Nissan North America has claims to have undercut its US-based rivals with base retail prices of $US22,400 and $25,100 respectively for its 2004 Titan King Cab and Crew Cab full-size pickup trucks which go on sale in early December.

Full-size pickup trucks are seen as one of the last bastions of Detroit's Big Three to hold out against the onslaught of foreign brands and the arrival of the Titan - Japan's first genuine rival for the likes of the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado - is being watched with great interest, and possibly some trepidation, depending on the observer's point of view.

Announcing the figures, which range from $22,400 for a two-wheel-drive King Cab XE to a four-wheel drive Crew Cab LE at $34,200, Nissan said its retail prices for Titans with certain packages of options will be about $3,000 below comparably equipped F-150 pickups, the market-leading model line.

A "popularly equipped" two-wheel-drive Titan King Cab model will have a $26,500 base price, compared with $29,555 for a comparable Ford, $ 30,055 for a comparable Ram, and $30,466 for a comparable Silverado, Nissan said.

"Our new Titan offers lower MSRPs and more standard features than comparable 2004 Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram models," said senior vice president sales and marketing, Nissan North America, Jed Connelly.

"Titan enters the highly competitive, incentive-laden full-size truck segment with not only unique product attributes but with a unique value pricing philosophy," Connelly added.

"We are pricing Titan with realistic MSRPs that we believe will be closer to the actual prices consumers will pay - rather than pricing higher with room factored in from the beginning for heavy incentives and discounting."

The Titan joins the similarly styled and specified full-size Pathfinder Armada sport utility vehicle which went on sale in October. Both are assembled at Nissan's new $1.43 billion manufacturing facility in Canton, Mississippi.

The Titan has a 305 horsepower/379 lb-ft torque-rated 5.6-litre V8 engine, standard five-speed automatic transmission and a wide variety of standard or optional features such as the high-utility load bed with utili-track channel tie-down system and standard wide-open rear doors on all King Cab models.

The Titan has already been singled out for multiple awards. Both Four Wheeler and Sport Truck magazines named the Titan its 2004 truck of the year. Also, Smart Money magazine selected the Titan over its competitors for its smart money award., a consumer automotive information website, picked the Titan as its most significant vehicle of the year for 2004.