The launch of the 2016 Nissan Titan XD is another reminder that the pickup world is buoyant, innovative and full of great vehicles. What the Titan XD brings to the party is a whole new niche that slots in between traditional half-ton and three-quarter-ton models. Nissan has found that many buyers want the comfort and convenient size of a half-ton truck, but also need more capability — although not necessarily as much as a three-quarter-ton truck offers. They often alternate between the two. Now they can find something that mixes easy driving with superb capability.
2016 Nissan Titan XD: First Drive Review
Models and Pricing
Until the all-new Titan full-size truck range comes along in 2016, this larger XD model (XD stands for “extra duty”, by the way) is currently the sole representative. Trim levels are S, SV, Pro-4X and the ultra-luxurious Platinum Reserve. The XD comes in crew cab form with a 6.5-foot bed, and the range starts at around $40,000 then tops out in the $60,000 range. Add $1,200 destination charges to each price. Buyers will find the XD is even priced between half-ton and three-quarter ton trucks.
Pro-4X is the only model with all-wheel drive as standard. The default setup in the others is rear-wheel drive with all-wheel drive as an option. The Pro-4X also has a dedicated suspension tailored for off-road use, plus hill start assist and hill descent control.
The exterior is suitably chunky, reflecting the rugged and durable character of the truck’s build quality. The Platinum Reserve trim goes big on chrome, especially across the tailgate. All models have “Titan” embossed into various body parts, like the top of the grille. Based on a fully boxed ladder frame, the XD is designed to keep noise, vibration and harshness at absolute minimum levels. And it succeeds. The interior is shaped by smart ergonomics, yet doesn’t skimp on good-looking details like the instrument dials.
In among all the high-quality materials, notice how the gearshift lever is located at the steering column. This might seem a touch old-school, but it allows for greater storage flexibility in the center console. There’s enough space to house a laptop. Several drinks holders are conveniently arranged around the cabin, including a couple that can take 32-ounce Gatorade bottles.
The rear seats offer ingenious stowage options. The seat backs fold down and the bottom cushions can flip up. This is where things get really clever. Under those seats are lockable storage bins, but their lids can also fold out to create a flat load floor.
Comfort and Cargo
The cabin is spacious and welcoming, especially in the leather-wrapped, high-end Platinum Reserve trim. The second row has plenty of space for adults and every seat is perfectly comfortable.
Maximum payload is 2,091 pounds for a rear-drive Titan XD, while that same model when properly equipped can tow a considerable 12,314 pounds. The truck is even capable of performing snow plow duties with the right equipment.
There’s so much more to it than that, however. The bed has a spray-in liner from the factory, comes with lashing rails, optional locking storage compartments (that can double as coolers, thanks to drain plugs) designed so they won’t interfere with a cover or a camper top. And a gooseneck adaptor is standard issue. The Titan XD is the first full-size truck to offer this feature; a fifth wheel is on the options list.
The 360-degree camera system also allows a driver to reverse toward a trailer, then hitch it up single-handedly, even check the trailer’s lights with the key fob. When not towing or carrying a substantial load in the bed, the ride quality is still extremely comfortable, not something that can usually be said of heavier-duty trucks.
As well as all the mandatory safety features, the Titan XD includes trailer sway control and downhill speed control, making towing tasks much more bearable. Blind-spot monitoring is optional, but the large side mirrors also have a separate convex section. Those mirrors are also extendable (necessary when there’s a trailer out back), but the cameras that form part of the 360-degree vision system remain in their same spots. It’s little details like this that really sets this truck apart. The brakes are also more reassuring than those of the previous generation.
Engines and Fuel Economy
There’s only one engine for the XD and its inclusion is a stroke (pardon the pun) of genius. It’s a 5.0-liter turbocharged diesel V8 from Cummins. That’s probably enough to sway some buyers right there. Cummins engines are recognized, renowned and respected the world over. This is an all-new unit with a block of compacted graphic iron (CGI) that’s lighter and stronger than cast iron, plus an aluminum head. Horsepower is a respectable 310, but torque is the star player here: 555 lb-ft. This engine is linked to a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission, and it’s an effective combination.
There are no EPA figures, but Nissan claims a 20-percent improvement in fuel consumption over a comparable V8 gasoline engine. In the real world, low-to-mid-20s is easily achievable.
Driven with weight on board, pulling a double-axle trailer, or merely unladen, the Titan XD is always stable and serene. The engine’s considerable torque is accessible from just 1600 rpm. That’s partly how those admirable towing figures are achieved, but it also provides a satisfying low-end thrust that’s especially useful for off-roading adventures (the Pro-4X, incidentally, has all the right chops when things get wild). What’s also remarkable is how smooth and quiet the engine is; the cabin is virtually as silent as a luxury car.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Just-right size; excellent towing and hauling capabilities; comfort; great mix of torque and fuel efficiency from the Cummins diesel engine; equipment levels; assisted/damped removable tailgate; LED bed lighting; 120-volt outlet in the bed.
Cons: No Apple CarPlay; recirculating-ball steering system not the most precise; fuel tank and diesel exhaust fluid tanks are on the small side at 26 and eight gallons respectively.
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD has enough going for it to break up the usual Chevy/Ford/Ram gridlock. It offers greater capability than most full-size trucks and rides more comfortably than its heavier-duty competition. The Cummins diesel engine is the metaphorical ace up its sleeve.