Nissan Titan XD joins us for a year of Cummins-powered chore duty
For our next long-term tester, why not something practical? Why not something capable? Why not something absolutely massive?
Tim StevensFormer editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
When asked whether I wanted to spend a few quality months with a Nissan Titan XD, my immediate response was an enthusiastic "Yes." I mean, who doesn't have a few chores that having a big ol' truck around couldn't solve?
But what I didn't consider was just exactly how much truck I was getting. The Titan, you see, is a big truck, especially so in $60,520 XD Platinum Reserve trim. That's a fact I hadn't properly appreciated until the thing came lumbering up my driveway. I'm lucky enough to live out in the sticks, where vehicles of this size are hardly a rarity, but this is the first time I've actually lived with an automobile of such magnitude.
Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve 4WD looking cool in blue
Its first test would come just a few days later. I'd spotted a good deal on a 2004 Subaru WRX STI, which was exactly the car I was hoping to campaign for the upcoming ice racing season. However, the Subie was 4 hours and two states away, and the logistical challenges of securing a temporary registration in advance to drive the thing back legally were causing my head to spin.
The Titan presented a much easier solution.
So, very early one morning I got up and headed to U-Haul to rent one of their vehicle trailers. (The four-wheel unit, of course.) After that it was a leisurely drive up to the wilds of New Hampshire, a journey that gave me plenty of time to get a feel for the big brute. And I have to say, what I felt was positive.
The interior is, perhaps predictably, expansive. There's enough room beneath the armrest alone to smuggle a family-size Thanksgiving turkey, while the numerous other storage cubbies and caverns dotted around the cabin will hide all the fixin's with room to spare. I'll measure the headroom and shoulder room as soon as I can find a tape measure long enough, but suffice to say that stretching out was not a problem.
The dated nav and infotainment system proved too clunky to want to use in practice, so I stuck with Google Maps on my phone. Neither Android Auto nor CarPlay are to be found here, but A2DP Bluetooth streaming is at least present, and the 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate is not only predictably loud, but surprisingly refined, ably coping with everything from my Notorious B.I.G. playlist on Spotify to my collection of Melvyn Bragg podcasts.
Thanks to all that I was reasonably fresh after completing the first 4-hour leg of the journey, at which time I engaged in the ritualistic exchanging of paperwork that signifies the private purchase of a used car. After that it was the small matter of getting the STI onto the trailer without ripping off the front bumper, affixing the requisite security straps to keep it there and then heading back for the 4-hour journey home.
Impressively, the return leg was little more stressful than the outgoing one. The truck certainly wasn't bothered, 5.0-liter V8 Cummins Turbo Diesel putting down more than enough torque (555 pound-feet) to make light work of hauling a Subaru and a hefty trailer, too. In fact the truck was so unaffected that I often forgot the trailer was back there, resulting in a few moments where I looked in the mirror and wondered who the jerk tailgating me was.
I was, however, reminded of the trailer's presence every time I slotted the truck into reverse, as the rear proximity sensors would immediately freak out. Understandable, I suppose, but it sure seems like setting the truck into Tow mode, which makes the six-speed Aisin transmission shift earlier, ought to also disable the rear proximity sensor.
Anyhow, the 360-degree camera system made lining up the trailer in the first place a doddle, and I was easily able to back the thing exactly where I wanted it in my driveway.
Overall: Mission accomplished. The truck never broke a sweat and averaged just a tick over 16 mpg all the while. Not bad for a long haul over country roads with a heavy trailer and a heavier Subaru on top.