Up-level 2012 Nissan Titan still on the radar for those seeking a strong half-ton built in America and designed for serious on- and off-road use
When the Titan was introduced in 2004, Nissan set new standards for half-tons. But over the ensuing years it’s lost a step or two against competitors on several fronts including configuration options, towing capacity and fuel economy.
However, those who have long appreciated the off-road prowess of the Pathfinder and Frontier will love the utility the Titan brings to the jobsite.
The Titan is a sporty, sure-footed performer in a wide variety of on- and off-road terrains, which makes it a good choice for contractors who enjoy drifting, off-road racing, and their outdoor pursuits when the work week ends.
Titan’s designers know function is a big part of the purchase decision and to that end they’ve brought a 159.5-inch Long Wheelbase model of the Crew Cab into the 2012 mix. It features a 7-feet foot 3-inch bed, which is best in the half-ton pickup class.
The long-bed adds to the models that fit a wide range of work and recreation uses: King Cab and Crew Cab; 4wd and 2wd; two wheelbases (138.9/159.5 inches); three bed lengths; and four trim levels (S, SV, PRO-4X and SL.)
I like the Crew Cab PRO-4X long-bed because of the added off-road enhancements including Rancho shocks, lower axle ratio (3.357), additional skid plates on the oil pan and transfer case and electronic-locking rear differential.
The PRO-4X also includes BFGoodrich Rugged Trail P275/70R18 all-terrain tires mounted on 18-inch aluminum-alloy off-road wheels, body-colored grille and bumpers, a lockable bedside storage compartment – all products of great benefit to contractors working off-pavement.
On the comfort and convenience side the PRO-4X comes with items contractors who use their pickup as their rolling office (and family transportation) appreciate: Rockford Fosgate premium audio system; rear overhead console with audio controls; power-adjustable pedals; and heated extending tow mirrors.
The up-level trim package also includes Utili-track Bed Channel System, tailgate area illumination with 12V power point in the bed and factory spray-in bedliner.
POWER TO PULL
Titan’s hold their own in the power department, too. They are built on Nissan’s fully boxed F-Alpha pickup platform, featuring a 5.6L DOHC Endurance V8 rated at 317hp and 385 lb-ft torque behind a standard 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Titan’s power is there when you need it; throttle response is fast and it pulls stronger than most pickups in its class.
In fact our track tests show only the Ford F-150 EcoBoost had better track numbers among pickups we’ve ran recently.
Fuel economy, or the lack thereof, is a different matter. While the other manufacturers have made gains, the Titan is lagging.
ProPickup’s half-ton crew-cab fuel tests showed more than 20mpg on the Ford EcoBoost and 19mpg on GMC Sierra 4×4 while the Titan only managed 15mpg.
Fuel economy aside, the PRO-4X I drove handled nicely, the suspension firm without being choppy on rough surfaces or over broken pavement. It was sure-footed, nimble and controlled in a wide variety of off-road terrains.
The stock Active Brake Limited-Slip Differential is fine for street use, but the optional electronic-locking rear differential puts power to both rear wheels without scrubbing power. (The electronic locker is a highly recommended option for anyone who drives much off-pavement.)
Titan offers excellent cargo handling, too. Contractors will find the optional Utili-track bed channel system a nice addition with its five special cross-section rails mounted in the bed.
The system has two channels in the bed floor, and one each on the bed side rails and the bed header panel.
Removable heavy-duty utility cleats slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attaching points for tying down cargo. The channels are open at the rear of the bed, allowing the cleats to be completely removed when not in use for easy cleaning.
There’s even an optional bedside storage compartment located behind the rear driver’s side wheel where you can store hitch parts, pulleys and recovery straps. The compartment is double-sealed to help prevent the intrusion of water and dust and uses the ignition key for locking.
So whether you are in the market for a King Cab or Crew Cab, 2WD or 4, bench seats or buckets, long-bed or short, odds are there’s a 2012 Titan that will fit your full-size pickup needs. It’s a good pick for those who like to think outside of the box.
“Imports” not on your pickup radar? Pickup owners who will only buy American will appreciate the Titan is designed by teams in California and Michigan, the engine is built in Tennessee, and the truck assembled in Canton, Mississippi.
As much as some hate to admit it, today’s pickups don’t get much more American than the Titan.
2012 Nissan Pro-4X Titan Crew Cab
Priced as tested: $37,640
Engine: 5.6L V8; 317hp @ 5,200 rpm; 385 lb-ft of torque @ 3,400 rpm
Transmission: 5spd Auto
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17; 9/13 (E85)
Max tow rating: 9,400 lbs. w/ W-D hitch