2017 Nissan Titan gets new platform, powertrain, cab and bed features

  • 15-Aug-2016 12:01 EDT
2017_nissan Titan in CA.jpg

2017 Titan under test in California. Nissan's North American truck engineering team bestowed their latest pickup with greater efficiency and more surprise-and-delight features.

The second-generation Nissan Titan launches with the model's first-ever single cab and adds a direct-injection V8 and 7-speed transmission plus significantly improved vehicle aerodynamics and NVH attenuation. And while the 2017 model does not achieve a net mass reduction versus the previous Titan, fuel efficiency has been improved 28%, engineers claim.

The new Titan also brings a cool new approach to cargo bed illumination and claims an industry first: the first full-size pickup with a 5-year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. There's also a V6 engine in the development pipeline.

With these features Nissan is looking to lure a greater share of the half-ton truck segment’s 2.5 million U.S. consumers. “We’re standing behind our truck and putting the money where our mouth is," explained Richard Miller, Nissan North America’s Director of Product Planning for Truck/SUV/CUV. "We looked at all of the data and all of our testing, and we decided that this is the best way to give buyers who have never driven or owned a Nissan truck before a ‘peace of mind’ about the Titan’s quality.”

Miller concedes that a truck is the hardest vehicle to develop because of its broad duty cycle—handling everything from day-to-day commuting to serious work. "It needs to be able to haul, tow, and go off-road," he said. "And it needs to do all of this with a quiet, comfortable cab for the driver and passengers.”

New platform and powertrain

Miller and other Nissan technology product experts spoke with Automotive Engineering during a recent media preview that spotlighted Titan and two other 2017 models: the all-new Armada full-size SUV and the mid-cycle-refreshed Pathfinder. Each of the three trucks now rides on a unique platform—the 2017 Armada no longer uses the Titan undercarriage as it moves to Nissan's global Patrol platform. (For additional Armada and Pathfinder information, see http://articles.sae.org/14567 and http://articles.sae.org/14902.)

The new Titan adds a single cab version for the first time, in addition to crew cab and king cab models. The single-cab half-ton truck’s maximum payload is 1930 lb (875 kg). Max towing is a claimed 9730 lb (4413 kg). Starting price for the 4x2 crew cab is under $35,000.

As per the first-generation Titan, power is supplied by a 5.6-L gasoline "Endurance" V8. The new VK56VD engine is rated at a claimed 390 hp (290 kW) at 5800 rpm and 394 lb·ft (534 N·m) at 4000 rpm. Its VK56DE predecessor offered 317 hp (236 kW) at 5200 rpm and 385 lb·ft (521N·m) at 3400 rpm.

That performance bump is achieved by the addition of direct injection, variable valve timing and lift, as well as new-design pistons, cylinder heads and intake and exhaust systems. The new DI enables 11.2:1 compression ratio, versus the previous 9.8:1.

A JATCO 7-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous 5-speed JATCO unit. To help boost fuel economy, the 7-speed uses a cooling line bypass valve. “When the transmission is cold, it will bypass the fluid back into the transmission to get it hot. The key point is that cold oil has a tendency not to flow as quickly or as easily as a hot fluid, so this fluid warmer makes our transmissions and torque converters run more efficiently,” Miller explained.

Pairing the V8 and 7-speed represents a claimed 28% fuel economy gain for the 2017 Titan compared to the prior generation truck. Combined fuel economy climbs from 12 city/17 highway to 15 city/21 highway.

Big focus on reduced NVH

Nissan engineers cannot claim a net mass reduction for their new truck. But while Titan isn’t lighter than its predecessor, engineers and stylists worked to optimize greater efficiency in other areas of the vehicle.

“With quality as a top goal, we didn’t want to give up strength and durability just to get mass savings," Miller argued. "So we did everything we could in other areas to improve fuel economy,” including using an aluminum hood and various aerodynamic cues that netted a 10% Cd reduction compared to the previous model.

Titan’s aerodynamic attributes include an active grille shutter; an extended front overhang; spoilers integrated with the front bumper, roof, and tailgate; aero fairings for the underbody and even a cover for the tow-hook hole; bumper seals; and a Titan-first cab-to-bed seal. Miller described the latter as "a rubber seal that works as an air deflector because if air comes into the bed that’s like putting a sail out to stop the wind flow.”

NVH revamps include replacing solid rubber cab and bed mounts with fluid-filled mounts, resulting in a 10-dB vibration improvement. “By eliminating the higher frequency vibration that typically comes through with a body-on-frame truck that [the new mounting system] means a smoother ride. There’s considerably less bounce during highway driving,” Miller said. Cabin noise is reduced from improved body sealing, laminated windshield and front side glass, and a three-layer dash blanket versus the prior single layer dash insulator.

Brent Hagan, Titan’s Product Planning Manager, claims Titan is a segment leader in cargo utility features. “We know that the bed is what separates a truck from every other vehicle on the road and that utility can make or break a truck,” he observed. New cargo attributes include under-the-bed-rail LED lighting: “You can load anything into the bed, and you won’t have dark pockets or shadows being cast because when you turn the lights on at night, those 18 LEDs are akin to stadium lighting,” he said.

Finally a V6 in the works

While the Ford, GM, Ram and Honda Ridgeline competition currently offer V6 power, Nissan is edging closer to its first V6 for Titan. While Miller declined to pinpoint when the gasoline six will join Titan’s powertrain portfolio, he said it will be sometime in the second-generation truck’s lifecycle.

Titan’s future V6 is an all-new engine not used in any other Nissan application, Miller said. “We don’t typically develop an engine for one product only. If we buy an engine, like the Cummins 5.0-L V8 diesel engine that’s available on the Titan XD, then it’s OK to have it for one product. But if we internally develop an engine, it’s typically applied to multiple programs in North America or globally.”

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