As you may have noticed, there is usually lead time for these full reviews after the cars leave the CRD speed fleet. Time to process and refine the review content is usually really helpful, despite that seeming counterintuitive.
Not in this case. Titan XD jumps the line, and is firmly top-of-mind a day after its departure.
The Titan XD blew us away so thoroughly with its unique skills and capabilities that we’re tempted to name it HD Truck of the Year. Not just tempted, it’s done. This is our HD TOTY for 2016.
Diving in deep yesterday for the drive videos helped crack the Titan XD’s code — and make sense of Nissan’s strategy to become a trucking hero with the Titan’s complete relaunch.
Is the Titan XD perfect? No, it is not.
But does it perfectly solve a long-running pickup truck mystery? With innovative, high-tech solutions that break the half-ton 1500 vs one-ton 2500 ‘rules’ the truck business?
Oh yes. All that and more. Two videos and a few dozen photos of “The Crusher,” our affectionate nickname for the Titan XD during its weeklong Spring Break here in the Carolinas. Plus the standard headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing.
Spoiler Alert: The Titan XD tows like a 2500, but drives smoothly and corrects the normal HD/Super Duty compromises in handling, driver control and refinement. All at pricing that is temptingly low for an all-new, next-gen turbodiesel V8 from Cummins.
DRIVE VIDEO REVIEW TWO
First things first, the new Titan XD is massive. Far larger than you are expecting — and very close indeed to the towering stance and imposing hoodlines of the Sierra 2500HD and F-250 Super Duty models from GM and Ford.
That reaction in the flesh is surprising — in photos we’d pegged the new Titan as a pure F-150 rival. Oh no. Much more than that. Literally!
The new nose and hood design are gigantic for a reason: they were custom-adapted around the Cummins turbodiesel V8 of our test truck — the only launch engine of the Titan XD so far in 2016.
XD, you see, means “Every Duty” in Nissan-speak. So the upcoming gasoline V8 will also wear the Titan XD badge.
A giant hood crown is capped up front by a sheer, vertical cutoff into the bright grille and vertical-oriented main lamps. A beefed-up V-motion grille element is still present in two gigantic, vertical grille bars. On this SL trim, the inner mesh of the grille matte silver. A favorite detail is the embossed ‘TITAN’ lettering in the top of the grille. (This would really pop in a DIY contrast finish… as would these slightly-too-bright wheels. We’d go dark silver satin for both, but leave the TITAN stamping in chrome to punch through.)
It is all very imposing, and very impressive, if not classically beautiful on first sight. The bluff and near-vertical face of the new Titan XD makes its first impression much more HD than any other half-ton truck. The Titan XD Pro4X is even cooler, with contrast paintwork, fender flares and other tweaks vs the plush SL 4WD here.
In isolation, we found the Titan XD’s pure nose angle to be very reminiscent of the NV2500 vans — and not in a great way. This definitely lifts the status of the NV more than the Titan XD benefits from the familiarity.
But then you look closer, and see massively more hood height and length. A much more steeply-raked windshield, and of course a ride height to match the Titan’s new XD bulk versus the vans.
Then the fireworks start: you note the “C” Cummins badges in the front fenders — drawing more admiration in traffic than you would ever imagine.
2016 TITAN XD beside ~2011 Nissan NV2500 (Pls disregard Titan LED weirdness; it’s the camera’s fault:)
Your eyes light up with the bright and sharp vertical cheekbones of LED DRL lighting. Twinkles keep on coming as the HID low-beam projector beams light up and add to a mean, serious stare on the highway. This is a face that clears the fastlane like a rocket bulldozer in your rear-view mirror.
Interesting new musculature in the profile, fender flares and overall look helps the Titan XD to feel fresh and extra unique from the profile and tail angles. 20-inch wheels on the SL 4×4 test truck are strong, chunky six-spokes that seem perfectly sized to the gigantic fender openings, even on these road-biased tires.
Then the lights out back are slightly less fresh than we’d hoped, with incandescent bulb elements for the main brakes and blinkers. We did love the very bright LED bed lighting back there, though! And a very fresh look to the chopped clear/red elements, deep Titan branding and jumbo badges all make clear: there is a new Boss Hog in town.
The cabin of the XD is virtually unrecognizable to current Titan owners. Beside the Nissan badge in the four-spoke steering wheel, most would be hard-pressed to know where this plush rig comes from. Soft-touch elements for the upper dash now have contrast-stitching effect on their top edge — and this sets the tone for an immensely well-built, and simply immense cabin.
There is a fantastic sense of width and airiness to the new Titan XD inside. Great seats and a high, but confident, drive position are a hop away from the pavement via the fixed, full-length running boards.
The power-adjustable steering column is fantastically adjustable, and avoids the tilted-up, city-bus feel of some HD2500 pickups. You are still massively high off the ground in the Titan XD’s driver seat, but also fairly ensconced and with arms-stretched ahead in a sports-car-ish drive position. The pedal placement all seems perfect, and the footwells are triple roomy, but also have a dead third pedal to brace your left foot when needed.
The 8-way power driver seat of the SL 4×4 Crew Cab has power lumbar that is helpful. Deflated positions for the lumbar provide more lateral support than with the lumbar pillow blown up. But overall the Titan XD holds you nicely in corners — in a way that the previous-gen Titan and current Frontier are much more prone to tossing you around. Same goes for the Silverado HD, which can slam your hips around in corners. Especially if you are thinner than most Avg Americans.
All good news then for the Titan XD’s captain. A tap of the remote-start from outside or the push-button ignition inside fires up the heart of the beast: a Cummins turbodiesel V8 so excellent that Ford and Chevy refused it buy it, and instead are fast-tracking the development of their own inhouse engine competitors.
They think they can build their own for less money than the estimated $10k price for these crate motors when shipped to the Titan XD megafactory in Canton, Miss.
Are they right? Is this size TDV8 the key to next-gen towing ability?
Lack of new 1500 diesel models beyond the 3.0-liter VM Motori TDV6 in the RAM proves the challenges in rolling out an all-new truck diesel motor. It must last for 200,000 miles of hard use/abuse, yet also be free of Clean Diesel stigma by including the best exhaust-treatments. And all at the same time, be able to justify its steep price premium over the existing gasoline engines.
Nissan’s partnership with Cummins makes perfect sense. Leverage the long-standing brand cred of the Cummins name, and also leapfrog the other 1500 trucks to market.
The specs alone speak clearly for themselves: 5.0-liter V8 with giant, twin-scroll turbocharger producing 555 pound-feet of torque, 310HP and nearly 20-mpg when driven gently. Yet also a hauling hero: 12,310 pounds is astounding weight for the Titan XD’s max tow capacity. All Titan XD’s — with the diesel still standard until the new gas V8 arrives this summer — can haul at least 10,600 pounds. The sprint pace is 9.1-seconds to 60-mph, with minimal turbo lag. More notable is the long-travel throttle pedal. It is tuned to let you stay chill even in bumpercar traffic jams, where a jumpy throttle might have the truck eating that Prius in front of you.
The Titan XD does it all: maintaining great passing and towing power even with weight out back. With respectable fuel economy while doing so. Very, very impressive achievements.
The six-speed automatic from Aisin is the second half of the Titan XD’s phenom new powertrain. The Japanese supplier giant has worked double-time to make sure this new auto is up to the tasks at hand: reinforced torque-converter, heavy-duty cooling and internals, plus smooth gearchanges even at full throttle. Incredibly impressive, and a big part of why the Titan XD Cummins is so much friendlier, and more controllable, than the 6.7L Cummins diesel six in the RAM 2500 HD.
The first thing you notice, of course, on cold startup is the diesel clatter. It comes in loud and clear at idle and through town. A slight shock when coming from car-cars, but then notably unobtrusive. You even start to crave the whistle of turbo boost on hard throttle. Other drivers certainly do! Titan XD clears traffic and turns heads in the Southeastern USA as much as any Porsche or even GT-R.
The Titan XD engineers obviously knew this engine is ‘vocal’ — to put it mildly — compared with the normal engine compartments they are used to insulating. As a result, the Titan XD is triple-insulated like a Wraith all around the firewall, lower dash and throughout the cab. Once the diesel warms up and quiets down, you are left in awe at the refinement of the new Titan at speed. Wind, tire and exhaust noise are usually ever-present in big pickups, but are seriously silenced here. As you can see and barely hear in these videos…. the Titan XD has a charming and very modest thrummmmm on full throttle. NBD for this big rig, even with my hulking man-teets making an embarrassing appearance on video.
To add to my shame… three subheadings that read like a Gilette ad, but are also quite relevant for the Titan XD’s performance.
So, beyond the actual diesel brummmm and boost/blow-off-valve noises? (That are actually status symbols in most of the world…)