Place Your Bets: Nissan Envisions a Loftier Titan

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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.”

[Image: Nissan]

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  • CannonShot CannonShot on Feb 11, 2020

    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.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Feb 11, 2020

      "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.

  • 0Gravity 0Gravity on Feb 12, 2020

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

    • SSJeep SSJeep on Feb 12, 2020

      Agreed, and not just copying the F150 but also making a truck with reliability that is worse than the F150, which is hard to do.

  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.
  • Inside Looking Out I did not notice, did they mention climate change? How they are going to fight climate change, racism and gender discrimination. I mean collective Big 3.