A pickup in the Great Plains is like a horse in the Rocky Mountains. The distances are expansive and the best way to get around is by four-wheel drive, an excellent test track for Nissan’s new Titan 4X4. I picked up the rig at the airport in Rapid City and my first impression was, “Wow!” The Titan just grabs your attention with its Cayenne red paint and charcoal interior and just won’t let go.
After piling my gear in the extended cab area behind the seat, I headed for Fort Thompson, just beyond the Missouri River. Highway speeds would be the first challenge; the posted 75 mph limit on I-90 and the 5.6 Liter V8 with 317 horsepower quickly got me up to speed, and the next 150 miles flew by. The Titan was steady and stable despite a 20-mph crosswind, and road construction bumps and road damage from the recent blizzard were barely noticeable. With just 1,800 miles on the new truck, the fuel gauge average was 14.3, which I expected that to plummet at the ultra highway speeds. Ironically, I’d learn that the posted MPG (14) rating was accurate regardless of road conditions and is about average for 4X4 pickups.
I arrived in Fort Thompson at dusk and drove to a few agricultural spots to glass for the morning hunt. Later I met my hunting buddies at the restaurant for dinner where a stranger approached and said that he’d seen me earlier glassing for deer. Reading the curious look on my face, he went onto explain that he recognized me from the truck in the parking lot. As the week went on, this same scenario happened repeatedly as the red Titan captured everyone’s attention: “Where’d you get that truck?” “Is it yours?” “I love your ride!”
On the Prairie
The first morning of the hunt I was asked to leave the truck behind (what???) as the property we’d hunt had limited access, and I was to be a stander in a modified deer stalk/drive. I finally relented, but luck was on my side and I took a big eight-point whitetail in mid-morning. I called back to the lodge and asked someone to bring the truck to me, where we loaded the deer and I finally got to run off road. The Titan 4X4 PRO-4X has a shift-on-the-fly 4WD system that operates with the twist of a switch and drops to 4WD low range by pushing the switch to avoid accidental engagement. As anxious as I was to turn on the 4WD, the Titan handled the hills and gullies of the prairie in 2WD. We used an ice sled to load my buck; this also kept fluids from the bed of the truck, which came with a bed liner standard.
Truck Turned Taxi
My early success allowed me to carry my fellow hunters to their areas, fill the bed with whitetails and mule deer, and seek out some really cool photography spots. One location featured a series of the Badlands bluffs that are beautifully backlit in the afternoon. I had three buddies with me on one trip and the normally raucous conversation suddenly grew silent as I zoomed over open terrain at 30 miles per hour. The Titan ran over rough ground about the same as the interstate, and I took notice of my passengers’ silence as I was pushing the off-road envelope.
Climbing in and out of a pickup bed can normally be a challenge, but the fold-down step under the rear bumper made a safe and sure step. Push the step toward the rear and it pops down and easily reverses with a push of the foot, then stores out of the way.
The Titan came with the PRO-4X luxury package, which includes a 5.8-inch navigation display that was easy to read at a glance. The leather-appointed seats were super comfortable and included heat on the driver and passenger’s side. The seat was eight-way adjustable and the memory feature made for easy exit and entry.
On the outside, the cab-mounted cargo lights were incredibly helpful at night and made closing western-style gates much easier in the dark. The driver’s side of the bed has lockable storage, and the two-inch hitch receiver linked perfectly with our Sportsman’s Guide deer hoist. Backing up between other hunting vehicles was a snap with the back-up camera; a rear sonar system sounded if we got too close. When traveling the prairie roads alone, the Sirius XM satellite radio came in handy and sounded like a symphony through eight speakers including subwoofer and center speaker. Built in Canton, Ohio, I felt good about the American jobs I was supporting.
The one improvement needed was situational. Since I often had two or three passengers, the King Cab model with four full-size doors and six seats may have been more appropriate. On the other hand, both back seats in the five-seat model fold up and the smaller doors open 168 degrees, allowing for great storage space for two passengers. Also, in a perfect world I’d like my 4X4 to get 50 MPG, but the Titan with the 3.357:1 final gear ratio has plenty of pull and power and still got respectable mileage.
The Titan had many more features that I haven’t covered, yet I can say unequivocally that I’ve never driven or ridden in a pickup that received so much positive acclaim. The seats were comfortable, and the ride was smooth on the highway and pleasant over rough terrain, handling most conditions in 2WD. The bed is very functional and can be modified for hauling cargo much larger than our deer. If the Titan were a hunting dog, it would surely be a red lab — cool enough that your wife and kids will love it, great around the house, and terrific enough in the field to bring home the bacon. For all the details, go to nissanusa.com.