When it was first unveiled at the 2016 New York Auto Show, the 1/2 ton version of the Nissan Titan looked to be a more tightly toned version of the enormous diesel-powered XD pickup. Shorter and sharper, but still loaded to provide truck fanatics with their every want and need, the baby Titan is now fast approaching its late fall release date, and we recently got the chance to both drive what might be one of the best things to come out of Nissan since it brought the mighty GT-R stateside.
While it may look almost identical to its big brother in photographs, in the wild the 1/2 ton is much smaller than the mighty XD. It’s still large, but the bed is a lot tighter, its wheelbase is almost 12 inches shorter, and while width is the same as the XD, it’s nearly three inches lower in height.
But don’t let its slighter stature fool you; whether it’s a stock single cab S model or a Crew Cab PRO-4X, this truck is engineered with hard work in mind, along with some snazzy tech amenities and off-road dexterity thrown in for good measure. Attached to a cabin that’s both plush and practical, the Crew Cab in particular offers room for the whole team, and can be customized to meet a buyer’s unique needs.There also a king cab option to split the difference between the two.
Over the course of an afternoon, we sampled the confidence-inspiring calm that the Endurance V8 gasoline had to offer on the road in 2WD mode, before heading to an off-road course where the Titan’s 4WD traction settings and suspension received a thorough workout. After our drive, we were able to come up with ten points that every potential Titan buyer needs to know.
1. One warranty to rule them all
Nissan introduced “America’s Best Commercial Van Warranty,” with a five-year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper coverage plan on the NV utility van back in June of 2014, showcasing its confidence in its commercial vehicle lineup. This confidence has trickled over into the Titan, as each and every one of them will now be covered by a five-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, making it the best truck warranty in America.
“Nissan Commercial Vehicle models have experienced remarkable longevity, with some registering more than 500,000+ miles of relatively wear-free service,” says Fred Diaz, division vice president and general manager, North America Trucks and Light Commercial Vehicles.“We think that extending the same coverage to our full-size pickups, whether used for personal or commercial use, is a game changer in the segment. The new bumper-to-bumper coverage shows customers that Nissan stands behind the quality of its vehicles – including the ones that are subject to the hardest use.”
2. Commercial configurations are coming
The aforementioned NV utility van has inspired the 1/2 ton Titan in more than just the warranty department. Nissan is now aiming to turn the Titan into an attractive option for companies in need of a work truck. With Crew Cabs and single king cabs slated to serve as flagships, and configurable options like bed rail mounted stow boxes and reconfigurable backseats at the ready, the Titan’s integrated gooseneck trailer hitch isn’t the only work-related feature to fawn over anymore.
3. American made and damn proud of it
With the Big Three outsourcing operations to Mexico, Canada, and beyond, the birth certificate for a lot of vehicles (commonly referred to as the American Automobile Labeling Act) can appear a bit muddled. Even if a vehicle is 100% built in America and is U.S. owned, the majority of the components that go into it can still be foreign in nature.
But not the Titan, which sources its gas engines from Tennessee and Cummins diesels from Indiana, before being fully assembled in Canton, Mississippi. The only major component we found to be foreign is its transmission, which is assembled in Japan, and has the predicted longevity of petrified wood.
4. What XD chassis?
They may look almost identical and share the same name and birthplace, but the XD and its 1/2 ton sibling are very different from one another underneath. Chassis-wise these trucks are completely unique, with the smaller model featuring some very cool touches, like hydraulic body mounts for reduced vibration and increased ride quality, which accounts for a 10dB vibration improvement. This means that on uneven and rough surfaces you aren’t subjected to what Nissan calls the traditional “bouncy/rubbery/jiggly” truck ride experience.
5. Consider your bases covered
“TITAN will ultimately be available in a total of three cabs, three bed lengths, three engines, 4×4 and 4×2 drive and S, SV, SL, PRO-4X and Platinum Reserve trim levels – covering about 85% of the total light pickup marketplace,” says Diaz. From moderately priced entry level king cab fleet-grade options, to posh, ventilated seat luxury models with heated steering wheels, the 1/2 ton Titan has every kind of light-duty truck buyer covered.
6. Aerodynamics and attitude, together again
Being smaller than the XD helps the smaller Titan in the aerodynamics department, as it boasts a whopping 10% lower drag rating than 2014 models. It also features things like active grille shutters, an aero lip kit, roof and tailgate spoilers, underfloor covers, sealed bed gaps, and a tow hook hole cover for increased aerodynamics. Fortunately, it’s not to slippery looking; the pickup is just as broad-shouldered as the XD, retains the bulging grille, LED running lamps, and all the body lines that made us fall for this generation.
7. MPG gains are en vogue right now
From the 7-speed gearbox with its transmission fluid warmer and recalibrated gearing, to the overhauled 5.6-liter Endurance V8 gas engine, the powertrain here is not just focused on grunt, but efficiency as well. Featuring a whopping 28% gain in gas mileage over the previous generation, with a 15/21 estimated city/highway average, the Titan gives drivers the gains they deserve, especially when in 2WD mode.
8. Let it tow, let it tow, let it tow
The Endurance V8 features a maximum towing capacity of 9,390 pounds, making it the highest V8 base grade tow capacity within the ½ ton segment today. Couple that with a standard, integrated goose neck adapter in the bed, a backup camera with guidance prompts, downhill speed control assistance, an integrated trailer brake controller, sway control, and a light check function, and you’ve got one serious workhorse on your hands.
9. Isolation is no longer a bad word
Those aforementioned hydraulic body mount dampers may make a major difference when it comes to reducing vibration, but when it comes to road noise, Nissan’s decision to install laminated front side glass (which is a staple on many luxury vehicles) was a major move. Now you can have a conversation while bounding down a dirt road without screaming, and makes both Bluetooth and infotainment use a cinch in any condition due to lowered noise levels. There’s also been a strong focus on isolating engine noise, as this pickup now utilizes three layers of dash sound deadening instead of a traditional single layer, resulting in a 3 dB(A) improvement over previous Titans. Toss in some redesigned, thicker body seals, and seams that keep hairline leaks from funneling noise into the cabin, and you’ve got a whopping 45% improvement over the previous generation.
10. Brains, brawn, and affordability abound
This is one smart truck, and with features like Nissan’s Around View camera system allowing drivers to see all angles of the vehicle, including passenger side tire geometry and front undercarriage clearance levels, you can see why we speak so highly of it. Toss in the fact that the Endurance V8 now features 390 horsepower, and that a V6 is on the way, and you’ve got three great reasons to take one for a test drive. Oh, and did we mention that the V8-powered 4×2 version Crew Cab starts at just $34,780? Yeah, Nissan has that working in its favor too, and with the PRO-4X model only running $45,020 with all the trimmings, Nissan might have a full-size truck for just about everyone.