Nissan clearly tried very hard to give the most loyal of vehicle owners many good reasons to switch – to go from Ford’s F-150, Chevrolet’s Silverado, GMC’s Sierra, Fiat Chrysler’s Ram or Toyota’s Tundra to Nissan’s 2017 Titan. Give Nissan gets an “A” for effort.

The 2017 Titan is rugged enough.

The Titan full-size pickup does, indeed, deliver a quiet ride, comfortable seats, adequate towing capacity and a bed with very useful utility features.

But let’s face facts. Seven out of 10 pickup buyers return to the fold, time after time, when they replace the old rig with a new one. As and other research shows, pickup buyers are loyal beyond belief and rationality.

A 70 per cent loyalty is stunning and an obvious barrier for a bit player in pickup-land like Nissan, which recently launched a new version of the Titan after letting the old Titan hobble along essentially unchanged for 12 years.

This infotainment screen is absurdly small in the age of big interfaces.

As is too often the case with Nissan, however, the Titan falls a little short. I’m convinced that Nissan’s rigid, company-wide financial discipline is at the heart of why so many of Nissan’s products are good but not great.

With too many Nissan vehicles, I am left with the impression that if the engineers and designers had been free to spend just a little more money, they would have developed something truly astonishing. Instead, Nissan’s showrooms are filled with a lot of almost-brilliant-but-not-quite vehicles. A lot of could-haves and should-haves.

The Nissan Titan is a perfect example. The suspension is poorly damped and clearly would have benefitted from a more development time – more testing and refinement, perhaps better materials.

The design is a boxy amalgam of shapes and creases. The entirety of it looks as though pulled from the shelf of Standard Pickup Ideas. There is nothing gripping or novel about the Titan’s look. Pickup Design 101 at its most uninspired.

And how on earth did Nissan make the mistake of putting an undersized infotainment screen smack in the middle of a dashboard with so much real estate?

These sorts of things generally happen at self-satisfied or dispirited car companies whose employees are fearful of making a costly mistake rather than inspired to genius. Their derring-do has been drilled out of them by an unswerving insistence on financial discipline.

Lots of room in the rear of the Titan crew cab.

If I had been in charge of Nissan, I would have sent the designers back to create an exterior that stands out, not blends in to the point of utter anonymity. And I would have savaged them for daring to go with a mini-screen at a time when smartphones and infotainment are woven into the fabric of our lives. While I’m at it, why did the designers choose to pepper the dash with so many buttons? There must be a better, uncluttered way.

Nissan types, of course, will turn back the criticism by saying their Titan was just named Truck Trend’s 2017 Pickup Truck of the Year and Full-Size Truck of Texas. The Titan has Canada’s best truck warranty, too: five years/160,000 km, bumper-to-bumper.

But the Titan doesn’t crush its rivals with mind-blowing towing capacity or out-of-this-world performance. Sure, the 5.6-litre V-8 gasoline engine in my tester was strong, composed and responsive (390 horsepower/394-lb-ft torque). I could sit in those seats for hours without squirming and rear seating space was generous.

Instrument cluster.

But what’s the hook? Why Titan over the Ram and the rest? Nissan Canada doesn’t even offer a sub-$30,000 teaser model to entice curious shoppers into showrooms. The base model, a 4×2 single cab, starts at $35,000-ish.

On the other hand, the big pickup players provide shoppers with an array of choices and options, configurations, powertrains, suspension and styling packages, and so on. The pickup is the most customizable vehicle in the world.

Nissan’s long-range plans for the Titan include an attempt at more flexibility, but the reality is that Nissan – and Toyota, for that matter – are unwilling or unable to make the full financial commitment to pickups. Thus, the Titan is the pickup for a loyal Nissan Pathfinder or Altima owner, just as the Tundra is tailored for Toyota Camry and Highlander loyalists.

Ford, FCA and GM and even Toyota certainly has nothing to fear in the Titan.


Base price: $34,995. 2017 Nissan Titan PRO-4X 4×4 crew cab as tested: $$65,430, including $1,,795 freight and PDI.

Engine: 5.6-litre V-8 (390 horsepower/394 lb.-ft. of torque).

Drive: part-time four-wheel drive.

Transmission: seven-speed automatic.

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16.0 city/12.0 hwy using regular fuel.

Comparables:  Ford F-150, FCA Ram. GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Sierra, Toyota Tundra.







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