Toyota and Nissan Butch Up Their Trucks

Nissan Titan

Toyota and Nissan haven’t made much of a dent in America’s booming pickup business of late, in part because they haven’t really tried. Nissan hasn’t overhauled its full-sized Titan pickup in 12 years. Toyota’s more popular midsized Tacoma has been largely unchanged for a decade.

The listlessness is evident in their sales. Titan sales in the U.S. dropped by almost half in the past five years. Last year, sales dipped below 13,000 in 2014—a volume appropriate for an exotic sports car, not a blue-collar truck. The Tacoma has been more resilient, but the model still doesn’t draw nearly as many buyers as it did in 2006, its peak year.

 Truck fans were tuned into Detroit this week to look for major new upgrades of both models. The design direction, in both cases, is straightforward: make them look tougher and more truck-like. With aggressive grills and tall, boxy frames, Nissan and Toyota seem to be steering away from the weekend warrior crowd and toward the working class—more lumberyard, less jet-skis by the lake. In short, they are finally going after Ford and GM.

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