Behind the Wheel

2021 Nissan Titan Review: Looks good but isn't keeping pace with the competition

The 2021 Nissan Titan is a good daily driver.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

It's not the most powerful, for full of the most advanced technology, or capable of driving itself down the highway. But, the 2021 Nissan Titan has the most standard power, technology, and safety features in its class. Is that enough?

On the outside, the Titan is a beefy creature. Its mid-generation upgrade last year took care of that. With its Lava Red accents and black trim pieces, the Titan PRO-4X looks sportier than the S, SL, SV, and Platinum Reserve models.

The Nissan gets its power from a 5.6-liter V8 engine that produces 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, making it the best-in-class standard powertrain. Nissan says premium fuel is required to hit those numbers, however. Off the line, the truck is strong but midway through its gears, the Titan can't quite find its powertrain sweet spot.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X The Titan PRO-4X stands out on the road thanks to Red Lava and black accents. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The truck's engine doesn't make it the most capable full-size truck on the market today, nor does it make it the most efficient. Trailer sway control is standard and a trailer brake controller is available.

Nissan has made the truck's interior perfectly adequate as well, nice even. As tested in the PRO-4X trim level, the Titan had suitable appointments for its price tag, nicer than the Chevrolet Silverado but not as upscale as what you'll find in the Ram 1500. Its seating is spacious enough for adults, but not as roomy as what you'll find in some truck cabins.

On the center of the dashboard is a nine-inch infotainment touch screen. The screen is receptive but the look of its interface is not as attractive as what you'll find in the Ford F-150. A a seven-inch programmable information display sits in front of the driver; it's bigger than what you'll find in most other trucks. There's some tech extras including NissanConnect and a Fender premium audio system that are available making the truck thoroughly modern.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X The Titan PRO-4X also has red-orange accents in the cabin. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Thoroughly modern is not advanced, however. Despite being equipped with standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 (a suite that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking (a class-exclusive), the Titan doesn't have the hands-free driving capability that is coming the Ford F-150, nor does it have the type of multi-angle camera tech that is available on the Chevrolet Silverado trucks.

Nissan's infotainment system also isn't the freshest looking, though completely functional. When compared to the smooth and sleek graphics of the systems now in Ford and Stellantis vehicles, Nissan's looks like it was designed by someone without advanced training.

Whether or not you should test drive the Titan comes down to how you answer a few questions:

  • How much do you usually tow/haul?
  • Do you prefer safety technology that interferes with your daily drive or do you prefer tech that demands more driver control?
  • How important are the finer things in life to you?
Other trucks tow/haul more. The F-150 will have more invasive safety tech, and the Ram has a nicer interior. If you're looking for a full-size truck that is well-rounded, comfortable, and leaves the driving up to you, the Nissan Titan is worth a test drive.

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The 2022 Frontier gets a brand-new face and updated tech.

Nissan

After 16 years on sale in its current form, the Nissan Frontier is a familiar face on our roads. The truck, which is technically old enough to get a driver's license and drive itself, is being totally overhauled for 2022, and the new look is a big departure from the ute we've seen for so many years. Nissan announced that production has started, so we don't have much longer to wait to see it in action for ourselves.

The new truck's 3.8-liter V6 has already been in action powering the 2021 Frontier. It produces a class-leading 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, and sends its power to either the rear or all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.


2022 Nissan Frontier Production is underway in Mississippi.Nissan


This is the first new Frontier we've seen in over a decade, so the upgrade in technology is steep over the previous truck. The 2022 Frontier can be optioned with a surround-view camera system with off-road mode that automatically displays terrain around the truck when it's shifted into 4LO. The system displays guidelines and can help the driver navigate tough obstacles on the trail. A host of safety features will be available that includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings, high beam assist, and more.

Other than its age, there was nothing particularly wrong with the previous Frontier's interior, but the new truck looks to be considerably more upscale and modern. Various trims come with interesting contrasting color schemes and the truck gets Nissan's excellent Zero Gravity seats as standard. New hydraulic cab mounts should help quell vibrations inside, and traditional hydraulic power steering will provide excellent steering feel and feedback.

Nissan is building the new frontier in its Canton, MS facility, while the truck's engine is being built at the automaker's powertrain plant in Tennessee. We'll start seeing the new model on dealers' lots sometime in late summer 2021, and you can find a first drive review of the truck right here in a few weeks.


2022 Nissan Frontier The new trucks will arrive on dealers' lots later this summer.Nissan

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The Nissan Pathfinder is just at home on the trial as it is on the road.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The message is about making choices and, how the road taken made all the difference. Often in life and on the road, we have to make one choice. Take one road. No turning back. I thought of this poem on my recent test drive in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder in the hinterlands of Montana, when I could take two different roads—paved and dirt—and that made all the difference!

Nissan has redesigned and retooled its fifth-generation Pathfinder instilling greater latitude for buyers who want to travel both types of roads and expand their adventure footprint. After seven decades of off-road development, 35 years in the business of selling Pathfinders, and with more than 1.8 million sold in the U.S., this Japanese automaker has moved the needle with a ground-up revision of the previous-gen model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a capable off-roader.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The full-sized sport utility is available in four trims (S, SV, SL and Platinum) and two- and four-wheel drive versions; Nissan expects that nearly 60 percent of buyers will choose four-wheel drive. The Pathfinder is in a segment that has grown larger each year as more families want a vehicle for around-town, school and playdate runs and for weekend getaways with traction technology that allows travel in the backcountry and good towing capability. Direct competitors are the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

A day-long drive of approximately 150 miles on tarmac and over a variety of dirt roads and tracks provided the opportunity to assess the Pathfinder's updates. A late-spring snowstorm added slickness to all the road surfaces in the region and allowed the Pathfinder to show off its traction capabilities at both slow and higher speeds and with lane change and emergency-braking maneuvers, when towing. I concentrated my evaluation on the augmented hardware and software designed to enhance the crossover's capabilities for backcountry travel and towing.

What I found most notable over every road surface was the comfortable ride and responsive handling that come from a collection of upgrades—and, in particular, as a result of the following: the gearing on the new nine-speed transmission, with paddle shifters for personal and more precise shifting for sport driving and slowing over rough terrain; the new terrain mode system that's engineered for different driving conditions; the four-wheel drive system that moves torque more quickly to avoid wheel slip; the improved suspension system; and new tires with a larger contact patch and more aggressive tread pattern, among other changes.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Pathfinder provided sure-footed motoring and comfort over uneven surfaces. Its 7.1 inches of ground clearance easily maneuvered over the small obstacles on the trail and hill descent control took the reigns without hesitation for steeper and longer downhills on traction-compromised surfaces.

I was also impressed with the Pathfinder's towing competence and appreciated the standard trailer sway control onboard all trims. It offered notably strong, mannered acceleration from a standing start and excellent straight-line braking without porpoising for either exercise.

The new 2022 Pathfinder brings off-road and towing attributes that are important to families who are seeking to spend time in the backcountry for days trips and longer and for overlanding in terrain that doesn't require a true off-road vehicle with a low range. It's will appeal to buyers who want don't want to have to choose only one road.

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