Machinery Chatter

Titan Re-launches

By Jim Patrico , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
The new Titan XD is the first part of Nissan's re-launch of its full-sized truck line. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

Nissan first launched the full-sized Titan pickup truck in 2004. And, while it had some success, it never found its own niche in the crowded market space. Twelve years later, Nissan is re-launching the brand, betting that a sizable number of pickup truck buyers find 1/2-ton trucks too small and 3/4-ton trucks too big (and too expensive).

Hence the Titan XD, a pickup truck Nissan says fits between the two traditional sizes. It's a niche the company hopes pull up its market share in the highly competitive and highly profitable world of pickups.

The Titan XD comes standard with a V8 gas engines, but Nissan thinks an optional triple nickel (555 foot-pounds of torque) Cummins diesel might be the key to the pickup's ultimate success. At 5.0 liters, the turbo diesel produces 310 horsepower. It also boasts a heavy-duty 6-speed Aisin Automatic transmission. Payload capacity is 2,091 lbs. and towing capacity is rated at 12,314 lbs.

When the original 1/2-ton Titan hit the market, it had limited configurations that appealed to only 50% of potential pickup truck buyers, Chief Product Specialist Rich Miller says. The Titan XD is the first part of a stable of in-between vehicle Nissan plans to release. When all the configurations are introduced -- probably by the end of this year -- the brand should appeal to 85% of potential buyers, Miller says.

Currently, Nissan's market share is miniscule compared to full-size pickup giants Ford, GM and Ram. But the overall market has been growing. In 2004 and 2005, it peaked at about 2.5 million units, slumped to about 1.25 million in 2007 and has been on the rise since. In 2014, it passed the 2 million-unit mark. So, even a small market share could produce some big bucks for Nissan's bottom line.

Nissan numbers crunchers noticed that in one year about 75,000 pickup owners traded in 1/2-ton vehicles for 3/4-ton trucks and about the same number made the opposite switch -- from medium duty to light duty. That told Nissan there was a "white space" for customers who would be happy in a truck that fits between the two categories.

Getting people into Titans XDs also has a potential ripple effect. Truck owners are notoriously brand loyal. If Titan XDs can lure buyers into Nissan dealerships, the next time a family goes to make a passenger vehicle purchase it might shop at the same dealership and look at an Altima, Maxima or Pathfinder.

Being a Nissan, the Titan XD is loaded with convenience and technology features.

A system to allow one person to conveniently hook up a trailer is one of the most innovative features that will appeal to farmers and ranchers. First, backup cameras and a five-inch dashboard display help the driver guide the ball to the hitch. Following directional lines on the screen makes this easier than with some other backup camera systems. Second, Nissan engineers have patented a clever way to check trailer light hook ups. After manually plugging the trailer into the truck's connection, the driver walks to the rear of the trailer and hits a button on his key fob twice. The vehicle and trailer go through a routine that flashes lights so the driver can visually check that the turn signals and brake lights are functioning correctly.

Once a trailer is connected, the Titan XD has features that make pulling it comfortable and safe. A downhill speed control, for instance, reduces operator stress and brake wear. Sensors detect the grade and allow the truck to automatically downshift to compensate.

A sway control feature similarly allows the truck to automatically apply brakes to compensate for trailer drift.

Titan XDs come with unique storage solutions. In the bed, rails with metal teeth and moveable cleats provide for easy tie down. The same Utili-track system lines the sidewalls.

While some competitors put lockable storage boxes over wheel wells outside the bed, Nissan chose to put them inside. This accomplishes three things: It allows the boxes to be removable; they pull out after removing a few screws. It makes the boxes less visible from eye level and therefore less tempting targets for thieves. And, it allows for outfitting the pickup with a topper. When installed, the storage boxes leave a four-foot-wide space between them.

To make working in the bed easier at night, Nissan installed cargo and tailgate work lights as well as LED bed rail lights. A 120-volt outlet mounted on the bed sidewall adds convenience. Titan XD can have a factory-applied spray bedliner to save wear.

Nissan offers a telematics feature on some of its vehicles, including the Titan XD. NissanConnect is powered by SiriusXM and uses both satellite and cell phone technology to allow operators to remotely access services like automatic collision notification when airbags deploy, stolen vehicle locator, vehicle diagnostics, remote engine start, assisted search for destinations and download of turn-by-turn directions to the vehicles navigation system.

To create workspace in and around the console, Nissan moved the shifter back to the column. A small thing, perhaps, but for customers whose pickup is also an office, the extra room is useful.

Titan XD comes in single-, crew- and king-cab configurations and in five grade packages. The upper end Platinum Reserve has as many comfort features as a luxury car. Think a customized sound system and Zero Gravity seats that wrap you in comfort.

Nissan estimates base prices from $40,000 to $60,000, depending on configuration and features.

(JP/CZ)

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