New & Used Nissan Titan: In Depth
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The Nissan Titan is a full-size pickup that's a rival for the toughest trucks from Ford, Chevy, GMC, and Ram. It shares some running gear with Nissan's full-size Armada SUV--as well as some of its frame with the mid-size Frontier truck.
The Titan went on sale as Nissan's first full-size truck in the 2004 model year. It hasn't been the sales titan Nissan had planned. Buyer loyalty to the Ram 1500, F-150, Silverado and Sierra is very strong, as Toyota also has discovered with its full-size Tundra pickup.
Both the Nissan Titan and the related Frontier are built at Nissan's assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.See our 2015 Nissan Titan review for more details, specifications, and pricing.
Now in its 12th model year on sale, the Titan remains a good-looking truck. 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 hasn't aged as well.While most rival large pickups—especially those from the U.S. automakers—have targeted work use and company fleets, Nissan has always stayed 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 it's only offered with a large 5.6-liter V-8 engine.
That V-8 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.
For those who don't mind, 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 the unique 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.
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.
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.
A new Titan is expected to be shown at the 2015 Detroit auto show or possibly even earlier at the 2014 L.A. auto show. The 2016 Nissan Titan should be extensively reengineered and completely redesigned, and a clean-diesel engine option has been confirmed. The Titan will get a 5.0-liter diesel from Cummins, suggesting that a heavy-duty model may be offered alongside the usual light-duty versions.