Nissan entered the American truck market in the late 1960s, selling its pocket-sized pickups under the Datsun marque. Over the next three-and-a-half decades, Nissan continued to sell small trucks in the U.S., but the 2004 Titan changed all that. The new truck—made in Japan— challenged Detroit automakers in a way that the fledgling Toyota Tundra had not. Then, 12 years later, Nissan attempted to boost sales by upping the ante with a beefier Titan, the XD.
When Nissan introduced the Titan XD in 2016, it took an “almost heavy-duty” approach to the truck. Like GM’s 1500HD trucks from the early 2000s, the XD was a 5/8-ton truck, a half-ton pickup built on a heavy-duty frame. In addition to its stout underpinnings, the XD came with two engine options: the standard 5.6-liter Endurance V8 and a 5.0-liter Cummins diesel with dual turbos capable of producing 555 lb.-ft. of torque. (Unfortunately, the XD lost the Cummins with its 2020 refresh.) It also came with commercial-grade components and a look that mirrored the second-generation Titan which was released the following year. The XD was designed to improve upon the original Titan’s capabilities and challenge the competition with a truck that the half-tons couldn’t touch without straying into 3/4-ton pricing.
- Engine: 5.6-liter V8 400 horsepower
- Torque: 413 lb.-ft.
- Transmission: 9-speed automatic w/ manual mode
- Drive type: Four-wheel drive (standard)
- Combined MPG: Not listed
- Total seating: 5 to 6
- Basic warranty: 5 yrs./100,000 miles
- Range: Not listed
- Fuel tank: 26 gallons
- Tow capacity (max): 10,920 lbs. (with gooseneck hitch)
- Payload capacity (max): 2430 lbs.
- Bed length: 6 feet, 6.7 inches
- Ground clearance: 8.2 to 9.1 inches
- MSRP: $46,380 (starting)
To keep things simple, the Titan XD comes in only one configuration, although Nissan once anticipated offering all three cab sizes. Today, the XD is a 4×4-only truck with a crew cab and standard bed.
Nissan has cut back on trim levels as well, offering four options:
- S (base)
- SV (“everyman”)
- Pro-4X (off-road)
- Platinum Reserve (premium)
My loaner truck for this review came in the Platinum Reserve trim level. Externally, the truck’s tall hood, sharp red paint, chrome trim, and machined 20-inch wheels created an eye-catching package. Inside, the XD features the same layout and dimensions as the standard Titan. My test truck sported front and rear saddle tan leather seats (perforated, of course) with a matching console lid and door panels along with a healthy amount of chrome and faux wood accent trim up front.
Dimensionally, the XD’s cab is identical to the standard Titan. The cabin offered plenty of legroom, especially in the back, but headroom was a bit limited, with the rear taking a major hit due to the optional sunroof.
Behind the dash, I was hit with a distinctly old school feel thanks to a steering wheel with somewhat car-like proportions, a steering column-mounted mechanical shift lever, and a handful of prominent analog controls, like the 4×4 actuator switch. While some may dislike such throwbacks, I enjoyed the familiar feel, tactile feedback, and sense of control they provided. That said, the cabin still had plenty of modern conveniences, including a touchscreen infotainment and a dash with both traditional-style gauges and a driver information screen.
I quickly came to appreciate the steering wheel’s smaller proportions. While the 5.6-liter V8 puts down plenty of power and torque, you wouldn’t know if when stepping on the gas. Still, the truck accelerates well enough after some initial hesitation. While cruising down the blacktop, I immediately noticed the trucklike ride, par for the course with a heavy-duty pickup. The shocks provided limited dampening, reminding me that I was driving a work-first truck. On the highway, I found that I disliked the large yet restrictive main mirrors and found myself frequently relying on the smaller ones to reliably check my blind spots.
After familiarizing myself with the XD on asphalt, I took the Titan up into Pike National Forest for a bit of real-world use. The road I took involved several hairpins which the XD navigated with ease even with its extra length. Shifting into 4Hi was a breeze, and once moving, the system performed quite well on dirt and gravel, resisting slippage with ease despite the Platinum Reserve’s standard all-season tires.
At one point, I shifted into 4 Lo to navigate a short rocky section. Shifting into 4Lo took more deliberation than switching between 2WD and 4Hi, requiring me to shift into neutral and push the switch level in before tackling the rock bed.
On the drive back down the mountain, I transitioned the transmission into manual mode for a more controlled speed. (Pushing the shift toggle switch on the shift lever activates manual shifting while pressing and holding the same button switches the truck back to automatic mode.) During my descent, I found myself mostly in second gear with occasional shifts into third for mild grade sections which kept my average speeds in the 15 to 25 mph range. Per the Titan XD driver’s manual, first gear is only for rock crawling and similar activities, and I can confirm this as I saw a snail race past me while I crawled in first.
- The Titan XD’s standard 5.6-liter V8 puts out more power (400 hp) and torque (413 lb.-ft.) than any other base engine on the half-ton market and many optional power plants. It also competes very well with entry-level heavy-duty truck engines.
- The truck launches slowly, but after shifting out of first gear, it accelerates well for such a large vehicle.
- The transmission’s manual mode can be accessed directly from drive. This makes switching between the two modes easier than in competing trucks, but this also makes it a little easier to forget to switch back to automatic mode. Also, the lack of paddle shifters may be an adjustment for some.
- The truck strikes a good balance between the half-ton and 3/4-ton segments with a hunter-friendly emphasis on payload.
- The steering wheel’s proportions strike a perfect balance between a sedan and a pickup. It is reasonably large but is small enough to be comfortable for drivers with smaller hands, something many competitors fail to achieve.
- The Titan XD features a comfortable, spacious cabin with tons of legroom, decent headroom (without the optional sunroof), and plenty of creature comforts and conveniences.
- The truck’s electronics suite features an infotainment system with a relatively small touchscreen that has the positive side effect of not being visually distracting while on the road. The truck also comes with numerous electronics and electrical plug-ins (USB, USB-C, 12-volt, and 120-volt).
- This Nissan truck includes plenty of storage options. The rear of the cab can be configured into multiple storage configurations, and the optional locking boxes (with drain plugs) in the bed are great for storing loose gear.
- The XD’s lightweight tailgate is dampened and can accommodate one-handed opening and closing. Nissan also offers a handful of optional bed and cargo-oriented conveniences.
- The truck’s low-tech design should make future repairs less expensive and more manageable for DIYers.
- While the Titan XD is not the greatest value on the market, it isn’t really overpriced for what it is.
- The Titan XD rides like the heavy duty(ish) truck that it is. While the ride isn’t horrific, it leaves much to be desired from a comfort perspective, and the cabin is loud compared to most half-tons on the market.
- Nissan’s choice of side mirror layout and configuration left me scratching my head. The larger upper mirrors can be adjusted electronically, but they provide a frustratingly narrow field of view that often failed to show me my blind spot. The much smaller lower mirrors made up for the visibility issues, but they have to be adjusted manually which is a nuisance.
- Unfortunately, the XD includes some low-cost touches. The low-resolution cameras in particular stand out in comparison to other full-size pickups, and on my test truck, I noticed significant visual distortion in the windshield along the passenger’s side A pillar.
- As with most modern pickups, the oil dipstick is a bit difficult to reach for shorter individuals.
- The truck’s infotainment system is not particularly user friendly for active drivers. I never found the play/pause audio controls on the cluttered steering wheel (if they exist) and reaching the touchscreen without taking my eyes off the road felt like a futile effort.
- The Platinum Reserve truck failed to live up to high-end truck standards in 2022. For example, the “wood” accent panels look, sound, and feel a bit too much like plastic, and the single infotainment option includes a touchscreen that is smaller and more “mid-tier feeling” than those found on competing pickups, such as Chevy’s High Country or Ram’s Limited trucks.
- The roofline on trucks equipped with the optional sunroof was low in the back. At right around six feet tall, I find it disappointing that I was forced to slouch in order to find any head clearance.
- In order to get all-terrain tires and a transfer case skid plate, buyers must opt for the Pro-4X trim line as those features are not available with any other trim.
If you like half-tons but need a higher payload rating than the standard offering, the Nissan Titan XD may be the way to go. While a properly configured F-150 can surpass the Nissan’s payload capacity, doing so costs an extra $5,600, making the XD a cheaper (albeit heavier) option. As such, the XD could be a desirable choice for hunters hauling heavy loads.
That said, the Titan XD fills a market niche that may not cater well to the needs of other hunters. For a comfortable daily driver that doubles as a hunting rig, you might be better off with a half-ton pickup or even a capable mid-size. On the flip side, a traditional 3/4-ton rig is best when high payloads and heavy trailers are regular fixtures in your daily life.
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Nissan keeps extra features to a minimum which makes customization an impractical option. As such, I’d go with the XD’s Pro-4X trim level with its all-terrain tires. Beyond that, the bedside Titan Boxes, tie-down cleats, and rock rails (with detachable steps) would also find their way onto the exterior, while I would go for rubber mats and possibly one or two other protective interior add-ons into the mix. By contrast, a similarly configured SV model with aftermarket tires will only save you about $1,000. The low-end S models lack adequate skid plates, making them unsuitable for many hunters, and the Platinum Reserve models seem a bit too rich for most hunters even without an A/T tire upgrade.