For many years, domestic truckmakers owned the half-ton pickup truck market, with no competition from the imports. It was widely thought that a company like Nissan couldn’t compete in that market, but oh how wrong those pundits were.

The 2014 Nissan Titan is a very nice full-size pickup that deserves to be seriously considered by any truck shopper interested in an extended-cab or crew-cab configuration.

The first hurdle for some truck buyers will be the badge. Once a prospective new-truck buyer has decided to look at more than just Chevrolet, Ford and Ram pickups, the Nissan Titan will stand up favorably in the group. The Nissan Titan wasn’t built to compete directly against the American truck offerings, but more as an alternative to them. It comes standard with a 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. It’s very roomy inside the cab, and its comfort is right up there with the best.

With the highly anticipated redo of the 2016 Titan scheduled to make an appearance at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in January, there must be some consideration as to whether you should buy now or wait to see the new iron. That, of course, is up to you and your immediate (or not) needs for a new pickup. Rumors, however, say that the new Titan will have an available regular cab and an optional V-6 (gas or diesel) engine.

Exterior & Styling
Underneath a Titan Pro-4X, skid plates protect the oil pan, fuel tank, transfer case and lower radiator as part of that trim’s off-roading equipment. The package also includes a moonroof, navigation system and heated leather seats, as well as memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and power-adjustable pedals.

The small, lockable storage space behind the rear wheels on the outside of the bed is brilliant. I stored tie-downs and a trailer hitch there during my test. Why not put one on the other side too?

I appreciated the powerful cargo light on the back of the cab many times as I loaded up the truck at night.

How It Drives
On long drives, you’ll be very satisfied with the Titan. It rides smoothly and handles bumps well, and the cushy yet taut seats help absorb minor road vibrations.

Our biggest problem was while going slow and turning, as you would while weaving your way to the exit in a parking lot. The combination of shock absorbers that seemed a little too eager to get the truck back up to level after initiating a turn and the somewhat-touchy throttle response just off idle led to the type of herky-jerky situation that causes your spouse to spill a full coffee and glare at you for driving that way. It takes a while to get to the point where you drive through parking lots like you have an egg under your throttle foot.

Being a higher trim level, my Titan had two bucket seats up front. The S trim level has a front bench, making for a total seating capacity of six. While I thought that the Titan’s interior was extremely comfortable, I got annoyed with the seat belt buckle position: It’s too close to the seat and dug into my hips, plus it’s hard to find. I don’t understand why the seat bases aren’t wider, as there’s room for expansion. Even my smaller-framed passengers commented on this.

I liked the center armrests on the seats, which allowed the passenger to access the center console without disturbing the driver. Of course, this takes up a bit of space. The power rear window is also a nice convenience to have. Just push a button and you have fresh air.

I really liked the optional small bins under the backseat; they make for a great place to store things you don’t want prying eyes to see.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The Titan is well-thought-out and planned. Never do you think, “Now why would they put that button THERE?” You get all the information you need — except that I wish it displayed the outside temperature somewhere (in the mirror would be nice). Just like Nissan’s Frontier, the controls are extremely easy to use and well-positioned.

The bed is excellent, with tie-downs that slide forward and back in a track. The bed extender is very helpful for some things, like when you want to throw a single ice chest in the bed and don’t want it sliding all around. When your load up the bed, too, with things like motorcycles and thus need to have the tailgate down, the extender keeps everything inside the bed. But there are also times when it’s a pain. Say you want to throw a couple sheets of drywall in the bed real quick. The bed extender can’t be moved up and out of the way; it has to be removed. That isn’t always convenient, and I was often nervous that I was going to drive away without putting it back on. I wish the extender had a way of locking in the up position during loading.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 2014 Nissan Titan received scores of good in the front (moderate-overlap) crash test and in head restraint and seat evaluations. The Titan hasn’t been tested for side impacts like the Ford, Honda and Toyota full-size trucks have (all those trucks earned results of good). Those three also scored good for roof strength, a gauge of rollover protection. The Titan scored acceptable in that test. The Ram 1500 was rated marginal.

Maybe the best safety feature on the Titan is its excellent braking system, which brings everything to a halt with no drama.

As an older model, the Titan offers no standard backup camera (athough it is offered on the Pro-4X package) and none of the active-safety features newer trucks have begun to incorporate, such as blind spot and collision warning systems.

See all the Titan’s safety features here.

Value in Its Class
You might expect an underdog contender to be priced lower, but the Nissan Titan is no cheaper than the Chevy, Ford or Ram half-ton pickups, with a starting price of $30,455 including destination charge. In fact, the extended-cab Titan is a few more dollars than the Ram 1500 Quad Cab (which has a noticeably larger cab area). The Titan’s value will likely be in the eyes of potential buyers who already have had excellent import-car experiences. Let’s say you’ve been a Nissan Maxima owner for years or you have a Pathfinder SUV. When it’s time to move up to a full-size pickup, the Nissan Titan will be very familiar to you.

Although number crunchers can still make the case that the Titan’s sales haven’t made a dent in the domestic market (the Titan sold 0.02 percent as many half-ton trucks as Ford, for example), the fact that the Titan is an attractive alternative has allowed it to survive since its introduction in 2003.

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