With pleasant road manners and plenty of power, the light-duty 2017 Nissan Titan can compete head-to-head with the big guys now, while the Titan XD is for those who need to tow but don't want a full-on heavy duty truck.
The 2017 Nissan Titan is the automaker's full-size pickup. A long-overdue successor to a truck that made its debut in 2004, the new Titan is built in Canton, Mississippi, and is offered as either the light-duty Titan or as the near-heavy-duty Titan XD.
We rate it at 5.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Both Titans come in five trim levels: S, SV, Pro 4X, SL, and Platinum Reserve.
The new light-duty Titan is an add-on to the lineup in the wake of the Titan XD, which went on sale in the U.S. for the 2016 model year. That truck is a diesel- or gas-powered scalpel meant to slice a niche above light-duty trucks, but below traditional heavy-duty offerings. The Titan XD offers more hauling and towing capability than, say, a Ram 1500, but well below the competition's heavy-duty trucks. Time will tell if Nissan executed its “tweener” plan well.
The non-XD Titan goes on sale this summer as a 2017 model-year pickup. The Titan and Titan XD are both constructed in the same facility, but don’t share much running gear—right down to different lug nuts. The Titan’s wheelbase, in Crew Cab configuration, is roughly one foot shorter than the Titan XD, and the overall length is more than 14 inches shorter.
Styling and performance
The Titan's look is much more macho than it has been in the past. The grilles are different for the Titan and Titan XD but they use the same styling theme. They are large, bold, chrome affairs backed by active grille shutters that help reduce aerodynamic drag by 10 percent versus the old Titan, which was last offered for the 2014 model year. All Titans have a two-tone look.
Inside, the trucks sue the same the bold, simple utilitarian design as the domestic trucks. There are plenty of storage cubbies and the center console is large. The overall look is blocky, with large controls that can be used with gloves.
On the road, the light duty Titan is one of the more controlled pickups on the market. It is less prone to bounce and jiggle than any truck short of the Ram 1500 with its coil spring rear suspension. The rack-and-pinion hydraulic steering is also more direct than the norm for a pickup.
By heavy-duty standards, the Titan XD handles nicely and is stable at higher speeds. It steers more accurately and more responsively than other heavy-duty pickups, without the need for as many small steering corrections.
Ride quality is a easier in the Titan XD than in the Ford and Ram HDs. However, it is still big and very heavy, and it feels firm, heavy, and even plodding, especially when dealing with bumps and potholes.
Two powertrains are currently offered and a third is coming. A 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 is standard and is the only engine for the light-duty model. It is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. A V-6 is coming. The Titan XD can also be ordered with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V-8 that makes 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a heavy duty Aisin 6-speed automatic.
The 5.6-liter V-8 is the more responsive engine on the road, and it is especially willing in the light duty Titan.
The Titan XD is aimed squarely at buyers of tow-ready vehicles, and it comes ready to tow a gooseneck trailer. It takes less than two minutes to plug in the ball and hook in the chain anchors. Then, back up to the gooseneck trailer and a camera shows the way. The XD is rated to tow up to 12,314 pounds with the diesel engine, and while that is only about 1,000 pounds more than the gas engine, it can handle that weight better due to its torque. In the real world, it will work quite well with the large number of trailers that fall into the 8,000- to 10,000-pound range.
The Titan XD's payload max is 2,594 pounds. XDs get their own chassis reinforcements to handle the extended-duty cycle.
The four-wheel ventilated disc brakes on the Titan XD are substantially larger than those on the light-duty pickups, and we found them strong and reassuring yet precise.
Fuel economy is only offered for the crew cab light duty Titan. Nissan estimates 15 mpg city, 21 highway, 18 combined with rear-wheel drive, putting near the top of the class for V-8 trucks.
Comfort, safety, and features
Two cab styles are offered initially, Single Cab and Crew Cab. The Crew Cab has a full-size rear seat. A King Cab with a smaller rear seat and possibly rear-hinged doors will follow.
We’ve driven fancy-pants versions of the Titan and Titan XD (Platinum Reserve) and found the front seats to be supportive and comfortable and covered in handsome leather. The navigation screen is on the small side but the rearview camera works well. A driver information center appears in the instrument cluster, but can initially be challenging to figure out.
The Crew Cab's back seats are nearly as comfortable as the fronts, with plenty of room all around. A storage compartment under the second row is provided along with a fold-out flat floor for cargo.
The first Titan had wide-opening doors, a spray-in bedliner, and channels in the bed for dividing off sections for better and safer storage. The revamped version gets all those, including the movable cleats for mounting racks and tie-downs. It also gains available watertight locking storage boxes in the bed that are accessible inside the bed without removing a cover. The tailgate is damped and lowers easily instead of slamming down with a thud. Lights mounted low in the bed illuminate the bed contents, even when a cover is installed.
For towing, there's an available built-in gooseneck tow hitch, which helps reduce trailer sway by putting the attachment point for the hitch ahead of the rear axle.
Along with its new four-wheel-drive electronica, the 2017 Titan sports an available rearview camera, one with guides that help with hitching a tow vehicle to the truck. Nissan's pioneering surround-view camera system is an option as well. So are blind-spot monitors, rear cross traffic alerts, and front and rear parking sensors.
The base S model is better equipped than most work trucks, with such features as cloth upholstery with vinyl bolsters, a three-passenger front bench seat or two bucket seats and a center console, a six-speaker audio system with a 5.0-inch color screen, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
The Pro 4X model is only offered with four-wheel drive. It has such features as dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, a receiver hitch with 4- and 7-pin trailer connectors, radiator and transfer case skid plates, and all-terrain tires.
At the top of the lineup, the Platinum Reserve has leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, wood interior trim, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, and a trailer brake controller.
Also available are a rear DVD entertainment system; a Bed Utility package with the Titan Box storage bins, an electronic locking tailgate, and a rear utility bed step; and an Off-Road package with all-terrain tires and Bilstein shocks.