Since its debut in 2004 the Titan has struggled to make in-roads in one of the most brand-loyal segments—full-size pickup trucks—as several stabs at creating a unique identity have failed to attract buyers.

Like the original Titan, this week’s Pro-4X CrewCab offers competitive handling and driving feel, a versatile and comfortable cabin, plus a retuned 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 that now makes 400-hp with 413-pound/feet of peak torque—more than any rival’s standard motor. Unfortunately, this engine is the only engine available on all Titan models, which no longer includes a regular cab edition for this year, as the former Titan XD’s Cummins diesel has also gone away.

Fuel economy and performance have improved however, as Nissan has added a new 9-speed automatic in place of the former 7-speed gearbox. Responsive and quick, the revised powertrain returned 14-18-mpg during its visit.

Too many of today’s full-size trucks lack the crisp helm responses found in the Titan, as our Pro-4X proved to be precise on winding rural roads and never wandered from undulating highway lanes. An electronic locking rear differential improves starting grip, yet the Titan’s electric-shift transfer case still lacks an auto-mode setting for its 4WD system. Bilstein shocks below smooth the surfaces, damping rough pavement as well as rivals.

The Titan’s cabin makes points with its very comfortable leather seating (memory controls, plus heating and cooling in Pro-4X) as well as its concise and efficient controls. Push-button ignition gets things going, and then large dials in the instrument cluster provide clear data. An easy-to-shift column lever makes gear changes a no-look act, while large buttons, knobs, and dials complement a larger 9-inch info screen that provides navigation. Fender is now the audio system of choice, and it delights with sound production as well as ease of use.

Dashboards like the Titan’s with all of its excellent touch-points really make the touch-focused electronic screen setups look vastly more complex “(and distracting) than necessary to successfully operate while driving your truck.

At the working end, the Titan has sliding cargo retainer cleats along the top rail, plus tracks recessed in the bed. LED lighting on the back of the cab as well as in the tailgate slots (visible when open) increase nocturnal ease of use. Optional locking cargo boxes fit inside the bed’s fender (the opposite of the Ram’s external fender boxes), while the Nissan lacks any bumper steps or tailgate steps, other than an optional fold-out step under the bumper. The tailgate’s action is aided by lowering and raising springs.

Wearing Baja Storm sand-colored paint, our Pro-4X featured a blacked-out front fascia with new headlamps (brilliant daytime LED’s) plus large two-panel mirrors. Access was actually pretty good despite the absence of running boards.

Pricing starts at $36,190 for a King Cab 2WD—add $3500 for 4WD. A base S CrewCab starts at $41,990, while our Pro-4X lists for $49,790 before options. Blind-spot monitoring, forward emergency braking assist, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, and Apple/Android functionality are all standard now. The max tow rating is 9,370-pounds.

Nissan is at a crossroads in the American market. It relied on small cars and sedans while ignoring trucks and SUV’s much longer than most rivals. Many of its products are very long in the tooth; the Z sports car is 12-years old, the compact Frontier pickup is now 15-years old, while the Titan redesign did little to help differentiate it from the previous model, or create excitement in a segment that demands constant one-upmanship in order to remain relevant.

The Titan has a better than average new vehicle warranty—5-years/100,000-miles, the interior has a very user-friendly layout with proper controls, while the pickup bed is suited for work and play and the crew cab is spacious and comfortable.

By contrast, hard plastics abound inside, the single powertrain lacks the efficiency levels achieved by the Big Three truck makers, and the tow rating also falls behind. Last year, the Titan was outsold by every other pickup in America.

The Titan does several tasks well. It’s built in America, too. But Nissan has got to make the Titan stand out on price, features, or general performance if it wants to make this vehicle sell better in a tough marketplace.


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