Nissan Titan XD hits the sweet spot in pickup trucks

2016 Nissan Titan XD and its big Cummins diesel engine was right at home exploring the Arizona desert trails.

2016 Nissan Titan XD and its big Cummins diesel engine was right at home exploring the Arizona desert trails.

We waited and waited for years and finally the wait is over. Nissan has finally uncovered the all new Titan XD powered by a Cummins Diesel engine. Not only is this truck ready to work, it fits right into that sweet spot, vacant for so long, between full sized 1/2 ton and a heavy duty 3/4 ton pickups.

Just as we have heard rumblings from truck owners, Nissan also heard them ask for a pickup that fits between the lighter duty half-ton and the heavy duty three-quarter ton pickups. The Titan XD is built to do just that, plus has Cummins diesel power.

Make no mistake; this truck meets the needs for any owner who looks for the easy hauling or towing of medium loads. Ok, that is if those medium towing loads are under the whopping 12,314 lbs limit of this Titan.

With a heavy duty boxed frame under the Titan XD makes a rugged base for a hard-core pickup.

With a heavy duty boxed frame under the Titan XD makes a rugged base for a hard-core pickup.

Nissan invited us to come along on a trip with their designers and engineers to test the mettle of the Titan XD in the dusty and demanding Arizona desert. Why this south western sand box? Because this is where Nissan has their desert proving grounds and is close to the homes of all their folks who put the Titan XD through demanding preproduction severity testing. We couldn’t think of a better place ourselves, because we love the south western desert in the fall. And, it was storming like crazy across most of the rest of the country.

Arizona was also used to highlight the fact that the new Titan XD was designed, engineered and built in the good ole US of A. The design came from the Nissan Design studio located in San Diego, CA as the engineering came from Nissan North America and the Titan XD is built in Canton, Mississippi.

The bold design is meant to portray a big bad pickup. The large front grille and bulging hood is meant to make everyone say to themselves they must see what bad a$$ engine lies beneath. And that Cummins diesel assures they will not be disappointed.

The Titan XD is designed differently than the regular Titan model (which comes later in the year) in that it has greater capabilities to match the Cummins turbo-diesel sitting under the hood. To equal these extra heavy duty design cues, the Cummins diesel 5.0-liter V-8 produces 310 horsepower and a triple nickel, 555 lb-ft. of torque.

Power is transferred to the road through an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive versions. As we would expect, Nissan has equipped the Titan XD with tow haul mode and manual shifting via easy to reach controls mounted on the gear shift lever. Though we would prefer the more sporty and easy to use paddle shifter design the Titan XD buttons are easy to manipulate even while bouncing along boulder strewn desert trails.

The body-off display gave us an up close look at the V8 cummins diesel engine.

The body-off display gave us an up close look at the V8 Cummins diesel engine.

Sometimes we in the motoring press get a privileged look at what is under those beautiful body panels of the vehicles we drive and so was the case with the titan XD. Nissan brought along a wonderfully detailed rolling chassis so we could get down and not so dirty look at what lays under the bold body panels. Which if you go to one of our YouTube channels (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uokw9hBL1g0) you can share that opportunity with us.

If you wanted to sum up the Titan XD we would look at two major advantages, the heavier duty frame and components than a half-ton and the Cummins diesel power plant. But that doesn’t give you the full picture with this truck. It is free of the diesel knock we hear from other diesels (granted all new diesels are getting quieter), and the Titan XD is as comfortable as your family sedan, perhaps even more so.

Fire this baby up and you know the Titan XD is ready to work, even if that work is to get you across country in style. There is a slight ticky sound from under the hood, but only to let you know there is a diesel engine in there. If not told its diesel, 90 percent of people standing next to the truck wouldn’t know. Accelerating from a full stop you can certainly feel the full force of the 555 lb-ft. of torque pushing this truck forward and you back into the seat. It is a comforting feeling, even a bit of superiority putting this power to the pavement while passing a slower vehicle on the highway.

Nissan has added a number of cool features that make owning this pickup more rewarding. One such attribute is the Aroundview camera monitor. The driver can get a full 360 degree view of the area around the Titan XD via the display in the center dash. This is handy in parking lots and other tight conditions as I found out while trekking up that boulder filled ravine. With the Aroundview we could see the obstacles we were navigating around with a clear view of what the right front wheel was about to encounter, such as that big boulder we were climbing over. It’s like having a spotter along.

With a maximum towing capability of over 12,000 pounds this 9,600 pound front-loader proved not to be a challenge for the Titan XD.

With a maximum towing capability of over 12,000 pounds this 9,600 pound front-loader proved not to be a challenge for the Titan XD.

Another helpful towing aid is the addition of a centerline image to the backup camera that helps in lining up the trailer hitch with the hitch ball and an audible warning when the hitch is over the ball. We tow a lot, from our car trailer hauling a new found barn find to an ocean fishing boat, and this takes the guess work out of hitching the trailer. The Titan XD also makes checking the trailer lights an easier task. Via the key fob, once the trailer light connection is made with the truck, the driver can cycle through the running lights, brake lights and left and right turn signal while standing behind the trailer. No more running back and forth to the cab or needing a helper.

016 Nissan Titan XD 3_4

After a day in the desert the Titan XD cleans up well and ready for a date on the town.

These are all in fine features, but towing a trailer can be a bit stressful for many, Nissan has made it less so with an integrated trailer brake controller. Downhill Speed Control (DSC) helps the driver maintain a steady speed while descending long downhill grades without having to constantly apply the brakes. Trailer sway control aids in keeping your trailer on the straight line behind the Titan XD.

It could be said that Nissan has its own category in the pickup market with this truck. The Titan XD is big, bold and strong featuring capabilities that meet the needs of those who have struggled to have a little more truck than a half ton but without being over burdened with a ¾-ton heavy duty truck. The Titan XD has hit that sweet spot pickup truck buyers have been looking for.

 

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