The Nissan Titan XD splits the difference between a light-duty and a heavy-duty pickup. Titan XD is smoother than the heavy-duty Ford F-250, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 (and Sierra 2500), or Ram 2500, but rides rougher than the light-duty F-150, Silverado 1500 or Ram 1500.
Built on a heavy-duty frame, Titan XD is rated to tow up to 12,000 pounds and we found it can comfortably handle 9,000-pound trailers.
Titan XD offers a choice of Cummins 5.0-liter turbodiesel or 5.6-liter Endurance V8 gasoline engine. The diesel is rated at 555 foot-pounds of torque at 1600 rpm, giving it strong trailer-pulling power.
Titan XD looks like the light-duty Titan, but shares little in terms of hardware.
Inside, the cab is comfortable, with supportive seats.
The navigation screen is small, but the rearview camera is useful when backing up or attaching a trailer. Surround-view cameras help in tight places, along with cross-traffic alerts when backing up, sensors front and rear to aid parking.
Underway, Titan XD feels tall, but crisp, taut, more agile and precise than the other heavy-duty pickups. The suspension is relatively firm and controlled, and the steering is direct.
Titan beds are equipped a tie-down system that makes dealing with different types of cargoes easier. Storage boxes that lock are available. The tailgate is damped so it doesn’t slam down.
Titan is set up for towing a gooseneck trailer. Installing the ball and chain anchors takes about as much time as it took you to read this paragraph. That’s a nice feature, considering it can be difficult to get advice from car dealers or trailer dealers or anyone else about towing setups.
Titan XD comes with an integrated trailer-brake controller that makes stopping more accurate than an aftermarket setup.
It’s worth noting that the Titan XD is more American than a Japanese steak house in Tennessee. That is to say, it has a Nissan badge on it, but there’s very little here that’s Japanese. Designed in California, the Titan XD was engineered in Michigan and tested in Arizona. The truck is built in Mississippi. The 5.6-liter Endurance V8s are built in Tennessee, while the Cummins diesels are built in Indiana.
2017 Titan XD Crew Cab diesels come in SV ($45,250), Pro-4X ($52,230), SL ($53,510), and Platinum Reserve ($58,880). The Crew Cab lineup is similar with the gas engine, though there is also a base Titan XD Crew Cab S ($36,290) in addition to SL ($48,460) and the other trim levels.
Single Cabs come in S ($31,090) and SV trim ($34,990) with gas or diesel.
Titan interiors are nicely designed, with, bucket seats that are supportive and comfortable. A front bench seat is available, which adds another passenger to the seating capacity, a good choice for single cabs. Each trim level gets upgraded upholstery, from cloth and vinyl to leather to fancy leather on the Platinum Reserve. The upper trim levels are quite nice with leather seat trim that appears durable in addition to being coordinated and very attractive.
Climbing into the Titan XD requires a heave-ho, seemingly more so than with the other heavy-duty pickups; perhaps the XD’s biggest downside compared with the domestic HDs.
Crew Cabs offer full-size, front-hinged rear doors that open wide to reveal roomy, comfortable back seats. Storage is available underneath, and the rear seats fold down to a flat load floor, though that floor is too high for a big dog. Single cabs are work trucks, crew cabs offer luxurious passenger travel and everyday practicality.
Control for dash functions are large and easy to operate. The navigation screen is on the small side. The rearview camera works well and surround-view cameras make maneuvering in tight spaces easier. Cubby storage is aplenty, including big console storage.
Titan XD looks tidy and attractive, most closely resembling a Ford. Its styling makes it look smaller than it is. Park it next to another full-size pickup and it’s obvious it’s just as big. The Titan XD is an inch taller than a Ford F-150 and nearly three inches taller than a Ram 1500. Height for the XD is about the same for 2WD or 4WD. Width is similar to that of the other full-size pickups.
Titan XD crew cabs ride on a 151.6-inch wheelbase with 5.5-foot beds. Maximum payload capacity is 2000 pounds, and the Titan XD can handle a snowplow, though a manual transmission is not available.
Lights mounted low in the bed illuminate the contents, even when a bed cover is installed. A rail system in addition to traditional tie-downs make securing cargo easier. The tail gate is damped and opens smoothly and lowers easily instead of slamming down with a thud.
The Titan XD uses a much heavier frame than that of the Titan, they share nothing in the frame/chassis department.
In terms of handling and ride quality, Titan XD feels like it’s somewhere between Silverado 1500 and Silverado 2500. We are tempted to call it semi-heavy duty, but practically speaking, Titan XD will do everything most trucks in the F-250 class are called upon to do. If you need more towing capability than what the XD offers, you may want to consider the F-350 class.
We found the Titan XD quite capable while pulling a 10,000-pound gooseneck trailer. We had the same impression while hauling a heavy load.
The 5.0-liter diesel starts easily, even in cold weather, by inserting a key then pressing a start button. It rumbles pleasantly at idle. From outside, the traditional diesel clatter can barely be heard. This Cummins sounds confident, but not loud and clattery like the 5.9-liter inline-6 used in earlier Rams.
Underway, the diesel is smooth and delivers strong pulling power whenever the loud pedal is depressed. The two-stage turbo is tuned well to provide easy cruising over the flatlands or strong acceleration.
It comes with a heavy-duty Aisin 6-speed automatic controlled by a column shifter, with a rotary dial for two- or four-wheel drive.
Titan XD is set up for a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch. In literally a couple of minutes after pulling off the dealer lot, it’s possible to pop the plugs in the bed, plug in a ball. Then, back up to a gooseneck trailer using the cameras to locate, lower the trailer onto the ball, hook the chains through, and off you go to the races. But before you drive off, stand behind the trailer, press a couple of buttons on the key fob, and a test sequence will initiate allowing you to observe all the brake lights and turn signals are working, a fantastic feature.
Hooking up a bumper-pull trailer is made easier with a rearview camera that was redesigned for 2016 with this task in mind.
The trailer mirrors are effective, if on the small side, with a convex mirror below the flat mirror. The trailer mirrors can be extended manually, by standing outside the truck and yanking on them, not as convenient as the power-extendable mirrors on the F-250. Also, the mirrors tilt down when selecting reverse, a feature we seldom appreciate.
The Nissan Titan XD is an excellent choice as a tow vehicle for trailers weighing less than 9,000 pounds or as a heavy-duty hauler. It rides a bit more easily than the 2500-class domestic-brand pickups do, and it’s a bit more agile. However, the XD does not ride as smoothly as do the Titan and other 1500-class trucks.
Mitch McCullough is editor-in-chief of New Car Test Drive.