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2016 Nissan Titan XD: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Jason Fogelson December 2015

Buying a pickup truck used to be simple. For style and light duty, buy the one that catches your eye. For heavy-duty hauling and towing, buy a domestic three-quarter-ton diesel. The 2016 Nissan Titan XD wants you to think more, bringing a diesel engine and heavy-duty build that's more robust than any previous pickup truck from a Japanese brand.

XD Is a New Titan

The original Nissan Titan made the scene in 2003 as a 2004 model, and continues to be sold through the 2015 model year. A new half-ton version of the Titan is expected later in 2016. The Titan XD is a different vehicle, with its roots in Nissan's commercial lineup, sharing a platform with the NV commercial van. There are no shared parts between the Titan and Titan XD. The XD is an upsized, beefier and stronger truck all around.

The XD rides on an all-new fully-boxed ladder frame. It gets a solid axle rear with rigid leaf spring suspension, and independent double-wishbones in the front. The frame is designed to tow with an integrated gooseneck hitch, and there's a fifth-wheel setup available, too. Steering is a truck-worthy recirculating ball design. The cab connects to the frame with hydraulic mounts. As a result of these features and other factors, the XD gets maximum tow ratings of 10,508 to 12,314 pounds, depending on configuration. Deeper in the towing story, XD also comes with standard trailer-sway control and trailer brake controller (with 7-pin connector). An Around View Monitor camera and remote fob-operated trailer-light check feature are designed to make lining up the hitch into a one-person operation. Payload ratings are at least 1,500 pounds and up to 2,000 pounds, depending on configuration.

New Inside and Outside

In the XD's cabin, the Titan follows Nissan's basic truck and SUV look, which is quite refined and nicely laid out. The gear selector is on the column, which frees up the center console for plenty of storage and cupholder space. A USB connector and 12-volt outlet feature prominently at the bottom of the center stack, and there's even a 110-volt AC connector in the truck, and another 12-volt out in the bed. Nissan's Zero Gravity seats provide excellent seating in front. The Crew Cab versions of the XD that were available at the launch event had comfortable, roomy seating in the second row, and plenty of useful covered storage in the cabin floor.

XD's exterior is very clean and nicely designed, if a little less distinctive than the original Titan's design. The front end bears a lot of similarity to the current Ford F-150, with a big, upright grille and squared edges. Unique LED daytime running lights and self-adjusting projector beam headlights (halogen on S and SV; LED on PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve) lend a bit of uniqueness. A standard spray-on bedliner coating is a welcome feature, along with a speed rail system on the load floor. The tailgate is damped for smooth operation in both directions, eliminating troublesome slams and drops. A cool lockable and removable box storage system is available, rather than the permanent box in the original Titan. Other features, like LED lighting in the bed rails, recognize that the truck bed is a work space for many owners. A lot of clever thought went into making the XD a very user-friendly work truck.

New Power

The real heart of a heavy-duty truck is its engine, and at launch the XD will come with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbo diesel V8 that is rated to produce 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque. That seems like moderate power compared with the chief competition, the Ford F-250 diesel, which carries a 6.7-liter turbo V8 that cranks out 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of torque. Nissan calculates that its Cummins engine delivers enough power for a wide range of customers, in essence filing a niche between half-ton and three-quarter-ton pickup capability that other manufacturers have abandoned in a race to provide giant numbers.

A 6-speed automatic transmission with 4x2 or available 4x4 capability (with low range) hooks up the wheels and engine. Off-road capability is enhanced by an available electronic locking rear differential on some models, and vehicle dynamic control, traction control and hill-start assist are standard on all models. PRO-4X models add hill-descent control.

New Ride Quality

We drove the XD in a variety of conditions, both with an empty box and carrying a 750-lb payload. The XD is quiet and smooth, not nearly as stiff as most three-quarter-ton pickups. It's not the grocery getter and fashion accessory truck that some light-duty trucks have become, but it delivers a comfortable, enjoyable ride on smooth roads and handles rougher pavement with ease. A towing demonstration proved that the engine had no trouble on a rising grade with a 7,500-lb trailer in tow. Minimum ground clearance of 9 inches on the 4x4 models made off-road driving fun and impressive -- the diesel powerplant is perfectly suited for the demands of rough trails and moderate obstacles.

Newly Competitive

Pricing on the XD will be announced soon. 4x2 work truck versions in S and SV trim are expected to be in the $40,000 range; PRO-4X off-roaders in the $50,000 range; and loaded 4x4 Platinum Reserve models will hit $60,000. A combination of Regular Cab, King Cab and Crew Cab variations will be available, along with a variety of bed lengths.

The domestic competition is formidable. The Ford F-250 remains a favorite, and the new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and GMC Sierra 2500 models have both received raves. RAM 2500 HD also uses a Cummins engine -- a 6.7-liter inline 6-cylinder turbo diesel with 800 lb-ft of torque.

The 2016 Nissan Titan XD enters uncharted territory for the brand, and the results are impressive. If Nissan's calculations are correct, the new XD could carve out new space in the marketplace.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

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Used 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2WD Crew Cab
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Nissan Titan XD: First Drive Review - Autotrader