At the Texas Auto Writers Truck Rodeo event last October, I was one of the first journalists in the United States to test the all-new 2016 Nissan Titan XD with the Cummins turbo-diesel engine. Only now the embargo has been lifted by Nissan can I tell you what I thought.
First of all, I wasn’t alone at Texas, where nearly 100 journalists tested the truck and all of its competition. There, it won the Texas Auto Writers Association’s coveted title, Truck of Texas. If you weren’t aware, that’s almost Super Bowl level accolades to the truck manufacturers.
All that said, the new truck comes with styling that some will love and many won’t. Like many of the latest pickups its square and blocky with a very tall brick wall of a face. The Titan XD is particularly so, as its snout had to cover that larger engine and a much bulkier cooling package.
The lighter duty Nissan Titan which is to be revealed soon will have a slightly less imposing face, but will share the rest of the new truck’s style. What makes this truck different than Titans of the past is its XD designation.
This is a step up from a ½ truck as we have known them, but not all the way up to a ¾ ton status. Call it a 5/8 ton if you wish. But it comes with a larger and heavier frame to handle the Cummins diesel engine and all of he extra capability that comes with it.
And that engine, I have gotten to know well this summer having toured the Cummins engine plant in Columbus, IN. There we watched it being assembled in the very first Cummins factory built in the 1920’s.
The engine at 5.0 liters cranks out 555 pound-feet of torque and 310 horsepower. It does so remarkably smooth, exceptionally quiet and far more refined than I expected. Even with the hood open and revving, it’s impressively hushed.
At idle inside the truck it has but a distant purr and one that Nissan deliberately tuned with Cummins to offer up just the right level of sound. When driving on the highway at speed, it sounds no different than a gasoline powered Titan.
Its 6-speed transmission shifts smoothly and predictably whether driving on the road or off-road, which I did a lot of here in Texas. While we had a variety of trucks to drive including the new top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve, I particularly enjoyed the tractive personality of the PRO-4X.
Here in the back country, the Cummins diesel really showed its refinement being able to send you crawling through rough and smooth more or less idling along. Even crawling up steep rock hills with all its traction toys on, only a mild throttle tip-in was necessary to get up to the top easily.
Nissan hasn’t and isn’t going to publish fuel-economy ratings but we are told to expect a 20% increase over the gas V8 Titan. They tell us the real boost will be seen when towing, gaining all the diesel benefits when it comes to mpg, while under full load.
And towing it can do, they say over 12,000 pounds, and with its heavier suspension can do it well. While we didn’t get to tow here, the off-road drives showed a suspension tuned well for a solid ride which doesn’t beat you to death over the rough stuff.
The interior I have to say is a huge step up from the last generation Titan which is unquestionably showing its age. The new trim grades offered here will expand the reach and the price tag of the Titan, but from my vantage point will feel its price more than even some of the most recent competitors new trucks.
And I will leave you with this one new techo-feature which I really think drives will appreciate. As trailer tow toys are so important of late, Nissan showed us their new one which allows you to test your trailer lights remotely with the key-fob. Combine that with the Around View Monitor’s help backing up, and you don’t need a spotter anymore.