In a league of pickup Titans, Nis­san thinks there’s more to a truck than big num­bers

Cecil Whig - - & - By MAL­COLM GUNN

www.wheel­base­me­dia.com

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

Nis­san TI­TAN will be avail­able in 4x2 or 4x4 drive con­fig­u­ra­tions with three cabin con­fig­u­ra­tions.

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