Nissan Frontier or a Nissan Titan? Should I buy a midsize or a fullsize pickup truck? We get this question nearly every day. Here is another look at the answer with a comparison of these two PRO-4X off-road pickup trucks.
We compare the two with several real-world tests: crawl ratio demonstration, turning radius test, a drag race, and loading a dirt bike in the bed. How do they stack up against each other? You may be surprised.
Naturally, the obvious difference is the over size. The Frontier is much smaller than the Titan in every dimension. It’s narrower and shorter. We were a bit surprised by the turning diameter test. On paper, the Frontier has a 43.33 ft turning circle when compared to a 48 ft wall-to-wall turning for the Titan. However, our Titan PRO-4X beat the Frontier in our real-world 180-degree turn demonstration. The Titan’s turning diameter rating is competitive in the segment. For example, the Ford F-150 crew is rated at a 47.8 ft diameter.
These are off-road focused trucks, so how slow do they crawl in 4LO and in first gear? WE did our first ever crawl ratio race. The Frontier was victorious here by a significant margin. Nissan rates the Frontier 6-speed manual transmission at a final crawl ratio of 42.33 to 1. The Titan 7-speed automatic is at 38.99 to 1. The higher the ratio, the lower the off-road speed, the more control over rocks and tough obstacles. (Note: Frontier with the 5-speed automatic has a less effective crawl ratio of 33.86 to 1.) The manual transmission is better in this case.
What about fuel economy? Neither one of these trucks are kings of fuel efficiency, but the most interesting points are: the 6-speed manual transmission makes the Frontier more efficient than the automatic; the Titan PRO-4X has a slightly worse MPG rating than a regular Titan 4×4.
The new Titan offers much higher payload and towing capability over a comparable Frontier, but the efficiency is approximately the same. In this case, the Frontier crew 4×4 is rated at 992 lbs of max. payload and 6,200 lbs of max. towing. The Titan crew 4×4 PRO-4X is rated at 1,322 lbs of payload and 9,200 lbs of towing.
How much utility does it truck offer? We loaded a KTM Enduro 690 dirt bike in the back of each truck, and the large dual-sport bike fit diagonally in the Titan’s bed with the tailgate closed. We could not do the same in the Frontier. Take a look at the video.
Naturally, the Frontier is a smaller and lighter truck and offers better visibility, but it is still no match to raw acceleration of the big 5.6L V8 in the Titan. The Titan’s 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque blew past the Frontier’s 4.0L V6 with 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque in our drag race (see video).
At the end of the day, both Tommy and I liked the Frontier better for daily use. The manual transmission makes the truck more fun. Frontier’s much lower price made it even more desirable. The Frontier crew PRO-4X has a sticker price of nearly $34,000. The new Titan crew PRO-4X starts near $46,000.
At the end of the day, the midsize versus fullsize truck decision comes down to how heavy you plan to haul or tow. If you are towing a smaller camper or a boat that weighs 5,000 lbs or less, then the midsize truck is adequate. As soon as you need to tow over 5,000 lbs, then the full-size truck becomes a necessity.