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Although it has existed for two decades, the Nissan Titan never cracked into the segment’s top three. That isn’t particularly good when there are only six pickup trucks to choose from. The Titan offers newer and more clever ways to store things every year, but nothing seems to work to stand out. But would installing a mid-gate to extend the bed into the cab provide valuable utility to boost sales?

Nissan caught testing a 2023 Chevrolet Avalanche

In April 2023, eagle-eyed photographers saw something out of place at Nissan Research Center (NRC) in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The company’s engineering outpost has parking lots filled with vehicles, mainly Nissans, obviously. Although an employee or two has a different make, spotting a competitor car is easy—especially when it doesn’t have license plates.

GM Authority reported the mysterious find as a 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche Black Diamond Edition. The publication claims the truck was being driven between various buildings “before disappearing into a garage” at NRC.

What’s Nissan doing with an Avalanche?

2023 Nissan Titan Parked Next to a Hill - The Titan is one of the worst full-size trucks but ranks high for reliability
2023 Nissan Titan | Nissan

There’s no telling why an Avalanche was at NRC or if it’s even being used for research purposes. After all, the Chevrolet Avalanche was discontinued a decade ago. And one would think Nissan could do gaudy cladding on its own pickup trucks. But speculation isn’t all that bad, is it?

Nissan could be benchmarking the Avalanche. It’s a process in the automotive industry wherein companies compare each other’s products, processes, or performance against competitors or other industry leaders. This allows automakers to identify areas where they excel and must improve to stay competitive. It’s possible the Avalanche’s mid-gate could give the Nissan Titan an edge over Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Ram.

Nissan Titan bed configurations

A 2023 Nissan Titan full-size truck drives off-road.
Nissan Titan | Nissan

Adjustable and even customizable bed utility has increased in popularity over the years. On second-generation Titans, the pickup beds feature Nissan’s Utili-track bed channel system, in-bed storage boxes, a damped tailgate, and a host of accessories. While the Crew Cab Titans have a standard five-foot, six-inch bed, the King Cab and medium-duty Titan XD feature a full six-and-a-half-footer. But there’s nothing that extends the bed other than aftermarket products, and it’s not very safe having things hang off the tailgate in traffic.

One of the unique things about the Avalanche was its mid-gate. It’s a foldable door between the cargo box and cab with a removable, stowable rear window. This would transform the Chevrolet’s bed—an inch or two above five feet—into an eight-foot, three-inch behemoth.

Would a mid-gate make the Titan more attractive?

The Nissan Titan could benefit from a mid-gate
2023 Nissan Titan XD | Nissan

One of the characteristics the Nissan Titan tries to pull off is ruggedness. However, a lot of what ruggedness is today revolves around the appearance of hardwearing without attesting to being hardworking. Most pickup trucks are just family haulers, and the bed rarely gets used outside of weekend landfill runs. But the Titan, instead of getting nicer and more expensive, could compete by returning to what it means to be a truck—being a tool.

With a similar setup, it would be easy to have a full ten feet of bed space in the longer bed Titan. Even in the short box version, nine feet of space is possible. While it isn’t ideal to have a bunch of building materials crammed inside the cab, that’s the attitude of people that don’t have to lug around drywall in a damp climate.

There’s nothing to say the Japanese automaker will put a mid-gate in the Titan, but it’d be an interesting move for a company that has struggled to sell work trucks. In the end, if that’s the company’s course, many blue-collar workers may have to explain why they didn’t buy one.


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