The 2019 Nissan Titan holds the smallest market share out of the six full-size pickups on sale here in the U.S., and after seven days and several hundred miles on- and off-road with a brand new 2019 Pro-4X model, I can say one thing for sure — this isn’t because the Titan is a bad truck. Quite the opposite in fact, as it proved to be an excellent companion on the rugged and treacherous White Rim Road in Canyonlands National Park where I put it to the test on a 4-day mountain biking trip.
Powering the 2019 Nissan Titan is a 5.6-liter V8 making 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. At no point over my time with the Titan did I yearn for more power. The exhaust note from the Titan’s V8 sounds pretty good too, from both inside and outside of the vehicle. The engine is paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission and, in Pro-4X guise, returns 15 miles per gallon in the city, 20 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in combined driving. That’s two mpg better than a comparable Toyota Tundra. That said, I only saw around 15.5 mpg over the course of my time with the vehicle.
Sure, the Titan has some shortcomings. The infotainment screen is tiny, the clunky column shifter could stand to be replaced and it lacks most of the driver-assistance features available on all of its rivals. Nonetheless, it offers a reasonably easy-to-use infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a locking rear differential and a clever kick-out step for getting into the bed. None of which is offered on the Toyota Tundra, the Titan’s most obvious rival.
For our trip, we hung at least one mountain bike over the Titan’s tailgate for the extent of the drive and loaded the bed and the rear seat area with camping gear every morning. Much of the driving was done in four-wheel drive high, but 4-low was used every day, along with the rear locker and hill-descent control, both of which came in handy. Not once was the Titan held up by an obstacle, and there were more than a few, including steep, rocky ascents, speed bump-style rollers, lots of sand and rutted out creek beds.
The Titan also included a number of features that we found useful as we essentially lived out of the vehicle for three nights. The cargo light, for which there was an on-off switch inside the cabin, was bright and helpful. The aforementioned "kick-out" step, which was located on the driver’s-side rear corner of the bed, proved extremely useful for unloading our gear at the end of the day, and for reaching up into the bed to make sure things were secure before departing the campsite in the morning. Manufacturers like Ford and GMC offer similar solutions that make truck bed ingress easier, but the simplicity of the Titan’s solution should be appreciated.
Knowing that 100 miles of off-road driving lied ahead, I opted to air down the Titan’s tires from 34 psi to 23 psi before hitting the trail. Luckily, I was able to do this accurately despite having forgotten to bring a tire pressure gauge along with me. This was thanks to the fact that the Titan’s tire pressure monitoring system displays an actual pressure readout in the gauge cluster, as opposed to simpler systems that just measure change in tire pressure. This allowed me to monitor the drop in psi as I was letting air out of the tires, despite not having a handheld reader. The Titan made things even easier when airing back up. Instead of needing to monitor the screen in the gauge cluster as I was adding air, the Titan simply beeped its horn each time a tire reached the recommended 35 psi, allowing me to move between the tires quickly and easily.
Altogether, the Titan is a challenging sell for Nissan, given the brand’s lack of cache in the full-size pickup world. This is especially true when compared to American manufacturers. That said, compared to the offerings of Ford, General Motors and Ram, the Titan offers a unique value proposition. Compare it to its natural rival, the Toyota Tundra, and the Titan is a rather compelling package for a few different reasons. Its design is significantly newer than that of the ancient Tundra, and it offers a better infotainment experience and a locking rear differential. It also makes more power than the Tundra, earns better fuel economy and the Titan’s transmission offers an additional gear. On the other hand, it lacks the driver-assistance features that come standard on the Tundra, and the Nissan doesn’t quite have the same reputation for durability that Toyota trucks have.
The Titan proved to be a great companion on White Rim, and the Pro-4X trim fit the red rock "aesthetic" quite nicely. Altogether, this made me yearn for the days when Nissan was a major player in the recreational off-road segment, and I hope they choose to re-enter the segment soon in a more formal manner, because the Titan Pro-4X is a great start.
Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. On Instagram, he is the @MountainWestCarSpotter.