Pickup Truck of the Year: 2016 Nissan Titan

By Mark Williams

January 13, 2016

After much debate, the level of refinement and innovation over the truck it’s replacing pushed the “tweener” Nissan Titan XD onto the center stage to take home our trophy.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly what this truck does that no other truck can.

Not only does this new truck attempt to carve a unique place for itself in between two well-established segments (the half-ton and three-quarter-ton segments), but it also tries to re-establish Nissan as a competitive player in the world of full-size pickup trucks — and that’s a tall order. Where the previous light-duty Titan was a clear attempt to court younger, affluent, family-oriented buyers (which is and always has been the heart of the half-ton market), this new Titan XD attempts to be a more credible “true-truck” competitor by coming to market with a heavier-duty ladder frame and chassis, giving it solid and much-needed payload and towing credentials. Add to this a stronger powertrain with a stout 32-valve twin-turbo 5.0-liter V-8 Cummins engine, rated at 555 pounds-feet of torque, and you can see why Nissan is excited about the XD’s potential, not only with more affluent lifestyle consumers, but fleet buyers looking for a solid workhorse.

The new Titan XD is the first in a two-prong approach; the next is when the lighter-duty Titan arrives later in 2016. In the meantime, this new pickup sits in a space where Nissan hopes to lure a decent percentage of pickup buyers to a new type of “right-sized” choice: one with more towing capacity than many half-tons, and with better ride and handling characteristics than the more rigid and punishing (particularly when driven empty) three-quarter-ton competitors.

We especially like the new interior and well-defined trim packages, which include a new, versatile off-road package that has the ground clearance and gear ratios to make it a strong player in the world of dirt and rock while at the same time remaining a comfy daily driver. We also like the thought and planning that Nissan engineers put into the bed of the truck, where they’ve combined Nissan’s Utili-track system with new LED lighting at the top of the cab as well as under the bed rim. Additionally, all Titan XDs will come standard with a gooseneck hitch embedded in the bed, ready to accept any large fifth-wheel travel or gooseneck flatbed trailers.

As you might expect, having a premium engine and transmission combination on a sturdy platform means this offering might strike some as pricey, but if you take a deeper look into and underneath the truck, you’ll notice there are things here that no one else is offering. And we think that’s going to make many truck buyers happy.

Congrats to Nissan for the all-new Titan XD, our Best Pickup Truck of 2016.