Cowboys and Cowgirls, the 2016 Nissan Titan XD is the 2015 “Truck of Texas”
Being an automotive writer can be dangerous. You never know what another driver out on the road – or even in a parking lot – is going to do. However, sometimes you get a big gap in front of and around you on the highway and you can set the cruise control and just relax. Phone it in, if you will.
There’s no such thing as doing that in a rodeo. You saddle up, hold on, and give it everything you have. That’s what Ford did last week at the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2015 Truck Rodeo. Just because it can truck with the best of them doesn’t mean it fell asleep on its saddle. It brought its most knowledgeable representatives and a herd of trucks, from a 2016 F-150 SuperCrew 4X4 Lariat to a 2016 SuperCrew 4X4 Limited to a 2016 F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Platinum. It competed against Chevrolet, Ram, GMC, Toyota, and Nissan in hopes of bringing home a variety of titles, including the most desired: “Truck of Texas.” A 2017 Super Duty 4X4 and the almighty F-750 Tonka were on the grounds of Knibbe Ranch in Spring Branch, Texas to further establish Ford’s pickup presence and (in the case of the SD) give me and the 68 other automotive journalists present a glimpse of what to expect at next year’s event.
I took the Lariat, Limited, and Platinum down the highway, across country fields, through creeks and streams, and up a steep, jarring, rocky incline that eventually claimed a tire and a vital piece of front suspension hardware from two other vehicles. None of the Ford’s broke a sweat getting through the rough stuff, although the ride to the top of the potentially axle-busting grade was a lot bumpier in the F-250. The presence of the future Super Duty dulled the shine of the 2016 model, but it was hard to ignore the thrust of the current truck’s 440-horsepower/860-pound-feet-of-torque 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8.
The handsome face and body of the Limited were difficult to overlook, too. So were the interior’s fiddleback eucalyptus wood veneers and two-tone Mojave leather seats. The new SYNC 3 system looked modern and seemed quick to respond to my inputs. The big 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6’s reflexes were snappy, too.
Ultimately, the Ford crew came away with a number of awards. Its Pro Trailer Backup Assist won for Best Technology. The brand as a whole was given the distinction of having the “Truck Line of Texas.”
I didn’t have time to drive the 2016 Explorer Platinum at the rodeo, but as I drove it through Colorado in September, I noted its ample power, high-end materials, impressive sound system, and supple ride quality. The Knibbe Ranch’s rougher spots gave my fellow writers plenty of chances to test the Platinum’s fast-acting Terrain Management System. I’m sure its Hill Control mode, which maintains a constant speed while the Explorer is descending a grade, got a workout. In my September write-up of the Platinum, I mentioned Ford is pitting it against the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. At the Truck Rodeo awards ceremony, the Explorer came out on top, taking home the title of “SUV of Texas” – which the Grand Cherokee had received the previous five years.
However, unlike last year, Ford didn’t bring home the big trophy for making the “Truck of Texas.”
Nissan did. It brought three 2016 Titan XD’s in Pro-4X and Platinum Reserve trims. Any driving impressions gathered while behind the wheel of one of them are under embargo until next month, but I can say a few things to all of you who may not know about the truck. Nissan is positioning the new XD as a sort of what I call “‘tweener truck” that will split the difference between a light- and heavy-duty truck. It will do that with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbo-diesel V8 that generates 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. That will be paired with a six-speed Aisin automatic. The shocks, frame, brakes, and suspension will be diesel-grade. Payload capabilities should be north of 2,000 pounds; towing capacity should be in excess of 12,000 pounds. The bed will be set up from the factory for gooseneck trailer pulling. Pricing and other details will be released closer to the XD’s December on-sale date. Gas-powered V6 and V8 Titans will come out…eventually.
A post or two about what the XD is like to drive will hit this site in mid-November, when the embargo on driving impressions will be lifted. Violating that? That’s a completely different danger to an automotive writer.
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FORD PHOTO GALLERY
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via [Texas Auto Writers Association]