Nissan’s Midnight Edition offers special touches

John Gilbert

Nissan kept its potent mechanicals in place and loaded up with features to create the Midnight Edition of the Titan pickup. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Nissan kept its potent mechanicals in place and loaded up with features to create the Midnight Edition of the Titan pickup. Photo credit: John Gilbert

If you’re into large pickup trucks, what is your favorite feature available?

Is it the Cord F150‘s low-cut leading edge of the side window design that greatly enhances side vision, or its pull out and drop down little stepladder off the rear of the Ford F150, with its neat little pull-up helping pole? Or Chevy’s little slotted groove in the outside rear corners of the bumper to provide step-up access to the bed? Maybe it’s the soft-touch tailgate on the Toyota Tundra, or the clever slotted rows on either side and the front edge of the Nissan Titan, allowing infinite anchoring locations for sliding tie-down cleats. Then there’s the Ram’s wider bed sides, which house tool-storing boxes to store virtually anything. And even Honda, with its Ridgeline, has its entire bed made out of the composite material you needn’t buy as a bedliner, with its watertight trunk cut into it.

Black exterior can show the dust of work, but looks fantastic in smoothly polished shine. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Black exterior can show the dust of work, but looks fantastic in smoothly polished shine. Photo credit: John Gilbert

How about “all of the above?” 

Nissan didn’t quite corral all the top features but did get most of them in the 2018 Midnight Edition of the Titan. The Midnight Edition package costs $1,250, and boosts the total of the Titan to $54,775. That is not outragesouly steep these days, and I also found that our overall combined fuel economy was 18.1, which also was acceptable, based on where we’ve come in the large V8-power truck biz.  

All features are within reach of the Titan’s comfortable driving captain chair. Photo credit: John Gilbert
All features are within reach of the Titan’s comfortable driving captain chair. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Down-curving front edge to window improves side visibility, veery F150-like. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Down-curving front edge to window improves side visibility, veery F150-like. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Glossy black-on-black trim sets the Midnight Edition apart. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Glossy black-on-black trim sets the Midnight Edition apart. Photo credit: John Gilbert

Competition has driven the manufacturers to build extremely competitive pickups, so whatever you choose you know you’ll be getting great power output, heavy-duty towing and hauling capability, not much fuel economy, but interior accomodations that rival fine luxury sedans. So maybe the little extra touches can sway an undecided buyer.

Nissan has shamelessly broken down all the competitive barriers in building the 2018 Titan Midnight Edition, catching many by surprise, because the Titan had been left out of a lot of comparisons because there really wasn’t anything new on the truck. Nissan, however, had accomplished all the engineering and design stuff it felt was required, so it turned to cosmetic touches to set off a new fleet of special-edition vehicles for its cars and SUVs, and the Midnight Edition gives the same striking appearance benefit to the new Titan.

My test-drive Titan SL Midnight Edition came in a glossy black, which was more than just black when you got close enough to see the sun’s reflection reveal an amazing mixture of colorful highlights under the surface. The trick is to put black-on-black touches to every trim item, including the grille, the 20-inch alloy wheels, to the large Titan logo on the doors, and to every emblem all around.

Titan Midnight Edition front displays bold and subtle black-on-black. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Titan Midnight Edition front displays bold and subtle black-on-black. Photo credit: John Gilbert

It seems somewhat surprising that a company that has made its tremendous success on pragmatic but solid engineering and design would stoop to cosmetics, and, of course, it would be a mistake to accuse the Titan of making only cosmetic touches to create the Midnight Edition.

Nissan still has its muscular 5.6-liter V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 foot-pounds of torque, and a 7-speed automatic with 2-speed transfer case and shift-on-the-fly all-wheel drive, capable of towing 9,740 pounds. And it has all the safety and driver-assist features that all contemporary vehicles have, including blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts. And naturally it still has those sliding “Utili-track” slots for adjustable tie-downs.

But Nissan also shamelessly — and wisely — incorporated virtually every impressive feature from all its competitors, making the new Titan Midnight Edition sort of a rolling all-star collection of all that is best in the segment. A few years from now, Titan owners will be sure Nissan invented all those features.

The front doors are designed with a graceful slope to the front edge of the windows, creating a very useful and Ford-like extra expanse when you glance at the outside mirrors and see a lot more ground than you expect. At the tailgate, the Titan looks pretty imposing to climb up and into, until you spot those neat little corner steps that may borrow from GM’s idea.

 Pickup bed shows liner, adjustable tie-down slots, storage bins along either wall. Photo credit: John Gilbert
 Pickup bed shows liner, adjustable tie-down slots, storage bins along either wall. Photo credit: John Gilbert

Once up and looking into the bed, you are impressed with the quality of the factory-installed bedlliner, and you notice those neat little form-fitting vertical boxes on either side, which are very Ram-like, and supply the same useful function.

Leather-covered bucket captain’s chair front seats flank a large console that has assorted little cubbies ahead and around it. In the rear, comfortable seating for three includes a 60-40 flip-up design that has storage underneath and the capability of folding to make a flat floor.

Also in the rear there are controls on the back of the front console, including a househole electrical plug-in, which I used to charge up my iPad. We took the Titan on a Mother’s Day cruise up the North Shore to tour Split Rock Lighthouse, and then we descended the long wooden staircase to get to Lake Superior level, from where we could hike up through the woods and circle back to the lighthouse.

After that hike, the presence of compact but useful running boards helped us climb into the comfort of the seats, and the inviting touch of getting some choice CDs or satellite radio to blast through the 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system helped us on our return trip.

Our older son, Jack, had done a fabulous job of washing and polishing the Titan just because he knew it was great looking and didn’t want to have it appear without full-gloss shine.

The black-on-black appearance makes the Midnight Edition something special, with subtleties such as dark interior outlines of the headlights, black finish on the foglight enclosures, black mirrors, black door handles, black front and rear bumpers and step rails, and even black interior trim.

Every company seems to have evolved toward special editions of their full-sized pickups, and most of them are impressive. So is Nissan’s Midnight Edition, even if it did sneak up on the marketplace.