Truckin' Tennessee Trails in a Nissan Titan XD

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By Aaron Bragman

Nissan's Titan pickup truck is the new kid at school — picked on, not given any respect, overlooked when it comes time to choose teams for sports. But that's OK; Nissan seems to relish being the underdog of the pickup class as it gives the automaker freedom to do things a little out of the box. The latest version of the Mississippi-built Titan has been out for a couple of years now, and Titans are still a rare sight in most parts of the country. But that doesn't bother the Nissan crew; they're soldiering along with a truck that they're eager to prove is as capable as domestic-brand pickups.

With that in mind, I found myself in the parking lot of the Hilton at McGhee Tyson Airport staring at a 2018 Titan half-ton and Titan XD pickups as journalists converged upon Knoxville, Tenn., for the first part of Nissan's Great Titan Meat Up. The Meat Up was the latest in a series of special events designed to showcase the Titan in the wild. Meat Up weekend kicked off with a day off-roading in the Smoky Mountains followed by a smoked meat cooking competition in Pigeon Forge.

A Mix of Off-Road Titans

The off-road event took us into the hills of Windrock Park, one of the largest off-road parks in the country encompassing more than 72,000 acres laced with more than 300 miles of off-highway trails that accommodate everything from side-by-sides to dirt bikes to full-size 4x4 trucks like the Titans. Our fleet was a mix of Titan half tons with the 390-horsepower, 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 and Titan XDs — Nissan's 'tweener pickup that's not quite a half ton, not quite a heavy duty — powered by a 310-hp, turbo-diesel 5.0-liter Cummins V-8. All trucks were the Pro-4X off-road trim, with higher ride heights, all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, an electronic locking rear differential and some additional underbody skid-plate protection that came in handy on the trails.

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Unfortunately, rain the night before our off-roading adventure rendered the trails slick and muddy, with puddles of deep, standing water everywhere. Perfect for getting photos of trucks plowing through the muck, less great for keeping everything in one piece and paint off the rocks. I drove a Titan XD Pro-4X King Cab with two rear-hinged doors opening wide to a junior-sized rear seat. On the road, the Titan XD is an excellent truck, with an astonishingly compliant ride and plenty of grunt from the Cummins engine that puts out 555 pounds-feet of torque. The Bilstein off-road shocks that are meant for trail bashing soaked up any road imperfections on the pavement, and the steering had a heft to it that imbues the driver with plenty of confidence. Visibility was good, thanks to deep side windows that feature a kickdown in the beltline, and the interior has seen some improvements in assembly quality since I first sampled this generation of Titan. It felt as solid, well-built and upscale as any of the American-brand pickups.

How It Performed

Once the pavement ended and the trails began, the Titan XD soldiered on with no issue at all. The electronic four-wheel-drive selector slipped into 4-High with the twist of a knob, and 4-Low with a brief shift into neutral and another twist of the knob. Despite its size and heft, the Titan XD barreled up loose, rocky inclines and maneuvered around tight bends with an impressively tight turning circle. In most conditions, the all-terrain tires would be fine, but a more aggressive tread would be needed for conditions any wetter than the ones we encountered. Deep ruts and thick mud occasionally required us to give some hills two or three attempts, but not once did our beast leave us stuck.

And only once did we leave some paint on a rock, thankfully, after our Titan slid sideways on a slippery section of the trail, bashing the front left bumper and destroying the foglight. Even though I assured our Nissan hosts that it would just buff right out that's, of course, not so; it's going to need a new bumper.

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Up Next: A Smokin' Competition

But off-roading was only half the tale of the Great Titan Meat Up. Day Two was a smoked meat cooking competition, wherein your favorite team faced off against four other media teams and two Nissan teams in the hills of the Smoky Mountains. See, the former head of Nissan Trucks, Billy Hayes, is a huge smoked meat hobbyist — and one day he asked, "Why don't we build a smoker into the back of a Titan?" Which is exactly what Nissan did before inviting other teams to face off against Hayes — who is now vice president of Nissan Regional Operations, North America — and Team Nissan in several smoked meat categories.

Stay tuned to see whose cuisine reigned supreme. photos by Christian Lantry


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Looks like a lot of fun.

Nothing that a big bucket of soapy water, a sponge and a little rubbing compound can't fix

I really like the looks of this truck. Nissan really went outside the box with the design. They look so much better in person.

I have read a few articles on them, and they do have a few gremlins to them, but hopefully after the 1st year they can fix the issues.

If I were in the market for a new or nearly new half ton I would give the titan a look. I would only bite on an XD if the price was very good.

Its a vehicle that deserves serious consideration especially for those burned by the big 3 minus 1.

I disagree about them looking better in person. Ugh.

Nissan was the first truck i ever owned in 86. My 16 NV1500 has been great so far. Smooth ride H.D. 8 lug axles. Plenty of payload big brakes that stop well. only 6,000 miles so far.

Meh, Nissan biggest failure yet.

Meh, Nissan biggest failure yet

@ Frank

How do you figure?? Show me facts? Again, nothing to show for it, ridicule others, but you spew off more than anyone!!

Hey PUTC! I live about 2 hours south of there! Why didn't y'all stop by?


You think that every manufacturer except Ford is a failure. You really are a first class DOLT. I don't think there is a person here that takes you seriously. Go back to sipping your aluminum flavored Kool Aid. LOL

I said the Nissan Titan XD is a failure.

You have reading deficiency, go cry to your momma.


Here is what XD owners have reported so far:

Door lock not working
Driver’s seat heat and cool issues
Drone noise at 65-75 MPH
Throttle body malfunction
Getting Fuel smell in Cab
Blue fluid from front right tire area
Burnt smell
Radio reception am/fm poor platinum reserve 2016
Takes forever to start then dies
Cold weather heater issues
Parking Brake Won’t Hold Adjustment
Power steering loud
DEF warning in error
Fuel smell in cab DCB
Torque management almost killed me
Titan XD Fuel Tank Breather Tube Recall
Engine deceleration then acceleration hesitation
Low fuel pressure warning came on
Loud single clang with some cold starts
Steering Wheel and Seat Heaters Duty Cycle
Transmission won't shift above 4th till I reach 40 mph
AT Error
Alignment issues
2016 XD 5.6L Idle Fluctuating While Cruising
Cruise Control Issues
Cummins Engine torque fluctuation issues
Front end noise
Electrical discharge
Engine Noise
Transmission control unit failure
Bad egr??
Windshield wiper light flashes when braking.
Radio cuts out intermittently
TitanXD Loose Seats (Recall/TSB Likely)
Titan Problems
False regens
Bad factory alignment
Pro4x 5.6L The transmission in the for service @ 2600 miles
Titan XD Transmission Issues
Engine Vibration - at the dealer for 8 weeks
New truck- steering wheel memory problem
Cab to Bed Alignment
Delayed 3-4 shift when trans cold
Steering Column and A pillar
Oil Leak
Engine Vibration - at the dealer for 6 weeks
Rattles and Squeaks Pro4X, and how to fix them.
Shutter while Driving
Transmission/Engine Issues
Diesel Owner’s Manual Problems
Tail gate handle issues anyone
Titan 5.0, terrible cold start

Good fun wheeling doing what trucks are supposed to do

like I said. It needs bugs fixed....

Atleast it isnt catching on fire!!!

@Clint- there are some smokin deals to be had on year 1 & 2 trucks. If the shoe fits...

My first truck was a brand new 1974 Datsun aka Nissan 100hp 4 speed, cost me $2085 with the optional rear bumper, the AM radio was standard

some people have all the fun, but I would have thought the PRO would have had a locking front diff too..

I had a Titan and it was a good truck, the new one looks pretty good. Just disappointed Nissan has not done more. They don't even offer a sunroof.

Car and Driver Magazine
March 2018

40,000 mile test

Ecoboost. Please don't be such a drip. We presume you want us to read a truck review in a magazine that doesn't really know how to cover pickups. Am I right?

Ford buys advertising from your magazine. Nissan too. Which auto-maker buys more ads, month after month?

The answer to that question tells us which truck wins the C&D comparison.

There wasn’t anything specific that only a truck specialist would have knowledge of - it was just common automotive observations applipicale to anything with a drivetrain. I fault the person at Nissan who did the Cummins intergration into the Nissan platform. Read the article. At least this particular truck was a disaster - multiple trips to Nissan dealers who didn’t know how to service it or diagnose problems. Nothing truck specific about that.


Every manufacturer has forums filled with real and petty complaints. Should we check out the Fords?

Multiple scratches on the (cheapest ever) plastic interior pieces from factory.
Scratch on center stack controls.
Loose trim piece on rear door (literally fell off while driving).
Air leak in cabin (passenger side) at highway speeds
Seat leather loose
Massaging seats not working (massaging seats in a truck, seriously?)
Cooled seats not working
Highway vibration
Not shifting in to 4wd
Locker won't lock
Reduced power limp mode
Radio screen froze
Wipers not working
Sunroof leaking
Sunroof not working
Rear power window not working
Adaptive Radar cruise brakes unexpectedly
Transmission shudder (also in 8,9 & 10th gears between 40-50)
Rear end clunk
Rough idle
Truck won't start
Transmission binding?
Rattle on acceleration
Dash rattle
Interior trim loose
MPG way low
Power steps not working/stuck
Front axle seal leak
Rear axle seal leak
Wi-Fi not working
Visible marking in rear quarter panels from manufacturer (excellent fit and finish)
Chipping paint
Panel gaps off
Rogue rattles
Surface rust on underside

Should I go on?

"I had a Titan and it was a good truck, the new one looks pretty good. Just disappointed Nissan has not done more. They don't even offer a sunroof."

Jim, I agree. Doesn't have to be a panoramic sunroof like Ford and RAM, just a sunroof, even if it's just the SL and Platinum Reserve models. Come to think about it, neither do the GM medium size twins. What a disappointment, especially on a $50K truck like the GMC Canyon Denali.

What ya’all are sayin’ is they all suck! I’m sure we could dig up a similar list on the GMs / Ram and Tundra

all truck forums have columns of truck is perfect. Reread what your boy Frank posted and connect the dots with a Little Common Sense....

VERY confused.

Sun roof???

My wife's car has a sun roof. I think we've used it once. Now give me an electric rear WINDOW and we're talkin'

I said the Nissan Titan XD is a failure.

You have reading deficiency, go cry to your momma.
Posted by: Frank | May 2, 2018 4:00:21 PM

No Fordtard you said!

Meh, Nissan biggest failure yet.
Posted by: Frank | May 2, 2018 3:29:19 PM

What fordtard you are son!

@oxi nothing wrong with listening to desk jockey or reading reviews. Many of these people test trucks cars SUVs daily so they can compare. When you start reading the same pros or cons from different sources then might be true.
The long term test are better when different people do them over length of time.

By "relishing in being the underdog" Nissan is pretty much saying "we just don't care what you think" and consumers took that to heart. The first generation had a lot to offer at the time with only a few drawbacks and it was just never improved on or cared about. F consumers, is the MO of Nissan across all models. This refresh is boring and nobody cares. The dip in sales and low resale proves it. In an era when it's cool to buy the off brand you would think it would be to Nisaan's benefit, except they can't even capitalize when being unpopular is popular.

@ Frank

Did you see the latest review on the f-150 diesel. Not looking good!! Lol

Meh, Nissan biggest failure yet.
Posted by: Frank | May 2, 2018 3:29:19 PM

What fordtard you are son!

Posted by: johnny doe | May 3, 2018 5:30:35 PM

Clearly the article solely reflect the Titan XD, this is why I said, "Nissan's Biggest Failure."
Read the title, you damn hippie.

Truckin' Tennessee Trails in a Nissan Titan XD

@ Frank

Did you see the latest review on the f-150 diesel. Not looking good!! Lol

Posted by: BA | May 4, 2018 5:14:50 PM

I couldn't care for it.

Clearly the article solely reflect the Titan XD, this is why I said, "Nissan's Biggest Failure."
Read the title, you damn hippie.

Truckin' Tennessee Trails in a Nissan Titan XD

@ Frank

Again how is it a failure?? The trucks did everything they wanted them to do in the article?

On paper, they have always been pretty slick.
The little Dana44s in gen 1 had some diff oil temp issues towing, but most people didn’t use them like that.
My unscientific anecdotal sightings don’t see many Gen1s with hitches. Probably like the Ridgeline, a truck for people who don’t need a truck that much.
A sad stereotype really. Whereas the Titan and XD are quite capable, powerful infact, with beefed axles, brakes and transmission. Same with the Tundra.
People would rather have a 5.3 or a turbo V6.
To each their own.

I like the look, i also like the look of the RAM trucks. I'm not a fan of the shoe box look that Ford has (Never mind the outsourcing of american IT, finance and accounting jobs) nor the box look of the GMs (Never mind the 80 billion dollar bailout in 2008). Toyota as an alright look.

As an owner of a late model titan (2014) I am more than happy with its pure simplicity and functionality. I'd take a heavily discounted titan over any of the big 3 any day. It does 99% of what the ford, gm and ram can do. There's just something that says stay away when you are building 30, 40, 50 thousand trucks a month.

I am on the fence about the Titan XD with the cummins. I like lord st one last year and I did like it. To me it looked more like a car inside but I didn't mind it too much. The problems I have are that it weighs the same as a most similar equipped 3/4 tons trucks. So essentially you are buying a under powered truck that has about 800 lbs less payload and 5-6,000 lbs less towing capacity. Sure you could get a deck out Titan fully loaded for the same price say as a XLT trim F-250 or Big Horn Trim Tam 2500. We all know that Japanese Manufacturers don't come down off the sticker price as much as Ford and such. If you want a under powered and near the same weight as similar equipped 3/4 ton then the Titan XD is it. This truck would have been awesome 10-15 years ago and would have been a great contender. The issue to me is that the Diesel engine weighs so much that you can't put it in a true half ton truck. The front end would be sagging too much and such. So by the time you beefed up frame and suspension to handle weigh and have some kind of towing capacity. You have a 3/4 ton truck without power and price is near the same.

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