The new kid that looks like his big brother

Nissan released the Titan back in 2004 and basically sat on its laurels for more than a decade. Thankfully the automaker has seemingly more than made up for lost time with the 2016 Titan XD and this, the 2017 Titan. While both trucks share nearly identical designs, both inside and out, they are two trucks built for different purposes. I had gotten some quality seat time with the Titan XD at Nissan’s launch event in Arizona last year, but had yet to experience its half-ton little brother. That’s all changed.

I spent a full week with the Titan around my home turf of Central Florida. It’s not exactly truck country with rolling hills and grazing cattle, but I’m not picky. My tester came loaded out in the PRO-4X package with nearly every conceivable option besides a sunroof and Nissan’s in-bed storage boxes. Leather seats? Check. All the modern in-dash tech? Check. Trailer brake controls? Check. Enough 4WD equipment to make a Jeep Wrangler jealous? Check, yet again.

Early production units, like my tester, are only available in crew cab, short bed form. While more cab and bed configurations are coming, Nissan is smart to target the pickup segment’s core buyer first – the family. And that’s how I used this truck. I hauled my four-year-old in her car seat, the wife, and several other family members around town to various errands and destinations. Mall parking lots and smoothly paved residential streets were the norm.

So how’d the Titan handle daily living? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

  • Year:
    2017
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    Seven-Speed Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    390 @ 5800
  • MPG(Cty):
    15 (Est.)
  • MPG(Hwy):
    21 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    394 @ 4000
  • Energy:
    Direct Injection
  • Displacement:
    5.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; 4WD
  • Price:
    48000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    7.5/10

Video Review


Exterior

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The Titan is an intimidating yet playful looking truck. That’s an odd statement, sure, but imagine seeing that huge grille tailgating your Honda Civic. The Titan’s playfulness mostly comes from its PRO-4X package and bright yellow color choice. Of course, that’s not relevant with every Titan, but this particular truck looks eager to haul you, your buddies, and a trailer full of kayaks to the river for some fun. It’s just got that attitude about it.

Slightly more objectively, the truck is large. Its tall grille intersects its long hood for a girthy front clip. Thankfully the front-mounted camera makes parking easier. Its tall ground clearance makes for a high step-in height. Kids and seniors might appreciate the side steps.

Out back, the flared fenders of the cargo box are reminiscent of a pre-runner truck. The fender flares further add to the look. The tailgate features a couple styling lines, but nothing too drastic. Spring-loaded hinges make operating the tailgate a breeze. LED lights turn the cargo box into a nighttime oasis. Tailgate party goers and third shift contractors will equally love the functionality. Best of all, the LED lights not only illuminate the cargo box, but two dedicated lamps flood the tailgate with light, regardless of how much cargo is in the bed. It’s a nice touch.

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Yet another feature Titan owners will find handy is the optional Utility Bed Step. A simple push with a food extends the step, making it much easier to climb into the bed. Getting out is just as simple. Another push with the foot, this time towards the truck, retracts the step. It’s not a integrated a design as GM’s corner bumper steps, but it’s a great work-around.

Utility wise, there’s plenty to talk about. Up front, tow hooks allow for easy recovery; skid plates help protect the PRO-4X’s underside; a conventional, two-inch receiver hitch is found under the bumper; and both four- and seven-pin trailer wiring connectors are within easy reach by the license plate. What’s more, the bed has utility racks along the bedrails and on the floor. These offer tie-down points for cargo, along with accepting bike racks and other accessories.

Interior

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Those familiar with the Titan XD will instantly recognize this interior. Nissan basically uses the same pieces on both trucks. Like Ford with its F-150 and new Super Duty, this adds commonality for consumers and decreases cost for the automaker. it also gave Nissan a chance to develop one, really well designed interior rather than concentrating on two.

Included in the notable design features is the front laminated glass and three layers of dash insulation, making the new Titan three decibels quieter than the previous generation truck. The use of leather is extensive as well, at least in this well-optioned truck. The top of the dash, door panels, arm rests, and steering wheel all come covered in softly padded leather.

Comfort is very good thanks to generous legroom in all seating positions. Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats are great except for a slight lack of side bolstering. The heating and cooling functions in the front buckets are a welcomed addition. In the rear, the seatbacks are nicely reclined for a more comfortable ride. They’re not adjustable, but most riders will find them well-placed. A folding center armrest with two cup holders further makes the rear bench a great place to spend time. Add to that two air vents, heated outboard seats, a 110-volt outlet, and access to six more cup holders, and rear passengers are ready for a road trip.

In-dash technology is good, though the seven-inch screen is on the small side of modern infotainment systems. The software is also looking prematurely dated. Nevertheless, its functionality is good, especially with the 360-degree Around View Monitor camera system.

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HVAC controls are perfectly simple to operate. Dual zone temperature knobs allow for both front occupants to ride in comfort. Simple defrost and mode functions are clearly marked. Down below, a bank of switches for vehicle functions is within easy reach. For those who order the optional trailer brake controller, it lies within easy reach just past the large 4WD rotary knob.

The gauge cluster is a marked improvement over the previous Titan’s. It now comes with a center information display that’s easy to read and offers readouts on important vehicle parameters. I do wish the speedometer didn’t count by 20 mph increments. I have this complaint with many newer vehicles; It makes glancing down for speed take a micro second longer. And plus, I don’t think the Titan will hit speed above 120 mph very often anyway. Why waste the space? Exacerbating the issue is the lack of a digital speedometer in the information display.

It’s evident Nissan engineers spent time thinking about button placement for the driver. Everything that is important is within easy reach and clearly labeled. Important stuff like the start button, 4WD switch, park distance feature, trailer brake controls, headlight switch, and the manual gear sector on the column-mounted shifter are all conveniently located. I especially appreciate the removable and adjustable cup holder inset in the center console. I do wish Nissan had included more USB ports. Sadly, there is only one.

Drivetrain

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Motivating the Titan is Nissan’s heavily revised 5.6-liter, Endurance V-8. Nearly every part except for the basic engine block has been vastly updated. The mill now features direct fuel injection and Nissan’s Multi Control Valve system, which includes variable lift, duration, and timing. This gives the engine 73 more horsepower and nine pound-feet of torque more than before – resulting in a total of 390 horses and 394 pound-feet of torque.

Not only is it more powerful, the engine is now more efficient. Nissan says fuel economy has improved by three miles per gallon. Nissan’s estimated fuel economy numbers on a 2WD crew cab truck are 15 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg combined. I averaged 14 mpg over 200 miles of combined driving in my PRO-4X tester. Keep in mind, the PRO-4X package comes with 4WD and beefier tires – two things that kill fuel economy.

The engine is mated to Nissan’s new seven-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox features a wide range of gear ratios, from 4.887 in first to a fuel-sipping 0.775 ratio in seventh. There’s also a fluid heater, yep a heater, for the transmission fluid. Nissan says this helps the fluid get to temperature more quickly, allowing it to hit its optimal efficiency more quickly. Of course, the heater turns off once the transmission is warm.

The 4WD system uses an electronically controlled, two-speed transfer case to deliver power to the front wheels when extra traction is needed. In regular driving, the part-time system delivers power to the rear wheels only. If traction becomes a big issue, the PRO-4X also comes with an electronically locking rear differential. Thankfully Nissan allows this to work even in 2WD mode, giving the driver more options when navigating treacherous territory.

Driving Impressions

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The 2017 Titan is every bit a full-size truck. Its width is immediately felt from behind the wheel. Nevertheless, the steering is precise and is impressively lacking any on-center vagueness. Deep pushes into the throttle result in plenty of power rumbling from the 390-horse V-8. Thankfully the traction control system kicks in to keep the back end planted through corners. Somehow it does this without killing fun.

Visibility is good for this size truck. The large greenhouse and tall stature of the truck affords a commanding view of the road. The dual-panel tow mirrors make blind spots nearly disappear. Add to that blind spot monitoring and you’ll never have issues knowing what’s driving beside you. Atop that is the 360-degree Around View Monitor camera system. It only works at speeds less than 10 mph or so, but that’s when you need it. It makes parking much easier.

Cruising down the interstate, the big V-8 settles into a nice rumble at roughly 1,500 rpm with the transmission in seventh gear. Illegal speeds are easily obtained and maintained – not that you or I would ever do such.

There are a few negatives, however. As I mention in my video review, the steering seems unnecessarily heavy. This makes initial turn-in somewhat of a chore. On top of that, the truck’s turning radius takes some getting used to. Three-point turns in tight parking lots are the norm. Then again, that’s inherent with most full size pickups.

Price & Warranty

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As for pricing, the Titan in its base “S” trim level, starts at $34,780. This model here, the PRO-4X, starts at $45,020 – but that’s before options. As it sits, the price hovers around $48,000. As of this writing, Nissan is only offering the Titan in crew cab form. Once the extended and regular cab versions hit showrooms, the base price will definitely drop.

What’s more, Nissan is throwing down the gauntlet with its new warranty. It’s a bumper-to-bumper, five-year/100,000-mile plan. That far surpasses warranties from Ford, GM, Ram, and Toyota with their three-year/36,000-mile warranty plans. Nissan undoubtedly is hoping to spur sells with this, and for good reason. Many of its competitors had larger warranties to entice buyers during Great Recession of 2009. And while they have quietly retreated back to a three-year/36,000-mile coverage, Nissan is stepping out.

Competition

Chevrolet Silverado

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The Silverado has been around in its current form since 2014. A mid-cycle refresh for 2016 brought a new grille and other small changes, but largely, the truck remains the same. That’s not a bad thing, though, as GM is selling Silverados like crazy.

The truck comes with a full array of engine options, consisting of the 4.3-liter V-6, the bread-n-butter 5.3-liter V-8, and the range topping 6.2-liter V-8. All three engines are part of GM’s EcoTec3 family, meaning they all come with variable valve timing, active fuel management, and direct injection.

Pricing for the Silverado starts at $28,390 for a base truck in regular cab, short bed form. Expect Nissan to approach this price point with the regular cab Titan powered by the upcoming V-6. A comparable Silverado to my PRO-4X tester, a crew cab LTZ Z71, would cost roughly $49,800.

Ford F-150

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At the top of the pickup sales chart is the F-150. It’s been that way for nearly 40 years, although Ford does lump the F-150 into “F-Series” category with the Super Duty. Regardless, the F-150 remains an extremely popular choice in the segment. Ford’s latest F-150 debuted for the 2015 model year and now wears aluminum body panels on a high-strength steel frame. What’s more, the F-150 offers the most combinations of cab, bed, trim level, options, and powertrains in the industry.

Power comes from one of four engines. There’s the 3.5-liter V-6, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, the 5.0-liter V-8, and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Both EcoBoost motors use turbocharging to boost performance while cutting down on displacement to save fuel.

Pricing for the Ford starts around $26,500 Optioning a comparable truck to the my Titan PRO-4X, and you’ll be knocking on $50,000 pretty quick. In fact, building a F-150 Lariat crew cab in 4WD with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost cost just over $50,000. Option for the 502A option pack, which included many of the features found in the Titan, adds a whopping $7,795.

Honorable Mentions:
Ram 1500 Rebel
Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Conclusion

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The 2017 Nissan Titan is a fantastic addition to the half-ton segment. No longer does Nissan have the oldest truck in the fleet. That (dis)honor now belongs to Toyota. Nissan engineers obviously did their homework and built a truck that competes very well in a highly cutthroat segment. Once the Titan is past this extended roll-out stage and has all its cab, bed, and engine options available, Nissan will have 85 percent of truck configurations covered.

For me, I walked away impressed with the Titan’s presence, its interior features at its price point, its off-road equipment, the functionality of the cargo bed, and the stout V-8’s power and sound. Sure, there are some areas the Titan falls short of the competition, but by and large, the new Nissan does a fantastic job at being a fun truck that does everything a truck should.

  • Leave it
    • Heavy steering
    • Thirsty
    • Infotainment system seems dated
    • Only one USB port

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