A heavy-duty-sized truck might not be the first vehicle that comes to mind when you think road trip, but spend a little time way out on the interstates, and you’ll see nearly as many pickups as you do any other type of vehicle. If you’ve been road tripping around the southwest, you might have seen our blindingly yellow Titan XD among them.
It made its first big trip up to the San Francisco Bay Area for a wedding. It was quickly put to good use hauling parts for an arbor the groom custom built, as well as a roll-top desk gifted to us by my wife’s grandfather. The long bed allowed us to lay the desk in the back for the 400-mile drive home, protecting it a bit from the elements.
The next long-haul took it out to Las Vegas so I could cover the Consumer Electronics Show. The big, cushy seats, excellent outward visibility, and slow, light steering made the truck an excellent cruiser on Interstate 15. It might not be quick to accelerate, but with a bit of kicking it keeps its speed up steep hills and around traffic on the freeway, though it’s best to maintain your momentum. If some slowpoke jumps out in front of you, it’ll take a while to get that head of steam back.
Before putting a few hundred miles on it, I brought it into the dealer for its first oil change (requested by the computer at 10,000 miles). While there, I had them look into the various issues I mentioned in my last update. The creak in the front left suspension during compression was fixed with a bit of lubrication. The keyless entry and start had also developed an intermittent problem reading the key fob, which was solved by a new battery in the fob.
Other issues, however, remain. The dragging and moaning from the steering was also addressed with lubrication, but it came right back. The dealer was able to replicate the glitch in the Bluetooth system causing it to freak out and restart the entire infotainment system but couldn’t fix it. I was also informed of a recall software update for the transmission controller, but the dealer didn’t actually have the software. Both are to be addressed by a Nissan engineer at some later date. The dealer promised to call me when that date arrives—it’s been more than a month.
Since then, it’s been back out on the road, recently supporting a comparison test in northern Colorado. On the way out, it hauled hundreds of pounds of cameras and other equipment for the video department, and on the way back, hundreds of pounds of spare wheels and tires, as well as camera gear for the photography department. Unfortunately, a storm swept into Steamboat Springs just as we were leaving town, and the Titan wears mud- and snow-rated all-terrain tires, not snow tires. Photographer William Walker tells the tale:
“Leaving the hotel parking lot, we had a full tank of diesel and no specific final stopping point. I had switched the Titan into four-high. If the road conditions were bad, we had all day to get farther south, and we could go as slowly as we needed. The night before, we were reassured by a local that ‘once you get out of Steamboat, the weather will probably clear up and the roads should be good.’ Oh, how wrong he was!
“The farther out of civilization we got, the less groomed the roads became, and the heavier the snow fell. The lines in the road faded away to solid white, and the mile markers on the shoulder became the only indicator of our position on the road. The all-terrain tires on the Titan provided decent grip, and there were only a few times that I felt the truck go light and start to slide on larger patches of ice. I definitely started to appreciate the high visibility of the yellow paint in the whiteout conditions. With the seat heaters blasting and the steering wheel heater keeping my hands warm, we headed south.
“What was fun and challenging during the day became worrisome and stressful during the night. Driving across the mountain pass just north of St. George, Utah, the snow really started to get heavy. Traffic slowed to a crawl, and the visibility decreased significantly. We continued slow and steady, slipping and sliding, trying to stay in the middle of the road and away from the dark abyss to our right and the metal guard rail to our right. As we dropped in elevation, the temperature started to rise, the snow turned to rain, and the roads cleared.
“What should have taken us eight hours ended up taking us almost 13. Despite the slipperiness, the Titan never really missed a beat and kept us comfortable and (mostly) confident the entire time.”
The only real downside to long-haul trucking in the Titan so far has been its fuel economy. Its best tank to date, per the onboard computer, hit 17 mpg. On my trip to Vegas, it hovered around 15 mpg, so someone either drove downhill a lot or has a lighter foot than I do. Back home on the daily commute, it’s more like 11 mpg. I got 21 mpg driving a new Ford F-250 (with more power and torque and higher payload and towing ratings) the same way on a similar road trip.