VERO BEACH, Fla. — If it’s been awhile since you’ve shopped for a new pickup truck, you’ll be amazed to discover that today’s midsized pickups are as large as full-size pickups from 20 years ago. Meanwhile, full-size pickups have grown larger than Mar-A-Lago. That hasn’t stopped sales from skyrocketing. One sign: Even the Nissan Titan is selling well. Still, it takes the automaker six months to sell the same number of Titans that Ford sells in a little over a week.
Battling that fierce a competitor means stepping up your game.
You remember the Titan, don’t you? It’s Nissan’s full-size pickup truck, a distant sixth in sales to the Toyota Tundra, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150. But like Toyota, Nissan is having a hard time convincing full-size domestic pickup owners to switch. Unlike car buyers, pickup buyers are fiercely loyal to their chosen brands according to a recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates. How loyal? Well consider that 61 percent of F-150 buyers wouldn’t consider anything else, and you have some idea. Other domestic brands fare similarly.
To grab buyer interest, Nissan unveiled the Titan Surfcamp concept truck last week, a Titan not offered by Nissan dealers but an example of what you can do once you buy one.
This buff beachgoer starts out life as a Titan XD Diesel Midnight Edition Crew Cab built in Canton, Mississippi. Its heart beats with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbocharged diesel V-8 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, rated to tow up to 12,640 pounds with a payload capacity of 2,420 pounds. But as its name suggests, the Midnight Edition wears a black front grille, fog lamp trim, exterior badging, mirrors, door handles, 20-inch wheels, front and rear bumpers, and black step rails. This allows it to be easily transformed into the Titan Surfcamp, with its wild surf culture exterior wrap with a retro paint inspired by the 1967 Nissan Patrol and a 1971 Hot Wheels Datsun Bluebird Wagon.
Underneath, you’ll find it’s fitted with a factory-authorized Icon suspension lift kit that adds more than 3 inches in ground clearance. This allows the Nitto Ridge Grappler tires to effortlessly eat through sand. Once ocean side, you’ll find the Surfcamp is the ultimate beach butler. Up front, a redesigned bumper has integrated fishing rod holders. There are racks for surfboards, paddleboards and fishing rod storage. The Titan’s integrated bed system provides mounting points for drawers that can hold wetsuits, fishing tackle and other gear.
Of course, as the day ends, there’s a roof-mounted solar-powered shower to wash off the sand and a teak wood deck and a 125-quart Yeti cooler for chilling with your favorite beverage. Getting tired? There’s a roof-mounted pop-up tent to catch some shuteye. In the morning, when you climb in the cab, you’ll find the interior is fitted with floor mats that collect sand and seat covers inspired by wetsuit material.
OK, you won’t find this model in your local showroom anytime soon. Like other Nissan Adventure themed concept trucks, it’s an attempt to show what can be done with after-market accessories, and a thick wallet.
Even if you don’t pop for the aftermarket goodies, you’ll find the Titan to be a worthy competitor to domestic pickups, particularly in XD form. The Cummins diesel lives up to its reputation, with plenty of grunt for yanking your favorite play toy, even though it’s no fuel economy champ. The test truck, a Titan XD Crew Cab, returned 14 mpg with lots of highway driving. That it was able to tow small house was never in doubt. Inside, the cabin boasted wide comfortable seats sheathed in butter soft leather. The cab was fitted with decadent luxury car options, such as air-conditioned seats and a 360-degree camera. That feeling was enhanced by its quiet, comfortable ride and roomy cabin. Few cars are so accommodating. That said, too many of the cabin’s switchgear comes from Nissan sedans, and their buttons are small for a pickup.
If Nissan has proven anything with the Titan XD Surfcamp, it’s that pickups are more easily customizable than cars. And when you’re done, you’ll have a vehicle that’s every bit as comfortable, yet roomier and more capable. Finally, it will last hundreds of thousands of miles, something most passenger cars struggle to match.
Given how many domestic pickups are sold, the Titan offers competitive capability and style in a rig you won’t see coming and going. And you can trim it to be your beach butler, or just your everyday four-wheeled servant, and what’s wrong with that?