2018 NISSAN TITAN XD PLATINUM DIESEL ROAD TEST REVIEW
August 07 2018, Southside Nissan
FINDING NEW FULL-SIZE PICKUP BUYERS ONE NICHE AT A TIME
When Nissan appeared with its redesigned 2016 Titan XD it asked a question few in the market were asking, would full-size truck buyers like to have the option of a five-eighths, heavy-half sized pickup with a powerful, fuel-efficient, household name brand turbo-diesel engine?
It helped that the redesigned Titan was larger than the outgoing model, good looking, highly refined inside, upgraded with modernized electronics, and filled with convenience features and other creature comforts. It was also priced right, especially considering its better than average load carrying capacity and trailering capability.
Today's 2018 Titan XD still makes a lot of sense for trailer-pulling folks, whether the load is construction equipment or landscaping fill for your business, or personal recreation gear like a camper, boat or horses. The truck I tested was capable of 5,457 kilos (12,030 lbs) of trailering weight and a payload of 907 kg (2,000 lbs) (max payload is 1,143 kg/2,520 lbs), and can even be had with a Nissan-sourced fifth-wheel hitch integrated into the bed. Want to check your trailer's lights once it's hooked up? The Titan team has thought of everything, providing you opt for second-rung SV trim (or higher) with its standard key fob actuated trailer light tester.
TITAN XD IS ONE HANDSOME BIG RIG WITH FORMIDABLE PERFORMANCE
My top-line XD Platinum had that familiar highway rig look thanks to copious chrome detailing, most notably across the front grille, the rear tailgate, the mirror caps, door handles, alloy wheels, and various trim bits. It's a darkened chrome for a richer look, softened slightly by my tester's Pearl White and taupe grey Titanium metallic two-tone effect paint, yet still plenty upscale looking.
Most will find the 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque from its DOHC, 32-valve Cummins 5.0-litre V8 more than equal to their requirements, while many will be just as satisfied with the 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque from the base 5.6-litre gasoline-powered V8, an engine that wasn't available for the 2016 launch model.
On that note, Nissan Canada has made some changes for 2018. First and foremost they've dropped the Single Cab XD, which means there's no longer a 4x2 variant and entry-level pricing has therefore increased from 2017's $37,250 to $47,498 for the new base 2018 XD Crew Cab S 4x4, or $54,998 with the diesel. Of course, plenty more now comes standard, including an extra set of doors, a second row and four-wheel drive. Additionally, the 2018 XD lineup is now pared down to S, SV, Pro-4X, and Platinum trims, with SL features either moved down to Pro-4X trim or up to Platinum, while each of the remaining trims can be had with either gasoline or diesel powerplants.
TITAN XD OFFERS A GENEROUS SUPPLY OF STANDARD AND AVAILABLE FEATURES
No matter which engine you choose features are the same, but keep in mind S trim was designed for no-nonsense work. Then again its standard pushbutton ignition is a bit of an upscale surprise, as is the dampened-assist tailgate, but bringing it back down to earth are 17-inch steel wheels, manually adjustable side mirrors, and 5.0-inch display audio. It also gets a standard engine block heater, remote entry, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split rear bench, tilt and telescopic steering, a RearView parking monitor, Bluetooth with audio streaming, aux and USB ports, six-speaker stereo, overhead LED cargo bed lights, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, and more.
The move up to SV, which costs $52,098 with gas or $59,598 with diesel, swaps adds fancier manually-extendable power-adjustable heated tow mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, carpeting, an Advanced Drive-Assist Display, a larger 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, an overhead console, oil pan and fuel tank skid plates, trailer sway control, a Class IV tow hitch with four- and seven-pin wiring, a trailer brake controller and the aforementioned trailer light check, an integrated gooseneck hitch, and front tow hooks.
The Pro-4X, at $60,598 with gas or $68,098 with diesel, is Nissan's sport truck with body-colour paint where chrome would normally go, a nicer cabin featuring embroidered and contrast-stitched upholstery, lots of satin-silver interior trim, and higher-end features like auto on/off LED headlights, fog lamps, proximity access, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, heatable front bucket seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with powered lumbar, a four-way powered passenger's seat, dual-zone auto climate control, navigation, 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a power-sliding back window, and more.
PRO-4X IS BEST FOR OFF-ROAD PURISTS WHILE PLATINUM IS FOR PAMPERING
Additional Pro-4X conveniences include a lockable rear seat cargo organizer, a rear flat load floor with rear wall tie-down hooks, an electronic tailgate lock, a rear utility bed step, a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, LED under-rail bed and tailgate area lighting, Nissan's Utili-track Channel System with four tie-down cleats, and a bed-mounted 110-volt AC power outlet, not to mention unique trim-specific off-road equipment such as its electronically-controlled locking rear differential, hill descent control, Bilstein shocks, 18-inch alloys wrapped in beefy all-terrain tires, plus transfer case and lower radiator skid plates.
Much of the Pro-4X' non-sport/off-road related gear gets pulled up to top-line Platinum trim, which starts at $70,998 for the gasoline model and $78,498 for the diesel, and then is added upon with niceties like illuminated running boards, remote engine start with Nissan's Intelligent Climate Control, metallic kick plates, a heatable steering wheel, a powered steering column, memory for that steering column, the driver's seat, and side mirrors, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, the latter with reverse tilt-down, a garage door opener, a 360-degree AroundView parking monitor, NissanConnect Services, premium leather upholstery, climate-controlled (cooled) front seats, heatable rear seats, and more.
REFINED, COMFORTABLE CABIN GETS IMPRESSIVE ELECTRONIC INTERFACES
All of these upscale features come in a cabin that's finished very well, with more soft touch synthetic surfaces than most fully loaded competitors. Where my previous Pro-4X tester was filled with cold hard blacks, whites and silvers, the Platinum gets warm brown tones with stylish orange threading and authentic looking open-pore woodgrain tastefully applied in key areas. The seat upholstery was quite stunning actually, trimmed in a lighter camel brown on the bolsters plus a darker perforated and quilted brown leather at centre, while the driver's multi-adjustable capability made it especially comfortable, and the steering column's extensive power reach allowed for ideal ergonomics.
Ahead of that steering wheel is a classy looking two-dial analogue gauge cluster featuring a large colour multi-information display in between. Over on the centre stack, the infotainment touchscreen incorporates an excellent split-screen parking monitor with a traditional rearview camera on the left and an overhead 360-degree view to the right. The navigation system proved easy to use and accurate as well, while that Rockford Fosgate audio system mentioned earlier definitely cranked out the tunes. Overall, the centre stack is well laid out and all of the switchgear quality was very good.
Up front are the usual cupholders, but take note they slide back and forth above a large open bin that's filled with a removable rubber mat for easy cleaning, while the leather armrest/bin cover just behind sits above another large and accommodating bin with its own removable tray, not to mention various connectors, while an aux plug, USB port, and 12-volt charger take care of devices at the base of the dash.
REAR SEATING IS SPACIOUS AND SECOND-ROW CARGO CONVENIENCE SUPERB
I was impressed with the rear seating area as well. While it's large and spacious for passengers, the seatbacks also fold flat to store items on top, although flipping them upwards and then folding out the aforementioned rear flat load floor's carpeted extension is even more useful. It provides a large flat loading area where the seats had been, perfect for storing your belongings safely inside when traveling or on the job site.
Those side steps mentioned earlier make climbing up to reach over the box walls into the back quite easy, while the new kick-down utility bed step mentioned earlier provides a good stable support for stretching up to the tailgate. Likewise, the bed rail system noted earlier works well for tying down cargo, while the spray-in bedliner was as grippy as sandpaper, making it ultra-safe in the rain.
Whether you're jumping around on the bed, slamming the tailgate shut, doing likewise to the doors, or driving over bumps and dips, the Titan feels as solid as half-ton pickups get, with zero wiggles or creaks in the cabin or anywhere else.
IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE AND A NICE SMOOTH RIDE
Also working to the Titan XD's advantage is a wonderfully smooth ride, rock steady high-speed cruising ability, and capable at the limit handling, which are all important in a truck with such immediate and plentiful performance. Yes, its big Cummins V8 gets up and goes with gusto, its six-speed automatic one gear off the pace when compared to the gasoline-powered Titan, but still a smooth operator and quite quick through the cogs. I didn't get to play with the XD in the mud either, so no opportunity to test its four-wheel drive, which incidentally uses a switch-operated two-speed transfer case. I tested its basic functions on pavement, and can attest to its ultra-easy actuation from 2Hi to 4Hi and 4Lo modes via a dial on the instrument panel, but that's about it.
Considering its heavy-half, five-eighths capability you shouldn't expect the same level of performance found in the lighter Titan, nor will you find its ride as smooth, but then again it's less of a bruiser than its domestic three-quarter and one-ton competitors, finding a happy medium between the two classes. Also, its double-wishbone front suspension and solid axle/multi-leaf rear setup with stabilizer bars at both ends is preferred by most towing and hauling fans.
SUPERB FUEL ECONOMY MAKES THE CUMMINS DIESEL A SMART CHOICE
The Titan XD Diesel manages impressive fuel economy too. After one week's near equal city/highway driving, most of which was easy-going in order to save fuel (I was responsible for filling it up after all), I achieved an average of 13.4 L/100km. That's extremely good. Factoring in that diesel fuel is regularly priced about 20 cents less than regular unleaded in Vancouver, and that the pricier petrol was hitting $1.55 at some stations last weekend, and then calculate that a diesel-powered vehicle can travel much farther on a tank of fuel, the Titan XD makes a lot of sense.
The 2018 Titan hits at the very core of the full-size half-ton market, and this Titan XD creates its own unique niche by taking a half step up over every competitor with this innovative five-eighths, heavy-half weight class. Now with a more complete line of engines, it's a force to be reckoned with, and should certainly be on your shortlist.