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Wilsonville, Oregon 97070

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Base Price (MSRP):$27,710.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $40,175.00
2012 Nissan Titan
View The 2012 Nissan Titan Specifications
Review by: New Car Test Drive
Bold style backed by big capabilities. 

Model Lineup
The 2012 Nissan Titan comes in 14 versions. The King Cab, with its rearward-opening doors, is available in S, SV, and PRO-4X trim levels. The Crew Cab, with its full four-door configuration, is available in S, SV, PRO-4X, and SL trim. The PRO-4X models are available only with four-wheel drive; all the others offer a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. King Cab versions have a cargo bed that measures 79.1 inches long. Crew Cab models offer a cargo bed of 67.3 inches. Crew Cab SV is available with a long bed that measures 87.0 inches.

Titan King Cab S ($27,710) comes with cloth seating for six, 60/40 split fold-up rear seats, basic instrumentation, and 18-inch steel wheels. Titan Crew Cab S ($30,260) adds power windows and door locks. The S Popular Equipment Package for King Cab ($1,090) and Crew Cab ($1,140) adds alloy wheels, overhead console, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, sliding rear window on King Cab, remote keyless entry on Crew Cab, Class IV hitch receiver and seven-pin wiring harness, along with pre-wiring for a trailer brake controller. Accessories for S-models are limited to splashguards ($120), a rear bumper step assist ($225), all-season floor mats ($75), a towing package ($290), and bedliner ($340).

Titan SV King Cab ($29,710) 2012 Nissan Titan and Titan SV Crew Cab ($31,910) upgrade with alloy wheels, chrome bumpers, upholstery and seating upgrades, a CD changer with MP3 playback, power mirrors, tailgate assist, sliding rear window, and conveniences such as remote keyless entry and illuminated visor mirrors. A long bed for SV Crew Cab is $450-480. The SV Value Truck Package ($1,300-1,350) includes cloth captain's chairs, eight-way power driver's seat, fog lights, Bluetooth, floor mats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, rear proximity sensors, and other features. The SV Premium Utility Package ($1,910) includes a Rockford Fosgate audio system, XM Satellite Radio, power-adjustable pedals, HomeLink garage-door opener, dual power and heated extendable tow mirrors, and a lot of utility features, including the Utili-track Bed Channel system, spray-on bedliner, lockable bedside storage, front tow hooks, a lower axle ratio for better pulling power, and other worthwhile items. The SV Utility Package ($950) includes the cargo-bed-related items from the Premium Utility Package. The list of available accessories expands to include a utility accessory package ($345), and an iPod interface ($270).

New for 2012 is the SV Sport Appearance Package ($2,490), which combines a dark-silver grille finish with body-color bumpers, black step rails, fog lights, special graphics, and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Inside are embroidered captain's chairs, a center console, 8-way power for the driver's seat, steering wheel audio controls, rear parking sonar, Bluetooth and special floor mats.

Titan PRO-4X King Cab ($35,440) and PRO-4X Crew Cab ($37,640) come standard with four-wheel drive and wider off-road tires, off-road suspension tuning, 3.36:1 axle gears, electronic locking rear differential, skid plates, body-color bumpers, unique upholstery, additional instruments, and double sun visors. Otherwise the PRO-4X is similar to the SV in level of trim. Options include the Premium Utility Package ($1,560) with Rockford Fosgate sound system and bed equipment, and a Luxury Package ($2,230) that includes leather upholstery, heated front seats and memory for the driver's seat, pedals and outside mirrors. Crew Cab offers a Technology Package ($3,000) of moonroof, navigation, and rear-seat entertainment.

Titan SL Crew Cab ($40,510) features heated leather seats, a 350-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system with XM radio, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, woodgrain trim, Bluetooth, double overhead consoles, 20-inch wheels, fog lamps, and chrome power folding heated mirrors. Options include the Technology Package ($3,000), which includes a power moonroof, navigation, and DVD system; and the SL Max Utility Package ($500), which adds towing and utility enhancements.

Safety features include frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, active front head restraints, and electronic stability control with traction control.


Walkaround
Everything about the appearance of the Nissan Titan is big and bold, from the expanse of chrome on the bumper and grille to the creased fenders. It fills up its space on the road and you won't mistake it for something else. This is a big, brawny pickup and looks it.

The Titan delivers a high level of function. Maximum payload tops 2,000 pounds on certain versions. Properly equipped Titans are rated to tow up to 9,500 pounds. The King Cab 2WD is rated for 7,400 pounds. Available towing features include extendable dual-element mirrors, a transmission temperature gauge, lower axle ratio, and other items. Also available is a cargo track retention system (bed sides and floor). An innovative storage box in the rear fender is ideal for wet tow straps, chains or tie-down straps. The locking tailgate is damped and assisted for easy open and close. This truck has been built for work.

King Cab versions have a cargo bed that measures 79.1 inches long (almost seven feet). Crew Cab models offer a shorter cargo bed, due to their longer body length, of 67.3 inches, which is a little less than six feet. The Crew Cab SV trim level is the only one available with a choice of a longer cargo bed that measures 87.0 inches, which is slightly over seven feet. However, the longer cargo bed comes with a wheelbase that is also about 20 inches longer, at 159.5 inches compared to 139.8 inches for the Crew Cab with the shorter bed, and that longer wheelbase could definitely hinder maneuverability in tighter spots.

The grille and the mid-section of the front bumper can be body-color or chrome, depending on trim level and option packages. With the new Sport Appearance package, the bumpers remain body color but the grille is finished in Dark Hyper Silver, a tone we've heard hot rodders call (more accurately, we think) black chrome. The 20-inch wheels (shod with P275/60R20 black-sidewall tires) are finished similarly. A dark gray stripe at the top of the pickup box provides visual balance (it's kinda the same color, too), while tubular black side steps underline the whole ensemble. In all, it's a very successful look.


Interior Features
The cabin serves very well for truck duty yet with comfort and convenience. It's refined and is in every way a nice place to be for traveling, whether it's to the job site or towing the boat to the lake.

Dash and door panels are easy to wipe off plastic yet do not give the impression of cost-cutting in materials. The instrument layout provides complete information and has a coherent, sophisticated look. On PRO-4X models the gauges are white-faced and sporty. SL models have enough wood-like acreage to fit in a luxury utility. The Titan can be equipped with a six-person bench seat interior or with captain's chairs in front for a five-seat capacity. Our only complaint, and it's a little one, is the tilt-and-telescoping steering column adjustment that is spring-loaded and requires you to tilt-and-telescope the wheel with one hand 2012 Nissan Titan while the other holds the release.

Sport Appearance models share the power-adjustable, embroidered-upholstery captain's chairs and white-faced gauges of the PRO-4X, a

You sit high and comfortable in the Titan, not squeezed but not loosely floating about. Visibility is excellent to all corners, although shorter drivers may not like the large base on the windshield pillar. The view rearward is very good, especially with the tow mirrors. An optional rearview camera is available and we found it eased trailer hitching.

The center dash section has controls for audio, climate, navigation, and switching duty (tow mode, VDC-off, differential lock, etc.) with an integrated look. It looks good and easily provides plenty of space for things like the dual-zone climate control on SL models.

All controls are logical and sensibly arranged, although traditional pickup truck buyers who go for six seats will have to adapt to wipers and shifter on the same side of the wheel. With deep bins in the center console and smaller ones along the sides, big door and seatback pockets, and generous cup holders, you'll find a place to put virtually anything.

Entry and exit is simple. Running boards are available if you value deportment above ground clearance, but we often find running boards more in the way than helpful.

The rear doors on King Cabs swing almost 170 degrees for easy access and there's room back there for six-footers on short-to-moderate-length trips. Crew Cab rear seats are downright spacious and eclipsed only by the Toyota Tundra CrewMax.

You won't see any of the noise-reduction materials inside (unless you're under the dash installing a brake controller with the tow-package pigtail), but if you've been in an early (pre-2008) Titan you will notice the current models are much quieter and smoother.


Driving Impressions
The Nissan Titan has been recognized for its stout drivetrain. It comes standard with a 5.6-liter V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission. Although it doesn't have as much horsepower as some of the competing trucks with larger V8 choices or Dodge's Hemi, it's great on torque. We think a Titan will outrun many pickups and deliver competitive mileage to similar configurations. Only Toyota's 5.7-liter/6-speed automatic, Ford's 6.2 or twin-turbo 3.5/6-speed automatic and GM's 6.2-liter/6-speed automatic combinations challenge it. Titan's exhaust keeps the V8 rumble so adored by truck buyers while eliminating the drone that could wear on long highway trips. It sounds terrific.

Fuel economy is not great, but it's generally within one mpg of the competition and your driving style is easily responsible for three times that amount. The 2012 Nissan Titan EPA ratings are 13 mpg City, 18 mpg Highway with two-wheel drive and 12/17 mpg with four-wheel drive. If you want a vehicle with this level of capability, it will deliver this level of fuel economy.

We found the transmission responds smoothly and crisply as conditions dictate. A proper gated floor shift allows direct access to any gear without pressing any 2012 Nissan Titan buttons, and a comfortable grip and good location adjacent to the driver's leg encourages one to use it.

Four-wheel drive and low range are electrically shifted by a rotary dash knob. The electric-locking rear differential (PRO-4X only) is more effective in severe terrain than the all-wheel electronic traction control of regular 4WD Titans and most competitors. There is no automatic 4WD setting for on-road use, but if the electronic traction aids and common sense aren't enough perhaps you should be in 4WD high range.

Pickup trucks aren't held in high regard for ride comfort or handling prowess yet they have made strides in both. The longer wheelbase only betters cruising comfort but even the short-wheelbase Titans will generate no complaints, at least not from anyone who knows what a ton of payload means. Off-road biased suspension tuning with lots of travel, Rancho shocks built specifically for it, and large tires on the PRO-4X contribute to ride softness without giving up control, while the 20-inch wheel/tire combo on SL and Sport Appearance models offers crisper turn-in for cornering but transmits bumps more.

The brakes have significant swept area, a prime indicator of braking capacity, and the Titan has performed well in braking performance tests.


Final Word
The Nissan Titan boasts a robust powertrain with responsive acceleration, good brakes, a comfortable cabin and plenty of 2012 Nissan Titan feature choices. But pickups are all about carrying or towing stuff and the Titan will get those jobs done, with payload ratings that reach above 2,000 pounds, and good towing performance.

G.R. Whale filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Minneapolis.