– Carmel, California
We’ve reached a very important milestone in the gradual rollout of the new Nissan Titan family. Now that the kinda-heavy-duty XD is out and selling in both gasoline and diesel forms, it’s time for the all-important half-ton version to hit the road. It’s visually similar to big brother XD, but under the skin is a very different pickup experience. It’s the workaday brute that’ll eventually be sold in a number of body styles and with two different engines. And the light-duty story starts with this Crew Cab model, which Nissan expects to account for 80 percent of all half-ton Titan sales.
Comparing Crew Cab variants, the Titan XD is slightly taller and about a foot longer than the half-ton Titan in wheelbase, but the width is unchanged. And while the two trucks look very similar, the half-ton gets a different grille, hood, and fenders; up front, only the headlights carry over from the XD. But underneath, a lot has changed – the Titan and Titan XD chassis “don’t share a bolt,” according to product planner Rich Miller.
The half-ton Titan still feels huge – it’s the width, really – but it’s a lot easier to manage.
They do share an engine, however: Nissan’s “Endurance” 5.6-liter naturally aspirated V8, tuned to 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. Two- and four-wheel drive versions of the truck are available across all trim levels, and a new seven-speed automatic transmission effortlessly manages the available power. As I recently experienced in the 2017 Armada, the 5.6 has a really robust sound, with a throaty exhaust note when you’re hammering the throttle. Even in biggest and heaviest Platinum Reserve 4x4 trim, the V8 is more than enough engine for this 5,684-pound truck. For folks who don’t need all that thrust, a V6 engine will soon be offered, though Nissan is mum on details concerning that powertrain. The V6 will surely provide gains in fuel economy, too; V8 mileage numbers are yet to be released.
But while the Titan and its XD sibling share a gas engine, the two are vastly different to drive. The half-ton Titan still feels huge – it’s the width, really – but it’s a lot easier to manage. Where the XD uses old-school recirculating ball steering, the Titan has a rack-and-pinion setup, offering better levels of communication and a more direct overall action. The chassis is completely different, and it positively affects the smaller truck’s handling.
Driving around the flat, country roads of northern California, the Titan is comfortable and collected. It’s as easy to drive as any other fullsize truck, and the better steering system and retuned chassis means it doesn’t lumber around as much, like the XD. On broken pavement and dirt roads, there isn’t a ton of rear wheel hop, and the Titan is easy to maneuver and control. Crawling through a light off-road course, the Titan can pitch and bend its way through some rough stuff, but its sheer size won’t make it a common choice for serious off-roaders, Pro-4X trim or not (just buy a Raptor if you want that sort of truck, anyway). In the city or on the highway, the Titan is as nice to drive as any other V8-powered Ford or Chevy I’ve tested, though I’ll note the Ram 1500 wins on outright cruising comfort.
This top-tier Platinum Reserve tester is one of the most comfortable trucks out there.
Inside, Titan and XD are one in the same, so interior critiques from earlier reviews carry over unchanged. To recap, my top-tier Platinum Reserve tester is one of the most comfortable trucks out there, with plush leather seats (heated and cooled), the full NissanConnect infotainment suite including navigation, and big, blocky chunks of plastic and soft-touch materials, all fitted together to create a cabin that’s both luxurious and purposeful. There are storage cubbies everywhere, and all the controls and dials are easy to use, though they feel a little low-rent for such an expensive truck. This sort of small switchgear is perfectly fine in your $25,000 Altima, but it begins to feel a bit out of place in this nearly $60,000 pickup – I imagine it’s tough to use while wearing work gloves, for example.
As far as real trucky stuff is concerned, my short test in northern California didn’t allow for any towing or hauling or serious work-type activities. By the numbers, the Titan is fairly competitive, with a maximum tow rating of 9,230 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,610 pounds. Those numbers fall behind both the Chevy Silverado (with 5.3-liter V8) and Ford F-150 (with 5.0-liter V8), which are able to tow 10,800 and 10,100 pounds, respectively. But I’m also of the belief that if you’re seriously towing in excess of 10,000 pounds on a semi-regular basis, you’re probably buying a heavy-duty truck, anyway (hello, XD).
This first glimpse at the half-ton Titan gives a promising look into the future of Nissan’s fullsize truck.
The Titan V8 Crew Cab will come in five models – S, SV, Pro-4X, SL, and Platinum Reserve – with prices ranging from $34,780 to $55,400 before options. A loaded-up Platinum Reserve tester like mine comes in just below $60,000. That’s perfectly fair; a Ford F-150 Limited starts just under $60k.
But here’s my advice for fullsize truck buying: Get the one you can get the best deal on. The Tundra aside, the latest crop of half-ton trucks are all very comparable in terms of capability, comfort, and driving dynamics, and I have a hard time recommending one more than the other. The one thing that’ll hurt Nissan for the time being is the lack of cab and bed sizes, as well as engine configurations. There are exactly 20 million ways to spec an F-150 for example, but only a few ways to option a Titan right now. Single Cab and King Cab models are coming in the pipeline, and Nissan says the full Titan lineup will be on sale by next February. For now, there’s certainly a strong argument for looking elsewhere if you desire something other than a V8 Crew Cab configuration. But this first glimpse at the half-ton Titan gives a promising look into the future of Nissan’s fullsize truck.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com & Nissan USA
Gallery: 2017 Nissan Titan: First Drive