The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab V-8 Preview By Steve Purdy

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


Preview by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

While Nissan has heretofore been a minor player in the U.S. full-size pickup market the company continues to run hard just to keep their position and maybe improve it a bit. We reviewed the new version of the mid-capability XD with Cummins diesel power a few months ago and now we follow up with the new half-ton Crew Cab we drove in California just a few weeks ago.

The new Titan looks every bit like an American-style, working man’s, up-scale pickup. Shape, size and proportions fit right into the genre. Styling is nearly identical to the bigger XD, and similar but a lot more modern than the outgoing Titan. In fact, the new Titan XD and Titan are on entirely different platforms.

Style and design are as important as engineering and performance in the modern pickup world. Very few are purely work trucks that get routinely bashed, banged and seldom cleaned. Most must contribute to the owner’s image, and the new Titan does a fine job in that regard. Its new face (front fascia, grille, bumper and all elements therein) matches the competition in aesthetics and functionality. Nissan design language is evident in the big-smile look of the grille. Lots of aerodynamic improvements, including an active grille shutter, contribute to sleeker looks and a 10% improvement in ability to slide through the air. Good looking big wheels and tires contribute as well.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Interior quality and design can be a differentiator between trucks. In addition to being amazingly quiet inside at speed, the Titan interior can be as luxurious and highly functional as any of the competition. Two-tone leather options, plenty of electronic, connectivity and infotainment content, huge multi-use console and up-scale design will satisfy even the most demanding truck lover. Rear seats are well designed for comfort and utility with thoughtful storage options. Titan comes initially only with the 5.5-foot bed length with optional cab-mounted and bed rail LED lighting and tailgate illumination.

Only one powertrain comes in the new Titan, and it’s a nice one. The new, gasoline, direct injected 5.6-liter V-8 with variable valve timing and lift is good for a solid 390 horsepower (up 20% from the outgoing Titan engine) and 394 pound-feet of torque (up barely at all). New piston design and other engine improvements allow for a much higher 11.2:1 compression ratio for better overall efficiency. The new heavy-duty 7-speed automatic transmission is exclusively tuned for Titan. While we do not have official fuel economy figures yet we expect they will be modestly improved over the outgoing truck. Nissan estimates the combined number will come in around 18 mpg. That will be impressive if they achieve it.

The Titan rides on a fully boxed ladder frame with a double wishbone independent front suspension, solid axle in the rear with leaf springs, and twin-tube shocks at both ends. Stabilizer bars front and rear help keep lean under control. Towing capacity is listed at 9,390 pounds and maximum payload at 1,610 pounds with proper equipment. Available for serous haulers and towers are Trailer Sway Control, Tow/Haul Mode with Downhill Speed Control, Rear View Monitor with Trailer Guides and Around View Monitor.

In addition to towing the Titan can be configured for off-road capability with 4-wheel drive, low range, locking differential, hill descent control and appropriate wheels and tires.

Nissan’s warranty covers the whole truck, including powertrain, for 5 years or 100,000 miles. That’s better than most.

Five trim levels are offered including the Pro-4X for off-road enthusiasts. The top-level Platinum will be loaded with luxury stuff like so many of the competing trucks today. Prices begin just under 35 grand and top out at well over 50 grand. Again, that’s pretty close to the competition. The provision of the V-8 powertrain as standard may give a slight advantage to Titan. The 2017 Titan will be at dealers early in the fall of 2016. Single cab versions of both Titan and Titan HD are due out later in the fall.

Now to driving impressions:

The good folks from Nissan brought waves of journalists to Carmel Valley on the central California coast to experience the new Titan along with some other products. We had the opportunity for a few hours on the open roads and they had arranged some off-road experiences as well. In spite of raging wildfires just up the coast a few miles we were able to get a good sense of the new trucks.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Some of us began with the off-road experience on top of the mountain above Carmel Valley Ranch. They had dug and dozed a nice little course up there out of the native soil and rocks through which we could slowly drive the trucks. With large swales, side hills and a variety of conditions we took each model of the new Titan through its paces, sometimes on four wheels, sometimes on three and occasionally teetering on two. My impressions were of a solid, entirely competent truck in these conditions with all the appropriate drivers assistance devices needed to handle such challenges.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Out on the road both on the long country two-lanes and on short stretches of freeway we were first impressed by the degree of quietness inside the cabin. Controls, ergonomics, aesthetics and materials appeared, at least in this limited setting, well thought out.

Handling and performance felt as good as anything in the class. The engine and transmission made for a strong, well integrated driving experience with good acceleration, smooth and quick shifts. Steering feedback is good. Cornering is precise and well controlled. Ride is stiff, as expected, but not overly hard.

From our brief introduction to the new Titan it appears the equal of the better-known U.S. pickup brands in most categories. We’ll have more to say on all these issues when we get more sustained time and experience with the Titan.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved