At this point in time, every-one should have read or heard that large SUVs and pickup trucks are not selling due to their poor fuel economy. Particularly since gasoline was $4 a gallon until recently.But there are those who still need a pickup, be it for their jobs or leisure time pursuits which may require heavy-duty towing ability if pulling a siz-able boat, RV or utility trailer. For those folks, Nissan's Titan is probably the quietest, most soft-riding half-ton pickup on the market. Yet it doesn't relinquish ability (9,500 pound tow capacity) for an almost sedan-type ride.

Offered in XE, SE, LE and a new off-road-themed Pro-4X model, I tested the LE that comes with a potent Flex-Fuel, 5.6L, 317-hp V8 engine EPA rated at 12 city, 17 highway m.p.g. Far from miserly, but considering what this vehicle can do and haul has to provoke compromises.

Titan is available in Crew Cab and extended King Cab. The Crew has four full-size doors whereas the King Cab has 180 degree-opening half doors. I prefer the latter, but for families with children, the Crew is the way to go since it offers gobs of interior space (126 cubic feet).

I particularly liked that the split-folding rear bench seat bot-tom folds up against the seat-back, making for a spacious area to securely stow tools or gear. Another nicety is that the seat-backs can also fold down upon the bottoms, so you can have it either way. No other pickup offers this.

Titan gets its good ride from coil springs up front and leafs in the rear for high payload capacity.

Ergonomics wise, Titan has a reasonable 35-inch cargo load height and an easy 22.5-inch step-in height. The bed, with locking, dampened, tailgate, measured 65 inches long, 61.5 wide and 20 and one-quarter deep. For 2008, a longer bed is available and all come with a 12-volt utility powerpoint inside the bed.

Titan was also the first to offer a heavyduty UtiliTrack bed channel tie-down system plus an ingenious locking side wheel-well compartment to stow jumper cables, tow chains or tools.

With 11.48 inches of front ground clearance and 10.3 in the rear, Titan, along with its selectable 4WD system and 20 inch deep cleated tires, can traverse deep snow or outback obstacles.

Base priced at $38,560 with leather interior, side impact bags, roof mounted curtain side airbags, Brake Assist and Vehicle Dynamic Control are all contained in a $900 package that along with a 7-inch LCD GPS display system and sunroof adds another $2,220. Then there's $750 for a tow hitch, outside heated mirrors, step rails and a lower final gear ratio. All totaled, my tester, with delivery, carried a $43,280 price tag. Not cheap by any means but a wor-thy alternative to Dodge, Ford, GM and Toyota pickups.

A lifelong resident of Lehigh County, Nick Hromiak has been writing about cars and trucks for 21 years. His love of cars has evolved into penning weekly automotive reviews. He is a member of International Motor Press Association and has been published in national magazines and weekly newspapers. To con-tact him via e-mail, contact the editor at

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