With the all-new Titan lineup, Nissan is pushing into unfamiliar territory. Previous Titan half-ton truck buyers were limited to crew cab models with a V8 under the hood, while the new Titan will offer multiple cab configurations, bed sizes and engines.
The brand is hoping the range of choices will help bring new buyers into the fold who never considered a Titan before. There is also the new XD version of the truck that uses larger axles, bigger brakes and a thicker frame to provide more pulling power and, more importantly, to bring more confidence to the table while trailering. While Nissan considers the Titan XD a truck that slots between a half-ton and a three-quarter ton, its technical classification makes it a three-quarter ton truck.
While the XD has been on the market for nearly a full year, the brand’s half-ton truck just launched, but there is already an issue with it. You don’t need to see a new Titan to realize that the truck already has an image problem. The numbers tell the story.
Stats vs. Stats
The 5.3-liter V8-powered 2016 Chevy Silverado crew cab 4×4 with a standard box can tow 10,800 pounds, the exact same amount as the 2016 V8-powered Ford F-150 crew cab 4×4. The Titan crew cab 4×4 manages to only tow 9,230 pounds, a full 1,570 pounds less than its competitors. Towing more than 10,000 pounds with a half-ton is when it’s time to get a bigger truck, but not having your half-ton at least hit that limit instantly puts it behind its competition that all crack 10,000 pounds.
Payload ratings for the Titan ring in at 1,610 pounds for 4×2 models and 1,590 lbs for 4×4, again a long ways away from trucks like the F-150, which can haul a max of 2,910 pounds as a crew cab with a V8.
Despite falling behind in the numbers war, there is one area where Nissan is bound to win customers. Every Titan buyer will get a five-year/100,000-mile (160,000 kilometers in Canada) bumper-to-bumper warranty, one of the only areas where Nissan trumps the competition, which all offer three-year/36,000-mile warranties.
ALSO SEE: Nissan Titan Lineup Gets 5-Year/100K Mile Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty
Right out of the gate, this truck certainly seems like it has a disadvantage, besides the stellar warranty. But let’s forget about the spec-sheet comparison for a second, because it never tells the full story.
The Real Story
Driving the Titan, you wouldn’t for a second believe this truck is anything less than its competition. It rides smoothly, isolates its passengers well and has a nicely weighted hydraulically boosted steering rack. Power is provided by a 5.6-liter V8 sending 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Peak horsepower is reached at 5,800 rpm, while all that torque comes on at 4,000 rpm.
Driving unladen, the truck pulls strong, with the seven-speed firing off shifts quickly. Hunting for gears or hesitating was never a problem.
On the downshifts, Nissan offers automatic rev matching, which blips the throttle to match the rpms of the engine with the spinning of the transmission, keeping the drive entirely smooth. It’s a small feature that’s easy to miss in day-to-day driving, but it truly can make a big difference when towing a trailer down a long grade, where you want your downshifts to be as smooth and gentle as possible to keep everything under control.
Unfortunately, Nissan didn’t bring along any trailers to actually let us test the truck’s towing capacity, but rest assured that we will do a proper towing test as soon as we get the truck back home.
Driving the truck is a familiar half-ton experience, just like sitting inside. Besides some styling cues (like the small black plastic buttons around the touchscreen) that I don’t think are quite as well developed as its competitors, the inside of the Titan is agreeable.
Cubbies and storage abound, thanks in part to the column shifter, which leaves loads of space for a large center console. The rear load floor does still have a center hump, though Nissan uses a system similar to Ram that features a foldable plastic deck that can be used to create a flat floor. Nissan says there is 38.5 inches of rear seat legroom and the back seat in the crew cab model was more than enough to accommodate an adult.
The only other area where the Titan falls behind a bit on the inside is with its infotainment system, which has graphics and speeds that make it feel like older technology. It’s not a bad system, but after using Ford’s new Sync3 setup or Ram’s Uconnect, it feels like the Nissan system is out of date.
For working with the truck, the Titan offers some unique features that are well thought out to make your day’s work go by quicker. The bed-mounted rail system is ideal for having cleats down low, especially handy for those hauling motorcycles or other tall equipment that is best anchored to the floor.
The bed also features a 120-volt plug to power your tools or devices, one of two plugs with the other found inside.
On the Dirt
Our time spent with Titan also included some light trail running, mostly loose dirt though some prepared off-set ruts and dirt hills were setup to show off the truck’s abilities. The Pro-4X model handled it all without issue, showing off some solid articulation from the rear end. The 22.8-degree approach angle is specific to the off-road model, and it helps to keep clear of larger rocks, though the lowest version of the truck has a 16.4-degree approach angle, so not all Titans are meant for real off-roading. Hill descent control and hill start assist are also both part of the Pro-4X package, along with a set of off-road gauges that can show the driver the exact pitch and roll angles of the truck.
Nissan has set the base price for the 2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab S 4×2 at $35,975 in the U.S., climbing all the way up to $56,595 for the top trim Platinum Reserve 4×4 model. On both ends, that seems in line with the competition, though the low end is bound to get lower when the single cab and king cab models are introduced.
In Canada, the Titan Crew Cab S will sell for a base price of $46,445, while a top trim Platinum Reserve will go for $67,595.
The Verdict: 2017 Nissan Titan Review
Without towing, it’s hard to say exactly how the Titan half-ton stacks up against its competition, but one thing is certain. This update brings Nissan back into the modern pickup conversation, all thanks to a truck that offers a solid drive, some unique features and solid warranty.
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