2023 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Review - Parting Thoughts
2023 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Crew Cab
It’s the beginning of the new year as I write this, and we are being bombarded by easy-to-pen yearly listicles in the “hey, remember this B-list celebrity that died in February?” Like most, I’ll read one or two of these in my downtime out of sheer boredom, and will occasionally notice a critical reappraisal of someone’s supposed genius that wasn’t properly appreciated until they had passed.
Like people, of course, consumer products have life cycles. And while very few might shed a tear for the untimely demise of a particular flavor of dishwashing sponge, the same can’t be said of automobiles. Even the least popular mass-produced car or truck has thousands of owners across the country, and certainly, some feel a sort of kinship to the model. So even though it seems forever destined to remain in sixth place on the full-sizer sales charts, the 2023 Nissan Titan PRO-4X is worthy of reassessment.
Sixth place? Yeah, sometimes I forget about GMC, too. But if we’re looking at sales figures, the numbers are glaring. According to GoodCarBadCar.net, the Titan sold 27,406 units in all of 2021. That’s significantly fewer sales than the Ford F-150 sold in April 2020. You know, the month after the world shut down - that was Ford’s worst month in at least a decade. Supply chain problems, yadda yadda yadda, but even in Titan’s best year (2016) Nissan barely moved 53,000 units. It’s hard to get a lot of marketplace traction when your biggest competitor sells more than a dozen trucks for each one you move.
It seems that the Titan is not long for this world. It’s no longer offered in Canada. Production capacity and engineering talent are likely better served in the midsize truck market where the excellent Frontier has a fighting chance.
It’s not like Nissan doesn’t have a history in the truck market. After all, beyond the sportscar near to my heart, the various Datsun/Nissan compact pickups were instrumental in forging trust in Japanese vehicles among American buyers in the Sixties and beyond. The King Cab - an extended cab with a couple of occasional-use seats initially - foreshadowed the truck market’s transition from a simple workhorse to a do-it-all family vehicle.
The current Titan works in that context. It isn’t the flashiest full-size pickup. It doesn’t have the vast aftermarket support for those who wish to build yet another bro-dozer. But the Titan has a stout 5.6-liter V8 pumping 400 horsepower to the wheels. This PRO-4X trim - the off-road-focused model - is well equipped for most trail needs with 33” all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and a locking rear differential. If I weren’t functionally allergic to most outdoor pursuits more strenuous than a walk in a well-groomed park, I’d not hesitate to pick this Titan PRO-4X for a day that begins with a trailer and ends with me either covered in mud or smelling like fish.
After all, that V8 has a new-ish 9-speed automatic transmission that was brought out in 2020. While some may have issues with other Jatco ‘boxes, this is indeed a real gear-type automatic that is built by Jatco under license from Mercedes-Benz. Let me repeat - it is not a CVT. It shifts quite smoothly, but with authority. Once up to highway speeds, I found that it stayed in gear nicely - not hunting up and down like some transmissions do when there are simply too many ratios from which to choose.
Even with the off-road bits here, the Titan rides quite nicely. Body motions are well-controlled, and the interior is plenty comfortable and well-finished. I’m as guilty as anyone in this industry of oohing over soft plastics - but I don’t want them on the lower portions of the dashboard in a truck. I want something that will wear well for a long time, even after work and/or hiking boots have been scraped along the surfaces. The Titan does not disappoint.
No, it’s not going to be a mileage champ - it’s a box on wheels, weighing around 5800 pounds, powered by a four-cam V8. The combined fuel economy rating is 17mpg - which seems accurate based on my testing. But as the Titan is using a proven, relatively uncomplicated drivetrain, I’ve little doubt that it will last a damned long time. Other truck makers are straying from the V8 architecture with turbos and hybrids in search of additional performance and/or economy - and I’ve no issues with that. But these additional components - turbos especially - add to the potential failure points beneath the hood.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned. Maybe most truck buyers will replace their vehicles every few years and not worry about what it’s like with six digits on the odometer. But if I’m signing over a big chunk of my income every month for a new truck, I’d likely want to keep driving it long after the bank sends me the title - and of the full-sizers on the market, the 2023 Nissan Titan PRO-4X feels to me that it’d still be worth driving ten years or more from now. That’s the critical reassessment the truck market so richly deserves.
[Images: © 2023 Chris Tonn]
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Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in ebay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.
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