2009 Nissan Titan Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 16, 2009

The 2009 Nissan Titan won't meet all specialized work needs, but it's a good, powerful hauler with a comfortable interior.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the 2009 Nissan Titan on- and off-road to bring you their overall take on how the Titan ranks next to other full-size rigs. TheCarConnection.com's experts have also read other reviews on the Web to bring you a wide range of opinions and help you to make a smart buying decision for your next truck.

The Nissan Titan was first introduced in 2004 to glowing reviews across the board. For 2009, the truck is still a strong choice—but in some ways it feels a bit dated. The exterior and interior were slightly revised for 2008, and the exterior in particular stands up well, with a macho look that doesn't blend in with the rest of the pack.

Nissan finally made a long-wheelbase (159.5 inches) model available last year. Through 2007, only the standard 139.8-inch wheelbase had been available. Ford, Chevy, and Dodge all offer huge ranges of models and configurations, while the Titan has been stalwart in its limited range. However, the 2009 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').

The 2009 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. Fuel economy is poor; the combination gets ratings as low as 12 mpg city, and TheCarConnection.com has seen even worse numbers in real-world driving.

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Along with powerful acceleration, this powertrain gives properly equipped Titan models the capability to tow up to 9,500 pounds with the King Cab and 9,400 pounds with the Crew Cab.

On the road, the Titan could be considered a sports car 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 works well without being too intrusive. 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.

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 2009 Titan, helping to improve the safety score to five stars for driver front impacts and four stars for passenger front impacts.

Options include a 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). New for 2009 is a Max Utility Package that combines towing and bed-utility features.

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2009 Nissan Titan

Styling

The 2009 Nissan Titan is a good-looking vehicle, with an emphasis on strength and toughness.

Reviewers find the 2009 Nissan Titan has fairly attractive styling that benefits from a 2008 redo. It's much less conservative than options from Ford and Chevy, but its chunky look continues to find fans.

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." 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 snipes "the Titan's got enough fake chrome on its nose to outfit a Roppongi sushi bar."

The 2008 addition of a long-wheelbase option 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."

2008 brought "some changes in the Titan's headlights and grille framework, but the differences are slight," says Cars.com. Edmunds states, "Base XE models come with 18-inch steel wheels...Titan SE [has] 18-inch alloys...Titan LE [has] 20-inch wheels." Titans with the off-road package receive a "PRO-4X decal over the rear fender and a body-colored grille and bumper," notes Car and Driver.

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

Cars.com isn't a big fan of the controls design. "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," the reviewer remarks. 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."

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2009 Nissan Titan

Performance

The 2009 Nissan Titan's standard V-8 should make most drivers happy—provided they have an adequate fuel budget.

Reviewers love the 2009 Nissan Titan's V-8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission, but not the fuel it requires.

ConsumerGuide proclaims that the "smooth, powerful V8 puts Titan among [the] quickest large trucks off the line...[and] passing punch is ample." Reviewers like that the V-8 engine is standard in the 2009 Nissan Titan. Edmunds reports the 2009 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." Cars.com notes the ability to run on E85 is a "no-charge option." The engine allows the Nissan Titan to tow 9,500 pounds or 9,400 pounds on the Crew Cab model, according to Edmunds.

Cars.com is not a fan of the five-speed automatic transmission that comes standard on the 2009 Nissan Titan: "The five-speed automatic lags a bit in kick-down response, and its shifts are on the slow side." ConsumerGuide, however, 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 concurs that the transmission shifts "smoothly" and says their test 2009 Nissan Titan is equipped with a "gated shifter [that] made it easy to move...gears whenever we needed to apply engine braking."

Advanced four-wheel-drive systems earn a good reputation for Nissan; 2009 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.

The Titan uses regular-grade gas—and a lot of it. 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. ConsumerGuide tests average (in a Nissan Titan 4WD) "12.1 mpg in all-city driving and 14.2-14.5 in [mixed] use." According to FuelEconomy.gov, 2009 Nissan Titan 2WDs achieve 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway on gasoline, 9/13 mpg on E85; 2009 Nissan Titan 4WDs achieve 12/17 mpg on gasoline and 9/12 mpg on E85.

For a big, heavy pickup, the Nissan Titan handles like a smaller vehicle. 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." Edmunds notes that the "2009 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." 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.

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2009 Nissan Titan

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Nissan Titan offers flexible storage spaces and a sizable bed. Fit and finish, however, don't live up to any sort of promises.

Reviewers find that the 2009 Nissan Titan misses the mark in a few key areas.

The utility and comfort of the seating in the 2009 Nissan Titan has a lot to do with 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." ConsumerGuide says its testers of the 2009 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." "Redesigned seating provides better support," asserts Kelley Blue Book, "[but] some drivers also felt the seat bottoms could do with a sharper upward angle to better support their thighs."

In the rear, some details are overlooked by Nissan; 2009 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.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com tout the numerous storage options of the 2009 Nissan Titan. 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." 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]."

Pickup bed space in the 2009 Titan 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.

ConsumerGuide complains that 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." Edmunds, however, disagrees, contending that materials are "only average, but build quality is generally very good."

"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."

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2009 Nissan Titan

Safety

The 2009 Nissan Titan has good occupant protection, but side airbags and stability control are still optional, whereas they're standard on other trucks.

The 2009 Nissan Titan performs acceptably—but not outstandingly—in the safety category, according to reviewers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says front-impact protection is "good." 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.

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.

J. D. Power claims that on the 2009 Nissan Titan, "Traction control is standard on LE and all 4WD models, and is optional on XE and SE 2WD models," which seems to be at odds with what some other reviewers report. Optional equipment on the 2009 Nissan Titan includes, according to Car and Driver, "stability control, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and curtain airbags [which] are offered on SE, PRO-4X, and LE King Cab and crew-cab Titans as part of the Side Airbag package." Edmunds clarifies that this package is not available on the base XE trim.

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

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2009 Nissan Titan

Features

The 2009 Nissan Titan offers plenty of features and especially shines with respect to utility options.

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 2009'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, [and] front bench seat." Other standard features include AM/FM/CD six-speaker stereo, front active head restraints, and tire pressure monitoring. The larger 2009 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 the features of the 2009 Nissan Titan XE Crew Cab as standard, plus "18-inch aluminum wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, power side mirrors, [and] a tailgate with damping assist that makes it easier to open and close." Other features of the SE include voltage and oil pressure gauges, transmission temp gauge, body-side molding, remote keyless entry, cruise control, overhead center console, metallic interior trim, XM, and a six-disc CD changer with aux input, a trip computer, and an anti-theft alarm with a vehicle immobilizer.

The next higher trim on the 2009 Nissan Titan is the off-road specialty PRO-4X. According to Car and Driver, the PRO-4X is nothing sort of "well equipped." It comes standard with "4WD, wider offroad tires, and a lower final drive ratio." Other features on the Nissan Titan PRO-4X 2009 trim include 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 have the luxury items, plus "rear limited slip, 20-inch aluminum wheels, chrome door handles and power heated side mirrors, [and] the Utili-track in-bed rail system." Kelley Blue Book points out that "an optional spray-in bedliner applied at the factory covers the entire cargo bed floor." Other key features of the top-of-the-line model include a 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.

New for 2009 is a Max Utility Package, which combines towing and bed-utility features for those seeking extra muscle and a bit of brawn.

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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Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 8
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