In a league of pickup Titans, Nissan thinks there’s more to a truck than big numbers
How serious is Nissan about taking on the well-established fullsize-pickup establishment? Serious enough, it seems, to introduce a complete lineup of both lightand heavier-duty haulers.
It would appear this mash-up of the Titans is Nissan’s way of taking on Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and their near-ownership of the truck business. However Nissan insists that that isn’t necessarily the case. Instead, the company sees an opportunity for selling not only “normal” light-duty pickups but those that bridge the gap between light and heavy duty.
Enter the Titan XD that arrived for the 2016 model year with V-8 turbo-diesel pulling power, although it has nowhere near the brute capability of a heavy-duty Ford, GM or Ram truck. Straddling this middle ground, Nissan’s Mantra is, why buy more truck than is necessary?
The XD has a stout frame, loads of luxury content and that diesel — a Cummins, by the way — makes 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain.
For 2017 the XD Gas joins the family with a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 390 horsepower and 394 poundfeet. It’s mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Both 4x2 and 4x4 versions are available, but the Crew Cab body is all you get. Of the five different trim levels — S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve — the Pro4X is the most off-road-capable with its own suspension setup, skid plates, all-terrain tires, electronic locking differential and other accessories.
Also for 2017, lighter-duty Titans have joined the fleet. They have different chassis and suspension underpinnings and different, albeit similar, bodywork. The net result is a pickup that has about 12 inches less distance between the front and rear wheels (more than 14 inches shorter overall). There are three cab styles, including a two-door regular-cab model. The gasoline V-8 is the only choice for now, but a V-6 will be added later.
Driving both the turbo-diesel and gasoline Titan XD back to back in varying payload and towing conditions reveals significant differences between the two. As you might expect, the diesel actually drives more smoothly with a decent-size load in the bed or hitched to a hefty trailer, which is how most owners will likely use these bigger trucks. Unloaded, the XD feels a bit balky and less maneuverable, although being aggressive with the throttle at low speeds does awaken the torquerich Titan.
By contrast, the gas Titan’s rumbling V-8 (one of the bestsounding exhausts in the business) and quick off-the-line prowess provides the most fun. It can still hold its own on the job with maximum 9,390-pound towing and 1,940-pound payload capacities. The diesel XD can tow up to 12,640 pounds and has a 2,910- pound payload rating. Again, these numbers are far from class leading, but are more than enough for all but the extreme hard-core truckers.
The Titan duo certainly isn’t shy on content. Even the base singlecab S work truck that starts at $30,800 (including destination fees) comes with air conditioning, keyless entry with push-button start, sliding rear window and a split-folding bench seat.
At top end of the scale, the XD Crew Cab Platinum Reserve 4x4 that rings in at $63,200 lacks for nothing, including leather-covered seats, chrome and wood trim, 360-degree around-view monitor and a decent list of collision-avoiding active safety technology.
Now that Nissan has stepped up its pickup game with a wide assortment of models and equipment, the challenge ahead is to convince die-hard (and extremely loyal) truck buyers that the Titan is a viable alternative to their usual domestic-based brands. That will take some persuading, but it’s abundantly clear that the automaker is in the trucking business for the long haul.
What you should know: 2017 Nissan Titan
Type: Two- /four-door full-size pickup truck
Engines (h.p.): 5.6-liter DOHC V-8 (390); 5.0-liter DOHC V-8, turbo- diesel (310)
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic (5.0); seven-speed automatic (5.6)
Market position: GM, Ford and Ram hold an iron grip on the fullsize truck market, which makes it tough for Nissan and Toyota to build market share. The Titan represents the best shot yet at busting the domestic-based pickup bubble. Points: A wide range of models, and trim levels, with more to
and potentially luxurious as other
gasoline and turbo-diesel V-8s are stump-pulling potent, but the latter is surpassed by other heavyduty to what is a non-traditional truck brand will continue to be a challenge for Nissan.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); trailer sway control (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy) 15/21 (5.6, 4x2); Base price (incl. destination) $30,800 By comparison Ford F-series Base price: $27,700 Class-leading pickup has an aluminum body and an available twinturbo V6. Ram 1500/2500 Base price: $25,800 Available brawny V8 and V-6 turbo-diesel make it popular with truckers. Toyota Tundra Base price: $31,000 A steady, gutsy performer that touts reliability as a primary asset.
Nissan TITAN will be available in 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations with three cabin configurations.