• Is Diesel Still the MPG King? 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas vs. Diesel Towing MPG Review


    Turbo-diesel pickup trucks have traditionally been the kings of highway towing fuel efficiency. Is this still the case, and how big is their economy advantage? This is a unique opportunity to compare two 2016 Nissan Titan XDs on our 100-mile highway mpg loop. One is powered by the 5.0L Cummins turbo-diesel V8, and the other sports a 5.6L gasoline V8 under its hood. Both of these trucks are 4×4 crew cabs. The diesel truck is an SL model, the gasser is a PRO-4X version.

    The all-new Titan XD made its debut with the 5.0L Cummins V8. This motor is rated at 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque. It’s backed up by a heavy duty 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission. The 5.6L Endurance V8 is only now coming online. This engine shares its displacement and engine block with the outgoing Titan. That’s where the similarities end. The updated 5.6L V8 puts out 390 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The gas V8 is paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission.

    2016 nissan titan gas versus diesel mpg comparison review
    2016 Nissan Titan XD: Gas vs. Diesel

    So which one of these truck is more efficient on the highway? We ran both trucks empty and hooked up to a 7,000 lbs CM Trailers Cargo Mate trailer on the same day.

    We are now using a new trailer and a new trailer weight for the full-size truck mpg testing. However, all other elements of the test remain the same. We are filling up at the same truck stop using the “double-click” method, running at 70 mph on the highway empty and loaded using cruise control, and getting the real-world numbers at the pump.

    Check out the video to get all the results.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    30 thoughts on “Is Diesel Still the MPG King? 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas vs. Diesel Towing MPG Review

    1. I wanted to like the 5.0 Cummins, but the 5.6L just makes more sense, IMO. I really love diesels, but if I were to get a Titan, I think I would get the gas version.

    2. Andre,
      Great comparison!

      Also, please please please could you add an RSS feed to TFLCar and TFLTruck. I would visit the sites much more frequently if my RSS reader, which I use daily for news browsing, could see their RSS feed article titles. I am sure I am not alone. It would surely increase your site traffic even more.
      Thanks!

    3. This mashup is interesting…. But I would like to see it on elivaltion changes instead of flat highway. The diesel should shine on steep elivaltion changes with comfort and confidence.

    4. This Cummins is absolutely a flop in this truck. RAM absolutely made the right decision. It seems like the gas Titan is a pretty decent rig; but the Cummins offers very few advantages, especially for the money.

      1. Agreed the 5.0l Cummins in the XD is a disappointment for sure. These numbers are in reach of much larger displacement, more powerful HD diesel pickups. Has output of a 10 year old HD and weighs more. This truck could be a good candidate for an 8 speed Aisin if it were available.

    5. Just wondering if the XD 5.6 Endurance engine would benefit with a “beefier” gear. Don’t know what are the 7 speed gears, but I sure a 3.55 (vs. 3.31) would help the XD get better mpg when loaded.

    6. Gearing doesn’t change mpg when loaded much. The EB might have been better with taller gears or in 5th to prevent being in boost so much. The gas did well for a heavy truck in any case.
      Curious to see how the 2017 F-250 gas does with this load.
      Will the 3/4 tons get the same weight Andre or Brian?

    7. The price of gas just kills any savings with diesel at this time. The payoff time is just to long for the premium you pay for a diesel engine versus the small fuel savings.

    8. I can’t wait to see the ram ecodiesel compared to the hemi and see how they stack up to the Titans numbers? Great comparison and great video. Shocked by the Cummins

    9. Funny how no one has mentioned how better these two did over the 2016 f150 3.5 eco towing the same trailer and the fact how much better they did compared to the ford 5L test with only towing the 5600lb trailer. Considering these way over 1500lbs+ more then f150 offerings

      1. I agree, Nissan did set the bar high with the 17 XD regarding the mpg’s, will have to wait and compare with the 17 F150 3.5EB with the 10 speed. I’m also more curious about the 17 F250 6.2 with better TQ numbers

        1. Correction these are 2016 xd’s imagine what the 2017 regular titan will do with the same engine and tranny as the gas xd but alot lighter

        2. Because Nissan advertised the Cummins XD as basically a near 3/4 ton truck, why not compare it to either a 2500 RAM or GM, of F-250 Ford, each with their diesel engines, towing the same 7k trailer? I’d be willing to bet any of the true HD diesel trucks get better fuel economy than the diesel Titan, further negating any possible benefits.

      2. I still would like to see the EB do the test unloaded. Most people only tow 10% or less of the time. If you tow alot, it looks like the gas XD is a solid choice.
        Putc did a similiar unloaded test where the diesel XD got 19.9 mpg (VERY close to TFL results) and the EB got 22.8 mpg.
        The problem with the EB is that it towed in 6th gear at 1800 RPMs. The truck had to of been in high boost. Hopefully the 10 speed will be smarter while towing and get the RPMs up a bit.
        For now though, the Titan XD is the champ with 7000 lbs.

    10. 10% better won’t pay for the difference in fuel at least around me. That would make the payoff infinite. It seems like the 5.0L diesel just is a bad match to the size/weight of the XD. Great video and I look forward to how other trucks do on the new towing test. Maybe a summary page would be nice so the results from different manufacturers can be quickly accessed. Keep up the good work.

      1. The diesel xd was always only meant to be a small portion of titan sales. Just an added variation to help them eventually sell 100,000 titans a year total. Truth be told though most diesel xd owners are very happy with theirs

        1. Those Titan diesel owners may well be happy with their trucks…but only because they most likely have nothing to compare it against. I think you are justifying a bad powertrain. Like I said, the gas Titan seems to be a pretty decent setup. But the diesel is a disaster…no real benefits, only extra cost. 19mpg on the 100 mile loop empty is certainly not bad…until you realize an F-250 diesel will achieve the same mpg with a larger and vastly more powerful engine, and higher-capability truck.

        2. You sound like an XD Cummins owner and I’m glad you’re happy with the truck. I’m only critical of the powertrain decisions and little things like the 26 gallon tank. I’ve pulled my 7k trailer across the US and by 1/4 tank I’m hunting for my next stop. That would be every 190-200 miles in the Cummins XD which would drive me crazy.

          1. Yes I’m a very happy diesel xd owner. I can understand your tank size gripe. But I guess the other way of looking at is comparing to a ford ecoboost, the titan gets 25% better mpg towing. Despite the fords bigger tank they still have a similar range when towing.

    11. Cummins XD is DOA. There is literally no benefit to it at all.
      I wanted to love this truck, I really did. But when the real world performance and economy numbers started hitting, it was an epic fail. The gas motor makes more sense if you are solely considering the Titan. And if you are looking for a tow pig, pretty much any other HD truck on the market offers more power, room, mpg, etc for a similar price as well as proven reliability.

      Nissan, I can appreciate you “swinging for the fences” with this truck, but honestly I think you may have struck out.

      But please please please don’t let that stop or dissuade you in any way from coming out with a Frontier with a 4cyl diesel. I think this is a much better market for you guys to pursue anyway. We’ll wait and see how the GM twins work out with the 2.8L engine, but I think it’s going to be a grand slam. My only hope is that you can bring some good competition for them.

    12. People wanted a diesel, Nissan delivered.. Now, people like mpete complain and say its not good enough and ask for another car to be made (frontier diesel). I dont see anyone else on the market making a truck like this, or even attempting. It’s not supposed to compete with a 2500 or f250. Its in it’s own niche.

      1. Little late to the conversation, but it is in a niche that no one needs. It maxes out capacities the same as a 1/2 ton, but adds the weight and price of a 3/4 ton. I drove the 5.0 and was sorely disappointed and when I saw a 60k sticker..I went to look at the 3 big boys HD.
        Though the new gas engine is a win,it belongs in the 1/2 ton Titan. There is not a market for the imaginary gap (because 1/2 ton and heavy duties overlap now). Perhaps they should look at adding the 7 speed to the diesel and dropping it in the lighter Titan and losing the entire XD line.

        1. I have had my Titan XD for 4000km now and am getting around 19mpg average. I don’t consider that bad seeing as my old Titan was getting 12. I’m getting almost 700 kilometres from tank. I would like a bigger fuel and DEF tank for sure!!!

    13. I have a Ram 1500, Eco diesel with over 50000 miles and the mpg average is now 24+ mpg. This is both city and freeway driving. 19 mpg for the Titan is not going to tempt me to change.

      1. Just wait until the cam gear goes out on the EcoDiesel in a little while. I’m much more inclined to buy the XD Cummins, just because I like it more than the 5.6 DOHC. The 5.0 could be better if it was an ohv configuration not OHC.

        I’m a Ford person, but the fact they keep pushing the EcoBoost is what’s keeping me away. Issues with start stop, the poor mpg…The 5.4 gets roughly the same mpg in a heavier setup. And it took them until 2027 to fix the 3.5 EcoBoost to not have timing chain or camphaser issues.

        Personally I’d like to wait for the Frontier Cummins, but that has no word for coming out anytime soon. So I’ll get a Cummins XD, since it’s easier to work on than the 5.6.

    14. Please continue this kind of comparison as often as possible. I would love to see…
      Any 3/4 ton gas vs diesel;
      Colorado V6 vs diesel;
      F150 V8 vs Ecoboost;
      Ram Hemi vs Diesel. .

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