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    Review: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X


    • Filling in the white space between light and heavy-duty pickups.

    Nissan never fully understood the rules with competing in the full-size truck marketplace. They had most of the basics with the choice of two different cab styles, range of trims, and a powerful V8 engine. But Nissan forgot one key rule about trucks; constant improvements will keep you in the spotlight. If you don’t believe this, just look at the Detroit three and their pickups. Every year, it seems one of them introduces new feature or improvement that will catapult them into the spotlight. It could be a new engine option, larger towing numbers, or an improved interior.

     

    Nissan never did that. Throughout the lifecycle of the first-generation Titan, the Japanese automaker only made minor changes. The biggest one of note was a revised interior toward the end of the 2000s. But with Nissan not making constant improvement or changes, the Titan fell to the back of the pack in a number of key areas such as towing and fuel economy. In 2014, Nissan only moved 12,527 Titan trucks. That largely trailed the Detroit three and even the Toyota Tundra.

    • Ford F-Series: 753,851*
    • Chevrolet Silverado*: 529,755*
    • Ram Pickup: 439,789*
    • GMC Sierra: 211,833*
    • Toyota Tundra: 118,493


    *Includes light and heavy duty trucks.

     


    The company isn’t giving up on the full-size truck market. Late last year, Nissan introduced the Titan XD. This model is said to provide the towing numbers and stability of a heavy duty truck, while having the maneuverability of a light-duty truck. The truck also features the brand’s first diesel engine. Later this year, Nissan will introduce a fully-redesigned Titan that will fix a number of the issues from the previous-generation model. That includes the choice of both a V6 and V8 engine, and a range of bed and cab configurations. It should be noted that the Titan and Titan XD don’t share much in terms of mechanical bits.

     

    We spent a week with a Titan XD to see if Nissan has a real chance of making any inroads in the full-size truck marketplace.

     

    Disclaimer: The Titan XD tested for this review is a pre-production model.

     

    2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X 4

    The Titan XD doesn’t get off to a good start when it comes to the exterior. My first thought seeing the truck was, “is that an old Ford F-150?” A lot of this impression comes from the Titan XD’s front end as it looks very similar to the last-generation F-150 in terms of how it angles forward and the grille design. At least the rest of the Titan XD’s design does stand out. Our tester was the Pro-4X which adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, a gray finish for the lower part of the body, and skid plates.

     

    The bad news for some buyers is that you can’t get the Titan XD in an extended cab or with a longer bed. On one hand, Nissan might be on to something as many heavy duty trucks come in a crew cab configuration with a short bed. But limiting the configuration to just one style limits the appeal.

     

    Nissan has put a lot of work into the Titan XD’s bed to make it one of the most capable in the class. It begins with a dampened tailgate that makes it easier to open and close it. The bed itself comes with integrated tie-downs to help secure cargo and integrated LED lighting to make it easier to load or unload whenever it is dark. In the middle of the bed is an integrated gooseneck tow hitch that allows the Titan XD to tow even more types of trailers such fifth-wheel RVs.

     

    Getting into the Titan XD’s interior is slightly difficult due to the tall ride height. Entry rails are an option and one we would highly recommend getting. Otherwise, it is the perfect way to train for the Olympic high jump. Once you get inside, you’ll find an interior that isn’t special in terms of design. At least Nissan got the basics right with a large amount of soft-touch materials and contrasting trim pieces. Controls are large and within easy reach for both driver and passenger. The interior featured no squeaks or rattles, impressive for a pre-production model.

     


    2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X 14


     

    Depending on trim, the Titan XD will seat either five or six people. Our Pro-4X tester came with seating for five. Getting yourself comfortable up front is very easy thanks to optional power adjustments for the seats and steering wheel. The back seat is very spacious with plenty of head and legroom for up to three passengers. Storage is impressive with an expansive center console and lockable storage bins under the rear seats. Nissan also made the lids of the storage bins fold out to provide a flat surface for carrying items in the back.

     

    Our tester came fitted with the optional seven-inch touchscreen with the NissanConnect infotainment system. Despite being one of the newer systems in the marketplace, the interface looks like it came from the Windows 95 era. At least moving around the system isn’t a big issue with large touch points and buttons on either side taking you to various functions. The screen Nissan uses for the infotainment system isn’t the best as it easily washes out in sunlight.

     


    2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X 10


    The big news with the Titan XD is what lies under the hood: A 5.0L Cummins turbodiesel V8 with 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. There is also a new 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes solely with a seven-speed automatic. No matter which engine you choose, most trims will have the choice of either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. The Pro-4X is the only trim that comes with four-wheel drive standard.

     

    Despite what numbers say for the diesel V8, it doesn’t feel fast. Acceleration can be described as leisurely as most of the engine’s power is used to overcome the Titan XD’s heft - 7,257 pounds in the case of our tester. Much like the Ram 2500 Power Wagon I drove a few months back, the diesel engine sounds like you’re going fast, but you’re not. One other disappointment with the diesel V8 is how noisy it is. Compared to other diesel trucks, the 5.0L V8 sounds like a Peterbilt truck at idle. Despite Nissan’s efforts with using double-pane glass and sound-deadening material, a fair amount of engine noise comes in. The six-speed automatic is the bright spot in the Titan XD as it delivers smooth shifts.

     

    In terms of fuel economy, we recorded an average of 17.6 with most driving taking place in urban environments. Don’t expect any EPA fuel economy numbers as the Titan XD is exempt thanks to its gross vehicle weight sitting above 8,500 pounds.

     

    Nissan is promoting towing as one of the key strengths of the Titan XD and on paper, it seems there is a good case for it. When properly equipped, the Titan XD can tow up to 12,314 pounds when using a tow hitch and 12,160 pounds with a gooseneck hitch. But when you compare it to light-duty trucks, the Titan XD holds a slim advantage. Here is a table outlining the tow ratings of Ford, GM, and Ram trucks when equipped with their optional engines.

     


    gallery_10485_1234_232784.jpg

     


    As the table shows, both the F-150 and Silverado/Sierra 1500 (when equipped with Max Tow Package) can trounce the Titan XD when equipped with 5.6L Endurance V8. But when equipped with the 5.0L Turbodiesel V8, only the F-150 comes close by about 400 pounds. The Silverado and Sierra 1500 can cut that gap to around 300 pounds, but you'll need an optional tow package. The Titan XD can also tow with a gooseneck hitch from the factory, something that none of the light-duty trucks can say. Plus, the Titan XD is said to provide a more secure feeling when towing a heavy trailer. We can’t really say if that one is true or not since we didn’t get the chance to tow with the truck.

     

    The Titan XD’s ride is up there with the Ram 1500 in terms of ride quality. No matter the road surface, the Titan XD was able to provide a smooth ride. Around corners, the Titan XD feels planted in terms of the suspension. The steering is another matter. When the steering wheel was dead center, we found we could turn the wheel a few degrees and the truck would still go straight. We also found the steering to be very light and not having much feel. This didn’t give us the confidence that we were in control or able to maneuver the truck easily in tight spaces. It was a good thing our tester featured Nissan’s around-view camera system which made maneuvering a bit easier.

     

    In terms of the Titan XD’s pricing, Nissan undercuts most heavy-duty trucks except the Ford F-250 when it comes to models equipped with the gas engine. When it comes to diesel option, the Titan XD’s undercuts them all.

     

    Some of the issues we can chalk up to this Titan XD being a pre-production model. But when we talked with a couple of folks who have driven production models, they said the steering still felt somewhat light. We hope Nissan can work some of these issues out.

     


    2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X 5


     

    I really don’t feel comfortable giving a full verdict on the 2016 Nissan Titan XD at the moment, mostly due to this being a pre-production model and the issues I had with the steering. I am considering doing a re-test of the Titan XD at a later date to see if these issues were only with the pre-production model or not.

     

    That said, I do have some impressions on the truck. Nissan is trying something different with the XD by trying to fit in between the light and heavy-duty trucks and I have to applaud them for this. Trying to do something different in a highly competitive marketplace could lure in some buyers. But it also could backfire. For one, truck buyers are the most brand loyal of any vehicle type. Trying to draw someone away from a brand they have been with is a difficult task. Making it even tougher is where Nissan has placed the Titan XD. How do you convince someone who is looking at either a light-duty or heavy-duty that the truck they want is in between? You could use towing, but as we showed, the advantage is with the diesel V8 and it is slim one compared to certain models. You could say it is more stable when towing. But in that case, why not get a heavy-duty that provides that along with higher tow ratings? The only case we could make it for it would be in terms of pricing.

     

    Nissan may have put themselves between a rock and hard place with the XD.

     

    Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Titan XD, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel

     

    Year: 2016
    Make: Nissan
    Model: Titan XD
    Trim: Pro-4X
    Engine: Cummins 5.0L Turbodiesel V8
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 3,200
    Torque @ RPM: 555 @ 1,600
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N/A
    Curb Weight: 7,257 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Canton, Mississippi
    Base Price: $50,970
    As Tested Price: $58,285 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    Pro-4X Convenience Package - $3,310
    Pro-4X Luxury Package - $1,510
    Pro-4X Utility & Audio Package - $1,100

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    This is actually not a bad looking truck in person but that heft is going to kill sales for it when most of the competition has gone on a diet.

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    I see allot of complimentary coping to older Fords from the plastic looks cheap interior to the exterior nose.

     

    Over all not bad, but not a home run. I expect some based on heavy discounts to buy it, but over all a failuer out of the gate. 

     

    Nissan just needs to forget the full size truck market. Not their game ever or now.

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    The story is more than just the numbers. This truck is already priced below the competition (half-tons) when equipped comparably. 

     

    And every review of the truck - when they had the chance to tow or haul found that this is a serious truck if it fits your needs.

     

    And I think the frame is capable of probably towing and hauling a lot more. I think it's just that they don't have the big rig gas or diesel engines like the HD's.

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    Will be interesting to see where it goes. Based on price- it might have a chance....could see folks using it as a work truck (business)....

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    This is actually not a bad looking truck in person but that heft is going to kill sales for it when most of the competition has gone on a diet.

    I noticed that 7200+ pounds as well. That's freakin heavy. What are the HDs for the D3 weighing around? 

     

    I also don't think it is a bad looking truck in person. It's actually pretty good looking in person. Pictures definitely don't do it justice. 

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    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
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