Palatial pickup

BY Derek McNaughton. Aug 19 04:00 am

 

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. — Nissan knows it’s going to take more than swagger to get truck buyers to consider its Titan pickup. It knows, too, how loyal pickup owners can be to the Big Three and that to get tradesmen and burly truck buyers into Nissan’s half-ton pickups, mere statistics and sweet talk won’t be enough.

The Titan’s five-year, 160,000-kilometre bumper-to-bumper warranty — the best for any pickup on the market — will certainly be a compelling draw. But for anyone kicking tires on the 2017 Titan half-ton pickup, the warranty is more like apple strudel after a steak dinner, because the new truck will not only match those pickups from the Big Three but exceed them on some key fronts, too.

High among those is looks. Riding on a different chassis than the Titan XD introduced last year, the half-ton Titan arriving in late August looks proportionately superior to the XD, which tends to look a little ungainly. With hints of F-150 and touches of Tundra here and there, the Titan half-ton looks good in its fresh skin. Andrew Harkness, Nissan Canada’s chief marketing manager, goes so far as to call it “bad-ass,” as good-looking on a boat ramp as any F-350. With the Titan’s signature LED running lights, optional LED headlamps, beefy fenders and Muskox face, it’s hard to argue with him. A Titan also means your truck isn’t an ubiquitous F-150.

Equally appealing is the interior, with stitching in the seams of very comfortable seats, a clear and attractive instrument cluster beneath a contoured dash, logically placed buttons and knobs, a bit too much chrome trim perhaps, but a cabin that nonetheless rivals Chevy’s Silverado and achieves parity with the Ram, although the quality and feel appear higher in the Nissan.

Looks, of course, matter little when there’s a boat or trailer to tow, mud to cross or lumber to lug to the job site, and the Titan 4x4 Crew Cab’s standard 9,220-pound (4182-kilogram) tow rating is more than most will need for work or fun. That number exceeds other 4x4 pickups not equipped with optional tow packages; with tow packages, other models can tow more, but the Titan tows that much straight out of the box. Titan’s Crew Cab 4x4 payload is also decent, at 1,610 pounds (730 kg).

Titan also offers towing packages that include an around-view monitor with a unique bird’s eye view, an integrated trailer-brake controller, downhill-speed control, sway control and trailer-light check, as well as tow mirrors.

Few will care what a truck is rated to tow, however, if it labours or struggles under its load. While we didn’t tow any tractors or trailers, the Titan half-ton pickup felt strong as it charged up hills, passed slower cars with ease and eagerly jogged around town with excellent pedal and brake feel, even though it weighs 5,684 lbs (2,578 kg) in Crew cab 4x4 trim. An F-150 in the same configuration weighs about 840 lbs (381 kg) less.

Titan’s new 5.6-litre V8, derived from the former Titan’s V-8 block, gets a new intake, cylinder heads, pistons and exhaust as well as direct injection and variable valve timing, which now allow for 394 pound-feet of torque and 390 horsepower. The torque curve is more arched, too, so the power feels less rushed, less lumpy than the old Titan, flowing out in a longer, more orderly flow.

Better is the smoothness of this V-8, the same engine deployed in Nissan’s new Armada. The V-8 is silky, easily matching Ram’s Hemi V-8, itself an award-winning engine. Thankfully, the Titan’s signature exhaust note is still present; it sounds deep and throaty, but slightly more subdued because of the acoustic glass used in the side windows and front screen which, along with extra insulation and better body seals, lower the cabin noise enough to impress the sternest of librarians. That should make long drives more relaxing and less obnoxious. Like the Silverado and Sierra siblings, the Titan now uses two hydraulic cab mounts to trim the shudder that comes when a pickup meets a bumpy road. The cab definitely feels tight yet comfortable.

The engine, along with a new seven-speed automatic transmission that can be slow to downshift when pressing on the gas, helps the Titan achieve a 28 per cent better fuel economy rating, although standard, active grille shutters also play a role by helping cut drag by some 10 per cent. Fuel economy improves to 15.7 L/100 km city, 11.2 highway and 13 combined — about par with Ford’s 5.0-L V-8 in its lighter, aluminum body F-150 Crew Cab. The transmission shifter is an old-school lever on the column, but it frees up space in the centre console to allow for decent-sized cubbies, some with power outlets and USB ports.

Titan half-tons will come in Crew, King and Single cab configurations, with Crews arriving first. Single cabs get an eight-foot box, Kings a 6.5-foot, and Crews a 5.5. If you want a Crew Cab with a 6.5-foot bed, you’ll need to step up to the XD. And if you want a sunroof, forget it; the Titan half-ton doesn’t come with one, even as an option on the fully loaded Platinum Reserve, which is followed down the model line by an SL, PRO-4X, SV and S as the base unit.

Best of all, while pricing has yet to be announced, the Titan won’t cost more time and money if something breaks after three years of ownership. Owners can rest assured that if Nissan is offering a full, five-year warranty, it’s got more than lip service invested in the quality and reliability of its newest half-ton pickup.

 

— Postmedia Network Inc. 2016

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