Review: 2017 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X with Cummins Power

Nissan’s new Titan comes in two sizes: half-ton and almost three-quarter ton, call it five-eighths ton. I reviewed the half-ton Titan last summer and while I liked it I did not think there was anything revolutionary about it – it was just another pickup.
The Titan XD changes that with its unique size and the availability of a V8 Cummins diesel engine. This combination really makes for an interesting package. We hauled our Lada 24 Hours of Lemons racer across the state of Massachusetts to its new home and to see how the Titan XD performs with light towing duties.

The biggest visual difference between the half-ton Titan and 5/8-ton Titan XD is the wheelbase, which is almost a foot longer. All of that extra length goes directly to the bed. Along with it, but less visible is the heavier duty frame and chassis which also gives the Titan XD a little more height. The cab and the nose are pretty much exactly the same.
Since the cabs are identical, the interior space and features are the same as well. This PRO-4X was fully loaded with heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated seats, although the seat heaters were not that strong. Because this is a rather large vehicle and I live in downtown Boston, I found the optional sonar parking sensors and around view camera very handy when parking.
The biggest difference in the bed of this pickup, aside from length, were the optional storage boxes on each side. While the idea is great, its execution could be better as the lids seem rather flimsy and the boxes were not very large or deep, but they were lockable. Bed lighting, too, could be better and Nissan does offer optional bed illumination that was not installed on this truck. The tailgate is lockable but it is not powered and requires the use of a separate key. Power locking tailgate is optional but was not fitted to this truck.

The big news in the XD is the Cummins 5.0-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 Turbo Diesel engine. The engine makes 310 hp at 3200 rpm and 555 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm. Nissan wisely chose this engine as it fits the 5/8-ton Titan very well – it is bigger and more powerful than RAM 1500 Ecodiesel (3.0-liter, 240hp, 420tq) and smaller than the diesel engines used in Ford, RAM, and GM heavy duty trucks, just like the Titan XD itself. It’s very well matched up to the six-speed automatic transmission. 
The engine is much quieter than other ¾-ton diesel trucks but still properly audible. It pulls the empty Titan with serious authority. Seeing that so many people drive modern pickups as if they are sports sedans, I sometimes think that they have too much power. That is definitely true for the Cummins-powered Titan. Drive it like a hoon and it will respond. Buff books say it does 0-60 mph in 9.2 seconds 17.0 seconds to kill the quarter-mile while at 82 mph, but it feels faster than that – because torque.
The ride, even when empty, is very comfortable. This is not the norm for typical heavy-duty pickups as their suspensions tend to be stiffer in order to handle increased payloads. Along with that ride is a very confident and predictable highway handling. It really goes and handles much better than a vehicle this size should. If there is something to criticize it is the huge turning radius which is especially noticeable when maneuvering in parking lots.

Our trailer was rather small and old but in good shape. It was a homemade trailer and it was rather typical for its time; removable steel ramps, dual axles, but it had no brakes. Our Lada 2107 24 Hours of Lemons racer is rather light, too, probably under 2200 pounds. Our best guesstimate is that the combination of car and trailer was just under 5000 pounds. With a 12,037 pound towing capacity this was clearly an overkill of a tow rig for our purposes and it made the whole trip rather uneventful, which is a really good thing. I didn’t even need to use my tow mode, I gotta say it was a good day.
Our trailer was easy work for Titan XD. At no point, around town or on the road, did it feel at all stressed. We stayed in the right lane and typically around the 65 mph speed limit for safety reasons. The few times we had to accelerate to pass, it did so easily and smoothly, even while going uphill. Looking far down the road we avoided any emergency breaking but the brakes seemed unfazed by the extra load. I don’t have the exact figure but it averaged around 14 mpg when towing and about 18-19 mpg driving empty, with a lot of city driving.
The Titan XD has few helpful towing aids. The key has a function which illuminates all lights and blinkers, allowing trailer light check to be a one person operation. The XD has an integrated gooseneck hitch in the bed, in addition to the class-4 receiver hitch. There is a built-in brake controller which I did not use and electronic trailer sway control which did not activate itself during our stint. One thing we could have used, and I’m not sure if any trucks have it, was a light near the hitch itself.

As mentioned before, the Titan XD is almost a niche product. Comparing it to other similarly equipped pickups, all quad-cab, 4×4, V8, short bed models, it fits perfectly between the half-ton and the three-quarter-ton trucks. Please keep in mind that there are millions of pickup configurations available and variations do exist. In the end, these are the manufacturer provided maximum limits. If you approach these limits in real life, you should consider getting a bigger truck.

Truck Payload Max Towing
Chevy Silverado 1500 1760 lbs. 10,800 lbs.
Ford F-150 N/A  10,800 lbs.
RAM 1500 1720 lbs. 10,200 lbs.
Nissan Titan 1610 lbs. 9,230 lbs.
Toyota Tundra 1560 lbs. 9,800 lbs.
Nissan Titan XD 1840 lbs. 12,037 lbs.
Chevy Silverado 2500HD 2942 lbs. 13,000 lbs.
Ford F-250 3450 lbs. 15,000 lbs.
RAM 2500 2740 lbs. 17,550 lbs.

For the purpose of towing my little racer, I could have used a variety of vehicles, including many bigger cross-over utility vehicles. The Titan XD didn’t even break a sweat doing that task. Where it would have made a difference is in towing of an enclosed trailer, with a heavier racer, loaded up with tools, gas cans, spare parts, jacks, wheels, and other essentials of a racing weekend. We typically use my teammate’s Ford F-250 for that exact reason but I am confident that the Titan XD would fulfill those needs without an issue.
Complaints, I have a few. The headlights are really weak despite being of the LED variety. The auxiliary gauges don’t show exact values, just mix and max with a gray area in between. The big side mirrors are split into two, a small convex bottom glass and a bigger, flatter, top glass. Perhaps I’m just not used to mirrors like that but I had a hard time adjusting them properly. The center console could use some improvement, too, such as sliders for the cup-holders and a few more divisions. 
What makes the Titan XD interesting really is its size and that engine. There are many truck owners who approach the limits of their half-tons. Yet, because they truly approach those limits only a handful of times per year, it is difficult for them to justify a purchase of pricier, bigger, and sometimes less comfortable, ¾-ton truck. For those people, the Titan XD may just be the thing and that sweet Cummins diesel engine is the icing on the cake.

My teammate George Kennedy of the Boston Globe behind the wheel. Please ignore the dumpster in the back. And ignore the Lada, too. 

The Titan XD starts at $31,090 for a bare-bones single cab 4×2 model. The truck seen here is an off-road capable PRO-4X model that adds a locking read differential, Bilstein shocks, all-terrain tires, and skid plates, and it starts at $52,230. Loaded with Utility and Audio, Convenience, and Luxury packages, and the mandatory $1,195 destination charge, this fully loaded truck came to $59,855 manufacturer’s suggested retail price., however, shows the actual selling prices to be much lower.
Make sure to check out Jeff’s old video from the time he used the Titan XD to tow the Hooniverse west coast team’s Ranchero.

Disclaimer: We asked Nissan North America if their Titan XD was truck enough to tow our little racer and move a crib to our sister’s house. They laughed and tossed us the keys. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2017.

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10 responses to “Review: 2017 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X with Cummins Power”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    My roofing/general contractor has a ’16 XD with the Cummins (same color combo), and he loves it. He was in a Frontier before, and saw the Titan when he was at the dealer, quoting a new roof for them.

  2. mdharrell Avatar

    I see we have different standards for what constitutes a “rather small and old” homemade trailer.

  3. CraigSu Avatar

    Still looks like an F-150. Just sayin’.

  4. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    I like that Nissan tried something new, but that’s about where it ends for me– in concept at least. Can’t say if I actually like the XD or not until I drive one. But having driven a 1500 Avalanche for nearly 8 years, and with my dad having a 2500HD Silverado, I completely get how the different classes of truck make sense. Can’t say I understand the point of splitting the difference, at least from a high-volume sales standpoint.

  5. outback_ute Avatar

    It is interesting that US tow ratings do not specify a limit before you need to have trailer brakes (or do they?), here anything over 750kg must have brakes.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      Many states have laws the limit the weight of an un-braked trailer. In my state that is 2,000lbs yet my local trailer dealer has loads of trailers with a 3,500lb rated capacity and no brakes. Many mfgs also have a limit on their rated un-braked trailer capacity and it usually isn’t too high.

    2. Craig Dotson Avatar
      Craig Dotson

      The tow ratings quoted in ads and reviews like this are the manufacturer’s brag number. They are the maximum tow limit, when properly equipped, and burdened with no additional load such as driver, passengers, or fuel.
      Look into the manual, or manufacturer’s published towing guides (Ford does this really well compared to some other manufacturers), and there’s a host of other factors affecting tow rating. They break down how options affect tow/payload ratings, how much frontal area your trailer can have, and the load at which you must use trailer brakes (subject to local laws) and weight-distributing hitches.

    3. mdharrell Avatar

      The legal requirements vary by state. Here in Washington the limit without brakes is 3000 pounds, as long as the trailer’s weight doesn’t exceed 40% of the weight of the tow vehicle, unless the trailer was manufactured before July 1965 and weighs less than 2000 pounds. There are other considerations, too:

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Thanks guys. It is surprising that this sort of detail is not included in brochures or fine print when ratings are quoted. After all, can’t assume that the poor little consumer will do their own research!
        On a more serious note, perhaps this is why US tow ratings are low compared to other places.

  6. Monkey10is Avatar

    “…it was a good day.”
    Well, i — at least — got that reference.
    (“…didn’t even have to use my XD…”)