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PRO-4X Off Road Model

“The PRO-4X is our sporty off road truck in the lineup.  We’re very excited about it.  It retains all of the previous equipment that the off-road package had – locking diff, Rancho shocks, very large tires [P275/70R18 BFGoodrich Rugged Trails] – and adds to it a special front end appearance with body colored front and rear bumpers and a beautiful interior that includes white gauges and a metallic feel inside the truck,” says Fisher.

The PRO-4X also has 18-inch wheels, two extra skid plates, a lower 3.36:1 final gear ratio, and GKN’s Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) - the only full size pickup with an optional electric rear diff locker.

We took a King Cab PRO-4X off road at Apple Valley Farms near Sand Creek, Wisconsin. The park’s tight paths run through deep thickets of trees and open tracts of farmland, and up and down rolling hills. They’re surfaced with fine brown sand that has the consistency of talc and billows into large dust clouds when disturbed by tires or wind. Sandstone punctuates its deeply rutted trails on top of and under the sand, making for constantly changing traction conditions.

Titan’s the truck for off-road enthusiasts. In stock form, the PRO-4X is an excellent ground pounder with performance that we’d place near or at the top of half-ton pickups. It exhibited better trail manners than the Double Cab Toyota Tundra TRD 4x4 we drove recently at Hollister Hills in Northern California. Body control was excellent with little jounce transferred from the specially tuned suspension into the cabin to toss the driver and passengers around as we climbed into and out of channels carved in the trails. The sightlines are better too over the truck’s nose. In general the Titan just drives smaller than the Tundra off road.

It’s wide on the trails though.

Bushes and small trees along the sandy paths quickly pinstriped the truck with all sorts of abstract patterns that traced the trail’s frequently shifting topographical modulation on its sides. The optional tow package’s extendable mirrors didn’t benefit either. Even pulled in they were whacked pretty good twice against branches.

Nissan and Toyota have different philosophical approaches to off roading. Titan lets the driver have more control while Tundra mostly lets a computer decide what’s best.

Nissan doesn’t offer automatic hill descent assist for the Titan, like the nice setup the Tundra has. Instead, in 4-Lo, the transmission is dynamically remapped to provide slower throttle response to help manage the vehicle down steep grades or in tough spots on the trail.

But given a trade-off between having hill descent control or a true locking diff, we’d say Nissan made the better call by continuing to offer the Eaton E-locker, which is activated only at the driver’s discretion to get the pickup out of low traction situations. It's a brute force, low complexity solution that just plain works.

Tundra foregoes mechanical differentials all together to control slip, instead using the truck’s stability and antilock brake systems to actively manage power distribution and braking independently at each wheel until traction is regained. However, in high or low 4WD, the Tundra’s automatic limited slip diff can’t be turned off by the driver. This can potentially cause issues in extremely low traction environments, like loose mud, when the computer decides to apply the brakes to control wheel spin and unintentionally winds up canceling out driver efforts applying power to keep the truck moving so it won’t get stuck.

If you want a deeper introduction to differentials and how they work, please see our earlier article about Eaton's E-Locker.

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