2017 Nissan Titan Review: First Drive

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The second, and most important, half of Nissan's North American pickup truck strategy is finally here: the half-ton 2017 Nissan Titan. It's worth noting there's a lot that's familiar here, especially if you followed the debut of the 2016 Nissan Titan XD, a difficult-to-categorize heavier-duty full-size pickup that is attempting to slot between the traditional half-ton and three-quarter-ton classes. That won't be true for the half-ton Titan; it will compete directly with the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. And although the 2017 offers many strong improvements over the previous-generation Titan, we are not excited about a new player that just wants to be included instead of taking the lead.

The 2017 Titan uses a frame and chassis similar to the bigger, heavier Titan XD, although those components are much lighter. The half-ton also shares many of the XD's styling cues and its overall look. For that reason, even though the 2017 is a huge improvement over the previous-gen half-ton Titan, Nissan's two-Titan strategy could be confusing for buyers. Nissan will have to emphasize how different this new entry really is. A good first step is offering the first five-year/100,000-mile warranty in the pickup segment, which should show new buyers that Nissan has a lot of faith in this new half-ton.

Where It Fits

To put it in context, this new light-duty Titan is the first real shot Nissan has fired at the heart of the full-size pickup segment, taking direct aim at the three major players — Chevy, Ford and Ram. To put it on the same footing as the others, the new Titan crew cab, the first configuration offered, will have a dedicated 139.8-inch wheelbase light-duty frame capable of towing more than 9,000 pounds and carrying more than 1,500 pounds of payload; this puts the Titan right in the middle of the four-door pickup slug fest.

To be more competitive, Nissan re-engineered the 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 gas engine, which now offers 390 horsepower and 394 pounds-feet of torque. The 32-valve all-aluminum engine now has direct injection and a throttle response that makes the truck jump off the line as well as deliver strong passing acceleration; some of the credit should go to the buttery-smooth and smart seven-speed transmission as well. All Titans will only have a column shifter, but we found the well-sized thumb-shifting setup easy to use and quite nimble for manual shifting.

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Although we didn't get the chance to do any towing or hauling during our drive, based on torque feel we predict the Titan should do both quite well, due in large part to the beefy rear axle and flexible multileaf spring pack. Nissan also has done a great deal of aerodynamic work to squeeze every mpg out of the vehicle when cruising. There's a massive spoiler under the grille, a small one on the roof, the tailgate has a lip and there are even wind diffusers in front of the rear wheels. All Titans also have active grille shutters to better push air around and over the hood.

Behind the Wheel

During our time with the new truck, we had the chance to drive the top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve, a well-dressed SL and the sporty PRO-4X. Of the three, we have to say the most fun we had with the Titan was in the PRO-4X setup; it offers the sportiest look of the group, not to mention upgraded shocks, an electric locking rear differential, extra skid plating, and bigger wheels and tires. It's no wonder Nissan is bragging that this off-road model has been the top trim level ordered by new Titan XD buyers. We're guessing that same thing will be true of the light-duty version when it goes on sale later in August.

We found the Titan PRO-4X nimble and ready to claw and grab its way up just about loose-rock hill we pointed the nose at, and even when the ruts and off-camber obstacles got rough (hanging a tire or two in the air), we kept moving up the trail. Our test truck had hill descent control, hill start assist and a fairly smart traction control system. The taller stance of the PRO-4X clearly helped us navigate loose hills, jagged dry-wash rocks and tire-swallowing holes without losing momentum.

On the road, and offering a more refined feel, we found the Platinum Reserve to be exceptionally quiet and smooth; kudos go to the engineers who worked on the steering tune. Although the Titan is a pretty big pickup, the steering feel is light at lower speeds yet firm and responsive during "enthusiastic" cornering. Where the Titan XD can feel heavy, plowing a bit at times, the lighter Titan crew-cab models are much nimbler, likely due to the half-ton's significantly lighter curb weights. We should also note the XD uses a recirculating ball steering box, while the lighter-duty Titan uses rack-and-pinion steering. Although we didn't get a chance to weigh any of the new Titans at a CAT scale, we're guessing the half-ton Titan will be almost 1,500 pounds lighter than the XD.

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Bed Details

Inside the business end of the new Titan — the bed — Nissan has infused some of the same bed features we've already seen in the Titan XD and midsize Frontier. All half-ton crew-cab Titans will come with a 5.5-foot bed (Titan XD crew-cab models come with the 6.5-foot bed, making them about 12 inches longer in wheelbase and overall length) that will have tie-down cleats embedded in the rails on three sides of the bed as well as two more in the floor. The bed also has new LED lighting as well as a new center high-mounted spotlight. The tailgate is strutted to make lifting and dropping less taxing. And although Nissan doesn't have the corner step like GM or a patented tailgate step like Ford, it does offer a sturdy, retractable underbody step that can be ordered at any dealership. Look for the 8-foot beds to be available on regular-cab models near the end of this year.

Nissan didn't give us the chance to do any towing during this media event, but you can bet we're making plans to get that done so we can try out some of the new pickup's cool features. Features we like include the 360-degree around-view camera system, backup trailer hitch guides, a trailer light check system and a new trailer brake controller that we're told has a more aggressive Tow/Haul downhill speed control. Many of these same features exist on the bigger, stronger Titan XD, but it's good to see that Nissan understands that lighter-duty pickup owners need the abilities as well.

Trims and Pricing

Trim levels for the half-ton Titan follow the Titan XD, with the light-duty Titan being offered in 4x2 or 4x4 driveline configurations in S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve models. Pricing for V-8 gas Titan will start around $36,000 (including destination fees) and move up to $56,500, depending on options. To see just-announced pricing of forth 2017 Titan and Titan XD, click here.

It's a little difficult to identify where this truck's biggest weaknesses lie; we need to see this wolf running with the pack to get a better idea of how it stacks up. We know the half-ton Titan has some good, practical features and it looks like it could deliver a solid amount of capability, but it has to be careful not to encroach on Titan XD territory. That's not as much of a problem for its competitors. But make no mistake, selling the Titans is likely to be an uphill battle for Nissan since loyal pickup truck customers tend to be slow to try to something new. Yes, competitive prices and longer warranty coverage will help, but the real strength of the product will be defined by how well it stands up against the competition. This could make for an interesting 2017 half-ton contest, both in monthly sales and on the field. More to come.

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams; manufacturer images

 

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Comments

damn that blue SL at the bottom looks amazing

I have seen several of these titan xd's around town. They appeared to be the fully loaded version. The black one I saw with the chrome accents is truly an imposing looking truck. It looks way more impressive than anything Ford has to offer. However, the Titan doesn't look as good as a Black Sierra Denali.

So basically no suspension travel in the front. LMAO.

something tells me it won't be easy to find a Titan on dealer lots anywhere near the mid-thirties entry level pricing.

With Ford, Chevy and RAM so competitive at that price point--no matter whose brand you prefer, there 's a lot of value for entry priced buyers--they will need to really drive potential buyers onto the dealer lots. Expect a lot of Nissan truck advertising on NFL games this fall.

The painted grille looks so much better then the chrome one!

I wonder if the "locker" on the Pro 4x is just a brake based feature or an actual mechanical locking diff.

Yea I prefer the painted grill, I think they should paint the grill surround on the Sl and platinum and then just have the mesh part chrome, it would look a lot better.

Why would I pay $36000 for a Titan when I can get an F150 with the 5.0 for mid-20's?

ditto on painted grille. That truck actually looks pretty good. So sick of all the chrome. Interior looks pretty nice. I still haven't seen a titan xd on the road. I bet it will be over a year before I see one of these.

@Robert- you wouldn't, but if you're talking about 36k for a Titan, then you're referencing the 2wd XD S. A comparable F150 stickers for more. I didn't realize Ford was putting 10 grand on the hood these days.

Why would I pay $36000 for a Titan when I can get an F150 with the 5.0 for mid-20's?
Posted by: Robert | Aug 15, 2016 9:10:32 AM

Reliability!

https://www.yahoo.com/news/ford-recalls-ford-f-150-150500589.html

Reliability!

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/05/25/ford-recalls-271k-pickups-to-fix-brake-fluid-leak/

Reliability!

http://www.autonews.com/article/20131104/RETAIL01/311049955/ford-quality-sinks-but-sales-soar

Did I say reliability?

http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2016/04/ford_recalls_202000_vehicles_f.html

I hope the new 1/2 ton Titans push up Nissan numbers. I'd say Nissan has a competitive pickup. The V8 looks quite good, possibly better than any engine from the Big Three.

It doesn't look very Ford to me. Like saying a Ram looks like a Ford.

Nice truck. Gives buyers another choice. Like the Ram inspired storage and flat floor rear section. I notice all truck brands except for Chevy looking like the Rams Big Rig styling with the lights behind the grill.

So, I did not see how any of the 3 models road. Features of each model but not how they road on and off-road.
Noisy, rattles, smooth as butter, bouncing at low speed, hear every crack in the road, body roll thru the corners .. etc.....

No sunroof option on the top models? Pass. Looks like a pretty decent truck though.

Beebe, I've seen quite a few XD's, three Pro-4X's, a couple SL's and an SV. While there hasn't been positive reviews about the Cummins engine, it sounds good. I hope the gas XDs and the basic duty Titan can prop up sales.

http://www.legalreader.com/faulty-door-latches-prompt-830k-vehicle-ford-recall/

Posted by: Really! | Aug 15, 2016 8:05:45 PM

Now I know why Lionel rents something other than a Ford when vacationing with his family. Good move Lionel.

Not s bad looking truck . Way better looking then anything GM offers. Especially the Denali.and way mire capable .

Now I know why Lionel rents something other than a Ford when vacationing with his family. Good move Lionel.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Aug 15, 2016 8:50:23 PM

I dont blame him.

On May 9, 2016 in Manchester NH our 2015 Ford F150 Lariat spontaneously caught fire and destroyed itself and a car in the adjacent parking spot. The vehicle was parked a few feet outside our office window when smoke came pouring out of the hood of the truck. The truck was unattended, was NOT running, just suddenly started burning out of control. It eventually burnt to the ground, destroying the front of our office concrete walls, office windows, pavement, and the car next to it.
https://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/f150_fires.htm

Its just par for the course which is what I expected when it became clear there would be no pioneering tech or innovation with this truck. The Titan is what it has always been... a decent alternative for someone who has decided they have had it with the Big 3 minus 1. The styling is quickly growing in me.

@ HEMI V8
Still better then a Ram.

"The styling is quickly growing in me..."
Posted by: Clint | Aug 16, 2016 5:18:02 AM

You should see a doctor about that Clint!

http://blog.bluespringsfordparts.com/245/ecoboost-shudder/

The Big 3 minus 1 (Ford)!

How is yours?

Much nicer than those square wheel wells on the twins, nice job Nissan

@Nitro, what is your favorite truck---Hasbro or Tonka?

I like the Nissan. Has the best warranty in the business.

@Nitro, what is your favorite truck---Hasbro or Tonka?

Posted by: papa jim | Aug 16, 2016 1:11:16 PM

Now that's funny!

@Papjim, halfton, Ram, 3/4ton and up, Ford, sports car, Chevy Camaro

A few reasons to buy the Nissan over the GM

Reliability!
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/01/10/chevrolet-silverado-gmc-sierra-fire-recall/4424529/

Reliability!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEpBv0v7cAM

Reliability!
http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/daily-news/080619-Feds-Investigating-Engine-Fires-in-GM-Trucks-SUVs-/

Reliability!
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/08/07/gm-recall-suvs/13747461/

I guess some of you never heard of the old saying "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!

I believe Chrysler was one of the first to offer 5 years 100,000
back in the day.
Of course they no longer offer that it bankrupted them
Nissan vehicles generally go 5-8 years of normal usage before the first repair
at which time the exhaust,battery or brakes need attention.


Nissan could of went with a different approach but it is hard to do different when people want the same old.
All the half tons are too big the midsize trucks are very similar to the old 1/2 ton size ,albeit slightly narrower
The manufacturers are all pushing bigger stuffed to the gills to maximize profits.
Anyone who actually needs a pickup needs it to work with.
or haul with. few of them buy pick up for it's car like abilities .

No moonroof and power folding mirrors as options!! This is important options a new truck should have.

Who the hell needs a sunroof? It's a damn truck !



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