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First Drive: 2017 Nissan Titan

Truck offers plenty of power, creature comforts.

by on Aug.11, 2017

The 2017 Nissan Titan features a strong grille that is often the hallmark of popular full-size pickups.

Trucks are in right now and their strong appeal has helped keep showrooms humming and factories busy.

One of the reasons that trucks are so popular is that they are solid and appealing vehicles. Case in point is Nissan Titan, which faces off against enormously popular Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.

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The Titan may not command the loyalty of the American brands but it is made in the United States in Canton, Mississippi, and it has the rugged style, driving characteristics, dynamics and features that Nissan’s competitors have used to define and re-define the segment in recent years.

The exterior design of any pickup centers on the front face and Nissan has created distinctive grille that succeeds in setting it apart from its rivals that also looks rugged and conveys the truck’s critical strength. However, the sheet metal and the cab of the Nissan Titan are also styled with a simplicity and even the wheel arches and rear lift gate and rear lights at the end of the truck’s eight-foot bed are tailored to fit into the vehicle’s overall design scheme.

The Titan also comes with an active grille shutter, which reduces drag by closing the grille opening behind the radiator when a large amount of airflow is not needed isn’t required to help cool the engine. Available exterior features include LED headlights and taillights, and day-time running lights that help set the Titan apart from other pickups or large sport utility vehicles.

(UAW loses battle at Nissan plant in Mississippi. For the story, Click Here.)

The U.S.-built 2017 Nissan Titan comes in three cabin configurations: regular, crew and king cab.

I happened to drive a version of the Titan with a conventional cab found on what the industry calls a “work truck,” meaning it had only two doors and only enough space for an old-fashioned lunch box behind the driver’s seat. But there the conventional cab was quiet to anyone familiar with older version of the pickup trucks with rather noisy utilitarian interiors. Nissan also offers a “crew cab” version of Titan and a “King Cab” version is being added to the fleet.

The quiet cab on the Titan can help reduce driver fatigue during a long work day and also make it easier to hold a conversation with co-workers in the passenger seat or via a mobile phone.

The Titan also comes with a long list of comfort features that once were found only on sedans as well as a complete package of safety features such as multiple air bags, a four-wheel anti-lock brake system and electronic vehicle dynamic control, brake force distribution and a vehicle security system.

It also has a rear back-up camera and advance driver assistance features such as blind spot detection, which is very helpful in a pickup truck, also is available on the Titan.

Nissan also has equipped the Titan with advanced connectivity features through Nissan Connect with mobile apps and five-inch center stack screen and Bluetooth for hands-free use of a mobile phone and audio streaming. The Titan also has a USB port for entertainment and a four-speaker sound system with Sirius connections.

Nissan's new Titan full-size pickup features a lot of creature comforts that were commonplace only in sedans until recently.

(Click Here for details about the Titan King Cab.)

It once seemed sacrilegious to talk about comfort features in a truck, but the Titan comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows, cup holders and storage space under the seat as well as an overhead console and map lights and trailer sway control if you happen to tow a boat.

The powertrain in the Titan is built around a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 390 horsepower, which is an improvement from the earlier version, as well as 394 foot-pounds of torque. The version of the Titan that I drove, which was equipped with four-wheel drive, got 15 mpg driving in the city and 21 mpg for a combined EPA rating of 18 mpg.

Even though it was pulling a sizeable vehicle, the engine was more than enough for everyday driving and while I did use the cargo bed for carrying a relatively light load the truck performed well on the road. The overall driving dynamics on the Titan were impressive.

It handled nicely around curves, even tight ones, and the steering was precise and the brakes had plenty of stopping power and the overall ride comfort was quite good — you could almost think for an instant you were driving something other than a truck. Visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent.

Trucks like the Titan, of course are designed specifically to haul things like bags of feed, lumber, plywood, cutting implements, etc. They are not necessarily designed to haul “stuff” like luggage, sporting gear and shopping bags or Amazon packages that are found in the rear of a small- or medium-sized crossover or sport-utility vehicle.

(Nissan dresses up new Titan for winter. Click Here to get a look.)

But with the Titan, Nissan has built on very appealing vehicle that is worthy of the attention of anyone, who, for whatever reason, thinks they might need a pickup.

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