Despite full-size pickup trucks now going for luxury car prices, and being used more for leisure vehicles than workhorses, buyers are still demanding they carry and tow more than ever. The original Nissan Titan was a comfortable truck, but it just didn’t measure up when it came to hard work. But, that’s supposed to change with the arrival of the gen two, Cummins V8 turbo-diesel powered Titan XD. So let’s see if the XD gets the job done.
While not a pure “heavy duty”, this 2016 Nissan Titan XD is indeed a “heavier” duty version of the second generation Titan full-size “light duty” pickup truck. So while it’s all-new all around, with vastly increased capabilities, even Nissan sticks it with an “in betweener” label rather than either classic definition.
That’s not a knock by any means, just the facts. And a further truth, Nissan’s “tweener” could potentially tap into a real sweet spot that’s ripe to be exploited.
Like most hard working contractors, Nissan is smart enough to know which part of the task to take on themselves, and when to sub out a job to those that do it best.
Thus they turned to Cummins for the XD’s optional diesel engine. It’s a 5.0-liter turbo V8 that clatters up 555 lb-ft. of torque and 310-horsepower. So, it’s not the same Cummins found in Ram heavy duties. That one’s a much larger inline-6. The XD’s transmission is a 6-speed Aisin automatic, and four-wheel-drive is available.
Towing capacity is 12,300-lbs, or right about where light duties end and heavy duties begin. The only other full-size light duty diesel, the Ram 1500, tows 9,200. Last year’s Titan maxed out at 9,500.
In order to get that almost ton-and-a-half of added capability, besides the V8 engine, XDs get a new fully-boxed frame that extends the wheelbase around 20-inches. A task they handled themselves, as the frame comes from Nissan’s commercial truck division, and it is unique to the XD.
Other upgraded parts include a new rear axle with higher rated leaf springs, reinforced front suspension, beefier brakes, additional cooling for both the engine and transmission, and your choice of 17, 18, or 20-inch wheels.
The ultimate goal: a big boost in capabilities while still retaining all of the user friendliness of a personal use pickup.
Looking the heavy duty part won’t necessarily increase your productivity, but it sure does help with your street, or hardware store parking lot, cred. And here the XD mostly succeeds. The front end is big and bold, sides tidy, and rear professional grade looking.
Other goodies such as LED bed rail lighting, integrated gooseneck hitch, backup camera with trailer guide, and trailer brake controller help as well.
As for track work, in addition to the plentitude of torque off the line that you expect, there is a smooth and slow build of power as you roll down the track. We hit 60 in a fine 9.5-seconds.
It’s surprisingly quiet at full song, and shift quality is smooth and steady, delivering us to the end of the ¼ in 17.4-seconds at 82 miles-per-hour. It’s obvious the XD is not for carving through cones. There’s plenty of understeer and a lot of length to maneuver. But, it’s certainly not the worst of the breed; though better reaction to steering inputs would make us happier.
A 120-foot average stopping distance from 60 proved that the brakes are definitely up to the task. No fade to speak of either, as they worked better the hotter they got.
Whether it’s just for short trips to the job site, or long haul tows, no one wants to spend time in an uncomfortable interior. No worries there, as our tester sported full Platinum Reserve trim.
Which includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio, premium leather seating, wood and metallic trim, heated seats and steering wheel; as well as some added flash to the exterior. But all new Titans get a roomier interior; with a more functional layout, increased storage space, and very comprehensive gauges.
The XD Diesel’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is just high enough to not require Government Fuel Economy Ratings, making it technically a heavy duty truck. However, we averaged 18.4 miles-per-gallon of diesel, about 1-mpg better than the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD that we tested recently.
Pricing for the XD Diesel starts at a hefty $41,485 and goes up quickly from there. The XD’s standard 5.6-liter gas V8 will start in the upper 30s, and currently Crew Cab with 6½ foot bed is the only arrangement offered. Other all-new Titan models, with 3 available cab configurations, will arrive in the months ahead.
But Nissan chose this 2016 XD Diesel to spearhead the launch of the new Titan to make one thing clear. Despite the domestic dominance of the full-size truck market, Nissan is not retreating. And more importantly, they’ll do whatever it takes to succeed; including offering something the other guys don’t.
Engine: 5.0 liter
Torque: 555 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 9.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 17.4 seconds @ 82 mph