Nis­san Ti­tan XD: re­fined yet rugged

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - AUTOS - By Les­ley Wim­bush

MARI­COPA, Ariz. — Pick­ing their way through the dusty sage­brush, two wild horses sud­denly ap­peared by the road­side, bach­e­lor colts by the look of them, ju­ve­nile stal­lions who’d prob­a­bly been run off by the herd’s leader once they’d reached pu­berty. There’s zero tol­er­ance for teenage be­hav­iour among equines, so th­ese two were free to live a life of play-fight­ing and lazy de­bauch­ery in the Sono­ran Desert, un­til they are ma­ture enough to start their own bands.

As sur­real as this en­counter seemed, it was also fit­ting, as most of my ex­pe­ri­ences with pickup trucks in­volve horses. Whether it’s on the back­stretch at the race­track, while wrap­ping legs at the stable or shar­ing tail­gate lunches in the hunt field, the topic of con­ver­sa­tion in­vari­ably turns to truck pref­er­ence. When I pic­ture the old-timers — black­smiths, feed men, vet­eri­nar­i­ans, train­ers, with their large, chapped hands wrapped around warm cups of cof­fee — I can’t help won­der what they’d think of the rig I’m cur­rently driv­ing.

Nat­u­rally, for the big sta­bles and in­ter­na­tional ship­pers, noth­ing but a heavy-duty pickup would do. But the ama­teur com­peti­tors, small train­ers and recre­ational riders have an on­go­ing dilemma: Would they opt for the com­fort and econ­omy of a light­duty truck or the pow­er­ful so­lid­ity of a big, diesel-pow­ered rig?

Most of the time, a reg­u­lar-size pickup fits the bill nicely; it’s pow­er­ful enough to han­dle a bumper pull but of­ten used as a daily driver. But the grow­ing trend for larger, heav­ier com­pet­i­tive horses led many of my friends to trade up to larger pick­ups that can tow more. Sure, the ever more pow­er­ful half-ton pickup seg­ment is more than ca­pa­ble of pulling in­creas­ingly large weights, but are they heavy enough to han­dle a mov­ing load and, more im­por­tantly, stop it?

For th­ese folks and thou­sands of oth­ers — con­trac­tors, hun­ters and campers — there’s a gap be­tween their needs and what’s avail­able. Nis­san calls that gap the “white space” be­tween seg­ments and is con­vinced the new Ti­tan XD has filled the gap.

Pow­ered by a 5.0-litre Cum­mins V-8 diesel, the Ti­tan XD is the first of its kind to of­fer heavy-duty ca­pa­bil­ity in a more man­age­able light-duty-size pack­age. While Ram was the first diesel-pow­ered 1500-se­ries pickup, the Ti­tan XD takes it much fur­ther. Half-ton trucks are now post­ing tow rat­ings ex­ceed­ing 4,500 kilo­grams — num­bers once seen only in the three­quar­ter ton seg­ment — but they don’t trim. For off-road afi­ciona­dos, there’s the Ti­tan PRO4X, com­plete with a lock­ing dif­fer­en­tial, un­der­body skid plates, Bil­stein shocks and a unique paint scheme.

De­pend­ing on trim level, there’s quilted leather and an op­tional sev­eninch in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with GPS nav­i­ga­tion, along with a 12-speaker Rockford Fos­gate sound sys­tem and the same Zero Grav­ity seats found in the Max­ima. Nis­san’s Around View Mon­i­tor uses cam­eras to pro­vide 360 de­grees of aware­ness us­ing au­di­ble warn­ings and an on­screen dis­play. Rear seats flip up to re­veal a lock­able stor­age box.

On road, it’s an ex­tremely well-man­nered ve­hi­cle — even when un­laden. The level of quiet within the cabin is re­mark­able for a pickup truck. This is the re­sult of many fac­tors, in­clud­ing the use of lam­i­nated sand­wich glass nor­mally found in lux­ury sedans and a 45 per cent im­proved level of body seal­ing and hy­draulic bed-to-frame mounts rather than the typ­i­cal rub­ber “hockey pucks” used in many pickup trucks

In an off-road com­par­i­son test against the Ford F-350 and Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado 3500, the Ti­tan XD was con­sid­er­ably more re­fined. Not avail­able for com­par­i­son was the Ram; it would have been in­ter­est­ing to com­pare the Ti­tan XD back-to-back against the Ram’s ex­cel­lent air sus­pen­sion.

The crew-cab Ti­tan XD 4x4 has a max tow rat­ing of 12,300 lbs (5,443 kg) and a pay­load of 2,093 lbs (949 kg). Tow­ing a 9,000-lb (4,082-kg) en­closed car trailer, the Ti­tan felt really solid and the en­gine brake, Down­hill Speed Con­trol, trailer brake and sway con­trols add to the sense of se­cu­rity.

Any­one who tows alone will ap­pre­ci­ate the backup cam­era that clearly aligns the ball with the trailer’s hitch, and the new Trailer Light Check sys­tem: sim­ply hook up the elec­tri­cal, walk be­hind the trailer, then press the key fob. The sys­tem runs through the light check se­quen­tially, then honks when done. As a horse owner who oc­ca­sion­ally leaves at a ridicu­lously early hour for the show ring, the idea of in­de­pen­dent au­ton­omy is ex­cit­ing; I can hook up, by my­self, with con­fi­dence.

While Cana­dian prices won’t be avail­able for a while, the Ti­tan XD is ex­pected to start at around US$40,000 for a base crew cab 4x4, up to US$60,000 for the Plat­inum Re­serve. No fuel econ­omy num­bers are avail­able as yet and the ex­pected ar­rival date in Canada is in early 2016.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.