Nissan Titan XD: Roadtrip and tailgate in style

2017 Nissan Titan XD (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

There’s nothing like spending 16 hours in a vehicle to give you a sense of how comfortable it is to drive – or ride in.

I recently took the 2017 Nissan Titan XD on a road trip from Chicago to Nashville, and while I’ve spent time in the Titan XD previously, spending two full days in this pickup truck shed new light.

First, let me say that my husband loved almost everything about the Titan XD. I made the mistake of allowing him to take first shift on our drive out, and he wouldn’t give up the wheel.

He loved the Zero Gravity seats and the power of the 390-horspower, V-8 Endurance gasoline engine. He had a good driving position and excellent visibility out all windows. He also appreciated that all the gauges and controls were intuitive and easy to reach.

One thing he didn’t like – which is something I’ve pointed out previously – is the over-large shift stalk attached to the steering column. It’s long and thick, and it tends to block HVAC and audio control on the center stack.

After three stops where he refused to hand over the keys, I gave up and realized that I’d have to wrest the keys from the valet for the first shift on the way back to Chicago. So, I settled in to the passenger seat and took a nap.

As a passenger, I found that I loved the heated reclining front seats, which went almost flat.

What I didn’t love: There’s only one USB port. Which my husband and I fought over. For 16 hours. I finally pulled a charging brick out of my backpack so we didn’t have to jockey for ownership of the coveted port.

As a driver, I had a curious reversal of opinion. Previously, I found the Titan XD to be “overall comfortable.” But I guess that’s what happens when you spend short bursts of time behind the wheel.

When I finally managed to take over driving, I did initially find the Titan XD to be comfortable. It’s easy to maneuver on the highway and fairly comfortable over varying road surfaces.

We took a detour to the Maker’s Mark distillery, which took us on some seriously curvy and narrow back roads. The Titan XD handled everything very competently.

However, my back hurt.

The seat bottoms are too long for someone of a petite stature, and I found after a couple hours behind the wheel the seats were not comfortable. My feet dangled a bit with my height-adjusted driving position, and since I had to hook my knees over the edge of the seat bottom, my lower back didn’t have the advantage of lumbar support. So, while the Titan XD is comfy for the shorter drives, it was not – for me – after about an hour and a half.

Because the Titan XD has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 8,500 pounds, it isn’t subject to EPA fuel economy testing, but after more than 1,000 miles of mostly highway driving, we averaged about 14.1 mpg. I thought that was fairly decent for the size of the vehicle and the fact that my husband likes to exceed the speed limit.

For comparison, when I drove the diesel version of the Titan XD last year, I averaged 15.5 mpg.

Aside from the driving aspects, there’s a lot of good stuff on the Titan XD that make it excellent for work or play.

Part of the road trip included tailgating before a Tennessee Titans game at Nissan Stadium.

We spent time with Billy Hayes, division vice president of Trucks, LCV and South/Mountain Regions for Nissan North America, who pointed out several available features that make the Titan perfect for tailgating including:

  • Titan Boxes – creates water-tight storage that can be drained, act as a cooler, holding ice and beverages.
  • 120V power outlet in the cabin and bed – can plug in anything from a coffee maker to a margarita mixer.
  • Bed Step – grants easy access to the truck bed with a simple step.
  • Innovative cup holders – larger sizes hold big beverages.
  • LED bed lighting – creates some ambience for after-dark parties.
  • Dampened tailgate – prevents tailgate from opening too swiftly, which could cause injury.
  • Rockford Fosgate 12-speaker system – adds a premium sound system for music or game highlights.

Titan XD is available in S, SV, Pro-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve trims, which gives you options ranging from basic to lux-level. It also has the option of Single, King and Crew cabs, with the bed length changing depending on which cab you select.

The test vehicle was a Pro-4X model, which is designed to go off road. It was a King Cab and sports features such as all-terrain off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differential, skid plates and hill decent control. It can also tow up to 10,830 pounds and has a maximum payload of 2,340 pounds.

While base price for the Titan XD is $31,590, the Pro-4X model starts at $45,440.

The test vehicle added all the pricey packages, which included things like the audio package with tailgate illumination, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, Titan Boxes, memory seating positions and the around-view monitor. As-tested price rang in at $52,935.

The bottom line

The Titan XD is big. Really, really big. But with the around-view camera display, blind-spot monitoring and large side mirrors, it’s actually quite manageable. That being said, it did not fit in my city garage – it was too long. And I did usually end up taking a parking spot and a quarter when I went to the gym or grocery store.

It’s mostly comfortable for the long haul, but I found as a petite female, the driver’s seat wasn’t as comfortable as the passenger seat. My 5-foot-8-inch husband, however, loved the seating position. So, if this is going to be a his-and-hers purchase, make sure both parties spend a lot of time in the driver’s seat before signing on the dotted line.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in road-trip review are from an invitation-only automaker event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Nissan covered our accommodations, meals and gasoline.

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