Words by: Chris Chase
Pictures by: Jag Dhatt
Pickup trucks have never been bigger: Not only do they remain some of Canada’s best-selling vehicles year after year, but full-size pickups are physically larger than ever. Nissan plays neatly into this trend with its big pickup model, the aptly-named Titan.
This second-generation model debuted in 2016 as the Titan XD, a truck whose capabilities bridge the gap between light- and heavy-duty models. Titan’s 2017 follow-up is a true light-duty version that goes up against the likes of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. This latest Titan may not boast the robust towing and payload numbers of its XD sibling, but as we discovered, it’s still an imposing presence on the road.
Regular-grade Titans miss out on the XD’s massive Cummins diesel, but benefit from an all-new version of Nissan’s 5.6-litre V8, which cranks out a still-impressive 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are near the top of the chart among full-size, light-duty trucks, but more important is what those figures do for the driving experience.
In an unloaded Titan, the engine generates acceleration that, when combined with the truck’s very obvious mass, feels akin to that of a sports car. Big-budget car magazines have clocked the Titan’s zero-to-100 km/h acceleration around 6.5 seconds, an impressive figure indeed for a truck weighing nearly 2,600 kg. The engine (code-named Endurance, by the way) gets most of the credit for that, but a seven-speed transmission — one more ratio than most competitors — helps by doing better at keeping the engine in the broadest part of its power band.
As many manufacturers move to replace V8s with turbocharged V6s in a nod to fuel economy, the pleasing rumble of this Nissan V8’s exhaust note is a sound we don’t get to hear very often any more. Speaking of fuel economy, the Titan is estimated to use 15.2 L/100 km in city driving and 11.1 on the highway. Most of our time spent with the truck was on freeways, netting us average consumption of 12.0 L/100 km.
More important than flat-out acceleration are the Titan’s maximum towing and payload ratings of 4,268 kg and 732 kg, respectively. The downside to that kind of capability is a stiff suspension that gets quite bouncy when the truck isn’t being put to work, and heavy steering means you’ll get your upper body exercise navigating crowded parking lots.
Our Crew Cab model boasted plenty of space for four adults, but we still wished for more front-seat headroom. In the rear, a bottom seat cushion with more thigh support would be appreciated by long-legged passengers. A wide console means some secondary controls are a long reach for both driver and front passenger.
While we liked how the rear seats fold up and out of the way for carrying larger cargo that’s best kept out of the elements, we were disappointed in the lack of any sort of step to ease access into the truck box. The side steps that made it easier to get in and out of the cabin were part of a $7,600 option package that also added niceties like passive keyless entry, backup camera, blind spot warning, a trailer brake controller and extendable tow mirrors.
Our tester started out as a $48,000 Crew Cab model in SV trim, but the Titan would be just as imposing in a lesser S-trimmed model. Maybe it was just us feeling like the king of the road in our elevated driving position, but it seemed as though other drivers were pretty eager to get out of the Titan’s way when they saw us in their rear views.
Whatever the case, you can bet that imposing presence is what truck manufacturers are going for when building the massive trucks that have become such a common sight on Canadian roads.
The Titan is a decent value and a strong competitor against more established truck models, but it’s not enough of a deal that Ford, GM and Ram need to worry about this redesigned Nissan threatening their pickup sales dominance. And when you consider the Titan lacks some of the thoughtful touches that make other trucks better companions as day-to-day work vehicles, it could be that Nissan’s latest full-size truck is only a Titan of the pickup segment in its own mind.