At the introduction for the original 2004 model-year Nissan Titan and Armada, its 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 and five-speed automatic transmission were near class-leading. The only mainstream half-ton competitor at the time that came close was the Dodge Ram Hemi 1500. The Titan's handsomely chiseled lines gave full-size truck buyers an alternative to the Detroit 3 and Toyota's slightly smaller Tundra.

Since the Titan's introduction, the full-size truck landscape has changed considerably. All its competitors have undergone at least one substantial makeover or presented an all-new model. By contrast, today's Titan is largely the same model as eight years ago, with a few minor changes. The most significant change came in 2008 with the introduction of a long-wheelbase model giving the extended King Cab model an available full 8-foot bed and the Crew Cab model the option of a 7-foot bed.

Although it's nearly a decade since I drove the first model, our 2012 Titan Pro-4X tester was immediately familiar, down to the plain-Jane, hard-plastic dashboard, the three-spoke steering wheel, and the characteristic fan roar at engine startup. The 5.6-liter V-8 still makes the same husky burble under throttle and has the same torquey power delivery in the low-to-mid-rpm range.

Its platform-mate Armada SUV received a fairly substantial interior makeover for the 2008 model year, but the Titan was passed over for the interior gentrification treatment, so the angular, utilitarian theme introduced on the original continues.

While we didn't subject our tester to any heavy payloads or towing during its stay with us, its 1842-pound payload and 9300-pound towing capacity should be able to handle most tasks it will likely encounter. That said, a properly equipped Ford F-150 can tow nearly 2000 pounds more, and will also deliver up to 3/4-mpg-better city/highway fuel-economy when not towing, with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 option.

With a 6.9-second 0-60-mph and 15.4-second quarter-mile time, you can hardly call the Titan slow. That time puts it nearly neck and neck with a comparably equipped Ford F-150 4x4 equipped with the new 5.0-liter, 360-hp V-8. We have not yet tested an F-150 4x4 equipped with the EcoBoost, but a rear-drive model ran a 6.2-second 0-60 and 14.8-second quarter mile.

If you want a V-6 option in the Titan, unfortunately, you're out of luck. The 317-hp, 385-lb-ft, 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 is the only engine available, and a five-speed automatic is also your only transmission offered. This combination returns 12/17 mpg city/highway in EPA testing on the 4x4 model, with our tester averaging 14.8 mpg during its stay with us.

Two clever details on the Titan are the remote-operated power front windows, which will partially or fully open by holding down the remote's unlock button. Unfortunately, the auto-close function must be actuated by holding the key in the door tumbler in the "lock" position. Our tester also had a vertical-sliding rear window, but unlike the Toyota Tundra's full-width vertical slider, only the middle section of the Titan's rear window retracts.

The original plan was for the Titan to share a platform with the newly redesigned Ram pickup. But that plan fell apart sometime in 2009, leaving the Titan to soldier on for a few more years while an all-new in-house replacement is developed.

We don't know precisely when a new Titan will be coming, but 2014 or 2015 is a good guess, and you can bet Nissan will raise the bar substantially over the current model. A V-6 option is likely, as one is offered in the new NV-series commercial vans, which share a good deal of their hardware with the Titan. The recently redesigned Infiniti QX56 SUV features a direct-injected version of the 5.6-liter V-8, which produces a substantial 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, as well as improved fuel economy. There's a good chance the next Titan will get some version of this engine, as well as a version of the QX's seven-speed automatic.

As equipped, our Pro-4X rang in at $40,975, including destination. However, at the time of this writing, a hefty $4000 rebate was available on the Titan, suddenly making the value proposition a lot more attractive. Unfortunately, compared with its much more modern, refined competitors, value is about the only truly compelling feature of this dated truck.


2012 Nissan Titan Pro-4X
BASE PRICE $39,265
PRICE AS TESTED $40,975
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck
ENGINE 5.6L/317-hp/385-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 5-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5431 lb (56/44%)
WHEELBASE 139.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 224.6 x 79.5 x 76.9 in
0-60 MPH 6.9 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.4 sec @ 89.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 129 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.72 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.6 sec @ 0.52 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 12/17 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 281/198 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.40 lb/mile