By on August 13, 2019

Image: Nissan

Nissan won’t be extending the same commitment it has for small cars to its full-size pickup line. The automaker recently told U.S. dealers that it would begin scaling back its Titan offerings, partly due to a new Titan looming on the horizon. Nissan intends to unveil the new pickup in the fall. Meanwhile, existing Titan sales could be a lot stronger. The model can’t really compete against domestic brands, despite also being manufactured in the U.S.

The Titan’s annual sales are less than monthly Ford F-Series deliveries. Extrapolated, Nissan moved 50,459 units in 2018 against the pickup sales king’s 909,330. But the Titan even has trouble competing with the likes of the GMC Sierra, which saw 219,554 domestic deliveries last year.

According to Automotive News, Nissan’s evolved pickup strategy focuses on prioritizing what works for the passenger market — which means turnings its back on single-cab models and the Cummins diesel engine available in the Titan XD.

While the cab change fits with Nissan’s new plan, which involves weening itself off fleet volume, the diesel V8 turned out to be a popular option. Industry estimates place nearly one of every eight Titans sold last year as a diesel, and at least half the XDs sold over the same time period were optioned with the Cummins. Considering sales also spiked after its introduction, the discontinuation is a big fat question mark.

Nissan TITAN XD Snow Plow Prep Package

Cummins has hinted that it wanted to cease production on the ISV 5.0-liter V8 for a while, with industry rumors claiming the engine maker discussed the matter with auto manufacturers earlier in the year. That may have forced Nissan’s hand.

However, the XD also occupies a difficult place in the market. It’s not quite as capable as the HD pickups it competes against and the diesel engine hasn’t received a lot of praise. The biggest gripe is that the powertrain feels unrefined, though it’s also not pulling its weight in terms of towing, either. Optioning the diesel ups your maximum towing weight by 1,000 pounds, but you’ll still be relegated to taking much lighter loads than you would in a Ford Super Duty.

These are issues the brand is likely to address with the Titan’s successor. Nissan Division Vice President Billy Hayes claimed that streamlining production now would make readying the new model a little easier. “We are simplifying the Titan lineup to focus our efforts on models that maximize opportunities to attract retail customers in the market for a full-size truck,” he said. “With a stronger, more focused lineup, we can maximize the impact of the investment we are making.”

The new model is slated to debut in September at the Texas State Fair. Nissan’s next XD pickup will follow later in the fall. However, Nissan admitted both will be more focused on the retail market — meaning the XD might be low on options. It’s unclear whether the brand will try to straddle the model between light and heavy duty segments once again, but Nissan has not indicated it will deliver an upgraded super hauler with the new XD.

“I am not ready to discuss the future,” Tiago Castro, Nissan Division’s director of light commercial vehicles, told Automotive News. But he did say to expect the 2020 XD to have specs similar to the 2019 model year.

[Images: Nissan]

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35 Comments on “Nissan Less Committed to Pickups, With Good Reason...”


  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Translation-The “XD” isn’t selling well. We are going to have our truck line focus more on the “Titan” -non XD version. The big drawback for me was a Titan “XD” couldn’t fit in my garage-while my bought new last year Silverado Crew Cab could.

    I see a few “XDs” sitting outside all year here in Utah (even when a garage is attached to the house). Not a preferable parking solution when it snows.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m thinking cummins may be who killed the 5.0. I assume Nissan didn’t meet targets for volume and it looks like they pulled the 5.0 from all the other markets that they had tried (Motor homes medium duty trucks). So it seems the engine was a flop in general.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Seems like a gaffe on Nissan’s part to not have Cummins under some sort of contract to keep the engine available for at least more than 2.5 model years.

        Outside of the ~1000 that get a GTR, Titan XD diesel buyers very likely spent the most money of anyone on a Nissan product. In return these customers now get kneecapped resale, future part constraints, and a complex, orphaned engine that no one is going to be interested in servicing.

  • avatar
    kkop

    It’s back to the plan that was used for the previous generation Titan: consumer-oriented. With tepid support from Nissan for the truck.

    Honestly, part of it is a chicken-egg problem: the aftermarket has much fewer parts for the Titan than other popular trucks, which hampers sales, which … etc.

    Dealers are also a problem: they don’t seem to very interested in selling Titans, carry no accessories, and seem generally ignorant of trucks in general and the Titan in particular.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “Dealers are also a problem: they don’t seem to very interested in selling Titans,”

      I was at a Nissan dealer recently with my best friend who is shopping for a new 2019 or 2020 4dr truck.

      The salesman was courteous, helpful, accommodating and friendly but also projected the image that people who choose to buy Titan do so because they don’t want to buy any of the other four brands. IOW, they strictly sell on price.

      And with a flat $5500 off MSRP, and another $1000 discount for Military/Retirees on each and every one Titan, that’s one hell of a deal. Especially on the full-pop units.

      Titan may not be the most fancy, but if you need a truck, the Titan is just as capable as any of the other four brands.

      While we were there, a young guy (maybe military) took delivery of his new Titan Pro4X. Not too shabby.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        My buddy out in Las cruces has one. It is the gas version. Now I am certain his experience is an outlier and he did get a “dealer pimped” one with big wheels and a dealer installed lift kit, but a soon after purchase check engine light eventually resulted in a replacement motor. Unfortunately he still has a check engine light.

        Funny enough though, the dude still really likes the truck.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ” eventually resulted in a replacement motor. Unfortunately he still has a check engine light.”

          Wow. First I have heard about anything like that. What kind of motor was it? Or was it the whole engine?

          A guy I know, long since dead now, bought a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was factory-recalled to have the V6 engine replaced within 90 days of purchase.

          Fiatsler gave him another new JGC to drive for the weeks that it took him to get that engine swapped.

          If it’s a two-tone Silver/Black Pro-4X maybe we’re talking about the same guy?

          Although the one we saw delivered was all-factory equipped, no dealer add-ons as far as I could tell. No Lift kit, standard factory alloy wheels and tires and side steps.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            It was an engine replacement. He has the gas v8 (5.6 I believe…I don’t really know Nissan motors).

            He is the sort that wouldn’t really care about the light, but apparently it kills his fuel economy. Then again he has truck not known for fuel economy in the first place that is lifted to the moon so he may just be getting normal mileage.

            They have taken care of him to this point other than not really being able to fix it. He gets a nice loaner every time. He hasn’t really pushed any lemon law stuff.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The story is a bit misleading. Nissan certainly isn’t going to push the current version very hard–it’s a waste of money. They’re also backing off on the diesels–for obvious reasons. They’re hoping to make a splash with the new version, “coming soon”.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it goes deeper than “obvious reasons.” Cummins also offered this engine on the open market as the ISV5.0, and there’s no longer any trace of it on their website. I wager they canceled it due to lack of demand and pretty much forced Nissan’s hand.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The Frontier current version is turning sweet 16.
    Not a bad rig but not enough cheaper than modern competition to really make it attractive as a value proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      I dunno. The MSRP is thousands below any competitor. It’s also the only base-model truck that offers a manual transmission for all the Luddites.

      • 0 avatar
        JoeBrick

        @eggsalady- “LUDDITES” ? Excuse me ? I think you are projecting your own inadequacies ie: not being skilled. or co-ordinated enough to shift a manual transmission- onto those who are much more skillful, co-ordinated, and able to operate a more complex and difficult set of devices than you and those who choose to let a mere mechanical device select gears and patterns of shifting between them for their lazy and unskilled asses. LUDDITES INDEED !
        (Excuse my French !)

        • 0 avatar
          eggsalad

          Wrong guy. I never owned a car without a clutch until 2 years ago. I didn’t think “Luddites” was a pejorative term. My apologies.

          • 0 avatar
            JoeBrick

            @eggsaladey- No apology necessary. Most people who use the term use it as an insult. Besides, didn’t you think that my response was funny ? I used a lot of BIG words… ;-]

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      If I was in the market for a cheap midsize truck – Nissan is the only answer in my book. Dependable, problems worked out, cheap, great engine options, actually looks like a truck that should be on American soil and not something you’d expect to see in the Middle East with a fully auto rifle mounted in the bed(Ranger, Colorado).

      The only other semi attractive truck on the midsize market imo is the gladiator, but then your dropping twice as much money and your still stuck with a V6 no matter how you option.

      The only thing I hate about the entire segment is the lack of a 4 cylinder, 4×4, Manual trans.

      • 0 avatar
        JoeBrick

        @Hummer- “The only thing I hate about the entire segment is the lack of a 4 cylinder, 4×4, Manual trans.”
        Have no fear ! GMC will soon go you one better by offering (only) a wonderfully small and economical 1.3 L 3-cylinder motor in your favorite pickups ! (Only on the De Luxe bling-bling Denali High Country Platinum Premium model, though. How about that ! Of course, you will have to take the bad with the good- it will only be offered with a CVT or a Ten-speed automatic transmission. Well, maybe (hope ! hope !) that they will offer the 1.0L 3-cyl with a 6 speed manual.
        GM to the rescue !

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I saw many a D40 Navarra in various middle eastern countries decked out as you describe. Honestly the lone Ford I recall seing so decked out was ironically enough a US spec Super Duty F series. The king of the “Technicals was still the Hi-Lux followed closely by Chinese Great Wall pickups when seemed to be copies of 90’s Toyotas apearance wise.

        Most Rangers I saw were in US Government duty. Only GM anything I remember was our decrepit Trail Blazer that I actually wrote to Sajeev’s column on here to try to figure out why it wouldn’t go over 20 mph. It had been left by some contractors when they didn’t get renewed and wasnt on the official government list so it got no maintenance and it was on us to keep it going.

      • 0 avatar
        wayneoh

        You forgot claustrophobic cab…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If my wife hadn’t suddenly come up with the idea she wanted a full-on travel trailer as compared to a popup camper, the Frontier was on my short list for a mid-sized truck, simply because it’s the smallest of the several available. The same held true for the Tacoma… though it had a comfort problem with not enough front legroom under the wheel for a long-legged 6’tall woman. And Ford’s choice of a turbo four as its only engine left me with one choice if I wanted to avoid full size.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        The Frontier was rated for like 7000+ pounds, but as a former D40 owner that is a wet dream. 5000+ was white knuckle territory. The trailer drove it.

        The Frontier is a gas hog though…that and an interior that scratched if you looked at it were my only beefs with it. You have to get a 2012+ I believe if you want one with the bugs (timing chain guides and transmission cooler cross contamination mixing the coolant and trans fluid causing transmission failure.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Art Vandalay: Pretty much why I didn’t choose it. I agree on the towing limitation and the 6-speed automatic wasn’t going to be the best choice for towing simply because I wouldn’t be just towing in the flat–even as near to the coast as I am in Maryland, there is a 40-mile-thick band of ‘wrinkles’ just north of me before reaching Lancaster, PA and then rolling hills leading up to the foothills of the Appalacian Mountains and another hundred miles of varying grades. The coastal plain may be flat but other than staying right along the coast I’d be crossing mountains almost anywhere I went. The Colorado’s capabilities have already proven themselves with a relatively light tow, so I wouldn’t be afraid to hitch up a 5000# trailer and give myself some cushion.

          That said, I think the complaint about short wheelbase for the mid-sizers is a little overblown, considering they’re running the same wheelbase as a ’90s vintage single-cab, long-bed F-150, or very nearly so. The Frontier is shorter, true. But then, the Frontier is also the smallest of the modern mid-sizers, which is why I was even considering it. This Colorado is much, MUCH larger than I wanted. (Think ’80s-vintage D-50 Dodge.)

          I bought what I bought based on needs, first, then added in desires. I got it equipped the way I wanted (including the lack of built-in NAV) and my only real complaint is that the extended-cab’s floor is cluttered with the rear-seat plinth rather than open, interior storage. There are ways to fake it but it raises the lift-up height far more than I wanted to carry things like our 40# bowling bags (three balls plus shoes and supplies, each.) A rear seat is a part-time thing for me, I’d like to have empty floor the rest of the time.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Nissan last redesign of the Frontier was in 2004. Shocked to see Nissan making changes so quickly to Titan.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I recently saw a regular-cab Titan and it shocked me. Because I had no idea it existed.

    I would venture a guess that 99.3% of all manufacturer’s regular-cab sales are to fleets, so if Nissan is trying to get out of the fleet business (and I’m not really sure many fleet buyers considered Nissan AT ALL) the axing the regular cab is a no-brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Nissan is aggressively pursuing the commercial fleet business with it’s white vans and white trucks. Any large fleet customer would have had Nissan calling and knocking on their doors. Dealers receive arm twisting to market to local small business owners. Success is limited with resistance to paying for floor plan for white vehicles that sit in back lot or remote lot of the dealership with minimal motivation to sell by the “regular” salespeople.
      Requires a patient, consistent, and long term strategy which Nissan seems incapable of.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “The new model is slated to debut in September at the Texas State Fair”

    You mean The State Fair of Texas.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      @dukeisduke- “You mean The State Fair of Texas.”
      “You cultivate your hair like lettuce”. Besides, “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man !”

  • avatar

    Talking to someone I know the other day who’s family owns a Nissan dealer (he doesn’t work there thou). He told me the other day he asked for a new Titan crew as a demo ride (he always has a new Nissan Demo). And the family member that’s the GM told him he will keep an eye out for one (all he had in stock was a reg cab) but he stopped stocking them, unless he pull’s one in on another order as their basically lot poison around here.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s so stupid. Fleet Sales are what made Big 3 pickups great and a tremendous success. They didn’t become ballers overnight. And not all fleets are straight stripper pickups nor all regular cabs either.

    Remember the original stepsides? Yeah they weren’t for dolled up, mall crawling. But I think fleets are the only thing that got Dodge pickups through the mid ’80s.

    Besides, fleet-white trucks fly off the assembly line, often dozens or hundreds at a time, all identical (build sheets), with customers not so concerned with fit-n-finish, known to fix minor warranty issues themselves, and all they’re trying to do is drive them into the ground and come back for more trucks.

    Often, luxo pickup buyers want the fancy version of the basic trucks, out at the job site at 6am every morning, making them rich. Managers, supervisors, inspectors, etc, get mid-trim pickups. Did I mention the oil fields? Pipe lines? Except they try to stay with a single brand throughout the company.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Titan: The truck you buy out of spite when dealers of the Detroit 3 plus Toyota have spurned you. Joke’s on you in the end, though.

    The Cummins V8 in these was a huge disappointment performance-wise and came with high warranty cost. Not surprised they dropped it.

  • avatar
    John

    Cummins will replace the ISV 5.0-liter V8 with a line of inline 6 cylinder engines, based their R2.8 Turbo Diesel 4 engine. So we are likely to see a line of 3.0-4.2L engines, such a line would be more appropriate for Mid Sized Pickup Trucks.


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