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2016 Nissan Titan XD Diesel Review By Steve Purdy

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Review By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Another big truck graces my driveway this week – a loaded Nissan Titan XD diesel. What a great truck - all dressed up and chomping at the bit for something to tow.

Titan is a full-frame, U.S. designed and built, heavy-duty (or perhaps we should call it “extra-duty”) pickup trying to become a player in the lucrative U.S. full-size pickup market. This XD truck sprung from a full redesign of the Titan range that took place last year and offers the first diesel powertrain for the brand. Some of its heavy-duty components come from the NV commercial van. The XD diesel is more powerful than the V6 Ram but well short of the big diesels offered by Ford and GM heavy-duty pickups – sort of a tweener, we could call it. I see some of our colleagues have called it that.

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Our test truck is the top-of-the-line XD Platinum Reserve Diesel 4WD Crew Cab showing a base price of $60,520. Throughout the Titan range the diesel powertrain costs just about $5,000 more than comparable gasoline versions. Impressive content is included for the price on this loaded one, including: 20-inch alloy and chrome wheels, a lush leather interior that would be at home in any luxury car, navigation system with all the connectivity you’ll want or need, bed liner and cargo management equipment, lighted bed, fixed rocker step, towing equipment including trailer sway control, two-speed transfer case, shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, premium Rockford Fosgate audio and plenty more. With a couple minor options our sticker shows just over $61,000.

You can have the diesel powertrain in the lesser Titan trim levels as well. The entry level “S” model with gasoline V8 shows base price of $35,290 with gasoline power and diesel costing $40,290.

Nissan’s California-based designers were not timid when working on this truck. The massive, chrome-laden grille and front details, including LED DRLs, make a bold statement that resembles, but does not purely imitate, the U. S. big pickups. A big Nissan badge in the grille leaves no doubt as to its heritage and the name Titan is emblazed across the top. Projector beam headlights peer out from the huge bezels. If we thought of this as jewelry we’d have to call it a bit garish. But, this is a big, fancy truck and all that mass doesn’t look out of place.

The sculpted, bulging hood and protruding fenders along with a conventional truck profile balance well with big 20-inch wheels, lower body cladding and distinctive trim to confirm the truck’s big, bold personality. Our tester is an unusual brown color with lots of grey cladding and just enough chrome to give it some panache. Large and shiny Cummins Turbo Diesel badges on each front fender catch our eye right away.

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Most impressive is the luxurious interior with two-tone leather seats and trim, lots of contrasting stitching, beautiful wood accents and massive amounts of space. A large, deep, functional console separates the generous front seats. Many knobs, buttons, lights and a medium-size mulit-function screen vie for space on the dash. While the expansive instrument panel rather is rather busy and complex, it doesn’t take long to find your way around. I found the controls and information systems easily managed and had to go to the book for nothing. Impressive design, materials and workmanship suggest the new Titan brings it entirely up to date with other high-end haulers.

The biggest news here is the turbo-diesel powertrain – a Cummins 5.0-liter V8 making a good 310 horsepower and impressive 555 pound-feet of torque, mated to a sturdy six-speed automatic transmission and two-speed transfer case. While our friends at Edmunds recorded a tepid zero-to-60 mph time of 9.6 seconds it feels faster than that – perhaps because of its size. Official fuel mileage ratings are not required in a truck this size but you can expect something around 20-mpg if you’re driving like an old man, not hauling, towing or going very fast. We got close to 18 mpg in our week of mostly leisurely country driving.

That impressive torque allows for a towing capacity of over 10,600 pounds and payload of about ¾ ton. The only rear-end ratio is a 3.92. If you like the engineering details of the diesel engine and the rest of the truck you’ll want to read our colleague Thom Cannell’s story: Titan Next Step For Nissan Truck

Regular readers will know how much I like driving and reviewing big things – and I loved driving this one. We step onto the fixed running board and climb up into the inviting cabin. We push the start button and it hesitates about two seconds (diesels usually have to take a deep breath before they start) then fires up and idles with that distinctive slow-tick diesel sound. We have to be conscious of the size of this thing easing out of our crooked driveway but it easy to manage when we continue to consider its size. Our drive of about 100 miles of rural two-lane gave us plenty of time to acclimate.

The ride, of course, is firm, but fairly well controlled. It seems a bit more prone to rear-end jitter on gnarly surfaces than some other trucks we’ve reviewed, but is smooth, quiet and sophisticated on decent surfaces. We did not test the Titan with a load on.

The Nissan new vehicle warranty covers the whole truck for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 yares or 100,000 miles.

As these meaty pickups go ever upscale in detail and design, they continue to advance in capability as well. This top-of-the-line Titan is now the equal of anything in its class – and the diesel powertrain makes for great hauling and towing.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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