Toyota’s Greatest Truck Threat is NOT the F-150, it is the next-gen Nissan Titan

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An outlandish headline for this story, but stay with me for a minute. With all the buzz about the new F-150 and its fuel economy, there is actually a bigger threat to the Toyota Tundra sales and that is the Nissan Titan. Why? Follow along.

Toyota's Greatest Truck Threat is NOT the F-150, it is the next-gen Nissan Titan

The next-generation Nissan Titan is getting ready to be unveiled. Who is the top competitor for this truck? It isn’t Ford.

Non-Loyal New Buyers

One of the first things you learn about the truck segment is brand loyalty is “insane.” Actually, insane probably isn’t the most accurate word, “blind ignorance” is probably better. The fact is Ford, GM and Ram buyers continue to buy from the same brand regardless of past problems. I’ve heard stories of people blowing through 2, 3 and even more engines or transmissions in a truck. They then sell/trade the truck in for a newer model from the same brand. When you ask them, they will tell you their last truck was “reliable.” Sad, but true.

What does that have to do with first-time buyers? These customers don’t suffer from the blind ignorance of older buyers. In fact, studies have shown, new generation Y buyers don’t have any brand loyalty. They will instead by the best truck based on their needs. And often, they put reliability on the top of their list. Who sits high on reliability lists? That’s right Toyota.

Toyota, long known for being extremely reliable, is helped by the notion that “Japanese” brands have great reliability. This plays out in the marketplace. One of the most accurate statements I heard when I first starting working on this blog is “a Toyota buyer is just a pissed off former domestic buyer.” Read our comments and you will see this statement playing out time and time again.

Now with first-time buyers looking for a reliable vehicle along with former “domestic” buyers, Toyota has a pretty good situation. They have a reliable engine and a good looking truck. That is, until the Nissan Titan comes into the market.

Nissan, like Toyota, is often thought of as having good reliability. Love or hate Consumer Reports, the takeaway from their latest brand reliability reports was “Japanese brands dominate.” Never mind, Nissan finished towards the bottom of the pack. In this world of Twitter and Facebook creating a shortened attention span, the “Japanese brands dominate” is what people took away from that report.

Big Diesel Offering

One of the things that makes Toyota a bit unique is that it offers the “reliable alternative” big gas engine to Ram’s HEMI. Again, love or hate Ram, their track-record of poor reliability helps Toyota. Plus, Toyota’s engine still has technology that is comparable to today’s engine offering.

For those who want a big, throaty V8 engine and don’t care about fuel economy (there are more people like this than automakers say there are) this is key. Who will offer the biggest half-ton engine of them all? Not Toyota. It will be Nissan.

How many “pissed off domestic owners” will switch from Toyota to Nissan to get a diesel? If you have been reading the Toyota fan forums, Facebook pages and listening to customer feedback on various sites like this one, it could be a significant number.

Variety of Reasons

There may be a variety of other factors like styling, price and options that Nissan needs to worry about, but, you could argue, Toyota has those same concerns.

Also, why not die-hard Ford, GM or Ram guys? Wouldn’t these guys be interested in it? Nah. Talk to them and the first word out of their mouths is “Jap truck.” They aren’t buying. This is all about the new buyer or pissed off domestic buyer.

Ultimately, Nissan could steal some market share from Ford, Ram and GM and that won’t bother those companies at all. If Nissan starts snagging Toyota’s slim market share, that could hurt. That could hurt a lot.

What do you think? Who’s market share stands to be hit worse by the Titan?

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. ricqik says:

    It is a possibility I would buy the titan diesel. Depending on it’s ratings if it’s a hvy halfton or 3/4ton. Also depends on what toyota does in the next few yrs.

  2. Randy says:

    Your first paragraph under the “Non-Loyal New Buyers”, IMO is one thousand percent accurate.

    People that keep buying the same brand over and over with constant problems are “not very bright”. I use to be a member of that club; until I realized I wanted my loss of $25,000 back on my two previous Ford’s.

    I am no longer a member of the ever growing “Mindless Masses”. But unfortunately first time truck buyers can easily fall prey to the marketing games and they too will lose their money (and time).

    I do not see Titan being a significant threat to Tundra sales growth; but I could be wrong. I think that would be particularly true if Tundra has the Cummins within a reasonable amount of time after Titan gets theirs to market (assuming that is still the plan?). There are not that many Titan owners to talk to; generally the few I have talked to seem to like their powertrains but not the overall quality to the truck.

    Now to the ultimate question: “Who’s market share stands to be hit worse by the Titan?”

    I think the Ram diesel may take a little bit of a hit and as strange as it sounds – Ford. I do not think it would affect GM or Tundra at all.

    Let’s just turn the whole question completely around and say: If Tundra did not have “Quality” (or if it was the same Quality as Ford) what would be their sales prospects? I think most would agree it would be zero; their lack of “content” would be unable to sustain them (Ford does have “content” like no other company). Tundra’s growth rate gains are based upon the “Quality” part of the product; that is the full QDR. Conversely that means the lack of QDR in the other brands helps Tundra.

    If Tundra continues improvements in QDR and begins to match the other brands on “content” then the production capacity will have to increase too.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’ve driven the older Titan and yes, the quality is a concern. Yet, I think Nissan will be quick to shore that up. If quality was concern #1 for all customers, let’s face it, the Tundra would sell a LOT better. This tells me it isn’t.

      I am suggesting, in this article, those customers who jumped ship from the “domestic brands” are the key market for Toyota customers. Having a better competitor for that small market, like the Nissan Titan would be, is going to hurt Toyota.


    • Larry says:


      I got burned by GM so bad way back in the 70s, I haven’t even looked at a GM thing and never will. I would not drive a GM product if I was given on for free.

      My 1994 T100 was a great product. Cost of ownership was almost nothing. It was only second to an old Subaru which I drove for 300,000 miles. Why would I ever own a GM product again when Toyota is an option. 300,000 mile from something form GM, that will be the day.

      Having driven diesels for over 40 years and currently owning a Ram diesel. I’m not sure what people will really think of the total cost of ownership of a Tundra or Titan diesel. It might get better fuel economy but with the cost of fuel and purchase, it’s no long term bargain. I think most will look to the high tech ecoboost type motor when Toyota finally builds one.

      The Ram 2500 front suspension is not up the the quality needed to support such a heavy cast iron cummins motor. Take the cummins motor and the Mercedes transmission out of my RAM truck and it’s not work a nickel with a the Chrysler gas motor and auto trans.

      Wonder if the Tundra is beefy enough to support a heavy diesel.

  3. Rick says:

    I just read a piece where oil is slated to settle somewhere to around $40-60/barrel. OPEC is trying to squeeze shale production out of the market but the Saudis haven’t read this correctly as shale companies have adjusted to the lower price from the glut of oil. This is the reason for the plummeting prices in recent weeks.

    If oil shares continue to collapse, the Titan might squeeze in its diesel just over the threshold of profitability. This could place Toyota in another quandary, provided oil continues its record fall through next year, something analysts are predicting already.

    By the time the Tundra comes out with its diesel, the first-in-line Titan will have scored buyers who want big towing potential in a relatively light truck with the MPG and longevity associated with a V8 diesel and perhaps nix a decision on the Ram’s weaker V6 oil burner.

    However, the market might be cautious about buying a truck with a $5k+ premium over the 5.7 DOHC 3UR-FE and instead, stay with gas in the realm of regular being in the low $2 or even less next year.

    Another reason I bought my first diesel was because that fuel was consistently .30¢ below regular gas. Not anymore. But that wouldn’t stop me from buying a diesel because I know how valuable it is as an all around commodity, even more so in a light weight pick-up!

    Toyota would be essentially one of only two makers with big V8 diesel power combined with tremendous towing and hauling capability. Another advantage is the Tundra is already a HD truck with a massive 10.5″ rear end and a stout drivetrain aft of the engine. Its brakes are more than up to the task of handling heavier braking whereas the Titan has smaller, weaker rear end and would need some bolstering on its components.

    Absent any financial collapse here in the US next year and in light of a conservative, pro-energy congress about to be seated in January ’15, Toyota should get this to market. They can claim bragging rights – do the commercials and provide testing data to the car mags.

    That motor is going to change this truck and perhaps even the segment when a Tundra out performs a given 3/4 ton domestic diesel! I can’t wait for it!

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Shale production has always mystified me a bit. I mean, it just doesn’t seem like the production method is fully developed to make it a viable resource to go after. With high production costs and little return, not to mention dropping oil barrel prices, it seems more like a poor investment than a sure winner.


      • Rick says:


        I was as mystified as you are until I took a good look at shale production. The subject is technical and boring and would take up a large portion of space to describe.

        You’re correct when you say it’s expensive to produce the oil refined from one of the two shales that we use as home heating oil. That’s why the Saudis, in the scope of an anticipated, Asian recession, are keeping their supplies high to lower the price of oil. Crazy right?

        They are for the moment, throwing their own economy into peril because their system is rife with massive public socialist programs such as subsidizing cheap gasoline. They are financed 100% through oil being over $100/barrel. Oil is in the high $60’s now. They are essentially trying to squeeze out the US shale revolution when the price drops lower than $40/barrel. But in an article by Bloomberg yesterday, US companies are able to cope with a glut of inexpensive oil and many analysts, including those in OPEC, misjudged the extent and speed of the US oil resurgence.

        A real problem is political as Randy pointed out. The US has an arcane system of regulations that hamstrings our free market from experiencing a true economic revolution. There is a ban on US crude exportation. Also Obama has turned away these “mobile” oil platforms who drill crude in the Gulf after the disastrous spill 5 years ago. That alone could bring us our own oil and reduce independence on foreign sources, fracking notwithstanding.

        Lastly, the fierce US resistance by enviros to fracking has been discovered to contain sources based in Russia. I smell a rat. If fracking was financially prohibitive or environmentally unsound in the US, why are the Russians waging a covert propaganda war against it? Because they know it has the devastating potential to crush their empire that is financed on expensive oil. The Russians can’t pay for their illegal ground war to reunite the Soviet Union! The unrest in Saudi Arabia as they are calling for austerity, will only unite the opposition against the kings! With US fracking, we will dismantle the terrorist’s ability to finance their war and we could force Russia to back off its occupation of Europe and again, collapse it’s Ruble – without firing a shot! Lifting the ban on US export of crude allows us to sell reserves at profit to the former Soviet blocs who are being enslaved by Russian oil and gas. That profit could pay down the US federal deficit.

        Fracking along with shale production is not a new science. Estonia has had the plants to burn it for years and they along with the Russians and Chinese have a system in place to mine the stuff. Only here has it taken off primarily because we have a free market. Crude, is cheap to manufacture and a reason why the Russians have managed to thrive.

        If the new congress has the guts to deregulate the energy market, diesel would gain a foothold here and we would be the world’s unquestionable dominant economic force. Our energy revolution is here for the taking and its all there to be marginalized by the extreme US left.

        • Larry says:

          I saw my first problems with oil and gas markets back in the 70s. Over and over we see the cyclical nature of the energy markets. Just watch as the consumers get sucked in just like every cycle before. Low prices will lead to more consumption and another cycle to the up side. Energy may continue to fall in the short term but 100 dollars a barrel will only be a few years away again. We see it over and over. Adam Smith had it right over 200 years ago. There is no such thing as a shortage or surplus of any commodity or service in a free market. If new sources contribute to short term surplus the markets will consume it until we have equilibrium agian. 2008 we saw gas prices up around 5.00 dollars, now it’s 2.50. This is a chance for people to invest and to get ready for the next cycle but they won’t. Just watch as the big 10 MPG 6 liter V8 gas motors fly off the lots. Then watch the prices fall when everyone tries to dump them all at once a few years later when fuel goes back to 5.00 a gallon. Why do I predict this? Because it’s happened over and over and will happen again. I’m doubling down on my energy investments for the long haul. It’s easy money.

          The Saudis borrow more then they earn just like every other nation on earth. They are another socialist welfare state with unsustainable spending. Dubai, they have built an indoor refrigerated 300 foot elevation ski hill in a giant concrete and steel tube. Anyone who banks on long term low cost energy is taking the bait and will cry again that the oil companies are price fixing on their favorite 3 day weekend.

          Toyota needs to step up the R&D to be ready of for the next big cycle. Ford might be the only company looking long term.

          Can’t imagine how any of the manufactures can possibly deal with the problems being created by the Feds. There might not be an answer to that one.

          • Rick says:


            I totally agree with you. When we’ve ever had a surplus, buyers began rejecting the micro cars and carmakers began to give us what we wanted, big V8s.

            I’ve tried to get into the game by designing my own zero energy home but the science is still not there after 30 years and solar continues to be too expansive without government subsidies.

            Trucks have always gone under the radar and managed to escape the wrath of high oil prices. They were after all, utilitarian by design. People expected them to be inefficient. As our tastes changed, perhaps from the last cycle of low energy prices, trucks became mainstream and you saw mom’s with one kid strapped in back driving a full size Suburban to the grocery store.

            When it came time to cut down on weight and increase MPG or technology, Ford and RR for that matter, are definitely leading here by lightening their trucks and SUV’s substantially. You must start there.

            Ford managed to get to the high 20’s in a vehicle that is the aerodynamic equivalent of a cement block. They simply shed enormous curb weight. If they fit that F-150 with a small block diesel, they’ll go over 30mpg. If that was an SUV, the MPG would be even higher.

            We’ve never as a nation been allowed to prosper without the interference of big government. The EPA has always been a step or two ahead of the free market and like the governing body of NASCAR, has essentially curtailed much of the free reign of individualism. Government as you mentioned, has always created debt and dependency leaving us with insurmountable bills and nothing to show for all our collective free thinking.

            The free market will never prosper to its amazing potential as long as elitist bureaucrats make decisions for those who know better about how to handle their own lives and to build wealth and prosperity.

            It will never happen as long as the EPA is there ready to use deadly force to stop our progress. Defund the EPA and let’s see what happens.

          • Larry says:


            Strange you would mention the Suburban. I know a fellow who back in 2008 was desperate to sell his family Suburban because gas was around 5.00 a gallon. He sold it and didn’t get enough to cover the loan. Be purchased a new Ford Taurus to do the job. 3 years later he sold the Taurus for a loss and then got the family another nice new Suburban.

            He and his wife have 2 kids no retirement savings and no healthcare but they travel in style in that nice leather seat Suburban with an LCD video player for the kids. He is all for free government health care. He probably wants the next Suburban to be part of health care also so he can drive to the doctor in style. He should probably pay another 10 thousand and get one of those nice Cadillac Escalade emblems up front.

          • Rick says:


            In 2000, I remember a guy from town who bought the new Ford Excursion when gas was about $1.29. I saw him at the gym one day and said, “why did you get such a heavy ( no tech whatsoever ) SUV in a gas motor? They make a diesel.”

            The pondering excursion was the heaviest SUV at the time and was basically an F-250 with a cap welded on it. He eventually sold the truck in 6 mos after tiring from filling it up all the time. Though not available, a diesel Suburban would have been a better SUV.

            Unfortunately there are too many people as you pointed out, who don’t save for retirement and live paycheck to paycheck expecting the government to bail them out.

            I saw the newest Escalade at the mall. It was cool looking and finally appears well made. But the price was shockingly north of $90k (Platinum). The new RR is also well above $100k and the RR Sport is close to $100k. I guess that makes the Caddy a “bargain.”


  4. Randy says:

    And in the meantime; Europe may kill off diesel cars and trucks altogether. I have no idea if that is a good thing or bad, but the impact on Pick Up Trucks would be major if the same thing happens in the USA – Good Ole Politics.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I saw that same story. I want to write about it, but I can’t wrap my head around it. Seems like they are talking about “dirty” old diesel cars and not the “clean” diesel variety. If this is the case then they are really just following our lead.

      What’s your take?


      • Randy says:


        Honestly, I do not have a take on the pollution part of it.

        I guess at this time the only “real” component to take away from this; it does not matter if it is here or abroad, the politicians always throw a wrench in the gears. R&D is thrown out the window, and that cost everyone.

        And by that I mean the truck makers cannot really plan anything long term regarding powertrains and packaging of the product. That cost us even more.

        With the constant, yearly, and fickle changes from the politicians it could very well be that the last run of the 5.7 Tundra’s are the only pickups still kicking in 2025. All the other “new” stuff to date certainly will not make it. Toyota has mighty big shoes to fill with the 5.7 replacement. Question is can they do it?

        What will the 2025 pickup look like? Will it be able to do traditional and “real” pickup stuff? Or is a bag of groceries the new “limits”?

        At this point because the law changes and the dire financial condition Ram seems to be the first victim of the politicians? In a strange way Ram’s great success in growth rates could bring about an early demise? Perhaps Fiat will also receive government bailout(s) too?

        I think I will go buy two more Tundra 4×4 5.7 CrewMax and put them in long term storage; that way I will have a pickup to drive to 2075; oh wait I will not live that long. Will we still have gasoline then?


    • Rick says:


      I didn’t read that Europe is killing off diesel. I see it as a necessary component to cope with their artificially set fuel costs.

      In Great Britain for example, the high cost of taxes per liter of petrol determines the size of their cars (micro), and the fuel they use. Diesel is rich in energy and when used in small, light cars, it provides long mileage returns which helps to allay the weight of government in their lives.

      Their environmental laws are not as onerous as ours are here where our EPA has mandated a costly clean diesel program. That could explain why so many powerful diesels proliferating in Europe never make it to our shores. It’s too costly to make them clean for stringent US standards.

      I agree with you about US politics. The senate and its powerful allies in environmentalism, has ignored legislation allowing energy investment and production for us. The Pipeline was but one potential source of energy independence for us.

  5. mendonsy says:

    With all the new regulations (and more to come) on diesel engines they have become so expensive and unreliable that they won’t be a selling point on any vehicle. It just doesn’t sense to bring a new diesel to market.

  6. TRDSmokedU says:

    Simple, I currently have a Titan, and love it. I loved my Tundra more. Nissan does excel at being innovative and trying new ideas. Toyota should have been first to offer the 8 speed tranny and diesel. I think the current Tundra was a way to keep sales going with a big redesign in store on the new global architecture. Toyota is behind mostly due to the bogus recalls in 2010 then a Tsunami. Toyota also likes to perfect things before implementation.

    Personally, I’d like them to take the 4.5 D4D diesel let hino tweak it for US regulations and then put a sign on the tundra “Powered by Hino.” Specs on that V8 were showing 28MPG in the Land Cruiser add a 8 speed tranny and 30 MPG isn’t out of the question.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Offering a truck with 30mpg isn’t out of the question, yet Ford just spent a boatload of money to hit 26. While the layman thinks it is pretty simple to hit 30 mpg, truck makers haven’t done it yet. Look at the Ram EcoDiesel. It has the 8-speed transmission and diesel engine. Yet, it tops out a 28. Is there more Ram can do to get it to 30? Yep. But, at what cost to them and what cost to the consumer? That is the big question.


      • Larry says:

        I would say 30mpg for a truck is not a reasonable target, if it’s still going to be able to any real work.

        My 2007 2.5 Subaru Impreza gets about 30. Our 2011 Subaru 2.5 Forester gets about 26 on a high way trip at 70 MPH.

        So if we are going to get 30 out of a truck, it’s going to have to get lot lighter since we can’t really change the box type shape.

        I don’t expect to ever see a 300 HP 350 foot pound gas engine truck get 30 MPG.

        I will beleive it when I drive one 200 miles fill it back up and then miles/gallons = +30. I don’t think I will live that long.

        • LJC says:

          A 4 cyl diesel Taco with a 6 speed auto pushing 180HP and 330 TQ would get more the 30 MPG on the highway.

  7. LJC says:

    Not only is the Titan a threat, but so are the Cummins Frontier and improved GM Colorado and Canyon. The entire Toyota truck lineup is now facing stiff competition.

    The TRD Pro series of trucks are great and now proven, but in reality their niche vehicles and in my opinion wasted effort. Toyota stated that the 2014 Tundra would come with an ITBC and for 2015, a larger gas tank. Neither which came to fruition. This is existing technology! With that said, the other formidable opponent is Toyota. Back in 2007 Toyota was tough on the competition, now their limp.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Good point on Toyota being its own worst enemy. There is a lot of truth to that statement!


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