The full-size pickup truck is as American as BBQ, and it sells like hot cakes.
But it’s not something just Ford, GM and Dodge have noticed. While Nissan and Toyota both have made strong inroads in the compact pickup truck market, they’ve long wanted a slice – even a sliver – of that huge Full-size pie.
Well for 2017 we have an all-new bigger, better, Titan. Did Nissan get the recipe right, or are they going to end up being extra crispy?
Well, they’ve certainly given it their best shot. Outside of the Nissan badge on the hood, this pickup was designed, engineered, tested and built all right here in ‘Murica. Nissan is actually offering two versions, Titan and Titan XD. The XD is a fascinating idea – a “150+” competitor, designed to wedge itself in-between F150 size trucks and larger Super Duty trucks. But the real bread and butter for Nissan is going to be the competitively sized Titan. So that’s what we tested here.
Well it sure looks American. Penned at Nissan’s Design Center in San Diego, Ca, the Titan is big, brawny, modern and handsome. And in some ways has a passing resemblance to the big Ford. No bad thing.
Perhaps the largest Nissan badge ever to adorn a vehicle sits proudly on the grille, and our tester, an off-road focused, PRO-4X model, enjoyed a handsome two-tone effect with gun-metallic paint on the bumpers, wheel arch moldings and rocker panels.
Toss in unique dark-finished 18-inch alloys and this thing looks capable and tough.
Hop in – and it’s a good hop up – and the bigness pays off in a massive interior. While lower trims offer a standard front bench, upscale versions like our PRO-4X give you handsome bucket seats with a huge center console in-between. Bring your Gatorade bottles, your laptops – there’s room for them all. Where the previous Titan had a floor-mounted shift lever, the new model has a column mounted stalk. The result: a more spacious interior and an easier reach for the driver. Win-Win.
In front of you is a set-up that will be familiar to anyone who’s been in Nissan’s large SUV’s – large, handsome legible gauges with a digital Driver Assistance Display in between. Eyes right, and you’ll spot a 7-inch color touchscreen on the center stack, and well-shaped, easy to reach and read controls for climate control, info-tainment underneath. Not that the old truck was bad, but there is also a noticeable improvement in the quality of the materials, fit and finish and detailing.
Those riding in the back of our Crew Cab will be no less impressed, the length and size of the Titan, make for comfortable leg, shoulder and headroom for three big dudes – important for a vehicle that has to work for a living. The available heated rear seats would be a fine reward after a long day at the work site.
The rear seat itself is a clever design that shows Nissan sweated the details. If you need a work desk, the split rear seatback folds forward for you. Taller items? The seat bottom flips up. There’s an underseat storage area with little cubbies to keep thing from rolling around. And if you need a flat load floor, the cover of the storage cubbie tumbles forward, and voila!
Of course the reason you buy a truck is the bed in back, and the Titan is well equipped in the bring-it department. Access is easy, thanks to a dampened tailgate the lowers smoothly and quietly. The factory spray-in bedliner is a tough, high quality piece that looks up to years of abuse. 1,940 lbs. of payload mean you’ve got plenty of capability too.
To keep bring-it from becoming lost-it, Nissan’s unique Utili-trak system features 5 channels – one on each side wall, one on the front, and two on the bed floor, so just about anything you need to tie down, you’ll find a way.
The heavy-duty aluminum cleats are infinitely adjustable along the rails, making tie-down even easier. Other thoughtful stuff: a handy, in-bed 120 Volt outlet, and LED under rail bed lights – lots of bright light filling the bed at night.
Driving the Titan reinforces the impression of a tough, well thought-out truck. The Endurance V8 is familiar, but it’s spent some time with Extreme Engine Makeover. Direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and better flowing heads bump the V8 up to 390 hp (73 more than last year) while torque comes in at a thumping 394 lb-ft. Backed up by a new 7-speed automatic, this big, heavy beast accelerates with power, smoothness, and a satisfying growl.
All that grunt also makes for good towing, with a max capacity of 9,390 lbs.Another truck must-do is towing. Nissan reduces the workload with features including a remote trailer light check that lets you cycle through your hookups from the outside of the vehicle via the keyless remote. What used to require two is now a one-man job. Smart. And the AroundView monitor with its 360-overhead view and ability to click through curbside, front and rear views means lining up for a trailer is easy. It also makes parking a large vehicle in urban confines much, much easier.
Whether parking or meandering down the freeway, big trucks can be a handful to drive precisely, but on the Titan, rack and pinion steering gives excellent feel and control. (The larger Titan XD has recirculating ball, and it is noticeably less precise.)
Another ace in our tester’s sleeve was being a PRO-4X model. Featuring a specially-tuned Bilstein suspension, you get a ride that’s compliant and well-controlled. We didn’t venture off-road, but our guess it would be great there, too. And with standard goods like an electronic locking rear diff, hill descent control and special spec off-road tires, we can’t much that would stand in the Titan’s way.
Along with that feeling of invincibility, is a feeling of quality. This thing feels beautifully put together. Even when hitting some rough stuff, the Titan was quiet, with no squeaks, rubs or graunches, feeling more like a big premium SUV.
Like all trucks, the Titan is served up in a variety of configurations. There are Crew, Single, and recently-announced King Cabs, multiple bed lengths, and 2- and 4-wheel drive. There’s also trim levels from basic workhorse to high-buck show pony. Choose and build according to your needs.
Your most basic Titan S, Single Cab 4×2 starts at $29,580. Your basic F150 V8 starts at $28,525. A specialist piece like our V8 PRO-4X 4WD Crew Cab rings the bell at $45,020. For that price an incredibly capable truck.
That said, our tester added some goodies in the way of a Utility and Tow Package ($1,820), Convenience Package that includes goodies like leather, heated front and rear seats, memory system, remote start with intelligent climate control (awesome on cold mornings or hot days) and more for $3,5020. And a Luxury Package that gives you climate controlled front seats and that awesome Around View Monitor. Yours for a sensible $750. All totaled, including $1,195 in destination charges, $52,305.
While that seems competitively priced, Nissan throws in a sweetener with America’s Best Truck Warranty, with 5-years/100,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. Ford and Chevy only provide 3-years/36,000 miles. And on a truck that may have to work hard and pile on huge miles, that’s an impressive amount of extra security and confidence.
While there’s no doubt that moving the needle – and the behinds of domestic big truck owners into a Nissan – may be a challenge, this is the truck to do it. Nissan has done their homework and it shows. Handsome, capable, strong, it’s a solid competitor in the full-size truck market. It should be on any buyer’s shopping list. This recipe is a winner. Dig in.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.