First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas – Just Like a Tundra?

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A few months ago, I had the opportunity to drive the new gas XD version of the 2016 Nissan Titan with its 5.6L V8 Endurance engine through the hilly terrain of Tennessee. After thinking over the drive, it is pretty clear to me this Titan could be the best Tundra competitor yet. Here’s why.

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas - Just Like a Tundra?

Could the Nissan Titan’s 5.6L V8 be just as good as the Toyota Tundra’s 5.7L V8?

First, before I get too far, yes, I do realize the XD is a heavy-duty half-ton and is technically not in the same “class” as the Toyota Tundra. Yet, I don’t really care about that fact when the classes are so close. For example, the maximum towing capacity of a 4×2 gas is 11,270 and the maximum payload is 2,594. The Tundra has a maximum payload of 2,060 lbs and a maximum towing capacity of 10,400 lbs. These trucks then are separated by a few hundred pounds on both maxed out specs and are likely a bit closer when comparing “average truck” configurations.

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas - Just Like a Tundra?

Aside from the engine talk, this color combo on the 2016 Nissan Titan is hands down my favorite.

What does this mean in reality? It means, the Titan can carry a 4wheeler in the bed while towing a load and the Tundra can not. Also, it means the Titan can carry a few more 4wheelers than the Tundra. That’s it folks. When you really break down the max towing and payload, the difference really needs to be in the thousands to signify a big difference (see: 3/4 and 1 ton trucks).

Now, if you are one of those who considers the Tundra to be “over built” like many people do, then you know its components are more of the 3/4-ton variety than a half-ton. Items like larger brakes, hitch and its frame are all stout components. I would argue this overbuilt half-ton mentality was used on both the XD and Tundra and this makes them even more similar.

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas - Just Like a Tundra?

As part of our trip, we got to tour Nissan’s Decherd, TN engine plant. These fine men and women clearly do great work building these engines. Incredibly, this facility is the only V8 engine plant Nissan has and they ship these engines all over the world.

What Are the Big Differences Between the Nissan Titan 5.6L V8 and Toyota Tundra 5.7L V8?

If payload and towing is pretty similar as well as many of the same components, then the engine has to be quite a bit different right? Yes and no. Nissan says the 5.6L Endurance V8 produces 390 HP @ 5,800 RPMs and 401 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 RPMs.  The Tundra produces 381 HP @5,600 RPMs and 401 lb-ft of torque @3,600 RPMs.  Basically, the Titan has slightly more HP and the Tundra has more torque off the line with the lower RPMs needed to tap into the torque.

What then about compression ratio? The Tundra’s compression ratio is 10.2:1 whereas the Titan is 11.2:1. The difference here has to do with fuel efficiency as more compression equals maximizing how the fuel is burned.

Lastly, the bore to stroke ratio between the two is  3.86 x 3.6 inches for the Titan and 3.70 x 4.02 inches for the Tundra. This is also an important difference.

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas - Just Like a Tundra?

As someone who has never toured an engine plant before, I came away very impressed with the excruciatingly tight tolerances they have to hit and the level of attention they pay to their work. Also, the torture testing they conduct is mind blowing.

Generally, the bore/stroke ratio and engine torque are related, at least at lower RPMs. If the bore (piston diameter) is less than the stroke (length of travel between bottom and top of stroke), the engine generates more torque at a lower RPM.

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas - Just Like a Tundra?

Having the opportunity to drive many different versions of the truck with the new 5.6L V8 is pretty cool.

So, for towing and off-the-line acceleration (which is what truck owners care about), a smaller bore than stroke is a good thing. Also, all things being equal, a smaller bore than stroke is more fuel efficient.

However, there are a lot of caveats:

  • When the stroke is longer than the bore is wide, peak horsepower suffers a bit
  • The internals in engines with strokes longer than bores generally have to be more robust, as they face greater stresses at high RPMs
  • Engines with strokes longer than bores are often redline limited, meaning that they can’t go over a certain RPM without potentially spinning apart
  • Longer strokes tend to make engines harder to balance and thus lead to more vibration
  • Longer stroke than bore can limit options for supercharging, turbocharging, etc. (just depends on design specs)

Is the Tundra V8 Engine Still Good?

While the Tundra engineers have overcome the limits of their engine design, it does lead many to wonder how good can it be considering it is now over 10 years old.

“Nissan’s newest 5.6L has a good compression ratio (which helps with gas mileage), but it’s still a short stroke engine, which means it just can’t generate the kind of torque that Toyota’s 5.7L can generate at lower RPMs.”said Jason Lancaster, Tundraheadquarters.com owner. “Nissan makes up for this by offering more gears in their transmission, so it’s probably quite similar in terms of usability.

Still, Toyota’s 5.7L is a great engine. It’s proven reliable, and it’s quite comparable to engines that are many years newer.”

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Gas - Just Like a Tundra?

With a competitive 5.6L V8 engine now on the market and a new half-ton coming out this fall, Nissan is definitely on the move in the truck business.

As for Nissan, their higher compression ratio definitely makes for a more efficient engine, but their (slightly) short stroke design is inherently less fuel efficient than Toyota’s long stroke setup. This will probably be a push when you factor everything together. However, a few more gears for the Tundra could help push that truck to better MPGs if Toyota decides to focus on fuel economy.

Finally, I do think saying Nissan’s new 5.6L engine is pretty comparable to the Tundra’s 5.7L is a compliment. The 5.7L iForce V8 has been one of the top large displacement, non-turbo, half-ton engines around for years. If Nissan’s engine proves to be as reliable as the Tundra’s engine, they really could have something.

Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Reviews and Comparisons

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  1. Randy says:

    Tim,

    Ok, so you are saying that Nissan copied the Tundra and it took them over 7 years to do it? Is that about it?

    At least that is a lot more than what Ford, GM, or RAM has accomplished in the last 10 years.

    Guess I will stay with what is actually proven to work.

    Randy

  2. Donald says:

    Thanks Tim some good points to consider. At this point I think I am more concerned about Quality Control At Nissan rather than the sum of their parts which look good for towing at this point. I think it is amazing that we have so called half tons with this much power and stability. Can you imagine the 2017 3.5 econoboost with a slight tune..it maybe approaching 500lbs of torque. On another note I just got back from Toyota here in Orland Park for a trans service and I stopped to look at a 2016 5.7 SR5 TRD. I could be way off base here but it sure looked like the open C channel frame under the bed behind and on top of the rear wheel is smaller in width than my 2008? Is that possible?

  3. TRDSmokedU says:

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you’re worried about QDR of Nissan look no further than the 2016 Tacoma. Many issues to include transmission, rear ends, etc. right from the factory. They all cut corners and all have issues. At least Nissan had the balls to bring a diesel, add direct injection to the titan and a 7 speed transmission. Toyota is still using the 5 speed in the 4runner but the land cruiser gets the 8 speed. I love Toyota but the ball is in their court to step up their game. If they wanted to, they could build a truck to put the big three out of business. They have the money, but they aren’t listening.

    • quick post:

      I agree about QDR being a problem for all pickup trucks manufacturers and with your view of Nissan having balls to go for a diesel and other new features. The real test for Nissan will be will they be able to keep pace with the strides in new features and drivetrains. We certainly know Toyota hasn’t. For example, Ford is coming on strong, no pun intended, with big power increases for both the gassers and diesels. The good thing about the Cummins diesel is there is room for more power as we’ve seen over the past six years or so.

      So, is the Titan like the Tundra? May be terms of specs, but I hope not when it comes to starting something then not finishing it.

      • TRDSmokedU says:

        NoQDRT,

        I hope that with Fred Diaz at helm of Nissan’s truck division that they will not let the Titan sit stagnant. Toyota needs to invest in their trucks. Unfortunately, based on what I heard from family at Southeast Toyota there’s not a lot planned for a new Tundra. We are seeing spy shots of a new Camry, but nothing for the tundra, Sequoia, or 4Runner. I guess Toyota will be the only 1/2 ton without a diesel. GM is planning a diesel, Ford has one coming, Nissan has one, and Ram has one. With Hino Toyota could easily modify the 4.5 D4D and bring it here. For some reason, they don’t seem like they are willing to invest in trucks.

        • He won’t. To put it simply, Fred is doing what former and current Tundra owners have been asking for all along, more cab configurations, diesel option, etc.

          Toyota and Hino: could be a lot more, but it’s not.

  4. ricky says:

    I have seen only 1, count it 1, of these new Titan trucks on the roads here in the Seattle area. Believe me I drive a lot, owning a milk delivery service. Are these trucks selling more in other parts of the country? The F-150’s on the other hand appear to be selling like hot cakes and I see them everywhere. Please Tundra come out with something(even a little) new!

    • TRDSmokedU says:

      I’ve seen a few in South Florida. Once the non XD titan arrives they will likely sell more. A new Frontier with a cummins diesel is coming soon.

      • ricky says:

        Yeah. I’m waiting to see what the non XD models will look like and have to offer. It appears the XD ommitted the large(er) sliding rear window? And do the XD’s come with a sunroof with that crazy price? The top of the line F150 has that enormous sunroof, if you’re into that.

        • TRDSmokedU says:

          I love the look of the tundra. The Titan doesn’t look great. The interior on the other hand is very nice. I just wish Toyota would invest in their trucks. The sequoia hasn’t been touched in years. My wife likes it but the said the interior is not up to 60k standards which has her waiting on the new armada. I don’t understand why Toyota has been so complacent.

          • Ricky says:

            Agreed. Just a little tweek here and there(bring back the rear reclining seats?) would make a difference. Even upping the MPG’s a mile or two per gallon would help. But in the meantime, the Camry has had 3(2 major) model changes in the last 4 years? What’s up with that!

          • Answer: Akio Toyoda is a car guy true and true. The complacency has been brought up a few times on this site. Initially, most thought the problem with the Tundra’s lack of forward movement was Mike Sweers, but with some digging it’s now believed to originate in Japan. In 2010, two things happened. First, Akio took over and second, Sweers became chief engineer.

            Here’s a link to an article about Akio’s passion for Lexus http://www.autonews.com/articl.....et-project

            To become a chief engineer, the position has to be vacated; this about that for a moment (the timing and why would someone bailout?).

            One more event to think about: Sweers had to plead his case to update the Tacoma in Japan.

            The Tundra may be mostly American made, but the strings guiding it’s future originate in Japan. So, is it truly American made?

  5. Things are really quiet here… You guys working on TitanHeadQuarters.com? I tried to buy the domain but someone beat me to it 🙂

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      LOL. No. I was in Hawai’i for a few weeks and just got back from visiting Toyota’s San Antonio plant. I’m working as fast as I can to get some stories up!

      -Tim

  6. Dan says:

    I thought the tundra was getting direct injection in the 5.7 and high strength steel frame. I was waiting to get these upgrades.

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