With Cummins Diesel Power, Titan Carves Out A New Pickup Niche
What’s the difference between 65 and 85 mph? In the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X, it’s certainly not the effort it takes to get to the higher speed nor the confidence in road control when cruising somewhat over the posted speed limit. Spoiler Alert: I like this truck.
Nissan took a look at the truck market and found what they called a “white space” between half-ton and three-quarter ton pickups. Its research showed that 75,000 half-ton truck buyers needed just a bit more towing and hauling capability and were forced to buy a much larger, heavier and more expensive pickup, while the same number of three-quarter ton truck buyers really did not want or need this size vehicle when a smaller truck would get the job done for them, whether for work or recreation. What Nissan came up with is a truck midway between a half and three-quarter ton that it is hoping will appeal to those 150,000 buyers who were not pleased buying either too much or too little truck.
Clean Fleet Report drove the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Crew Cab Pro-4X with the 5.0-liter two-stage turbo Cummins V8 diesel, putting out 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. (The Titan also comes with a gasoline V8 engine.) The one we tested had an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission and a dash-mounted selector to choose between RWD, 4H and 4LO. The EPA does not rate fuel economy for vehicles weighing more than 8,000 lbs., but Nissan has stated that the Titan XD with the Cummins diesel gets, under load, hauling or towing, a “20-percent increase in fuel economy over a comparable gas V8-powered vehicle.” During our week in the Titan XD, we drove 350 miles and averaged 15.2 mpg.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Nissan first introduced its Titan pickup in 2004 and, for the most part, it did not change much during a period when Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge/Ram and Toyota were constantly improving their trucks and having robust sales as a result. Hitting Nissan dealers in late 2015 was the all-new 2016 Titan XD with the Cummins diesel. The Titan XD discussed here is rated as a medium-duty truck, one step below the size truck identified with the letters “HD,” or Heavy Duty.
To get a feel for the capability, ride and handling of the 2016 Titan XD, we drove throughout Southern California on a variety of street, highway and a bit of off-roading. It became clear pretty quickly that the horsepower, torque and weight of the Titan XD were well-matched, resulting in a pickup that is exactly what Nissan wanted.
Diesel pickup truck owners are not as concerned with horsepower, as it equates to driving fast on the highway, which is not the pacing item for pickups. Diesel owners are more concerned with the Titan XD’s torque for pulling trailers, hauling heavy loads and driving on unpaved ranch land.
The Titan’s specially designed and exclusive Cummins V8 turbo diesel slots between the V6 VM Motori diesel in the Ram 1500 and big Cummins six-cylinder found in Ram’s 2500 and 3500 trucks. More horsepower and torque than the 3.0L turbo in the Ram 1500 and less horsepower and torque than the Ram 2500 with the 6.7L. This is sounding a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Nissan is confident they have designed an engine and truck combination that, for many buyers, will also be “just right.”
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD is built on a fully boxed, full-length ladder frame that has been reinforced for added stiffness and rigidity. The suspension is double-wishbone front and rigid rear axle, with leaf springs and bushings along with Bilstein monotube coil-over shock absorbers. All this rigidity and stiffness could lead to an unpleasant ride, but Nissan designed-in hydraulic cab mounts to isolate passengers from ride harshness and cabin noise. Vibration has been reduced through the use of laminated front and rear side glass, and the body has been sealed so engine and road noise are isolated outside of the cabin.
I found the Titan XD to be stable, accelerate smoothly and handle freeway onramps and corners with good control and little body roll. It was helped by the 275/65/R18 all-terrain off-road tires. The Titan XD, rated at 12,314 lbs. for towing and a 2,091 payload, has trailer sway control and trailer brake control. They work along with the hydraulic power-assisted front and rear ventilated discs that have noise and shudder control designed into the system. The standard, speed-sensitive variable assisted power steering provided good road feel through the leather-wrapped steering wheel (with contrasting stitching, which came on the Convenience Package).
Driving Experience: Exterior
Available in Crew, King and Single Cabs with three bed lengths, Nissan says the new Titan’s look is as if the previous model grew up, worked out in the gym and became more physical and expressive. Designed at Nissan Design America in La Jolla, CA, Nissan says the Titan has a feeling of athletic strength and a bold presence that easily goes between tough work and a night on the town.
The signature look of the Titan XD is its LED headlights wrapping the distinctive large mesh grill and fog lamps in the lower fascia. This total integration delivers a front end that results in a well finished truck. The new Titan XD is taller than the outgoing Titan but still shorter in height than competitor’s three-quarter ton pickups.
The 18-inch aluminum wheels, with a dark painted finish, were attractive and nicely filled the wheel openings that had fender-edge protection. Clean Fleet Report was driving the Pro-4X model, which is designed for off-roading. It did not have the optional aluminum running boards that run the full length from wheel well to wheel well. Running boards are functional, but tend to get beat-up when rock crawling.
A nice feature is the removable and lockable tailgate and the fold-down step to access the bed and Nissan’s Utili-track Channel System. Integrated into the bed floor, this system allows for tie-downs to be slid along a track, making securing cargo easy work. Also available or standard on the Titan XD are spray-in bed liner, dual lockable in-bed storage boxes, tie-down hooks, moveable aluminum cleats, 100-volt power outlet, cargo bed lights, LED under bed rail lights, receiver hitch, seven-pin wiring harness receptacle, front tow hooks and integrated gooseneck hitch.
Driving Experience: Interior
Multi-functional is a good way to describe the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X interior. It can double as both an office and place of comfort and style with a good level of luxury appointments. A tasteful combination of soft and hard black surfaces on the dash and doors were accented by leather top stitching and aluminum pieces. All the expected comfort and convenience features were present with heated leather front seats. The driver gets eight-way power adjustments (including lumbar and memory) with the passenger getting four-way. Comfort continues with heated leather rear seats, power exterior mirrors with the driver side being auto-dimming, cruise control, remote keyless entry and starting, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control with rear vents, one touch up-and-down power windows, power door locks, heated steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, power rear window, USB and 12V power ports. Adding utility to the interior is a second row, floor-mounted, under seat storage system that also becomes a flat surface when closed. This way when you bring home that 55-inch flat screen it can be stored inside the cabin, away from the elements and nefarious strangers.
For infotainment in our Titan XD Pro-4X model was a seven-inch color touch screen display with Nissan Connect and navigation. Sounds were by an excellent 12-speaker Rockford-Fosgate system with subwoofer that powered SiriusXM, AM/FM/CD/USB with Aux Jacks and MP3/WMA playback. Also, to help keep your eyes on the road, is Bluetooth telephone connection with hands-free text messaging.
Safety and Convenience
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X comes with multiple airbags, front passenger knee bolsters, anti-lock braking, vehicle dynamic and traction control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. Of special note and available on many Nissan models is the Around View Monitor system, which is a series of cameras strategically located on the exterior of the truck that allow the driver to see completely around the vehicle, as if looking down from above. For driving off road it has a very cool feature, accessed by pushing the camera button on the dash, to a camera mounted at the right front tire that shows obstacles such as boulders, ruts and other nasty things that can get in your way when cruising off pavement.
Using the RearView Monitor Camera, you can align your tow ball with the trailer receptor, making a one-person connection possible. Once you have made that connection and plugged-in the seven-pin wiring harness, it is time to check the trailer lights. This is usually a two person job, but Nissan has a patented technology where with a few pushes of buttons on the key FOB, you can go through the turn signals, brake and running lights.
Observations: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X – Powered by Cummins Diesel
The need for Nissan to bring out a completely new Titan was obvious and necessary. Merely rolling out a new pickup and saying, “come buy it” would not do for a company that considers
innovation one of its key elements. Then there was the reality that in calendar year 2015 Nissan sold about 12,000 Titans while Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Toyota and Ram combined sold more than two million pickup trucks. Nissan is not taking a chance on the 2016 Nissan Titan XD because the truck segment is hot and showing no signs of cooling off.
Brand loyalty of truck owners, and even more so of diesel truck owners, is well known. This group probably researches their next purchase more than any other vehicle segment buyer, whether this is for vocational use or the trailer-towing weekend warrior. Since Nissan says it is not creating a new truck segment, but are letting the consumer have a choice of a truck they have not had before, they are hoping you will visit your local dealer with an open mind and check out what could become the next pickup in your driveway.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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