Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2009 Nissan Titan Crew Cab
What's New for 2009
After significant updates last year, the 2009 Nissan Titan features minor changes to optional content for each trim. A new Titan Heavy Metal Package that includes chrome step rails, wheels and billet grille also debuts.
Be it the Jupiter moon, the American Gladiator or Nissan's pickup, the word "Titan" equates to big things. Built in Tennessee (also home to the NFL's Titans), Nissan's big truck was the first from a foreign manufacturer to take the full-size pickup game seriously, with the serious power and serious size needed to take on the domestic pickups that had been developed and refined over decades. Now in its sixth year of production, though, the 2009 Nissan Titan is starting to look like an elderly gentlemen among spry young dudes -- by the end of 2009, all its competitors will have undergone a major overhaul.
While the Titan is starting to look long in the tooth, it remains a good choice. Its 5.6-liter V8 is thoroughly beefy and can easily handle whatever towing and hauling tasks its owner throws behind it. Last year's addition of a long-wheelbase model gives buyers a greater selection of body choices -- no longer does opting for the Crew Cab mean getting a dinky bed. Still, compared to competitors from Dodge, Ford, GM and Toyota, the Titan doesn't offer the same amount of endless powertrain and body-style options to private and commercial buyers. In particular, the 5.6-liter V8 is Nissan's lone engine choice, while the others feature multiple V8s and more fuel-efficient V6s.
With $5-a-gallon gasoline approaching reality, full-size pickups are losing their appeal faster than the musical stylings of Clay Aiken. Nowadays, only those who truly need the massive capabilities of a full-size pickup will be taking the plunge. For those buyers, the 2009 Nissan Titan doesn't make much sense, given that newer models, with a greater variety of body styles and powertrains, are offered that will meet those needs better. The Titan may be big, but it's far from the best.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Nissan Titan is a full-size pickup truck. It is available in King (extended) Cab and Crew Cab configurations. The King Cab gets a choice of 6-foot-6-inch or 8-foot beds, while the Crew Cab gets either a 5-foot-6-inch or 7-foot bed. From there, the Titan is available in XE, SE, Pro-4X and LE trim levels.
The Titan King Cab XE comes standard with 18-inch steel wheels, a lockable tailgate, 40/20/40 front bench seat, 60/40-split rear bench seat, air-conditioning, front manual windows and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player. The Titan Crew Cab XE adds power windows and locks, a power vertical-drop rear window and an eight-speaker stereo. The XE Popular Equipment Package adds 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a front overhead console, a chrome grille and, on the King Cab, a sliding rear window.
The Titan SE adds the content of the XE's Popular Equipment Package, plus power mirrors, keyless entry, a dampened-assist tailgate, manual lumbar support, a trip computer, an auxiliary audio jack and an in-dash six-CD changer with MP3 capability. The SE Popular Equipment Package adds an eight-way power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass. The SE Driver's Convenience Package adds front captain's chairs with eight-way power driver adjustment, a console-mounted shifter, Bluetooth, satellite radio capability and a premium Rockford Fosgate sound system. This package includes a sunroof on Crew Cabs.
The Titan LE includes all the above equipment (except the sunroof), plus dual-zone automatic climate control, driver memory functions, a leather-wrapped shifter, a universal garage opener and wood trim. The Crew Cab version adds a pair of extra speakers to bring the Rockford Fosgate system's total to 10.
The Pro-4X trim is available only with four-wheel drive and is equipped similarly to an SE with Popular Equipment and Driver's Convenience packages. It adds Rancho shocks, heavy-duty skid plates, a lower final-drive ratio, all-terrain tires and a push-button rear locking differential. The Pro-4X Driver's Convenience Package includes leather upholstery, driver memory functions, heated mirrors, Bluetooth and the Rockford Fosgate sound system.
The Technology package adds a navigation system to Pro-4X and LE trim levels, along with a sunroof in the Crew Cab. The Entertainment Package adds a rear-seat DVD player and an LCD screen to the Pro-4X and LE. The LE can also be equipped with a power heated split front bench. Available on the SE and LE is the Heavy Metal Edition package that adds chrome step rails, wheels and billet grille.
Each trim also is available with a Max Utility Package that adds such items as a spray-in bedliner, a receiver hitch, a seven-pin wiring harness, a heavy-duty battery, front tow hooks and power heated extended tow mirrors (Pro-4X and LE).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Nissan Titan is available with two-wheel drive or 4WD. There is only one powertrain combination: a 5.6-liter V8 hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission. The V8 is rated at 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. With the optional tow package, the Titan extended cab is rated to pull up to 9,500 pounds. (The crew cab maxes out at 9,400.) The transmission features a tow-haul mode for handling heavy loads.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Titan 4X4 is 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined. The 2WD Titan nets virtually identical mileage.
Antilock disc brakes are standard on all Titan models. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are optional on all trim levels, while stability control is optional on all but the XE.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, the Titan received a perfect five stars for driver protection in frontal impacts and four stars for passenger protection. The Titan earned a "Good" rating (the highest possible) in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Both King Cab and Crew Cab Titans feature a spacious and functional interior design, with easy-to-use controls and numerous storage bins. Materials quality is only average, but build quality is generally very good. The rear seats fold up to provide a large load floor for hauling items inside the cab, and the rear doors on extended-cab models open nearly 180 degrees for easier access. With standard and optional features like a durable spray-on bedliner, movable tie-down cleats, handy tailgate illumination and a driver-side lockbox, the Titan can be quite the hard-working truck.
The 2009 Nissan Titan's precise, linear steering with nicely weighted effort makes the truck relatively nimble and easy to drive on pavement. However, the rather stiff suspension (especially on Pro-4X models) can make the Titan feel skittish in off-road situations. The Titan's tractable 5.6-liter V8 delivers plenty of muscle right from idle. It sounds great, too, but that booming exhaust note can grow tiresome on long drives.