For construction professionals, long gone is the novelty of driving a diesel vehicle off the job. For many, using a diesel for work and play makes perfect sense, allowing them to enjoy improved payload, towing, fuel economy and emissions without giving up the comfort once ignored in heavier pickups and work trucks.
Well, a new era has arrived, as ENR discovered recently during a weeklong test drive when Nissan USA dropped off a 2016 Titan XD Platinum Reserve 4WD CC pickup powered by a 5.0-liter Cummins V8 turbodiesel engine. Trademarked by Nissan as an “Every Duty Truck,” the 2016 Titan XD does the moniker proud.
Dropped off at the Troy, Mich., headquarters of ENR’s parent firm, BNP Media, the truck covered nearly 1,200 miles before being picked up seven mornings later. Travel highlights included a weekend bouncing on the back roads of rural Ontario, Canada, followed by a quick run to Columbus, Ohio, for a business meeting. Whether negotiating the broken-up gravel township roads or cruising down the recently rehabbed highway, the Titan XD combined the grunt power of the 310-horsepower Cummins V8 with a ride as smooth and comfortable as any sedan we’ve ever encountered.
Optional comfort features included heated-and-cooled front leather seats, notably the eight-way-power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar control. The crew cab’s back seats are heated. Drivers and passengers alike benefit from the dual-zone automatic temperature control, Rockford Fosgate audio system, advanced Drive-Assist display, and numerous apps and services, ranging from Nissan Connect to voice recognition.
Painted a striking forged copper on the exterior, the 2016 Nissan Titan XD features automatic on-off headlights, fog lights with front tow hooks, dark-chrome extendable and heated tow mirrors, running boards, and an integrated gooseneck hitch, with ball, safety-chain anchors and storage bag. Accentuated with a factory-installed spray-on bedliner, the truck’s bed has a Utili-Track cargo-channel system, with four adjustable tie-down cleats, a Titan utility box and a 110-volt power outlet.
Luxuries, accessories and considerable safety features notwithstanding, it’s under the hood where the diesel-powered Nissan Titan XD truly excels. The Cummins V8 generates 555 lb-ft of torque, harnessed by an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission and a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system. Over the course of the week, we fueled up five times, including three times at close to empty. The first and last fuel stops were simply to top up the tank in order to determine fuel efficiency fairly.
Because of its large size, Nissan was not required to provide EPA fuel economy ratings for this truck, which costs a whopping $61,795, compared to $40,290 and $36,485 for basic diesel and gasoline models, respectively. But our version was a reminder of diesel’s advantages in strength and efficiency. It showed a week-long consumption rate of more than 18 miles per gallon, combining Interstate, rural highway, gravel-road and in-city use. The truck’s electronic monitor showed an overall rate of 18.8 mpg.
To ensure our enthusiasm on this ride was not overstated, we brought along a young Canadian pickup owner who, while only 18, is on his second truck as he works his way through college by taking on various landscaping jobs. Both of his gas-fueled trucks have been from traditional North American brands. After a rugged country ride, he had to be lured out of what he described as “the amazingly quiet and smooth” Nissan Titan XD before we drove it back across the border.
Indeed, if driving this large yet comfortable truck is work, no one may ever want to take a day off.