Did you know that more than half of all registered vehicles in the US are trucks? When you pay attention on the road, it really isn’t much of a surprise. However, when you consider how many excellent models there are in the crossover and sedan segments, it is surprising that the full-size pickup lineup consists of only five models. While truck owners are fiercely loyal, thanks to owning their reliable rigs for decades and hundreds of thousands of miles, the lack of variety does a disservice to the industry as a whole. At least we’ve got the 2021 Nissan Titan to offer us something different.
The full-size segment’s youngest member came on the scene in 2004 and surprised, well, everyone by achieving finalist status for the 2004 North American Truck of the Year award. While the Big Three continue to fight and squabble over who has the most capable powertrain or the highest towing capacity, the Titan quietly offers an excellent tech and safety suite. If the overwhelming configuration options of Big Three trucks are just too much, the Titan keeps it simple. Finally, this Canton, Mississippi-built truck offers buyers the chance to support American industry without being limited to strictly American design philosophy. Diversity, after all, is a good thing.
Keep It Simple Silly (K.I.S.S.)
We could easily make an entire blog post simply outlining the endless configurations of an American pickup truck. The cab, the bed, the engine, the drivetrain, the trim, and the special editions create dozens of distinct combinations that are virtually impossible to simplify. The worst thing is that it creates vast differences between the lowest cost, most comfortable, most efficient, and most capable versions of the truck.
The Titan doesn’t waste your time and brainpower with all of that. Since its introduction, Nissan has kept it simple. The first Titan offered one engine, two cabs, two beds, and five trims, and today’s Titan is no different. What this means is that there’s little illusion about the price of your truck. While an American truck can offer an outstanding minimum MSRP, it’ll take thousands of dollars in upgrades to fit it with a competent engine, comfortable cabin, and modern tech. Not so with Nissan.
The Titan is the only truck in the segment to offer a standard V8 engine, allowing it to claim best-in-class standard power and torque. The 5.6L block even makes 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. While it’s still more expensive than the cheapest American V8 trucks with back seats, it matches or beats the engine output of all of those competing V8 trucks. And while the Titan towing limits are a modest 9,310 lbs for the standard model and 11,040 lbs for the Titan XD, those other comparable V8s are in the same neighborhood. The best-in-class numbers that outpace Titan’s limits can only be had by paying more for bigger engines, better transmissions, and optional max trailering packages.
So don’t be fooled by the significantly lower starting prices or higher towing capacities of the competition. That’s easy to achieve when your truck comes in more unique configurations than you can count. With the Titan, Nissan’s comfortably seated right in the middle of the pack in every configuration they offer.
Intelligent mobility is an appropriate name for Nissan’s tech-forward philosophy. Nissan’s driver assistance features are often more advanced than the competition’s, and many more of them are offered standard. In fact, Nissan boasts a best-in-class standard tech and safety suite for the 2021 Titan.
That starts with Intelligent Forward Collision Warning. The ability to monitor the vehicle in front of you is becoming common enough that regular forward collision warnings and adaptive cruise control are almost must-have standard features. However, no other truck in the class uses radar to monitor two vehicles ahead of you. By keeping track of the relative speed and distance of two vehicles in front of you, the Titan is the best in class for detecting accidents before they happen.
Beyond that, Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 program is also standard, equipping every Titan with automatic high beams, lane departure warning, blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts, and automatic forward and reverse braking. Few of these are standard on entry-level competitors, and some – such as automatic reverse braking – are unique to the Titan in this segment.
NissanConnect infotainment delivers a quality standard experience as well. The 8” screen is the largest entry-level screen in the segment and features Wi-Fi capability, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto standard. With an available Intelligent Key, remote start and remote climate control features are right on your key fob. Nissan’s fabulous Zero Gravity seats are another consistent highlight for Titan reviewers, making Titan one of the most pleasant trucks to climb into. If you thought it would take a premium trim to achieve a comfortable driver’s seat in a truck, a test drive of a Titan should show you differently.
As a relatively recent addition to the truck world, virtually every Nissan Titan model is still a good buy on the used market. However, if you’re liking what you’re seeing but want a longer bed, you’ll need to seek out a 2008-2010 model, which is the only time Titan offered 7’ and 8’ bed options. You could also look for used Titan XD trucks from 2016 onward, when the slightly larger and more capable second generation was introduced. Diesel fans can find a 5.0L Cummins engine on Titan XD trucks from the 2015-2019 model years, too, an engine that made 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. The modern tech that Titan is so proud of starts to make an appearance in the redesigned-for-2016 model as well.
Buying used is a smart choice, especially for a Titan. Used prices should be competitive, with Titan holding value well for a vehicle in its price range but depreciating somewhat faster than average for a truck. This means if you’re shopping used, you should be able to get a good price for a Titan without having to worry about many issues. With the best warranties in the segment (5 years, 100,000 miles limited and powertrain), it is clear that Nissan believes in the longevity of its full-size truck. Seek out certified pre-owned (CPO) models to make sure you get to ride out the remainder of that warranty yourself if you’re shopping used. Whether you’re in the market for a capable brand-new truck, a stout used one, or a high-value CPO option, Nissan Titans from 2004 to today, are great, competitive trucks.
A Titan Amongst the Gods
At first glance, the Nissan Titan seems like an odd inclusion in the full-size pickup segment. Its lowest MSRP is the highest in the class, its maximum towing capacity is the lowest in the class, and its market share is, simply put, small. However, peel back the curtain and compare it to the similarly-equipped Big Three offerings, and suddenly, the Titan is no longer overpriced or underperforming. The simplicity of its lineup restricts a buyer’s options, yes, but Nissan offers the Titan in a well-balanced, well-equipped package that doesn’t want for more options. How many truck drivers want a regular cab and a wimpy V6 anyway?
The segment’s best warranty and the most standard safety and technology features in its class make Titan a great selection as a work truck. Shoppers who have moderate towing demands will find Titan and Titan XD to be perfectly adequate for pulling twice their own weight while exceeding any expectations for comfort and driver assistance tech. Unless you absolutely have to have the cheapest or the most capable truck you can find, give yourself the chance to be surprised by the Nissan Titan!