Every other truck in our competition has gone through a major update since the current generation Titan debuted in 2004. The giveaway: take a look at the front bumper of every other truck in the field and you'll notice that there's no gap between the bumper and the body like there is on the Titan. Other panel gaps were better, showing that the Titan's frame has got the rigidity to keep the body where it's supposed to be. The deeply-recessed firewall and short hood/long dash design that Nissan pioneered with the Titan still makes it unique, even though there's a hint of that style in the Tundra. We appreciated that unlike most of the field, the Titan looked like it at least tried to be streamlined. Looks can be deceiving though.
Unfortunately, the Titan's Achilles heel is still the interior, as the plastics seem considerably cheaper than the others, seats aren't especially great, and the window switches and steering wheel controls are not in logical places. For example, we thought the steering wheel controls should be swapped side for side. While the Nissan's crew cab is considerably smaller that the Ram, F-150, or Tundra, it was just big enough to fit our taller staffers comfortably when the front seat was at its rearmost setting, so you can't fault it for doing its job there. Other complaints we had were excessive wind and road noise, especially in the B-pillar. Luckily the audio system offers plenty of volume without much distortion, so you can drown it all out if you want. Our biggest complaint still has to be the materials used throughout the interior. The plastics just don't seem to hold up to any abuse, while the sporty nature of the truck seems to guarantee it won't be handled with kid gloves. Not a good recipe for longevity.
On the highway you're not going to forget you're driving a truck, with solid steering effort and good feedback from the wheel, Nissan made sure you know you're piloting some serious metal. Off-road, the Titan is capable and powerful, charging up hillclimbs with ease and the confidence of nearly 11-inches of ground clearance with the PRO-4X package. The ride off-road isn't bad, but the Titan's brakes took a heavy pedal to slow while in the dirt. Maybe the reason is because the Titan likes to go forward, not stop.
The 5.6L Endurance V-8 and five-speed transmission have always been the Titan's strong suit. It seems like Nissan has less electronic roadblocks between the driver and the wheels, and it shows by storming off of the starting line. Fire the engine up and the exhaust just begs you to take the truck and play off-road, which is obviously what the PRO-4X is designed for. One weak link has been the truck's rear axle, which seems to be one size too small for the enormous low-rpm torque output of the engine.
The Titan's debut was a huge move on Nissan's part, and a great 1st effort at a fullsize, it just got outclassed by this year's field of recently-improved trucks. We still have the same love it/hate it feelings that we've always had with the Titan: great powertrain, capable off-road, excellent steering response, but an interior that is two generations behind the competition. That's not to say that the Titan isn't a good truck, it's just that we, and most truck buyers, have come to demand more refinement. We've commented before that the previous generation Dodge Ram was the most "truck-like", but it seems that Nissan might have taken the title. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The Titan is a truck. No frills, nothing real fancy, just a work hard, play hard truck. If you want a no-nonsense truck that lives for the weekend, the Titan deserves a drive.
* The 5.6L V-8 is a beast!
* Fewer electronic nannies
* Confident off-road
* It's loud!
* We'll say it again, the interior plastics
* Fuel economy
* Needs beefier brakes to back up the big tires
* It's loud!