adjustable and includes a manual lumbar adjustment and folding inboard armrest.

The imposing dashboard has those interesting yellow/amber gauges and backlighting you’ll find in other Nissans, but all the instruments and controls are easy to see and reach. The big floor shifter is also easy to operate. For storage, there’s a large open bin behind the shift lever, a huge covered storage compartment beside the driver with a lid that lifts up away from the driver for easier access, and a couple of open storage compartments on either side of the centre console, and in the doors. Two powerpoints in the console are useful for auxillary equipment.

My nicely equipped Titan SE featured a leather wrapped steering wheel, air conditioning, AM/FM/6-disc CD changer with MP3 capability, tachometer, variable intermittent wipers,

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
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power locks, mirrors and windows, sliding rear window, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. There are also storage overhead, a compass, and outside temperature display.

As with the traditional extended cab bodystyle, the rear doors open backwards after the front doors have been opened, and must be closed before the front doors are closed. Rear legroom and headroom is sufficient for adults, but the rear seatback is too upright to be comfortable on long drives.

The rear bench, which seats three, is split 60/40 and the seat cushions fold up to allow more cargo space when rear passengers are absent. As well, the front passenger seat folds flat.

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
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Titan safety features include dual-stage front airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front active head restraints, height adjustable front seatbelts, and two rear head restraints. But while stability control, side and curtain airbags are available on the Titan Crew Cab, they are not available on the Titan King Cab.

I really liked the Titan’s interior, but if I had to complain about something, it would be the quality and appearance of some of the dashboard plastics. They just don’t look quite as good as other trucks, in my opinion.


Box

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
Click image to enlarge

The Titan’s 6.5-foot box features a spray-on bedliner, tie down hooks, a bright cargo light, and an optional “Utili-track” system to help tie down cargo. A great feature, borrowed from Ford, is an assisted tailgate that’s easier to raise and lower. The Titan’s bed also features an unusual storage bin on the lower left rear fender just ahead of the bumper.

I found the loading height high, but there are plastic bed protectors on the tailgate and box sides to prevent damage to the paint while loading.

A full-size spare tire is located under the box.

Driving impressions

In terms of performance, towing capacity, interior room, and cabin features, the Titan is a match for any comparable half-ton domestic and import competitor.

The 2006 Nissan Titan King Cab is slightly shorter than a Ford F-150 SuperCab with the 6.5-foot box, but just as wide and tall. It’s a big truck, 5695 mm (224.2 in.) in length with a ground clearance of 286 mm (11.2 in.).

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
Click image to enlarge

The driver sits up high, and visibility is very good in all directions, except for one thing. The truck is so tall, you can’t see small objects immediately in front of the truck, or objects up to four feet tall immediately behind the truck. I was really glad to have the optional rear parking sensors on my truck because I could avoid hitting unseen objects like shrubs, and back up within 10 inches of a concrete wall or fence.

With a tilt steering wheel, power driver’s seat with tiltable seat cushion, and power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, tall and short drivers can find an acceptable driving position. I liked the folding inboard armrests because they make freeway cruising so much more comfortable.

The standard 305 horsepower 5.6-litre V8 rumbles quietly at idle, and acceleration from rest is immediate and brisk. O to 100 km/h is estimated at under 8 seconds. The Titan 4X4 is one of the few pickups to offer four-wheel traction control to help prevent wheelspin.

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
Click image to enlarge

At a steady 100 km/h, the Titan’s V8 engine does only 1700 rpm in top gear so it’s a very relaxed cruising experience. Engine noise is present but not overbearing, and I was surprised at how little wind noise there was in the cabin considering the Titan’s tall nose and extra large side mirrors.

The standard 5-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly, and works in harmony with the torquey V8. The transmission features a manually selectable Tow/Haul mode which adjusts shifting patterns to compensate for heavy trailers. This is a very useful feature for people who intend on towing a fifth wheel or trailer because it saves brake wear by using engine braking on downhill sections, and helps maintain momentum on flat sections and small grades by keeping the engine in a lower gear.

The Titan offers a surprisingly comfortable ride on bumpy or smooth pavement, and it tracks very well on the freeway. The front suspension is independent double wishbones while the rear is a solid axle with leaf springs. The engine speed-sensitive variable power steering is responsive but not too sensitive, and despite a wide turning circle, the Titan is an easy vehicle to manoeuvre. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD are standard equipment.

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4
Click image to enlarge

Four-wheel drive can be selected using a round dial near the ignition key. You can select 2WD (rear-wheel drive), 4WD High (50/50 front/rear torque split), and 4 LOW (50/50 front/rear torque split in a lower gear range). There’s also a button for locking the rear differential in case one rear wheel starts spinning. My truck was equipped with the optional BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A P285/70R-17 inch tires, and a tire pressure monitor in the cabin indicates if any tires are going flat.

Overall, I would say the Titan drives as well or better than other full-size pickups. It’s probably not as quiet as the Toyota Tundra, and not as responsive as the Dodge Ram, and not as comfortable as the Chevrolet Silverado, but it’s a good all around pickup.


Reliability and crash safety

Consumer Reports gives the Titan a “worse than average” predicted reliability rating, with its customer surveys identifying the brakes, body hardware, and power equipment as possible trouble spots. The engine and transmission however, are rated better than average.

The Titan has done well in crash tests. In the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) 35 mph frontal crash-test, the 2006 Nissan Titan received five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. Side tests have not been completed. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 40 mph frontal offset crash test, the Titan was rated “Good”.


Verdict

The 2006 Nissan Titan King Cab is a powerful, roomy, capable full-size pickup truck, but buyers should consider its lower payload capacity, lack of side airbags, and questionable reliability results in consumer surveys.


Technical Data: 2006 Nissan Titan King Cab SE 4X4

Base price King XE 4×2 $32,398
Base price King SE 4×4 $39,698
Options $4,400 (Off Road and Audio Package $1,800: P285/70R-17 OWL off-road tires, 7- spoke alloys, Rancho shocks, locking rear differential, fog lights, Rockford Fosgate audio system. Tow and Utility Package $2,600: Class 4 hitch and 7-pin harness, 9400 lb. towing capacity; extendable side tow mirrors; 3.357:1 final drive ratio; Utili-Track Channel system and 4 tie-down cleats, 8-way power driver’s seat, 12 volt powerpoint in box, storage box in fender, spray-in bedliner and bedside storage, rear back-up sensors, Homelink, compass, outside temperature gauge, power adjustable pedals.)
Freight $1,333
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $45,531 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
Type 4-door, 5-pass. full size pickup
Layout Front engine/rear-wheel-drive/4WD
Engine 5.6-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
Horsepower 305 @ 4900 rpm
Torque 379 @ 3600 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic w/Tow/Haul mode
Tires BFGoodrich Rugged Trail P285/70R-17
Curb weight King SE 4×4 2333 kg (5144 lbs)
Wheelbase 3550 mm (139.8 in.)
Length 5695 mm (224.2 in.)
Width 2001 mm (78.8 in.) (w/out mirrors)
Height King 4×4 1946 mm (76.6 in.)
Ground clearance King 4×4 286 mm (11.2 in.)
Box length 2005 mm (78.9 in.)
Bed width 1620 mm (63.8 in.)
Bed height 506 mm (19.9 in.)
Towing capacity King SE 4×4 3357 kg (7400 lbs
Towing capacity King SE 4×4 4264 kg (9400 lbs)(w/tow package)
Payload capacity King SE 4×4 625 kg (1377 lbs)
Fuel consumption City: 17.4 L/100 km (16 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 11.9 L/100 km (24 mpg Imp)
Fuel type Regular unleaded
Warranty 3 yrs/ 60,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
Assembly location Canton, Mississippi

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