2017 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Review
The Titan first burst onto the truck scene with a bang. As Nissanís first half-ton truck, it boasted a powerful 5.6-liter V8 engine and took direct aim at the Big Three by only offering King Cab and Crew Cab versions. That was 2004.
For 2017, we finally have a next-generation Titan. It is fully redesigned inside and out, and it is powered by a new 5.6L Endurance V8 gasoline engine. Does Nissan deliver on its long-awaited second-gen Titan? Letís find out.
Nissan has been readying a re-launch of its truck lineup for years, and it delivered the first new model for the 2016 model year Ė and it was not the high-volume half-ton Titan. Instead, Nissan launched a new, larger truck called the Titan XD that boasted a 5.0L Cummins V8 diesel engine that looked to kickoff Nissanís new truck line with a bang. The new Titan and Titan XD have practically identical styling, but the XD is actually 14.7 inches longer (151.6 inches compared to 139.8 for the Titan) and has a different chassis designed to handle the added weight of the Cummins diesel.
The 2017 Titan will not be offered with the Cummins; in fact, it is only available with the new 5.6-liter gas-powered V8. Thatís not a bad thing, though. This new gas engine is also an option on the Titan XD; our first test-drive of it was behind the wheel of an XD, and we came away with a favorable impression at the time. We figured it would only be better in the Titan. For the most part it is.
The new 5.6L Endurance V8 is rated to produce 390 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, which is an improvement of 73 hp and 16 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the outgoing V8. The increase in performance is due to a number of factors, which we learned first hand at the assembly plant in Tennessee last year. The updated Endurance V8 features a new aluminum head and new pistons to allow for a higher compression ratio (11.2:1 versus 9.8:1). Nissan also employs direct injection for improved performance, economy and emissions. The Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) system aids by improving airflow for the engine, and it also relies on a Multi-Control Valve (MCV) versus a traditional thermostat for improved efficiency. To cap things off, a new exhaust system is fitted on the Titan to maximize power and efficiency.
What this all equates to on the highway is a powerful engine that offers great all-around performance. It delivers solid bottom-end punch, offers plenty of power to overtake another vehicle on the highway, and it inspires driver confidence for all things ďtruck.Ē Oh yeah, the exhaust still sounds pretty tough on the new Titan, too. The new V8 is rated at 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Our overall fuel economy was near that 18 mpg mark at 17.9, and our best highway economy during testing was 21.1mpg.
While we like the new V8 engine in the Titan, the key area where the truck shows some obvious growing pains is the new seven-speed transmission. We spent a great deal of time in the Titan both driving around town and on the open highway, and the one nagging complaint we had is in regards to a hesitation in the transmission after downshifts. We particularly noticed it around town just after shifting from second gear into third or third gear into fourth. The actual shift itself is smooth overall, but itís that moment just after the shift that the transmission feels hesitant, like itís second-guessing if itís in the right gear. We donít remember this sensation when we first drove the new V8 and seven-speed in the Titan XD last year, or when we first drove the Titan late last year. In our first drive we actually said, ďEven though its new transmission features a few more gears than the first-gen Titan, we never once felt it hunting around for a gear Ė the engine-transmission combo felt great.Ē Weíre not sure what happened between now and then.
Once the figures were finally released, we were surprised to see the Titanís max tow rating is the lowest in the half-ton market among comparably equipped trucks. Our Pro-4X test truck has a maximum tow rating of 9,100 lbs., with the max rating being 9,230 lbs. To some extent, the number really isnít as big a deal as it might seem, because in reality most half-ton owners wonít be maxing out their towing capacity on a regular basis. If someone regularly tows hefty loads in the 10,000-pound range, they should likely be looking at something like the larger Titan XD or a 3/4-ton truck.
For our towing impression, we hooked up a 4,000-pound trailer with some heavy equipment from Apex Rentals in Hesperia, California (ApexHesperiaRentals.com). The 4,000-pound trailer weight represents what could be a small boat, an enclosed trailer, or construction equipment, and it represents a fairly average weight range for a half-ton owner. The V8 offers plenty of bottom-end punch to pull away from dead stops, and it powers up hills with confidence. The Around View Monitor also brings the Titan into the modern age, and it helps make checking the surrounding areas that much easier. We also appreciate the ability to check the trailer lights without a second set of eyes, as the key fob allows you to easily cycle through the lights while outside of the vehicle. The Titanís tow numbers are a little disappointing, but for most it still gets the job done.
Much like the exterior styling, the Titanís interior is almost identical to the Titan XD. Inside, our Titan Pro-4X is equipped with additional upgrades such as electronically adjustable leather front seats with Pro-4X stitching, a modern center stack that blends both manual knobs and buttons for the air conditioning (dual climate controls is found in the Pro-4X), stereo and navigation, and a push-button start/stop is now standard. A 7-inch touchscreen is at the center of it all, and although it is modernized compared to the very outdated system found on the last generation, it still feels dated compared to the current crop of truck infotainment systems.
The instrumentation layout is well done, offering a modern touch with a digital LED screen that is sandwiched between a traditional analog tach and speedometer. We appreciate the column shifter on the Titan as well, because it does free up more usable space in the center console.
The backseat of the Crew Cab is spacious for passengers (or gear you donít want in the bed), and the lockable under-the-seat storage offers more options for stashing gear. Thereís also plenty of storage in the center console up front. Nissanís upgraded sound system in the Pro-4X is a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio setup that sounds great.
Nissan typically does a great job of adding value with its trucks, and that remains true on the new Titan. Out back, a dampened-assist tailgate now comes standard. Thereís also new LED bed lights, a 120-volt power outlet, and Nissanís adjustable Utili-Track Channel System is employed for securing gear.
The ride from inside the cabin is mostly comfortable on the highway, albeit a little stiffer than other half-ton trucks. Being the off-road package in Nissanís line, the Pro-4X features upgraded monotube Bilstein shocks that improve its off-roadability but also make for a stiffer rear end that can be a little bumpy at times. Getting into the dirt is where the Bilsteins are most valuable though, as that stiffness equates to predictable handling when the going gets rough. Although it looks very much like its bigger brother the Titan XD, the smaller Titan requires far less effort to turn and feels more nimble overall in the handling department.
When it comes to off-highway adventuring, the Titan Pro-4X performs relatively well. The overwhelming majority of half-ton owners wonít spend much time actually wheeling on trails. That said, the Pro-4X trim is what off-road enthusiasts will want, as it is fully capable for crawling the trails and exploring near the campsite, and it wonít feel out of place when you get off of the highway if youíre towing the camper to the desert or woods for the weekend thanks to 18-inch wheels instead of the 20s on the SL and Platinum.
Hill Start Assist makes sure you wonít roll back down the hill youíre trying to explore, and Hill Descent Control will help controls the truckís speed on descents. We applaud Nissan for its electronic locking rear diff as well, which is something every ďoff-roadĒ package should have but doesnít. If you take a section too fast, a front skid plate is there to help protect your front end as well. The Pro-4X is the ideal package in our eyes, as it offers some additional creature comforts and enough off-road upgrades without having to fully jump into the SL or Platinum trims.
Thereís still more to come with the new Titan, as a King Cab version and an optional V6 will be available next year. The 2017 Titan is a nice truck overall with a few growing pains. It may not top many half-ton categories, but its biggest saving grace may be Nissanís industry-leading five-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which is considerably more than the typical three-year/36,000-mile warranty. The starting price for the Pro-4X is just over $45,000, and keep in mind this trim is only offered in 4x4.
The new Titan brings Nissan back into the conversation in the half-ton market, but it hasnít quite caught up to the leaders just yet.
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