2018 Nissan Titan Review & Compare. Mesa, AZ

2018 Nissan Titan Review Mesa, AZ

The Nissan Titan may be becoming the new standard for the American light-duty pickup truck

Trucks are a quintessential part of the American landscape--from sea to shining sea, from city to country, and from highway to dirt road, you'll find these well-rounded and hard-working icons. And automakers are capitalizing on our enthusiasm for the "dawn-til-dusk worker" vision. There are few competitors who don't offer some sort of truck option these days within their global lineup, and we're seeing a new expanse of pickup truck options exploding in just the last few years. As small trucks get bigger, it opens up a spot in model lineups for automakers to invent new, "urban" midsize pickups that are more like a crossover cut off after the B-pillar than they are like the basic, plastic-outfitted, vinyl-seated farm trucks that built this American legend.

And Nissan isn't missing out on the chance to grab a piece of that pie. Along with their classic and pint-sized Frontier truck, the brand unveiled a major redesign of the second-generation Nissan Titan (its full-size, light-duty offering) and a first-generation Nissan Titan XD--which is considered to be a sort of "medium-duty" option. The style is sharp and modern, the performance is adequate and about in line with what most drivers will realistically need, and the Titan trucks adopt Nissan's fairly recent obsession with driver-centric features, functions, and exclusive options.

Believe it or not, the Titan--not Ford, Chevy, or Ram--may be becoming the new standard for the American LD truck; not because of class-leading this or quality that, but because of the unique balance it's able to strike between hard-working tough guy... and plush comfortable couch. Now it just needs to convince the regulars of the Big Three brands.

A newly-redesigned exterior finally makes the Titan a mature competitor

The Titan has never been a slouch in the truck market, but it was hard to ignore the heavy influence of SUV design on its front end. After the most recent redesign, the Titan adopts a more mature, upright, and classic look; one that is more than a little familiar. Nissan has been criticized (or complimented) for modeling their newest Titan after the top-selling Ford F-150; but, Oreo received the same criticism for modeling their sandwich cookie after Hydrox, and who got the last word there? The new grille is bold and handsome; new LED lights are large and assertive; and package options like the new PRO-4X design mean that you can customize your Titan a little bit more, and avoid being just another F-150, 1500, or Silverado on the road. That alone is a compelling reason for some shoppers to choose the Titan.

Available colors for the new Nissan Titan include Magnetic Black, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Cayenne Red, Glacier White, Java Metallic, Deep Blue Pearl, Pearl White, Forged Copper, and SolarFlare Yellow--some combinations can be had with chrome/black trim or as a monotone design.

Multiple available configurations and cab styles

The Titan offers a few dozen possible options for model configurations--it is a pickup truck, after all. Choose from the basic rundown of the Titan S Single Cab, Titan S King Cab, Titan SV Single Cab, Titan S Crew Cab, Titan SV King Cab, Titan SV Crew Cab, Titan PRO-4X King Cab, Titan PRO-4X Crew Cab, Titan SL Crew Cab, or the Titan Platinum Reserve Crew Cab.

Single Cab is the classic work-truck shape, with two doors, one bench seat, and a serious XL bed in the back; Crew Cab is the more typical style, with two full-size doors and two slightly undersized doors for your rear-seat passengers; the King Cab (which sounds like it should be a massive space option) is actually modeled in the style of what other brands call the "extended cab", with two full-size doors and two half-size doors that swing out, suicide-style, with inside handles. Titan offers a Short Bed, at about five-and-a-half feet, a Standard Bed, at about six-and-a-half feet, and a Long Bed, at about eight feet long.

TITAN XD: is it a trim level, or a standalone vehicle?

There seems to be some debate on this--when Nissan wants to make it appear as though their new truck lineup is massively expanding, the Titan XD gets its own spot in the showroom parking lot. But, when it's time to boast about the power of "the Titan lineup", the XD's torque numbers and towing power is very often slipped in as though they're all part of the same vehicle grouping. "Titan" may become to Nissan what "Silverado" is to Chevrolet.

Visually, the two Titans look identical, and you'd have to get underneath to really see the big differences. Where you go from light-duty to "Every-Duty" (Nissan's words) is in the powertrain and the chassis. The Titan XD adds a diesel engine to the standard gas V8 option, and is built with some extra heft to handle the higher pulling power. Overall, it doesn't matter where the Titan XD falls compared to the Titan: it's bigger, it's brawnier, and it offers a diesel, which is really all that people care about. The rest is semantics.

V8 engine power in two flavors: gas and diesel

The Titan and the Titan XD share one powertrain: a 5.6-liter Endurance V8 gas engine paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission, making 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. It's a well-balanced engine, capable of daily errands and the occasional hard job--but it's neither the most powerful in its class nor the most fuel efficient. If you're looking for the biggest, baddest trucker out there, this isn't it. Even the Titan XD, with its Cummins 5.0-liter V8 Turbo Diesel engine making 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, isn't the top of the light-duty full-size segment. However, for your everyday truck driver, weekend warrior, and small-boat owner, these are powertrains that--when equipped in the overall package--do more than enough.

Practical towing power, but certainly not best in class

Following from above--if you're buying a truck for construction work, for farm work, for the moving of heavy machinery, you're probably not buying a light-duty truck, and you're probably not buying a Nissan. But, don't count out the Titan lineup just yet. If you're like the majority of Americans who buy trucks, who need the capability and versatility more often for moving plywood, bikes, ATVs, and yard garbage than for towing trailers and flatbeds, the Titan will probably be more than adequate. For the times you do need to tow, Titan's available integrated Trailer Brake Controller and keyfob-activated Trailer Light Check system are a helpful addition.

The standard Titan can pull up to 9,740 pounds, and hauls up to 1,950 pounds max payload capacity. If you need more than that, the Titan XD pulls in a range of 11,380 pounds for the gasoline V8, and up to 12,640 pounds with the diesel V8, with payload maxing out around 2,910 pounds. That's no lightweight.

Cargo convenience

Nissan definitely got one thing right when they were designing their new Titan: space and convenience for storage. Truck drivers have a lot of stuff--gear, tools, kids' toys, expensive equipment, bags, boxes, and miscellaneous items that may live inside of their truck for years--and they need a lot of places to put that stuff. The Titan delivers, with an oversized center console for storage, lockable under-seat storage, and in-bed cargo storage boxes. Titan also offers a pretty cool Utili-track Channel System, with aluminum-alloy cleats that can be moved across five different metal pathways (two on the bed floor, two on the sides, one at the rear of the bed) and can easily connect to clips and ratchet straps for securing cargo. LED bed lights and a 120-volt power outlet are available for Titan drivers who work night shifts--or who just prefer to tailgate in the midnight hours.

The rear bench seat of the Titan is also surprisingly flexible for a truck, which shouldn't really be a surprise considering what Nissan has been able to do with its SUVs and crossovers. The rear seat can flip up to reveal under-seat storage or a flat loading floor. Or, fold it down flat, either for storage of gear or as a place to--as Nissan suggests--get some work done. However, we imagine the vast majority of Titan drivers will prefer working from their brick-and-mortar office. If you know that you won't be carpooling often, you can outfit your Titan King Cab with something that Nissan calls the "rear seat delete" option--the rear seat comes out entirely, rear heating vents are removed, and tie-down hooks are installed on the now-flat load floor. It's actually a great way to get the strict practicality of the classic bench-seat truck while still enjoying the premium nature of a luxury pickup.

A stylish and comfortable interior

New Titan, new look. Nissan's made some major adjustments to the look and feel of the truck to more closely compete with its main rivals, and they've done a pretty good job of it. The shift lever is now mounted on the steering column--which, while not being anything close to a new design, isn't seen as often now as it used to be. However, with massive advances in electronic transmission technology, we'll likely be seeing more and more developments in gear-shift lever design. The center stack has been redesigned, and can be had in a variety of configurations--from some practical barebones buttons with a small but clear radio screen, up to a super-deluxe-platinum layout with dual A/C, more knobs than you know what to do with, and a massive screen that can throw out navigational maps, camera footage, and vehicle info at a moment's notice.

The Titan's interior is nicely laid-out, and while you can tell it was styled after the classic "work truck" vibe, it was quietly optimized for the modern driver, who demands plushy comfort over bootstrap-pulling gumption. It's why you can equip this rough-and-tumble truck with heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and the kind of comfort amenities you'd expect to find in a Mercedes--mostly because the price of trucks with those features and package options are as expensive as a Mercedes.  Interior colors and materials include Black Cloth, Beige Cloth, Black Leather, Beige Leather, and Platinum Reserve Black/Brown Leather.

Connected technology... at a price

The base model of the Titan isn't badly-equipped, and does offer things like Push Button Start and NissanConnect basic tech features--but with a starting price of less than $30,000 for a full-size pickup, truck shoppers shouldn't really be surprised by the lack of standard features. Follow the pickup pattern, though, and higher trim levels on the Titan start to open up the flood fates of technology goodies. Look to the loaded-up SL or Platinum Reserve for Remote Engine Start System with Intelligent Climate Control, a handy option that will not only start your truck in the morning or at the end of a shift, but have it perfectly tuned to your ideal temperature when you get it. The available Rockford Fosgate audio pumps out of premium speakers scattered all around the cabin, controlled by a massive touchscreen system that can pull up your music, streaming songs, SiriusXM radio, and even social media. Flip through Nissan's panoramic camera views to see every sign, car, squirrel, and shopping cart around your truck.

These options don't come cheap, but if you're already committed to a high-trim Titan truck, you might as well get the good stuff along with it. Otherwise, you can save a few thousand dollars and just opt for the smart-enough Titan S or SV.

Final words on the Titan and Titan XD

Trucks aren't going anywhere. Pickups are about as American as apple pie and internet arguments, so Nissan's new obsession with their truck line isn't all that surprising. They're listening to what the modern driver is looking for, and their attention can be seen in every detail of the new Titan. Sure, there might be a few more bells and whistles than what the average trucker may need, but this is America--excess is just par for the course.


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