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2017 Titan

First Drive: 2017 Nissan Titan

If you want a pickup truck, there’s a better chance than ever that Nissan has the one you’re looking for.

The Nissan Titan line has grown by leaps and bounds for 2017, with far more permutations than ever before so truck buyers can get what they want. It’s an attempt to finally make a dent in the full-size pickup segment that has been dominated by Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Ram for years.

To that, you can now get the Titan in a half-ton model in addition to the beefier Titan XD that rolled out for 2016. The half-ton comes as a four-door Crew Cab, an extended “King Cab” and a recently announced Single Cab model, with a 5.6-liter V8 engine that produces 390 horsepower. A V6 also arrives next year.

2017 Nissan Titan
(Nissan)

There are five trims, ranging from the fleet-oriented S to the chromed-and-leathered-up Platinum Reserve. There’s also an off-road warrior Pro-4X model. And in addition to two and four-wheel drive, there are three bed lengths (measuring 5-feet-6inches, 6-feet-6-inches and 8-feet long). Nissan is adamant about making a truck for just about every truck buyer.

But the big question remains: does the Titan stand out in the right way?

Like that XD that rolled out last year, the half-ton Titan is certainly brash. But it’s hard to say it stands out unless you get it in a bright yellow that Nissan offers. Top-line Platinum Reserve models have the requisite acres of chrome across expansive flanks such as the tailgate. The Titan looks at home in downtown Dallas, and that was kind of the point.

Nissan Titan
(Nissan)

What typical truck buyers might appreciate, however, are the useful touches built into the Titan. The bed can be equipped with storage boxes, strips of illumination, tie-downs and a damped tailgate that can be operated with the pull of a single finger. These are the kind of features that you didn’t know you needed in a truck, but really appreciate after a while. Even inside, Nissan’s engineers used every corner to install a cubby or cup holder, thinking truck users need lots of places to stash stuff.

Performance is also very good with the gas V8, and surprisingly entertaining. The engine, also used in the 2017 Nissan Armada, is mated to a seven-speed automatic and makes gobs of power with a fun noise to boot. Towing capacity is yet to be determined for Single and King Cab models, but the Titan Crew Cab can tow up to 9,390 pounds.

2017 Nissan Titan
(Nissan)

Details aside, the Titan comes across fairly typical among full-size pickups, which was likely Nissan’s intent. Interior quality is fine, but not as tech-laden as a 2016 Ford F-150 nor as user-friendly as a Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra. It’s also somewhat ponderous to drive, something the Ram 1500 proves is possible to iron out of a traditional full-size truck. In some respects, the Titan feels old against the competition. But then the competition has become quite good and it’s possible Nissan leaves the also-ran Toyota Tundra in the dust in this regard.

Fans of American pickups will feel mostly at home in the Nissan. But at the same time, that’s the Titan’s fault. Ford has cornered the gadget sector with the technologically ambitious F-150, while Ram offers the everyday usability of coil springs and a cushy ride. Meanwhile, the GM trucks’ feature all-around ease and simplicity. There is precious little room for another truck among these competitors.

2017 Nissan Titan
(Nissan)

Which is probably why Nissan is actively courting the fleet market with the Titan, with a long 5-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and keep-it-simple engineering. And with Crew Cab prices range from $34,780 to just below $59,000, making the Titan a relative bargain against the ever-pricier domestic models.

The Titan tries to please everyone. In doing so, it fails to top the competition, but at least it’s in the game. Now it just needs fans.

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