TechnologyTell

Truckin’ In a Titan: Of the Nissan Titan PRO-4X Backing Sensor

Sections: Car Safety, Infotainment

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2013 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Photo Shoot 021

(Lyndon Johnson photo)

 

Our Nissan Titan PRO-4X was a behemoth, as I covered in a previous piece about it. It was also equipped with a very useful backing sensor array and camera.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: I’m not accustomed to driving vehicles this large. The Titan is already a large truck, as big as any of the half-ton trucks on the market today. With the PRO-4X package’s crew-cab configuration, four-wheel drive, bigger all-terrain tires, and jacked up Rancho suspension, that size seems magnified from behind the wheel thanks to your even more-elevated seating position.

This all can tend to make parking a chore for someone like me who is used to driving much smaller vehicles that can just be whipped into a parking space. Even the Lexus RX350 F-SPORT I had just before the Titan– itself no small fry, as midsize SUVs go– was comparatively easy for me to put between the lines. But the Titan PRO-4X required me to slow down and be very observant when parking between two other vehicles or near obstacles like curbs. I had such nightmares of curbs, largely unseen because of my elevation, reaching out and scuffing the Titan’s massive BFG tires that I intentionally set the blind spot mirrors so that I got just a sliver of each rear tire on the inside of the mirror frame. This mirror setup helped me avoid curbing the tire at the bank drive-thru and greatly helped my parking, as well, since I tend to back into every parking space that allows me the opportunity to do so.

But the Titan’s excellent infotainment system had an equally excellent backing camera, which helped a lot, too. Though the screen was smallish compared to some, it was bigger than others (we’re looking at you, rearview mirror postage stamp-sized camera display in the Ford F-Series) and offered excellent brightness once we figured out there was a hard button on the right side of the screen that allowed you to set the screen brightness for daytime or nighttime conditions manually. The gridlines showing the distance of the Titan’s back bumper from the curb, sign posts, and other cars were especially handy.

The Titan PRO-4X we tested also had a sonar backing assist system that beeped to alert the driver of the proximity of obstacles. I did notice a strange behavior out of this system during my test week: It would beep sometimes when there was seemingly nothing back there to worry about. I asked Nissan North America’s Corporate Communications Manager Steve Parrett about that behavior, and he had this to say:

“Our sensors are sensitive, so it could have possibly been water, a curb, tall grass, something off to the side (light pole, etc.) The two sensors on both ends of the bumper sense objects off to the side. We’d rather have them be sensitive and over-detect as opposed under-detect.”

I can agree with that sentiment. And I had noted when I asked the question that most of the time when this behavior happened, it was either raining or had recently rained, so there was some water beading on the truck’s surfaces. That’s my theory as to the cause. My driveway is flat gravel with no tall grass nearby. There is a phone pole, but it’s nowhere near where I parked the truck.

At any rate, the backing assistance was most welcome when I had to ferry some of my family to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for a routine follow-up procedure during the test week. Somehow, I managed to shoehorn the titanic Titan PRO-4X into the hospital’s parking garage. After bypassing two entrances marked for ceiling clearances of 6 feet, 8 inches and 6 feet, 6 inches, respectively, I squeezed under the clearance marker at another part of the garage that read “CLEARANCE: 6 FT 10 IN.” I rolled down my window and could reach out and grab the clearance sign from the driver’s seat as we entered the structure. I then found a parking spot between the garage wall and another car and managed to nose-in– barely fitting into the tighter-than-most parking space. Had the car to my left been anything larger or less well-centered than the Nissan Versa that was parked there, I don’t think I could have done it. As for backing out of the space, The Titan’s big mirrors, those blind spot mirrors, and the camera and beeps came in handy for sure!

Those little pieces of technology made me more confident about being able to park in another downtown parking garage, should I ever have to do it with a Nissan Titan. But I’d still advise against using any vehicle of this girth as regular transportation to such environs.

Disclosure: Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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