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2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas V-8 Review

Automobile logo Automobile 5/3/2016 The Manufacturer, Scott Burgess

Nashville, Tennessee— Last year, when the newly named Nissan Stadium opened in here in Music City, the first preseason game matched the Tennessee Titans against the St. Louis Rams. While coincidence and irony often live in the same space, the 2016 Nissan Titan XD has taken aim at that those Rams, as well as the Silverados and Super Duties.

Nissan's Titan might not have the volume or the maturity of Detroit's big rigs, but with the introduction of the Titan XD, it might have finally the muscle to keep up. What was once an overmatched battle between American pickup supremacy and Japanese hubris has become much more interesting. First came the Nissan Titan XD with the 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel and its monstrous 555 lb-ft of torque. It can tow more than 12,000 pounds and turn heads at the same time with its carved exterior and luxurious interior. Now Nissan is introducing a version of its pickup powered with a V-8 that is $5,000 less than the diesel version.

The 5.6-liter V-8 produces 390-hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, 73 more horses and 16 more lb-ft of torque than the V-8 under the hood of the 2015 half-ton Titan. It growls nicer than its injector-ticking, oil-burning brother, too, and it's also quieter. Nissan took its VK56DE V-8 and designed new pistons, new heads, and a new exhaust; added a multicontrol valve to manage the engine's thermal efficiency better than a traditional thermostat; and included direct injection to improve the happy triumvirate of power, efficiency, and emissions. The seven-speed automatic transmission flawlessly clicks through gears, shifting at the optimum point every time. The Titan feels fast for a 6,000-plus-pound pickup, but it also feels like a truck that can handle just about any job. (It can tow 11,000 pounds.)

The gas and diesel Titan XDs have the same exterior, though badging will let passers-by know which is which if it's parked. They share a wheelbase that is 11.8 inches longer than the half-ton Titan, as well as an overall length that is 14.6inches longer and a height 2.8 inches taller. The Titan XD is Nissan's answer for that in-between pickup buyer. According to Nissan, roughly 75,000 people move from half-ton pickups to heavy-duty trucks and the same number move the other way. Bigger than a standard half-ton pickup but smaller than traditional heavy-duty pickups, the Titan XD is the de facto cruiserweight champion of the pickup segment without a direct competitor. (But that begs the question: Who really remembers the great cruiserweight champs?)

2016 Nissan Titan XD with V 8 Endurance engine 03© Provided by Automobile 2016 Nissan Titan XD with V 8 Endurance engine 03

On the road, the Titan XD's ride is extremely compliant and quiet, whether riding with an empty bed or loaded up with nearly 2,600 pounds in the bed—500 more pounds than the XD diesel can haul. (This is because the gas XD weighs roughly 500 pounds less than the diesel model.) Its double-wishbone front suspension, rear leaf springs, and twin-tube dampers bolted to a fully boxed ladder frame give the XD smooth, solid ride. Even on the 20-inch wheels that come with the high-end Platinum Reserve model, the Titan XD rarely lets any road noise into the cabin.

While slightly bigger than the new Nissan Titan half-ton, ingress and egress is still easy, so you don't feel as if you've got to grab the steering wheel to hoist yourself into it or you might twist an ankle falling out of it. The variable-speed steering gives Titan XD good feel both around town and on the highway. Lines of sights are good from the driver's seat though the blind spot detection system provided a little more confidence on the highway when changing lanes.

The interior smells of high-end leather and comes loaded with technology that makes your life easier. The Zero Gravity seats are extremely comfortable, and designers attempt to make the most of every space so storage a cubbies abound. There are 120-volt outlets in the center console and in the second row, but no USB ports in the second row, though having an actual outlet might make them obsolete. The center stack has a 7-inch display screen with a simple design that makes it easy to use the first time you try it. There's Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, and two backup views, one from the tailgate as well as one from the Around View Monitor that provides a bird's eye view of the Titan XD so you can avoid hitting anything in the parking lot.

Nissan uses an old-school column shifter instead of a more modern shifter on the center console to provide more space for storage, as well as a little shelf at the base of the center stack to place your cellphone. (This spot is far from perfect, though, as you can't stand the phone up and have it charging at the same time.) There's also an integrated trailer control built into the base of the center stack, which is not ideal but better than on the left-hand side. For the most part, the cabin has the right mix of luxurious gadgets and worklike precision.

2016 Nissan Titan XD front three quarter 121© Provided by Automobile 2016 Nissan Titan XD front three quarter 121

The standard 6-foot-6 bed includes an integrated gooseneck hitch that can be easily removed. There's also Nissan Utili-track system of four movable cleats on the bed walls and bed floor and header tracks for more versatility. The Titan also offers the Titan Box, which are two lockable storage boxes that run along the inside walls of the bed. The boxes are watertight to protect tools from the rain but also have drain plugs so they can be filled with ice and serve as coolers when needed. From the street they are not visible. They're easy to use from inside the bed but not so much from outside. There are also flush-mounted LED bedrail lights, a 120-volt outlet, and a dampened tailgate that makes opening and closing nearly effortless.

In the past, the Titan's most serious hauling would be lumber from Home Depot to build a deck on the weekend. It could do some heavy lifting but wasn't a serious contender to bigger heavy-duty trucks. Now, the XD is big enough and strong enough to handle serious towing and the demands of any job site but still small enough to pack up for picnics and tailgating on Sunday. And for those keeping score, the Titans beat the Rams 27-14 during that preseason game at Nissan Stadium. This time, the fight is much more serious, and the Titan XD is taking on three teams at the same time. Sure, the diesel Titan XD will continue to garner more attention and provide Nissan the workingman's credibility the brand needed. But the V-8 gas Titan XD? That's the one to buy.

2016 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve (V-8 gasoline) Specifications

On Sale:Now
Price:$56,517 (as tested)
Engine:5.6L DOHC 32-valve V-8/390 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 401 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission:7-speed automatic
Layout:4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD truck
EPA Mileage:N/A
L x W x H:242.7 x 79.5 x 78.8 in
Wheelbase:151.6 in
Weight:6,770 lb
0-60 MPH:N/A
Top Speed:N/A
2016 Nissan Titan XD with V 8 Endurance engine 01© Provided by Automobile 2016 Nissan Titan XD with V 8 Endurance engine 01
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