The new Nissan Titan XD is the first of its kind: a light duty, diesel-powered pickup built to handle heavy duty tasks. It’s the perfect compromise for the buyer who wants the strength and durability of a serious hauler, but doesn’t want to give up the comfortable ride and maneuverability of a regular size truck.
The Titan XD may look like a regular duty pickup, but it’s a completely new breed, a “tweener” that fills the gap between light and heavy duty pickup trucks.
Nissan’s not trying to compete with the heavy duty segment, nor topple the F-150 from its throne. Instead, it’s going after that considerable portion of buyers who think a half-ton is too much truck for them, and a light duty, not enough.
Here are ten things you need to know about the 2016 Nissan Titan XD:
1. Dedicated Diesel Frame
While outwardly the Titan XD may resemble its soon-to-arrive gasoline counterpart, it’s a completely new truck that shares neither nut nor bolt with the regular Titan. Unlike the regular Titan, the XD features a unique chassis that’s based on the NV2500 cargo van, using a fully boxed steel ladder frame that’s been reinforced for torsional rigidity and stiffness. It rides on beefed-up suspension bits consisting of a double-wishbone and coilover setup with stabilizer bar up front, and leaf springs with twin-tube shocks and a 3.5-inch solid rear axle.
2. Advanced Engine Tech
While it shares design similarities with the regular Titan, the XD has a unique front end, engineered to accommodate the larger diesel engine. The Titan XD’s launch marks the debut of Cummins’ new two-stage turbo system, designed to eliminate traditional turbo lag.
The 5.0-litre V8 diesel features a lightweight and compacted graphite iron block, aluminum heads and composite valve covers. It puts out 310 horsepower, but more importantly, 555 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm. That’s 45 percent more torque than the gas-powered Titan.
3. Modern Design
The Titan XD’s “Spartacus-meets-Iron Man” theme has a Canadian twist; exterior designer Randy Rodiguez is from Surrey, B.C., while Stephen Moneypenny, interior design, hails from Brampton, Ontario.
Instead of the western ranch theme so prevalent in the segment, the Titan’s design team wanted their truck to project a “modern warrior” attitude. Rodriguez, project leader for exterior design, said the team drew inspiration from Greek mythology and Roman gladiators. Inspired by the movie warriors of “Sparticus” and “300”, the Titan’s helmet-like face, and sheet metal plates come together like a suit of armour.
4. Towing Solutions
Most heavy duty trucks can be modified to pull a gooseneck hitch. But the installation comes at an extra cost and the protruding ball-hitch compromises the truck’s payload. The Titan XD comes with a fully integrated frame-mounted gooseneck hitch with a removable ball so as not to interfere with the bed’s capacity. The hole has a cover for messy loads like mulch or straw. When not being used, the trailer hitch can be stowed in a lockable cargo box beneath the rear seats.
5. Convenient Features
Nissan refers to the gap between light duty and heavy duty trucks as “white space”, and claims the Titan XD has been engineered from the ground up to fill that gap. In addition to towing duties, the Titan XD has several features that will appeal to avid sport truck buyers.
The Titan’s bed has a rugged, spray-in liner and four hard tie-downs – but it also comes with Nissan’s ingenious Utili-Track cargo system. Integrated into the floor of the bed is a network of five steel channels and sliding tie-down cleats, providing nearly endless points at which to secure a load. This flexibility is particularly useful for off-road bikes and ATVs, as it allows tie-down of their suspension components and prevents them from bouncing around. And unlike the competition’s, the Titan’s optional bedside storage boxes can be removed when more payload room is needed.
6. Getting Hitched Made Easy
Hooking up a trailer can be an awkward maneuver that often requires an extra set of eyes – and hands. And once you’re hitched, it’s hard to determine whether all of your trailer’s electrical systems are functioning normally. The Titan’s backup camera clearly displays the tow ball, which makes it much easier to align with the trailer hitch while backing up.
Once the trailer’s hitched and the electrical system is hooked up, press the key fob and the “Trailer Light Check” system runs through the lights sequentially, and honks when done.
7. Max Towing and Payload Capacity
Heavy duty pickups are now posting big-rig tow ratings of just over 13,600 kg (30,000 lb). While the Titan XD’s max towing capacity of 5,443 kg (12,300 lb) doesn’t even come close to those numbers, at 100 lb more than the highest rated light duty truck (F-150), it does bridge the gap nicely. It also boasts such heavy duty features as engine braking, integrated trailer braking and sway control. Payload for the Crew Cab Titan XD 4×4 is 949 kg (2,093 lb).
8. Quiet Refined Driving Manners and Amenities
One of the reasons that buyers often opt for a light duty pickup, is the noisier, harsher ride of the heavy duty truck makes it undesirable as a daily driver. The Titan XD is a quiet, mannerly vehicle on road, even when empty. There are a number of contributing factors, mainly the use of laminated sandwich glass (normally found in luxury sedans), a 45% improved level of body sealing and hydraulic bed-to-frame mounts rather than the typical rubber “hockey pucks” used in many pickup trucks. Depending on trim level, interiors feature heated and cooled seats, NissanConnect with Navigation and Mobile Apps, quilted leather, and the same Zero Gravity seats found in the Maxima luxury sedan.
9. Keeping the Diesel Quiet
Of course, the characteristic “clattering” of a diesel engine isn’t exactly a desirable feature in a daily driver. The new Cummins 5.0L engine includes a couple of innovations, debuting with the Titan XD, which eliminate the telltale noise. While the engine block itself is designed to help reduce noise, vibration and harshness, a new injection system fires a sequence of five bursts resulting in smoother piston travel through the cylinders. Running off the timing chain, the fuel pump is synchronized with the combustion cycle, which hides any noise produced by the pump.
10. Pricing Estimates
While Canadian pricing won’t be available until the truck’s 2016 arrival date is announced, the Titan XD is expected to start around US $40,000 for base crew cab 4×4, up to US $60,000 for a fully loaded Platinum Reserve. The regular gasoline version should arrive a few months after the Titan XD, with pricing competitive with domestic brands.