The full-size pickup truck market is the highest grossing and most competitive of all North American vehicle segments. The big three have been competing against each for almost a century. To show just how competitive this market is and how much brand loyalty there is in, Toyota and Nissan have been offering their versions of full-size or in-between full-size trucks for almost two decades and they’re still clinching only a small fraction of the market. It’s a big pie and everyone wants a piece – sometimes even the crumbs are worth chasing after.
This here Nissan Titan is a proper half-ton pickup truck. It’s the right size in every dimension. It’s got a healthy V8. It’s comfortable. It’s got a big bed. It’s got a trailer hitch. It’s was even designed and is made in the United States. Having talked to several people who own similar Titans, they all love them. I don’t think anyone buying one will go wrong. And yet…
Because the truck segment is so damn competitive and sells in such high volumes, with high profit margins, automakers like Ford and GM do not skimp on R&D and manufacturing investments. Morgan Stanley says that if Ford F-series was its own company, it would be ranked number 72 on the Fortune 500 list. Nissan, despite being one of the largest auto companies in the world, does not really have that option.
The truth is that if Nissan could make the best damn pickup truck in the world, with the latest small diesel engine, aluminum body, air suspension, the roomiest cabin, latest electronics, highest tow rating, and best of everything. They could even price it competitively. And even then it would not outsell the F-150. That’s because of brand loyalty. Some people just want their Fords or Chevys and nothing else will do.
It therefore makes sense that Nissan chose to make the basic, honest truck. And if that is what you’re looking for, the Titan is a solid choice. Drive it back-to-back with the Ford F-150 or RAM 1500 and some shortcomings will come up, such as cabin layout, latest infotainment, or lack of a smaller engine than this mighty fine V8. Some will say that the Titan’s maximum payload and maximum towing capacity are lower than the American trucks, certainly a valid point, but the truth is that if you’re loaded or are towing near the maximum capacity of your truck, you bought too small of a truck.
The 2018 Titan model has only with minor changes since its 2016 introduction. Most importantly, a tacky fender-mounted fake vent is now gone. The 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission is the only powertrain choice, and it’s a solid one. All models are available in 4×2 and 4×4 versions. There are three cab versions now; Crew Cab, King Cab and Single Cab, along with three bed lengths and up to five trim levels. Nissan will also point out that their bumper-to-bumper 5-years/100,000-mile warranty is one of the best.
The King Cab models were only available in the commercial form until this model year because majority of people are choosing the Crew Cab. As far as the King Cab is concerned, it has the same issues as Ford’s SuperCab – it’s too small for passengers on anything other than short trips and is therefore best used as a trunk. Anyone who transports adults on regular basis or little kids in car seats should just buy the Crew Cab.
The PRO-4X model shown here is the top dog of the new for 2018 King Cab models. It comes with 275/70R18 all-terrain tires, 18×8-inch wheels, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers, electronic locking rear differential, lower radiator skid and Hill Descent Control. A receiver hitch and hitch member also come standard with the PRO-4X trim. All proper truck stuff.
The one area where the Titan has an advantage over its domestically branded counterparts is price. The pictured PRO-4X King Cab models has all the option boxes checked and comes in at manufacturer’s suggested price of $50,720. And that is a lot of money. Similarly equipped RAM 1500 Rebel stickers at about the same amount. An F-150 Lariat with FX4 Off-Road Package is about five grand more. But the real sale prices are set by the dealers and a quick look at TrueCardotcom reveals that the Titan can be had for significantly less than either of those two.
Nissan has solid truck in its line-up. Its biggest problem is that the competitors’ trucks are really good. But those who are willing to overlook brand loyalty, those who won’t notice some missing features, and those who don’t care what maximum capacities are, those people will be very happy with this truck and save themselves a few dollars in the process.
Disclaimer: Nissan North America provided the Titan for the purpose of this story. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2018.
For a complete review of the 2017 Nissan TITAN Platinum Reserve 4×4, click here.
For a complete review of the 2017 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X with Cummins Power, click here.