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We Tow and Go Off-Road with the 2016 Nissan Titan XD

Posted in Features on November 23, 2015
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The 2016 Nissan Titan XD is an all-new truck that targets at a unique segment of the market. With the Titan XD, Nissan has brought back the heavy half-ton. The Titan XD targets a broad spectrum of truck owners that need more capability than a standard half-ton truck typically offers, but don’t use their truck enough to put up with the harsh unloaded ride of a true ¾-ton during the majority of their driving.

This heavy half-ton concept is not new. General Motors offered both heavy half-ton and light duty ¾-ton trucks in the past. Typically these trucks offered minor upgrades, in the case of the half-ton rigs, that included improved frames, and larger rear axles and brakes. The light ¾-ton rigs usually had a downgrade on the rear axle, and six-lug versus the standard eight-lug ends. Other cost saving measures that lowered capacity and capability came into play, as well. These trucks where full of compromises, and the one thing they never offered was a diesel engine option.

The Titan XD is far superior to any of these mid-segment trucks of the past. We don’t see compromises. Instead, we see quite a few innovations. The most exciting news is the Cummins V-8 diesel that powers this all-new truck. The Cummins V-8 is a 5.0L mill that weighs less than you would expect. This is due to use of compacted graphite iron in the block and aluminum heads. A Holset M2 two-stage turbo ensures a broad power band, and the 555 lb-ft of torque comes in at 1,600 rpm. Horsepower is a respectable 310 at 3,200 rpm. Anyone that tows knows that more torque at a low engine speed (rpm) is the key to a good towing experience. Thanks to the Cummins V-8 diesel, the Titan XD offers more torque at a lower rpm than any of the trucks currently offered in the half-ton segment.

Aside from being fun to drive around town on a daily basis, the Titan XD is a great platform for towing. In addition to the diesel engine, the Titan XD also offers an integrated gooseneck hitch as an option in most models and standard on the Platinum Reserve edition. An in-bed 5th wheel hitch is also an available option from Nissan. A trailer sway controller, brake controller, and trailer light function check are also standard on most models. Properly equipped, the Titan XD has a towing capacity of as much as 12,314 pounds, and a maximum payload capacity of 2,091 pounds.

We had a chance to do some towing with the Titan XD and where impressed with just how well it handled a large trailer loaded close to the truck’s maximum towing capacity. Our tow testing included steep inclines and descents, as well as some tight maneuvering. As expected, the Cummins diesel V-8 had plenty of torque to handle the load with ease. On the inclines, we put the integrated trailer brake controller, Tow/Haul mode with Downhill speed control, Tow/Haul mode selector, and Trailer Sway Control (TSC) to the test. Even with tall trailer acting like a sail in moderate winds, the truck handled it all quite well. Better still, any sway induced by the cross winds was damped by the built-in TSC system. Of course, the stiff frame of the Titan XD also helped keep the tail from wagging the dog.

The new Titan XD is full of great features. In addition to those already covered, you’ll also find a RearView monitor with trailer guides in the center IP screen, and an Around View Monitor (AVM) that provides a bird’s eye view of the front, rear, and sides to help when parking in tight places. The Titan XD also features Moving Object Detection (MOD) that alerts the driver to moving objects at the rear of the truck when backing up. Standard on Pro4X models and above are LED headlights.

Overall the new Titan XD is a very capable truck, in either 4x2 or 4x4. The added towing and hauling capability is a plus, and doesn’t severely affect the ride when unloaded, as is typical in a full-size ¾-ton rig. In addition, the wide range of standard features help make the 2016 Nissan Titan XD a great value. Just in case, you’re wondering, the current Titan is scheduled for replacement with a new model. The Titan XD is not replacing the baseline Titan, but rather rounds out the pickup truck line from Nissan.

TITAN XD PRO-4X
Nissan’s Off Road Package
By Rick Péwé

Driving the new Titan XD off road is a pleasure, partially due to the Zero Gravity seats that provide firm yet supple support. We were also supplied with the PRO-4X package for our drive, which has a tuned suspension and tire package for better handling in the dirt. The PRO-4X also comes without running boards for better ground clearance and skid plates to fend off gnarly trail debris and rough rocks. The package also includes an electronically actuated rear differential locker–an absolute must-have for real off-road trails. The 4x4 system has a low range ratio of 2.717:1 and a crawl ratio of 39.814. Also, skid plates for the oil pan and fuel tank are standard on all 4x4 models.

The only negative issues we encountered off-road was the locker switch being hidden under the left side IP without a clear tactile sensation of position (although the dash icon lights up), and the hill holding brake control wasn’t really needed in low range–although it would be nice if you were hauling a trailer.

However, the unit worked seamlessly on our first ascent and proved that Nissan spec’d out this truck for real-world ‘wheeling. The front brake traction control worked very well too, and thanks to the compliant suspension our IFS rig simply cruised over the undulating terrain. The massive torque output of the 5.0L Cummins V-8 was easy to modulate and we could hold it on any hill while slowly crawling. At speed the suspension again proved that the engineers had spent seat time of their own in the truck. Neither harsh nor soft, neither jarring or wallowing, the XD tackled the whoops and performed better than a half-ton truck and far smoother than a ¾ ton rig–exactly how it was designed to be.

We figured it could tow as well off the track too, like hauling your 5th wheel down the sandy wash to your favorite campsite. Even the downhill-descent control surprised us as the brake-based system of some manufactures makes for a scary ride down the hill. This truck smoothly handled the ruts and rocks of a steep decline.

The Titan XD seen here is the PRO-4X package. This is the only version offered in yellow.

The PRO-4X package on the Titan XD is more than just a badge. In addition to the cool PRO-4X logos, you’ll also get skid plates and a locking rear differential that is electronically actuated. The locker is must have if you’re serious about taking your Titan XD off the beaten path.

The Titan XD is a great truck on the trail and street. The ride is smooth and comfortable on the road, without being too soft on the trail.

In our testing of the new Titan XD on the trail, we found the suspension on the PRO-4X package to be compliant, with good travel for a factory pickup.

The PRO-4X package comes with a black grill, seen here; while a chrome grill is found on the premium model, the Platinum Reserve package.

The Titan XD is great as a towing rig. It is capable of handling a heavier load, yet offers a better unloaded ride than any ¾-ton truck we’ve ever driven. The selection of towing aids available is impressive and they are available on most models. Properly equipped, the Titan XD has a towing capacity up to 12,314 pounds and a maximum payload of 2,091 pounds.

The standard tire on the PRO-4X package is a General Grabber ATP in a LT275/65 R18 size. Other packages offer different brand and size tires.

The yellow PRO-4X is perfect for exploring the back roads and trails in the Arizona desert. The yellow color also makes it pop in the photos you’ll be sending your green-with-envy friends. Look closely and you’ll see a cargo box in the bed. The Titan XD can haul a load on pavement and trail with ease. Feel free to load up and take the road less traveled.

As with all modern diesel engines, the Cummins V-8 in the Titan XD requires diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). The filler is conveniently placed inside the fuel door.

The dash layout of all the Titan XD trucks is nearly the same. Some lower grade packages don’t come with all the options, but all are comfortable and logically set up.

The Titan XDs are equipped with “ZERO Gravity Seats.” These seats have been designed to reduce fatigue and offer increased support and comfort. Best of all, this concept is applied to all seating positions, so your family or work crew will all benefit.

Seen here are three (left to right from the top of the list) of the five packages in which Nissan will offer the Titan XD. The top of the line is the Platinum Reserve, followed by the SL, PRO-4X, SV, and the entry level S. All come standard with the Cummins V-8 diesel and six-speed automatic transmission. Nissan claims that you can expect about a 20-percent improvement in fuel economy over a similar V-8 gas engine-equipped competitor.

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