What is it you look for in an off-road truck? Is it pedigree or performance? Do you like that feeling of knowing that, if you wanted to, you could turn right off the highway and head into the wild? We know there’s lots to choose from in this department—and you’re picky. So, can we make a case for the 2022 Nissan Titan Pro-4X?
Nissan is the overlooked child when it comes to full-size, off-road capable pickup trucks, so be warned that you may be on the receiving end of some judgment at the trailhead. Honestly, most people forget Nissan even offers a full-sizer.
But not me. I remember, and I’m here to tell you that it is well worth a look. It meets all the requirements for an off-road truck while offering some standard features you’d have to pay extra for on more popular models. So, let’s dive in and see what makes the Titan Pro-4X an underdog to take note of.
A Short History
The Titan was first introduced in 2004 as Nissan’s (albeit late) entry into the full-size pickup segment. It met all the qualifications: good size, V8 power, amenities, and the ability to tow your typical half-ton truck figures. And this first year was, and remains, the best-selling year for the Titan. Sales numbers have dropped significantly over the course of its nearly 20 years on the market, but not enough to convince Nissan to pull the plug. And I’m thankful they haven’t.
As Nissan isn’t exactly in the habit of redesigning its vehicles, remember that we had the exact same Frontier from 2005 to 2021. The Titan didn’t see a facelift for the first 12 years of its life, only receiving a much-needed upgrade in 2016.
The second generation appears to be a far larger truck, but the dimensions are relatively the same. What’s changed is the appearance: a larger grille and front headlights matched with a more aggressive stance and a smidgen of increase in ground clearance. It’s a truck that would not be out of place—in its single cab/long bed form—on the job site. But we’re interested in the updated Pro-4X. What makes this truck competitive with the beloved Raptor or Z71?
Well, first off, horsepower and torque. Underneath the hood of every Titan is a 5.6-L Direct Injection V8 that produces 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. Ignore the fact that other trucks put out more horses, but only when they’re kitted out on some fancier trim level. This V8 is the standard engine across all Titans. That means the lowly working truck has the same power as the Platinum. Very egalitarian.
It works in Titan’s favor, though. 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque allow not just for towing capabilities around 9,000 lbs, but also the power necessary for some serious off-roading. The one downside here—and it’s the same across the entire full-size segment—is size. At nearly 80” wide, Titan is a large truck to be pelting around mountain trails. This isn’t to say you can’t do it; you just need to be sure that the trail is wide enough to accommodate, lest you be arriving home in need of bodywork and a paint job.
The Ever-Useful Skid Plate
Still, paint jobs and bodywork are not nearly as consequential as engine or powertrain damage. Thankfully, the Pro-4X comes standard with a heavy-duty skid plate that protects the radiator, oil tank, lower engine, transfer case, and Titan’s 9-speed automatic transmission. It’ll give you peace of mind when the inevitable errant rock appears out of nowhere and makes that horrible crunching noise that makes you cringe. It’s in those moments that you’ll be happy for underbody protection.
Ground Clearance and Tires
It’s not as though Titan is lacking in ground clearance to avoid said obstacles. Standard ride height on a Titan is 9.8”, coupled with a 22.8-degree approach angle and 26-degree departure angle. Not the best in its class, nor is it terrible.
Of course, the all-terrain 70R18 tires with aggressive off-road tread help to maximize grip on loose surfaces—and have more than enough beef to them to withstand a few rocks. Plus, the Bilstein monotube, off-road shocks provide plenty of shock absorption to make even the toughest roads moderately comfortable. These shocks were developed by Bilstein specifically for the Pro-4X Titan to create better driving control and more comfort—a nice feature on a truck that’s in no way short on utility.
4WD and Locking Rear Differential
While we’re down there, let’s take a look at what else Nissan has done to make the Titan off-road ready. We’ve covered the shocks and the underbody skid plate, but now let’s take a gander at arguably the most important off-roading tool: the rear differential.
The Pro-4X comes standard with 4WD. Like virtually all trucks, this is automatic and can be switched from RWD to 4WD HI or LO at the turn of a dial. You don’t need to come to a full stop to engage the system, either. This system is designed to provide the most traction, with LO being especially useful for crawls and climbs along steep surfaces.
However, there is a time when 4WD LO may not be enough. Enter the electronic locking rear differential. All it takes is the flick of a switch on the main instrument cluster, and the rear differential automatically locks solid, providing extra power to the back wheels, boosting traction, and taking you over whatever it was that LO couldn’t handle.
Hill Start and Descent
Additionally, Titian comes equipped with both Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. While many competitors have their own version of Hill Descent Control, a feature that’s becoming increasingly common even on regular SUVs, not many can boast a Hill Start Assist. When engaged, the Start Assist will do what Descent Control does, which is control speed and brake pressure—but in the opposite direction. Going uphill can be tricky, especially if the driving surface is loose or marked with rocks. Start Assist will not only help you up the hill through controlled speed and braking, but it will also keep you from rolling backward (with help from that friendly rear differential we were talking about earlier).
So we’ve seen what makes the Titan Pro-4X off-road ready, but what about the cabin—where you’ll be spending most of your time? The Lava Red accents featured on the outside of the Titan continue into the interior. Embroidered leather seats and accents along the dash and steering wheel give this truck an extra boost of exclusivity. It lets you know you’re in the Pro-4X the second you open the door and see it embossed into your seat. Apart from that, though, the interior is the same as it is on other Titan models—which is to say, it’s good.
A panoramic, dual-panel moonroof stretches across the entire roofline, giving unparalleled views and fresh air to everyone inside. The front seats are heated, as is the steering wheel. All Pro-4X come standard as crew cabs, so you’ll more than easily be able to fit family and friends.
Dual-zone automatic climate control, meanwhile, makes it easy to configure the perfect temperature for all those present. One cool feature of the crew cab is that the seats fold upward, as they do on most trucks. Underneath them, though, you’ll find a set of slats that fold outward onto the floor to make the rear floor completely flat—easing cargo loading back there when the moment calls.
Added to the Pro-4X model are digital off-road gauges centered between the analog speed and RPM gauges. These include pitch angle, roll, 4X4 engagement, and rear differential lock indicator. Overall, it’s a very comfortable, very user-friendly space to find oneself in.
It’s not certain what Titan’s future looks like as Nissan continues to work on its rebranding. They’ve begun to focus production primarily on the new Frontiers and have completely discontinued sales of the Titan in Canada. For now, however, Titan is here to stay. It’s not a common sight on the road or the off-road trail, but that, in a way, makes it unique.
It may not sell as well or be viewed in the same glowing light as the Fords or Rams, but the Nissan Titan Pro-4X is a versatile truck that can go off-road with ease—all while keeping you safe and comfortable. Is there really any more you can ask from a truck?