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2008 Toyota Tundra TRD Vs 2008 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Suspension Test - Titan & Tundra Tested

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on July 1, 2008 Comment (0)
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The day after McNulty and Williams finished photographing their suspension installations, we headed to the dirt. McNulty's photo subject stayed behind, having just been sold by a local Nissan dealer. Trail Master came through with another Titan, one originally built to showcase its products at the SEMA Show. This truck had the same 6-inch lift, but was also fitted with a 3-inch body lift.

Wheeling the Titan were Joe Gatlin from Trail Master's R&D department and Barry Martin, Trail Master's machine shop supervisor. Williams drove the Tundra, with buddy Jack Adams from the Built to Grind 4WD club riding shotgun. Another Built to Grind member, Scott Maiden, took point in his TJ; and Rob Bonney, who runs the fabrication shop at 4Wheeler's Supply, came along in his Tacoma. McNulty drove our long-term Commander, and yours truly rotated among the test trucks to get their feel on the trail.

Our test traveled the Backway to Crown King, a popular 34-mile trail north of Phoenix that runs from the desert floor into the mountains of the Prescott National Forest. Editor-in-Chief Pw told us it was an easy run, and it started out that way, with most of the early going on graded dirt roads. Occasional rutted and washed-out hillclimbs were a challenge, though most of the first obstacles were accompanied by easy bypasses. As the trail progressed the bypasses disappeared, and the nicely graded road became a rock-strewn path, one that got pretty narrow in places. Sometimes there were sheer drop-offs on one side, other times the trail ran along wash-outs so deep it'd take some heavy equipment to free a stuck rig.

We ran the route in late winter, just days after a good mountain rain. So parts of the trail were dry, parts were wet and muddy, and parts-at higher altitudes-had a dusting of snow.

The first rutted hillclimb gave us a good indication of how the trucks would perform. The suspension- and body-lifted Titan easily cleared rocks and floated above gullies. Its 35-inch (LT325/65R18) Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tires didn't look super aggressive, but they handled the rocky/dirty/sandy conditions well, and their heavily lugged sidewalls bit into the sides of V-notches and kept the truck from falling in. Wheelspin was minimal; and if the truck did lose traction, the Titan's electronics would rein in the spinning tires before the locker was needed.

We knew the Tundra's aggressive, 32.5-inch (LT285/70R17) Goodyear MT/Rs would help traction, but we did wonder how its lower stance would fare against the trail's deep wash-outs and rock ledges. Williams' driving ability kept the truck out of harm's way, though he did admit the obstacles would have been easier to clear had the Toyota been taller. As with the Nissan, the Toyota's electronic traction aids kept wheelspin in check, but it took more pedal to get the Toyota's traction control to engage than it did with the Nissan.

During our time in the Titan, we noticed that the Trail Master suspension maintained that truck's soft and compliant ride, while the Old Man Emu springs and struts stiffened the already firm Toyota. This was not a fast trail by any means, so the high-speed control offered by the ARB components was not an advantage here. We wouldn't call the Toyota's ride harsh, but it was far more jittery over ruts and rocks than the Nissan's. The Toyota also made a lot more noise as it crept through the trail, with creaking and squeaking coming from the flexing frame.

We found forward visibility better in the Toyota, since the shorter lift kept us closer to the ground and the curved shape of the Tundra's hood was easier to see over than the broad plateau that was the Titan's hood. That flat hood, combined with 9 inches of total lift, meant the Titan's driver had to read the trail fairly far out in front to know what the Mickey T's would eventually roll over.

The smallest wheels Toyota offers on all Tundras, regardless of trim level, are 18s. Unfortunately, that limits your selection of aggressive off-road tires. Luckily, TRD makes this 17x8 forged-aluminum wheel for Tundras and Land Cruisers, which opens up tire selection considerably.

After Williams drove both trucks back-to-back through another rutted climb, he felt the visibility out of them was about the same. "The Toyota may be better, but I never felt blind in the Nissan." He also liked the traction aids better in the Titan. "The traction control is softer in the Nissan. I didn't feel like I had to spin the wheels so much to get it to engage." Then again, he said that could also be due to the fact that the wider Mickeys grabbed the sides of the ruts better than the narrower Goodyears. Both trucks, Williams said, had plenty of low-end grunt for crawling.

On and off the trail the Tundra's 4.30 gears had no trouble accommodating the slightly taller MT/Rs. Barry Martin couldn't say the same for the 35-inch Mickeys and the Titan's 3.357 gears. "It's more of an issue on the road than off," he admitted, "but on the highway the transmission hunts a lot, especially on grades. And our fuel mileage just goes to crap."

In the end, we'd say each suspension system enhanced, rather than changed, their host truck's ride and handling characteristics. The cushy Nissan stayed that way, while the firm Toyota got more so. Both systems carried their trucks (and their hungry occupants) to Crown King's 100-year-old saloon without incident, though over cheeseburgers and cold beverages we agreed that the trip would have taken less attention on Williams' part had the Tundra been a couple inches higher. Knowing Fred, he relished the challenge. The question is, would you?

After Williams drove both trucks back-to-back through another rutted climb, he felt the visibility out of them was about the same. "The Toyota may be better, but I never felt blind in the Nissan." He also liked the traction aids better in the Titan. "The traction control is softer in the Nissan. I didn't feel like I had to spin the wheels so much to get it to engage." Then again, he said that could also be due to the fact that the wider Mickeys grabbed the sides of the ruts better than the narrower Goodyears. Both trucks, Williams said, had plenty of low-end grunt for crawling.

On and off the trail the Tundra's 4.30 gears had no trouble accommodating the slightly taller MT/Rs. Barry Martin couldn't say the same for the 35-inch Mickeys and the Titan's 3.357 gears. "It's more of an issue on the road than off," he admitted, "but on the highway the transmission hunts a lot, especially on grades. And our fuel mileage just goes to crap."

In the end, we'd say each suspension system enhanced, rather than changed, their host truck's ride and handling characteristics. The cushy Nissan stayed that way, while the firm Toyota got more so. Both systems carried their trucks (and their hungry occupants) to Crown King's 100-year-old saloon without incident, though over cheeseburgers and cold beverages we agreed that the trip would have taken less attention on Williams' part had the Tundra been a couple inches higher. Knowing Fred, he relished the challenge. The question is, would you?

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After Williams drove both trucks back-to-back through another rutted climb, he felt the visibility out of them was about the same. "The Toyota may be better, but I never felt blind in the Nissan." He also liked the traction aids better in the Titan. "The traction control is softer in the Nissan. I didn't feel like I had to spin the wheels so much to get it to engage." Then again, he said that could also be due to the fact that the wider Mickeys grabbed the sides of the ruts better than the narrower Goodyears. Both trucks, Williams said, had plenty of low-end grunt for crawling.

On and off the trail the Tundra's 4.30 gears had no trouble accommodating the slightly taller MT/Rs. Barry Martin couldn't say the same for the 35-inch Mickeys and the Titan's 3.357 gears. "It's more of an issue on the road than off," he admitted, "but on the highway the transmission hunts a lot, especially on grades. And our fuel mileage just goes to crap."

In the end, we'd say each suspension system enhanced, rather than changed, their host truck's ride and handling characteristics. The cushy Nissan stayed that way, while the firm Toyota got more so. Both systems carried their trucks (and their hungry occupants) to Crown King's 100-year-old saloon without incident, though over cheeseburgers and cold beverages we agreed that the trip would have taken less attention on Williams' part had the Tundra been a couple inches higher. Knowing Fred, he relished the challenge. The question is, would you?

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