The scene was somewhat apocalyptic.
A wildfire in Northern California that had been raging for days transformed the sky into a yellow spectacle that sprinkled ash onto the 2017 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Crew Cab 4×4 trucks. We were in no danger, but it lent an ominous edge to the off-road event in Carmel.
Once behind the wheel, any thoughts of the fire were quickly extinguished by the approaching mound that Nissan had erected as part of its off-road course (see video below).
“Push the locking diff’ button,” Lee McGee, Nissan’s off-road driving instructor, told me as I came to a stop a few yards shy of the course’s first obstacle.
The goal was to ride on the side of the mound at a precarious angle that made you wonder if gravity was going to be good to you that day. Of course, you know you’re going to make it, but there’s always that thought that you might be that one driver that ends up in a memorable YouTube video you’ll never live down.
After engaging the locking rear differential, I slowly rose to the challenge and took on the mound. Once at the top, McGee had me take a hard right around the peak, which still had us pitched at a nerve jarring angle. But, no worries, with the truck’s hill descent feature chattering away, we descended smoothly off the mound and back down to a flat path.
I lucked out with McGee riding shotgun. A veteran driver of the grueling Camel Trophy off-road racing series and a mechanic with a soft-spot for all things Jeep, McGee is calm, focused and learned – just the kind of guy you want on your first round of the course. (I lucked out and got him twice!)
As we made our way down the hill from the mound, McGee told me more about the hill descent feature.
“Just give it some fuel and hold it in that one position and it will adjust itself,” he explained.
True enough. Once we made it to the bottom of the hill and began turning to the right, the truck’s sonar alarm briefly sounded off. Next, images of the offending obstacles came into view on the screen.
“It’s detecting the bushes,” McGee explained. “It’s got a sonar envelope that will go out, and if something’s impending, it will pick it up and transmit that onto the screen so you can see what’s coming.”
Nissan North America Product Manager Brent Hagan had talked to reporters earlier about the truck’s sonar system.
“There are cameras in the tailgate and in the front in the grill and underneath each of the mirrors,” Hagan said while standing next to a yellow Pro-4X. “We have a 360 degree, around view monitor system so that you get the bird’s eye view looking down and see 360 degrees around the truck.
“You’ll notice when you’re out here on the off-road course, you may come up to a cone, bush or something like that and it will automatically activate. You’ll hear the sonar go off, that it detects something.
“The cameras will automatically go on at low speed which is really a wonderful feature. Tap the camera button a second time and you’ll get a dedicated view of the right hand side. It’s just like you’ve got a spotter standing outside of the vehicle, giving you the view of the right hand tire.”
True enough, the truck’s sonar and camera system worked flawlessly and helped me see on the course where I otherwise was blind.
General Grabber APT tires wrapped around 18-inch rims (available only on the Pro-4X) provided plenty of traction, especially toward the last leg of the course, which required climbing up a steep grade.
The truck’s 5.6-liter Endurance V8 didn’t disappoint. With 390 horsepower and 394 lbs.-ft. of torque, the Pro-4X has power to spare. A 7-speed automatic transmission is quick to respond at low speed, making hill climbing easy.
Billstein shocks all-around got a workout on the course and made for a comfortable ride.
Upgrades from the prior model include a steering check valve, which was added to reduce kick back on rough roads, hydraulic cab mounts and urethane jounce bumpers for an improved ride and 4×4 transfer case refinements.
Zero gravity seats make for an even more comfortable ride. Other interior comforts include dual automatic dual zone climate control, climate controlled front seats, heated rear seat and a heated steering wheel.
Other Pro-4X features include a front aluminum skid plate and two-tone paint with gun metal grey trim.
The 2017 Titan Pro-4X, which lists at $45,020, is an impressive off-road warrior that offers plenty of features and comfort for the challenging road ahead.
Here’s a video from the off-road tests:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Quimby is associate editor of Hard Working Trucks, a sister publication. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tom_quimby.