Second Report Opinion: 2016 Nissan Titan XD

Second Report Opinion: 2016 Nissan Titan XD

In order to give you, the reader, the best perspective on the many vehicles available, Clean Fleet Report has a variety of contributors. When possible, we will offer you multiple perspectives on a given vehicle. This comes under SRO-Second Report Opinion. We hope you’ll enjoy these diverse views–and let us know if you do or don’t. 

When Only A Different Size Diesel Pickup Will Do

Breaking the stronghold that Detroit’s automakers have on the American full-size pickup  truck market is not an easy task—just ask Nissan.

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X

The grille says big truck

The Japanese maker introduced its first full-size offering, the Titan, in 2002 as a 2003 model. An American designed and built pickup, it was comfortable to drive and was ahead of its day with features like a factory bedliner, cargo tie down rails and electronic stability control. But that wasn’t enough to sway pickup buyers as they continued to flock to Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge (now Ram) trucks.

Nissan sold barely 12,000 Titans last year, that’s way less than what Ford sells every month of its F-150 trucks.

But Nissan isn’t throwing in the towel. The company discovered a chink in Detroit’s stronghold that hadn’t been filled in—a different size truck powered by a diesel engine named the Titan XD, something those other guys don’t offer.

An Inbetweener

Different size in this case means the Titan XD crewcab is slightly larger than light-duty, full-size half-ton trucks, and slightly smaller than heavy-duty three quarter-ton models. Nissan lables it an “inbetweener” full-size pickup truck.

Since many buyers don’t need or want a heavy duty truck, or its cost, but do need the torque that a diesel offers, Nissan turned to the diesel experts at Cummins to provide the engine and had the folks at Aisin supply a heavy-duty automatic transmission.

The result is a truck that can haul more than a 2,000-pound payload and tow more than 12,500 pounds, excellent inbetween numbers. And, since the Titan XD has a gross vehicle weight above 8,500 pounds, Nissan doesn’t have to state estimated fuel economy numbers.

Note that there is also a standard half-ton light-duty Titan that is almost 20 inches shorter and available with a V-8 or V-6 gasoline engine.

The Power Of A Diesel Engine

2016 Nissan TITAN XD

Thumping, stump-pulling power under the hood

The Titan XD pickup’s Cummins V-8 diesel is a clean-sheet design that on paper will out-grunt every light-duty gasoline truck that Detroit has to offer. It’s not the same as the larger displament Cummins inline-six turbodiesel that powers the Ram three-quarter-ton pickup, but it bests the V-6 diesel offered in the half-ton Ram. The Nissan slots neatly between the two in hauling and towing.

Displacment of the new diesel is 5.0-liters, and with its twin two-stage Holset turbochargers, the 90-degree dual-overhead cam diesel clatters up 555 pounds-feet of torque and 310 horsepower. That enables a maximum towing capicity of 12,300 pounds and a maximum payload of 2,091 pounds. That’s right about where light duties end and heavy duties begin. By comparison, the Ram light-duty half-ton diesel tows 9,200 pounds.

The engine block is made of compacted-graphite iron, which is twice as strong as cast iron and weighs half as much. The heads are aluminum, and the piezo-based fuel injectors are capable of up to seven injections per combustion event.

Available in either two-wheel or four-wheel drive, the engine is connected to a heavy-duty Aisin six-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode and an American Axle rear-end, available with an electronic locking differential.

Big Truck Styling Outside, Luxury Inside

2016 Nissan TITAN XD

Inside, it’s a luxury car

There’s not a whole lot that designers can do to a big pickup truck to distinguish it from competitors, except when it comes to the front end. With the Titan XD diesel, Nissan followed the current trend with a big-rig-style prominent chrome grille with slats and mesh with black inserts on our off-road ready Pro-4X test driver. The grille is flanked with equally large headlamps with a distinctive LED slash that sets the truck apart at night. This is topped by a tall, bulging hood, while the fenders are well-defined with rounded wheel arches. A standard running board stretches between the front and rear wheels, long enough to provide access to the front of the cargo bed. And, of course, there’s a factory bed liner. The backside is, well, it’s a pickup with a tailgate and large rear taillights.

Beneath the sheet metal is a fully boxed high-strength steel frame and an extended wheelbase of 151.6 inches that stretches the crew cab truck to 242.7-inches in length—about 20-inches longer than the gasoline-powered XDs. A heavy-duty independent double-wishbone with stabilizer bar front suspension is reinforced. A rigid rear axle suspension utilizes hefty leaf springs and leaf bushings, along with twin-tube shock absorbers.

While everything underneath the Titan XD Pro-4X was rugged and tough, the interior was close to a large luxury automobile with power adjustable leather heated and cooled front seats and comfort amenities such as power tilt/telescoping heated steering wheel, wood and metallic trim along with a 12-speaker Rockford sound system. All of the latest high-tech goodies were included: A seven-inch color display for the navigation and infotainment systems, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port with iPod connection, Siri Eyes, SiriusXM satellite radio and a rear-view and 360-degree camera.

Dominating the front cabin is a massive instrument panel that includes a combination of analog and digital gauges along with a five-inch color display with unique diesel monitoring and

2016 Nissan TITAN XD,interior

More covered storage in the rear

maintenance displays. A standard column-mounted transmission shift lever provides better usability of the center stack. Controls and buttons there are mounted high and easy to reach. It also opened up the center console for additional storage that can hold a 15-inch laptop computer.

Rear doors open wide for easy entry and exit, but the rear cabin doesn’t have quite the room that the Ram crew cab offers. Our Pro-4X came with a rear heated seat that had under seat storage with a locking lid and an integrated fold-out flat floor.

On The Road

After settling in behind the steering wheel, the first thing I noticed about the Titan XD diesel was that the window sills dip downward at the front edge like Ford’s F-150, giving better side view visibility. It may be a copycat design, but it’s a good one.

Push the start button and there’s no mistaking that a diesel engine is under the hood, but it’s surprisingly quiet at full song, thanks to judicious use of insulation and laminated glass. At highway speeds wind noise is impressively absent, and there’s just a hint of turbulence coming from the large towing mirrors.

My week driving the truck was a variety menu that included in-town stop-and-go traffic, two lane highways, gravel roads, freeways and four hours of some delightful off-roading. The XD diesel is a large body-on-frame truck with a solid rear axle, but Nissan engineers somehow came close to eliminating the bouncy ride referred to as a “truck-like” feel. The long wheelbase provided more comfort than I expected over all road surfaces with minimal bounce and shudder through the boxed frame.

Only a Little Throttle Needed

2016 Nissan TITAN XD

Sipping diesel out on the road–until you need more power

The Cummins diesel responded extremely well to part-throttle acceleration at low speeds. It’s a remarkable engine, and there is so much torque available I rarely needed engine speed above 2000 rpm. The only times the diesel needed full throttle was when I was jumping onto a crowded freeway or passing on two-lane highways—and it responded well in those situations. Engineered specifically for the Titan XD diesel, the transmission is well-matched to the engine, with a smooth, steady shift quality.

It’s obvious the XD is not canyon carver—there’s plenty of understeer and a lot of length to maneuver. But overall, the steering is solid with good on-center feel and a natural progression to turn-in that generated confidence. Parking a truck as big as the XD requires some care, and some experience. I found it necessary to execute three-point turns into most parking lot spaces. This even with a very quick 2.75-turn steering ratio that helps maneuvering at low speeds.

Editor/wife Lynne and I took tour our Pro-4X off-roading where the little used Forest Service roads were muddy, rutted, full of pot holes and steep with occasional large rocks. With 275/65R18 all-terrain tires, a ground clearance of eight inches, under-belly skid plates, heavy-duty transfer case and an electronic locking rear differential, the XD was more than capable of delivering an afternoon of pure fun. The 360-degree camera was a jewel in finding out-of-sight obstacles.

When we handed the keys back to Nissan, the trip odometer read 187.7 miles, and we averaged 16.7 miles per gallon. Dang good for an almost heavy-duty crew cab pickup truck that spent four hours slogging through the mud and ruts.

In The Marketplace

As the “inbetweener” full-size pickup truck, the Nissan Titan XD diesel crewcab doesn’t have a direct competitor.  Pricing for a two-wheel drive starts at $37,485 and goes up from there. Our four-

2016 Nissan TITAN XD

In the end, what you get a pickup for

wheel drive Pro-4X had a sticker base price of $50,970. Add the $7,030 worth of options and $1,195 destination charges and the total package was $58,165—certainly not chump change.  By comparison, the Ram 1500 half-ton crew cab with the VM Motori six-cylinder diesel and four-wheel drive has a base price of $55,615—$4,195 more than the Nissan Pro-4X.

On the other side, you have the heavy-duty diesels of Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, Ford F-250 Super Duty, GMC Sierra 2500HD and Ram 2500 that start at around $55,000 or more.

Pickup truck brand loyalty is strong and breaking away is a tough decision. But take the 2016 Nissan Titan XD for test drive, and you just might decide that a inbetweener-size pickup is the right truck for you.

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Disclosure:

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.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X

Road Test: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X

With Cummins Diesel Power, Titan Carves Out A New Pickup Niche

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X,power,payload

The key to the new diesel Titan–it works

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.

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X

Similar to the old Titan, but bulked up

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.”

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X

With Cummins’ help, Nissan steps up to play with the big boys

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.

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X, styling, mpg, clean diesel

Distinctive headlights lead the way in the new Titan

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

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X,clean diesel, mpg, fuel economy

All the comforts of a rolling office

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

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X, interior

The dash now can function as a helper in your tasks

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

2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X

Nosing its way into a new niche

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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Disclosure:

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.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.