2016 Nissan Titan XD

Storming onto the stage at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit is the new Nissan Titan XD, marking the brand’s return to the ultra-competitive US full-size pickup market.

The XD (no, not the emoticon) is not designed to replace the current 12-year-old Titan – a proper successor should arrive at a later date, along with other Titan-badged trucks. Instead, Nissan aims to create a new segment with the new model, which is promised to offer the towing and hauling performance of larger, more expensive heavy-duty models with the fuel efficiency and lower price of a regular half-ton pickup.

Far stronger and more exuberant-looking than the original Titan, the new truck looks ready to slug it out with the big boys. There are hints of the much smaller NP300 Navara in the design, with the strong shoulders, angular LED headlights with Tetris-esque daytime running lights and broad V-Motion grille, but super-sized to an almost hilarious degree.

2016 Nissan Titan XD

There are some neat touches for power users – the original’s Utili-track Bed Channel System has been adopted for this application, with four moveable heavy-duty aluminium alloy cleats for tying down various objects. The bed also feature a pair of removable, lockable, waterproof and drainable storage boxes, a factory spray-on bed liner, LED lighting, a 120 V socket and a dampened tailgate.

The interior looks like a nice place to be, with materials and trim inspired by quilted hunting jackets. The gear selector has been moved up to the steering column, freeing up space for a console box large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, while 12 V and 120 V outlets and lockable rear under seat storage add convenience. Front and rear storage has been increased by 33% and 28% respectively.

Also fitted are Nissan’s newfangled zero gravity-inspired front and rear seats, optional heated and cooled seats, a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system, a five-inch colour multi-info display in the instrument cluster and a NissanConnectSM infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen and navigation. NVH levels have been decreased with the inclusion of laminated side window glass, among other improvements.

2016 Nissan Titan XD

Providing the pulling power is a Cummins 5.0 litre turbodiesel V8, delivering 310 hp and a house-pulling 752 Nm of torque. The oil-burner is mated to a Aisin six-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission and an optional electronic locking rear differential. V6 and V8 petrol engines will be revealed further down the line.

The fully-boxed full-length ladder frame derived from Nissan’s commercial vehicles has been reinforced and strengthened for higher stiffness, vertical and lateral bending as well as torsional rigidity. The XD has a maximum payload of more than 2,000 pounds (900 kg) and a maximum towing capacity of over 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg).

To ensure towing safety, the Titan XD is equipped with Integrated Trailer Brake Controller, Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Tow/Haul Mode with Downhill Speed Control, Trailer Light Check and trailer guides for the RearView Monitor.