The Detroit Three automakers continue to dominate the full-size truck market, moving about 1.9 million units per year between the four models from Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and GMC. The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan scrounge for the rest of the truck customers, which make up between 100,000 and 200,000 in sales combined.
Both skew less expensive than the American trucks at their peak prices, and both stay negligibly close to the competition in power and towing. They once lacked the intangible American-ness that truck buyers might have wanted, but the 2023 Nissan Titan, built in Mississippi, feels USA-bred from the grille to the tailgate, panoramic roof to the giant backseat.
The Titan landed in the U.S. in 2003 (four years after the Tundra). Nissan was going partner with Dodge and its Ram in the later 2000s for a second generation before the economic downturn. After the deal fell apart, the Titan was treated to a Nissan-led redux in 2016 and then a recent update in 2020 to the brawny, boxy look it wears today.
The Titan now comes in two grades, regular and XD, the latter being a step between regular and heavy-duty pickups in terms of towing and payload, and with King and four-door Crew Cab styles. There are four trims including S, SV, the off-road prepped Pro-4X and the luxury-focused Platinum Reserve.
2023 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Crew Cab
For 2023, the Nissan TITAN Crew Cab SV adds a black-trimmed Midnight Edition with a gloss black front grille surround, full-LED headlights, black tailgate badges, a black headliner and A-pillar upholstery, black 20-inch wheels and a few other pieces. The Pro-4X and Platinum Reserve now get wireless Apple CarPlay included.
The Pro-4X trim is the most capable of the bunch adding hill descent control, an electronic rear differential, Bilstein off-road shocks, skid plates, all-terrain tires and Lava Red accents inside and out.
The standard Titan Pro-4X starts at $52,810, though this tester had about $10,000 in convenience options like a power moonroof, 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 has the perfect number of physical controls including dials for volume and tuning and the dual climate controls. The dials are smaller than in some trucks, and may be hard to grab with gloves, but the mode buttons below the screen are an easy way to switch from feature to feature. It also makes it simple to get in and out of Apple CarPlay, which is sometimes a chore if the driver is trying to use the native navigation system.
USB-A and USB-C ports are located under the screen, but above phone and coffee mug storage spaces. The Titan also has spots in the door for large drinks and a massive center console that could hold a midsized laptop.
The seating position is expectedly high with a commanding view of the road in front. The leather seats are comfortable, if not quite cushy. The heated seats and wheel work well in cold Midwestern winters, as does the remote start. The backseat feels massive, even with child seats installed, with room for groceries and gifts in the center and on the floor, in addition to two little people.
Overall the Titan’s cabin feels comfortable and rugged (and American with space for big drinks). The Platinum Reserve trim brings the wood and chrome trim if that’s what a buyer is looking for.
That version would match up with the luxurious Ford F-150 King Ranch or Chevy Silverado High Country. The technology, including the digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen worked flawlessly and was quick to pair with a smartphone.
The Titan continues with only one engine choice, a 5.6-liter V8 now delivering 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. The company notes that’s the most power of any company’s base V8 engine, though many now use six-cylinder engines. It has a nine-speed automatic transmission and is offered in both rear- and all-wheel drive.
The V8 is loud on throttle and loud on startup. It also makes for a quick exit in the Titan, with zero hesitation when the gas pedal is touched. The nine-speed made for smooth shifts, though all of its time was spent unloaded and without a trailer, sometimes dropping down a few gears at a time during passing maneuvers.
Over snowy dirt roads the upgraded suspension was appreciated and the off-road tires gripped everything. The Titan also didn’t suffer from the harmonic bouncing that some full-size trucks do on regular pavement, though there was some noticeable noise from the tires at lower speeds. The only hiccup was on terribly pocked 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 difficult to park without a few forward-reverse shifts. It’s easier to park at the back of a lot where there is less traffic.
It’s also large for many off-road trails. There’s a reason hard core 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 cliff faces.
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 Rear Automatic Braking. Optionally buyers can order Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Driver Alertness and Traffic Sign Recognition.
The Nissan Titan starts at $39,700 while the Toyota Tundra comes in close at $37,865. Those are both more than the base price of a Ford F-150, but they both offer more power. The Ford F-150 XLT is the volume seller and more applicable to the base Titan. It comes in more expensive at $41,800. The most expensive F-150 starts at $84,910. The Titan maxes out at $61,980.
The pickup market is huge. It fluctuates between three times and two times the size of the car market. For those that aren’t tied to a Detroit brand already, or those that are jumping into the full-size market for the first time, the Nissan Titan is more truck than they’ll ever need. It’s a little bit more powerful and a little bit better equipped than the equivalent American truck.
However, if you don’t absolutely need a full-size truck, get a midsize. They’re easier to park, easier to handle and for the average person, every bit as capable as the full-size options. They’re just as brash looking, except for the Honda Ridgeline, but less expensive. And all seven of the main players are built in the U.S.A.