The only new half-ton truck that still comes standard with a big V8 engine isn't an American truck. It's the Nissan Titan.
Who'd a thunk it?
Some new half-tons -- the new Toyota Tundra, for instance -- don't even offer V8s anymore.
On the other hand, if you want a regular cab -- or an 8-foot bed -- the Titan doesn't offer either. And its base price ($38,310) is much higher than that of the V6-only Tundra ($35,950) and the Ford F-150 ($30,495), which is available with a regular cab -- and an 8-foot bed -- as well as a V8 engine (for just $1,995 more).
What It Is
The Titan is Nissan's half-ton/full-size pickup. It comes in King (two standard-sized doors up front, and two smaller doors for the back) and Crew (four full-size door) cab configurations.
The King cab comes standard with a 6.5-foot bed; the crew has a 5.5-foot bed.
All versions come standard with the same 5.6-liter V8 engine, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. A part-time 4WD system with low-range gearing is available with all trims except the Pro-4X, which comes with it (plus a locking rear diff) standard.
Prices start at $38,310 for the base S trim King Cab with 2WD and the 6.5-foot bed. Adding 4WD bumps the MSRP up to $41,570.
The Crew Cab version starts at $40,080 for the S trim with 2WD and the shorter 5.5-foot bed. The Pro-4X version -- which comes standard with 4WD, as well as various off-road upgrades, such as heavy-duty Bilstein shocks, skid plates and tow hooks -- lists for $51,200.
The luxury-trimmed Platinum Reserve Crew Cab comes with 20-inch wheels, heated leather seats (including the rear seats), chromed running boards, two-tone paint schemes and a 12-speaker, 485-watt Fender audio system. This one is available with 4WD ($60,280) or without ($57,000).
SV trims now come standard with a 9-inch LCD touchscreen, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Big V8 is standard.
All trims tow at least 9,000 pounds.
Analog rather than LCD instrument cluster.
What's Not So Good
Big truck, smallish bed.
No regular cab option.
Big V8 has big thirst.
Under The Hood
Every Titan comes with the same 5.6-liter, 400 horsepower V8. It is the biggest -- and strongest -- standard engine in the half-ton class, and not by a little bit. Rivals like the Ram 1500, Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado all come standard with V6 engines, and the strongest of them -- the 3.6-liter V6 that is standard equipment in the Ram -- only makes 305 horsepower.
And nowhere near the Nissan V8's 413 foot-pounds of torque.
This is why the Titan has the highest standard tow rating in the class -- 9,050 pounds -- and the quickest standard 0-60 time (7.2 seconds).
On The Road
The Titan feels like the truck it is from the moment you light up the big V8, which emits a healthy bark through the twin pipes out back. As you drive, there is that comforting down-low bass vibrato that only a big V8 makes.
It is a heavy thing -- another good thing for a truck. Body on frame and steel (not aluminum) body equals 5,594 pounds for the base King Cab 4x2. With 4x4, the curb weight rises to 5,711 pounds. This is several hundred pounds heavier than some of the alloy-bodied competition; a Ford F-150 regular cab 4x2 weighs just over 4,000 pounds. It gives the Titan a heft that is lacking elsewhere.
Also, confidence, because you know that if a deer bounds out of the brush, it's not going to crumple most of the front end. That matters on the job site and off-road, too. Back into or bump into something with an aluminum-bodied truck and the results will be expensive. In a steel-bodied truck, it'd be less so, as well as the damage because steel is harder to bend than aluminum.
At The Curb
The longest bed you can get is 6.5 feet, with the King Cab. The Crew Cab comes with a 5.5-foot bed.
Another thing you can't get is a regular cab.
This lack of configurability is the current Titan's biggest weakness as a truck. It is probably the case that Ford, GM and Ram continue to dominate the truck market because their trucks are available in various cab/bed configurations to suit the needs and wants of practically any buyer.
The same goes for engines. The V8 is wonderful, but there's no other option. Not everyone needs a V8. Having a V6 (and a lower price) would certainly result in more Titans on the road.
On the upside, the Titan is not afflicted with the over-tech that plagues the newer trucks. There is a touchscreen, but it's not a massive glowing distraction in the dash. The gauges in front of the driver remain analog. Most of the important everyday controls such as the AC/heat and radio controls are physical knobs rather than digital swipes.
Everything's straightforward and easy-to-use, as it ought to be in a truck.
There are also some welcome Before Time features, such as a 12V power point for powering older-type accessories such as radar detectors, and a standard three-across bench seat.
It is probable that the current Titan will be the last half-ton truck to come standard with a V8. When the next-generation Titan comes out -- possibly next year -- it will likely follow in the path of the others and use turbos to augment the power of sixes, which may be the only engine you'll be able to get in a next-generation Titan.
The Bottom Line
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
Eric's latest book, "Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate, Inc.