The Titan's styling makes it look smaller than its actual dimensions, so it's easy to think of it being smaller than the Fords, GMs, and Dodges until it's parked alongside of one of them. Then, it seems to grow in size, slightly exceeding the other trucks in actual dimensions.
The Titan and Titan XD share cabs, rear fenders, and headlights, but the hoods and front fenders are different. The hood sits higher on the XD, and while the grilles look similar, they are, in fact, different. They are large, bold, chrome (on most models) 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. Up front, all Titans feature LED puddle lights and taillights, and are offered with LED headlights. Both also have a two-tone look with a different color for the bumpers, lower side panels, and fender flares.
The Titan's design is much more macho than it has been in the past. It as been criticized as derivative of the Ford F-150, but that's what you get with a big, modern pickup. The XD is only more macho.
Inside, the trucks have the bold, simple utilitarian look that the domestic trucks use. 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.
Overall, the look isn't overly attractive or offensive, so we rate it a 5. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
New styling with lots of chrome and bulging fenders suggest confidence and capability.
The 2017 Nissan Titan light duty pickup uses a modified version of the ladder-frame structure from the first-generation model. The frame has been upgraded with additional gussets that improve structural rigidity, and hydraulic body mounts meant to reduce vibrations.
Together those upgrades are very effective. 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, though it has a little on-center slop and is slow compared to what you get in a car or crossover.
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 we drove at the same time. However, it is still big and very heavy, and it feels firm, heavy, and even plodding, especially when dealing with bumps and potholes.
By comparison, the F-150, Ram 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and light-duty Titan feel like they are floating on clouds. Neighborhood streets are the most painful for the HD pickups, including the Titan XD, but out on the highway they are all comfortable.
We rate the Titan a 5 for performance. Starting at a 5, the XD gains a point for towing capability, but loses a point for ride and handling. The light duty Titan gains or loses no points for any of its performance parameters. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Powertrains and capability
Two powertrains are offered for the Titan, and a third is yet to come. The 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 is available for both the Titan and Titan XD. This gasoline engine is rated 390 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 394 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. A V-6 engine will be available for the Titan late in the 2017 model year, according to Nissan.
The Cummins diesel is exclusive to the Titan XD. A turbocharged 5.0-liter V-8, it is rated at 310 hp at 3,200 rpm and 555 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm.
Smooth and powerful, the 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 engine is a delightful engine. It's quiet on the highway and around town, but punch it and it growls with enthusiasm. It's the more responsive engine of the two, and it is even more ready and willing in the light duty Titan. However, we found its 7-speed transmission slow to downshift when power was needed for overtaking on a two-lane road.
With the 5.6-liter V-8, a Titan XD is rated to tow up to 11,270 pounds and the light duty Titan can tow 9,730 pounds, far less than its main competitors.
The Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 is the more capable engine. It rumbles pleasantly at idle. Though smaller than the diesels in the heavy-duty competitors, it is larger and more powerful than the diesel in the Ram 1500. On the road, the diesel is relatively smooth, and it delivers strong power when needed. Its Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive, quickly selecting the correct gear in most every situation.
Nonetheless, the heavy-duty domestic trucks offer far more power. The new Ford Super Duty leads the class at 440 hp and 925 lb-ft of torque.
Towing is why we would choose a Titan XD, and the diesel is best choice here. Maximum towing capacity for a Titan XD turbodiesel is 12,314 pounds. That's only about 1,000 pounds more than the gas engine, but the diesel just works better when pulling a trailer thanks to its low-end torque. In practical terms, it can easily manage trailers in the 8,000-10,000-pound range. It will be much more stable with a heavy trailer than the light-duty pickups and better able to handle tongue weight from a poorly balanced trailer. Heavy-duty pickups in the Ford F-250 class bring even more stability with heavier trailers.
The Titan XD's payload max is 2,000 pounds with the diesel, 2,594 pounds with the 5.6-liter V-8. That's of concern only to the few drivers who haul massively heavy loads.
Titan XDs get their own chassis reinforcements to handle the extended-duty cycle. A reinforced front suspension and leaf-spring rear end, and twin-tube rear shocks are coupled with an American Axle differential with an available electronic locking rear differential. Hydraulic cab mounts like the new F-150 are factored in for better ride isolation.
The Titan XD handles payloads well. Using a gas-powered Titan XD 5.6-liter V-8, we hauled an 850-pound load of gravel neatly packaged in a square bundle on a pallet, secured with tie-downs attached to the utility track system. With three of us in the truck, that added up to a payload of more than 1,400 pounds that we hauled over 100-plus miles of winding roads and highways. Acceleration was slowed, the 7-speed transmission was reluctant to downshift, and braking and turning for intersections called for more care and smoothness, but overall it was easy to forget the heavy load was back there.
The XD feels weighty behind the wheel, but the standard Titan is well controlled for a truck. Both engines are highly capable but not at the top of the class.
The 2017 Titan comes in two cab styles, Single Cab and Crew Cab, with King Cab versions to follow. Crew cabs are more convenient for traveling with family or friends and for hauling cargo inside the cab. Single cabs feature 8-foot pickup beds, a good choice for work trucks.
Climbing into a Titan is easier than climbing into a Titan XD. The Titan XD is taller than most other trucks by 1 to 3 inches, and scrambling up into one takes effort, especially when it's not equipped with running boards. Of course, like other full-size trucks, the standard Titan is tall, too. From the driver's seat, the Titan XD's hood seems higher than that of other trucks as well.
Inside, Nissan's Zero Gravity front seats are supportive and they should provide long-trip comfort. The seats in the Platinum Reserve models are covered in handsome leather that is pleasing to the eye and to the touch. They are also power-adjustable, as is the steering wheel.
At 7.0 inches, the navigation screen is smaller than most, but the rearview camera works well. A driver information center appears in the instrument cluster but it can be difficult to figure out. The center console bin is large, which is convenient for contractors who may want to keep files in there.
A utility-track system for the bed that works very well for securing cargo, complete with movable cleats for tie-downs. The tailgate is damped and lowers easily instead of slamming down with a thud, and it closes easily with one hand, thanks to a strut hidden behind the right-rear taillight assembly. Lights mounted low illuminate the bed contents, even when a cover is installed. Nissan also offer the Titan box bed storage bins. Think of them like the Ram Box bins, except they are inside the bed instead of inside the bed rails. They do take up some space, but they are removable so you can optimize the bed for your needs.
For towing, the Titan XD is offered with a built-in gooseneck tow hitch structure that allows converting from receiver hitch to gooseneck in less than three minutes. The gooseneck hitch can be quickly removed and stowed, returning the bed to a smooth cargo floor. It's a great setup, easy and convenient. Gooseneck hitches dramatically reduce trailer sway and improve maneuverability by putting the attachment point for the hitch ahead of the rear axle.
The Titan XD is substantially larger than the Titan, most noticeable when they are parked together. Comparing Crew Cabs, the XD is taller by 2 inches. It's nearly 15 inches longer overall and nearly 12 inches longer in wheelbase.
The Titan Crew Cab is built on a 139.8-inch wheelbase and is 228.1 inches long. The Titan XD Crew Cab is built on a 151.6-inch wheelbase and is 242.7 inches long. Titan Single Cab and Titan XD Single Cab ride on the 139.8-inch wheelbase, but the XD is 231 inches long, compared with the Titan Single Cab at 228.1 inches.
The differences are made up in the bed length. The Titan Crew Cab has a 5.5-foot bed, and the Titan XD Crew Cab a 6.5-foot bed. All Single Cab models have the standard 8-foot pickup bed. Most buyers nowadays want crew cab versions; single cabs tend to be used primarily as work trucks. King Cab versions, which split the difference, are expected late in the 2017 model year or as 2018 models.
All Titan and Titan XD trucks are 79.5 inches wide. Titan Crew Cabs are 75.4 inches tall with rear-wheel drive, 76 inches with four-wheel drive. Titan XD Crew Cabs are 78 inches tall with 2WD or 4WD.
In our new ratings system, we give the Titan a 7. We start at five and add a point for the comfortable front seats and useful bed features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The cabin is available in a base configuration or with handsome leather, and Nissan offers some features that really improve bed utility.
The IIHS is the only safety agency to crash-test a Titan so far, and their results are mixed. The 2017 Nissan Titan managed mostly "Good" scores on its crash tests, save a "Marginal" rating for its small-overlap front crash protection.
That's not impressive considering the Titan's girth. Federal testers haven't yet weighed in either. So far, we can only give the Titan a 5 out of 10 for safety on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Titan's available rearview camera has guides that help with hitching a tow vehicle to the truck. A surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors, rear cross traffic alerts, and front and rear parking sensors are available.
Pressing the key fob initiates a routine that allows the driver to observe operation of all the trailer lights while standing outside, an important step before starting a trip.
Trailer sway control and an integrated trailer brake controller are offered to enhance safety while towing.
The Titan offers good outward vision. The towing mirrors are small but effective for towing. They can be extended manually, by standing outside the truck and yanking on them, neither as convenient nor as effective as the big, power-extendable mirrors on the Ford Super Duty. The surround-view camera compensates to maintain the same view whether the mirrors are extended or not.
Federal testers haven't weighed in yet, but the IIHS is on the fence.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(4/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(4/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Not Tested|
|Roof Strength Test||Not Tested|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Not Tested|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
The 2017 Nissan Titan and Titan XD are offered in five models: S, SV, Pro 4X, SL, and Platinum Reserve. With its wide range of trims and equipment, we give the Titan an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
As the base model, the S is a work truck, though it has a few more standard features than competitors' base trucks. Those features include cloth upholstery with vinyl bolsters, a three-passenger front bench seat or two bucket seats and a center console, four-way manually adjustable front seats, a six-speaker audio system with a 5.0-inch color screen, a USB port, two 12-volt outlets, NissanConnect with mobile apps, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a manual sliding rear cab window, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, aluminum step rails, four fixed tie-down hooks in the bed, and 18-inch steel wheels.
The SV model adds cloth upholstery, power heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, satellite radio, upgraded instruments, trailer sway control, and alloy wheels. The SV 4WD also gets front tow hooks and oil pan and fuel tank skid plates.
Offered only with 4WD, the Pro 4X adds cloth with embroidered vinyl upholstery, an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a convex spotter mirror, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, NissanConnect with navigation and SiriusXM Travel Link, voice recognition, Siri Eyes Free control for iPhones, a power-sliding rear cab window, a rear 110-volt outlet, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alerts, a receiver hitch with 4- and 7-pin trailer connectors, radiator and transfer case skid plates, LED automatic headlights, and all-terrain tires.
The SL gets most of the features of the Pro 4X minus the off-road equipment. It also adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, memory for the driver's seat and steering column, a 4-way power front passenger seat, a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, NissanConnect satellite services, a universal garage door opener, front and rear parking sensors, outside mirror puddle lamps, a driver's side auto-dimming outside mirror, a 110-volt outlet in the bed, cargo bed lights and LED under-rail bed lights, running boards, and 20-inch wheels.
At the top of the lineup, the Platinum Reserve gets unique leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, wood interior trim, aluminum door sill plates, a surround-view camera system, front tow hooks, and a trailer brake controller with a trailer light function check via the keyfob,
Features from the higher line models are available for lower line models in various packages. Also offered for the Platinum Reserve are rear DVD entertainment and a Bed Utility package with the Titan Box storage bins, an electronic locking tailgate, and a rear utility bed step.
An Off-Road package for the SL and Platinum Reserve comes with 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires and Bilstein shock absorbers; this package deletes the front spoiler/air dam.
Titan XD equipment mostly mirrors that of the standard Titan. The Titan XD diesel SL and above get an integrated gooseneck while the Platinum Reserve has a gooseneck hitch ball, safety chain anchors, and bag.
Buyers can opt for a simple work truck with more features than the norm or move all the way up to a luxurious Platinum Reserve.
The 2017 Nissan Titan with the 5.6-liter V-8 gets an estimated 15 mpg city, 21 highway, and 18 combined. That marks a 28-percent improvement over the last Titan, but it is not as efficient as the 16/23/19 of the Chevrolet Silverado with the 5.3-liter V-8.
That earns it a score of 4 for fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Fuel economy ratings will not be published for the Titan XD because fuel economy regulations don't apply to vehicles with a curb weight over 6,000 pounds.
Nonetheless, the Titan XD diesel should be efficient for a heavy duty truck because diesel engines are inherently more efficient than gasoline engines.
In our real-world testing of the XD, we managed roughly 18 mpg. That's not as frugal as a Ram 1500 turbodiesel, which can top 20 mpg, but it's heavier than that truck and it is marginally better than the diesel-powered heavy duty competitors.
The Titan is more about capability and value than environmental awareness.