It’s a great time to be a truck lover. Whether it’s the resurrection of the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon, or the new aluminum-based Ford F-150, there’s a lot to be excited about. But Japanese automakers haven’t been sitting back, watching their market share dwindle. In Nissan’s case, it’s been hard at work making the next-generation Titan a truck to remember.
What truly separates the new Titan from the rest of the light-duty truck pack is that it will be equipped with a diesel-powered V8 engine, delivering a solid dose of power typically associated with pickups above its grade. To be precise, the new Titan will feature a Cummins 5.0-liter V8 Turbo Diesel, rated at 310 horsepower and producing 555 pounds-feet of torque. In all, that’s good for a maximum towing capacity of more than 12,000 pounds.
Not bad for a light-duty pickup.
“The new Titan will deliver toughness, capability and quality,” said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “In addition to a range of cab configurations, the TITAN lineup will ultimately encompass multiple powertrain choices. These include an all-new workhorse gasoline V8, as well as our first V6 offering in this class.”
Officially titled the Titan XD, the second-generation pickup is slated to hit the market next year. It will be available in numerous trims and configurations, allowing consumers to pick and choose exactly what they want, like Ghosn mentioned. It’s also important to note that the Titan XD is a different truck from the standard Titan. While the traditional Titan may compete with pickups like the Silverado 1500 or Ford F-150, the Titan XD is actually aiming for something a bit above that — not quite the heavy-duty level, as Autoblog explains, but more in what Ghosn has described as “white space” between the two levels.
Here’s what we’ve covered so far: The Titan XD will have a 5.0-liter Turbo Diesel V8, which will supply drivers with considerable power in the form of 310 horsepower and 555 pounds-feet of torque. So while it’s not quite heavy-duty, it’s still strong. What we do know is that the engine is produced by Cummins, the same company that has been supplying engines to Ram and Dodge for years with little complaint.
Usually, those larger engines also come with a tradeoff in the form of lower fuel economy. As Truck Trend speculates, the Cummins V8 the new Titan will employ should put those fuel economy figures somewhere in the range of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 18 miles per gallon on the highway. As for the V6 engine that will also be available, there haven’t been any announcements cementing exactly what kind of performance or mechanical stats to expect. But Nissan may just go with an updated version of the current V6 that last-generation Titans use, with some possible tweaks for improved fuel economy and power.
As far as features, the Titan XD will reportedly have a built-in gooseneck hitch receiver built directly into the bed, a rarity for the light-duty segment. There have also been improvements made to the suspension and brake systems, both more catered toward heavy-duty truck fans. Regarding the aesthetics of the new truck, Truck Trend reports that Nissan designers made the XD bigger and stronger in an effort to make it more warrior-like. Apparently, the truck’s designers garnered inspiration from battle helmets worn by ancient civilizations.
Releasing the Titan XD is a strong move by Nissan, which has been criticized for letting the Titan stagnate over the past several years, which has resulted in lost market share. It’s clear that Americans love trucks — just look at last year’s best-sellers list. The problem is that Nissan isn’t even a contender at this point. Despite the bleakness of the current situation, it looks like Nissan is finally ready to put some serious skin in the game.
“Our growing U.S. presence is bolstering our performance and helped to make 2014 a year of significant growth for Nissan in the U.S.,” said Ghosn. “Our operations, our network of partners, and — most importantly — our products are stronger than ever. Nissan is targeting 10% market share in the U.S. And the all-new TITAN is a key part of our growth strategy.”
Hitting that 10% mark will take some work, but there’s no reason to think it can’t be done. Although we don’t know the full slate of mechanical and performance details on the new Titan XD, it should match up well with, or even surpass, the Ram 1500, Silverado 1500, and the F-150 in several performance categories. Think of it as “light-duty plus.”
The real question is whether Nissan’s newest creation will be enough to pry American consumers’ attention away from the freshly redesigned F-150, Silverado, and Ram. Those three brands dominate the pickup market and have left Nissan with a minuscule market share of 1.1% as of 2012 (though it’s likely less now), according to Automotive News.
With that in mind, it’s clear Nissan is expecting a lot out of the Titan XD, especially if the company hopes to climb back up to 10%. Given that there are around 1.7 million light-duty pickups sold annually — and only 21,576 Titans sold last year — the company’s task is clearly daunting. For comparison, Ford sold more than 750,000 F-150 trucks in 2014.
Perhaps what Nissan’s trying to do is steal sales from both the light-duty and heavy-duty segments, seeing as how the Titan XD falls right in between the two. Whether that actually works will be interesting to see, as it may force Nissan’s competitors to react with either new models or new trim levels of their own.
Given the Titan’s weak sales record, it’s hard to believe that Chevy, Ram, or Ford actually see the Titan XD as a real threat heading into 2016. But to borrow an old sports adage, that’s why they play the game.