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First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD

Time:2018-04-21 19:59Turbochargers information Click:

Automotive Arizona road test

MARICOPA, Ariz. – Picking their way through the dusty sagebrush, two wild horses suddenly appeared by the roadside – bachelor colts by the look of them, juvenile stallions who’d probably been run off by the herd’s leader once they’d reached puberty. There’s zero-tolerance for teenage behaviour among equines, so these two were free to live a life of play fighting and lazy debauchery in the Sonoran Desert, until they’re mature enough to start their own bands.

As surreal as this encounter seemed, it was also fitting, as most of my experiences with pickup trucks involve horses. Whether it’s backstretch at the racetrack, wrapping legs at the stable or over tailgate lunches in the hunt field, the topic invariably turns to truck preference. Picturing the old timers – blacksmiths, feed men, veterinarians, trainers, with large, chapped hands wrapped around warm cups of coffee – I can’t help wonder what they’d think of the rig I’m currently driving.

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Naturally, for the big stables and international shippers, nothing but a heavy-duty pickup would do. But the amateur competitors, small trainers and recreational riders have an ongoing dilemma: Would they opt for the comfort and economy of a light-duty truck or the powerful solidity of a big, diesel-powered rig?

Most of the time, a regular-size pickup fits the bill nicely – powerful enough to handle a bumper pull, it is often used as a daily driver. But the growing trend for larger, heavier competitive horses led many of my friends to trade up to larger pickups that can tow more. Sure, the ever-more powerful half-ton pickup segment is more than capable of pulling increasingly large weights, but are they heavy enough to handle a moving load and, more importantly, stop it?

2016 Nissan Titan XD

2016 Nissan Titan XD

2016 Nissan Titan XD

For these folks – and thousands of others, the contractors, hunters and campers – there’s a gap between their needs and what’s available. Nissan calls that gap the “white space” between segments, and the automaker’s convinced that the new Titan XD has filled the gap.

Powered by a 5.0-litre Cummins V8 diesel, the Titan XD is the first of its kind to offer heavy-duty capability in a more manageable light-duty-size package. While Ram was the first diesel-powered 1500-series pickup, the Titan XD takes it much further. Half-ton trucks are now posting tow ratings exceeding 10,000 pounds – numbers once seen only in the three-quarter ton segment – but they don’t have the solid frame, suspension and braking components of their larger counterparts.

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The Titan XD is a completely new breed, a “tweener” that shares neither a single chassis component nor “nut or bolt” with the gas-powered Titan. Instead, it features a unique chassis that’s based on the NV2500 cargo van, using a fully boxed steel ladder frame that’s been reinforced for torsional rigidity and stiffness. It rides on beefed-up suspension bits consisting of a double-wishbone and coilover setup with stabilizer bar up front, and leaf springs with twin-tube shocks and a 3.5-inch solid rear axle. A 10.5-inch rear differential, available with an optional electronic locker, has a final gear ratio of 3:9. Ventilated disc brakes are at each corner and instead of electric-assisted steering, there’s a hydraulic recirculating ball system with parallel rod links.

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