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Nissan Titan HD: splitting the big-truck difference

Nissan HD exterior

The XD is about the same size as the half-ton trucks, but its weight, wheelbase and powertrains align it more closely with the bigger rigs.

This year, Nissan debuts the all-new Titan XD, a pickup that splits the difference between the half-ton trucks and their heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton brethren.

Nissan Titan interior

The navigation and infotainment systems get the job done, but neither is as comprehensive or user-friendly as the industry’s best.

It’s about the same size as the half-ton trucks, but the XD’s weight, wheelbase and powertrains align it more closely with the bigger rigs. The EPA classifies it as a heavy-duty truck.

The XD is available only with a four-door crew cab and, due to heavy-duty segment stipulations, with only a 6.5-foot bed.

XD pricing occupies a between-segments middle ground. It’s available a plain-Jane work truck ($36,500, including destination), or it can be outfitted to the nines. Checking all the boxes brings a slew of comfort, convenience, driver-assist and safety features — and a $65,000 price tag.

Don’t confuse the XD with the half-ton Titan 1500, the latest version of which is due shortly. The sibs will share bodies, but the XD is built on a heavy-duty chassis adapted from Nissan’s line of commercial vehicles.

The entry-level engine is a 5.6-liter gasoline V-8 that makes 390 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. The optional Cummins 5.0-liter turbodiesel is rated at 310 hp and 555 lb-ft. Gas-powered Titans are quicker than their diesel counterparts but the diesel’s abundant torque time it a 1,000-pound tow-rating advantage. The gas engine can tow up to 11,270 lb., the diesel 12,314 lb.

Among the half-ton trucks, only Ram offers a diesel. Its V-6 turbodiesel is tow-rated to 8,864 lb.

The three-quarter-ton diesels can tow between 14,000 and 17,000 lb. Nissan hopes to cash in on the differential.

Because it’s 700 lb. lighter than the diesel, the gas engine can handle larger payloads. Gas-powered XDs can haul up to 2,594 lb., about 500 lb. more than the diesel.

Heavy-duty trucks are exempt from federal fuel-efficiency standards, and neither Nissan nor the EPA publish mileage numbers.

We tested an off-road-ready, gas-powered Titan Pro-4X (from $47,165). The Pro-4X package includes Bilstein shocks, standard four-wheel-drive with a lockable rear differential, skid plates, hill descent control and dark-finished 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires. There are also LED headlights, a spray-in bedliner, a towing package and navigation with voice controls

Even with its off-road suspension, the gasoline-powered XD was an exceptionally comfortable road-trip rig. With its 151-inch wheelbase and 7,000-lb. curb weight, it settled into its lane with substance and purpose. Even with empty bed, it was stable and well-planted. When I needed to pass, the eight responded with instant acceleration.

The heavily weight steering lacks a strong on-center feel, the XD tracks steadily without demanding constant driver input. However, its 53-foot turning circle puts one’s parking-lot skills to the test.

Some controls are a long reach from the driver’s seat. The navigation and infotainment systems get the job done, but neither is as comprehensive or user-friendly as the industry’s best.

With its comfortable ride, attractive price point and heavy-duty capabilities, the Titan XD is likely to find a home for itself in the growing towing community.

2016 Nissan Titan XD 5.6-liter V-8 4×4
Vehicle base price: $35,290
Trim level base price: $45,970
As tested: $53,085
Options included front-and-rear sonar; bed tie-down system; premium audio system; leather seating; heated steering wheel; heated front and rear seats; ventilated front seats; power tilt-and-telescoping steering; Nissan Connect services; Around View monitor with moving-object detection; Titan bed storage boxes and LED lighting; more
Tow rating: 12,314 lbs
EPA ratings: N/A
Regular unleaded fuel specified

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