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Quick Spin: 2018 Nissan Titan PRO-4X King Cab

The full-size pickup truck market is the highest grossing and most competitive of all North American vehicle segments. The big three have been competing against each for almost a century. To show just how competitive this market is and how much brand loyalty there is in, Toyota and Nissan have been offering their versions of full-size or in-between full-size trucks for almost two decades and they’re still clinching only a small fraction of the market. It’s a big pie and everyone wants a piece – sometimes even the crumbs are worth chasing after.

This here Nissan Titan is a proper half-ton pickup truck. It’s the right size in every dimension. It’s got a healthy V8. It’s comfortable. It’s got a big bed. It’s got a trailer hitch. It’s was even designed and is made in the United States. Having talked to several people who own similar Titans, they all love them. I don’t think anyone buying one will go wrong. And yet…

Because the truck segment is so damn competitive and sells in such high volumes, with high profit margins, automakers like Ford and GM do not skimp on R&D and manufacturing investments. Morgan Stanley says that if Ford F-series was its own company, it would be ranked number 72 on the Fortune 500 list. Nissan, despite being one of the largest auto companies in the world, does not really have that option.

The truth is that if Nissan could make the best damn pickup truck in the world, with the latest small diesel engine, aluminum body, air suspension, the roomiest cabin, latest electronics, highest tow rating, and best of everything. They could even price it competitively. And even then it would not outsell the F-150. That’s because of brand loyalty. Some people just want their Fords or Chevys and nothing else will do.

It therefore makes sense that Nissan chose to make the basic, honest truck. And if that is what you’re looking for, the Titan is a solid choice. Drive it back-to-back with the Ford F-150 or RAM 1500 and some shortcomings will come up, such as cabin layout, latest infotainment, or lack of a smaller engine than this mighty fine V8. Some will say that the Titan’s maximum payload and maximum towing capacity are lower than the American trucks, certainly a valid point, but the truth is that if you’re loaded or are towing near the maximum capacity of your truck, you bought too small of a truck.

The 2018 Titan model has only with minor changes since its 2016 introduction. Most importantly, a tacky fender-mounted fake vent is now gone. The 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission is the only powertrain choice, and it’s a solid one. All models are available in 4×2 and 4×4 versions. There are three cab versions now; Crew Cab, King Cab and Single Cab, along with three bed lengths and up to five trim levels. Nissan will also point out that their bumper-to-bumper 5-years/100,000-mile warranty is one of the best. 

The King Cab models were only available in the commercial form until this model year because majority of people are choosing the Crew Cab. As far as the King Cab is concerned, it has the same issues as Ford’s SuperCab – it’s too small for passengers on anything other than short trips and is therefore best used as a trunk. Anyone who transports adults on regular basis or little kids in car seats should just buy the Crew Cab. 

The PRO-4X model shown here is the top dog of the new for 2018 King Cab models. It comes with 275/70R18 all-terrain tires, 18×8-inch wheels, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers, electronic locking rear differential, lower radiator skid and Hill Descent Control. A receiver hitch and hitch member also come standard with the PRO-4X trim. All proper truck stuff. 

The one area where the Titan has an advantage over its domestically branded counterparts is price. The pictured PRO-4X King Cab models has all the option boxes checked and comes in at manufacturer’s suggested price of $50,720. And that is a lot of money. Similarly equipped RAM 1500 Rebel stickers at about the same amount. An F-150 Lariat with FX4 Off-Road Package is about five grand more. But the real sale prices are set by the dealers and a quick look at TrueCardotcom reveals that the Titan can be had for significantly less than either of those two.  

Nissan has solid truck in its line-up. Its biggest problem is that the competitors’ trucks are really good. But those who are willing to overlook brand loyalty, those who won’t notice some missing features, and those who don’t care what maximum capacities are, those people will be very happy with this truck and save themselves a few dollars in the process.  

Disclaimer: Nissan North America provided the Titan for the purpose of this story. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Redusernab 2018.

For a complete review of the 2017 Nissan TITAN Platinum Reserve 4×4, click here.

For a complete review of the 2017 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X with Cummins Power, click here

 

  • P161911

    Door mounted seat belts still scare me. GM did this in the late 80s/early 90s. Still seems like a bad idea.

    • 0A5599

      In this case, the front belts are on the rear doors, though. The passenger is still secured if a door opens.

      Ford does it in their Supercabs. It’s a simple solution for trucks without a B-pillar.

      • P161911

        My 2011 Silverado extended cab mounts them to the floor and the roof I think.

    • Zentropy

      I’ve never seen an accident (with a modern vehicle) where the doors fly open. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

      • Tank

        most lock automatically at a certain low speed anyway

  • At first I chuckled a little because the Nissan’s designers stole the grille from Ford. Then I noticed the taillights. And the shape of the side windows. I guess there are no new ideas when it comes to pickup design?

    • Tank

      The new Ram looks just like an F150 to me

  • Fred

    I had 2 chevy trucks with poor reliability. If I was to get another truck I’d look at the Nissan and others.

    • P161911

      My 2011 Silverado 2WD V-6 just got its 3rd 4L60E transmission at 97k miles. The first one snapped a shaft at about 32k miles. But still it has been cheap overall.

      • Fred

        My problems started 2000 miles after the warranty was up. When I first replaced the AC they gave me a life time quarantee on it. I claimed it twice. I had several thousands of dollars in repairs until I finally got rid of it at 165k My Audi was more reliable.

        • Zentropy

          When an Audi is more reliable, you’re obviously driving a POS.

  • smalleyxb122

    So it stickers on par with its better competition, and they rely on incentives to make the price down to where it should be? I hate that. All of the trucks do it, so it’s an industry problem, not just a Nissan problem. Nissan is just doing it more. The only advantage is that with loan values based on MSRP, you can be further upside-down on your trade-in when you buy the Titan.

    F150 might be able to carry more in the bed, but the Titan is the king when it comes to carrying negative equity.

    • 0A5599

      Dodge did the same thing with the Dart, giving it a too-high MSRP and then heavily discounting it to the price it actually sold for. Customers shopping for a $22k car viewed them unfavorably compared to other cars listing for the same price, even though those other $22k cars drove off the lot for maybe $18k, while the Dart would sell for $14k. A lower MSRP would have made it more appealing to buyers who want brand new entry level cars and have no skill at haggling.

      Nissan should stop pretending it’s in the same sandbox as Ford-GM-Ram. Instead, it should claim a niche as an alternative for people who want a full-size truck lifestyle on a less than full-size truck budget.

    • P161911

      I bought my 2011 Silverado WT with about $7000 in rebates and another $1000 or so in GM family discount. I refinanced the GM loan about a year or two after I got it with a credit union loan. The loan value was still more than I had paid for the truck!

  • Alff

    “…the truth is that if you’re loaded or are towing near the maximum capacity of your truck, you bought too small of a truck.” This is only true if you regularly use your truck at its limits. Sometimes you just find yourself in a situation…

    • Smaglik

      To me, that means perhaps you didn’t over buy, which is the American way.

    • smalleyxb122

      This reads to me like the multitude of people cautioning me because twice a year or so I tow ~5,500lbs with a vehicle rated to tow 6,500. “Ooh, that’s getting pretty close to the limit.”

      • Alff

        I run in to the same situation sometimes. Tow rating on my pickups is just over 7000#, which is fine for car+transporter, smaller boat or utility trailer that comprises 95% of my towing. Every once in a while I need to use a dump trailer or small Bobcat, though.

      • Zentropy

        A vehicle rated to tow 6,500 lbs is probably safe to tow 7k. The engineering allowance is upward, not downward. People are stupid. I’m more concerned with the moron that can’t manage to skillfully pull (and back up) a 3500-lb loaded trailer.

        • Alff

          I’ve towed over the rated capacity but it isn’t fun and it’s hard on things. Pretty sure I took many miles off my Dodge’s transmission the last time around.

          • Zentropy

            I didn’t mean to imply that anyone should exceed the tow rating, only that the vehicle is capable of safely pulling loads AT the limit. There’s certainly no concern 1000 lbs below it.

            • I think it also matters where you tow and at what speeds. 80MPH across Texas? You better have the right rig.
              A two-mile drive from your back yard to the town dump? You can pull that 7000# trailer with you Kia.

          • Sjalabais

            I broke the truck like clutch on a Volvo 245 once trying to pull our demolished-bathroom-in-a-trailer up our 35 degree* driveway. My mechanic still calls me insensitive over the whole thing, and it’s about eight years ago. That same Volvo would also take 600+ kg of tiles, my wife and me, and not burn on the 30km ride home.

            *Technically, our driveway is an avalanche danger area.

    • Fortunately most of my situations involve towing with a car instead.

      • 0A5599

        Fortunately most of my self-inflicted “situations” involve towing with a “car” instead.

        Fixed it for you.

    • neight428

      It’s definitely a matter of how often you do it. Getting up towards another vehicle’s max tow rating stops being fun in a hurry. Paying extra for bragging rights is all part of the fun, I suppose. I have probably only tow >5k lbs once a year, but it’s nice to not have to make other arrangements when the need arises occasionally and to have the extra capability in reserve with lesser loads.

      • Alff

        I told myself that my next truck would be at least 3/4 ton for that once a year situation. Then I had a great deal on another half ton fall in my lap. Now I have two half tons. My next truck will be bigger but since I keep stuff forever and my driveway is full that could be some time away.

        • Sjalabais

          Aren’t you Americans aware of, you know, rental car/truck agencies?

          • Often the rental places are even more restrictive when it comes to towing, which is how I ended up with this silly arrangement just to get my HMV Freeway back from Oregon when it broke down. No other agencies were nearby and U-Haul wouldn’t acknowledge that their pickup trucks might tow even this modest load.

            • Sjalabais

              You have probably heard this before, but didn’t the Freeway fit into the moving van? Anyway, strange setup, and this conservative approach to trailer weight is surely driving up the price of the rental.

              • I thought about it at the time. It would have fit, but standing by myself in the U-Haul parking lot after being dropped there by the tow truck operator I had no way of lifting the Freeway into the van, nor did U-Haul have anything that would work for a ramp, nor was there anything even remotely like a loading dock in the area. The box also had no anchor points whatsoever in its interior, so securing the Freeway from smashing itself against the walls would have been a significant challenge. Besides, at that point the cost of renting the trailer as part of a package deal was a negligible increase over the cost of renting the van alone, which, as you guessed, wasn’t cheap.

                • Fuhrman16

                  Odd, U Haul had no issues with me towing my Hyundai lemons car on a tow dollie with their smallest box van last spring. The only reason I didn’t rent a pickup was due to wanting someplace dry to store the spare parts (and to sleep in).

            • Alff

              Yeah, I wasn’t able to find a place in KC that would rent me a 3/4 ton or 1 ton to tow equipment. I might be more successful if I had a commercial account.

    • When the situation happens every week…

  • Smaglik

    Attractive vehicle, until you see the front. That looks like a perennially sad dog face caught in the wind.

    • Zentropy

      Gotta agree with you there. Nissan styling is at a low these days, in both cars and trucks. I liked the look of the ’01-’04 Frontier and first-gen Titan, but the latest truck iterations are fugly. IMO Nissan peaked with the 240Z and again with the R34, and has been dying a slow death ever since.

  • Zentropy

    $50k???? Truck prices are ridiculous. This rig would gain my attention in the mid-30s, maybe, if I could paint about half of the headlights body color.

    • P161911

      The base S model king cab is $32,250. That gets you a 390hp V-8, power windows, power locks, A/C, cruise control, and a stereo with Bluetooth. The other $18k is 4X4 (about $3000) and bells and whistles.

      • Zentropy

        Thank you. That price makes total sense, and is arguably a real bargain.

        • P161911

          Trucks have to be the only thing this side of Porsche at allows you to almost double the price of a base vehicle with options. The really funny thing is that options depreciate even faster than the base price.

      • Zentropy

        Please forgive the 2-minute Photoshop job, but this would be much better, in my opinion.

    • neight428

      There are top trim 4wd “Platinum Reserve” Titans advertised for less than $45k. The PRO-4X’s start around $37k in the listings. MSRP doesn’t mean much.

    • Truecar says about $35,000… but I can’t really put that into the review.

  • neight428

    Nissan is a very 80/20 type company. They will forego the 80% effort on the last 20% of quality, features, performance, etc. and pass the savings along. It’s a decent option for a full sized truck. I bought an F150 for ~$4k more than an equivalent Titan. They had just redesigned them when I was in the market (or maybe only had the XD version and the old body style), but if I were in a similar situation today, I could talk myself into one.

    • Sjalabais

      …but 80/20 is only passable for new car buyers. I had a used Nissan once which struggled with that last 20% everywhere, and the tale was nothing new to any current or former Nissan owners I talked to.

      • Zentropy

        Nissans are one of those brands I would avoid buying even if they started building attractive cars. Fortunately they’re ugly as sin and spare me the internal debate. (Unlike Dodge, which has some very appealing designs IMO, but I would likely never purchase. I’ve been way too underwhelmed with their mechanical quality.)

        • “Describe FCA in two sentences”

      • neight428

        Passable is a good adjective. Superlative at nothing, get used to it. You’ll probably lose the savings on the back end if you don’t keep it forever anyway. I do have some admiration for the Frontier, that thing just keeps soldiering on, and people keep buying them.

  • Car and Driver did a long term of a diesel, 4 door version of this truck (I think) and the review was uncharitable to put it mildly.

    • neight428

      I remember reading that. Those diesels were not ready for production, or at least the one that was in C&D’s truck wasn’t.