2008 Nissan Titan Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 24, 2008

The 2008 Nissan Titan is a solid choice for guys who don't want to drive Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Toyota.

The truck experts from TheCarConnection.com's staff pored over available reviews on the 2008 Nissan Titan. TheCarConnection.com editors also drove the Nissan Titan in order to gather the firsthand information needed to write this comprehensive review. This review also pits the 2008 Nissan Titan against other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

Introduced to rave reviews in 2004, the 2008 Nissan Titan is getting a little old. To help freshen things up, Nissan hit the front of the truck with a styling stick, totally swapped out all the wheel choices, and dressed the interior with new gauges and seats.

Since the truck's introduction, the Nissan Titan has been criticized for not being American enough in its depth and breadth of offerings. Ford, Chevy, and Dodge all offer huge ranges of models and configurations. This strategy, however, does not fit Nissan's model for the 2008 Titan. Although giving in a little, for Nissan, 2008 is the year it's made a long-wheelbase (159.5 inches) model available. Through 2007, only the standard 139.8-inch wheelbase had been available.

For 2008, Nissan also added the sporty Titan PRO-4X model, a focused performer with significant off-road capabilities. With these changes, the 2008 Nissan Titan line includes four models (XE, SE, PRO-4X, and LE) and two body styles (King Cab and Crew Cab) in 4x2 and 4x4 drive configurations, as well as four bed sizes (5'5'', 6'5'', 7', and 8'). Other 2008 Titan enhancements include an available Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System, an XM Satellite Radio tuner, a heated leather-appointed bench seat, a revised center stack, and a larger, 8.0-inch DVD screen (up from 7.0 inches).

Review continues below

The 2008 Titan's only powertrain is the powerful 5.6-liter dual-overhead-camshaft V-8 rated at 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. The Titan features a standard five-speed automatic transmission. For those living near economically viable sources of ethanol, a flex-fuel E85 version of the 5.6-liter V-8 is available.

Along with powerful acceleration, this powertrain gives properly equipped Titan models the capability of towing up to 9,500 pounds with the King Cab and 9,400 pounds with the Crew Cab. Unfortunately for Nissan, the 2008 Titan doesn't offer any other engine. During these times of high gas prices, experts from TheCarConnection.com bet that some product planner somewhere at Nissan is wishing he or she had a higher-mileage V-6 engine available.

On the road, the Titan could be considered a sportscar of trucks. While still a big vehicle, it drives smaller than it is. The truck corners with little lean, and the optional Vehicle Dynamic Control stability system worked well without being too intrusive.

Inside, the cabin is roomy and comfortable enough. Shorter drivers will appreciate the power-adjustable pedals. Some interior materials could be better, but overall the interior is more than acceptable. A full range of airbags is available on the 2008 Titan, helping to improve the safety score of five stars for driver front impacts and four stars for passenger front impacts. The ride is comfortable for a truck, but the road and engine noise can wear on you after a few hours in the driver's seat.

Grouping the domestic trucks together, they all offer more choices in terms of body styles, powertrains, and trim levels compared to the 2008 Nissan Titan. If you like what the Nissan has, then this doesn't matter. Go with what you need or like.

Another reasonable competitor to the 2008 Nissan Titan is the Toyota Tundra. Now that the truck has moved beyond its teething stage, it's worth a look, especially if you need a supersized full-size truck.

7

2008 Nissan Titan

Styling

Five years after its debut, the 2008 Nissan Titan still looks tough and big, though it’s still the flashiest full-sizer by far.

For Nissan, 2008 sees a minor freshening of the Titan full-size pickup, and it's a good choice if you think the Ford and Chevy are too conservatively styled. Cars.com says, “The Titan's massive grille is getting familiar these days; in Nissan's lineup, it adorns one other truck and three SUVs.” Even so, the Titan “looks just as commanding as a Silverado or Tundra.” Car and Driver thinks it bears a resemblance to “a little Frontier,” Nissan’s smaller truck, and divulges “the Titan's got enough fake chrome on its nose to outfit a Roppongi sushi bar.” Kelley Blue Book describes its style as "out of the mainstream" and warns, "if you like the more conservatively-styled trucks from Chevrolet and Ford, the Titan may be too flashy for your taste."

The addition of a long-wheelbase option this year is welcome. According to Edmunds, "The 20-inch longer wheelbase is available on both extended-cab and crew-cab trucks...and come with 7-foot and 8-foot beds, respectively."

Other changes for the new Nissan Titan include "some changes in the Titan's headlights and grille framework, but the differences are slight," says Cars.com. Titans with the off-road package (now called PRO-4X) receive a "PRO-4X decal over the rear fender and a body-colored grille and bumper," notes Car and Driver. All new wheels are another change, and Edmunds states, "Base XE models come with 18-inch steel wheels...Titan SE [has] 18-inch alloys...Titan LE [has] 20-inch wheels."

Inside, Edmunds likes the Nissan Titan's "spacious and functional interior design," and Kelley Blue Book calls it "bold and forward-thinking in its design." Cars.com notes the Nissan Titan has "a lot typical big-pickup fixtures [such as] hefty door handles [and] a big armrest." Nissan 2008 Titans receive new metering for the instrument cluster and center stack that "improves visual appeal," according to Kelley Blue Book.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com take issue with the placement of some switches, however. ConsumerGuide feels "some switches are mounted too low for quick access while driving," and Kelley Blue Book thinks "the placement of the power window buttons atop the door's edge makes them vulnerable to outside elements when the windows are down." Some usability of previous years' Nissan Titan is missing in the 2008 model. Cars.com explains, "Nissan redesigned the center controls this year. The chrome-ringed dials...might prove difficult to use if you're wearing gloves -- especially since the fan settings are now arranged in seven or eight separate buttons instead of a single knob, as they used to be."

8

2008 Nissan Titan

Performance

The 2008 Nissan Titan combines better-than-average handling, a standard, powerful V-8, and a five-speed automatic in a package that meets the needs of most truck shoppers.

Equipped with only a V-8 mated to a five-speed automatic, the 2008 Nissan Titan is plenty powerful, and its suspension and steering make it fun to drive, though with a hefty fuel cost.

Edmunds reports the 2008 Nissan Titan V-8 is "rated at 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque." They say it is "tractable" and "delivers plenty of muscle, right from idle [and] it sounds great, too." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com echo the same sentiments. ConsumerGuide writes that the "smooth, powerful V8 puts Titan among [the] quickest large trucks off the line...[and] passing punch is ample." Cars.com notes the ability to run on E85 is a "no-charge option." Powering either two or four wheels through the standard automatic, the engine allows the Nissan Titan to tow 9,500 pounds or 9,400 pounds on the Crew Cab model, according to Edmunds.

ConsumerGuide finds that the "transmission upshifts smoothly and downshifts promptly. The column-mounted transmission [on certain trims]...cleverly integrates a toggle control for manual shifting." Kelley Blue Book also thinks the transmission shifts "smoothly" and says their test 2008 Nissan Titan was equipped with a "gated shifter [that] made it easy to move...gears whenever we needed to apply engine braking." Cars.com feels differently about the Nissan 2008 Titan transmission: "The five-speed automatic lags a bit in kick-down response, and its shifts are on the slow side."

Advanced four-wheel-drive systems have earned a good reputation for Nissan; 2008 Titans so equipped "employ a part-time transfer case with separate high and low gears...which switched seamlessly from one setting to the next," states Cars.com.

Car and Driver reports that the new long-wheelbase Titan is equipped with a "super-tanker gas tank...at 37 gallons." That's good, considering the Nissan Titan's lowly fuel economy. According to fueleconomy.gov, 2008 Nissan Titan 2WDs achieve 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway on gasoline, 9/13 mpg on E85; 2008 Nissan Titan 4WDs achieve 12/17 mpg on gasoline and 9/12 mpg on E85. ConsumerGuide tests averaged (in a Nissan Titan 4WD) "12.1 mpg in all-city driving and 14.2-14.5 in [mixed] use." The Titan uses regular-grade gas.

For a big, heavy pickup, the Nissan Titan handles like a smaller vehicle. Edmunds notes that the "2008 Nissan Titan's precise, linear steering and nicely weighted effort make the truck relatively nimble and easy to drive quickly on pavement. However, a stiff ride quality (especially on Pro-4X models) can make the Titan feel skittish in off-road situations." ConsumerGuide says "the rear end tends to hop through bumpy corners when the cargo bed is empty [but] steering feel is accurate and the brakes deliver drama-free stops." Four-wheel-drive Nissan Titans with the off-road package enjoy best-in-class ground clearance "with over 10 inches measured at the rear axle," observes Kelley Blue Book.

The Nissan Titan's brakes are updated this year. "The front discs have increased from 12.6 to 13.8 inches," reports Cars.com. They add that the "brakes are among the Titan's high points: They're powerful but easy to modulate for smooth stops."

7

2008 Nissan Titan

Comfort & Quality

A big bed and flexible storage are high points of the 2008 Nissan Titan. Less impressive are the fit and finish, seat comfort, and too many small switches.

Changes for 2008 Nissan Titan have removed some of the previous Titan's functionality, and seat comfort is hit or miss. However, storage ability is still innovative and abundant.

Seating depends on which model Nissan Titan is selected. As Edmunds explains: "Base XE models come with a 40/20/40-split bench front seat; The mid-grade Titan SE adds front captain's chairs with a center console and leather; [and] Top-of-the-line Titan LE models add power-adjustable seats [and] pedals." In the rear, some details have been overlooked by Nissan; 2008 Crew Cab Titans' rear doors swing back 180 degrees, "but they also anchor the front seat belts, so people in front have to unbuckle if someone in back needs to get out," notes Cars.com. "Redesigned seating provides better support," writes Kelley Blue Book, "[but] some drivers also felt the seat bottoms could do with a sharper upward angle to better support their thighs." ConsumerGuide says its testers of the 2008 Nissan Titan "all agree the [captain's chairs] are substantial and supportive [and] headroom and legroom are ample." They point out that a "high step-in requires grabbing the steering wheel or assist handle to enter."

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com tout the numerous storage options of the 2008 Nissan Titan. Edmunds notes that the "rear seats fold up to provide a large load floor for hauling items inside the cab." They describe the Nissan Titan as "a great cargo carrier thanks to the optional Utility Bed Package with its durable spray-on bed liner, movable tie-down cleats, handy tailgate illumination and driver-side lockbox [located behind the rear wheel]." Kelley Blue Book calls the lockbox "perfect for storing such items as jumper cables or muddy clothing." They also like that on the Nissan Titan, the "hinged rear door on the King Cab model swings back 168 degrees to create exceptionally convenient interior access.” Pickup bed space is among the largest available: “Crew Cab beds measure 5 feet, 7 inches or 7 feet, 3 inches; King Cab beds measure 6 feet, 7 inches or 8 feet, 3 inches. That puts the Titan a hair past other light-duty pickups, whose beds max out just slightly over 8 feet,” Cars.com says.

Reviews differ on the interior fit and finish of this Nissan; 2008 Titans have materials that are "only average, but build quality is generally very good," Edmunds says. ConsumerGuide complains the Titan's cabin "is let down by an overuse of hard plastic materials and mediocre assembly quality. The glovebox lid has a flimsy, insubstantial feel."

"Road, engine, and wind noise are nicely muted, but Titan's constant exhaust rumble gets tiring on long drives," reports ConsumerGuide. And Edmunds shares the sentiment: "that booming exhaust note can grow tiresome."

8

2008 Nissan Titan

Safety

While test data for side impact crash tests is lacking, the 2008 Nissan Titan otherwise receives good ratings for front and rear impact protection.

The 2008 Nissan Titan earns high marks in front impact crash testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Titan five out of five stars for driver-side front impacts, four for front-passenger impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says front-impact protection is “good.” Side-impact scores are unavailable from these sources.

Standard safety equipment on the Titan includes active head restraints for the front seats, four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, and three-point belts for all three rear passengers, according to Cars.com.

Optional equipment on the 2008 Nissan Titan includes, reports Car and Driver, "stability control, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and curtain airbags [which] are offered on SE, PRO-4X, and LE King Cab can crew-cab Titans as part of the Side Airbag package." Edmunds clarifies that this package is not available on the base XE trim. Strangely, J. D. Power claims that on the 2008 Nissan Titan, "Traction control is standard on LE and all 4WD models, and is optional on XE and SE 2WD models."

With its high stance, visibility from the Titan is generally good. But, notes Kelley Blue Book, "drivers over six feet [tall] may find themselves staring out through the windshield's tint band." ConsumerGuide points out, "Most controls are generously sized and close to the driver, but they're not always easy to see."

8

2008 Nissan Titan

Features

Full-size trucks offer many choices between cab styles, bed lengths, drivetrains, and trims, and the 2008 Nissan Titan is no exception.

The 2008 Nissan Titan offers buyers a dizzying array of trim and options from which to choose.

Two cab styles, two bed lengths for each cab, 2WD or 4WD, and four trims are available on the Nissan Titan: XE, SE, PRO-4X, and LE. Car and Driver undertakes the arduous task of listing the features of the Nissan 2008's various trims: "[King Cab] XE standard equipment includes rear-wheel drive, ABS, 18-inch steel wheels, a full-size spare tire, a body-color bumper and grille, a locking tailgate, A/C, tilt steering wheel, intermittent wipers, front bench seat, AM/FM/CD six-speaker stereo, front active head restraints and tire-pressure monitoring." The larger 2008 Nissan Titan Crew Cab has as standard "a powered, tinted rear window, eight speakers instead of six, HVAC vents that go to the rear seats, power windows and locks and a 60/40 split rear bench."

The Nissan Titan SE King Cab gets standard the features of the 2008 Nissan Titan XE Crew Cab, plus "18-inch aluminum wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, power side mirrors, a tailgate with damping assist that makes it easier to open and close, body-side molding, remote keyless entry, cruise control, voltage and oil pressure gauges, transmission temp gauge, and overhead center console, metallic interior trim, XM and a six-disc CD changer with aux input is added, a trip computer, and an anti-theft alarm with a vehicle immobilizer."

The next higher trim on the 2008 Nissan Titan is the off-road specialty PRO-4X trim. It comes standard with "4WD, wider offroad tires, a lower final drive ratio, Rancho heavy-duty shocks, tow hooks, mud flaps, front and rear limited slip, additional skid plates, the lockable box in the rear fender, auto headlights, fog and footwell lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two-tone cloth seats, and white-faced gauges."

Top-of-the-line Nissan Titan LEs don't have the off-road equipment or 4WD of the previous trim, but they have the luxury items, plus "rear limited slip, 20-inch aluminum wheels, chrome door handles and power heated side mirrors, the Utili-track in-bed rail system, sprayed in bedliner, cargo light, sonar backup assist, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, cabin air filter, a rear 23-volt outlet, HomeLink, power-adjustable pedals and leather captain's chairs, heated front seats, and a rockin' Rockford Fosgate stereo, [among other features]."

Other major options, depending on the trim, include "a tow package, a navigation system, a DVD rear entertainment system and a sunroof." Also available is the aforementioned Side Airbag package and Utility package.

Cars.com notes that the cargo options include "a 12-volt power outlet in the bed and a tie-down system with C-channel rails along the floor and walls. The rails carry movable cleats, each rated to hold 200 pounds."

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7.6
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Styling 7.0
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Comfort & Quality 7.0
Safety 8.0
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