July 06 2016, Southside Nissan



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.

titan pro-4x diesel - trunk and headlights

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.

titan pro-4x diesel - back

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.

titan pro-4x diesel - drivers side and console

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.

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.

titan pro-4x diesel - seating

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.

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".

titan pro-4x diesel - side

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press

Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.