2014 Nissan Titan Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Davis Adams Davis Adams Contributor
December 14, 2013

The 2014 Nissan Titan performs well, but no longer competes with the rest of the segment in many respects.

As the rest of the segment continues to release next-generation models of their full-size pickups, the 2014 Nissan Titan has fallen to the back of the pack in practicality, safety, design and technology. With that in mind, this decade-old truck remains one of the most distinctive-looking, distinctive-sounding options on the market.

Nissan hasn't felt the need to make many changes to the Titan over its 10 years of production, either. We're ok with that in terms of exterior design–it's one of the most aggressively-styled trucks in the segment. However, hard plastics and cheap-feeling textures have aged its interior, especially when every other truck has received at least one major modernization in recent years.

There are essentially two different body styles for the 2014 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.

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The 2014 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.

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.

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

2014 Nissan Titan

Styling

Square-jawed with some cool fillips, the Nissan Titan has some of the cooler truck lines.

The 2014 Nissan Titan looks nearly the same as it did when the truck debuted in 2004. We're not entire sure whether credit is due to the Nissan designers for coming with ageless styling, or if it's just that trucks don't evolve quickly in first place, but the Titan is still an attractive vehicle, especially from the outside.

From the exterior, it's bold and overwrought, but it doesn't go so far as to look cartoonish, like the Toyota Tundra. There's a lot of chrome that helps frame its aggressive, upright look, and the upgraded wheels help give the design a little extra oomph, too. The Titan gained a new, more aerodynamic tailgate design last year, and the PRO-4X model received a few styling updates, too.

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.

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7

2014 Nissan Titan

Performance

The Titan's performance is just average these days, what with the exceptional new GM V-8 and Ford's EcoBoost six.

The 2014 Nissan Titan has only one engine available–a 5.6-liter V-8–but that engine is one of the best-sounding we've heard in a truck.

That sound reminds us a little bit of the NASCAR circuit, which works well for this Mississippi-built machine. The V-8 produces 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, and while those aren't class-leading, the Titan always feels willing, always able to get up and move.

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 Silverado/Sierra's top tow rating of 12,000 pounds.

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.

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.

Review continues below
7

2014 Nissan Titan

Comfort & Quality

A big cabin and a big bed look good on paper, but the Titan's cabin is plasticky and rough compared to the best from GMC, Ram, Chevy, and Ford.

The Nissan Titan comes in two body styles–King Cab and Crew Cab–and there are four trim levels available on each. Beyond those trims, there's a variety of comfort, equipment and luxury features available for pickup drivers. While the amenities may vary from truck to truck, every Titan has large, usable interior space–which almost makes us dismiss the hard plastic interior altogether.

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.

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. Last year, Nissan added a new tailgate design, and step rails have been made standard on SV and SL models.

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.

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. 

Review continues below
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2014 Nissan Titan

Safety

Safety features have improved somewhat, but the Titan doesn't score well in crash tests.

Put simply, the 2014 Titan doesn't fare as well in the realm of safety as many of its competitors. Several of those alternatives have earned top crash test ratings and include modern active safety technologies, but the Titan just isn't one of them.

Safety features 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 current lineup. 

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.

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2014 Nissan Titan

Features

The very latest infotainment features from Ram, Ford, and GM are nowhere to be found on the Titan.

There are at least a few modern features available on this aging pickup. Satellite radio, navigation and USB connectivity are offered across all Titans, and depending on how you equip your truck, there are also some very functional accessories available–like a 120-volt AC outlet on the SL model–and some more stylish ones, like side steps for the PRO-4X model.

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.

The Titan is still offered in four trim levels: S, SV, PRO-4X, and SL. S and SV trims are more budget-conscious work trucks with rugged interiors, while the PRO-4X is designed for off-roaders and the SL has the more luxury-oriented crowd in mind. 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.

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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 plates, 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.
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2014 Nissan Titan

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is the worst part of the Titan's lackluster performance.

Fuel economy isn't a game that the 2014 Nissan Titan plays especially well, regardless of how you plan to use it. The EPA rates the four-wheel-drive model at only 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, while the rear-drive truck gets a marginally better 13/18 mpg, respectively. 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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Styling 7
Performance 7
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