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2016 Wards 10 Best Engines Test Drive: Nissan Titan XD

Nissan has a new approach to the fullsize truck market by offering a 5.0L Cummins diesel V-8 in its all-new Titan XD pickup. With a 2-stage Holset turbocharger, this 90-degree dual-overhead cam diesel produces 310 hp and a stout 555 lb.-ft. of torque, enabling it to tow more than 12,000 lbs. and haul more than 2,000 lbs. of payload.

On paper, the Titan XD will out-grunt every other light-duty gasoline pickup Detroit has to offer.

The block is made of compacted-graphite iron, which is twice as strong as cast iron and weighs half as much. The heads are aluminum, and the piezo-based fuel injectors are capable of up to seven injections per combustion event.

WardsAuto editors evaluated the Cummins 5.0L a month ago for Wards 10 Best Engines, and I also drove it recently in Arizona, taking it off-road on grueling terrain, hauling 800 lbs. of cargo in the bed and towing 9,000 lbs. on hilly freeways at 70 miles per hour.

This engine is supremely capable, allowing the Titan XD to go anywhere and do anything. There’s no mistaking this engine as anything but a diesel, especially at idle, but it quiets down on the highway.

Nissan is trying to wedge the Titan XD between the most capable gasoline light-duty pickups and the heavy-duty diesels with even more torque. But the automaker won’t have to state estimated fuel economy because gross vehicle weight for the Titan XD exceeds 8,500 lbs.

During Wards 10 Best Engines testing, we drove the Titan XD 785 miles and observed fuel economy between 16 and 18 miles per gallon. During my test drive in Arizona, which included rugged off-roading, I got 13.8 miles per gallon. A truck towing 9,000-lbs. on undulating freeways all day was getting 9.6 miles per gallon, according to the trip computer.

Titan XD pricing will range from $40,000 to $62,000 when it goes on sale in late December. Diesel engines are expensive, and they need urea-based aftertreatment to burn off oxides of nitrogen emissions. No word yet on the premium attached to the Cummins diesel, but Nissan hopes to fall in between the $4,700 premium for the 3.0L diesel V-6 in the Ram 1500 and the premium for heavy-duty diesels, which can reach $10,000.

--Tom Murphy

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