By Zack Klapman.
A truck should do truck stuff, plain and simple. I’m sure the upcoming Raptor F-150 Tremor will corner great in the Home Depot parking lot, and allows men who like real sports cars to get a taste of street performance without being chased out of an intolerant county, but if I have a truck it needs to be able to fearlessly carry lots of stuff into a muddy forest. It is an axe, a tool. I don’t want a 200-year old hammer that sits on the mantel; I want a 2013 Husky I can break rocks with.
Which brings me to today’s showdown: a 2013 Nissan Titan PRO-4X CC (crew cab) vs. a 2010 Ford Raptor 6.2 (standard cab). Usually, pitting a new car against one that’s 3 years old is like a new car playing chicken with an actual 3-year old. But sadly, for Nissan, that’s not the case.
The Titan’s engine is a 5.6L V8, down on power (317hp/385tq) compared to the Raptor (411HP), but the stiffer suspension puts the power down and gives it a better ride on the road. It’s also down a gear (5 to the Ford’s 6), but it blips on downshifts, a valuable asset on highway downhills.
The PRO-4X Package is essentially a few stout parts and a lot of badging. The Rancho shocks, Electronic locking diff., and “off-road inspired” 18” wheels were great on-road and off, but it’s no Raptor. Hitting bumps at 40MPH in the Nissan emitted a nervous “oops”, whereas the Ford Raptor relishes in bounding across such pitiful obstacles.
Inside the Nissan Titan I flashed back to a 2005 Ford Raptor F-150. Minimal effort spent on materials or design, tiny white gauges, storage and buttons everywhere. A no-nonsense place that’s well equipped for any job. Ours had the Premium Utility and Luxury Packages, so it had 2 AC outlets (1 in the cab, 1 in the bed), multiple USB outlets, heated seats, leather, and a NAV system from 2005 that had been shot with a tranquilizer dart. Cup holders, strange storage areas, big leg room everywhere; it’s what you expect in a truck. It did everything asked, and well; 800 highway miles, 50 miles off-road. The slow-dropping tailgate is a great touch, and the bed-mounted AC outlet was a boon. It’s a helpful box, this Titan.
But even so, outside of economic stability, stepping back to 2005 is a bad thing. Because while Nissan continues to follow the formula for “truck”, everyone else has changed it, and some trucks got really nice.
Example: Fords, or in this case, Raptor. It has some of the best seats I’ve sat in, period. Comfortable, well bolstered, supportive, perfectly contoured to the spine. Most OEMs should take a class from Ford on seats.
The inside looks a decade ahead of the Nissan TITAN. From gauges to vents to materials, Ford is way ahead of Nissan, even though this truck is technically 3 years behind. The NAV is fast, the screen is a bed sheet compared to the cocktail napkin in the Nissan Titan. SYNC might as well be an iPad to the Nissan’s LINUX. It has $5,000 in options, but options don’t change interior design.
The engine is more powerful, but the soft shocks eat a lot of that power, and the burly suspension jitters over normal roads. It also drinks like Andre the Giant; 12MPG highway is flat out terrible. It makes the Titan’s 17 look like Miracel-Gro.
Of course, the Ford Raptor F-150 costs more: $3,000 above the Nissan Titan to start, and for only 2 doors. Our Titan was $43,000 all said and done, just above the Raptor’s MSRP of $42,000.
But underneath the badges and the wheels and the “Rancho shocks” (sold everywhere), it’s a work truck, and if that’s what you need, get a regular F-150 Ecoboost. You get the nice ride, more power, better MPG, and an interior that has evolved beyond “interior.”