Place Your Bets: Nissan Envisions a Loftier Titan
Nissan sales tanked in 2019, following the previous year’s lead, but the brand’s Titan pickup line performance was worse than a grade school talent audition. Changes to the Titan and Titan XD for 2020 aren’t likely to move the needle in a substantive way.
Which makes word of a potential off-road bruiser of a Titan all the more interesting.
Speaking to CarBuzz, Tiago Castro, head of light commercial vehicles for Nissan North America, replied in the affirmative when asked whether the automaker had a rival for the Ford F-150 Raptor in mind.
Actually, he replied, “Absolutely,” give or take an exclamation point.
Past attempts to deliver greater Nissan truck volume in North America has fallen flat. The Cummins 5.0-liter diesel V8 once found in the Titan XD is no more. Bodystyles and trims have fallen away as the automaker attempts to streamline production and reduce expenses via fewer build configurations. This effort isn’t relegated solely to the Titan line.
Thinking does not equal active development, so Castro’s vision of a pickup topping the already off-road minded Pro-4X trim and providing a challenger to Ford’s off-road brute could easily come to nothing. Having overhauled much of its passenger car lineup and freshed the Titan, scarce development dollars are now earmarked for crossovers and electrification. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question.
The Pro-4X could grow wilder without too much expenditure, and it would sit above the trim level in price, too. If Nissan’s not selling many pickups, it may as well sell some pricier ones. And the effort is more likely to come to fruition if Nissan engineers eschew some of the modifications Ford made to its F-150. Forget the wider body and track. Upgrade the shocks and springs, increase suspension travel, lift, etc. Chunk out the tires and add a snorkel for good measure.
A problem in making a burlier Titan lies in the model’s powerplant. For 2020, the truck makes do with a slightly upgraded 5.6-liter Endurance V8 (400 horsepower, 413 lb-ft), which is fine for domestic duties but a far cry from the Ford’s output. GMC’s premium off-road Sierra AT4 also tops those figures by a modest amount.
It’s highly unlikely Nissan would bother investing in a new mill for the Titan, given its low volume compared to Detroit Three rivals and the presumably modest take rate for a loftier, brush-busting variant. Fittingly, Castro didn’t play up the possibility too much.
“There’s an opportunity to do a bit more (than Pro4X),” he said before adding “at this point, we’re focusing on Pro4X.”
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