Road Test: 2012 Nissan Titan


Before I start this review of the 2012 Nissan Titan I need to make one thing very clear: I’m not a truck guy.

2012 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pickup

Don’t get me wrong, it sometimes seems like I spend half of every weekend roaming the aisles of Home Depot and there are plenty of times I wish I had a truck. I’ve gone through three Suburbans that I treated like trucks. It’s just that when it comes to the other 98% of my driving, I like to drive a car (or an SUV equivalent).

What's in your truck bed?

During the week I drove the Titan, I also noticed something interesting about pickup truck people. They aren’t carrying anything in the back. The bed of nearly every pickup that I saw was empty. That means while they may occasionally need to haul something, most of the time that pickup is simply their transportation.

So this review is focused on how the Titan transports people.

It’s probably not a big shock, but the Titan drives like a truck. A really big truck. My test truck was the Crew Cab 4×4 with the 5 ft 7 in cargo bed. It may not have the longest bed, but there’s nothing dainty about it. It was one of the few vehicles I’ve driven lately that didn’t have a backup camera, and there were plenty of times I really wanted one. It did have rear sonar system which sounds an alarm, but I wanted to see what I was about to hit.

Be careful before you backup!

The ride was suitably stiff for a truck. I never got the chance to load 1000 pounds of roofing shingles in the back so I can’t say if it gets better when it’s fully loaded. Going back to my point that it’s just transportation, it’s probably stiffer than I would like (an a lot stiffer than my wife would like) for cruising around town. If you really want to get carried away, you can get the Pro-4x that adds skid plates, Rancho shocks and a locking differential (among other items). Which is, ultimately, more stuff you don’t need for driving to the average workplace.

Nissan gives you only one choice for the engine. It’s a 5.6 liter, 317 hp V8 with 385 lb-ft of torque. While that’s a lot more than the baseline engines for the Chevy Silverado (195 hp V6) or the Dodge Ram (215 hp V6), it’s still way under the big dogs in the pickup world. Chevy offers a 403 hp engine, while the Ram can go up to 390 hp. Toyota isn’t far behind with a 381 hp engine, and Ford leads the way with a 411 hp motor. I guess the question is whether you need more than 317 hp. If you’re regularly hauling something big, the Nissan’s motor isn’t enough. But if you’re just using it to get to work with some light to middleweight hauling on the weekends, it should do just fine. Mileage isn’t great (12 city/17 highway). V6s from the competition will give you more MPG if that’s a priority.

Looking great since 2004

Outside, the styling is solid. That’s actually quite a compliment when you consider Nissan came out with this body style in 2004. I could be wrong but when I compare photos I don’t see that they’ve changed anything of substance since then. If you’re a real truck type then you’re probably tired of the shape. But since no manufacturer has taken a bold new direction in the last eight years, the Titan fits in well.

Inside, it’s nice but nothing close to fancy. Nissan hasn’t made much effort to make this a techno-truck. The radio has an old style monochromatic display. My test truck didn’t have the optional navigation system, so I’m not sure the display ties in when you bump up. The one annoying item was the fact that I always had to lift the right side arm rest to fasten the seat belt. I did like the fact that my Titan had the optional adjustable pedals. If you’re hauling your boat to the lake, it’s nice to make the controls fit your arms and legs.

Functional without gadgetry

Base prices range from $31,000 to $38,000 depending on the  model. My test truck was the Crew Cab 4×4 SV model and priced out at $38,920 with the SV Value and the SV Premium packages.

US News wasn’t overly impressed with the 2012 Titan. After comparing 75 reviews, the website listed it as last out of the ten trucks.. It said the Titan is not particularly inexpensive and it can’t give you options to add some serious oomph.

As for a daily driver, I think it would be great if I was driving to the construction site every day with load of tools in the back. But unless I know I’m going to be hauling something big on the weekends, it won’t be my first choice for transportation.


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