2017 Nissan Titan XD SV Test Drive

2017 nissan titan XD SV

Most days, a year or so ago, the hapless Nissan Titan ate dust.

While the awkward, ill-equipped Titan struggled to attract 12,000 buyers a year, the F-series Fords and other better-designed pickups sped far ahead, grabbing 500,000 or more sales.

Nissan apparently got tired of tasting back-of-the-pack grit.

Last year, the Japanese automaker finally started over with the Titan, going heavy metal with a bigger but better truck that offered gasoline and diesel engines as well as more cab configurations.

So I wasn’t too surprised that the metallic-gray 2017 Nissan Titan XD SV I had recently stood taller than some NFL linebackers and filled the width of my driveway with three tons of concrete-crushing weight.

I just wondered if I would need a stepladder for my ignominious entry.

Here’s a tip: Walk fast past the front because the rest of the giant truck is fairly attractive.

As you probably noticed, Nissan – like Toyota and Honda – will likely never be viewed as a style leader and my new Titan was only slightly less clumsy-looking than the old one, but hey, it’s a decent, solid start.

The new Titans occupy a unique niche in that they are slightly larger than most full-size light-duty pickups and a bit smaller than heavy-duty models.

You’ll notice it immediately.

My extended-cab model wore a massive blacked-out grille roughly the size of a small billboard and flanked by familiar-looking stacked headlamps. (Think Ford F-150.)

Meanwhile, a long slightly raised hood with crisp character lines compensated for front fenders that seemed too long and disproportionate to me.

Here’s a tip: Walk fast past the front because the rest of the giant truck is fairly attractive.

Rather than four real doors, the Titan XD SV I had featured small, front-opening “suicide” back-doors, revealing a pretty tight rear seat.

While just a standard two-wheel-drive model, it featured a high-riding Texas stance and bristled with powerful, mostly flat sides.

2017 Nissan Titan King Cab

Like Ford’s F-series truck, the truck had dips in the tops of its front doors and mirrors large enough to drop a 200-pound man. (If you’re walking on a narrow street and see a Titan coming, you might want to dive for someone’s yard.)

In back, vertical taillamps similar to those on the new Ram helped maintain the truck’s tough design, and rolled on appropriately butchy 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels wrapped with 265/60 tires.

The Titan’s best feature, I thought, burbled beneath its hood.

The Titan’s best feature, I thought, burbled beneath its hood – a stout, surprisingly lively 5.6-liter V-8 with 390- horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of trailer-towing torque.

Though lugging about 6,000 pounds of weight – 500 too much in my view — the engine had the meat to make the truck jump away from stops, pushing it to 60-miles per hour in 7 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

Tied to a 7-speed automatic, it made great American V-8 music most of the time – even though it is technically Japanese.

I relished the glee with which the spirited engine would wind to 6,000 rpm once it got the husky Titan moving.

It also kind of liked gas, scratching out a modest 15 miles per gallon in town, according to Nissan’s website.

Occasionally, the transmission would stutter and slur a shift, but most of the time, it seemed well matched to the lusty engine.

Moreover, while slow, the steering seemed right for the bulk of the truck and tracked well.

I never got used to the Titan’s ride – and I’m pretty forgiving of stiff-legged vehicles. Heck, I own one.

I never got used to the Titan’s ride – and I’m pretty forgiving of stiff-legged vehicles. Heck, I own one.

Although I could not find anything on the truck’s window-sticker indicating a trailer-towing package, it had unusually stiff, harsh springs.

Every bump, pothole or section of broken concrete induced a bounce or three and the bigger stuff like railroad crossings could cause some body-on-frame squirm.

All pickups tend to ride a bit rough because they are designed and equipped to haul big loads, but my Titan seemed overly serious about its job, though I admit it did smooth out some at speed.

In a more innocent era – like five years ago – we might have classified the extended-cab, low-flash Titan as a work truck.

But with a window-sticker of nearly $43,000, my Titan didn’t seem to quite fit that classification – even with its fairly basic black-cloth interior.

A broad, deep black dashboard, for example, wrapped around a giant center-stack anchored, more or less, by a 5-inch display screen.

Meanwhile, a broad console provided a covered bin at its base and a USB connection for iPod and other devices.

Save the dinky back seat for people who owe you money.

Fortunately, knobs and buttons on the center stack controlled the climate and audio systems, while the cloth seats were finished nicely with patterned centers.

Save the dinky back seat for people who owe you money. The head-room was superb, but leg-room was tight even for a vertically challenged person like me.

Granted, the Titan still lacks some of the refinement of the domestic pickups, but it feels solid and competent now, and looks as if it could finally close on the pack.

2017 Nissan Titan XD SV

  • What I liked most: The muscular 390 horsepower V-8 with its waves of power and torque.
  • What I would change: The overly stiff ride and hefty weight of the Titan.
  • MSRP: Base price, $37,960; as equipped, $42,805.
  • Fuel economy: Rated at 15 mpg in the city, 21 on the highway, and approximately 17 mpg combined, with filler on the left.
  • Official Color: Gun Metallic.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 2,536 miles.
  • Weight: About 6,000 pounds.
  • Length-width-height: 237.6 inches long/80.7 inches wide/78.4 inches tall.
  • Fuel-tank capacity: 26 gallons.
  • Towing capacity: Up to 9,740 pounds.
  • Spare tire: Full-size.
  • 2017 Titan XD SV in a few words: A not entirely smooth but substantial step forward.
  • Warranty: Five-year, 100,000-mile basic and powertrain warranties.
  • Final assembly location: Canton, Miss.
  • Manufacturer’s website: www.nissanusa.com
  • E-mail me at terry@carprousa.com
Photo Credit: Nissan

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