2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X Road Test

These days there’s a lot of talk about big SUVs and trucks selling much better thanks to cheaper gasoline. To be fair there were
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
The Titan PRO-4X makes a bold visual statement, backed up by strong performance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
some pretty deep discounts at the pump right after the big oil crash two years ago that initially helped spur on large vehicle sales, but from where I’m standing the price of petrol is no better now than it was before the downward plunge that’s devalued our dollar along the way. As a result all the watercooler gossip is no longer rooted in reality, at least as shown by 2016 Canadian auto sales stats.

Only Ford’s F-150 saw a big improvement last year, with 145,409 units out the door compared to just 118,837 in calendar year 2015, but it suffered from production issues that year. Toyota’s Tundra grew its numbers too, from 10,829 deliveries in 2015 to 11,364 in 2016, but compared to the blue oval, Toyota is clearly in the minor leagues when it comes to full-size pickups.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
It’s a great looking truck from both ends. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
year’s losers include the Ram pickup that had its best year ever with 91,195 units in 2015 but fell to 89,666 sales in 2016 (nevertheless that’s its second-best-ever tally), whereas GMC Sierra deliveries dipped from 53,727 units in 2015 to 51,091 last year, Chevy’s Silverado sales dropped from 46,407 in 2015 to 44,932 in 2016, and believe it or not Nissan’s new Titan, which had 3,226 buyers in 2015 found only 2,715 last year, despite an entirely new model.

This dramatic downward drop wasn’t necessarily due to any reduction in interest, but more so a changeover to the new model (which required phasing out the old one) and the lack of a gasoline-powered version (only the new heavy-half “Extra Duty” Cummins diesel was available for 2016).

Incidentally, the full-size pickup truck sales scenario played out similarly in the U.S.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
Complex headlamps incorporate signature LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
last year, with all models south of the 49th moving up and down the sales chart just like here in Canada, except for the Ram pickup and Titan that gained in numbers and the Tundra that lost out.

The Titan’s lack of gasoline power has been remedied for model year 2017, and the first five months of the New Year has improved for Japan’s alternative full-size truck brand here in Canada with 1,952 deliveries so far. If extrapolated throughout the year this number would grow to almost 4,700, resulting in the Titan’s best year ever (it’s previous high was 3,499 units in 2012), but we’d better not count these chickens before they’re hatched, as we know how that can turn out in the auto industry.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
A noticeable lack of chrome is replaced by body-colour, black and silver trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
there are a lot of reasons to be bullish about the new 2017 Titan, especially in standard trim. Those who like the look of the rugged new Titan XD will be happy Nissan kept its façade mostly unchanged with the standard truck, including its bold three-part rectangular grille, massive headlamp clusters, muscularly flared fenders, sporty side engine vents, and acres of chrome (depending on trim).

Actually, the $57,600 Crew Cab PRO-4X reviewed here is the sportiest Titan variant, meaning much of its chrome has been swapped out for body-colour, matte black and satin aluminum, resulting in a look that’s much more sophisticated and (to these eyes) much more appealing. Along with the subdued glitter it gets a fabulous looking set of 18-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets and partially painted spokes, these wrapped in 275/65 Toyo Open Country
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
Just in case you forget what’s under the hood. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
winters on my tester (although the standard 275/70 all-terrains would no doubt prove more capable off the beaten path).

Adding to the PRO-4X model’s trail trekking prowess are Bilstein off-road shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control, transfer case and lower radiator skid plates, and more, while the interior gets metallic-tone interior accents, carpeted floor mats with PRO-4X logos, front bucket seats with special PRO-4X embroidery, a centre console in place of the standard bench, etcetera.

On top of the unique PRO-4X details, my tester came with the $6,400 Luxury package that made for an impressive off-roader thanks to perforated leather upholstery with white contrast stitching, this even covering the dash top for a premium-level
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
The Titan’s rugged construction makes for one tough truck. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
experience, three-way front seat ventilation, a heatable steering wheel, heatable rear seats, a 360-degree Around View monitor, and remote start.

Proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition gets you inside, where you’ll be met by everything already noted as well as a really nice leather-wrapped steering wheel, attractive primary gauges with a large colour multi-information display in the middle, dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect infotainment with a 7.0-inch touchscreen featuring a rearview camera with active guidelines, easy-to-use navigation, mobile apps, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Siri Eyes Free, superb sounding Rockford Fosgate audio with 12 speakers and a sub, a handy centre console-mounted household-style 110-volt AC outlet, an ultra-comfortable eight-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, three-way heatable front seats, a lockable rear-seat cargo organizer, and much more.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
PRO-4X trim adds some impressive luxuries over lower end Titans. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
interior is a mix of very high-grade materials as noted, and the pickup truck segment’s usual rudimentary hard plastics. A nice strip of textured looking metallic trim splits the instrument panel’s higher quality surfaces with the more basic hard composite, this meeting up with an especially attractive silver metallic exoskeleton design for the lower console, mirrored on each door panel as well. Yet more satin silver and chrome accents can be found throughout the cabin, while those door panels just noted receive particularly nice swatches of contrast-stitched leather for the armrests and soft, padded inserts for cushioning elbows. The door uppers aren’t soft to the touch mind you, an oversight that should be addressed in this near luxury truck.

Some standard PRO-4X exterior features not already mentioned include auto on/off
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
The Titan PRO-4X means business, but it’s part lounge lizard too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
headlights with signature LEDs, “Follow Me Home” functionality and integrated LED DRLs, plus fog lamps, LED under-rail bed and tailgate area lighting, heatable power-adjustable manually-extendable tow mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a power-sliding rear window with a defroster, a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, a 110-volt power outlet in the bed, an electronic locking tailgate, rear utility bed steps, a Class IV tow hitch receiver with a four-pin/seven-pin wiring harness, trailer brake controller and trailer light check, and more.

Our Crew Cab tester was also outfitted with Nissan’s Utili-track Channel System with four load-securing tie-down cleats, standard with the PRO-4X, while integrated in-bed lockable boxes are also available. Even more important (depending on your height) is a new retractable Rear Bumper Step Assist system that aids access to the bed for only $399 (although standard with the PRO-4X), while available $1,029 step rails or $1,159 running boards would’ve been helpful too.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
An attractive primary gauge cluster sports a large colour multi-info display at centre. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
note, the standard Titan loses no size to the XD, with both near identical in length, width and height, depending on trim. The Regular Cab body style gets an eight-foot bed, whereas Crew Cab models utilize a five-and-a-half-foot bed. Nissan promises an extended cab model at a later date, but for now only the two cab and bed configurations are available.

This lighter weight Titan is an able ranch hand yet not quite the beast of burden of the XD, its maximum payload just 730 kilos (1,610 lbs) compared to the XD’s best 907-kilogram (2,000-lb) rating, and its top tow rating is 4,259 kg (9,390 lbs) instead of 5,443 kg (12,000 lbs). This comes down to a lighter duty chassis with unique spring rates, hubs, brakes, and more.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
A 360-degree monitor is a worthwhile upgrade when parking a full-size truck. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
only one engine on offer in the regular Titan, but it’s one worth bragging about. Nissan’s Endurance 5.6-litre V8 is capable of a very generous 390 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, which is 73 additional horsepower and 16 lb-ft of extra torque over the outgoing V8. This new engine is also found in Nissan’s 2017 Armada SUV (and its Infiniti QX80 counterpart), while all variations on the theme are partnered to the same seven-speed automatic transmission.

For comparison purposes, the Endurance 5.6-litre V8 matches up well against the Ram 1500’s 5.7-litre Hemi V8 and Toyota’s 5.7-litre Tundra V8, while it’s stronger than Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 and GM’s 5.3-litre V8.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
Love these contrast-stitched perforated leather PRO-4X seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
important, four-wheel drive is standard on all but the base Titan Regular Cab S model, which incidentally starts at just $35,498. That price will likely go down when a V6 model is introduced, but so far we only have a promise from Nissan, with no release date.

As for fuel economy, the base Titan Regular Cab with RWD achieves a claimed 15.0 L/100km in the city and 11.2 on the highway, whereas my PRO-4X tester is only slightly less frugal at the pump with a rating of 16.0 L/100km city and 12.0 highway.

On the road the gasoline engine makes for a quieter more refined experience than the big Cummins turbo-diesel, although I’ve never been one to complain about the
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
Rear seat roominess and comfort is above par. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
sound of truck engines unless they don’t give off a notable note at all. Fortunately there’s nothing anemic about the Endurance V8, the exhaust emitting a subdued loping grumble at idle and a wonderful bellow at full stride, albeit never overwhelming the cab.

In fact, the Titan’s passenger compartment is quite quiet overall, Nissan effectively exorcising the majority of wind and road noises so that easy conversations can be held from the front to back row and vise versa, and the aforementioned stereo can even be enjoyed when its volume is turned down. Likewise the Titan’s ride is very compliant, the big truck’s mass helping to iron out most road imperfections nicely and its substantive wheel travel allowing the truly nasty bumps and potholes to be absorbed effectively.

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
A factory spray-in bedliner is standard with the PRO-4X. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
admit to driving it gingerly most of the time to save fuel, but I wouldn’t have been doing my job if I hadn’t opened it up once in a while. Its muscular V8 pulls mightily from standstill and never relents all the way up to and beyond legal highway speeds, while the seven-speed auto is wonderfully smooth albeit with quick, positive shifts. A toggle with plus-minus markings is located on the handle of the column shifter, which provides manual-mode control if you really want or need it, while a button on the end of the shift lever engages Tow/Haul mode. Other than for testing purposes I just left it in Drive and let it do its thing, the Titan drivetrain a really nicely sorted bit of mechanical engineering.

Look on the centre stack below the ignition button to engage four-wheel drive, Nissan providing a convenient rotating knob for leaving its most economical 2WD mode
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
These retract from under each corner of the rear bumper for a welcome step up to the cargo bed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and selecting “4H” or “4LO”, the former for snow or lighter duty dirt roads, and the latter for tackling the really tough stuff. Let’s remember that Nissan’s four-wheel drive prowess is the stuff of legend, not only here in North America where Datsun pickups got the ball rolling (my dad had one of these and it was bulletproof), followed by the Frontier and original off-road-capable Pathfinder SUV, and globally where trucks like the Navara/Pick Up and SUVs like the Patrol have long been used for personal, commercial and military purposes. Nothing they have, short of the latest Patrol (same as our Armada), enters the woods as comfortably as this Titan PRO-4X.

The front seats are especially large and accommodating, while the rear seating area is limousine-like, in keeping with most full-size four-door pickup trucks. They’re
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
Meet the beast, the Titan’s new 390-hp 5.6-litre V8 with 401 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
plenty comfortable too, with decent back support and a nice, wide flip-down centre armrest with integrated cupholders. The lower cushions flip upwards for placing cargo on the floor, providing a sheltered and secure storage area for valuables.

After yet another week in a new Titan and my first with the uprated gasoline-powered 5.6-litre V8, I can easily understand why sales growth has been so strong. Sure it has a way to go before it catches up to Tundra numbers, and will probably never match any of the domestics, but the Titan is once again a worthy member of the full-size pickup category and totally worth investigation. Seriously, Nissan offers a lot of truck for the money, and if Tundra is any example of how the Titan might fare when it comes time to resell (imports often hold their value better), it might be an even smarter long-term bet than one of the domestics. I say you’d better check it out.
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