Big, bold and difficult to park

The Detroit Three automakers continue to dominate the full-size truck market, moving about 1.9 million units a year between the four models of Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and GMC. The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan scrounge for the rest of the truck buyers, who collectively account for between 100,000 and 200,000 sales.

Both are cheaper than the American trucks at their top prices, and both remain negligibly close to the competition in performance and towing. They used to lack the intangible Americanness that truck buyers might have desired, but the 2023 Nissan Titan, built in Mississippi, feels American-bred from the grille to the tailgate, from the panoramic roof to the oversized rear seat.

The Titan landed in the US in 2003 (four years after the Tundra). Nissan partnered with Dodge and its Ram in the late 2000s for a second generation before the economic downturn. After the deal fell through, the Titan was treated to a Nissan-led Redux in 2016 and a recent update in 2020 to the beefy, boxy look it sports today.

The Titan is now available in two grades, regular and XD, with the latter being a step between regular and heavy pickups in terms of towing capacity and payload, and with King and four-door Crew Cab styles. There are four trim levels including the S, SV, the off-road capable Pro-4X and the luxury-focused Platinum Reserve.

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2023 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Double Cab

For 2023, the Nissan TITAN Crew Cab SV adds a black-trimmed Midnight Edition with a gloss black grille surround, full-LED headlights, black tailgate emblems, a black headliner and black A-pillar upholstery, black 20-inch wheels, and a few others pieces. The Pro-4X and Platinum Reserve now get wireless Apple CarPlay included.

The Pro-4X trim is the most capable of the group, adding hill descent control, an electronic rear differential, Bilstein off-road shocks, skid plates, off-road tires and lava red accents inside and out.

The standard Titan Pro-4X starts at $52,810, although this reviewer had about $10,000 in convenience options like a power sunroof, parking sensors, premium sound, heated and leather-trimmed seats, a heated steering wheel, and more.

An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard, but the Pro-4X comes with a 9-inch screen. The Titan features the perfect array of physical controls, including dials for volume and tuning, and the dual climate controls. The dials are smaller than some trucks and might be hard to grab when wearing gloves, but the mode buttons below the screen are an easy way to switch from function to function. It also makes it easier to get in and out of Apple CarPlay, which is sometimes annoying when the driver is trying to use the native navigation system.

2023 Nissan Titanium
The Nissan Titan 2023 is equipped with an 8 or 9 inch touch screen.
Nissan North America

USB-A and USB-C ports are below the screen but above the phone and coffee mug storage spaces. The Titan also has in-door spots for tall drinks and a massive center console that could hold a mid-sized laptop.

The seating position is expectedly high with an imposing view of the road ahead. The leather seats are comfortable, if not entirely comfortable. The heated seats and wheels work well in cold Midwest winters, as does remote start. The rear seat feels massive even with child seats installed, with room for groceries and gifts in the middle and on the floor, in addition to two small people.

Overall, the Titan’s cabin feels comfortable and sturdy (and American-style with room for large drinks). The Platinum Reserve trim brings the wood and chrome trim if a buyer is looking for it.

This version would match the luxurious Ford F-150 King Ranch or Chevy Silverado High Country. The technology, including the digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen, worked perfectly and could be quickly paired with a smartphone.

The Titan continues with just one engine choice, a 5.6-liter V8 that now delivers 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. The company notes that this is the most powerful output of any company’s base V8 engine, although many now use six-cylinder engines. It has a nine-speed automatic transmission and is offered with both rear- and all-wheel drive.

2023 Nissan Titanium
The Nissan Titan Pro-4X 2023 is equipped with special off-road shock absorbers.
Nissan North America

The V8 is noisy when accelerating and noisy when starting. It also ensures a quick exit in the Titan, with no hesitation when the accelerator pedal is touched. The nine-speed made for smooth shifts, despite being unladen and trailerless all the time, sometimes dropping a few gears at a time when overtaking.

On snowy dirt roads, the upgraded suspension was appreciated and the off-road tires handled it all. The Titan also didn’t suffer from the harmonic bouncing that some big trucks do on regular pavement, although there was some noticeable noise from the tires at lower speeds. The only hiccup was on horribly scarred dirt roads, where the Titan lost traction and bounced a few feet to the right.

Like all modern full-size trucks, the Titan is big. It’s difficult to navigate tight parking lots and hard to park without a few forward-reverse shifts. It’s easier to park in the back lot where there is less traffic.

It’s also great for a lot of off-road trails. There’s a reason hardcore off-roaders use Jeep Wranglers and Ford Broncos, they’re narrow and comparatively short. The Titan would be more at home in open, bumpy desert than between cliffs.

2023 Nissan Titanium
The Nissan Titan Pro-4X 2023 is equipped with Hill Descent Control.
Nissan North America

The 2023 Nissan Titan comes standard with Nissan Safety Shield 360, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and automatic reverse braking. Optionally, buyers can order intelligent collision warning, intelligent surround view monitor, intelligent cruise control, intelligent driver attention and traffic sign recognition.

The Nissan Titan starts at $39,700 while the Toyota Tundra is $37,865. That’s both more than the base price of a Ford F-150, but both offer more performance. The Ford F-150 XLT is the volume seller and more applicable to the base Titan. It’s more expensive at $41,800. The most expensive F-150 starts at $84,910. The Titan is priced at $61,980.

The pickup market is huge. It fluctuates between three and two times the car market. For those not yet committed to a Detroit brand, or those entering the full-size market for the first time, the Nissan Titan is more truck than they’ll ever need. It’s a bit more powerful and a bit better equipped than the corresponding American truck.

However, unless you absolutely need a full-size truck, get a mid-size truck. They’re easier to park, easier to handle, and for the average person just as capable as the full-size options. They look just as bold, except for the Honda Ridgeline, but less expensive. And all seven major players are built in the USA Big, bold and difficult to park

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