It's no secret that Nissan's full-size pickup, the Titan, hasn't exactly made its entrenched competitors quake in their boots since it debuted as a 2004 model. Despite offering a standard V8 and nifty features like the Utili-track cargo channel system in the bed, it just couldn't come close to knocking the Ford F-150 from the throne. In fact, its sales lagged all other major players in this full-size truck segment, which also includes the Chevrolet Silverado and its brand sibling the GMC Sierra, and the Toyota Tundra.

Still, Nissan isn't throwing in the towel. In fact, it's essentially doubling down on making the all-new Titan a bigger player in the full-size truck market. Over the past several months it has rolled out the second generation of its Titan lineup, starting with the model that shows the most potential -- the XD. The Titan XD, which launched late last year with a diesel V8 and more recently began offering a gasoline V8, is meant to fill what Nissan sees as "white space" in the truck market -- buyers who want more than half-ton capability but not quite a heavy-duty 3/4 or 1-ton truck. 

New configurations, new engines

Now Nissan is ready to launch the standard Nissan Titan half-ton, which debuts as a 2017 model. Like the XD, it will offer two engines, but both will be gasoline-powered - the revamped 5.6-liter Endurance V8, that does duty in XD gas models and, still to come, a V6 for the first time in Titan history. More information is still to come on the 6-cylinder Titan.

The 2017 Nissan Titan half ton will be available in several configurations, another move that Nissan hopes will spark sales, and another differentiator to the past models. The first-gen Nissan Titan was offered only in crew cab and king cab configurations. The all-new, second-gen Titan will mark another first in this pickup's life: a single-cab version. That variant of the Titan is set to arrive later this year, and will be available in both half-ton and XD form, meaning you can buy a single-cab Titan with a diesel engine. Once the V6 Titan arrives to complete the truck's long rollout, Nissan execs say its lineup will cover more than 85 percent of the truck market, essentially everything but heavy-duty and dually variants.

For now, the Titan half-ton will go on sale at the end of this month in crew cab form. Including the $1,195 destination charge, pricing ranges from $35,975 for a base S rear-wheel-drive version to over $56,000 for a top-line, 4-wheel-drive Platinum model.

Also: Class of 2017 - New Cars Ready to Roll

Competent on-road and off

We've already tested the Titan XD diesel and Titan XD gasoline models, and now we've had some seat time in the standard Titan.

The best traits about the V8 Titan half-ton are its powerful and quiet ride. That first characteristic didn't come as much of a surprise, given the 390-horsepower/394 lb-ft torque ratings from the 5.6-liter V8. We found this engine to effortlessly move the Titan XD. In the half-ton version of this truck, which rides on a completely different chassis that is both lighter and shorter, this is even more the case.

Traveling over all manner of roads and highways near Monterey in Northern California, the new Titan always seemed to have power to spare. Matched by a new, 7-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain proved smooth, capable, and even sounded good: This V8 emits a distinct and satisfying roar when you put your foot into it.

When not accelerating with vigor and enjoying the engine note, the Titan was surprisingly quiet. Nissan's efforts in this area paid off, with its use of laminated front side glass, improved body sealing and increased engine isolation. Conversations were easy in the Titan's big cabin, of which ours was fitted with premium accoutrements such as leather, high-end audio system and climate-controlled front seats.

Controls for everything from trailer sway to basic audio knobs are easy to see and reach, though the infotainment display for navigation and other functions already risks being dated. Otherwise, a lot of small things add up to a competent truck, from the damped tailgate with upward assist to the available Utili-track tie-down system and a multi-camera system that helped us navigate an off-road course -- our PRO-4X test model all but yawned as it skillfully climbed and descended steep dirt hills.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2016

Best warranty among trucks

In another move to show how serious it is about its full-size truck, Nissan also announced that all 2017 Titan models will be backed by a 5-year/100,000 mile warranty, the same as Nissan's commercial vehicles. That bumper-to-bumper warranty easily makes this best-in-class. That fact alone may be enough to sway a few buyers, while providing extra incentive for commercial fleets.

As the Titan continues its rollout to a full lineup, its competitors' features, power ratings and the like will also no doubt improve (Ford just announced all its models, including the best selling F-Series will get CarPlay and Android Auto capability, further distancing the infotainment gap between the best selling vehicle in America and Nissan's latest offering). But despite the inherent difficulty in finding new buyers in such a brand-loyal segment, we wouldn't doubt if Nissan finds more than a few. The Titan XD offerings are valuable propositions in their own right, and the Titan half-ton's class-leading warranty is a good move to win individual owners and business fleet managers seeking extra peace of mind. 


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