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Review: 2017 Nissan TITAN Platinum Reserve 4×4

Kamil Kaluski September 12, 2016 Featured, Nissan Reviews, Reviews 21 Comments

Nissan’s original Titan, which I am familiar with because we used it as tow vehicle for our , was a decent truck. It was a slightly scaled-down half-ton like the original Tundra. There was nothing wrong with it, just as there was nothing outstanding or special about it. It always was rather generic and remained that way through its twelve year life. This ordinary is perhaps best reflected in its combined 471,242 U.S. sales. That is much less than Ford’s annual average F-150 sales over that same time period.

The all-new 2017 Titan half-ton has a lot of room for sales improvement which is best achieved through innovation and originality. It started off well with the bigger Titan XD and its turbo-diesel Cummins V8. With it Nissan could have made not only a new half-ton pickup but they could have made a better pickup, a different pickup.

But Nissan didn’t.

Instead, Nissan created just another pickup, one that’s like any other pickup. A healthy V8, 390 horsepower upfront, a large four-door cab, and a typical short bed, all mounted to a frame. Where Ford uses aluminum bodies and turbo engines, and Ram has air suspension and diesel engines, the Titan delivers an equivalent of the equally slow selling Toyota Tundra. The big chrome grill and fake side vents drew early opinions that the new Titan looked like the F-150, which Nissan’s Fred Diaz . In his opinion the Titan delivers what the market demands. In other words, if you can’t beat them, join them.

Despite the almost identical looks to the Titan XD, Titan’s wheelbase is a foot shorter. Initially the Titan will only be available in a crew cab and short bed configurations but regular car and King Cab models will come soon. Likewise, the only initial engine choice is a 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Early buyers to get a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 models and five trim levels: S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve. The vehicle pictured here is the top of the line Platinum Reserve 4×4.

The common styling finds its way into the cabin. Up front are two big, comfortable, seats. Designed clearly for larger people with long bottom cushions that are especially comfortable. Gauges cluster, steering wheel, and the infotainment were borrowed from other Nissan vehicles. The gauges convey all their information clearly but secondary gauges give only estimates of what the actual reading is: cold or hot, low or high, and the gray area in between. The infotainment, despite not looking very glamorous is quick and easy to operate. Unlike many automakers, Nissan chose not to remove all the hard keys and knobs from the dash, which makes things such as radio and heated/ventilated seats, easy to control.

But the cab is not perfect. The position of the cup-holders is adjustable, which is required to access the bin below them. Repositioning them requires a good tug up – a sliding system would work much better. The trim on this Platinum Reserve 4×4 includes wood, which feel and looks like plastic wrapped in wallpaper, plastic chrome, black and gray plastic. A single tone, but higher quality, material would make a substantial improvement.

The air conditioning in the Titan requires a special compliment. On a ridiculously hot and humid day, the cab of the truck cooled down to a level of a meat locker within a minute. The cooled seats also do their job better than many others on the market.

In the world of portable electronic devices, the Titan has only one USB port, where a GMC Sierra packs half dozen. There are two 12v receptacles in the dash and one on the bottom of the center console. In the rear center console there is a 120vAC household outlet. My phone easily sync’d with via the Bluetooth system and work well in conversations and streaming of audio.

A sunroof is not available on the Titan, which leaves space for things such a sunglass holder. I placed my fancy sunglasses in the holder. After the fourth time, the holder became stuck half open. My glasses somehow got wedged between the rotating part of the holder and the roof. I could not open or close the holder. If I yanked it down, my sunglasses would shatter. I returned the truck with my sunglasses in it. A dealer had to remove and replace the console. Sadly, my Ray-Bans did not survive the ordeal.

The rear bench is split into a third and two-thirds. The bench is roomy in all directions and generally comfortable, with a sedan-like center armrest. The backrests fold down and the bottom cushions rise up to allow transport of bulkier items. Where the F-150 has a huge flat floor area under the seat, the Titan has lockable storage bins with lids that turn into a flimsy raised flat floor. Further, that flat area that does not extend all the way to the front seats and just does not feel strong enough for heavier items. The rear doors could open a little wider.

The five and a half foot bed on this truck was sprayed with grippy textured liner. Around the perimeter of the box are rails with moveable anchors for your tie-down needs. There are also two rails in the floor of the bed which can be outfitted with tie-down hooks. For night loading, there is a light on top of the cab as well as LED lights along the inside top of the bed. The bed has a handy 120v  (150W driving, 400W idle) receptacle, too. Optional, and not installed on this vehicle, are two lockable in-bed storage boxes. On the driver’s side rear corner there is a “man step” which allows easier entry into the bed.

The tailgate has a dampening feature which makes it easy to open and close. Like on most other trucks, the tailgate is lockable but is not connected to the power door lock system, and a separate key must be used, even with the keyless system. While sliding a cardboard box of books out of the bed I noticed that when the tailgate is open, the inner panel of the tailgate is slightly higher than the floor of the bed. Anything that is being pushed out of the bed will get caught on the tailgate and will need to be lifted up onto the tailgate, which will get annoying very quickly.

Like all such trucks, the Titan elevates the driver above most other cars on the road. Visibility is good, with side windows cut a little lower, like the F-150, to enable better side mirror vision. The A-pillar is a bit thick but no worse than most other new vehicles. Around view camera is excellent and, along with beep-beep sensors, make parking this big truck easy. Nissan did a great job on the suspension setup as the ride is very smooth and does a great job of absorbing even the worst road irregularities, even when completely empty.

The half-ton Titan is rated to tow 9390 pounds in 4×2 trim and 9230 pounds in 4×4, with as much as ten percent of it going on the tongue. The maximum payload is 1590 pounds for 4×2 models and 1610 pounds for 4×4 models. Because of so many different versions of each pickup truck, it is rather difficult to say if Nissan has an edge over any of the other half-tons, all numbers seem very comparable. The EPA fuel economy has not been determined yet. The truck pictured here had only 1700 miles on it, and driven with a bed full of hot air and a heavy foot I averaged around 14 MPG in a mix of city and highway driving. Expect the EPA ratings to be higher than that.

Prices for the 2017 Nissan Titan start at $35,975, including $1,195 for destination and handling. The Platinum Reserve Crew Cab 4×4 pictured here is $56,595 before options. Like all specs, those prices are squarely aimed at comparable Ford F-150 models.

Each year a number of automakers do their best to grab pickup sales away from Ford. They never do. The F-150 is what keeps Ford alive; it is their core product and their true halo car. It sets the bar for which all other trucks are measured and the latest F-150 set that bar very, very high. Nissan will try to grab some of those sales with this new Titan, but with similar looks, specs, and prices, the Titan does not offer many reasons for choosing it over any other truck. It’s just another truck.

Nissan provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. Please pardon the quality of the images, I had issues with my big camera.  All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Redusernab 2016.

  • dukeisduke

    Instead of putting their own fake fender vents on, why not just give buyers twenty bucks, so they can go to AutoZone and pick out their own?

    As slow as these things sell, I can’t imagine what parts availability (especially trim parts) will be in a few years. Yikes.

    • Ross Ballot

      The first-gen actually has a pretty solid aftermarket. I can’t attest to OEM parts availability, but I know in terms of buying off-road equipment there’s a good bit of it. That being said, would hate to be somebody looking for parts for the XD’s Cummins in a couple years…

      • Kiefmo

        Was that engine just developed for Nissan, or was Nissan just the genesis of its development? Surely Cummins would love to sell that mill to someone else, ’cause I doubt they’ll recoup their development costs completely from Titan diesel sales.

        • Ross Ballot

          Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Nissan-Cummins exclusive deal.

          • Kiefmo

            As I thought, that’s a hard nope — there’s no way Cummins could have hoped to recoup all of its development dollars on a few ten thousand engines that Nissan will likely sell.

            Witness the “ISV5.0”:

        • Harry Callahan

          How would buy the Cummins diesel? Ford? No way! Ram? Nope, they have their Moto Morinis. GM? Nope, they have their own. In other words, Cummins is screwed.

          Never doubt that someone in a suit made a VERY BAD decision. Remember, somebody at Nissan looked at the Juke and said “Yes, that looks GREAT!” and green lighted production….

    • Josh Howard

      The fake fender vents were never supposed to be fake. In fact, they were designed to help cool the engine bay. After testing, it was determined that they actually hurt cooling so they were made solid despite looking worse. Honestly, truck buyers aren’t going to care. I used to think they would, but don’t anymore. Well….. new truck buyers anyway.

  • Ross Ballot

    I really want to like the 2nd-gen Titan but am having a hard time finding reason to do so. The first-gen had an edge to it; it was an outsider and had an attitude to it. This one is just so “meh” that I can’t get over it. As you said, if I were a prospective buyer (I very much am not), I would be in no way compelled to buy the Nissan over the competition. It’s too bland, too “safe,” and too expensive. Really too bad. Hopefully the next generation of Frontier won’t make the same mistakes.

    • Kiefmo

      Nissan really should have shoved its development effort and cash into a new Frontier. I know we’re getting one eventually, but I think the market would have appreciated (and purchased) a new compact/midsizer from Nissan sooner than a new Titan. Nissan has a lot more loyalty and good juju built up in that pickup line than it does in the Titan.

      • Ross Ballot

        Agreed. Small truck buyers are much quicker to accept change or adopt new vehicles than are full-size truck buyers. Or at least I’d be inclined to think so much. The Titan may be a good truck but the demographic they’re going after is a really tough one to capture, seeing as full-size buyers are *extremely* loyal. A new Frontier could have gotten a lot of repeat buyers (the current Frontier is ancient), and I’d wager many others as well. Especially with the new Colorado/Canyon, the new Tacoma, and an upcoming Jeep pickup, I’m hoping there’s a new and true-to-its-lineage Frontier soon. I dig those trucks.

        • CraigSu

          I recently read that a new Frontier is 18-24 months away. I think that was a comparo test back in late spring for the new Ridgeline, Canyon/Colorado, Frontier, and Tacoma. Needless to say, the Frontier was dead last mostly due to its age.

          • Ross Ballot

            Yup, IIRC that was a Pickuptrucks.com comparo and while the Frontier did well all-around (esp. off-road), it was well behind the new, modern entrants.

          • outback_ute

            The new Frontier probably exists in the form of the Navara NP300, which has been out for about 15 months. Trouble is the best reviews place it mid-pack in the class.

  • Sounds like the perfect choice for someone who simply refuses to buy a domestic brand.

    • Harry Callahan

      Tundra has traded in that niche. Unlikely much need for another.

  • CraigSu

    Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve Crew Cab 4×4. Has Nissan been getting lessons from BMW in how to name vehicles?

    • stigshift

      Obviously not. It has words. Not like a new 427 XI SL Flying Spaghetti Monster. Which is a 3 wheel drive 1.5 one cylinder electric diesel radial engined 7 door coupe… I miss coherent names and/or numerology.

  • Like Kamil and the other commenters, I will agree that there is no compelling reason to go off the F150 reservation and buy something like this. And I drive a Kizashi, so that’s saying something.

    Full disclosure: I also own an F150 SuperCrew 4×4.

    • Kiefmo

      There could be, and that would be in the form of something like $10k on the hood relative to a comparably-equipped F-150.

      So, yeah, the incentive would have to be large. Very large.

  • CanAm-Chad

    Did anyone else see the interior and say “hey a RAM 1500!”

  • Harry Callahan

    Nissan wasted LOTS of money on this strategic error. Time for Gshon to retire.