I am sorry to tell mountain folks that I saw gas for $3 a gallon last week in Longmont; as a result, it feels maybe a bit less perverse to once again dig into a sometimes 14-mpg behemoth, just for old time’s sake.
I had my first chance in about five years to drive what was still a relative unicorn in even the pre-pandemic, full-sized pickup truck world, a new Nissan Titan. In this case, the heavy-duty XD model, in highest-end Platinum Reserve build, with a crew cab and, of course, 4×4.
Amazingly, this gigantic, 400-horsepower, trailer-hauling vehicle was base priced at just a few dollars over $63,000, and stickered at $68,735, complete with a full-cabin moonroof, in-bed storage containers and a few other options. I say that because a smaller GMC Sierra 1500 followed it — review soon — priced at over $67,000.
The Titan is still a bit of a curiosity, unless you’ve also spent some time in the new Nissan Armada SUV, where you’ll find almost all the same interior finishings. Titan itself is something of a rarity in a world full of domestic and other U.S.-built, Japanese, full-size trucks, but you do see adventurous types who’ve adopted them.
Given the Titan XD’s flashy looks and its absolutely gigantic metal grille and attractive 20-inch painted aluminum wheels, the 2022 model did not strike me as an also-ran in any way. Titan got a compete facelift two years ago, and the particularly glitzy and well-lifted 4×4 rendition here had no shortage of style — other than being offered in a market full of completely brand-new but sometimes full-year-delayed competitors.
The XD build comes with Nissan’s 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 engine, good for 400 noisy-at-startup horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a thumb-shiftable, nine-speed automatic transmission, with a tow mode switch, allowing a wide range of downhill and uphill versatility, especially if you are testing out the trailering capabilities.
The glossier Platinum Reserve models can pull 9,730 pounds of trailer, with other XD models good for as much as 11,060 pounds, as they’re built on their own frame and chassis, compared to the regular Titan. It’s quite the beast to park, as it’s 244.4 inches overall, with a 151.6-inch-long wheelbase (both measurements more than a foot longer than the regular models), with 9.1 inches of clearance at the front axle and a sizeable two-plus-foot step-in height. That largesse also includes a 6.5-foot bed, in this case taken up a bit by the lockable Titan Box system, a removable, inside-the-bed version of the similar Ram Box system found outside the bed rails.
The quite literally 14 mpg I got tooling around in Evergreen’s roads and a drive record of about 15.7 mpg to speak to a sensibility not entirely in line with June of 2022, but I guess all that capacity comes with a price, minus the relatively manageable vehicle price.
That 5.6-liter will do a handy job of helping this big rig move into near-earth orbit when required, with no complaints about power. It certainly drives like a very, very long, high-riding 4×4, but is not unpleasant, with minimal sway and bounce thanks to its heavy-duty suspension, double-wishbone stabilizer bars up front and twin-tube shock absorbers to help carry that 6,753 pounds. I found it pretty easy to handle and imagine that you’d be able to get into lots of trouble on trails with its manually-switchable 4×4, and very, very long, low-hanging chromed running boards. A buzzing lane-keep reminder awfully reminiscent of a Nintendo Rumble Pak will also let you know if you’ve strayed too far out of lanes you very much dominate at all times.
For trailer duty, a full electronic trailer brake with digital readout is pre-equipped in the cabin, but no full-video-assisted backup help like the other guys’ newer systems. You do get trailer sway control, downhill speed control and a trailer light check system you can use remotely with the key fob. The traditional around-view monitor’s trailer guides and backup camera will help you get into place, and are certainly helpful when doing any urban parking with the very big machine. Two-level, non-telescoping trailering mirrors also remained intact during my lane-consuming drives in the foothills.
Titan has adopted the large mid-cluster video display and comes with a standard 9-inch touchscreen display with navigation, phone connections and a WiFi hotspot — as well as a 12-speaker Fender audio system.
Cab comfort is quite pronounced both front and rear, with carpet-infused floor mats, loads of leather seating surfaces and a front console box big enough for hanging files.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at [email protected]