Nissan’s Tweener Truck Gets V-8 Gas Power

Nissan’s Titan XD pickup grows its “whitespace” by adding a gasoline V-8 to the mix for its tweener 5/8-ton truck. The engine, shared with Infiniti, features advanced valve controls and direct injection.

Bob Gritzinger, Editor-in-Chief

May 9, 2016

6 Min Read
Gas V8 engine joins diesel in Titan XD pickup lineup
Gas V-8 engine joins diesel in Titan XD pickup lineup.

NASHVILLE, TN – Nissan takes the next step toward building its Titan portfolio by adding a gasoline V-8 to the XD mix, creating a supremely confident and powerful pickup in the process.

The Titan XD, which fits in a middling gap between light-duty and heavy-duty pickups, was introduced a year ago with a Cummins 5.0L turbodiesel engine as the sole powerplant. While extremely capable for towing and hauling, the 310-hp, 555-lb.-ft. (752-Nm) diesel powertrain is harsh compared to other gas and even diesel-powered light-duty competitors.

Nissan says the XD fills uncharted “whitespace” in the market, appealing to some 75,000 light-duty owners looking to move up to a more-capable truck and an equal number of heavy-duty drivers seeking a lighter-duty alternative.

Now comes the gasoline-powered 5.6L V-8, a highly sophisticated engine that produces 390 hp and 401 lb.-ft. (544 Nm) of torque, up significantly from the same displacement V-8 it replaces that produced 317 hp and 385 lb.-ft. (522 Nm) of torque.

“The diesel was just the beginning of the story,” declares Rich Miller, Titan chief product specialist and director of product planning-Nissan trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles, at a recent media drive program to introduce the ’16 gas-engine XD. “We know a lot of customers don’t want a diesel engine, and they want a cheaper option.”

The new engine, first introduced in the Nissan luxury brand’s Infiniti QX56 (now QX80) SUV and M56 (now Q70) sedan for the ’11 model year, features VVEL (Variable Valve Event & Lift) that combines variable-valve timing and variable-valve lift for the intake valves. The engine is updated for the Titan to add VVEL on the exhaust side to further improve efficiency.

The engine also gets direct injection, dubbed DIG for Direct Injection Gas, that Nissan says results in better maximum acceleration performance and improved fuel economy, with a significantly higher compression ratio of 11.2:1 compared with 9.8:1 for the previous V-8.

Thermal efficiency improves thanks to a special Multi-Control Valve that replaces the traditional thermostat to manage engine temperature.

The engine features a slightly higher compression ratio than its Infiniti counterpart, but produces 10 fewer ponies and 12 fewer lbs.-ft. (16 Nm) of torque because Nissan engineered the truck to run on regular unleaded versus premium fuel required for the Infiniti.

The result is an engine with an exceptionally wide torque band that gives the truck excellent response on demand. On the varied roads we drive that include winding and hilly two-lane byways to major expressways, we detect only the slightest hesitation off the line, but most accelerator inputs are matched by instantaneous power.

The gas engine is mated to the same quick-shifting 7-speed Jatco automatic transmission used in the Infiniti models (versus the 6-speed Aisin unit offered with the diesel), with the same gear ratios but revised shift points for the Nissan. The transmission reacts rapidly but without abruptness, holding each gear to the 6,000-rpm redline under full throttle before upshifting.

Unlike the raucous and rumbling diesel-engine Titan XD, the gas version is quiet and smooth in power delivery, with a refined engine sound combined with a relatively subdued exhaust note. The engine runs very quiet at highway speed, turning just 1,500 rpm at 55 mph (89 km/h) and 2,000 rpm at 70 mph (113 km/h).

Nissan doesn’t publish acceleration or fuel-economy numbers for the 6,770-lb. (3,070-kg) XD, but we clock 0-60 mph (97 km/h) sprints in about 8.5 seconds and note mileage ranging from 14.8 mpg (15.8 L/100 km) in city driving to 15.2 mpg (15.4 L/100 km) on the highway. The engine is rated at 14 mpg city/20 highway/16 combined (16.8/11.8/14.7 L/100 km) in the 5,888-lb. (2,671-kg) QX80 with 4WD.

The gas-powered Titan XD Crew Cab is on sale now in the same five trim levels offered with the diesel: S, SV,  PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve. All except the 4x4 PRO-4X are available with 4x2 or 4x4 drive.

Pricing ranges from $36,485 for the base S to $56,715 for the top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve (including $1,195 for destination and handling), a $5,000 savings compared with comparable diesel XD models. The volume model representing about 45% of Titan XD sales is the SV priced at $40,255 including destination.

Light-Duty Titan Up Next

While adding a gas engine to the XD lineup helps expand its reach, the real breakthrough comes late this summer when the all-new ’17 Titan light-duty truck hits the market riding on a completely unique chassis from the XD but powered by the same 5.6L V-8 gas engine.

The half-ton truck, the volume model in the Titan range, will be available in Crew, Single and King cabs, along with all five trim levels. A V-6 model is slated for a later introduction.

Nissan says it plans to sell 100,000 Titans, with 20-23% XD diesels, 12-14% XD gas and the remainder in light-duty gas-powered trucks.

Michael Arbuckle, senior planner and chief marketing manager-Nissan trucks and SUVs, notes that while the XD only covers about half of the truck market, the new Titan lineup will widen Nissan’s net to 85% of potential truck buyers.

Michael Bunce, vice president-product strategy and planning for North America, says Nissan’s reverse strategy of introducing the newest Titan models first in heavier-duty trim was a deliberate plan to raise the brand’s profile with commercial users who tend to be less forgiving of flaws than light-duty pickup buyers.

“We wanted to get that (XD) right and then work down to the light-duty trucks,” Bunce says.

Now that Nissan has both gas and diesel engines in the XD, the next key piece will be the single-cab work truck for commercial customers, Bunce says.

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'16 Nissan Titan Specifications

Vehicle type

5-passenger, four-door medium-duty pickup truck

Engine

5.6L DOHC gasoline direct injected V-8, aluminum block/heads

Power (SAE net)

390 hp @ 5,800 rpm

Torque

401 lb.-ft. (544 Nm) @ 4,000 rpm

Bore x stroke (mm)

98.0 x 92.0

Compression ratio

11.2:1

Transmission

7-speed automatic

Wheelbase

151.6 ins. (3,851 mm)

Overall length

242.7 ins. (6,165 mm)

Overall width

80.7 ins. (2,050 mm)

Overall height

78.8 ins. (2,002 mm)

Curb weight

6,770 lbs. (3,070 kg)

Base price

$35,290, not including $1,195 destination and handling charge

Fuel economy

N/A

Competition

Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Ford F-250, Ram 2500

Pros

Cons

Refined gas-engine power

Lacks diesel’s massive torque

Adds to Titan XD range

Mass-market light-duty still in the wings

Owns its market ‘white space’

Not quite light-duty, not quite heavy-duty

 

About the Author(s)

Bob Gritzinger

Editor-in-Chief, WardsAuto

Bob Gritzinger is Editor-in-Chief of WardsAuto and also covers Advanced Propulsion & Technology for Wards Intelligence.

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