SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Whoa, look at that! It’s a beat-to-hell, once-white Nissan Titan pickup towing a similarly distressed landscaping trailer. Big dents, scrapes, twisted rear bumper, last washed at the factory.
Has the Titan really been around long enough for somebody to wear one out, for it to essentially be a junk beater truck?
Yeah, it has. Nissan introduced its first full-size truck in 2003, with an interesting strategy: Every Titan had a 5.6-liter, 300-horsepower V-8 with a five-speed automatic transmission — no V-6, no manual transmission, nothing resembling the sort of stripped-down work truck Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, GMC, and Toyota offered as entry-level models.
Also, every Titan had room in the rear, as the only body-style choice was the extended King Cab or a full four-door Crew Cab — no single-cab available. There were a few initial problems — brakes, for instance — but Nissan remedied them, and the Titan earned a deserved reputation as a comfortable, dependable, reliable truck.
The last few years, that reputation has included “dated,” because Nissan hasn’t done a major update on the Titan since it first rolled out of the showroom, making it one of the oldest vehicles on the road. With trucks, that isn’t always a bad thing, as long-proven and long-amortized technology is a solid selling point.
Still, it was time for a new truck, and we get it in December as a 2016 model.
It was worth the wait. After a week in a 2016 Nissan Titan XD — that’s the diesel model, powered by a 5.0-liter, 310 horsepower Cummins turbodiesel V-8 — it’s not a stretch to say Nissan may be the new leader in one of the most competitive, brutal markets there is.
This Cummins diesel engine is relatively quiet, and coupled with a heavy-duty Aisin six-speed automatic transmission, it pulls like a mule, with 555 lb-ft of torque. The engine has a two-stage turbocharging system, with high- and low-pressure turbos that work together to minimize lag. Properly equipped, the XD can tow about 12,000 pounds. The XD is almost a cross between a conventional half-ton truck and the more commercial three-quarter-ton model. There are two frames available for the 2016 Titan, and the XD, with its graphite iron-block diesel, gets the heavier one. That much-reinforced boxed frame has an extended 151.6-inch wheelbase, about 20 inches longer than non-diesel models.
The engine and transmission in the test truck were delivered inside the most deluxe Titan available, the Platinum Reserve model, which features, well, everything. There’s LED lighting distributed all around the bed to make nighttime cargo loading easier. There are multiple hidden storage areas, both in the bed and under the rear seat, where there’s a locking compartment. Exterior cameras are full view: side, front, and rear — helpful in a truck this size. There are video screens in the headrests. Name it, it’s there.
The test truck was four-wheel drive, engaged by a dial on the dashboard. The Crew Cab test truck was simply too large to be called nimble — length is 242.7 inches, nearly 9 feet longer than a Fiat 500 — but it was certainly capable of some moderate off-roading.
The ride is surprisingly quiet and comfortable, even on rougher roads, even with the largest-available 20-inch wheels with 265/60R-20 General off-road-capable tires that carry 70 pounds of air pressure each.
Inside, the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve is as deluxe as any truck on the market, with leather and wood trim that’s positively first class. The Rockford Fosgate 12-speaker sound system is formidable. Front seats are excellent, rear seats are very comfortable, and there’s legroom to suit a basketball player. It’s all very nicely executed, with no sense of any skipped details.
Nor should there be for the price. The truck is too new for Nissan to have set the final sticker, but we were told that the diesel — which is the first 2016 Titan to go on sale — will cost a little more than $41,000 for the base
model, which has cloth seats and lacks some of the test truck’s bells and whistles.
As for our 4×4 Crew Cab Platinum Reserve model, it’s expected to cost slightly more than $60,000, plus destination and handling. EPA Fuel mileage hasn’t been announced, but we got a decent 20.3 mpg over 500 miles of mixed driving.
Following the introduction of the diesel 2016 Titan XD, Nissan will add gasoline-powered V-6 and V-8 models, three available cab configurations including, for the first time, a single cab version.
There will be five trim levels — the base S, the SV, the Pro4X, the SL, and that Platinum Reserve. The trucks will, as they always have been, be built in Canton, Mississippi, with engines built in Indiana (the Cummins diesel) and Tennessee (the gasoline V-6 and V-8). The XD will hit the market in December, nearly a year after it was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Look for the other versions in 2016.
“The full-size truck market is the toughest market to crack in the entire industry,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president of Nissan North America. While the Titan has never generated sales numbers that rival the market’s leaders, Nissan is going into battle again with a stronger package than it had in 2003. We’ll reserve judgment on the whole line until we see it, but based on this experience of the Titan XD Platinum Reserve alone, there’s a new leader at the top of the truck food chain.
2016 Nissan Titan XD Specifications
- On Sale: December
- Price: $41,000/$62,000 (base/as tested) (est)
- Engine: 5.0-liter, DOHC, 32-valve, twin-turbocharged diesel V-8, 310 hp @ 3,200 rpm, 555 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD pickup
- EPA Mileage: 20.3 mpg (observed)
- Suspension F/R: Double wishbone with stabilizer bar/solid axle, multi-leaf springs, stabilizer bar
- Brakes F/R: Vented discs/discs
- Tires: 265/60R-20 General Grabber HTS
- L x W x H: 242.7 x 80.7 x 78.7 in
- Wheelbase: 151.6 in
- Headroom F/R: 41/40.4 in
- Legroom F/R: 41.8/38.5.2 in
- Shoulder Room F/R: 63.3/63.6 in
- Cargo Room: N/A
- Weight: 7,480 lb
- 9 sec (est)
- Â¼ Mile: N/A
- Top Speed: N/A