The 2016 Nissan Titan XD is an all-new pickup that's larger and more capable than the standard 2016 Nissan Titan, which was also redesigned. Built on a stouter frame with beefier running gear, the Titan XD launches with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine, crew-cab body and 6.5-foot bed only. A gasoline V8, extended-cab body and an 8-foot bed will be added later. It's a uniquely positioned pickup that attempts to split the difference between traditional half-ton trucks and the more powerful heavy-duty pickups from the Big Three.
What Is It?
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD is an all-new full-size truck that has more robust capabilities than the standard Nissan Titan, which was also redesigned for 2016. The Titan XD is not designed to compete head-on with the heavy-duty trucks from Ford, GM and Ram. Those trucks have engaged in a power race that has pushed their capabilities — and their prices — far beyond what many buyers need or can afford.
The result is a Titan XD crew-cab diesel pickup with tow ratings that range from 12,314 pounds for the S 4x2 work truck to 10,608 pounds for a decked-out Platinum Reserve 4x4. A nicely equipped Pro-4X 4x4 can pull 11,784 pounds.
Those numbers put the Titan XD well above a truck like the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which has tow ratings that range between 7,540 to 8,870 pounds, and top heavy-duty trucks that can pull up to 17,000 pounds.
Is It the Same Cummins Engine That Ram Uses?
No, this is a completely different engine. This V8 design is a full 11 inches shorter (front to back) and 500 pounds lighter than the Cummins 6.7-liter straight-6 turbodiesel that powers the current Ram 2500 and 3500 HD pickups.
A pair of turbochargers nestles within the Vee between dual overhead-cam cylinder heads, but this is neither a twin-turbo nor a compound turbo setup. A smaller turbo bolsters low-rpm output and a larger turbo handles higher revs. Both share an odd pretzel-like housing with an electronically controlled intake air distribution valve that feeds one, the other or a variable blend of both to deliver a fat wallop of torque across the entire operating range.
The resulting 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque places the 5.0 V8 midway between today's Ram 1500 (240 hp/420 lb-ft) and 2500 diesel (370 hp/800 lb-ft) engines. This new Cummins squarely hits the vacated heavy-duty target Nissan was gunning for with the XD. We say vacated because a decade ago the 5.9-liter Cummins straight-6 diesel in the Dodge Ram HD trucks was rated at 305 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque.
How Does the XD Differ From the Regular Titan?
The Titan XD's frame benefits from heavy-duty components Nissan previously developed for its commercial vans. The fully boxed ladder frame has been redesigned for pickup duty, and lengthened to support the 151.5-inch wheelbase necessary for the XD's crew cab and 6.5-foot bed, a combination the regular Titan will not offer.
A double-wishbone suspension with coil springs and a stabilizer bar regulates the motions of the front wheels, and a pair of leaf springs and a stabilizer bar controls the straight axle rear end. This sounds similar to the Titan we already know, but it's all beefier stuff sized to support the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) of 8,800 pounds for the two-wheel drive and up to 8,990 pounds for the 4x4.
The majority of 1500-series trucks have GVWRs clustered near 7,000 pounds, while 2500-series pickups loiter at around 10,000 pounds. The heavy-duty GVWR cutoff is 8,500 pounds, so while the XD qualifies for HD status, it's indeed an "in-betweener" at the civilized end of the spectrum.
Other HD componentry includes hydraulic recirculating-ball steering, while the brakes are massive 14.2-inch front and 14.4-inch rear ventilated rotors clamped by hefty dual-piston calipers. The XD also rolls on high-capacity LT tires that run at 65 psi up front and 70 psi in back. Regular Titans will have rack-and-pinion steering and tires that run closer to 35 psi.
When the regular 2016 Titan eventually rolls out, we'll see that the XD's grille protrudes 2 or 3 inches farther forward, while its hood stands 1.5 inches taller to make room for the height of the Cummins diesel and the extra radiator and intercooler capacity it demands.
How Many Trim Levels Are There?
Nissan will sell the Titan XD in five flavors: S, SV, Pro-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve. The base S is a work truck with a cloth and vinyl split-bench seat, manual climate control, 17-inch steel wheels and the smaller 5-inch display audio system.
The SV starts out similarly, but has a cloth bench seat and a dab of chrome here and there. It also opens the door to a range of options including bucket seats, dual-zone automatic temperature control, 20-inch wheels and the Utili-Track bed tie-down system.
Things get interesting with the Pro-4X, the only grade that's sold only as a 4x4. It comes with 18-inch all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential, skid plates and hill-descent control. The interior gets standard buckets and a 7-inch touchscreen audio and navigation system.
Next is the SL, where the Pro-4X off-road gear is absent but heated leather, premium audio, running boards, Utili-Track tie downs and 20-inch machined aluminum wheels come standard.
The fully loaded Platinum Reserve comes with dark chrome wheels, unique heated and cooled leather seats and wood interior trim. There is but one option: a DVD rear-seat entertainment system with headrest-mounted screens.
How Does It Drive?
The Cummins 5.0-liter diesel moves the Titan XD about smartly around town, and it doesn't feel taxed when executing freeway merges. It's far from fast, though. The combination of standard 3.92 axle gearing, 310 hp and 7,480 pounds of Platinum Reserve 4x4 bulk translated into a 0-60-mph time of 9.6 seconds.
The standard six-speed automatic shifts smoothly much of the time, but it's not in its happy place creeping along at 10 mph in stop-and-go traffic. The engine and trans are much more adept at climbing grades and pulling trailers, where the prodigious torque of the Cummins diesel torque enables the automatic to hold gears confidently, with no unwanted dithering.
A more extensive tow test on our favorite test grade is needed, but in a brief test, the XD calmly pulled a blunt-faced overly tall 9,000-pound box trailer up a steep 6-percent grade at 60 mph without the need for a continuous application of wide-open throttle. In Tow/Haul mode, a tap of the brake pedal engaged a downhill speed control feature that commands transmission downshifts to accurately regulate descent speed on the subsequent downslope.
Steering effort is agreeable in normal driving and when maneuvering through tight parking lots. A whisper of feedback lets the driver in on the conversation between pavement and tire, but like most recirculating-ball setups, it's vague when cruising straight. Vibration and off-road kickback are nil.
It's hard to fault the brakes. They proved especially reassuring during our 60-mph panic stop test, bringing the big XD to rest in just 131 feet, a figure some midsize SUVs barely manage. The XD repeated this feat again and again with little variation, each stop arrow-straight and with minimal nosedive.
The ride is pleasingly agreeable, and the XD proved quite stable on poorly maintained dirt tracks. But the win goes to the Pro-4X, even on pavement. Its combination of Bilstein monotube shocks and the inch-taller sidewalls that come with 18-inch tires did a better job of filtering out coarse road texture and small cracks than the 20-inch setup on the SL and Platinum Reserve models.
What Is the Interior Like?
The cab of the XD provides copious head- and legroom in both rows, even though the backseat numbers lag slightly behind those of the Big Three. It's not a difference that is likely to make a difference, though. Our tallest tester was able to sit behind his adjusted driver seat with room to spare.
Front or back, the leather seats are comfy and supportive, though the pleated Platinum Reserve thrones don't offer a clear comfort advantage over the other leather offerings. And the view out is as good as can be expected from a large pickup, though the lowish windshield header can conceal some overhead signals.
Nissan has switched to a column shifter, with manual shift buttons and a Tow/Haul switch built into its handle. It's a good move that opens up room along the center console for drinks, phones or anything else you want to keep handy. It also enables the six-passenger 40/20/40-split bench configuration at the S and SV end of the lineup
Most other controls and switches will be familiar to anyone who has been in a Nissan lately, and the 7-inch touchscreen has a "last-generation" feel to it. Overall build quality is impressive and it all feels good to the touch, but there's little to indicate much has been specially adapted to the size, scale and mission of the Titan XD.
What About Cargo and Towing?
The Titan XD's maximum payload is 2,091 pounds for the S 4x2 work truck. Heavier versions trade equipment for payload, so the Platinum Reserve 4x4 settles at 1,470 pounds. A Pro-4X 4x4 carries a payload rating of 1,733 pounds.
We're fans of Nissan's Utili-Track system, a set of rails along the sides, front and floor of the bed that accept movable tie-down cleats. It's packaged with an in-bed 400-watt 120-volt power socket and a cargo area lighting system with multiple LED lamps throughout the bed.
A trailer receiver hitch and wiring is optional on S and SV but comes standard after that. The built-in electric trailer brake controller is optional on Pro-4X and SL trims.
An integrated gooseneck hitch is optional from the SV onward, and Nissan dealers will offer an adaptor that fits a Reese fifth-wheel to the gooseneck sockets. Neither of these is strictly necessary to tow the maximum, because XD tow ratings apply to any hitch type.
What Kind of Mileage Does It Deliver?
This is hard to pin down, because trucks with a GVWR north of 8,500 pounds fall into the heavy-duty category, which exempts them from fuel economy testing and labelling. There will be no official 2016 Titan XD fuel economy figures, in other words.
We spent 1,184 miles behind the wheel of a Platinum Reserve 4x4, with a reasonable mix of city and highway driving. Our overall average was 16 mpg, with a best all-highway tank of 20.8 mpg and a worst city-dominated tank of 13.8 mpg.
These figures compare favorably to some of the 1500-series gasoline pickups we've had in our long-term fleet. Our 2015 Ford F-150 has been on numerous road trips and only broke 20 mpg for the first time some 18,000 miles after it went into service. Its lifetime average currently stands at 16.9 mpg.
Modern diesel engines need diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to control NOx emissions, but the Titan XD's 4.5-gallon DEF tank is particularly small. DEF availability at the pump is spotty, so the next best choice is a 2.5-gallon jug bought online, at auto parts stores or gas stations. You might be adding one each month — more often when towing.
How Much, and When Can I Get One?
Specific pricing has not yet been released, though that should change soon because sales are set to begin in December.
Nissan has dropped some rough hints, suggesting that a 2016 Nissan Titan XD S 4x2 will go for about $40,000 and the Pro-4X 4x4 should cost about $50,000. The upper limit is said to hover near $60,000 for a fully loaded Platinum Reserve 4x4.
Of course, those figures include the diesel engine, a costly option that won't show in the base price of the 3/4-ton alternatives.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD sits in a niche it carved for itself. On one side is the half-ton world occupied by the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 GMC Sierra, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. If diesel power is a specific requirement, that list shrinks to one: the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
The other side contains the 3/4- ton arena populated by the Ford F-250, Chevrolet/GMC 2500 HD twins and the Ram 2500, each of which has a diesel option.
Why Should You Consider This Truck?
The Titan XD is for those who want a diesel-powered machine that has more towing capacity and a higher grade of running gear than a 1500-series pickup. It should be particularly attractive to those who are disappointed in the Ram 3.0-liter EcoDiesel's modest towing and payload capability.
It's the heavy-duty pickup for those who are happy with the 10- or 12-year-old HD diesel pickup they want to replace, folks who can't see themselves moving up to the current crop of 2500-series HD diesel trucks that are getting beefier and more expensive as the Detroit Three trade punches in a towing and payload arms race.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Truck?
If space is an issue, the 2016 Nissan Titan XD may not be for you. At 242.8 inches long, 80.7 inches wide and 78.7 inches tall, it's just as large as the 3/4-ton crew cab trucks sold by the Big Three.
There's also a question of range. The 26-gallon fuel tank is the only offering. Those planning to tow frequently may be disappointed they can't step up to the 36-gallon tanks the other guys offer.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds a vehicle for the purposes of evaluation and Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.