2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan side view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan front view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan rear view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan side view

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan headlight

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan grille

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan wheel

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan side mirror

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan badge

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan fender storage

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan taillight

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan logo

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan bed

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan tie-down system

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan engine

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan interior

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan steering wheel

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan gauges

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan instrument panel

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan a-pillar

  • 2012 Nissan Titan
  • 2012 Nissan Titan door

Vital Stats

Engine:
5.6L V8
Power:
317 HP / 385 LB-FT
Transmission:
Five-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain:
Four-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
5,334 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
1,867 LBS
MPG:
13 City / 18 HWY
Revisiting "The Other Truck"



Of all the segments in the American vehicle market, the full-size truck market has proven the most difficult to crack for foreign automakers. Blame the Chicken Tax, dyed-in-the-wool brand fanatics, decades of buying tradition or all three, but truck buyers have barely given Toyota and Nissan a fraction of the sales ladled onto Ford, Chevrolet and Ram. In fact, last year, Toyota saw just 82,908 Tundra units roll off of dealer lots. While that number seems astronomical compared to the 21,994 Titan models Nissan shifted during the same time period, both stats fall far behind even the third place Ram, which sold 257,610 units last year.

The easy assumption is that trucks like the Tundra and Titan simply lack the competitive capability to hold their heads high among their American counterparts. With offerings like the 2013 Ford F-150 EcoBoost and 2013 Ram 1500, modern domestic offerings are now more efficient than ever without sacrificing their already impressive tow ratings. Given just how long it's been since the Titan landed in showrooms, is there any reason at all to look outside of the Big Three for a pickup purchase? We decided to spend a week reacquainting ourselves with one to find out.
2012 Nissan Titan side view2012 Nissan Titan front view2012 Nissan Titan rear view

It's been eight years since the Titan first bowed. Even so, it's aged well aesthetically.

It's been eight years since the Titan first bowed, and the model has received remarkably few aesthetic adjustments in that time. Even so, the truck has aged well. On the street, the Titan is a handsome machine. Its chrome grille and bumper treatments are tasteful without straying into garishness, and the relatively short front overhang gives onlookers the impression this is a truck that will go where the driver points it, even if that means over the occasional Prius. The squared-off headlamp arrays still look fetching enough even after languishing on the front fascia for so many years, though we did find the area around the front tow hooks to be a bit too claustrophobic to easily hook up chunky tow straps or hefty chains. Leave the rescue operations to someone else.

Move to the truck's side, and it's easy to appreciate the functionality designers have incorporated into the Titan. The greenhouse features plenty of glass, yielding excellent visibility from the driver's seat. Expandable tow mirrors make it easy to keep an eye on trailer movement and the lockable in-bed storage compartment is a great place to store a tow strap, tie-downs and a set of gloves. With a configurable plastic shelf, the storage can be adjusted to accommodate a variety of small cargo, though we have to wonder why Nissan relegated the cabinet to just one side of the bed. Likewise, we were frustrated by the fact that the box can only be opened using the truck's key. You're simply out of luck if you need a buddy to grab something out of the cabinet while the engine is running.

2012 Nissan Titan grille2012 Nissan Titan headlight2012 Nissan Titan wheel2012 Nissan Titan taillight

Thank you, Titan, we know there's a trailer uncomfortably close to the back bumper. We put it there.

If we can smother modern pickups as a whole under one blanket criticism, it's that the beasts have grown too tall to easily access cargo in the bed. Ram circumnavigates this dilemma with an expensive and complex air suspension. Nissan, meanwhile, has opted to give buyers the option of a retractable step positioned just under the driver's side bumper. Unlike the tailgate-integrated step system found in the Ford family, this one can be used regardless of whether there's a trailer hitched to the truck or not. Pretty handy.

Speaking of helpful, Nissan's Utilitrak in-bed tie down system is excellent. Fully customizable, unobtrusive and sturdy, the tie-downs are great for steadying motorcycles, ATVs or other top-heavy cargo. They can also be removed if the owner needs maximum bed space.

Our crew cab tester came with a sonar-based park-assist feature as part of the SV Value Truck package. Along with park assist, the pack throws in a Class IV hitch, seven-pin harness and pre-wiring for a trailer brake as well as various interior niceties. Unfortunately, the trailering equipment finds itself at odds with the park assist. Throw the Titan into reverse with a trailer attached and the sonar will beep its little head off until you deactivate it via the pushbutton to the left of the steering wheel. Shut the truck off, turn it back on and the sonar is ready to go all over again. Thank you, Titan, we know there's a trailer uncomfortably close to the back bumper. We put it there. Here's hoping the next-generation will deactivate the park assist when the seven-pin is in use.

2012 Nissan Titan side view2012 Nissan Titan bed2012 Nissan Titan tie-down system2012 Nissan Titan fender storage

Compared to the Ram, the Titan might as well be reading song titles via Pony Express.

Inside, the Titan can't help but feel comfortably Nissan. Those familiar with the automaker's interiors will feel right at home amongst the switchgear, and that's a good thing. Despite the fact that the Titan hasn't received any serious update love in its lifespan, the cockpit has aged far better than that of the soon-to-be-replaced Silverado. With nicer materials on the dash and door panels, better quality cloth seating and a well-sorted driving position, our tester felt both capable and well ahead of its General Motors rival, but that doesn't mean we came away thinking the cabin seemed worthy of the truck's $38,920 price tag.

There are issues indoors. For starters, the A-pillar trim on this tester came saddled with gaps large enough to effectively park this truck in, and the onboard tech more than leaves a little to be desired. Compared to the available TFT gauge cluster and massive Uconnect screen found on the 2013 Ram 1500, the 2012 Titan might as well be reading song titles via Pony Express. The interface may have been acceptable three years ago, but it feels ancient by today's standards. Want to hook up an iPod or charge your phone? Better have an AUX cable and a car charger handy, as there's no USB connection onboard. In a segment dominated by consumers who use their trucks as mobile workstations, that's a serious problem.

Then there's the stereo. Our truck came with an optional eight-speaker unit, complete with what may very well be the most overbearing subwoofer we've ever encountered. The system seemed content to pound us to death with bass no matter the setting or the music. Adjusting the four-way equalizer proved fruitless unless the woofer was disengaged entirely. Either we're getting too old, or our flat-brim quotient is dangerously low.

2012 Nissan Titan interior

The Titan is a much more comfortable tow rig than its Mopar rival.

So, there's some rust on the edges of the Titan formula, but that's not saying this is a bad truck; far from it. This Titan benefits from the same 5.6-liter V8 engine that has powered it since time immemorial, and though it only musters up 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, the eight cylinder does an fine job of pulling this big Japanese workhorse around town. The truck burbles with the delicious sound of available torque, all of which is on hand from 3,400 rpm. That's not terribly low, but on an engine that will happily reach all the way to 6,000 rpm, it isn't really a problem, either. Paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, dial-selectable four-wheel drive and an optional 3.357:1 final drive, the Titan has a solid (if unsophisticated) backbone.

Unfortunately, so do the rest of the trucks in this class. Both Ford and Ram are now getting very similar power figures from vastly more efficient V6 offerings, with the F-150 Ecoboost now delivering 365 hp while the 2013 Ram 1500 V6 serves up just 12 fewer horsepower than the V8 under the hood of the Titan. But as any truck owner will tell you, it's torque that makes a vehicle like this, and that's where those extra two cylinders in the Japanese V8 come into play. At over 115 more lb-ft than the Pentastar V6 found in the Ram, the Titan is a much more comfortable tow rig than its Mopar rival. The forced-induction Ford, meanwhile easily embarrasses the Titan with a heady serving of 420 lb-ft.

2012 Nissan Titan engine

Fuel economy is the biggest hitch in the Titan's giddyup.

We loaded the Titan full with guys, tools and a massive stack of split-rim wheels with big bar tires and hooked a small military trailer filled to the brim with Dodge M37 drivetrain components for a quick sprint up I-75 out of Georgia. While we could certainly feel the added heft behind the pickup, the Titan never felt strained or harried, even during the steep climb out of Chattanooga. According to the local CAT scales, we stuffed around 1,626 pounds into the Japanese pickup and hooked another 3,380 to the hitch. We found that with Tow/Haul mode engaged, the transmission is happy to let the engine build revs until the eight-pot is making the power necessary to accelerate the truck/trailer combination with confidence.

That is, so long as you can afford to keep the machine fed. We saw 15 mpg highway during our time with the truck when it was unladen. Throw the extra load at the truck and that number slipped to just 12 mpg over a four-hour haul. We would hate to see the result of sticking the full towing capacity behind the truck. And that's the biggest hitch in the Titan's giddyup. Ford and Chrysler have made a concerted push to squeeze the most fuel economy possible from their full-size offerings, resulting in efficient V6 trucks. The 2013 Ram is good for up to 25 mpg highway while the F-150 can deliver a very respectable 23 mpg. Even by Environmental Protection Agency ratings, the Titan can only serve up 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.

2012 Nissan Titan rear 3/4 view

Titan's lackluster fuel economy, ancient tech interface and hefty price tag all put it at the back of the pack.

And that's what's truly baffling about the Titan family. Whereas the Detroit Three are happy to offer you a truck with a capable and efficient V6 under the hood, there's simply no such option on the Nissan sheet. If you want this big bruiser, you have to buy it with the aging 5.6-liter V8. That's a crying shame, too, because Nissan has a perfectly capable V6 in its VQ family of engines.

Unfortunately for the Titan, trucks aren't just measured by how well they can tow a load. Fuel economy and connectivity play a significant role in how a machine performs for its buyer. Throw in the fact that the Titan is far from a bargain, and the argument for laying down your cash here instead of with one of Detroit's trucks becomes even dicier. While the Titan is a perfectly adequate partner in terms of capability, its lackluster fuel economy, ancient tech interface and hefty price tag all put it at the back of the pack. We've been told a successor to the Titan throne is coming in 2014. It can't happen soon enough.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 98 Comments
      dadslife83
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thanks for including a tow test on this beast. As we boomers become retirement age, we are much more likely to throw the Mrs. and the dog into the back, hook up the trailer and go. At least that's my plan. More reviews like this will be greatly appreciated.
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nissan might as well exit the full size truck market.
      Henry
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nissan has lost its way when it comes to trucks. I don't think they are serious about their big trucks. This thing has been out since 2003 and the Armada that it underpins has been out since 2004. It has been the same body shell till today. It does not make any sense. That's 8 years in this day and age. I have had my Armada since 2005 and need a replacement but I do not want to go out there and buy what they have out there now. Yes, it has refreshed interior and facials. So what? Look at what they did with the Pathfinder. It lost its character altogether. They turned a three seater Murano into a Pathfinder called it a day. I really don't care for the current Toyota Sequoia design otherwise I would have switched by now. As soon as Toyota brings out a new Sequoia and if Nissan is still selling the same Armada as they have right now, I am as good as gone. The bottom line is that it seems that Nissan has been taken over by bean counters rather than car guys and it shows. Look at what they are doing with Infiniti bread and butter the "G" series. It will be Q50?
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      At this point in its lifestyle, if you really want the wallflower of full-size trucks - just buy a used one. As the article said, there were so few updates to it and might as well get as much depreciation of the gas guzzler.
        Rob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        They sell new ones for damn near used prices!!! The one they tested here you could more than likely find new and pay 25k-ish out the door. But point taken in terms of updates and getting one used. Not to mention the more cash Nissan throws on the hood of it the more the used prices get pushed down
          ExplainedFever
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rob
          I have a 2011 Titan SV 4x4 I bought new for 11,000 under sticker. So for under 24k there isn't a truck out there that came anywhere close to value i got
      Xi Gua
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think 2014 3rd generation Tundra would be on par with Ford and GM trucks.
        Chip
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Xi Gua
        You really should stop doing that. It HAS to hurt.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        BB79826
        • 2 Years Ago
        It starts at $28k. Are you that incapable of looking things up on your own?
          jtav2002
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BB79826
          People around here constantly fail to compare accurate things. Lets compare the absolute base model of one vehicle to a higher equipped competitor. Morons.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BB79826
          [blocked]
          Vinuuz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BB79826
          He is a nobody and has no brain.
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      Jake
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Blame the Chicken Tax, dyed-in-the-wool brand fanatics, decades of buying tradition or all three, .... " Or the obvious answer that the big 3 have continued to have really good product teams on pick-ups and have made top-notch products that people want. I guess people that can't accept that the American companies can design and build good products have to find other excuses that fit with their bias?
        Fonin
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jake
        I think the major interest was not in trying to take over the truck market, it was just to get a presence and grab a slice of the american pie of buying full size trucks and large SUVs. the big 3 should have a better produc as this has been a major part of their production for decades and decades. the original tundra was immediately praised for its performance. the Titan was an immediate mark for the big 3 to compete with, for its standard power size and towing. the big 3 responded and now we lambaste the Titan and mock the Tundra owners for not just buying a Ram. the failing on the Titan is that Nissan never went back to shake things up again, they kind of wen 'meh' and decided it was good enough. i am amazed it is still in production, even with the prior rumors of the dodge connection.
      Ron McCord
      • 2 Years Ago
      most people dont need a truck, be content with your manhood and dont waste gas on these things. Now with that said I am sure you can get huge dscounts on this truck to make up for the age. It is arguably better looking then other trucks as well.
        brucec039
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron McCord
        From your photo, I'd say you're probably not the best choice to lecture anyone on "manhood". A lot of people own trucks to work in or for specific uses that require them and have other vehicles for other uses. If they drive 5,000 miles a year in a 15mpg truck, and you drive 20,000 in a 30 mpg vehicle, who's the gas waster?
        Jake
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron McCord
        Most people need you to lecture them on what they need, I suppose.
          icemilkcoffee
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jake
          Judging by the sales of full sized trucks compared with full sized vans, I would say a lot of people really do need the lecture.
        jason32379
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron McCord
        So true Ron. I see too many guys compensating for their shortcomings by driving a full-size truck to the office and yet, its so clean and probably has never hauled a load of bricks or a trailer full of anything (beyond maybe some Seadoo's to the lake). If I'm using a truck, I rent one. And I put it to work.
          A P
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jason32379
          Thank god you are so superior to the rest of Americans that actually buys something they WANT to buy.....what is your fone number so we can call you about all of the things you think we should buy. What a creep.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron McCord
        [blocked]
        Mbukukanyau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron McCord
        You are a religious Zealot
      Making11s
      • 2 Years Ago
      You can cry brand loyalty and Chicken Tax all day long, but the Tundra and Titan don't have bigger market shares because they're not good enough to earn that bigger piece of the market. The Titan used to be a real competitor, but this isn't 2004. You need to update your offerings to stay competitive. If I'm not mistaken, the Ford, Chevy and Dodge have all gone through two generations since the Titan came out. I agree with the commenter below who said Nissan would be better off giving people a new Frontier. The Frontier is almost the last smaller pickup. Their only competitor would be the Tacoma. If Nissan could put together an appealing offering there, I think they could force everyone else to play catchup. Unfortunately, the Frontier is almost as old as the Titan. What a waste.
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ive got a 2006 titan. Great truck! At the time I bought it, it was lightyears ahead of the F150, Silverado, and Tundra. It is still today a very solid reliable truck that tows and hauls great and has great features.
        redgpgtp97
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        How is that? It looks like a regular truck to me, nothing special about it's design or interior. I know the powertrain might be a good one for Nissan has always produced good engines.
      Sheldon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Frankly, I'd rather see Nissan do a serious overhaul of the Frontier. Modernize the whole thing, and give it a 4 or 5 cylinder diesel. Make a good small truck with decent mpg and decent capabilities and I bet the buyers would show up. Nissans and Datsuns have always been pretty good small trucks, find your niche and own it.
        High
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sheldon
        Include a state of the art 4 or 6 cylinder gasoline engine with that and I'm in. I just need something to tow a boat, some ATVs/sleds and whatever the occasional use for the bed may be. Diesel where I live is only available at about 1/3 of the stations and carries a $.67 premium over unleaded at the moment.
        Zach Bowman
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sheldon
        Stay tuned, Sheldon. I should have a review of the Frontier out soon.
      protovici
      • 2 Years Ago
      Built Ford Tought, Like a Rock, If you cant Dodge it Ram it...... Cant see going outside these guys for an import truck.
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @protovici
        So you buy your truck based on company slogan? Makes sense. Doesn't really matter how good the Titan Tundra will ever be, some people are just stuck in their brand loyalty. They could make a truck that is far better than one from the big 3 and it will still never really eat away much at big 3 sales. This current Titan seems like it would be a fine buy in the used market, but there's not much going for it to consider it for someone shopping for a brand new truck. I'm interested to see what the next gen truck will bring.
          protovici
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jtav2002
          It was a metaphor. Meaning these three makers make a much better truck then any other in the world.
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