Now comes the half-ton, a multi-purpose truck aimed at commercial, recreational and tow-oriented customers.
Jim Kenzie, Toronto Star
CARMEL VALLEY, CA. It figures that Nissan would be playing country music before the press conference describing their new Titan pickup truck.
Pickups are as American as country music, but it is one segment where the Japanese brands haven’t made anywhere near the inroads they have in virtually every other segment.
The 2017 Titan ‘half-ton,’ as it is unofficially known internally, is Nissan’s second shot in this game.
The original Titan in 2003 didn’t get much traction.
Following a stillborn joint venture with Chrysler, the second attempt, the Titan XD, launched earlier this year. It is a heavy-duty unit, featuring a V8 diesel engine from the well-regarded Cummins company.
Now comes the half-ton, a multi-purpose truck aimed at commercial, recreational and tow-oriented costumers.
Andrew Harkness, manager of truck marketing for Nissan Canada, figures the two models now cover about 85 per cent of the Canadian pickup market.
The half-ton is quite different from the XD. The bigger truck’s chassis is based on a large Nissan commercial vehicle, while the half-ton is a development of the original Titan.
While the two don’t share much sheet metal, they do have a similar look.
The half-ton launches this month as a crew-cab, starting at $44,650. A quick peek at the Internet suggests that against similarly equipped competition, that’s in the ballpark.
A single-cab model will follow a bit later, and a King Cab arrives in 2017.
Box lengths of 5 ½, 6 ½ and 8 feet are available, depending on cab configuration and trim level.
Two engines will be offered. Initially, you get a retooled version of the 5.6-litre V8, now with 390 horsepower, 20 more than before, and a higher, broader torque curve, peaking at 394 pound-feet at 4,000 r.p.m.
Next year, a V6 will join the engine program.
But the biggest contributor to the new truck’s better performance and markedly better fuel consumption is probably the seven-speed automatic transmission, versus the previous five-speed.
Both rear- and four-wheel drive will be offered.
Quietness was a focal point, which brings hydraulic chassis mounts at the rear of the cab to isolate riders from vibration and road noise — up to 10 db, which is a lot — plus laminated glass on the front-side windows, and improved insulation for the engine and body openings.
Harkness also referred to confident handling, which uses hydraulic power steering for better road feel, and Bilstein shocks on the upper trim levels.
Towing capacity is a big deal for truckers.
Harkness claims class-leading ‘base truck’ towing capacity of over 9,000 pounds (4,082.3 kilograms). Most domestic pickups can get there, but you have to option them out.
The box has a lot of the clever features introduced on the XD, including LED lamps under the bed rail instead of up on the back of the cab, where the light is often obscured by the load.
A variety of bed channels and tie-downs is available, and the lift-assist and damping functions for the tailgate are standard.
The removable, lockable and waterproof ‘Titan box’ answers the age-old trucker’s question — where do you put dirty stuff so it’s safe and won’t mess up the interior?
The interior, incidentally, is very well-finished in Titan. The so-called ‘zero gravity’ front seats offer excellent comfort and support, and there’s plenty of room in the back seat of the crew cab.
Virtually all the connectivity functionality most people could want and/or need is standard or available.
Unique to Nissan in this class is the clever “Around View” monitor, a set of cameras which gives you a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings. Especially useful when trying to hitch up a trailer or navigating tight, off-road terrain.
A 100 km spin on two-lane blacktop in the brush-fire-ravaged Carmel Valley area and a short but pretty tough off-road course could hardly be sufficient to evaluate every aspect of Titan’s performance. No 9,000-pound boats to tow and launch!
Still, safe to say that the truck rides and handles very well for a big truck, performance is excellent, the transmission shifts unobtrusively, it is impressively quiet, and if its four-wheel drive, off-road capability can’t get you where you want to go, you probably shouldn’t go there.
But Harkness and his team know that it isn’t enough to build a competitive truck. It might not even be enough to build a better truck.
Truck buyers are the most brand-loyal in the business, and to even get on their radar screens, you have to offer something totally beyond what the competition offers.
Nissan thinks they have just that — the best truck warranty in Canada: five-year, 160,000 km bumper-to-bumper coverage.
Particularly for the commercial vehicle owner who really can’t afford big repairs to his vehicles, this might just be the factor that gets them to take a look.
I’m guessing that once he or she does, they’ll like what they see.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length in accordance with SVN’s editorial policies and style.