2016 Nissan Titan XD Fuel Economy Testing

Dec. 03, 2015 By Josh Burns
We got our hands on a new Nissan Titan XD to perform real-world fuel economy testing, including hauling a trailer.

In just a few weeks, Nissanís new Titan XD will start making its way onto showroom floors, giving truck buyers their first chance to see, and drive, the long-awaited Cummins-diesel-powered truck. For those anticipating this Nissan/Cummins partnership, the wait is almost over.

When it comes to waiting, we know the feeling. Although we were able to see and hop inside of the Titan XD in early 2015, we just recently were afforded our first chance to drive the truck Ė heck, we even received a bonus, behind-the-scenes look at Nissanís top secret test facility in Arizona. The Titan XD looks to bridge the gap between the half-ton and 3/4-ton truck markets, and our first impression of the truck was overall a positive one, where we were provided plenty of seat time and we even had the chance to tow a trailer as well. The truck performaned well, and the 5.0-liter turbo-diesel Cummins V8 engine (310 hp, 555 lb.-ft.) did not dissapoint

What we didnít have the chance to test, however, was the truckís fuel economy Ė well, or at least we didnít have a large enough sample size to report any solid real-world numbers. Since the Titan XD is considered a Class 2b vehicle (light-duty or half-ton trucks are considered Class 2a), the EPA doesnít require certification for these vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) over 8,500 pounds. What this means is Nissan will not be releasing fuel economy figures for its Cummins-powered Titan XD (which is not a surprise, as many heavy-duty truck manufacturers do the same with their diesel models). What this boils down to is Nissan wonít be supplying any numbers either.

A quick Internet search of other tests did little to help the cause. One well-known automotive publication haphazardly posted a mixed highway/towing rating in the high 12 mpg range Ė a number that really doesnít provide useful fuel consumption data at all.

So our objective was simple: we grabbed a Titan XD from Nissanís fleet (in this case, a 4x4 Limited Reserve Crew Cab) and set out to gather some real-world numbers with the truck. Hereís what we found out.

Hitting the Highway
Cue the screeching brakes. Pardon the above subhead; we actually hit the city streets first. For this test, we wanted to gather some real-world fuel economy numbers for the truck in the most common driving situations. So for starters, we took the truck around town for a few days, running errands in our Southern California location without spending more than a few miles on the freeway at any given point. In mostly city driving, with very little highway travel mixed in, we observed a 15.6 mpg rating, which was actually more than 1 mpg better than the truckís fuel economy gauge readout on the digital instrumentation at 14.3 mpg. As with any real-world testing, results can vary, and our numbers include standard city driving on highways with a speed limit of 50 mph or less. The few times we did end up on the freeway we ran into traffic (again, real world testing, right?) so that certainly didnít help the numbers.

The 5.0-liter Cummins V8 diesel doesnít really get on boost until the turbo has a chance to spool up, and therefore unless you really lean into the throttle from a stoplight, it doesnít reach its midrange power until roughly past the 20-25 mph mark, so weíre not surprised the numbers for city driving arenít Earth-shatteringly good Ė we didnít expect them to be. But 15.56 mpg is what we came up with, and we think itís fair to say thereís likely a 1 mpg variable, up or down, from that figure.

We decided to ditch the city and head up to the mountains, taking a Jeep trail rig with us for the ride on a flatbed trailer. It was the perfect opportunity to gather tow figures using a load this truck owner might realistically haul. We loaded the Big Tex CH70 16-foot trailer (weighing 1800 lbs.) with a Jeep Grand Cherokee outfitted with some off-road upgrades (steel bumpers, 33-inch tires, tools and gear). The Jeep, loaded with gear and some additional weight from the upgrades, hits the scales at approximately 4,300 lbs., which combined with the 1800-pound weight of the trailer and some additional gear puts our load at roughly 6,300 pounds.

We reached Mammoth Lakes just before nightfall and unloaded our Jeep off the trailer. Climbing the steep grade up the 395 into Mammoth proved to be no trouble for the Cummins-diesel-powered Titan XD. We observed a fuel economy of 12.7 overall for our combined towing testing.

With a full tank and our trip meter reset, we hit the road with our sights set on our final destination of Mammoth Lakes, California. During the trip, we observed an average fuel economy while towing of 12.6 miles per gallon (the truck gauge read 12.7, which was pretty spot on with our figures). Putting in that much time with a trailer also confirmed our initial impression of the 5.0L Cummins while towing at the press introduction. The turbo-diesel engine really performs admirably on the highway, especially on lengthy, steep-grade climbs. Thereís plenty of power with the diesel V8 for this type of towing, as our load really is only about half of the 12,314-pound max tow rating. The Cummins certainly felt like it could handle quite a bit more, but even while this isnít a max load, it was an effortless experience, the torquey engine no doubt aiding in the ease operation.

We also appreciate the ease of operation with the integrated tow brake. The Titan XD will automatically offer adjustment of the trailerís tow brake system (if equipped) from a dash-mounted control. As long as they trailer is connected via a standard seven-pin harness connector, youíll have access to adjust the trailer brake controls. Even though we did have a spotter to hook up the trailer while up in snowy Mammoth, we did not have a spotter present when we first hooked up the trailer, and we can report the backup camera does meet Nissanís goal of allowing a driver to connect to a trailer without a spotter.

Leaving the trailer and Jeep behind, we hit the highway again looking to gather unloaded highway fuel economy. We observed a highway fuel economy of 19.8 mpg, which is not far off from the truckís gauges that read 19.9. With mixed uphill and downhill travel, this reading was taken after hundreds of road miles. Although our number came in just under 20 mpg, we feel a low 20 mpg rating is attainable in ideal conditions. 

It was a bit chilly the next morning in Mammoth (about 1 degree Fahrenheit). We remembered Steve Sanders from Cummins explaining to us that the 5L V8 would still cycle at start in less than 2 seconds down to -30 degrees. We didnít get to test the engine at the temperature, fortunately, but it fired to life with no trouble for us the next morning.

Opinion Unchanged
Our focus of this test was to gather fuel economy figures, but it also afforded us even more seat time in the Titan XD. Overall, our impression of the truck didnít change much from our first drive. On the highway, the truck is quiet, smooth and handles comfortably Ė a key focus when we spoke to the Nissan team during our recent press introduction.

At 7360 lbs., our Crew Cab is by no means a lean truck, and you can really feel the weight it in some instances, especially during slow-speed navigation in parking spots or similar slow-speed driving instances. The truck does steer heavy as slow speeds, which we noted in our initial test, and it doesnít have a tight turning radius at least compared to most half-ton trucks. But Nissan makes no apologies for the Titan XDís heft, and when it comes to pulling a load it certainly isnít a downside at all. But itís fair to say slow-speed driving is certainly not the truckís strength. In terms of pure seat-of-the-pants feel, this heft makes the Titan XD feel a little more like a 3/4-ton in terms of handling, but its overall size feels more like a half-ton when it comes to parking in a crowded lot or squeezing into parking stalls.

The 5.0-liter Cummins V8 is smooth running and relatively quiet when on the open highway; upon firing up the truck and at stoplights, the diesel engineís rattling idle is more pronounced. Those whoíve owned a diesel truck before know exactly what to expect, but the typical gasoline-truck owner needs to be aware that theyíll still have some of that traditional diesel rattle at idle.

In comparing a Crew Cab model fitted with the Cummins V8, we noted pricing in our first drive story shakes out at about a $10,000 difference between major jumps in trim (though a ton of variables and packages exist in between). The Titan XD S in Crew Cab form starts around $40,000, the Pro-4X Crew starts at $50K, and our Platinum Reserve test truck hits the $60K mark. For our money, weíd step down to the Pro-4X trim, as the Platinum Reserve is a nice truck that is comfortable and well-equipped but starting to infringe too much for our liking on the loaded 2500 models on the market. What separates the Titan XD from the other big diesels occupying the 3/4-ton market in our opinion is that although it is still a large, hefty truck, it offers just a little more playfulness when compared for those larger 3/4s. So that fact, along with the nice Bilstein monotube shocks on the Pro-4X, make that trim more desirable in our opinion. We look forward to getting our hands on a Pro-4X model in the near future for even more off-road testing in that truck.

The Cummins-powered Titan XDs began production on November 19th here in the U.S. and will begin arriving in dealerships later this month, and Nissan did confirm we will see a gasoline-powered version of the Titan XD available in the spring of 2016. We likely wonít see the standard Titan, which will be built on a slightly different (read: smaller) chassis, until later next year.

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