Nissan Titan Review-By-Numbers
Full disclosure: I am about to review a truck that I know basically nothing about. I’ve never driven one, been a passenger in one, or even sat in one. In fact, I’ve only seen one on the road in the past year. Therefore, it’s far from a complete review—no opinions on ride, handling, comfort, quality and general likability will be found here. However, I do have a fairly objective method of comparison: numbers. The numbers I will look at specifically: price; payload; towing capacity; fuel economy; and, of course, power.
Ever since it was released 2015, it was pretty clear that the Titan XD was more than a carbon copy of the traditional ‘Murican pickup. Basically, the XD version is a bit of an enigma: it has more payload and towing capacity than the average half-ton, but is not quite strong enough to be classed as a heavy-duty pickup. While this layout is interesting, such change isn’t always welcomed by the people that buy and depend on half-tons. In fact, since it was put on the market, I have seen only one Titan XD driving around in my city. In other words, the masses of truck buyers in the Saskatoon area (and, believe me, there are lots) have, so far, steered clear of the Titan XD.
The big question is, naturally, whether or not the new Titan XD is a truck that people would actually buy. So far, the answer has been “hell no” in the U.S. Obviously, most people will write it off as the Nissan being a Japanese truck trying to play on turf that clearly belongs to the Yankees. Now this is probably true, but I’m not content to leave the age-old theory of brand bias as the only explanation for the Titan’s commercial disappointment. I’m not about to say that the XD is going to flop in Canada as it did in the U.S. As someone who doesn’t care so much about brand image, I want to find out whether or not I can find a rational explanation as to why I shouldn’t buy this truck.
Like I said, I am going strictly off of the numbers. For the sake of keeping this article short, I am only going to look at the top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve model with the 5.0-litre Cummins Turbodiesel. That engine produces 330 horses and The Nissan website claims that it can tow just under 11,000 pounds, with a payload of just under 1,500 pounds. That puts the Titan somewhere in between a half-ton and a ¾-ton in terms of capability, albeit somewhat closer to a half-ton. Fuel consumption figures are difficult to come by, due to the Titan’s weight. Motor Trend claims they got 17.7 miles per gallon out of the Titan, which isn’t too bad for a big truck. In this category, once again, it’s smack-dab between a Ram Ecodiesel half-ton and a heavy-duty Ram with the 6.7 Cummins straight-six diesel.
So far, the XD performs as advertised—it bridges the 1/2-3/4-ton gap quite neatly. It’s a 5/8-ton, if you will. This leaves one variable left to compare: price. Using the Dodge website, I configured two Ram Laramie Limited models: one half-ton with the Ecodiesel V6; and a ¾-ton with the Cummins. The comparable Titan XD (Platinum Reserve) priced out at $69,950; the Ecodiesel at $61,240; and the ¾-ton at $72,390 (note: the prices are based on local dealer incentives in my area as of August 2, 2016).
In short, with the Nissan, you get a little bit more capability than a half-ton for just a little bit less money than a ¾-ton.
So, here we have part of the reason why the Nissan has been a bust. It’s priced itself out of the market. If you really needed the towing capability, you’d be better off to spend a little extra money and get a ¾-ton. If not, get a half-ton. The XD might just be a little better, but not $8,000 better.
The other component in the Nissan’s failure is that their dealerships simply can’t compete with the Big Three. In the area I live, there are several Ram/GM/Ford dealers in the city in which I live, as well as several big players in the small towns surrounding it. In contrast, there is only one Nissan dealer servicing the same district. The domestic dealers have huge truck inventories; which means that dealers will end up slashing tens of thousands of dollars toward the end of the model year. Nissan doesn’t have that same luxury. Nissan also does not have the same service network that the Big Three have in my area, which is critical for many rural buyers. A resident in the town of Kindersley, SK, has the luxury of dealer servicing for all of the Big Three brands; but the nearest Nissan dealer is a two-hour drive away. If you live in Kindersley, or in any other farming community facing a similar predicament, you’d have to be out of your mind to buy a Titan.
The Kindersley situation is not unique. In fact, it is a representative example of much of the truck-buying market in Canada and the mid-western United States.
In the end, it comes down to the fact that the Titan XD is far too much of a niche-market buy in a heavily mainstream-oriented segment. The just don’t make any sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Titan is a bad truck. I’m sure that, if I had the chance to drive one, I would be thoroughly satisfied with it. It’s just a truck that exists in a market for which there are very few buyers. And that’s a fatal mistake in the ultra-competitive North American pickup truck game.