Few people gave Nissan much of a chance in that endeavor. Ford, for decades, had been the leader in the U.S. market with sales of its long and beloved line of F-series pickups. GM always seemed a major competitive presence with its GMC and Chevrolet Silverado trucks. And the Dodge Ram seemed determined to live up to its name, charging ahead in the truck business with a wanton determination to take market share wherever it could find it.
A newcomer breaking into that competition seemed an impossible thing. Truck ownership is like religion. There are "Ford people" and "GM people" and "Dodge people."
What the heck is a Nissan person in the truck world? Nissan answered with its full-size Titan pickup in 2003. It was an interesting piece — loaded with adjustable pickup beds not available anywhere else and with lots of new safety technology.
But it was clear that Nissan had missed two important points — quality and reliability. Parts on the new Titan, made in Canton, Miss., just didn't fit right. Some pieces — I'm thinking of some unhappy experiences with early Titan sun visors and side mirrors — just fell off. That is not the way you challenge a legend like a Ford F-series truck.
Fourteen years passed.
I had written off the Nissan Titan as an unworthy competitor. But Nissan didn't quit. It continued to improve and expand the Titan line. About a week ago, one of those new Titans, the 2017 Nissan Titan XD King Cab/Platinum Reserve, arrived in my driveway.
Hmph! If this is an example of all new Titans, competitors had better be worried. Fit and finish are excellent. Ingress and egress, aided by sturdy, easily reachable ceiling handles, are great. The quilted leather seats are the best I've used in any vehicle anywhere.
I could live in this thing! In fact, for a week, I nearly did. I simply didn't want to get out.
It is a big truck — much too big to seriously consider as a vehicle for daily use in a city or congested suburb. Keep it on a farm, ranch, construction site or some other open space where parking isn't a problem.
But, that said, you can drive across the country in the Titan XD King Cab with no difficulty. In the fully loaded and laboriously tufted Titan/Platinum Reserve, you can even sleep overnight in the thing in a safe spot — preferably a truck stop with shower facilities and a restaurant.
The Titan used for this column came with a 5.6-liter gasoline V8 (390 horsepower). A 5.0-liter diesel is available (310 horsepower), a suggested buy if you are serious about towing and hauling.
The Titan used for this column also was loaded with advanced electronic safety items — blind-side monitoring, forward collision mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert. Much of that stuff has an optional charge. It is worth it, especially on something as large as a full-size pickup.
I am pleasantly surprised. I thought Nissan would eventually bow out of the pickup market. Clearly, as evidenced by this newest of Titans, it intends to stay.
Nuts & Bolts
2017 Nissan Titan XD King Cab/Platinum Reserve
Bottom line: Ford, GM and Dodge should get accustomed to the idea of sharing space with the Titan, available in a wide variety of trim levels and configurations. Nissan is here to stay in the truck world.
Ride, acceleration and handling: The Titan, equipped with the gasoline 5.6-liter V8, is amazingly smooth and easy to handle. You'll be surprised.
Head-turning quotient: It is a big truck — the Platinum Reserve version is equipped with four full-size side doors and a pickup bed of 6 feet 5 inches.
Engine/transmission: Two engines are available — a 5.6-liter gasoline V8 and a turbocharged 5.0-liter diesel V8. The 5.6-liter gasoline engine comes with a 7-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually. The turbodiesel gets a six-speed automatic that can be operated manually.
XD King Cab capacities: Seating is for six people. Maximum payload, the weight of what can be carried onboard, is 1,970 pounds. The Titan King Cab can be equipped to tow up to 12,020 pounds. Fuel capacity is 26 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade works fine.
Real world mileage: I averaged 23 miles per gallon in highway driving.
Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; stability and traction control; post-collision safety system; and side and head air bags.
Pricing: The 2017 Nissan Titan XD/Platinum Reserve carried an opening price of $45,205 and $51,685 as equipped for this column. But Nissan dealers are pushing Titan sales hard and are offering some surprisingly low Titan discounts. It is a genuine sales war.