Creating the 2016 Nissan Titan XD

In some regards, this might be called a “tweener,” except for the fact that that word doesn’t really connote something that is 24.7-inches long, weighs 7,480 pounds, and has a 310-hp, 550-lb. ft. torque Cummins 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel under its hood.

In some regards, this might be called a “tweener,” except for the fact that that word doesn’t really connote something that is 24.7-inches long, weighs 7,480 pounds, and has a 310-hp, 550-lb. ft. torque Cummins 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel under its hood.

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But the strategy for the Nissan Titan XD pickup truck is, essentially, to fit in between light-duty pickups and their heavy-duty variants. So it is something in-between.

Nissan is not a stranger to pickups. It has had a Titan on offer since model year 2004. But it would be no overstatement to say that Nissan has underachieved in the category. Last year, for example, it sold just 12,527 Titans, fewer than any other vehicle in its truck category with the exception of the Nissan Quest minivan (and honestly: Did you know they still build the Quest minivan?).

It’s not that the truck wasn’t capable and brought some innovations in terms of storage and cargo management, but for a variety of reasons, including limited offerings both in terms of cab styles and powertrains, the Titan never gained the sort of post-Great Recession traction that its competitors did in the market.

So the time was overdue to come out with a new product.

And because they clearly understand that they are the competitor in the space, they decided to do something different, which gets to the heart of its approach of bringing out its all-new 2016 truck with a turbodiesel, trying to find a position that allows it to offer something sufficiently different from the others so that there could be a compelling reason to buy among both commercial customers and people who have things like boats and trailers to haul.

This Titan was designed by Nissan in San Diego. It was engineered in Farmington Hills, Michigan. It is being built in Canton, Mississippi.

The Titan XD is the first of what promises to be a range of trucks, but it is clearly their halo vehicle.

To find out plenty about the development of this vehicle, John McElroy and I went to Arizona (where, speaking of development, Nissan has a testing facility where the Titan was worked) for a special “Autoline After Hours.” We sat down with key team members--Diane Allen, senior manager, Nissan Design America; Rich Miller, director, Product Planning, Trucks, SUVs, CUVs & Commercial Vehicles, Nissan North America; Brent Hagan, manager, Product Planning, Nissan North America; and Phil O’Connor, director of Marketing, Trucks & SUVs, Nissan North America—to learn the ins and outs of the Titan.

It’s a rare thing to bring a group like that together to talk about product development, so even if you’re not particularly interested in trucks, this “Autoline After Hours” is well worth your time and attention: