Three different powertrains will be offered for the Titan. The new V-8 is available for both Titan and Titan XD. The Cummins diesel is exclusive to the Titan XD. A V-6 engine will be available for the Titan later, according to Nissan.
The new 5.6-liter V8 gas engine is smooth and powerful, delivering brisk acceleration performance to the Titan XD we drove. It's a delightful engine, quiet when cruising but with an aggressive growl when provoked with a stab to the throttle. The 7-speed transmission works well most of the time but was reluctant and slow to downshift when wanted, generating mild annoyance.
The Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 emits a pleasant rumble at idle, felt as a purr from the cab. From outside, a diesel clatter can almost be heard, a confident, satisfying sound, but not loud like the 5.9-liter Cummins inline-6 in early Rams. The 5.0-liter Cummins is smaller than the diesel engines in the heavy-duty pickups, but larger and more powerful than the light-duty diesels. Underway, the diesel feels smooth and sophisticated and responds to the pedal with strong torque. A clever two-stage turbocharger readies it for quick acceleration or effortless cruising with no lag, which makes it an enjoyable driving companion.
The Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 turbodiesel is rated at 310 horsepower at 3,200 rpm and 555 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm.
Compare those figures to 2016 crew cab models with 6.5-inch beds from Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram, all using the receiver hitch: The GM Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel that comes on the Chevy Silverado 2500 is rated 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque and comes with the brilliant Allison 6-speed automatic; trailer capacity for a crew cab with 6.5-foot bed is 13,000 pounds. Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel is rated 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a 6-speed automatic; the Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab has a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds. The Ram 2500's 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel, an inline-6, is rated 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque, with a 6-speed automatic, for a towing capacity of 17,210 pounds.
Between the two Titan XD engines, the diesel seems the more compelling choice. Towing is the best reason to opt for an XD over a regular Titan, and the diesel is the better choice for towing. A Titan XD V-8 gas-powered pickup may make sense for snow-plow operation or perhaps construction work where heavy hauling is needed. The gas V-8 may be a bit more fun to drive on an everyday basis, but if that's the goal, then a regular Titan with the V-8 would seem to be the ticket.
By heavy-duty standards, the Titan XD steers and handles nicely. It steers more accurately and more responsively than other heavy-duty pickups, feeling much less truck-like than they do. It's very stable at higher speeds and does not require small steering corrections on the highway, and there's no dead spot in the center of the steering.
The Titan XD diesel is rated to tow up to 12,314 pounds, so it can comfortably handle the large number of trailers that fall in the 8,000- to 9,000-pound range.
The Titan XD's payload max is 2,000 pounds with the diesel, 2,594 pounds with the 5.6-liter V-8. A transmission cooler for the heavy-duty 7-speed automatic comes standard. XDs get their own chassis reinforcements to handle the extended-duty cycle. A reinforced front suspension and leaf-spring rear end, and twin-tube rear shocks are coupled with an American Axle differential with an available electronic locking rear differential. Hydraulic cab mounts like the new F-150 are factored in for better ride isolation, and the Titan comes with a choice of 17-, 18-, and 20-inch wheel and tire kits. Brakes are four-wheel discs, but steering remains a recirculating-ball setup.
The Titan XD handles payloads well. Using a Titan XD V-8, we hauled an 850-pound load of gravel neatly packaged in a square bundle on a pallet, secured with tie-downs attached to the utility track system. This with three of us in the truck amounted to a payload of more than 1,400 pounds over more than 100 miles of winding roads and highways. Acceleration was slowed, the transmission sometimes reluctant to downshift, and braking and turning for intersections called for a little more care and smoothness, but overall it was easy to forget the heavy load was back there and we were reminded only when we stopped, walked past the bed and saw it.
The four-wheel ventilated disc brakes on the Titan XD are indeed substantially larger than those on the light-duty pickups and we found them strong and reassuring yet precise.
In back-to-back driving in a Titan XD and Ram 1500 Ecodiesel V-6, the Ram felt smoother and more refined, while the Titan felt more prepared to go off road or pull a heavy trailer. Tow ratings for the Titan XD range from 10,608 to 12,314 pounds.
The heavy-duty pickups will bring a bit more stability to the towing effort, but the Titan XD should be quite stable with a 10,000-pound trailer, much more so than the light-duty pickups, and better able to handle tongue weight from a poorly balanced trailer. It comes with a trailer sway control system.