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2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.


A strong gasoline-powered V8 expands Titan market share 

When the all-new second-generation Titan arrived on road and trail for 2016 it made a big name for itself due to standard Cummins turbo-diesel power. Its incredibly potent yet highly efficient engine joined up to rugged heavy-half undercarriage for superb capability, and while this was great news to those who needed more from their daily driver, those who wanted a less expensive gasoline-powered lighter-duty alternative were told to wait.

Well, wait no longer because the Titan's lack of gasoline power has been remedied for model year 2017, and it's an especially strong engine combined with an even more impressive pickup truck.

Those who like the look of the rugged new Titan XD will be happy Nissan kept its façade mostly unchanged with the standard truck, including its bold three-part rectangular grille, massive headlamp clusters, muscularly flared fenders, sporty side engine vents, and acres of chrome (depending on trim).

  

PRO-4X is one sporty truck 

Actually, the $57,600 Crew Cab PRO-4X reviewed here is the sportiest Titan variant, meaning much of its chrome has been swapped out for body-colour, matte black and satin aluminum, resulting in a look that's much more sophisticated and (to these eyes) much more appealing. Along with the subdued glitter it gets a fabulous looking set of 18-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets and partially painted spokes, these wrapped in 275/65 Toyo Open Country winters on my tester (although the standard 275/70 all-terrains would no doubt prove more capable off the beaten path).


  

Adding to the PRO-4X model's trail trekking prowess are Bilstein off-road shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control, transfer case and lower radiator skid plates, and more, while the interior gets metallic-tone interior accents, carpeted floor mats with PRO-4X logos, front bucket seats with special PRO-4X embroidery, a centre console in place of the standard bench, etcetera.

On top of the unique PRO-4X details, my tester came with the $6,400 Luxury package that made for an impressive off-roader thanks to perforated leather upholstery with white contrast stitching, this even covering the dash top for a premium-level experience, three-way front seat ventilation, a heatable steering wheel, heatable rear seats, a 360-degree Around View monitor, and remote start.

  

Standard equipment abounds

Proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition gets you inside, where you'll be met by everything already noted as well as a really nice leather-wrapped steering wheel, attractive primary gauges with a large colour multi-information display in the middle, dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect infotainment with a 7.0-inch touchscreen featuring a rearview camera with active guidelines, easy-to-use navigation, mobile apps, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Siri Eyes Free, superb sounding Rockford Fosgate audio with 12 speakers and a sub, a handy centre console-mounted household-style 110-volt AC outlet, an ultra-comfortable eight-way powered driver's seat with two-way powered lumbar, three-way heatable front seats, a lockable rear-seat cargo organizer, and much more.

   

The interior is a mix of very high-grade materials as noted, and the pickup truck segment's usual harder more durable composites. A nice strip of textured looking metallic trim splits the instrument panel's higher quality surfaces with the more basic surfacing, this meeting up with an especially attractive silver metallic exoskeleton design for the lower console, mirrored on each door panel as well. Yet more satin silver and chrome accents can be found throughout the cabin, while those door panels just noted receive particularly nice swatches of contrast-stitched leather for the armrests and soft, padded inserts for cushioning elbows.



The PRO-4X offers a lot of standard utility 

Some standard PRO-4X exterior features not already mentioned include auto on/off headlights with signature LEDs, "Follow Me Home" functionality and integrated LED DRLs, plus fog lamps, LED under-rail bed and tailgate area lighting, heatable power-adjustable manually-extendable tow mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a power-sliding rear window with a defroster, a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, a 110-volt power outlet in the bed, an electronic locking tailgate, rear utility bed steps, a Class IV tow hitch receiver with a four-pin/seven-pin wiring harness, trailer brake controller and trailer light check, and more.

  


My Crew Cab tester was also outfitted with Nissan's Utili-track Channel System with four load-securing tie-down cleats, standard with the PRO-4X, while integrated in-bed lockable boxes are also available. Even more important (depending on your height) is a new retractable Rear Bumper Step Assist system that aids access to the bed for only $399 (although standard with the PRO-4X), while available $1,029 step rails or $1,159 running boards would've been helpful too.

Of note, the standard Titan loses no size to the XD, with both near identical in length, width and height, depending on trim. The Regular Cab body style gets an eight-foot bed, whereas Crew Cab models utilize a five-and-a-half-foot bed. Nissan promises an extended cab model at a later date, but for now only the two cab and bed configurations are available.

  


Lighter than the XD yet still plenty capable 

This lighter weight Titan is an able ranch hand yet not quite the beast of burden of the XD, its maximum payload just 730 kilos (1,610 lbs) compared to the XD's best 907-kilogram (2,000-lb) rating, and its top tow rating is 4,259 kg (9,390 lbs) instead of 5,443 kg (12,000 lbs). This comes down to a lighter duty chassis with unique spring rates, hubs, brakes, and more.

There's only one engine on offer in the regular Titan, but as noted earlier it's one worth bragging about. Nissan's Endurance 5.6-litre V8 is capable of a very generous 390 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, which is 73 additional horsepower and 16 lb-ft of extra torque over the outgoing V8. This new engine is also found in Nissan's 2017 Armada SUV (and its Infiniti QX80 counterpart), while all variations on the theme are partnered to the same seven-speed automatic transmission.

Also important, four-wheel drive is standard on all but the base Titan Regular Cab S model, which incidentally starts at just $35,498. That price will likely go down when a V6 model is introduced, but so far we only have a promise from Nissan, with no release date.

  


There's hardly any fuel economy penalty for going with the PRO-4X 

As for fuel economy, the base Titan Regular Cab with RWD achieves a claimed 15.0 L/100km in the city and 11.2 on the highway, whereas my PRO-4X tester is only slightly less frugal at the pump with a rating of 16.0 L/100km city and 12.0 highway.

On the road the gasoline engine makes for a quieter more refined experience than the big Cummins turbo-diesel, although I've never been one to complain about the sound of truck engines unless they don't give off a notable note at all. Fortunately there's nothing anemic about the Endurance V8, the exhaust emitting a subdued loping grumble at idle and a wonderful bellow at full stride, albeit never overwhelming the cab.

In fact, the Titan's passenger compartment is quite quiet overall, Nissan effectively exorcising the majority of wind and road noises so that easy conversations can be held from the front to back row and vise versa, and the aforementioned stereo can even be enjoyed when its volume is turned down. Likewise the Titan's ride is very compliant, the big truck's mass helping to iron out most road imperfections nicely and its substantive wheel travel allowing the truly nasty bumps and potholes to be absorbed effectively.



I admit to driving it gingerly most of the time to save fuel, but I wouldn't have been doing my job if I hadn't opened it up once in a while. Its muscular V8 pulls mightily from standstill and never relents all the way up to and beyond legal highway speeds, while the seven-speed auto is wonderfully smooth albeit with quick, positive shifts. A toggle with plus-minus markings is located on the handle of the column shifter, which provides manual-mode control if you really want or need it, while a button on the end of the shift lever engages Tow/Haul mode. Other than for testing purposes I just left it in Drive and let it do its thing, the Titan drivetrain a really nicely sorted bit of mechanical engineering.


  

4WD with bull low gearing is part of the standard PRO-4X package 

Look on the centre stack below the ignition button to engage four-wheel drive, Nissan providing a convenient rotating knob for leaving its most economical 2WD mode and selecting "4H" or "4LO", the former for snow or lighter duty dirt roads, and the latter for tackling the really tough stuff. Let's remember that Nissan's four-wheel drive prowess is the stuff of legend, not only here in North America where Datsun pickups got the ball rolling (my dad had one of these and it was bulletproof), followed by the Frontier, original off-road-capable Pathfinder SUV and Xterra, and globally where trucks like the Navara/Pick Up and SUVs like the Patrol have long been used for personal, commercial and military purposes. Nothing they have, short of the latest Patrol (same as our Armada), enters the woods as comfortably as this Titan PRO-4X.


 

The front seats are especially large and accommodating, while the rear seating area is limousine-like, in keeping with most full-size four-door pickup trucks. They're plenty comfortable too, with decent back support and a nice, wide flip-down centre armrest incorporating cupholders. The lower cushions flip upwards for placing cargo on the floor, providing a sheltered and secure storage area for valuables.

After yet another week in a new Titan and my first with the uprated gasoline-powered 5.6-litre V8, I can easily understand why sales growth has almost doubled so far this year. Of course this newfound success is hardly by accident. Nissan offers a lot of truck for the money, and if the previous version is any example of how the Titan might fare when it comes time to resell or trade in (imports usually hold their value better), it might be an even smarter long-term bet than one of the domestics. You'd better check this new Titan V8 out. I highly recommend the PRO-4X.

 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.