By on February 11, 2020


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.”

[Image: Nissan]

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14 Comments on “Place Your Bets: Nissan Envisions a Loftier Titan...”

  • avatar

    Nissan would be wise to play the price angle. In a day where a base WT stickers for $30k, swoop in with a 4 door 4×4 with a sticker of 30k and kill your competitors on price.

  • avatar

    Cancel the worthless, third rate product. It has never been even average. I was shocked at the subpar frame that they put in this thing – part full box, par t c-channel – and remarkably designed to sag over time at the junctions of both sections. I wouldn’t recommend this thing to an enemy. Buy a used Ford or Ram if you are budget sensitive.

  • avatar

    Why even bother anymore? Give this thing the Old Yeller treatment already.

  • avatar

    It’s nice Nissan keeps talking as if they’re still gonna be around in a few years time.

    • 0 avatar

      Some automaker will pick Nissan up. China picked up Volvo. India picked up JLR. Fiat picked up Chrysler (with a $1.3BILLION bribe)

      Maybe Mahindra or Proton will pick up Nissan, if France can’t get the job done.

      Even if Nissan exits the US market there are still many places to sell their cars without the burden of US mandates.

  • avatar

    Nissan lost the full size battle several years ago. I can’t imagine they will create a credible Raptor competitor. If they try it will likely fall short and not generate enough sales to justify the cost.

    I wonder if Nissan has considered selling the current frontier along the upcoming new one? The new one is bound to be quite a bit larger. There will still be some demand for the smaller one. This is the niche they should exploit.

    • 0 avatar

      “not generate enough sales to justify the cost. ”

      That’s the problem now with Nissan pickup trucks; not enough sales to justify the costs.

      Then again Nissan trucks exist solely as an alternative for buyers who choose not to buy Ford, GM, RAM or Toyota pickup trucks.

      Every Titan or Frontier sold takes away a sale of one of the other brands.

      At least Americans have a choice. It wasn’t always that way.

  • avatar

    Nissan’s worst offense with the Titan was the blatant copying of Ford’s Platinum high end model, including identical silver tailgate.

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