Avid TFLtruck viewers have likely seen recent videos of the yet-to-be-released 2016 Nissan Titan XD with a 5.0L V8 Cummins diesel putting out 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque. TFL’s Andre Smirnov had a chance to take the pickup down the highways and do some off-roading near Scottsdale, Arizona, and had good things to say about the truck’s characteristics in both scenarios.
However, the all-important towing test of the diesel-powered truck was not entirely transparent… Andre was relegated to the passenger seat as a Nissan rep drove during the towing portion.
To make the waters murkier, Andre did not have a chance to see inside the trailers, which were a reported weight of 9,000 pounds. For the record, Nissan claims it would have been happy to open the trailers if asked. See the video explaining what happened here.
To make things right, Nissan graciously invited us back to Scottsdale and promised us a chance to tow… this time with flatbed trailers carrying Bobcats, for a total reported weight of 9,600 pounds.
What we already knew:
The Titan XD is a new truck that fits in somewhere between the light-duty and 2500 HD series trucks. A Nissan rep described it as similar to what a 3/4-ton truck was like around 2005. It is actually classified by the EPA as a Class 2B truck and thus no mpg numbers will be found on the window sticker. The first XD to be released for public consumption will be the Cummins-powered variety, with a gasoline V8 coming later. The only transmission will be a 6-speed Aisin automatic. During Andre’s first drive, the truck was described as quiet on the highway and capable on the off-road course. Watch the off-road test here.
What we learned:
Through the use of focus groups around the country, Nissan believes it has identified a gap in the marketplace wherein consumers want more than what a current 1/2-ton offers in the towing department but don’t feel the need to go all the way up to a 3/4-ton. Compared to a new standard Titan, which will be released after the XD, the XD has a completely different chassis and frame. It also has lower spring rates than one would find on a typical 3/4-ton truck. This is meant to give the truck a ride more like a 1/2-ton. A representative from Nissan explained that many truck owners are ready to trade in their 10-year old heavy-duty truck but feel the current heavy-duty offerings would be overkill for their needs. The company believes the diesel XD will be the answer for such a customer.
During Andre’s chance to feel the truck tow (from the passenger seat), he commented that he didn’t feel like the truck wanted to accelerate when going up grade when the pedal was floored. This time around his impression was confirmed. Behind the wheel, the XD had difficulty accelerating up hills with the Bobcat in tow, although while going up a 6 percent grade the truck never dropped below its cruise-control designated 70 mph. Brent Hagan, Senior Planner for Nissan’s Product Planning Department, explained their goal was never to create a truck that can drag race up a hill with a trailer. The focus was on creating a truck that could handle heavy loads while still being an exceptional daily-driver. Where the truck shined was on the downhill. The XD has a downhill speed control tow mode feature (aka. grade shifting), the driver taps the brake pedal while at the desired speed and the truck holds that speed until it reaches the bottom of the hill. During our 6 percent grade downhill test, the truck never went above the 70 mph.
So will the XD fit into the marketplace the way Nissan hopes it will? Could it be your next light-heavyweight truck? It’s an interesting proposal Nissan has put forward and if you’re looking to trade in your 10-year-old heavy-duty truck it’s certainly worth looking at. Check out the towing video with mpg numbers provided by the truck’s computer below.