This tweener truck can’t seem to find its footing between half-tons and heavy duties.
No one was sad to see the last-generation Titan go, and Nissan sure is happy this new one’s here. It’s not all the way here, though. For now, the new Titan is only available as the near-heavy-duty XD model with a Cummins diesel V8 engine; a 5.7-liter gas V8 engine will go on sale this summer and a non-XD, half-ton Titan model will arrive later this year as a 2017 model. This particular version is the Titan XD Pro-4X that’s outfitted more for off-road duty than the other trim levels. It comes with a higher ground clearance, special Bilstein shocks, beefy all-terrain tires, a steel front skid plate, electronic locking rear differential, and a Driver Assist Display that shows you how many degrees you’re leaning, among a few other features that make the road less traveled a little easier to tackle.
- This truck has presence. Regardless of what you think of its styling, Nissan has made a truck that can’t be ignored, even when it’s parked next to its competitors. The Pro-4X upgrades only help matters with a ground clearance that lets you look down at other trucks and deeply grooved off-road tires that look ready for the business end of Earth’s toughest topography.
- Speaking of tires, I found these General Tires Grabber size LT275/65R18 to be surprisingly easy to live with on normal roads despite their clearly intended off-road capability. While traveling down the highway with the stereo off, tire noise was less of an issue behind wind noise and the sound of the Cummins diesel engine.
- That Cummins engine is 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel creating 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque. For the Pro-4X model, it’s rated at towing 11,784 pounds with a payload of 1,733 pounds. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, the Cummins felt overly capable of towing or hauling most anything I could think of. I wasn’t able to test it with a trailer, but I did fill it up with about 600 pounds of people for a drive through the country, and the engine hardly reacted to the increased weight.
- I’ll give the steering system my last kudos. Sometimes with big vehicles, automakers overboost the steering assistance to make them easy to turn, but I’ve always felt that strategy can be dangerous. Being able to shift the weight and momentum of such large vehicles so easily means you might not respect their size when it’s really important. The Titan truck’s steering felt on the heavier and slower side, completely appropriate for a big boy like this. It’s not that it’s difficult to turn the tiller; it’s just weighted enough to remind you this truck requires your attention to drive.
- Nissan doesn’t provide fuel economy ratings for the Titan XD because it’s so big that the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t require it (other heavy duty pickups enjoy the same free pass). Motor Trend got 17.7 miles per gallon in its official testing, but that was a couple MPGs higher than I saw during my few hundred miles of mixed driving; my results were more like 15.5 mpg combined, according to the truck’s computer. That again slots this Nissan between half-ton and heavy-duty diesel-powered trucks on sale today, and it’s not exactly impressive efficiency taken at face value. That is, at least compared to the only diesel-powered half-ton truck you can buy, the smaller Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, which gets up to 23 mpg combined according to the EPA.
- I have to knock Nissan for including a behind-the-times infotainment system in this near-$60,000 truck. The screen is on the small side, the graphics are chunky and choppy, and the capabilities aren’t competitive with much better systems being offered by Ford, Ram, and General Motors. Also, the controls for the infotainment and climate control systems, both the knobs and buttons, are too small to use accurately while wearing work or winter gloves; they look like they came from the same parts bin as Nissan’s mainstream sedans.
- On paper, this truck can’t tow or haul nearly as much as similarly priced, heavy-duty trucks with diesel engines from Ford, Ram, and General Motors. Ram, for instance, offers its own diesel engine from the same company that Nissan sources theirs: Cummins. Order the Ram’s 6.7L Cummins engine in a 2500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 and you’ve got a true heavy-duty truck that’s priced about the same as the Titan XD Pro-4X but can tow and haul a hell of a lot more. And if you just want some off-road character in a truck and care less about towing, Ram also offers the half-ton Rebel and heavy-duty Power Wagon, both of which are gas-powered and cost less than this Pro-4X.
Competitors (examples from Ram only; Ford and GM have similar)
- Ram 1500 4x4 with 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6
- Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 with 5.7-liter gas V8
- Ram 2500 Power Wagon Crew Cab 4X4 with 6.4-liter gas V8
- Ram 2500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 with 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel
|2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X|
|ENGINE||5.0L Turbodiesel V8|
|OUTPUT||310 Horsepower / 555 Pound-Feet|
|FUEL ECONOMY||15.5 mpg observed|
|MAXIMUM PAYLOAD||1,733 Pounds|
|MAXIMUM TOWING||11,784 Pounds|