If at first you don’t succeed…? Well, Nissan is ready to try again with the launch of the newly redesigned Titan full-size pickup. The long-delayed truck will take aim at the last segment of the U.S. market overwhelmingly dominated by Detroit’s Big Three.
The maker hopes to create what it is describing as a “new class,” within the huge pickup segment, targeting those, it says, who want “the capability of a heavy-duty hauler with the drivability and affordability of a light-duty pickup.”
Two versions of the 2016 Titan will be offered, a base model, and the heavier-duty XD line that is the focus of Nissan’s push at this year’s North American International Auto Show. And the emphasis, at launch, will be on a new Cummins turbodiesel engine that the maker promises will deliver the best of both worlds: plenty of stump-pulling torque and great fuel economy.
“Once we introduce our truck, buyers won’t have to make a compromise” between light-duty and heavier-duty models, according to Phil O’Connor, who directs truck operations for Nissan.
Nissan debuted the original Titan with high hopes for the 2004 model-year. But after an initial surge of interest, demand quickly slacked off. Critics felt the truck just didn’t meet customer expectations, among other reasons because it didn’t offer enough body variants. It was also short of power and wasn’t perceived as quite capable enough.
Japan’s second-largest automaker hoped to come up with a better-designed alternative by partnering with Chrysler, but that deal fell apart when the U.S. maker fell into bankruptcy and was taken over by Italy’s Fiat. That sent Nissan racing back to the drawing board to come up with a solution of its own.
The results of that effort are now on display at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, or more precisely, the XD model, with potential buyers getting a glimpse of the Crew Cab model, the first of three cab configurations, two frame size and five grade levels that ultimately will flesh out the full Titan line-up.
The truck will also be offered with three different powertrain options, including V-6 and V-8 gas engines, and the new 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V-8, rated at 310 horsepower and a hefty 555 pound-feet of torque. The maker claims it will offer significantly better fuel economy than gas alternatives, though it hasn’t released official mpg numbers yet. The current half-ton mileage champ is the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which delivers 20 mpg City, 28 Highway.
With fuel prices at five-year lows, that might not be quite as appealing as when gas was running $4 a gallon, but the ability to haul up to 2,000 pounds of cargo, with a towing capacity of 12,000 pounds might be the biggest draw for serious trucks, or so Nissan hopes.
“This is a true truck-truck,” boasts Product Specialist Rich Miller.
Though the standard and XD versions of the new Titan will share the same, bold exterior design, they actually are based on separate chasses, the standard version essentially an updated version of the original Nissan pickup.
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Looks matter to pickup buyers, but capabilities and features are even more critical. Nissan officials note that the new Titan trucks will expand on the original model’s many innovations, including lockable bed storage bins – which have now been moved inside the bed to hide them from prying eyes. The original Titan was the first truck to offer a factory installed spray-in bedliner, a feature the new model continues.
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On the safety front, the 2016 Nissan Titan will get such features as a Rearview Monitor with Trailer Guides, and the Around View Monitor system that provides a simulated birds-eye view of the vehicle. There’s also Moving Object Detection, which can spot other vehicles or even shopping carts when backing out of a parking spot. And Trailer Sway Control is one of a variety of systems to enhance towing.
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Creature comfort features range from NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” seats to a number of connectivity enhancing systems.
Some details have yet to be released. Nissan will only say that the first of the 2016 Titan models will reach showrooms “later this year,” while it hints the XD models will come in around the same price as lighter-duty competitive offerings.