2017 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve 4WD CC V8: Whoa, there, Big Fella.
Price: $56,595 ($55,400 for the trim level. No options on test vehicle.)
Marketer’s pitch: “Wear your capability on your sleeve.”
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the “smooth V-8, well equipped for the money” but not the “cumbersome dynamics, not much more capable than a half-ton pickup.”
Reality: Something can be so capable and yet so hard to live with.
A growing phenomenon: In the last 10 years or so, pickup makers have been on a testosterone-fueled race to one-up one another by building the king of the hill, the big daddy, the top dawg truck. And I think the world is a sorrier place for it.
I’ve driven full-size trucks with a range of results. Some drive nicely — Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 — and some, not so nicely — Toyota Tundra and Chevy Silverado.
Heck, I’d even had a 2014 Ram Power Wagon that the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat needed a step stool to access.
Titanic? I’d made peace with all of them during a week’s visit, and always enjoyed the hauling capacity in even the floppiest handlers.
But this Titan XD goes all-out for heavy duty. A new line in 2016, the Titan XDs “are built on a unique frame and chassis” for the engine and payload specification, Nissan reports. Also, “to maximize stability, handling and ride comfort, Titan XD uses a heavy-duty, highly stable suspension design.”
Rough ride: Result? The Titan XD is a winner for most ungainly beast in the world — something I couldn’t wait to get out of.
One quick example: The university where I teach has speed bumps at its entrance. Most vehicles I drive scoot over them at 15 mph. The first time the Titan XD hit these at 10 mph, I feared I would be pitched from the Driver’s Seat. Uneven road surfaces offer no better outcome.
Up to speed: The 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 creates 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This makes for some serious motivation. Going from 0 to 60 takes a zippy 7.4 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
But somewhere in the transmission, the control module, or drivetrain, much of the initial power was sapped in the test truck. And many were the times when I’d climb a hill and could feel power start to die out, which almost felt like a fuel-pump issue. Just something to watch for on a test drive.
Shifty: The 7-speed automatic performed well enough otherwise. Tow/haul mode kept the Titan in lower gears far too long for my taste, though.
The buttons to downshift or upshift match what many truck makers offer these days, a sad reality. What happened to giant gearshifts and knee-warping clutches?
Inside: The dashboard really resembles the F-150 or Sierra — very masculine stereo pod and heater controls.
On the road: Curves are not at all fun, even for a full-size pickup. The regular Titan was far easier on the road than the XD — even the super-tall Power Wagon did far better.
Friends and stuff: No one will be cramped in the Titan XD. Legroom, headroom, and foot room are awesome in all five spots in the test vehicle. A ginormous console lives up to current truck standards.
But unlike some other models, the rear seat in the Titan XD did not fold up to create a flat loading floor, but to reveal a pair of storage bins. On a day we hauled old appliances to the landfill, the flat floor was missed.
As for the bed, hooks for bungee straps are added to the floor, but no good connectors are available up high, Mr. Driver’s Seat learned after the Titan was loaded with about 800 pounds of garage debris.
Play some tunes: The basic radio system with navigation worked acceptably, with buttons for choosing the source and left and right knobs for volume and tuning.
Sound quality was fine, about a B or so.
The 7-inch touchscreen was exceedingly small, though, and so the backup camera was actually a little less than clear. An upgrade is available, but didn’t I just pay $55,000 for this?
Or turn off the tunes: The exhaust note in the Titan is worthy of a Ram or a Chevy. Enjoy it.
Fuel economy: Dismal. I averaged 15.5 mpg in a whole lot of highway driving. Still, this was better than the 13 mpg I recorded in the 2014 Ram Power Wagon.
Where it’s built: Canton, Miss.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports gives the Titan XD a predicted reliability of 2 out of 5.
In the end: If you need a big truck, this is one big truck. But you need to be tougher than Mr. Driver’s Seat to enjoy it.