Remember the Titan? Not the movie, the truck. The Nissan Titan may not be the best-selling or most remembered truck in America. However, the 2022 Nissan Titan may actually be one of the coolest trucks out there. It’s got all the modern amenities you could want from your pickup and then some. It boasts 400 hp as standard, which no other truck can say. It has its own off-roading package called the PRO-4X. It can tow a maximum of 11,060 lbs when you get the XD version fully equipped. And it comes with the most standard safety features of any other truck.
So why is it that this truck isn’t more well known? Well, in a field that is practically dominated by the likes of Ford, Chevrolet, Ram, and Toyota, Nissan really needed to hit the ball out of the park in terms of styling, capability, and overall quality. In the beginning, things were looking promising, but the power of The Big Three and Toyota hold over the truck market was too strong.
That’s why, regrettably for Nissan and for us, it looks as though the 2024 Titan will be the last Titan. There are no immediate plans to redesign it or give it new life, as the numbers just aren’t there to justify anymore. It’s sad, really, but the truck market is fickle. Competing with the likes of Ford, the most well-established truck brand in America, is no easy task.
Still, the Titan has managed to hold its own in a highly competitive field for 18 years, and we think that’s worth celebrating. Today, we’re going to give you a little history lesson. We’re taking you on a tour to show you the life of the truck that’s far better than anyone gives it credit for.
The First Generation Titan
The Titan began its life as a concept. Nissan wanted in on the full-size pickup market, and with the success of the much smaller Frontier, they believed it was time to bring in the big boy. So, in 2004, the Nissan Titan crawled out of Tartarus and began its bloody campaign to be the best truck in the U.S. had ever seen. And, in its first year, it amazed everyone.
Nissan sold over 80,000 units, still the Titan’s best sale year. It was shortlisted for the North American Truck of the Year Award and also won Edmunds 2004 Most Significant Vehicle Award. But, as is often the case with early success, it was a downhill roll. Like actors who win Oscars for their first movie, and we almost never hear from them again as they are seldom able to capture that success a second time.
The Titan was built off of Nissan’s F-Alpha platform, which was also used for the Armada and Infiniti QX56. The Titan came standard with a 32 vale 5.6L engine that delivered absolutely astonishing power for a freshman vehicle. It was offered in double and crew cab models and could be outfitted with either a long or a short bed. Many reviewers at the time noted the spacious cabin, quality interior materials, and comfortable seating. Other advanced features of the OG Titan included traction control, rear sonar alert (an early form of rear cross traffic alert), SiriusXM satellite radio, and a state-of-the-art navigation system. Yet, all of this goodness wasn’t enough to best the domestic manufacturers and that annoying Toyota brand with their hugely popular Tundra and Tacoma. It was time for the Titan to transform.
The Second Generation Titan
The second generation Titan, the one we’re familiar with today, did not have nearly the impact in its first year of life as its predecessor. Sales were a measly 21,800 nationwide. And things weren’t going to get much better.
The second-generation Titan got a facelift to make it appear more square-jawed and rugged. It also came with a new version: the XD. The XD was Nissan’s answer to truck trims like the F-150 King Ranch or Silverado High Country. Lots of leather, chrome, and updated technology and power. However, the core truck remained the same. Both the Regular Titan and the Titan XD came as a standard, extended, four-door crew cab or four-door King Crew Cab, which had the most massive interior of any full-size pickup truck. A new engine, a 5.6L V8 producing 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, was brought in, as was the optional Cummins V8 diesel (exclusive to the Titan XD), which could make upwards of 500 lb-ft of torque.
The Titan was certainly no slouch in the power department, nor was it spartan. As we said, the interior of the Titan was massive, and its reputation for comfort and technology didn’t go away either. Equipment like wireless audio streaming, keyless entry, remote start, backup camera, and push-button start were all standard. Sales did increase for a time, with 2017 being the best-selling year since the inaugural, with 52,700 units sold. But still, the Titan didn’t manage to capture the American imagination.
The Fatal Flaw
A refresh in 2020 brought with it a new grille, LED headlamps, and a new engine. Gone was the Cummins diesel. The new engine, the one that powers all current Titans, was a brand new 5.6L V8 that could produce 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. Updates for 2020 also included a 9-inch touch screen audio display with Apple and Android app integration.
Also new for the Titan was the off-road package, the PRO-4X. This brought with it more upgrades such as an active brake limited-slip differential, hill descent and climb control, over 9 inches of active ground clearance, all-terrain tires, intelligent around view monitor, specialty stitching and badging, skid plates, Bilstein shocks, and off-road gauges.
With all that brawn, the Titan still had one thing that kept it from being a serious trail-rated vehicle: its size. Anyone who has managed to actually see a Titan in the wild knows that it is an absolutely massive truck. It would terrify anyone to be constantly thinking of scuffing the paint or not being able to fit through tight mountain passes in a truck that can sometimes stretch the length of a conventional driveway.
And that, perhaps, was the Titan’s greatest flaw. While other truck manufacturers were examining ways to make their vehicles more adaptable and user-friendly, the Titan remained a barrel-chested brute. Current fuel economy ratings are not great, with 16 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on the highway. Compared with the current generation of hybrid and electric trucks that are combating high gas prices, those fuel economy numbers are simply unacceptable.
Why It Is and Was Great
So why might the Titan have been the best truck that no one had ever heard of? Well, for one, the standard features. As noted, you could buy a run-of-the-mill Titan and expect to find all the safety, comfort, and power amenities that you’d have to pay extra for on any other truck. The standard power was an astonishing 400 hp. No other truck in production has a standard horsepower that high.
You could be comfortable riding high on nearly 10-inches of ground clearance. You could be comfortable in body-contoured leather seats. Your passengers could be swimming in that absolutely spacious second row. But yet, but yet, the fact remains that all of that was not enough to break through the leaders in the American truck market.
The only real success story of a foreign automaker making a name for itself in that way is Toyota, and it’s not even close. So, while it looks like Nissan is pulling the plug on the Titan, we’ll be sad to see it go. Despite its faults, it was a solid truck that could easily compete with the best of them if only we’d given it the chance.