2019 Nissan Titan: tough competitors, tough road ahead

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Pickup trucks for many years have topped annual sales charts. With their sport utility vehicle cousins as co-conspirators, several manufacturers did what seemed unfathomable — abandon their sedan lineups.

Poor gas mileage, difficult entry and exit and sometimes clunky rides don’t matter. Masculinity and versatility reign in new automotive purchasing. The top six best-selling vehicles in the United States in 2018 were either pickups or SUVs.

2019 Nissan Titan
The 2019 Nissan Titan Pro4X is improved but has plenty of competition. Image © Nissan Motors.

Good reasons abound. In many instances, pickups are luxurious small apartments.

The Nissan Titan is among the few trucks struggling. Sales slipped to just over 50,000 in 2018, a loss of nearly 5 percent from a peak year in 2017, according to Kelley Blue Book, the automotive research company.

The manufacturer is trying to rally with the 2019 Nissan Titan, the third year of the truck’s second generation. The new edition has several upgrades — some standard, others in option packages.

New standard offerings include a seven-inch screen audio display, a rear door alert system as well as Apple Car Play and Android Auto. An impressive 485-watt, 12-speaker Fender audio system is new among the expansive list of equipment in the Pro-4x Utility Package ($1,845).

The Convenience Package ($3,545) features leather and power seating and other comforts such as a power, heated, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and heated front and rear seats.

Comfort in a pickup was once considered a contradiction. Now, it’s often the rule. The Titan’s ride is comfortable with well-constructed buckets in the front and an equally pleasant rear bench seat with room for three adults. Legroom is plentiful. The roof is positioned high to accommodate taller passengers.

Still, the main focus of the segment is ruggedness. The Titan is equipped with a 5.6-liter V8, 390 horsepower and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It advances from 0-60 miles per hour in 6.4 seconds, average for the segment.

The truck is fully capable with its shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel-four drive system and hill start assist and descent control. Standard are 18-by-8-inch aluminum wheels.

It all adds up to provide the Titan’s strengths and its best environment — off-road. Its 15 miles per gallon in city driving and 20 miles per gallon in freeway averages are better than some competitors. But it’s a far from a cost-effective way to travel in city treks.

It’s peculiar for a vehicle with small overall yearly sales to offer so many models and trims levels. The Titan is available in 52 configurations. The Diesel Crew Cab Reserve with four-wheel drive is the top-line with a base price of $67,575. The entry-level, two-wheel Single Cab Titan with cloth seats and a lower-end, six-speaker auto system, begins at $30,030.

The Pro-4X ($46,710) is a strong choice. It caters to the Titan’s off-road strengths. Bilstein shocks, all-terrain off-road tires, electronic locking rear differential and skidplates are added to the truck’s already satisfactory standard features list.

Hauling versatility is another major attribute. The Titan’s bed options include the Utili-track Bed Channel System, a spray-in bed liner and LED bed-rail lighting. The channel system is a tie-down format with adjustable cleats and rails. Locking storage boxes are available. The tailgate is also damped; it prevents slamming; instead, it lowers steadily. With its four option packages, the Pro-4X is priced $54,290.

Equipment aside, the Titan’s shortcomings are performance and its driving persona. The top-selling Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 get higher marks for precise steering as well as overall maneuverability and handling. Tight turns for the Titan are problematic.

Acceleration is satisfactory. But the Titan, despite its name, lacks the same command of the road as its top competitors. It’s a long way from weak, but it’s not a divine truck, like its supreme namesake in Greek mythology.

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