I am an improbable fan of pickup trucks. I love their girth. I love their swagger. I love how driving one makes me feel like a rebel in the midst of my minivan- and SUV-packed world. I don't totally understand why pickups aren't more widely embraced by families, although I concede that poor fuel economy, intimidating size and fear of being different may contribute to their lack of popularity as family haulers. The truth is that pickups offer many of the same benefits provided by family sedans and SUVs.
It's obvious that truck beds offer lots of storage space, but what about inside the cab? The answer is yes, and in some cases lots of it. The all-new NissanTitan and Titan XD feature lots of in-cabin storage, which could be what entices families to consider a pickup as a family vehicle. With front storage increased by 33 percent and rear storage by 28 percent over the previous-generation Titan, as well as a new locking under-seat storage feature, these pickups have family game.
I tested the Titan in two four-door crew-cab forms: the heavier-duty 2017 XD diesel in the SL trim and the 2016 Pro-4X half ton. Although I loved the blue exterior and unabashed girth of the XD, it was simply more truck than my family needs. If we're considering a truck as potential family vehicle, there's no need to have one as large as this, even if it does make you feel powerful and cool. Additionally, during our relatively unscientific fuel-economy testing, the XD averaged 13.6 mpg city/highway combined and the Pro-4X averaged 17.6 mpg. Since I tend to forget about filling the tank, I'll take the extra 4 mpg.
The XD's bed was about 6.5 feet long, compared to the Pro-4X's 5.5 feet. Not surprisingly, the XD's extra foot of wheelbase (all of it in the bed length) made a significant difference in how the pickup felt to drive and maneuver through parking lots and carpool lanes. Losing a foot made no noticeable difference in terms of hauling everything a family needs on a daily basis. I was able to load up the Pro-4X with a huge pile of ski gear for my family's initial trip to the mountains this season with nary a problem. What is usually a tight squeeze in our minivan was easily accommodated by the Titan's bed.
So how about in-cabin cargo room? The Titan and Titan XD are about the same inside. Two words for the front of the cabin: console and cubbies. The center console is wonderfully vast. On Thanksgiving, it comfortably cradled the fixings for the cheese tray that I was tasked with. On our trip to the mountains, it swallowed a giant box of cheese crackers (health food for the kids), several DVDs (because we're modern) and a stack of magazines I intended to read (never did). It can even hold the largest of handbags, a feat bound to impress today's literally overburdened mother.
When it comes to handbags or purses though, the center console is not the only trick in this truck. I've taken to carrying a smaller purse because my days of being overburdened have left my shoulders whacked. Just in front of the center console is a bin deep and wide enough to handle my smaller cross-body bag, which measures about 6 by 8 inches. There are also several other cubbies: one that snugly held my phone and two lower cubbies on either side of the center stack that could hold plenty of snacks.
In the rear of the Titan crew cab, the width of the 60/40-split bench seat lends itself to three kids in booster seats beautifully. Things are spacious enough that there's not nearly as much "Get off me!" squabbling as there is in the crossovers and SUVs that I've tested.
However, seating capacity is not where the generosity of this bench seat ends. It also provides a heap of versatile storage options. You can flip up either or both sides of the seat to create an expansive, open space. Once flipped up, there's a lockable cargo organizer underneath composed of three small bins that are useful for hiding items such as extra snacks, small electronic devices or other bits of bribery to incite good behavior. I suppose you could keep things like tools or flashlights in there too. During my test week, I flipped up the larger side of the seat and filled it with a week's worth of groceries (about 12 sacks); my youngest child was able to sit safely in her booster seat with room to spare.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Titan's six cupholders and eight bottleholders. Plus, there is large glove box that offers even more space up front to stash things.
The Nissan Titan half ton is a family-friendly vehicle for my non-towing crew. We liked the slightly smaller, more maneuverable, non-diesel Titan better than the XD. It offered our family plenty of cargo space, plus the swagger that comes along with being a nonconformist parent who drives a pickup truck.
Cars.com photos by Courtney Messenbaugh