Power390 HP / 401 LB-FT
DrivetrainRWD or 4WD
Curb Weight6,770 LBS
Seating2 + 3
As Tested Price$53,665
Nissan says it heavily updated the 5.6-liter V8 from the previous Titan, but in reality it raided the corporate parts bin for the Infiniti QX80s' 400-horse V8 and seven-speed automatic, making a few minor changes to it before shoving it under the Titan's hood. One could argue the primary benefit for selecting the 5.6 in the XD comes from shedding considerable mass, rather than a livelier drivetrain, a quieter cabin or the $5,000 saved over the Cummins option.
Of course the engine and transmission are the centerpiece here and good indicators the standard Titan's powertrain is ready for the luxury-laden limos with beds many crew cabs become. The hardware in the 5.6 is nearly identical to previous QX80 engines – direct injection with a variable valve timing and lift system that may eventually allow Atkinson cycle operation. If you've ever driven a QX80, it feels just as smooth.
If you've ever driven a QX80, it feels just as smooth.
Compared to the old gas-powered V8 the Titan's horsepower is up by 73 to 390 at 5,800 rpm. It gives up ten horsepower from the QX80, which is attributable to Titan's regular-fuel calibration instead of QX's premium. Torque isn't up as dramatically (an increase of 16 lb-ft to 401 at 4000 rpm) but has a fatter, broader torque curve so it doesn't need to downshift as often. Every 5.6 is hot-tested at the Decherd, Tennessee assembly plant and it takes about 15 hours from the initial crank-billet forging to reach the shipping door.
The gas XD is clearly quicker than the diesel, at least when not towing at sea level. With no turbo to spool and much less reciprocating mass, the gasser's sharp throttle response is the first thing you notice. It is fully capable of skating the rear wheels on dry roads, winning the green light Grand Prix, or cleaning packed mud off the treads. Although the Jatco-sourced seven-speed has two overdrives they're not as tall as the diesel six-speed's ratios, so coupled with the gasser's much taller 3.36:1 axle ratio highway cruising revs are just slightly lower. However, the seven-speed's much deeper first gear improves the crawl ratio 12 percent.
Fuel efficiency is vastly improved over the previous Titan. Our tester, an unladen but fully decked-out 4WD Crew Cab XD, indicated mid-13 MPG readings in urban use that included one train delay, high-16s on meandering two and four-lane highways and mid-17s on the interstate section. In my experience these values are 3-4 mpg less than a diesel XD in similar conditions. Being heavier than a half-ton means that the Titan XD doesn't need official EPA fuel economy ratings.
The gas XD's engine tuning feels tilted to fuel economy when not carrying a load, but it doesn't require matting the gas to effect a mid-throttle downshift. Employing tow/haul mode mutes that tendency without locking out overdrives. The Titan makes smooth rev-matched downshifts in manual mode, and with a brake pedal tap in tow/haul mode.
Certainly the new cab is quieter that the old Titan's, and this XD is quieter still than the diesel; I had to open the hood to hear any injector tick. Get into the gas pedal and engine noise comes through as most V8 pickup buyers expect. While cruising, the new Titan XD avoids the exhaust drone that plagued the original Titan.
Regardless of engine trim levels and options are identical save the diesel's supplemental cabin heater. Cosmetic distinguishers include a "V8 Endurance" badge, an 8,000-rpm tach that redlines at 6,500 – but it never went beyond 6,100 rpm at wide open throttle.
What you really feel but don't see is the de-porking. The gas Titan XD is 800 lbs lighter than it's diesel counterpart. This is because it ditches much of the diesel's heavy components: the Cummin's iron block, complex turbocharger, hefty pistons – 63 percent heavier despite the smaller bore – charge air cooler and plumbing – DEF tank with 50 pounds of fluid, and the heavier HD Aisin gearbox. Gross vehicle weight rating drops by about 300 pounds so effective payload capacity is around 500 pounds more than the diesel, although the max tow rating drops by 1,000 lbs. Perhaps the weakest link in gas XD's work ethic is the 26-gallon fuel tank, which dynamometer data proves engine would empty in 45 minutes running wide open. Remember that towing up a long grade.
For good or bad, engine choice affects nothing else between these two Titans.
Spring and damper tuning are the only changes to suspension and brakes, so despite more capacity the ride improves ever so slightly. It's superior to a ¾-ton and better than most half-tons carrying their rated load. Bleeding some off the 70-psi from the rear tires in an empty truck further helps, if you can overlook the TPMS warning. Better yet, most of the diet is applied to the front axle, so steering effort is lighter and it responds with less push, but don't think 800 pounds in this massive truck has the same effect as on a smaller vehicle like the Ford F-150.
For good or bad, engine choice affects nothing else between these two Titans. The XD 5.6 has the same substantial A-pillars and shallow windshield, drop-sill front doors to readily see over proper mirrors, plenty of room and features including the integrated trailer brake controller standard on most, big turning circle, enough chrome on the tailgate to get even with polished tankers, and the only in-floor factory cargo-retention arrangement on the market.
The gas-powered Titan XD is undeniably a niche product. It's for the buyer who values payload over overall towing capacity, or a buyer who values lower entry cost as opposed to lower operating costs over time. Nissan thinks the Cummins-powered XD will outsell its gas-powered counterpart, but don't discount the 5.6 if its unique selling points appeal to you. It's a serious truck.