First Drive: Nissan’s 1/2 Ton Titan Crew Cab
Just when we began to assume that the Cummins diesel-equipped XD Titan was the Nissan truck to have, along comes the 1/2 ton version, and we have to reconsider our vote. Tighter, quieter, and gasoline-powered, the baby Titan offers a short bed Crew Cab configuration that we found to be pretty close to superb. And with PRO-4X and Platinum trims available, fans will soon get a lot more for their money, while industry fleet operations stand by for the later release of $35,000 single cab V8 models.
Nissan has done a bang-up job of turning the Titan from ho-hum to hot-damn in just one generation, and with a new 5-year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, the incentive to drive one hard increases exponentially. But besting the competition’s standard protection plan by two years and 64,000 miles will only get you so far. Attaching a complete powertrain coverage, Nissan is also able to land a solid left hook to offerings from Ford, GM, Ram, and Toyota.
As with all Nissan models, the Platinum trim will get you amenities that borderline on Infiniti-grade, so there’s a lot to like. Starting at $55,400 in a Crew Cab configuration, the Platinum Titan is a bit on the pricey side, but when you see what it brings against the F-150, Tundra, Ram, and Silverado, it just may be worth it.
While the PRO-4X is the skid plate-clad off-roader of the group, the Platinum is more of a hauling and tailgating machine, complete with an LED-lit bed, 9,390 pound best-in-class towing capacity and some added amenities and styling cues. Fancy badging and brightwork aside, the Platinum Reserve has almost all of the add-ons available, with heated and vented leather seats, a warming rear bench and steering wheel, and integrated safety features.
In rear-wheel drive mode, returns are a 15/21 estimate in city/highway driving that averages out to 18 miles per gallon, though it’s a little higher in 4Hi and 4Lo settings. Naturally, there’s a tow mode, as well as trailer sway controls, a downhill speed regulator, an integrated brake controller, and a clever system that helps you make sure whatever you’re towing has working lamps and signals. Along with the very useful Nissan Around View camera and sensor system, you can see 360° in every direction while checking tire geometry and clearance underneath the truck with the push of a button.
Cabin-wise, the 1/2 ton Titan has some real advantages over the XD, starting with how much easier entry and exit is compared to the taller truck. Inside, it’s all supple leather, over-stuffed touchpoints, and a whole lot of automatic convenience features. It’s easy to imagine that gridlocked traffic isn’t going to be nearly as bad now thanks to the amount of amenities offered here. On the downside, the MID looks dated compared to GM’s trucks, which is a shame since it wasn’t all that long ago that Nissan brought us the slick, game-changing graphics in the GT-R.
The rear bench is particularly nifty too. It’s heated, has its own vent controls, 110 volt plug, and oversized cupholders that are Gatorade bottle-friendly. Configurable and sturdy with plenty of storage space (it’s even equipped with a set of hangers so that grocery bags don’t get overturned), the backseat is a huge selling point for Nissan.
As for the drive, we like how much tighter the 1/2 ton handles off-road, as the XD felt unwieldy at times due to its elephantine proportions. Ascension, cornering, suspension adjustment, and overall ease of use in the skid plate-equipped PRO-4X took the milder off-road course easily too. While the Titan’s width remains the same across the board, having a shorter, lower track gave it a better feeling of connectivity with the ground, even after surrendering the throttle to crawl control.
Back on open asphalt, we were particularly impressed with how quiet the ride in the Platinum was, with its three new layers of sound deadening muffled engine noise under the dash. Sealed door jams and acoustic glass are also new to help keep outside audibles to a minimum. Ride smoothness feels good, as vibration and harshness are significantly reduced thanks to frame mounted bed and cab dampers, and tuned Bilstein shocks. Whether it be highway speeds or rugged terrain, the the Titan doesn’t disappoint.
In all, there aren’t many downsides to the smaller-gauge Titan. Could the available flip-down cornerstep be sheared off if one forgets to fold it in? Sure. Will certain buyers feel that add-ons like the Titan Box or bed-mounted track rails should be standard on something with the name “Platinum Reserve?” Probably. But the redesign has righted virtually all of the previous truck’s wrongs, and at the end of the day, the half ton Titan’s strengths far overshadow its weaknesses. Especially with that industry-topping warranty and a fleet ready V6 crew cab on deck.
The half ton Titan his truck is both lighter and smaller than the XD, but it’s no less useful. Sporting Nissan’s proven 390 horsepower Endurance V8, acceleration is notably stronger, and turning and braking are easier too. Nothing earth shattering per se, but notable nonetheless. So perhaps bigger isn’t always better after all, because the smaller half ton Titan hits the proverbial piston on the head from a fresh angle.