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2016 Nissan Titan XD First Look

The 2016 Nissan Titan XD’s big chrome grille, flanked by “half-T” light signatures, give the powerful front end an almost robotic look.

2016 Nissan Titan XD at a glance

BODY STYLE:

Full size pickup truck

DRIVE METHOD:

front-engine, four-wheel-drive, six-speed Aisin automatic transmission

ENGINE:

Cummins 5.0-litre V8 turbo diesel with two-stage turbo (310 hp @ 3,200 rpm, 555 lb/ft of torque at 1,600 rpm)

FUEL ECONOMY:

not available

PAYLOAD:

2,000 lbs (907 kg) when properly equipped

TOWING:

12,000 lbs (5,443 kg) when properly equipped

PRICE:

not available

Despite our on-and-off infatuation with green motoring, there will always be a place for the full-size pickup.

They do a job that subcompacts, electrics and hybrids of all sizes just can’t.

And we’ll continue to buy them, not simply because we like these brawny beasts, but because of our need to haul things that are too big and heavy for anything else.

It can be argued the import automakers have been steadily raising the bar in terms of passenger cars, but not so much for trucks.

It is here the Detroit Three have been taking the lead.

Case in point is the new aluminum-body Ford F-150, which was recently awarded North American and Canadian Truck of the Year. This isn’t the first time for F-150, and south of the border, the domestics have taken top truck honours more often than not.

The evening before AJAC made its announcement at the Canadian International Auto Show, I attended the debut here of Nissan’s all-new Titan pickup truck.

Some say it bears resemblance to Ford’s best-seller, and that’s not a knock. If Nissan is to be a contender in this hotly-contested market, it needs to look and feel more like the trucks most people are buying.

Nissan’s Titan XD, a crew cab with 6.5-foot box and Cummins 5.0-litre V8 turbo diesel, is the first of three cab configurations, two frame sizes, three powertrains and five grade levels that will be joining the lineup.

And at more than 20 feet long, with a 151.6-inch wheelbase, this Titan lives up to its nameplate.

A colossal chrome grille, flanked by “half-T” light signatures and projector headlamps give the front end a powerful, almost robotic look. This pulls back into gaping semi-circular wheelwells that house 17-, 18- or available 20-inch aluminum alloys.

The beltline is high, giving the Titan a more robust profile, although it dips at each side mirror (like Ford), allowing mirrors to ride lower and at the same time offer better visibility.

Available exterior features – other than the light signatures – include LED headlights and taillights, puddle lamps and step rails, along with user-friendly items like a bed channel system with moveable cleats, lockable in-bed storage boxes, cargo lamps, 120-volt outlet and damped tailgate for easier lifting and lowering.

Such amenities are nice, but the people who buy pickups – especially work trucks – do their homework when it comes to capability. It is here that Titan has evolved from a choice for the weekend warrior to one that could be taken seriously at the job site.

In bringing out their diesel first, Nissan was looking for the sweet spot between heavy-duty and light-duty trucks. Maximum towing capacity (when properly equipped) is more than 12,000 lbs, with a max payload of 2,000 lbs.

Output is 310 hp at 3,200 rpm and 555 lb/ft of torque at a low 1,600 rpm. Company officials say it offers about 45 per cent more torque at cruising speed than a similar-sized gas engine, and should have about 20 per cent better fuel economy when towing full loads, although figures are yet to be released.

This engine is mated to a heavy-duty Aisin six-speed automatic transmission with available electronic locking rear differential.

XD will launch with 4×4 only, featuring a new transfer case that delivers max power in every gear. Offroad performance will be supported by hill descent control, hill start assist and brake limited-slip differential, not to mention a minimum ground clearance of 9.3 inches at the rear axle.

V8 and V6 gas engines are also on the way, with details coming at a later date.

For those who tow, or like me do so under duress, Nissan offers several aids to make life easier.

Trailer sway control, tow/haul mode with downhill speed control help keep your vehicle stable under heavy load, and a trailer light check system allows you to do this on your own. Just stand back, hit the fob and the system cycles through turn signals, brake lights and running/clearance lights.

Other handy features include the “around view” monitor, which will be a help not only in squeezing the titanic Titan into today’s undersized parking spots, but also to assist in lining up to your trailer. Cross-traffic alert and blind spot warning will take some of the guesswork from piloting this behemoth.

I’ve driven Titan’s competition, including the one they’re really gunning for: Toyota Tundra.

In their last-generation pickup, Nissan was trailing the pack. This time around, it appears they may have a contender that will satisfy the discerning truck buyer.

I look forward to getting behind the wheel sometime before Titan goes on sale in the U.S. and Canada in late 2015.

2016 Nissan Titan XD Rear

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