Going Camping in a Cummins-Powered 2017 Nissan Titan XD 4X4


Collectively, we’ve had a great deal of experience with the latest Nissan Titan. We were among the first journalists in the world to drive the 2016 Titan XD up the trails of a sprawling ranch during the Texas Auto Writers Association‘s 2016 Truck Rodeo. Last May, we hauled two doors and a lot of ass in a 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X. Near the end of 2016, we spent some time learning about the regular Titan on the streets and highways of Fort Worth, Texas.

This road trip would get us out of the hotel and into the bed of our loaner vehicle.

A few weeks ago, I ping-ponged across a broad swath of the Lone Star State in a 2017 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve 4X4, making the trek from the Dallas Auto Show to Austin to Houston to witness a dealership unveiling of the Lamborghini Aventador S.

The night before I saw those scissor doors swing up, my girlfriend and I went camping in the $63,905 XD in Austin’s Emma Long Park. I’m not talking about pulling it up to a site and pitching a tent on the ground, either. Nissan sent me an optional $260 tent that fits in the XD’s 6.6-foot-long bed. I received something else from our time under the silver fabric dome: an education on what to do and what not to do when “indoorsy” people want to spend a few nights surrounded by the sounds of nature.

Getting Ready

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I had a lot of preparing to do, so I went to a sporting goods store and picked up a lantern, a sleeping bag, bug spray, and some camping pillows. I packed a cooler with bottled water and a bag with snacks. You get the picture.

Another thing I had to do was get the truck ready. Nissan makes a variety of accessories for the Titan XD, such as splash guards ($235), lighting for the running boards ($370), a sliding bed extender ($330), and a sliding bed divider ($260). The company was kind enough to equip my test Titan with the optional $750 Platinum Reserve Bed Utility Package.

On this adventure, we tested out Nissan's in-bed tent for the Titan, as well as its bed storage boxes.

Sounds convenient, right? For the most part, it was. The electronic tailgate lock provided peace of mind. The rear utility bed step was useful for getting into the cargo box, but using it to get out of the bed required patience and careful foot placement. The lockable in-bed Titan Boxes were a nice touch, but I didn’t need them.

The rear seats folded flat for extra storage space. This came in handy when using the bed for a tent.

In fact, those took up useful sleeping space, so I needed to disconnect them before I could even think about taking the tent out of its bag. To do that, two different tools were needed to free each container from the bedsides at four attachment points: a 10-mm socket wrench and a bit driver with a T30 star on the end of it. Then it was time to store the big and bulky Titan Boxes on the balcony of my apartment on the second floor. Oof.

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With those out of the way, I was set. I headed to my girl’s place, the 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 pulling me along the road. For a truck that’s not a true heavy-duty pickup, the Titan XD certainly came across as one in nearly every way. The Aisin six-speed automatic seemed to bang, clunk, or thud into every gear no matter how much right pedal I put down.

Whether you use four-wheel-drive all the time or not, it is always something great to have.

Every bump in the road made me more aware of the fact that I was wheeling around about 7,400 pounds of steel. I felt the XD’s 20 feet of length and nearly seven feet of width every second I was in motion, especially when I had to park at my girlfriend’s apartment complex; thank goodness for the helpful Around View Monitor and Moving Object Detection technology. In low-speed settings like that, the steering seemed to lose all power assistance. No matter where I was, parking Nissan’s big beast of burden was never a quick or easy process.

Camping Out

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I picked up my girl and her air mattress. Bringing that was a great idea. Showing up to the campsite after the sun went down was not.

By the time we got to our specific section and took the tent and its disjointed skeleton of poles out of the bag, there was no natural light left around us. The light above the cargo box and the LED under-rail bed lights were helpful, but the direct beam from our flashlight was what really enabled us to see the directions.

We needed more help than that, though. If I wasn’t re-reading the directions to try to get things straight, I had my head in my hands because the manual was often vague or misleading. At least my girlfriend was having a good time. Every huff and puff of my frustration only made her chuckle harder. I was asking for it, trying to do everything for the first time in the dark, but, at the same time, the directions weren’t giving me the answers I needed.

There are many aftermarket tents out, but sometimes, the universal ones have a tough time fitting correctly. Our tent from Nissan fit perfectly in the bed of the XD.

Despite all of that, we got the tent up… sort of. We laid it in the bed and threw each trio of side straps over the bed rails, securing them at various points at the front, middle, and rear of the bed’s exterior.

We did our best to put the crossmembers where we thought the directions told us to put them (we learned from our errors and made the tent look slightly more presentable the next morning). After a frustrating process of trial and error, we secured the tent’s bottom front section to the truck with several straps and connectors.

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However, the tent’s mouth would not open, and I wanted to scream out of mine. My particular tent had previously been used for a photo shoot. It seems as if the pole-and-coupling assembly that I needed to arch to form the tent’s entrance had been damaged; one of the fiberglass poles was splintering at one end.

Initially, I didn’t notice, so when I pushed it into its metal connector and tried to bend it, the end snapped, causing the rest of the pole it was still attached to to hang down at a right angle. There was more huffing and puffing, more chuckling, but no more messing with it.

It was time to get to sleep.

Good Night?

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I had reserved a “utility” spot with a water and power hookup, but I didn’t need the juice to inflate the air mattress. I just flipped up the cover to the cargo box-mounted 120-volt outlet and plugged in the pump for the bed away from bed.

The split second that it was firm enough to hold up two people, my girlfriend and I slid it into the tent, then crawled under the piled fabric that was supposed to form an entryway. We both collapsed onto the air mattress, sweating from the humidity and grateful to be laying down, finally.

The Nissan Titan XD had plenty of factory features that could be used for any adventure.

There were times when I wanted to get far away from the 2017 Nissan Titan XD, but at the end of the night, I realized I had never felt more connected to a truck.

In the past, I had used plenty of them to get to various destinations. That night, the Titan XD was my destination and it ended up being a place where I made memories with someone I love that I’ll never forget – no matter how hard I try to.

About the author

Derek Shiekhi

Derek Shiekhi is a native Texan who grew up loving cars because of his father, who took Derek with him to buy early Mustang convertibles and Post-WWII pickups from GM. Throughout high school and college, he dreamed about cars, and returned to college to earn a second degree in journalism. After writing for the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, Derek joined the Texas Auto Writers Association, and is a member of the organization's board of directors.
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