By Derek Price
Nissan’s Titan XD remains in many ways the Goldilocks of hard-working pickups.
Designed to have more capability than a half-ton truck but without the overkill, cost and drawbacks of a heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton pickup, the XD is uniquely slotted in the marketplace.
It’s designed to be “just right” for a certain type of truck buyer, a person who tows or hauls more than more than what a light-duty model can handle but doesn’t want the stiff ride, thirsty consumption and stratospheric sticker prices of domestic-brand heavy-duty pickups.
After spending a week driving the Titan XD, I think it fits that mission perfectly. It’s noticeably harsher over the road than any contemporary half-ton truck — especially when fitted with the Pro-4X off-road suspension and tires on my tester — but also vastly more capable.
Properly equipped, the Titan XD can tow 12,310 pounds or carry a payload of 2,080 pounds. While the federal government doesn’t issue fuel-economy ratings for heavy-duty trucks, my real-world experience at the fuel pump made it cheaper to drive than I expected.
Two powertrains are available in the Titan XD. One, a 5.6-liter gasoline V8, routes 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque through a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The other is a 5.0-liter Cummins diesel fitted to a six-speed Aisin automatic. It makes 310 horsepower and, more importantly, 555 pound-feet of torque that helps dramatically when pulling heavy trailers from a dead stop.
While the Titan XD looks fairly similar to the half-ton Titan, much of the guts underneath the body have been beefed up to handle heavier loads, and you can feel it from behind the wheel. A heavier frame, gigantic brakes, stout suspension and tough axle and differential give it a heftier, more purposeful driving feel than the light-duty Titan.
Cabin materials and construction no longer stand out compared to the recently redesigned domestic competitors, but the overall design and functionality of this truck remain top-notch. I especially like its innovative Utili-track tie-down system with rails and movable cleats in the bed.
The lockable, weatherproof Titan Box is another cool, well-designed option. Accessible from inside the bed, it keeps things hidden from street level, can be used as a cooler for tailgating, and is removable for those times when you need the full width of the bed for hauling cargo.
Changes to the Titan XD for 2018 are minimal. A new Midnight Edition package offers a custom look with black mirrors, darkened headlamps, dark badges, 20-inch black wheels and body-color bumpers. It has the sinister, blacked-out look that’s increasingly popular on everything from sports cars to SUVs.
For 2019, the Titan is available with a spectacular Fender audio system that I got to experience at the Texas Truck Rodeo in October. It delivers crisp highs and punchy bass that would sound impressive in a luxury car and are downright surprising in a hard-working pickup like this.
Pricing starts at $32,040 for the base, single-cab S grade with the gasoline engine. The popular Crew Cab starts at $37,240 with the gas V8 or $42,490 with the diesel.
If you’re looking for a luxury experience, the sticker price tops out at $63,610 for the Platinum crew cab with the Cummins engine — a downright steal compared to the dizzying heights some upper-echelon truck prices are reaching these days.
At A Glance
What was tested?
2018 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X 4×4 ($50,940). Options: Pro-4X utility package ($1,445), Pro-4X convenience package ($3,295), premium package ($1,545), premium paint ($395). Price as tested (including $1,295 destination charge): $58,915
Wheelbase: 151.6 in.
Length: 243.6 in.
Width: 80.7 in.
Height: 78.4 in.
Engine: 5.0-liter diesel V8 (310 hp, 555 ft. lbs.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy: Not rated
Why buy it?
The Titan XD offers serious capability, a smart utilitarian design and excellent powertrain and platform for towing, all without the expense and drawbacks of a full-blown, heavy-duty truck.