The use of small diesel engines in half-ton pickup trucks have been little more than on-again, off-again rumors in recent years, but according to a recent report from PickupTrucks.com, Nissan is developing such an engine for its next-generation Nissan Titan. Cummins is developing the small displacement diesel engine for use in the Titan thanks in large part to $15 million from the U.S. Department of Energy
According to the report from PickupTrucks.com, the engine will be a 2.8-liter inline-four that is able to produce between 220 and 350 horsepower to go with and expected 380 lb-ft of torque. This engine will also meet the federal Tier 2 Bin 2 emission standards for clean diesel engines. Unlike the Cummins inline-six currently used in the Ram Heavy Duty pickups, this new diesel engine will likely use a diesel exhaust fluid, such as urea, like General Motors and Ford use in their diesel systems.
While heavy duty trucks use diesel engines for maximum torque and towing, this smaller engine is being developed to help improve fuel economy. Currently, the Nissan Titan's V-8 gets EPA fuel economy estimates of 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway, but the Cummins-developed engine is expected to give the Titan a combined fuel economy rating of 28 mpg meaning that the highway rating would be more than 30 mpg. This rating would be far better than the current pickup truck fuel economy leaders like the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and the Ford F-150 EcoBoost.
Among the current offerings of full-size pickup trucks, the Nissan Titan offers the fewest body configurations and only a single engine (the 5.6-liter V-8), but the addition of a small, fuel-efficient diesel engine could make the Titan a major player in this highly competitive segment.
General Motors and Chrysler's Ram Truck brand have been talking about the idea of offering a diesel in their half-ton pickups, but emissions regulations and development costs have likely been the biggest reason why such a truck has yet to be introduced. No official word as to if and when the new Titan or the Cummins 2.8-liter inline-four diesel are to be introduced.