Remember when American pickups had a single bench seat and vinyl upholstery? When trucks were built to cart heavy stuff, in the bed or on a trailer, and didn’t need to do much more than that? The explosion of the crossover category proves shoppers want cars that deliver more practicality than your average sedan, and given the generally larger profit margins in the truck business, we’re not surprised truck makers want their products to offer more capability, too. That’s why truck lineups are growing, boosting capacities, and adding lots of useful cargo-management, safety, and driver-assistance features—not to mention leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheels, and plenty of chrome.
CarGurus had the pleasure of reviewing most of 2016’s big sellers in the light-truck segment, and although we didn’t get a chance to fully review the ’16 Titan XD, we did get a sneak peek at the new half-ton 2017 Nissan Titan just this week, courtesy of Nissan’s Dan Passe, Steve Oldham, Erin Ferguson, and Kurt Rosolowsky. We didn’t make it to the New England Motor Press Association’s event until after dark, so we’re using press photos here, but the new Titan lineup will include the first-ever single-cab versions of the Titan, a return of the King Cab, and the debut of a new engine. Nissan’s calling 2017 the “Year of the Truck” and also recently announced its 2017 trucks will be covered by a new 5-year, 100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
The single-cab and King Cab versions of the Titan represent steps two and three of a lineup expansion that began last year with the debut of the Titan XD. The 2016 XD was intended to find its own segment between traditional light- and heavy-duty pickups and recently took the top spot in the J.D. Power 2016 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study’s Large Light Duty Pickup segment. This year’s debuting single-cab Titan will be available in regular and XD versions and hopes to win business from commercial buyers.
Single-cab trucks will be available only in lower trim levels and will use the lineup’s new engine, a 390-hp 5.6-liter Endurance gas V8 with a 7-speed Aisin automatic transmission, exclusively. XDs will also be available with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8, giving them a maximum towing capacity of 12,640 pounds. We look forward to publishing a detailed review and video on the 2017 Titan.
If the new Nissan Titan XD does manage to win a decent chunk of commercial business in the U.S., you should expect to see the Big Three implement their own changes in response. American automakers have so thoroughly dominated the U.S. light-duty truck market for decades now that truck sales have become critical to their bottom lines. They don’t take competition to their trucks lightly.
Honda has never built a traditional pickup, but its distinctive Ridgeline returned for 2017 after a two-year break, and while it will never be mistaken for an old-school American pickup, its incredibly composed, car-like ride and versatile two-way liftgate converted reviewer Cliff Atiyeh. Calling the Ridgeline an “open-face minivan,” he wouldn’t recommend it for off-roading, but did like its technology and flexibility and finds it a compelling option for non-traditional truck buyers who don’t want a simple workhorse.
We’re on the brink of a new calendar year and a new model year, each of which will deliver plenty of change. Whether this next year lives up to the hype or not, we’re confident automakers will have more changes to announce a year from now, and we look forward to finding out exactly which changes live up to the hype.
Which would make you more likely to buy a truck: improved towing capacity, efficiency, or luxury features?
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