New & Used Nissan Titan: In Depth
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The Nissan Titan went on sale as the company's first full-size truck in the 2004 model year. But it hasn't been the sales titan Nissan had hoped for. Fervent buyer loyalty to the Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra is very strong, as Toyota also has discovered with its full-size Tundra pickup.
The Nissan Titan is built in Nissan's plant in Canton, Mississippi and shares running gear with the company's full-size Armada SUV as well as a few pieces with the mid-size Frontier pickup. A new Titan is available for the 2016 model year with long overdue improvements.
See our 2016 Nissan Titan review for more details, specifications, and pricing.
Now in its 12th model year on sale, the Titan remains a good-looking truck. With styling basically unchanged since it was launched, the Titan takes a nod from Nissan's SUVs with its masculine blend of lines and curves, its flared fenders and its big, bright chrome grille. The cabin is similarly stuck in time but hasn't aged as well as the sheetmetal.
While most rival large pickups—especially those from the U.S. automakers—have targeted work use and company fleets, Nissan has always focused on personal and recreational use for the Titan. The Titan has never come in a stripped-down base model, nor in a heavy-duty edition; focused models aim at off-roading and towing, but the truck is only offered with a large 5.6-liter V-8 engine.
That V-8 originally made 305 horsepower and 379 pound-feet of torque—upgraded to 317 hp and 385 lb-ft in 2007—which especially at the time of the Titan's 2004 introduction made it one of the fastest, most powerful standard-equipment trucks. However fuel economy is unimpressive—count on low teens in the city, and don't count on any optional smaller engine.
With its responsive five-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive, the powertrain is positively quick, and handling is good. Road noise is more accentuated than with other full-size trucks, though, and the rumbly, ever-present nature of the engine won't suit everyone.
The Titan's biggest change came in 2007, when Nissan introduced long-wheelbase models for the first time. That allowed many more build variations, and at the same time, payload capacity was increased. Titan models can now carry up to 9,500 pounds. Most Titans receive a factory spray-in bedliner, and Nissan has offered some unique storage options like the cleated tie-downs that slide up and down tracks to secure a small, heavy object like an engine block. Other truck manufacturers have adopted forms of those features since.
The Titan offers configuration choices similar to those of the other big trucks, although not quite as many. Beds come in 6.5- or 8.0-foot lengths. The King Cab is what most refer to as an extended cab, while the Crew Cab is a true four-door with plenty of room for adults in the rear. It's comfortable inside, with convenience features being added over the years and including items like a DVD entertainment system, satellite radio, and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Safety hasn't been the Titan's forte. In recent years it's achieved less-than-optimal results from both major crash-test organizations, though electronic stability control has been standard for many years and was optional when the Titan was first introduced.
At one point before Chrysler's bankruptcy, Nissan planned to replace the Titan with a version of Chrysler's Ram 1500. That plan was scuttled after Fiat assumed control of the Detroit automaker, however. Because of the abrupt change in plans, Nissan basically had to start at square one for its new full-size truck, leading to the big delay in replacing the aging model.
The Titan has changed very little over the past several years, although in the 2013 Titan Nissan freshened the look of the off-road-themed PRO-4X. At the same time it gave all Titans a new tailgate design, with a few other minor appearance changes, and made the navigation system (with a USB port and satellite radio) more widely available.
The next Titan
The first of the new Titan models was shown at the 2015 Detroit auto show in January. The 2016 Nissan Titan has been extensively reengineered and completely redesigned, with the star of the lineup being a new XD model that is available with a 5.0-liter Cummins diesel V-8 making 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. A gas V-8 will once again be available. With the right equipment, the XD can tow up to 12,000 pounds, putting it somewhere between the capability of a half-ton and a three-quarter-ton truck. New options include in-bed lighting, a factory gooseneck setup, lockable bedside storage, and of course the latest infotainment features in the completely redesigned and modern interior. Nissan will show other models besides the XD at a later date.