2017 Nissan Titan

PHOENIX — Last year, Nissan made big news with the full-sized Titan pickup, which was completely redesigned and restyled for the first time since it went on sale back in the 2004 model year. Truck owners are fervently brand loyal, and Nissan has had a rough time of it, trying to get Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 owners to switch brands. As a result, Titan sales have never quite lived up to expectations.

It’s not unlike what Toyota discovered with its full-size Tundra pickup.

The new Titan introduced in late 2015 as a 2016 model was the XD, classified as a medium-duty pickup, meaning it slots between the half-ton full-size pickups like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500 and the three-quarter-ton heavy-duty trucks like Ford F-250 Super Duty, Silverado HD and Ram 250.

For 2017 Nissan broadens their Titan offerings in the full-size pickup truck segment with the introduction of a half-ton model aimed at competing in the heart of the segment against F-150, Silverado, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra.

The new Titan half-ton uses a different chassis, which is a foot shorter and not as heavy-duty as the larger XD version. In fact, Nissan makes it clear that the new Titan isn’t a scaled down version of the XD. The similarities end with the appearance. It does, however, use the same 5.6-liter gasoline engine as the gasoline-powered XD, with 390-horsepower and a seven-speed automatic transmission. A diesel engine is only available in the XD model; a more fuel-efficient V-6 will be offered later this year.

The 2017, Nissan Titan half-ton is available in five well-equipped trim levels: S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve. Titan is available as a crew cab, king cab or single cab, with three bed lengths: 5.5 feet, 6.5 feet and 8 feet. All are offered with a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations, except for the PRO-4X model, which is available exclusively as a 4x4.

With the exception of the single cab we drove all the trim levels — both 4x2 and 4x4,— at a media introduction event in Northern California, but spent most of our time in the well-equipped SL. It was clear the beefier XD focuses on rugged payload and towing duties while the Titan will see duty as a daily driver for most owners.

From outward appearance, the new Titan is strikingly similar to the Ford F-150 and to an untrained eye might even pass for one. But Nissan’s senior vice president Fred Diaz is quick to denounce that comparison and said the design emphasis was on making a truck that looks strong and American like.

In that regard, Titan certainly succeeds. We think the styling, while a bit more subdued than F-150 or Silverado, is nothing if not strong with an athletic looking physique.

Inside, the design and look of the dash is very similar to competitor trucks, and is outfitted with just about every luxury and convenience feature available: navigation, 360° surround-view camera, push-button start, heated and ventilated leather seating, heated steering wheel, trailer brake controller, an excellent Rockford Fosgate Premium audio system, remote start and a power sliding rear window.

Standard safety features on our test model included the blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert, a full complement of airbags, front and rear sonar parking warning with rearview camera monitor. Automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning are not available, but Nissan promises both are on the way.

On the road we found the Titan feels every bit as solid, comfortable and well screwed together as its domestic competitors. Ingress and egress to the cabin were easy, seats were very comfortable, offering some of the same zero gravity technology we’ve seen in other Nissan products. Rear seating is incredibly roomy with seats that flip up or fold forward for additional cargo-hauling options.

Handling and steering are surprisingly nimble, but like other pickup trucks it’s noticeably top heavy when cornering or negotiating twisty roads. Still, it’s no better or worse than other full-sized trucks we’ve tested. A short turning ratio made it easy to park, visibility was excellent and the cabin pleasantly quiet.

While Nissan doesn’t expect it will lure many F-150, Silverado or Ram loyalists they are targeting existing Nissan owners and look to attract first-time truck buyers and foreign-brand owners.

Nissan also stakes claim as “America’s best truck warranty” with a 5-year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper beating competitors’ standard protection programs by two years and 64,000 miles. Titan trucks are built in Canton, Mississippi.

Overall, we much to like about the new Titan and certainly a huge improvement over the outgoing model. However we didn’t find the new Titan to necessarily be a better choice than the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado or Ram 1500 but it is on par with those offerings. We think that even the most loyal domestic truck owners will find plenty to like in the new Titan but probably not enough to jump brands.

Vital Stats

Price: $29,580 - $52,310
Price as Tested: $48,380
Seating: Up to 5
Engine: 5.6-liter V8
Horsepower: 390 hp
Fuel Economy: 15-mpg City – 21-mpg Highway

Fab Features

Extremely comfortable, spacious seats
Excellent bumper-to-bumper factory warranty
Outstanding ride quality

— Jim Prueter