2016 Nissan Titan Xd Road Test Review

January 29 2016, Trevor Hofmann

2016 Nissan Titan Xd Road Test Review

New Smart Sized Titan Will Fit Many Pickup Buyers to a "T"

For its initial 2016 offering, Nissan's second-generation Titan has carved out a unique niche in the highly competitive full-size truck market. Rather than merely showing up with another half-ton the new model hits the road running in classic "heavy-half" form, a pickup that's sized similarly to the usual suspects yet closer to heavy-duty trucks when it comes to payload and towing capability.

Additionally, the Titan comes standard with two potent V8 engines, a gasoline-powered base unit and a class-exclusive turbo-diesel V8 sourced from legendary big rig supplier Cummins. At the moment the new model can only be had with a Crew Cab body, but a new "Single Cab" was just announced for the 2017 model year, as was an economical base V6, both targeting the high-volume commercial fleet market.

I just spent a week with a mid-line XD Crew Cab Pro-4X Diesel 4x4, the takeaway terms being "Pro-4X" and "Diesel" because they're currently all XD Crew Cab 4x4s. Without the diesel the Pro-4X starts at $57,450 and with the engine upgrade the window sticker is competitive to other pickups with similar options at $64,950, but then again no rival offers anything close to the Titan XD's powerful diesel.

North Vancouver Nissan - 2016 Nissan Titan

Before delving into the optional engine, the base DOHC, 32-valve, 5.6-litre Endurance V8 might be identical in configuration and displacement to its predecessor, but that's where the comparison ends. It now makes 390 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 401 lb-ft of torque from 4,000 rpm, an improvement of 73 horsepower and 16 lb-ft, while a segment-first seven-speed automatic benefits fuel economy and performance. Also standard, a part-time four-wheel drive system features a handy switch-operated two-speed transfer case.

Along with the power increase it's a bigger truck all-round, the new Titan's length growing by 463 mm to 6,167 mm, partially due to a 300-mm wheelbase increase to 3,850 mm, while the base truck's width remains identical and height extends by 41 mm to 1,978 mm, while its six-foot-five bed measures 1,981 mm long, 1,567 mm wide and 528 mm deep.

If you plan on cramming that box full, the DOHC, 32-valve, 5.0-litre Cummins diesel upgrade will make light work of heavy loads, my tester's payload good for 786 kilograms and the Titan's maximum a respectable 1,134 kg (2,500 lbs). The engine makes 310 horsepower and a robust 555 lb-ft of torque from just 1,600 rpm, plus its rugged Aisin six-speed automatic is easily capable of handling the Titan's 5,460-kg (12,037-lb) maximum tow rating.

It's been four years since I last drove a Titan, that model a 2012 Crew Cab in what was then top-tier SL trim. While the differences between old and new are night and day, at least most of the trims stay the same including S, SV, Pro-4X and SL, although new this year is top-line Platinum trim.

North Vancouver Nissan - 2016 Nissan Titan

As mentioned my tester was dressed up in Pro-4X duds, which means it's the sportiest looking and most capable Titan off-road. Along with a number of features pulled up from lesser trims, including massive 14.2-inch front and 14.4-inch rear vented disc brakes developed from Nissan's Commercial vehicles program, the Pro-4X includes dark-finish 18-inch alloys on 275/65R18 General Tire Grabber APT all-terrain rubber (a fairly quiet A/T tire with good four-season capability), plus an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein off-road performance shocks, transfer case and lower radiator skid plates, a body-colour grille, bumpers, and wheel arches (Gun Metallic painted front and rear bumpers plus side cladding on certain colours is a no-cost option), a power-sliding rear window with a defroster, a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, a Utili-track bed channel system with four tie-down cleats, a bed-mounted 110-volt household-style AC power outlet, LED under-rail bed and tailgate area lights, auto on/off headlamps, fog lamps, LED DRLs, powered heatable side mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps, and that's only on the outside.

Accessing the cab comes by a proximity sensing key while pushbutton ignition gets either engine going, with additional Pro-4X features including rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, dual-zone auto HVAC, rear A/C vents, a 7.0-inch colour infotainment touchscreen with a rearview camera, navigation, voice recognition, mobile apps, Siri Eyes Free, 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio, a garage door opener, a centre console-mounted 110-volt power outlet, an eight-way powered driver's seat, heatable front seats, "PRO-4X" embroidered seatbacks, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and more.

My Pro-4X tester also included a $7,750 Luxury package that adds remote start with "Intelligent" climate control, side mirrors with reverse tilt-down and auto-dimming on the driver's side, a power tilt and telescopic steering column, a 360-degree Around View parking monitor, driver-side memory, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heatable steering wheel, heated rear seats, a four-way powered front passenger seat, two storage boxes in the bed, and more, while I would've personally added a set of running boards or step rails from the comprehensive accessories catalog, not to mention an available flip-down rear bumper step for more comfortable access to the tall pickup's cab and bed.

North Vancouver Nissan - 2016 Nissan Titan

Once inside it's easy to see the countless improvements from old to new, the 2016 Titan a thorough modernization in every respect. Those who seek premium-like creature comforts will appreciate the Pro-4X Luxury package mentioned a moment ago, with some highlights of my tester including attractive etched metallic inlays across the instrument panel plus a generous helping of satin-silver accent trim throughout the cabin, the exoskeleton-like lower console a real piece of art, while at eye-height a rich looking padded and contrast-stitched leather dash top closely matches the leather-wrapped steering wheel, side and centre armrests and seat upholstery, the leather feeling very upscale with perforated inserts allowing three-way forced ventilation on hot days. This, and the three-way seat heaters can be set via the same high-quality chrome-trimmed rotating knob used in other top-line Nissan models, whereas the rest of the Titan's switchgear is very good.

The primary gauges are a combination of stylish chrome and satin-silver metallic dials with a large colour multi-information display at centre, whereas the touchscreen at dash-central works well, with easy phone setup, loads of functions, accurate navigation and a truly helpful 360-degree parking monitor, plus the Rockford Fosgate audio system delivers excellent sound all-round.

Interior spaciousness goes without question, the cab a one-size-fits-all extravaganza, especially in back where the oft overused term "limousine-like" best describes legroom, while those comfortable rear seats lift upwards to reveal a handy cab-wide storage compartment featuring a hinged lid that can be flipped forward to expose a flat, carpeted load floor.

North Vancouver Nissan - 2016 Nissan Titan

Back in the driver's seat, there's something about the sound of a Cummins turbo-diesel that makes me feel like I'm in command of an 18-wheeler. It's got big rig highway truck in its blood, the swirling hollow chamber turbo vortex audio track a fabulous reminder that the new Titan is no poseur, while at the same time it's a lot quieter than diesels of old. I've driven most every kind of heavy-duty pickup from each brand on offer and the XD feels like a slightly lighter and nimbler three-quarter-ton, its acceleration strong, handling good and stable, highway cruising capability effortless, and ride quality impressive.

After a full week with the new 2016 Titan XD I have to say it's a win-win proposition for Nissan and "light-duty" pickup truck buyers everywhere, delivering excellent build quality, impressive capability and a unique heavy-half niche that should appeal to those that need an alternatively sized pickup truck to better fit their active lifestyle. I recommend you personally try the new Titan on for size, as it just might fit you to a "T".

North Vancouver Nissan - 2016 Nissan Titan

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.