When it comes to pickup trucks, we often forget about the other, non-American auto manufacturers. Pickups are found throughout the world and are made by equally as many carmakers as there are countries that need them, but trucks have become so ingrained in the American psyche that the possibility of a truck being made outside the Continental US seems unbelievable.
And yet, here is a perfectly reasonable pickup truck that any American can walk down to their corner Nissan dealer and purchase right now.
Now in its second generation, the Nissan Titan got started as a way for the Japanese carmaker to get into the lucrative pickup market. It’s based on Nissan’s F-Alpha platform, a highly modular design that allows for the installation of a solid axle or independent suspension, depending on the vehicle it becomes. Some examples include the Nissan Frontier mid-size pickup, as well as the Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX56 SUVs.
And while it Nissan might be known as a Japanese company, the Titan is made in Canton, Mississippi and only sold in the US market.
Like most other pickup trucks in America, navigating the myriad combinations of bed size, cab size, and trim can be confusing to the say the least. In general, the Titan comes in 4 trims: S, SV, SL, and Platinum Reserve, with the special Midnight Edition (available on SL and SV trims) sticking around for the 2019 model year.
The extended King cab is only available on the SV trim, while the off-road PRO-4X package is only available on crew cab 4x4 configurations.
One thing that the Titan greatly simplifies is selecting an engine because it only comes with one: a 5.6-L V8 producing 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. That certainly beats out entry-level offerings from Ford, GM, and Ram, but it falls short on fuel economy with a combined 15 mpg.
Towing and payload are also an issue. While the smaller, entry-level 4-cylinder pickups offered by the US truck makers naturally have smaller towing payloads, any V8-powered Ford or Ram truck will easily haul over 10,000 lbs. The max towing capacity of our V8-powered Titan is just 9,660 lbs. Max bed payload is 1,860 lbs.
Mated to that V8 is a 7-speed automatic transmission that also fails to compare favorably with Ford’s 10-speed (which is also Chevrolet’s) or Ram’s 8-speed automatic. Suspension is also fairly standard--there are some Bilstein shocks available, but they don’t come along with even the highest trim level. You have to shell out for the optional off-road package to get them.
So, a powerful engine with some curiously low towing numbers and a fuel economy that doesn’t impress either. Maybe things get better on the inside of the Titan.
In comparison to certain base-model trucks that come with a 4 or 5-inch infotainment screen, the Titan’s 7-inch screen will seem downright luxurious. However, that’s the only screen available, and is outclassed by Ford and GM’s 8-inch screens and by Ram’s massive 12-inch screen.
Safety is another area where the Titan falls short. While the pickup does get blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard on SL trim and above, there are no options to add more modern features such as forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, or emergency braking.
The Titan does have something when it comes to sound. While the S trim’s 6-speaker audio is fairly standard across the industry, a brand new available (standard on SL and above trim) 12-speaker (10-speaker on the King Cab) Fender Premium Audio system might be the best in its class. It uses Panasonic's proprietary Acoustic Motion Control technology to combine phenomenal sound baffling and active sound cancellation to provide an incredible sound signature inside the cabin.
Another thing that the Titan has going for it is its warranty. At 5 years or 100,000 miles, Nissan’s bumper-to-bumper warranty is quite simply the best in the business.
The Titan starts out strong, with the S trim beating out any entry-level F-150, Silverado, or Ram 1500 currently on the market, but it quickly falls short as we move up the pickup price brackets. At a base price of $30,390 for a 2019 Titan S with single cab and 2WD, no other truck even comes close to that price, with most V8-equipped pickups starting at $35,000.
By the time the Titan SV is matched to a more luxurious North American pickup, things are a different story. While Nissan’s 5.7-L V8 might compare favorably in terms of raw power, it compares poorly in terms of towing capacity and fuel economy. It also lags behind the other truck makers for safety features and technology.
But if you want a truck with a truly kickin’ sound system, then the Titan is your pickup.