(Review) The 2021 Nissan Titan Pro4X is an Unsung Hero – On and Off-Road

2021 nissan titan pro4x
image: Nissan

The 2021 Nissan Titan PRO-4X is an outstanding, versatile, but slightly flawed truck.

On paper, the 2021 Nissan Titan Pro4X is more than competitive with other trucks in the same category, which is the most competitive segment out there. In over 14-years, Nissan has proven that they know how to build a rugged, strong half-ton truck. Sure, they cannot hope to compete with a variety of the big boys like Ford and GM, but they still manage to take them on.

On more than one occasion, I seriously considered buying a Titan Pro4X for my personal truck. Sure, it has its faults, but I have always felt like I was in on a secret. This is a gem that no many are buying, which is a shame. After a major refreshing for 2020, the 2021 model we just tested received no major changes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T57fLFGxGCE

Engine and transmission

The 2021 Nissan Titan Pro4X comes with only one engine and transmission combination. Slightly updated this year, the Titan comes standard with the 5.6-liter V8 that makes a maximum of 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. It’s hooked up to Nissan’s new nine-speed automatic transmission.

This is an outstanding combination. It is quick to accelerate, easy to modulate (especially off-road) and it returns 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. We tested this setup about a year ago and it performed as advertised on our long mpg loop. Sure, you lose a few horsepower if you use lower octane fuel, but it’s hard to tell the difference.

The less powerful (but just as capable) GM 5.3-liter and the Ford 5.0 V8s are slightly more efficient.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibTYoJHsiAE

Interior and Safety

The 2021 Nissan Titan standard equipment such as an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Interior components are (for the most part) well laid out. Seating from the base model S to top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve is comfortable and supportive, for large folks.

There are a few issues:

The control layout and the function of the touch screen fall behind the “Big Three.” I was disappointed with the cheap feeling, hard door plastics. It would be fine on a base model, but not on a $60,000+ truck. Also, the side mirrors seem a bit small.

Standard safety equipment is impressive. According to Nissan, the 2021 Titan has the most standard safety technology in its class. Safety Shield 360 comes standard with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning. It also comes with rear automatic braking (automated emergency braking) and blind-spot monitoring – among other safety features.

Handling, Towing and Hauling

On the streets, the Nissan Titan is one of the best handling half-ton trucks out there, but the ride is on the choppy side. Still, it’s usually quiet, except when you flog it. That’s when you hear the glorious sound of that V8. The power is excellent and it’s athletic doing basic commuting. Occasionally, I felt a clunk come from the rear end when the nine-speed down-shifted, but it never affected the performance.

The Nissan Titan Pro4X can haul up to 1,650-lbs and it has a 9,210 maximum tow rating – depending on how it’s equipped. Those numbers fall a bit short of the 10,000+ lbs some competitors can pull. Still, the beefier Titan XD has no problem with pulling over 10K-lbs.

Thanks to its new 9-speed automatic transmission, the Titan is a more confident tow machine. It hunts for gears less often and has much smoother shifting points, over the previous 7-speed automatic.

Nissan lacks the multitude of trailer assist packages offered by others. The do provide great camera setups, which help; but it falls short of the array of systems provided by GM, Ram and Ford.

Off-road capability

The Pro4X package gives you Bilstein shocks, General Grabber off-road tires, skid plates, unique graphics, and a few interior touches. On top of that, and unlike Toyota and GM, you get an electronically locking rear differential. With the exception of the Raptor and TRX, this combination makes the Pro4X hold its own against all of the competition in the rough.

Articulation is not too bad, but it could be better.

Nissan’s camera system can help novice off-roaders with slow-speed maneuvering. It also has a handy front camera that can be triggered at slow speeds, helping with obstacles. Left in 4×4-low (there are only basic off-road settings), the Titan has little problem powering over obstacles. Once again, the engine is a gem, with great low-end torque – great for off-road hounds.

There are two off-road issues:

It has the worst approach angle in its class and the ground clearance is not stellar. The Titan Pro4X has a 22.8-degree approach angle, a 26.8-degree departure angle, and 9.8-inches of ground clearance. Our long term Trail Boss has a 28.7-degree approach angle, a 27.2-degree departure angle, and 10.9-inches ground clearance. As a result, the Titan’s belly and nose can get pounded when going over tougher obstacles.

The General Grabber APT tire package is one of the less aggressive out there off-road. It’s quite good on the road, snow, and on ice, but it doesn’t have the bite of many competitors off-road. To be honest, it looks kind of plain – especially compared to the Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs and the BFG K02s.

Nissan Titan XD

You may be wondering about the “other” big truck Nissan builds, the Nissan Titan XD. I refuse to classify it as an almost 3/4-ton truck, or an inbetweener. To me, it has always been a heavy-duty half-ton truck – period. That’s especially true now. When Nissan ditched the unpopular Cummins diesel V8 that was available in the XD, they opted to simplify things. The new Titan XD shares the same engine as the half-ton.

Still, it IS a heavy-duty half-ton, so it has a super beefy frame and a longer wheelbase. It’s not as sprightly, or efficient as the half-ton, but it is a fantastic hauler.

Say what you want about Nissan XD – but I know they build a hell of a good truck. When properly equipped, it can (easily) tow 11,040-lbs. Maximum payload tops out at an impressive 2,398-lbs. Once again, when properly equipped.

Still, in our experience, the XD has excellent towing performance and it is one of the top in its class – IF you consider it a “heavy-duty half-ton.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiRWIaT832k

Pricing and warranty

The 2021 Nissan Titan Pro4X we recently tested came in at about $61,000 – loaded with a ton of options. The Pro4X starts at about $50,000. A base model, 2WD king-cab Titan V8 starts at $36,190. Is it too pricy? The big boys offer a much less expensive base truck; however, those are stripped haulers with weaker V6 engines. A base model 2021 Ford F-150 King Cab XL with a 5.0-liter V8 (which is a close competitor to the Nissan V8) starts at over $37,000.

Nissan says the Titan has the best limited-warranty in the United States. It’s a bumper-to-bumper limited warranty for five years or 100,000 miles. 

Verdict

Sure, the 2021 Nissan Titan Pro4X has a few flaws, but the powertrain alone is worth your consideration. I do wish they would drop their prices across the board. The Titan can keep up with all of the competition, and it has its own swagger. On and off-road, it was confident and fun to drive, which makes it a hero in my book.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.