When we put the latest crop of new trucks through our 2008 4x4 of the Year test (Feb. '08), we talked about pitting all the 1/2-ton trucks against one another in a head-to-head shootout. But after giving it some more thought, we realized that story could just be a repeat of our of-the-Year comparo. We don't like reruns any more than the rest of you, so we decided to go a different route with the 1/2-tons. Last month we checked out some choice suspension modifications for the domestic trucks; this time it's the imports' turn.
As you'll see in the following pages, Executive Editor Kevin McNulty visited Trail Master's Arizona headquarters to photograph a 6-inch suspension system going on a Nissan Titan, while Technical Editor Fred Williams took a Toyota Tundra to 4-Wheeler's Supply & Off-Road in Phoenix for an ARB Old Man Emu suspension upgrade.
Each system takes a different approach to chassis modifications. The Trail Master kit combines factory and aftermarket components to retain the truck's steering geometry and ride quality while lifting the suspension to clear bigger tires, while the ARB kit replaces the factory springs and struts with parts tuned for high-speed runs through the Australian Outback, thus the lift is a modest 2.5 inches instead of the Trail Master 6-inch lift.
Once the work was done, we put these modifications to the test on a day-long trail ride outside of Phoenix. Our story of that ride appears after Kevin's and Fred's how-to articles. Before we detail the installs, though, let's take a look at the trucks we started with.
'08 Titan: Revised for Work & Play
Nissan has fielded a true fullsize truck since the Titan was introduced for 2004, and during its run the truck has seen some significant improvements. The output of its 5.6L V-8 was increased to 317 hp and 385 lb-ft of peak torque last year; this year the line has been stretched to include long-wheelbase models and a new off-road package.
We tested a short-wheelbase Crew Cab Titan with the new Pro-4X off-road package during thi
Nissan's new Pro-4X off-road option package includes Rancho shocks, 275/70R18 BFGoodrich R
The cockpit in our test Titan wasn't quite as fancy as this factory photo-no woodgrain or
Titan chassis are now available in two wheelbase lengths-139.8 and 159.5 inches. Adding nearly 2 feet to the stretched version allowed for longer beds-7 feet behind the Crew Cab and 8 behind the King Cab-which is good news for anyone who wants to haul more than a potted tree in the Crew Cab's bed. (To be fair, we did once see a Crew Cab SWB Titan carrying two dirt bikes in the bed. But they were 100cc Hondas, and the owner had to crack open the tailgate to get even those short bikes to fit.)
The other addition to the '08 Titan lineup is the Pro-4X off-road package, which includes Rancho shocks, P275/70R18 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/As, additional skidplates, a lower 3.357:1 ratio in the pumpkins, and an electrically operated rear diff locker-something not available on the Toyota.
To refresh our memories about driving a Titan, we borrowed one to take to our Arizona test site, and it proved to be a very comfortable long-distance hauler. The cloth bucket seats were comfy and supportive, giving us not a hint of fatigue even after six hours behind the wheel. We expected the Ranchos to firm up the Titan's ride, but even with those upgrades the truck was compliant over every road surface we encountered. The 5.6L V-8's output is lower than the Tundra's 5.7, but the Titan never lacked grunt and delivered a best of 16.34 mpg on the highway, close to its 17-mpg EPA rating. Complaints? Don't really have any.
|AT A GLANCE |
| ||Titan ||Tundra |
|Engine ||5.6L V-8 ||5.7L V-8 |
|Horsepower ||317 @ 5,200 rpm ||381 @ 5,600 rpm |
|Torque (lb-ft) ||385 @ 3,400 rpm ||401 @ 3,600 rpm |
|Transmission ||Five-speed automatic ||Six-speed automatic |
|Lowest Axle Ratio Avail. ||3.357 ||4.30 |
|Low-Range Ratio ||2.596 ||2.618 |
|Front Suspension ||Double wishbone/Coil spring ||Double wishbone/Coil spring |
|Rear Suspension ||Live axle/Leaf spring ||Live axle/Leaf spring |
|Largest Tire Avail. ||P275/70R18 ||P275/65R18 |
|Ground Clearance (in) ||10.7 ||10.8 |
|Off-Road Package Avail. ||Pro-4X (electronic rear diff |
locker, 275/70R18 tires, 18-inch
alloy wheels, Rancho shocks,
skidplates, 3.36 axle ratio)
|TRD (Bilstein shocks, |
P275/65R18 BFGoodrich tires,
18-inch alloy wheels,
|Max. Payload (lbs) ||1,914 (Crew Cab SWB) ||1,925 (reg. cab) |
|Max. Tow Capacity (lbs) ||9,400 (King or Crew Cab SWB) ||10,500 (reg. cab) |
|EPA Fuel Economy (mpg) ||12 city/17 hwy ||13 city/17 hwy |
|Base Price ||$26,900 (4WD XE 5.6L) ||$27,440 (4WD reg. cab 5.7L) |