DETROIT – Nissan’s next-generation Titan fullsize truck, due next year, will be more competitive than its predecessor and cover more of the light-duty sector than previously.

The current Nissan Titan offers 55% of the available configurations of domestic light-duty competitors, but the new Titan should match 90% of the competition’s features in terms of cab sizes and powertrains.

“Am I going to sit here and tell you we’re going to outsell Ford? No,” Fred Diaz, senior vice president-sales and marketing for Nissan North America tells the Automotive Press Assn. But “you can bet your boots” the new Titan will be a more competitive truck.

When Diaz arrived at Nissan last year, one of the first things he did was go and see the under-development pickup at the automaker’s La Jolla, CA, design studio.

Diaz says he ruffled some feathers with his assessments, particularly regarding the truck’s profile and face.

“I was pleasantly surprised, but I also saw some things that could be improved significantly,” he says. “No doubt I hurt some feelings and stepped on a few toes. I was pretty tough with the suggestions I made. We just needed to do a few things with the lines and the front of the vehicle.”

On a recently completed regional tour of Nissan showrooms, Diaz says dealers were very happy with photos of the Titan they saw, giving the automaker confidence it’s on the right track.

That the current Titan last year celebrated its 12th birthday without a significant change is disappointing, Diaz says, but he notes the automaker’s misfortune when a deal to get a platform from his former employer, Chrysler’s Ram, fell apart during the recession.

Nissan is betting big on the American-ness of the new Titan wooing domestic-pickup buyers. The truck has been engineered in Farmington Hills, MI, designed in California, will be built in Canton, MS, and have a diesel engine from Cummins of Columbus, IN.

Diaz denies rumors he was responsible for bringing the Titan’s Cummins 5.0L turbodiesel V-8 to the automaker, noting it was in the works before he arrived.

Meanwhile, Diaz says Nissan’s February sales are looking good, although he stops short of putting a number on growth.

WardsAuto forecasts Nissan will overtake Honda for the first time since March 2013 when February results are released Monday.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com