In an effort to step out of the realm of irrelevance among competing pickup trucks, Nissan tried to meld the best qualities of light- and heavy-duty pickups into one truck, creating a vehicle that delivers “extra duty.” But mostly, the new Titan XD has none of the benefits of either.

The main appeal of the Titan XD lies under the hood, in its 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel from respected heavy-duty engine manufacturer Cummins. That engine delivers a crushing 555 pound-feet of torque, meaning it can tow more than a light-duty pickup is able to. Trailering equipment is extensive; the Titan XD is even prepped for fifth-wheel towing. But after that, the XD falls short. In terms of payload capacity, it is closer to a light-duty truck. Omnipresent diesel clatter makes it seem as if you’re driving a big rig, but the XD’s 15 mpg overall is just 1 mpg better than what a true heavy-duty diesel truck delivers.

The split personality is evident on the road as well. The ride is more civilized than a heavy-duty truck, and the tailgate doesn’t require a lot of muscle to raise or lower. But the Titan XD’s handling is clumsy, with very slow steering response.

Safety gear like forward-­collision warning or automatic braking isn’t available.

In the end, this niche-­targeted Titan offers a tad more refinement with a hint better fuel economy than a heavy-duty truck for about $5,000 less. But the Titan XD is ponderous to drive and doesn’t approach the payload or towing capabilities of HD trucks. 

Read the complete Nissan Titan XD road test.

2016 Nissan Titan XD Review

HIGHS: Kinder and gentler than other HD trucks, towing capacity, light tailgate, simple controls
LOWS: Clumsy handling, stiff ride, short rear seat, high step-in
POWERTRAIN: 310-hp, 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel engine; 6-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive
FUEL: 15 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $51,075


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the November 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.