2013 Nissan Titan Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 3, 2012

The 2013 Nissan Titan provides strong performance, with a brash style, but it's simply fallen to the back of the pack in many respects.

Even though the Nissan Titan hasn't changed much in nearly a decade, it remains one of the most distinctive-looking, distinctive-sounding full-size trucks on the market in 2013. While that's part of the truth, the other part is that in nearly every other way the 2013 Titan is simply outclassed by other full-size pickups that offer more advanced features, better safety, or a more upscale interior.

Over all those years, Nissan's made no major changes to the Titan inside or out. And when it comes to the exterior, we're fine with that; it's arguably still one of the most aggressively styled trucks. Inside, the Titan shows its age, with lower-rent materials and textures make it seem dated, especially when you match it up against the finely detailed new interiors in the Ford F-150 or Ram 1500.

The 2013 Nissan Titan has just one performance flavor, and it's for the most part a good one: The 5.6-liter V-8 that's under the hood of the Titan sounds ripped and ready--and it is. That NASCAR-ish sound quality remains appropriate for this Mississippi-built truck. And while its numbers, of 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, are no longer near best in class, the Titan's always on its powerband, and aided by a transmission that feels like it was (and it was) designed as a willing companion to it. Considering the Titan's size and heft, it handles quite well (at least compared to other large pickups) and it feels smaller and nimbler than it is, with good low-speed maneuverability.

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PRO-4X models are only offered with four-wheel drive, while the rest of the lineup can be had in either rear- or four-wheel drive. If you're considering the PRO-4X, keep in mind that its suspension tuning is very firm--to the point of being skittish on some surfaces. But with ten inches of ground clearance and various upgrades like skid plates, the ability is there.

Towing capacity for the Titan is impressive--up to 9,500 pounds with the King Cab and 9,400 pounds with the Crew Cab--although in this age of ever-burlier trucks, it stands well behind the F-150's top 11,700-pound rating.

There are essentially two different body styles for the 2013 Nissan Titan--King Cab and Crew Cab--and between them as well as the four trim levels, there's a wide range of equipment, comfort, and luxury for pickup drivers. Although interior appointments vary, what all these models have in common is a lot of usable space inside--which almost makes the plasticky interior forgivable. We much prefer the four-door Crew Cabs, with their wide, nicely positioned seats that seem to be more of a climb to get into than in some of the competitive trucks. The Titan is available with a factory-applied spray-in bedliner and lockable storage bins built into its bed fenders. Those features, and a channel-based cargo-cleat system, make the Titan better than most for the sort of weekend hobbyist-hauler tasks you might have--like picking up furniture, or an outboard motor.

If safety if one of your chief concerns, you can probably do better with one of the alternatives to the Nissan Titan. Stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard; rear parking sensors are an option; and now for 2013 a rearview camera system is either included or available on most of the lineup. But most of the full-size truck arena gets better safety ratings.

The Titan is aimed at recreational or casual truck users more than the work crowd, so it doesn't skimp on the comfort and convenience features. PRO-4X and SL models especially cater to those who don't want much compromise versus a luxury SUV. The PRO-4X brings with it a special set of features keyed directly at trailblazers of all kinds--with tow hooks, off-road tires, Rancho shocks, and a locking tailgate and locking storage box. And at the top of the lineup, the SL is as you would guess, a loaded, dressed-up street truck ready for a night out. On various models, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, Rockford Fosgate premium audio, heated/leather seats, and a DVD entertainment center are all available.

7

2013 Nissan Titan

Styling

The Nissan Titan had a trendsetting macho style when it was introduced nearly a decade ago, and it still looks good today.

The 2013 Titan hasn't changed much since its original introduction for 2004, yet either in a testament to Nissan designers or to how slowly pickup design evolves (we can't entirely say), these trucks still look appealing on the outside especially.

On the outside, the Titan is brash and overstated, yet its details aren't overstated to the point of cartoonishness, as in the Toyota Tundra. It does wear a lot of chrome to frame its upright, aggressive look, and wheel upgrades help give the carry-over look a little more pop. For 2013, Nissan has given the Titan a new tailgate design that includes an aerodynamic rear spoiler, and the off-road-oriented PRO-4X model gets a sharper look with a new satin-chrome grille, dark wheel finish, dark-finish skid plate, and new graphics. SV and SL models get new step rails.

Inside, the Titan shows its age in more obvious ways. With rather dull and plasticky materials, and a look that in some ways tries to look like a more upright version of a Nissan car interior--albeit one from a decade ago--the Titan strikes an off-chord. But there's nothing functionally wrong with it; the rival models have just come so far in so little time with tight detailing, soft-touch materials, and unique truck interiors.

Across the lineup, a new four-spoke steering wheel replaces the three-spoke design for 2013, and the PRO-4X off-road model gets new white-stitching accents and seat embroidery.

8

2013 Nissan Titan

Performance

The Titan delivers strong, smooth acceleration from its big V-8--though its handling is no standout.

The 2013 Nissan Titan has just one performance flavor, and it's for the most part a good one: The 5.6-liter V-8 that's under the hood of the Titan sounds ripped and ready--and it is.

That NASCAR-ish sound quality remains appropriate for this Mississippi-built truck. And while its numbers, of 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, are no longer near best in class, the Titan's always on its powerband, and aided by a transmission that feels like it was (and it was) designed as a willing companion to it.

PRO-4X models are only offered with four-wheel drive, while the rest of the lineup can be had in either rear- or four-wheel drive. If you're considering the PRO-4X, keep in mind that its suspension tuning is very firm--to the point of being skittish on some surfaces. But with ten inches of ground clearance and various upgrades like skid plates, the ability is there.

Towing capacity for the Titan is impressive--up to 9,500 pounds with the King Cab and 9,400 pounds with the Crew Cab--although in this age of ever-burlier trucks, it stands well behind the F-150's top 11,700-pound rating.

Considering the Titan's size and heft, it handles quite well (at least compared to other large pickups) and it feels smaller and nimbler than it is, with good low-speed maneuverability.

7

2013 Nissan Titan

Comfort & Quality

The 2013 Titan lags rival models for interior quality and seating comfort, but it's very spacious.

There are essentially two different body styles for the 2013 Nissan Titan--King Cab and Crew Cab--and between them as well as the four trim levels, there's a wide range of equipment, comfort, and luxury for pickup drivers. Although interior appointments vary, what all these models have in common is a lot of usable space inside--which almost makes the plasticky interior forgivable.

Seating accommodations do vary, as with most full-size trucks. Base models use a split bench seat and a vinyl floor, for example, while mid-range and top-end trims get captain's chairs, leather upholstery and plush carpets, and a center console. Overall we've found it easy to get into a comfortable driving position in the Titan--aided by the power-adjustable pedals you get in upper trims, although the seats aren't all that supportive.

King Cab editions (reaching back to the days of Datsun trucks) have an abbreviated cabin with a bench or pair of front bucket seats, and some rear-hinged doors for access to a stubby area with a pair of jump seats. We much prefer the four-door Crew Cabs, with their wide, nicely positioned seats that seem to be more of a climb to get into than in some of the competitive trucks.

Within those cab styles, there's a choice or three bed lengths keeps the Titan in the hunt for hauling a big payload, but it's worth noting that even the longest bed, at 7' 3," is nine inches shorter than the 4x8 plywood standard. For 2013, Nissan has added a new tailgate design, and step rails have been made standard on SV and SL models.

The Titan is available with a factory-applied spray-in bedliner and lockable storage bins built into its bed fenders. Those features, and a channel-based cargo-cleat system, make the Titan better than most for the sort of weekend hobbyist-hauler tasks you might have--like picking up furniture, or an outboard motor.

The real failing of the Titan's interior is its Interior materials, which generally fall well short of the mark--especially as rival models from Ford and Ram are getting better seemingly each year. And the drab colors and textures don't help. On the bright side, wind and road noise are kept mostly out of the cabin, although some of us have found engine noise to be too boomy and in the forefront. While the note of the muscular V-8 sounds great at first, your opinion may be different after hours on the highway.

7

2013 Nissan Titan

Safety

Crash-test scores for the Titan have been lackluster, and the Titan's safety-feature set is no standout.

To put it bluntly, if safety if one of your chief concerns, you can probably do better with one of the alternatives to the 2013 Nissan Titan. There are several full-size trucks that have earned top crash-test ratings and offer some advanced-safety features and options, but the Titan isn't one of them.

The Titan's ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are among the lowest of any full-size truck. Although it earns a 'good' score for frontal impact, it fails to make the honor roll in side or rear impact, and it earns another worrisome rating of just 'acceptable' for roof strength--particularly important in more rollover-prone pickups.

Under the previous (and much more lenient NHTSA ratings system, it did earn four- and five-star ratings, although it hasn't been rated under the new system.

Safety features otherwise for the Titan are nothing special compared to other full-size trucks, but a rearview camera system has been either included or made available for most of the 2013 lineup. 

8

2013 Nissan Titan

Features

Bluetooth and high-end audio are offered, but the Titan lacks some of the advanced features of the Ram and Ford pickups.

As much as the Titan carries through with what's familiar, it does include a number of feature changes for 2013. The availability of navigation, satellite radio, and a USB port has been expended, sliding sun visors have been added to all models, and a new rear reading lamp design has been added to Crew Cab models this year. There are also new wheels for much of the lineup, the PRO-4X off-road-oriented model gets a refreshed look, step rails have been added, and a 120-volt AC outlet has been added to the bed on top SL models (optional on others).

What hasn't changed is that four trim levels are offered: S, SV, PRO-4X, and SL. The S and SV trims are more basic work models, with a more rugged grade of interior finishes, while the PRO-4X and SL move into the luxurious personal-truck crowd. The PRO-4X brings with it a special set of features keyed directly at trailblazers of all kinds--with tow hooks, off-road tires, Rancho shocks, and a locking tailgate and locking storage box. And at the top of the lineup, the SL is as you would guess, a loaded, dressed-up street truck ready for a night out.

Base S models do include air conditioning, manual windows and locks, and a CD sound system, and the floor is vinyl, but even the Titan S comes with a split cloth bench seat and 60/40-split flip-up rear seat. SV models add alloy wheels, chrome exterior detailing, a removable locking tailgate, carpeting, additional gauges, keyless entry, an overhead console, map lights, and upgraded sound. With the PRO-4X you get tow hooks, skid playes, a receiver hitch, special Rancho shocks, a sliding rear window, cargo-area lamp, lockable bed-side storage box, Bluetooth, cruise control, power accessories, rear parking sensors, and all sorts of interior trim upgrades. Key features of the top-of-the-line SL model include a navigation system with USB port and satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, a cabin air filter, a rear power outlet, HomeLink, power-adjustable pedals and leather captain's chairs, heated front seats, and a rockin' Rockford Fosgate stereo.

On various models, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, XM Satellite Radio, heated/leather seats, and a DVD entertainment center are all available. The Premium Utility package adds a raft of towing and load-centric features to the PRO-4X; examples include power-adjustable pedals, a spray-on bedliner, Utili-Track cargo cleats, bed area lighting, towing mirrors, and the Rockford Fosgate audio system with a subwoofer. .

4

2013 Nissan Titan

Fuel Economy

For green shoppers, the 2013 Nissan Titan is unquestionably out of bounds.

The 2013 Nissan Titan remains one of the thirstiest full-size pickups, whether you're shopping them by base engines or by the most popular options for those who plan to occasionally tow and haul.

In any case, the Titan carries over with a single engine choice, and it's EPA-rated at just 12/17 mpg when it's fitted with four-wheel drive, and slightly better at 13/18 mpg as a two-wheel-drive truck. Part of the problem is that Nissan is the only manufacturer of full-size pickups sold in the U.S. that doesn't offer a V-6 engine. 

In real-world driving, we've noted mileage numbers near the low end of that EPA scale.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 7.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 7.0
Safety 7.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 4.0
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