Six years ago may seem like ancient history, but in 2004 there were all kinds of wild notions being bandied about. In January 2004, you may recall, President Bush proposed Americans should set their sights on another flight to the moon by the year 2020 and create a launching base there for a trip to Mars.
Wild? Maybe. I guess we still have 10 years to see.
That same year, Nissan not only suggested it would launch a full-size pickup, it did so. And so, besides a dream for the moon and Mars, Americans now had the first full-size pickup by a Japanese automaker.
Nissan's indulgence in lofty notions served it well before.
The sheer brashness in thinking it could deliver to Americans a vehicle that, for many, represented the true American spirit was risky.
But there were great rewards to be had.
If Nissan could steal just a small share of the Big Three domestics' ownership of the full-size pickup market, it would be on its way to shooting beyond the stars. To ensure that American buyers got what they demanded from their Nissan pickups, it was built in Mississippi. A full-size pickup competitor was born that year.
I recently tested the 2010 Nissan King Cab Pro-4X model, and like in 2004, this Nissan can compete with the big boys.
On the outside, the Pro-4X immediately looks like it is ready to jump the pavement. Big 18-inch aluminum-alloy rims with beefy BF Goodrich Rugged Trail P275/70R tires anchor this huge truck.
The King Cab is offered with either a 6.5- or 8-foot bed. Pro-4X decals tout the high-end package while halogen fog lights and body-colored grille and bumpers give it a great-looking go-anywhere attitude. Nissan's Pro-4X is extremely capable and it will meet the needs of serious pickup drivers.
Base priced at $33,800, my tester was packed with options for work or fun, capability and convenience.
Giving the full-size Titan some credentials is a standard 5.6-liter Endurance V-8, delivering 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. Paired to a five-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy is estimated at 12 miles per gallon city and 17 mpg highway. Titan can tow 9,500 pounds and tote 1,870 pounds in its standard 79.1-inch-long short bed.
I was lucky enough to have the Titan during one of our recent Chicago snow events. I'm a pretty careful driver in snow, but with the high seating position and extra traction offered by the four-wheel system in this Titan, it would have been real easy to become overconfident. This truck simply gobbles up the road, or whatever you point it toward, and you proceed as planned.
Switching to 4H or 4LO four-wheel-drive modes is accomplished electronically via the simple turn and push of a center-stack-positioned knob. Further assistance to gain traction comes with a lower final drive ratio (3.357) and standard electronic locking rear differential. Extra skid plates shield the transfer case and oil pan.
While this Pro-4X is definitely engineered for the rough stuff, ride quality inside the cabin is outstanding.
My tester had the driver's convenience package ($2,650), which added comfortable leather front captain's chairs. Power adjustments deliver a perfect seating position and good sightlines. That $2,650 also will get you an amazing audio system upgrade with the 350-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, delivering sound via eight speakers, including a subwoofer and center speaker.
Other package extras are a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, XM satellite radio (includes activation and three months of service), Homelink Universal Transceiver and heated outside rearview mirrors.
This truck is built with utility in mind, but a nice touch of interior convenience comes in the form of a thoughtful lockable center console. The unit has the capacity to hold a one-liter beverage bottle or, by adjusting dividers, it can handle a variety of items, including hanging file folders.
In the rear, a 60/40-split folding bench comfortably seats up to three passengers. Wide-open rear doors make rear-compartment entry and exit a breeze.
Adding $1,250 for a max utility package, the Pro-4X's towing capability is enhanced with a class IV integrated receiver hitch, seven-pin wiring harness, trailer brake prewiring and power heated extendable tow mirrors. To make cargo hauling easier, the package includes the Utili-track channel system, factory-applied spray-on bedliner, tailgate area lighting and 12-volt power outlet.
Another cargo-box option adding convenience is a $280 sliding bed extender - a movable tubular cage that can be slid along the Utili-track channels and flipped fore or aft as necessary. It's especially useful as a barrier, positioned toward the tailgate, to keep cargo (groceries and luggage included) from sliding across the load floor. Adding to cargo-loading ease is a standard Easygate dampened tailgateassist; small items can be stowed in a standard lockable integrated bedside storage cubby.
While the likelihood of us getting to the moon again, and Mars, may seem questionable at best, Nissan already has landed in formerly hostile pickup country and managed to deliver a great offering in the King Cab Pro-4X.2010 NISSAN KING CAB PRO-4XENGINE:
317-horsepower 5.6-liter Endurance V-8TRANSMISSION:
all-wheel driveFUEL ECONOMY:
12 city/17 highwayBASE PRICE:
$37,980WEB SITE: www.Nissanusa.com