Thanks to a federal-government grant, the Nissan Titan could shed its guzzler status and become one of the most fuel-efficient full-size trucks.
As part of the $30 million project, half funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), Cummins is developing a four-cylinder diesel engine that, according to reports, might be slated for installation in the next-generation, 2015 Nissan Titan.
At the DOE's 2011 Merit Review this week in Washington, D.C., Cummins confirmed that it is developing an all-new, high-efficiency four-cylinder diesel engine. According to PickupTrucks.com, most automakers are currently at work on more advanced direct-injection gasoline engine designs, but the new clean-diesel four will boast more significant gains—of 28 mpg, EPA Combined, and up to 40 percent better than current light-duty V-8 engines.
With a 28-mpg EPA Combined figure, such a vehicle would likely get well over 30 mpg on the highway; such a claim could possibly turn the big Nissan Titan around from its market position today; although the 2011 Titan remains competitive, its 5.6-liter V-8 is one of the least fuel-efficient of the full-size pickup powertrains today—just 12 mpg city, 17 highway for the 4WD versions.
All automakers are scrambling to design and develop new powertrains that will deliver the performance and durability full-size truck buyers expect yet comply with the pending EPA requirements for light trucks and SUVs, which will rise to 30 mpg by 2016 (as the passenger-car requirement will be 39 mpg).
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The 2.8-liter direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder under development shows a lot of promise because it's able to deliver nearly as much torque as small-displacement gasoline V-8 designs. PickupTrucks suggests that the new engine is likely derived from Cummins' existing ISF engine family, which is offered in 2.8- and 3.8-liter sizes overseas. In the larger form, the engine rates at 168 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque—the latter a figure that will raise eyebrows and command respect even to the pickup crowd.
To meet U.S. emissions Tier 2 Bin 2 requirements, the engine would likely use a urea or exhaust fluid injection system, much like other automakers have used; it would also get a passive NOx system to reduce smog-forming emissions.
If the strong response we've seen, over many months, on our story about how Ford has no plans to bring either the new mid-size Ford Ranger pickup or its four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, is any indication, we believe there's a strong potential market for a lighter-duty diesel—maybe even one in a more compact, manageable truck, too.