- Feels quick
- Cargo-friendly bed
- Good ride and handling
- That NASCAR engine note
- Engine noise goes on, and on
- Gas mileage is low
- No V-6 model
- Safety scores are poor
The 2012 Nissan Titan has held up well over a long lifespan, but its gas mileage, towing and hauling, and performance have fallen to the back of the full-size pickup truck pack.
The Nissan Titan hasn't changed much since it was introduced in the 2004 model year. And though it's the slowest-selling full-size pickup, the Titan still competes well enough with the likes of the Chevy Silverado and Toyota Tundra, with great towing and powertrain performance, with one of the most distinctive looks and sounds in the full-size segment.
Nissan took a chance with the Titan's bold exterior styling, and it's help up well over its nine model years, with just a few minor changes to trim pieces. Not everyone's a fan of the curved roofline and the very brawny front end, though. The Titan's one of the most aggressively styled trucks, and its upright appearance, big fender flares and bright metallic trim took the standard pickup truck look to brash new heights, and still break out of the usual F-150/Silverado mold. The cabin hasn't stayed as fresh as the sheetmetal, though: lower-rent materials and textures make it seem dated, especially when cross-shopped with the downright luxurious interiors found in the F-150, Ram 1500, and Sierra/Silverado.
The Titan comes in a single powertrain configuration, its 5.6-liter V-8 teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. The "Endurance" V-8 sounds like a monster, with 317 horsepower rippling through its driveline, ending in a NASCAR-style exhaust note--but it's worth pointing out that output is now barely higher than the Ford F-150's six-cylinder engine. The Titan's V-8 is now woefully behind Ford's 5.0-liter V-8 or the big eights from GM and Ford, though it doesn't feel like it as it snaps off brisk gearchanges and responds willingly from a full stop. The Titan will tow up to 9,500 pounds in the right configuration, but that's now a thousand pounds shy of the class leaders, too. Handling's very good for a truck this size, though, and the PRO-4X Titan is a seriously off-road-capable pickup. The Titan's miserable fuel economy is far outstripped by the newest trucks with their six-speed automatics, though.
The Titan is a truck for those that need to haul and tow, and not as much for those that want an efficient but roomy city truck. Interior space and comfort are good, and build quality is reasonably good, too. King Cabs have rear-hinged doors for access to a stubby rear-seat area; four-door Crew Cabs are preferred for wide, nicely positioned seats, though the step-in height in the Titan seems higher than in competitive trucks. A choice of three bed lengths keeps the Titan in the hunt for hauling a big payload, but the longest bed length of 7' 3" is nine inches less than you'll need to stack the usual 4x8 sheets of plywood. The Titan is available with a factory-applied spray-in bedliner and lockable storage bins built into its bed fenders, nice touches in a class now waking up to new interpretations of utility.
Most pickups fare better in frontal than side-impact protection, and the Titan is no different. However, its side-impact protection's been called "marginal" by the IIHS, and the NHTSA gives 2WD King Cabs a rollover rating of just three stars. Stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard, and rear parking sensors are an option, but the Titan lacks options for advanced safety features such as a rearview camera.Aimed more at casual or recreational pickup users than the work-vehicle crowd, the Titan packs a handful of innovative features. Option packages and trim levels are the main point of differentiation for the single-powertrain Titan range, and the differences between the four models and several option packages are noticeable. Advanced technology isn't a forte, but Bluetooth phone connectivity, a DVD entertainment system, and XM Satellite Radio keep it in the 21st Century. Leather, a Rockford Fosgate audio system, and heated front seats are available.