14 Dec 2015

Nissan Titan XD

Opinion Series

by Contributing Editor, Tony Gauntner

Nissan Titan XD….2016 NATOY FINALIST

Nissan Motor Company, the world’s sixth largest auto manufacturer, has often marched to the beat of a different drummer. Bold, brash and willing to take a risk, they’ve given us a few head scratchers that make us smile. Projects like the Murano Cabriolet, the Infiniti Division’sadvertising campaign “Rocks & Trees”, the bold and controversial battery-powered Leaf EV and last but not least, the original Titan full-sized pickup. Titan’s first year sales of nearly 100,000 units was rather successful considering they had very limited configurations, one engine, and it was the new kid on the block in 2004. However after establishing that benchmark, their trucking empire has dwindled. Always determined—‘like the little engine that could‘, Nissan never relented and has returned to the drawing board.

Nissan set out with a mission of improvement; to expand the number of cab configurations and new powertrains. They have explored the changing needs of an emerging customer base– boldly going where few Asian manufacturers have gone before. For 2016, that journey gave us a tough, ruggedly designed vehicle with improved quality, reliability and the exceptional combination of performance with fuel economy. Automotive media recently nominated the Titan XD as a finalist for the 2016 North American Truck of the Year Award.

Don’t Call it a Tweener

Of the two versions that will be available, they’ll initially roll out their top dog Titan XD, the work horse equipped with a Cummins 5.0 liter V8 Turbo Diesel.  This brute is designed for the heavy use / commercial client and cranks out 310 hp and 555 ft. lbs of torque.  Interestingly,Nissan consumer research revealed there are more than 150,000 truck owners who regularly alternate between purchasing half-ton and three-quarter ton trucks.

They discovered the half-ton doesn’t have sufficient capacity to consistently address their varying needs, while the three-quarter version is usually too much truck and too much money for its limited utilization. Nissan ‘feeling their pain’, engineered the XD to come to the rescue. Officially it’s more than a half-ton, but not quite a three quarter ton. Corporate suits specifically insist, “don’t call it a tweener”, it’s more like a half-ton plus. Advertising gurus should have fun explaining that.

The smaller, base model Titan (non-XD) will have v6 and v8 gasoline engines to choose from and wear its own suit with unique sheet metal and a smaller frame.  The base version, while upgraded, retains 60% carry-over chassis components from the first generation enabling it to be a tough, resilient, battle-tested warrior.  Base price will range from $40k to $60k plus destination and all those additional goodies you’ll want. Nissan went to great lengths to equip the truck with a wide array of creature comforts found on competitive makes. They wanted customers who need a spot for the Big Gulp,  laptop or cubby for sunglasses to find those little details on one truck— Titan. No excuses, no compromises, just happiness for all.

Clean Sheet Design for Gen 2    

As we know, when it comes to pickups, this isn’t Nissan’s first rodeo. To play in this arena you have to wear your big boy pants. Back in 2004, Nissan left theirs back home in Yokohama, Japan. A decade later they lead the charge to build a new thoroughbred, an American Titan. Now Nissan calls Tennessee home, with engineering in Michigan, design in California, testing in Arizona and assembly in Canton, Mississippi —Team Titan is embedded deep in the heart of truck country. They can see, smell, taste, touch and sense what the American truck buyer needs, wants and demands.  Team Titan swung for the fences with this one and as a 2016 NATOY finalist, Titan XD just might be a homerun.

Want to hear more thoughts from Contributin Editor, Tony Gauntner? Read more blog posts here!