Domestic manufacturers have long ruled the pickup truck market with Ford, Chevrolet, Ram (formerly Dodge), and GMC consistently ranking 1-2-3-4 in U.S. sales and usually in that order.
But that doesn’t mean other manufacturers have given up on the segment.
Though sales dropped off last month for its full-size Tundra, Toyota has a hit in the Tacoma, selling more Tacomas in February than both the Chevy Canyon and GMC Colorado put together.
Now Nissan looks to be getting serious in the full-size pickup segment with Titan XD, an all-new for 2016 diesel-powered full-size truck that the Japanese automaker says straddles the gap between heavy-duty and light-duty pickups, offering towing (12,000 pounds) and payload (2,000) capacities of a heavy duty truck but “is expected to provide a projected 20 percent better fuel economy than a gasoline-powered V8 while towing full loads,” according to the company. (Exact figures are not available as they are not required for heavy duty trucks.)
Already it has made quite an impression, winning Truck of Texas honors for 2015 as selected by the Texas Auto Writers Association in October before it went on sale in December. The Pro-4X model won the best off-road category and the Platinum Reserve won best luxury pickup.
Not a bad start.
Under the hood of the Titan XD is a 5.0-liter Cummins V8 turbo diesel that is rated at 310 horsepower but a whopping 555 pound-feet of torque. (Don’t like diesel? A 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 gasoline engine is due in showrooms sometime this spring.)
The only transmission offered is a a six-speed automatic with manual gear selection made possible by pressing a button on the shift stalk mounted on the shift stalk. Rear-wheel drive is standard with four-wheel drive optional. With the Pro-4X you can turn a switch to change from RWD to 4WD High and 4WD Low, the latter for more serious off-road excursions.
It comes in five trim levels, starting with the base S ($41,485 MRSP including destination and delivery for RWD, $44,485 for 4WD). The top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve edition checks in at $58,665 for RWD models before options and $61,715 for 4WD. The SV, SL, and Pro-4X models fall in between.
The Titan XD is offered in Crew Cab form only with the S and SV seating six with a split bench front seat while the Pro-4, SL and Platinum Reserve models get bucket front seats that cut seating capacity down to five.
The cabin is plenty roomy, and the leather seats add a nice touch. They are standard on the upper three trims, and special embroidered leather seats are offered on the Pro-4X. With the gear shifter on the steering wheel column, the storage space on the console is increased considerably for the trucks with the bucket front seats.
Controls for operating functions such as climate control and radio/audio systems are fairly basic to use with knobs (Yea!) to change radio volume and stations and other knobs to manually set temperatures if you prefer. There are also duplicate audio controls on the steering wheel.
The 7-inch touchscreen for functions that include NissanConnect navigation (standard on the upper three trims) is easy enough to use, though a bigger display screen would seem to be more befitting a vehicle of this size. It also would be easier on the eyes for the driver.
In addition to the equipment that is standard on all trims, like dual view mirrors, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, hill start assist, electronic brake distribution and brake assist, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, the Platinum Reserve offers a lot of luxury content as standard.
The most welcome is, without a doubt, the surround view monitor. It would be a stretch to say it makes parking a vehicle of this size a snap, but it does take a lot of the worry out of brushing against other vehicles when you are maneuvering in a cramped parking lot. The 360-degree view lets you know exactly where you are.
The surround view monitor also is available on the Pro-4X trim level along with parking sensors. Get ’em.
Standard features on the off-road capable Pro-4X trim include an all-terrain off-road tire, off-road shock absorbers, and lower radiator skid plate.
What’s good about this vehicle: This is a workhorse pickup that offers lots of amenities when it comes to comfort and convenience.
What’s not-so good about his vehicle: Make sure you get a running board. Climbing up into the cab can be a chore. It’s standard on SL and Platinum trims and optional on SV and Pro-4X but not offered on the base S model.
For a look at the Titan XD Pro-4X model, check out the accompanying slide show.