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Robust and Substantial: 2018 Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition 4X4 Test

When you need to get something done, having the right tool is essential. You can’t use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten a flat-head screw. A crow bar is useless when the job calls for a pair of needle-nose pliers.

It’s the same way with vehicles. Sure, you can haul certain things, such as mulch and certain building supplies, in a car, but what if you need to buy some sheetrock and carry it back to your house? Good luck strapping it to the roof of a sedan. For work like that, you need a truck.

Like tools, pickups come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ford calls its collection of trucks the F Series. There’s the F-150 for regular projects. For large, heavy loads, there’s the Super Duty. Pretty soon, the Ranger will be returning to the U.S. market to help those who need to get things done, but don’t need a truck the size of the F-150.

Chevrolet and GMC have a similar lineup of trucks. The Colorado/Canyon twins offer gas and diesel power in a midsize package. For bigger jobs, you can upgrade to the Silverado 1500 or Sierra 1500. Both of those nameplates are also available in 2500 and 3500 form.

The RAM truck portfolio includes the new-for-2019 1500 and the Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 pickups. The 2500 Power Wagon is perfect for work in remote regions that can only be reached by traversing rough terrain.

Think of Nissan’s assortment of pickups as a family. The Frontier may be the oldest member of it, but the Titan is its big brother in terms of size and strength. Several weeks ago, we brought you our review of the 2018 Frontier Midnight Edition, a special version of the midsize truck with a variety of blacked-out exterior accents, and we recently tested a 2018 Titan SL 4X4 that shared its sibling’s taste in fashion.

2018 Nissan Titan

2018 Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition Exterior

The Midnight Edition package is new to the Titan and Titan XD model lines for 2018. It’s available on two- and four-wheel-drive Crew Cab SV and SL trucks and gives them a cool, custom look. Our Gun Metallic test truck featured a variety of darkened exterior parts, including the mesh in its grille, automatic LED headlights, mirror caps, door handles, 20-inch wheels, step rails, and even badges.

Our Titan’s 5.5-foot bed was equipped with a spray-on bedliner, a 120-volt power outlet, LED lighting, Nissan’s Utili-track cargo management system with four adjustable tie-down cleats, and an optional electronically lockable tailgate. An optional rear bumper step on the driver’s side made getting into the cargo box easier; a pair of outboard Titan Boxes offered rain-proof storage solutions.

2018 Nissan Titan

2018 Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition Interior

The inside of our press loaner was dark and mysterious, just like the exterior. The seats were covered in black leather with contrast stitching. The Midnight Edition Package added glossy charcoal trim on the dashboard.

By mounting the shifter on the steering column, Nissan freed up room in the space between the heated front seats. A small slot at the front of the center tunnel was the right size to hold a smartphone. The deep bin in front of it allowed us to change the position of the two front cupholders (there were two more closer to the passengers in the back row). There was even more storage space in the center console compartment.

We used the seven-inch touchscreen to do things such as check the weather and local fuel prices on SiriusXM Travel Link and enter a destination on the navigation system. Large knobs allowed us to change radio stations and adjust the volume of the bass-rich, 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system.

Legroom in the second row was abundant. Trays below the 60/40 flip-up rear seats offered storage space for small items. Folding out the panels on top of those compartments created a flat platform, which was perfect to put large loads of groceries on.

2018 Nissan Titan

2018 Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition Performance

Nissan’s naturally aspirated 5.6-liter Endurance V8 sat behind our Titan Midnight Edition loaner’s body-color grille. On paper, it generates 390 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 394 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. In the real world, the Endurance V8 gives the Titan satisfying and forceful acceleration. A seven-speed auto processes that output. Our press vehicle was equipped with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive. Engaging that was as easy as turning a dial to the right of the steering wheel.

The Titan also has a bigger brother with available Cummins diesel power and greater hauling and towing capabilities. Nissan calls it the Titan XD. Like that truck, the regular Titan has steering that feels heavy – as if it doesn’t have power assistance – at parking lot speeds. Out on the road, the double-wishbone front and multi-leaf rear suspensions made the Titan feel robust and substantial, especially when we went over rough pavement. Doing that made it easy to believe the Titan weighs nearly three tons.

According to Nissan, our media special was capable of carrying 1,610 pounds of payload and towing 9,230 pounds of trailer and cargo.

The EPA had some numbers of its own for our Titan Midnight Edition: fuel economy estimates. They gave our test truck ratings of 15 city, 21 highway, and 18 combined mpg.** Over the course of our week with the Titan, we averaged 14.3 mpg.

2018 Nissan Titan

2018 Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition Safety

In addition to ABS and front, side impact, and curtain airbags, the Titan SV Midnight Edition is equipped with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Vehicle Dynamic Control, and Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. A rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors round out the Titan’s list of safety features.

2018 Nissan Titan

2018 Nissan Titan SL Midnight Edition Overall

If the Nissan Frontier’s big brother is the perfect-sized tool for you and what you need to get done, go to an AutoNation Nissan dealership to find out more about the Titan. Prices for the 2018 Titan SL start at $47,780.* Our four-wheel-drive Titan SL Midnight Edition evaluation vehicle had an as-tested price of $54,775.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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