Before any car or truck sees the road, engineers have already conducted thousands of hours of on-road “research” that involves driving the new product in often extreme weather conditions. For regular cars, that’s where most of the hardcore testing stops, but many truck owners expect to take their vehicles far, far off-road on more than just the rare occasion.
It is for these customers that engineers took the new Nissan Titan XD diesel to Montana Mountain at their Arizona test facility. Don’t come expecting any hooning or driving shenanigans though, as the most “aggressive” this test drive gets is navigating some bumpy, dusty trails.
Now it’s not like your momma’s minivan is going to be climbing to the top of Montana Mountain anytime soon. But Nissan does regularly take its other products, like the Pathfinder, up these trails to make sure the machines don’t fall apart at the sight of the first deep divot. And to its credit, the Titan XD handles itself well, which is what you would want to see in a marketing series about your brand new truck.
Where the Pathfinder would stand no chance is hauling a heavy load up a 6 percent grade on a highway near the Davis Dam area on the border of Arizona and Nevada. Many automakers test here, and for guys like Rich Miller, part of the job is driving up and down these hot, steep grades all day to ensure the Titan XD won’t give up on owners when towing up to 12,000 lbs. Truck owners are a loyal, stubborn bunch, and they have long memories. This might be the last chance for the Titan to make a lasting impact in an increasingly competitive truck market.