'04 Nissan Titan Crew Cab
Powerful and Brilliantly Tuned Drivetrain, Innovative Interior, and Impressive Handling Earn Nissan's First FullSize Pickup the Title 2004 Sport Truck of the Year
The '04 Nissan Titan Crew Cab is our Sport Truck of the Year. And before we impart our impressions of the virtues of Nissan's newest, we have to give kudos to the Nissan design team. The designers apparently did a Vulcan mind-meld on a specific segment of the fullsize domestic truck buyer - essentially a younger, more adventurous, and style-conscious buyer - because the Titan seems to have materialized directly from the sport-trucking aspirations of that buyer.

Moreover, Nissan's demographic profile describes, with the accuracy of a JDAM, the Sport Truck magazine staff and its readers. We say this because after spending several days driving all the new pickups, it was the obvious favorite of the test crew. We credit Titan's power, handling, and interior design to make it the gotta-drive truck in the 2004 Sport Truck of the Year competition, and hence, the champion.

Exterior: That the Titan won in spite of that fact that its exterior styling was not its strong point is a testament to the overall superiority of the truck compared with its peers. In fact, the styling of the nose was a slight negative with all the staff. But the fact that the designers put the emphasis on function allowed us to suspend our initial harsh judgments regarding some of the external styling cues long enough to begin appreciating the integrity of the whole design. The innovative "wide-open" rear doors, which swing open nearly 180 degrees on the King Cab models, are perhaps the most significant of these, but the innovative cargo bed, with its employment of several aftermarket tactics for load management and convenience, was also impressive.

For example, the bed features factory-applied spray-in bedliner and a "utili-track" bed channel system that provides adjustable, aluminum-alloy tie-down cleats and optional accessory racks, trays, dividers, and modular storage systems. The truck's bed also comes with a unique lockable, climate-resistant bedside storage compartment located immediately behind the driver-side rear wheelwell, with a two-position adjustable tray and removable rubber mat. And to make managing cargo in low or no light easier, the Titan design team worked in cargo area light with tailgate illumination and a bed-mounted, 12-volt utility powerpoint. Most of these features are sourced from the aftermarket, and our judgment is that Nissan skimmed the products most popular with active-lifestyle sport truck owners. If you're going to borrow ideas, you may as well borrow the best.

Interior: Titan's interior was a hit with most of our testers; though the younger members of the staff were much more attracted to the styling. As cool as the console-mounted shifter is, the dj vu quality between it and the F-150 was uncanny. Though we think the materials choice and the overall interior design of the F-150 Lariat was superior, the cockpit of the Nissan Titan is so packed with great features that we predict even hard-core American fullsize truck buyers will have to take a long hard look at this made-in-America "foreign" pickup.

Most of our testers remarked on the sense of space in the cockpit and the comfort of the power-adjustable heated front seats. And the driver-seat memory system, which moves the seat away from the steering wheel when you open the door and slides it back in position after the door is closed, is just one of those luxury touches you don't expect in a pickup. We appreciated the fullsize door handles, knobs, and steering wheel that Nissan says is specifically designed for operation with work gloves; these features make manipulating the HVAC and audio system much less distracting, making driving the truck more enjoyable and safer. But perhaps the most appreciated little detail was the power front window with one-touch up and down functions; several testers raved about the convenience of this feature.