2017 Nissan Titan First Drive
A true 1/2-ton that isn’t half-baked
With the successful launch of the Titan XD in both diesel and gas versions complete, next up on Nissan’s ambitious truck revitalization plan is the ’17 Nissan Titan. Unlike the heavier-duty Titan XD, the Titan is Nissan’s shot at the heart of the 1/2-ton market, a place where Ford F-150s, Chevy Silverado 1500s, and Ram 1500s reign supreme. Not to mention the excellent GMC Sierra and current Japanese fullsize king, the Toyota Tundra.
If you’ve been following our Titan XD coverage, you’ll be very familiar with the Titan, as they share the same cab and gas powertrain. However, the entire chassis and front clips are unique to the Titan, and it won’t be available with the grunty Cummins 5.0L V8.
Based on the previous F-Alpha Titan platform and sharing not one bolt with the XD, the Titan chassis is stout and recognizable. Unlike the previous Titan, the ’17 will now have a regular cab variant. Those opting for two doors will get an 8-foot bed, while a King Cab, 6 1/2-foot-bed model will be available at a later date, and of course, the bread-and-butter crew cab with a 5 1/2-ft bed will be offered. Overall, the Titan crew cab is 12 inches shorter than an XD crew cab and sits about 2 inches lower.
Under the shorter, lower hood is the same American-made, second-generation, all-aluminum VK56VD 5.6L Endurance 32-valve DOHC V-8, teamed with the identical smooth-shifting seven-speed Jatco automatic found in the gas XD truck. Compared to the original VK56DE 5.6L, the new engine adds direct injection, variable valve timing and lift (Nissan calls this VVEL) on the intake and exhaust side, an automatic transmission fluid warmer, and more than 150 unique parts. Output of the new engine is cranked up to 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque versus the 317hp and 385 lb-ft of torque of DE engine, numbers achieved on regular gasoline.
Routing all that power to the ground is a solid rear axle, sprung with traditional leaf springs. Because of the low 4.886:1 first gear of the seven-speed transmission, the final drive ratio is a relatively high 2.937:1 for improved efficiency. Pro-4X models receive an electronically operated rear locker.
The rest of the chassis consists of front independent double wishbone suspension and coilover shocks, variable assist rack-and-pinion steering, and vented discs at all four corners. The front brakes come in at 13.78 inches, and the rears measure out to be 13.58 inches, not a whole lot smaller than the 14.17- and 14.37-inch discs found on the XD.
Like the XD, the Titan comes with a highly configurable bed that features LED lighting, a two-way damped tailgate, and spray-in bedliner. We imagine that the exceptional Utili-Track rail system will come in handy for those who plan on hauling the maximum 1,610 pounds of payload. Trailer draggers will be able to yank around up 9,390 pounds of conventional trailer, but those with goosenecks will have to step up to the XD.
While the truck has the right pieces on paper to be competitive, one really has to climb in to the driver seat to know Nissan is serious about the Titan’s mission. From the modern, rich interior on the backside of a solid door slam to a big, refined V-8 that idles with a luxury-like hum, but snarls under load, you know right away that this is a good one.
There is nothing about the Titan that feels cheap, even in the base S trim. The seats are comfortable, quality materials, and good ergonomics are hallmarks of the interior, and you can tell someone obsessed over the feel of the switchgear and other details. We especially like the 360-degree camera system. Ride quality is taut, but comfortable, and PRO-4X and Platinum Reserve 4x4s are upgraded to Bilstein monotube shocks for even better ride and handling performance.
If we have to find something to complain about—and we really are grasping at straws here—it would have to be the high-effort steering. Once acclimated, you get used to it, but like the XD, it is always feels heavier than the competition. Nissan engineers tell us this is because they favored road feel over excessive boost, and in that regard they succeeded. At nearly 1,000 pounds lighter than a comparable XD and with some of the best steering feel in the class, the Titan feels sporty and engaging in the twisties.
Thanks to the reliability track record of the NV van, Nissan will be backing all ’17 Titans with the same 5-year/100K-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, America’s best in the pickup segment. The company hopes that this level of confidence in its product will help convince buyers on the fence to take a chance on the Titan.
Another convincing factor may be the price. Taking a page from the XD’s marketing playbook, you get a lot of Titan truck for the money. A base V-8-powered 4x2 crew cab S model starts at just less than $35,000, while a full-tilt 4x4 crew cab Platinum Reserve will sticker at $55,400, about $1,500 less than a gas XD and $5,500 less than a diesel XD. Like the XD, a total of five trim levels are available: S, SV, PRO-4X, SL, and Platinum Reserve.
However, all the marketing and warranty support in the world in the world won’t matter if the truck isn’t good, and this is where we are happy to tell you that the Titan is no half-baked effort. After allowing the original Titan to languish for years in the marketplace, this new truck is well thought out and everything Nissan needs it to be in order for it to contend. If the Titan has a chance, it’s because this truck is that good. They’ve convinced us, now they just need to convince potential truck buyers.
2017 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve 4x4
Vehicle type: 4-door crew cab pickup
Base price: $34,780
Price as tested: $55,400
Engine: 5.6L 32-Valve DOHC V-8
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Horsepower: 390 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 394 lb-ft @4,000 rpm
Curb weight: 5,684 lbs
Payload: 1,610 lbs
Towing capacity: 9,230 lbs
EPA mileage rating: 15 city/21 highway