2018 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X Diesel Proves Its Towing, Off-Road Chops

Towing 1 II

By Matthew Barnes

After diving into what's makes the 2018 Nissan Titan XD special in part one of our Titan XD series, the second part will focus on how the diesel-powered crew-cab Pro-4X performed when towing and going off-road during a trip to Moab, Utah.

How It Tows

Hooking the 2018 Nissan Titan XD to our 5,000-pound travel trailer was a breeze because of its backup monitor with trailer guides. One thing we noticed right away was that the sideview mirrors didn't extend far enough to easily see down the sides of the trailer. They only needed to be an extra inch wider. The truck also had the trailer light check system, which was useful when checking the lights solo: Simply start the test with a tap on the multimedia screen and walk to the back of the trailer. The truck will honk indicating that it is beginning the light check. You can then visually check the lights as it goes through each turn signal and brakelight; the truck will honk again when the test is finished.

Having 600 pounds on the tongue of the trailer hitch smoothed out the ride a little bit, as is expected in most pickup trucks. Despite tow ratings (maximum of 12,030 pounds) that are not much higher than most half-ton trucks — and the 2018 Ford F-150 can be optioned for 13,200 pounds — the XD clearly outperforms them in stability and pulling power. It provided a more secure feeling while towing by controlling the load well and having both the torque and braking power needed for confident towing.

Trailer Brake Controller II

The additional low-end torque and exhaust control of the diesel engine also help with accelerating and stopping. Nissan doesn't state the XD has an exhaust brake, but the turbo definitely provides a good amount of back pressure with Tow/Haul engaged.

We never experienced any trailer sway or the trailer pushing the truck around during our towing tests. The fuel mileage was lower than expected with a 9.8 mpg average over 452 miles of straight towing. Most of that towing was on open highways with speeds around 70 mph. We've towed this same trailer with a 2018 Ram 2500 with the Cummins and averaged more than 12 mpg. Adding to our mileage frustration with the Titan XD was its minuscule 26-gallon fuel tank that provided about 250 miles of range. Looking under the truck, there is plenty of empty space ahead of the fuel tank that could have accommodated a larger tank, increasing capacity by another 5 or so gallons.

How It Handles Off-Road

The 2018 Nissan Titan Pro-4X comes with Bilstein shocks, 32-inch A/T General Grabber APT tires, a full set of strong skid plates and wheels that are unique from the rest of the XD lineup. Moab is known for its off-road trails, so we were excited to drive some of the famous red-rock trails we've been reading about for years. We started with Baby Lion's Back and then sampled the first portion of Fins and Things, two trails that have done quite a bit of damage to smaller, less capable pickups and SUVs. Stock full-size pickups are not commonly seen running these trails, but that didn't stop us. We aired the tires down to 30 pounds per square inch and headed for the hills.

20180701_114157 II

Running the 30-degree slopes of Baby Lion's Back was a breeze in the Titan XD, even with an old trailer hitch sticking out of the receiver to prevent the bumper from dragging. However, there wasn't a single time where anything hit the slickrock. We also learned that the Titan XD's surround view camera does a good job of showing where the truck is but provides poor depth perception. If the driver got out and mapped a line, the cameras could be used to stick to that line. The cameras weren't much help in finding the best line as they didn't provide enough clarity. At 20.18 degrees, the approach angle on the Pro-4X is much lower than the approach angles of competitors' off-road-oriented trucks.

Although possibly an unfair comparison, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon has an approach angle of 33.6 degrees; the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, 31 degrees; and the Ford F-150 Raptor, 30 degrees. This quickly became apparent on Fins and Things. Luckily the first contact point on the front end was the tow hook, which can handle taking hard hits. Even with the poor approach and departure angles of the Titan XD Pro-4X, it handled this trail quite well. There were a few times when the front skid plate was a life saver, and the hitch in the rear dragged on three or four obstacles as well. Picking good lines and angling the approaches and departures off the obstacles kept us from getting stuck or damaging the vehicle.

We tested both the rear locking differential and the active-brake limited-slip system during our run. Interestingly, there were times when we preferred to use the ABLS over the rear locker, as ABLS allows for a tighter turning radius than the locker. There is a learning curve to the system, and it isn't quite as quick to respond as similar systems in Jeep and Toyota vehicles. However, once the ABLS responded, the truck climbed everything we encountered. The rear differential locker engaged and disengaged quickly and worked as advertised. When the locker is engaged, the ABLS system is disengaged, which is perfect for slippery terrain like mud and snow, but not the best for high-traction surfaces like slickrock. We should note there were times when we had three wheels clawing with the locker engaged but couldn't climb. Disengaging the locker allowed the ABLS system to engage and ensure that all four wheels were digging for traction. The extra traction provided by the fourth wheel, in some cases, was enough for the truck to make the climb.

While a truck this size has little business navigating these trails, the Titan XD Pro-4X showed us how confident it can be off-road. It should have no problem on most county and forest roads, launching a boat on slick or unpaved boat ramps, and remaining under control when unexpected storms hit while in the backcountry.

Fins and Things 2 II

After returning to the pavement, we discovered another fun feature: When airing the tires back up, we didn't need to check the pressures. Once the tire reached 65 psi, the XD would automatically honk the horn to let us know we hit our target. This worked perfectly on all four tires.

Final Thoughts

While the printed payload and tow ratings for the 2018 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X don't seem better than most half-ton trucks, in real life the pickup is noticeably more stable and composed when under load. What surprised us was the poor fuel economy with mpgs that weren't any better than larger three-quarter and one-ton pickups. It performed exceptionally well off-road but could use a small lift and larger tires to increase approach and departure angles. Our guess is that Nissan is leaving that to dealers to offer. At $61,210, our test truck was priced several thousand dollars below a comparatively equipped three-quarter-ton truck from one of the Big Three, but for those towing or hauling heavy loads or trailers, the larger trucks are likely a better option. As a niche truck that falls between traditional light- and heavy-duty classes, the Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X performs surprisingly well.

In summary, our likes and dislikes:


  • Engine power and torque
  • Composure when towing
  • Off-road capability


  • Mirrors don't extend quite far enough
  • Poor fuel mileage with small fuel tank
  • No selectable diesel exhaust brake

Cars.com photos by Matthew Barnes


Towing 4 II

Fins and Things 1 II

4wd Controls II

Airing Up II

Tire and Wheel II

Rear 2 II

Fins and Things 4 II



Best truck made to date. Stamp it fact.

Worst truck investment - a fact

The fake papajim.

For sure better than a GM, not close to Ford though-still the king....

The REAL papajim is signing in. the two previous comments came from Australia.

Cannot comprehend why the report would trash the Titan's fuel economy (or lack of) without actually citing the specifics or describing the measurements they used to determine FE.

The Titan sounds like a truck many people would really enjoy.

So let’s take the P4X in diesel (all data from Nissan)
GVWR 8990 minus CURB 7257 = 1734
Assume 300 for passengers, 100 for WD hitch and your left with 1334. Let’s say you tow a 7500# trailer with a 15% tounge of 1125# leaves you 209# margin. At 61 large - that’s lame. Any of the 3/4 ton gassers have way more value.

I didn’t even account for any bikes, generator, fire wood, etc. if your set on a Titan buy the gasser

Its in a strange place. A truck for people who have money and occasionally tow/haul more than a half ton should do. Personally I would just step up to full 3/4... in for a penny in for a pound.

The first comment was from papajim. Own up to your stupidity.

That first comment wasn't me. Fact.

The REAL papajim is signing in. the two previous comments came from Kazakhstan.


Stop signing in a papajim. I'm the real papajim. Fact.

Yes it was. Fact.

Great truck! This diesel performs 10 times better than that junk 150 power joke Ford is bringing out and charging their customers $4k more. Good job Nissan
I passed a midnight edition the other night. All blacked out its a nice looking rig

Fake TNT, I only love GM everything else sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


No one makes my heart flutter like you! Kisses!



Real Papajim aka Fake Jeff S.

I am so confused. So Jeff S. is GMSRGREAT or papajim? Or is papajim confused and incorrectly calling Jeff S. GMSRGREAT? Let's work this out. I just want to dance.

This is the most complete off road truck available.

@Taco Truck

No way Jose! The Raptor is the king of the dirt. Stamp it fact,

This could be the greatest pickip built EVER.

If it had a manual transmission.

Looks like BAFO had the day off today.

Fake papajim.

Having had one for a year with a nissan employee lease, I struggled to support buying one due to the small tank and poor fuel mileage. I loved the trucks interior, fit and finish, torque and transmission... disliked the location of the 4wd selector button as I am 6'4" and it hit my newly replaced knee frequently . Leg room in rear is awesome.. but lacks up front compared to my 1500 Silverado crew cab.

If you tow a heavy 5th wheel or bumper hitch travel trailer or other trailer and stay away from the 3/4 tons due to ride quality when not hooked to a trailer.. this is your vehicle. Drives and rides like a dream load or unloaded.. perfectly suited ....in between ride. Just needs a bit better resale value in my opinion and that will take some time.

If I was 6' tall I would buy one and delete the limitations quickly and love my investment. That's my 02

I remember when the full size Tundra went on sale back in the mid 2000's. The true power and capability that came with this new Toyota embarrassed Ford and their F-150. Now Nissan has its turn at a new full size and it's deja vu for the Ford fan base again.


Jeff, may I ask what you're wearing right now? Please be very descriptive..

It's obvious that halftons like the F150 has exaggerated tow ratings. Especially now that it is the lightest halfton, it will be the least stable. I think 9k should be max for a truck of that light weight regardless of what it is capable of. That's why HD trucks tow better because they are heavier.

I have owned a Chevy 3/4 ton, 2 Fords and 2 Rams. I now own a Nissan Titan XD with the Cummins. I only have a little over 12,000 miles on it so I can't say it's the best truck I've ever owned, but it is my favorite. It isn't amazing at anything, but there isn't anything truly bad either. It tows well, drives well and does great off road. My only real complaint is that the fuel gauge shows the tank is empty when there is still roughly 7 gallons in the tank. It's a Nissan, but it is for all purposes American made. Chevy and Ram cant say that. They aren't for everyone and they won't tow what the big trucks will, but it's perfect for some people.

My only real complaint is that the fuel gauge shows the tank is empty when there is still roughly 7 gallons in the tank.


Nissan-Cummins is telling you something---they REALLY don't want you to ever run out of fuel. Modern fuel systems just cannot abide dirty fuel. Modern injectors will give terrific performance for at least 50k miles but only if the fuel meets specifications.

The fuel at the very bottom of the tank does not take long to get a little funky. When you run the tank dry, that crap gets pulled into the system, including the small spaces in the fuel injectors.

I took my frontier in for service and saw a titanxd and asked about it. The service guy himself told me to wait for at least the first update to happen. I think he’s right. Nissan has a good foundation here. Key to the article’s points were how stable and confident it was under load. Yes you can spec an F150 to tow more. But it may not handle the load as confidently as the XD due to the heavy duty frame and suspension. Nevertheless, a little suspension tuning, some adjustments to the programming and a larger fuel tank and the Titan XD could be the best choice for those who occasionally tow in the 9-12 thousand pound range. I’m thinking of summer and winter vacations where folks might pull out their RV. Whereas the rest of the year they rarely tow. These people don’t practice the art of towing often enough to be confident doing it in an F150. Titan XD could bridge the gap for them.

The most traded in truck on the Titan will be a Titan.

'Even with the poor approach and departure angles of the Titan XD Pro-4X, it handled this trail quite well'

'approach angles of competitors' off-road-oriented trucks'

'Stock full-size pickups are not commonly seen running these trails, but that didn't stop us'

Kudos for stock full-size pickup

David Robertson: good catch! The truck is doing it’s intended purpose.
This is a Fact: I’m afraid your comment went over my head there.

This is why I would never buy a Nissan. Only RAM has quality trucks.


I would buy this truck if I was looking into a half ton diesel. I think Nissan has worked out the gremlins for this new model!

I still love the looks of the midnight editions in person

BTW...this is the real TNTGMC. He will be highlighted in blue

Thank you andwrken for getting me set up. Appreciate it!

@ fake TNTGMC

Nice try. I'm the real TNTGMC.

like I said you @$$ half imposter. It won't work anymore bc everyone will know its me now: you spineless, gutless, pu$$y!!! You lose!!!

oops didn't sign in on the last one!! Lol

Your still an @$$ half!!

I'm sorry for trying to fool the swear filter. Didnt mean what I wrote. I love you all.

Nissan built a HD truck, gave it a lower GVWR then HD models, gave it a smaller diesel than HD models and touch it off with slightly softer suspension then HD models and then pit it against traditional halftons.

...gave it a smaller diesel than HD models and touch it off with slightly softer suspension then HD models and then pit it against traditional halftons....Posted by: uh huh | Aug 20, 2018

@uh huh

I think that was their whole point. Their designers clearly believe that the Titan XD offers a more comfortable and even more civilized ride and overall performance than ordinary HDs in the 3/4 and 1 ton class. The fact that they have failed to create excitement in the market tells me they missed the mark in terms of concept, but not execution. Too many reviewers have remarked about the comfort, quiet and nice road manners of the XD for me to believe that they failed to deliver.

Instead they just delivered something that nobody is buying, different in terms of the details, but very MUCH like the Honda Ridgeline.

Great Truck, just finished a 3,000 mile trip to Yellowstone pulling a travel trailer twice as big as the one in this article. It confidently handled the work without getting pushed around. Bonus is that the truck rides better than a 3/4 ton for daily driving. After break in my diesel routinely gets 19-22 on the interstate at 70 plus. The tow rating is way under the actual capability, if you actually believe the ratings on half tons at this point you need to get a grip with reality...

I like Nissan. I just wish they'd stop trying to use Ford styling cues and then make it so ugly to say "we don't look like Ford that we wanted to look like". These Titans are a good truck, but damn they ugly!! Maybe as ugly as the 19' Silverado. Maybe?

@holy camoly

you gotta love the 5yr/100k warranty too, right?

@holy camoly

you gotta love the 5yr/100k warranty too, right?

Posted by: papajim | Aug 21, 2018 12:04:55 AM

No doubt. A slight update to the front end styling and this would be my truck of choice.

I owned a Frontier. Good little truck, but I agree this thing isn't very easy on the eyes.

oops didn't sign in on the last one!! Lol

Your still an @$$ half!!

Posted by: TNTGMC | Aug 19, 2018 3:20:26 PM

That's because you're not a very smart person. You get caught in your lies constantly. Plus if you didn't sign out to post under other names, you'd be signed in all the time.

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