2020 Nissan Titan XD first drive review: Extra Medium – Roadshow

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The Nissan Titan XD is something of a tweener. It's designed to be more comfortable and manageable than a heavy-duty pickup, but offers more performance (and confidence) for owners of light commercial vehicles when they reach their limits. Neither easy nor difficult, it is extra medium.

But why did the Japanese car manufacturer develop and build a rig that occupies this narrow gray area between established pickup classes? Your reasoning is logical if it is a bit confused.

A properly equipped Ford F-150, For example, more than 13,000 pounds can be towed, an impressive number to be sure. But how easy is it to deal with such a burden? It's one thing to get a heavyweight trailer going, but you also need to keep it under control and stop it safely. All of this can be a huge challenge for a truck weighing just half a ton.

Of course, drivers who routinely pull massive loads are probably better served with a heavy-duty pickup. The Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD can pull up to 35,500 pounds with a gooseneck or fifth wheel. That is almost three times as much as the F-150. However, the disadvantage of this option is that if you are not towed, you will not be able to drive a cumbersome vehicle that is difficult to see and more difficult to park.

The XD models are more powerful than the standard light-duty titanium and offer a number of important improvements. They drive on a stronger frame, are equipped with larger brakes, have a stronger differential and, among other things, are equipped with an improved suspension system.

Nevertheless, the Titan XD is not particularly powerful, although it is designed to close the gap between halftone and heavy-duty pickups. With proper equipment, the maximum trailer load is just £ 11,040 – less than the half-ton F-150 mentioned above. The payload capacity is 2,450, which is only 150 more than the maximum Ram 1500 get along.

A stable, serviceable workhorse

Towing this Nissan on the road is a relatively drama-free affair. I had a lot of time behind the wheel of an XD with a camper attached to its rear bumper – especially a 27-foot Airstream. Weighing just 6,000 pounds, the Titan tackled this trailer with remarkable ease.

For several hours in the left front seat, it never felt like the camper was shaking the truck around, like the tail was trying to wag the dog, even if it ran over some uneven pavement. The braking performance was admirable. The robust all-wheel discs of the XD ensure a secure and straight hold every time. A disadvantage, however, is the position of the available trailer brake control. It is mounted deep on the dashboard and a little difficult to see. In addition, a smartphone that is jammed in the driver's side holster on the center console is partially blocked. This is undesirable if you need a little trailer brakes to tidy up.

2020 Nissan Titan XD

The Titan XD has no problems with towing. Even a 27-foot Airstream camper is no big deal.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Changes for 2020

The Titan XD somewhat compensates for these murky numbers and is now only offered in a configuration with a crew cabin, all-wheel drive and a 6.5-foot bed. This simplified strategy makes sense; When was the last time you saw a truck with a normal cab? Nowadays, drivers can no longer get enough pickups for long and crew cabins, which is why Nissan puts all of its XD eggs in one basket. If you want a choice, consider the standard titanium. It may be a little less powerful, but it can be fitted with rear-wheel drive or a smaller, longer cabin.

Other obvious innovations for 2020 include a redesigned grille, new tailgate trims and four fresh paint colors that increase the total number of colors to 10.

Of course there are also more extensive upgrades. Nissan Safety Shield 360 Tech is now standard in every model. This includes six driver assistance functions such as automatic emergency braking, cross traffic warning and lane departure warning, to name just a few. Adaptive cruise control is available, although Nissan's excellent ProPilot Assist system, which takes adaptive cruise control to the next level by integrating lane centering, is not offered.

Inside, a 7-inch screen with reconfigurable instrument clusters is standard. The same applies to an 8-inch infotainment display. The Pro-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve models are equipped with a bright and colorful 9-inch screen for an additional screen effect. This touch-capable display houses a refresh Nissan Connect Infotainment system that now supports wireless software updates. For additional flexibility Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, as is in-vehicle Wi-Fi, which can support up to seven devices.

2020 Nissan Titan XD

There is a fine engine under the hood of the Titan XD.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

A world class drivetrain

Giving the Titan XD enough courage to set heavy loads in motion is a powerful engine. A smooth-running and sweet-sounding 5.6-liter V8 sits between the front fenders. Equipped with direct injection, variable valve timing and lifting power, it delivers 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque when you fill up with premium fuel. That's a decent increase over previous model years when this engine made 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet.

This engine is an absolute treasure, both silky and sonorous. It's just the best part of driving a Titan XD. When unloaded, it provides sufficient acceleration, but it is not a problem to expose your shoulder to the heaviest loads. Bury the accelerator pedal and it races ahead, but there is still enough meat in the low speed range so that full throttle position is almost unnecessary even when towing.

The engine maximizes its 400 horses and is tuned to a brand new transmission. The nine-speed unit helps with both performance and efficiency. The shifts are fast, well timed and smooth. It also makes towing / transporting it even easier. The upshift is delayed to improve acceleration. As you slow down, the gears will shut down seamlessly to allow a little engine braking. I literally have zero grips on this powertrain combination. It is brilliant.

But what about fuel consumption? Unfortunately there is nothing to report in this department. Like other vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVRW) of over 8,500 pounds, Nissan is under no obligation to release any. It takes a lot of dinosaur juice to move this rig. So don't expect it to drink petrol like a Prius.

Now for the bad news: The powerful 5.0-liter Cummins V8 turbo diesel engine, which is basic equipment in the Titan XD, has been dropped. This is another step to simplify the setup, although I am still sad that it will open.

2020 Nissan Titan XD

The inside of this truck is something of a mixed bag.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Room for improvement

The drivetrain of this Nissan truck is dynamite, but the rest of his driving experience is just so-so. There's a bit more wind and tire noise on the highway than I would have liked to hear, and the steering is dead. No, I don't expect this rig to carve corners like a Mazda Miata, but the recirculating ball steering system it is equipped with feels particularly heavy and numb.

Regardless of whether you are in a platinum reserve with top range or in a Pro 4X vehicle with an off-road focus, the Titan XD drives reliably. As a result, it can be a bit springy and border over wavy sidewalks. The ride is noticeably quieter when towing. A little tongue weight provides a pleasant reassurance.

The interior of the XD is spacious and the seats are really comfortable in both rows. Unfortunately, a little more could have been done to improve this cabin. It's perfectly fine, but the hard plastic on the top door panels looks a bit cheap, and the steering column panel is loose and turns slightly clockwise when you get the truck going. This movement moves the turn signal a little because it is attached to the pillar trim.

Overall, this truck cab is better than that of the latest Chevrolet Silverado and roughly on par with the F-150, which is quite old at the time. When it comes to the interior, Ram still has a clear advantage over other truck manufacturers.

2020 Nissan Titan XD

This is a lot of pickup.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Remember the titans

The 2020 Nissan Titan XD is stable, sovereign and ensures thunderstorms thanks to its excellent drive train. Unfortunately, a few corners and edges affect the overall package.

The cross-segment position of this truck on the market makes sense at least on paper, although this strategy has not attracted many buyers in practice. Last year, fewer than 32,000 Titan and Titan XD models left Nissan dealerships in America, which is almost certainly an unsustainable achievement.

With so many great deals from American automakers, this is a difficult recommendation, especially when you look at pricing. Since only one variant is offered for 2020, the base price is rather steep. The XD starts at $ 46,175, including $ 1,595 in delivery fees.

This is a good truck that, while not an industry leader, has a trump card: an industry-leading guarantee. Buyers are covered by a 5-year / 100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. It's a big deal, but it's still not enough.


Editor's note: The travel expenses associated with this story were borne by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow employees are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.