The buzz over the announcement of the partnership between Cummins and Nissan for the next-generation Titan, likely due out as a 2015 model, is strong among truck enthusiasts. This kind of news is exactly what diesel fans have been waiting for: Nissan took the lead and announced a new turbo-diesel powertrain option for a half-ton pickup. No doubt they're hoping other truck makers like Toyota, GM and even Honda rise to the occasion (Ram already has one coming and Ford looks to be on a similar track). But there may be a few more details to consider.
This particular Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 has been around for a while. As you might expect, engines like this don't just pop up out of the ground every day. This has been a long time coming. In fact, we noted an engine sticker that made reference to the 5.0-liter Cummins in 2008 when we saw Ram's 2009 model design. At the time, Ram denied everything. Of course, it was looking at the feasibility of the engine then but that was two previous owners ago (if you don't count the U.S. government).
From what we're told, Ram decided not to use the bigger and more heavy-duty-appropriate 5.0-liter for the half-ton customer. Instead it opted for a smaller engine in the 400-pounds-feet-of-torque range like the 3.0-liter VM Motori that will power the Ram 1500 starting next month. Don't misunderstand — we think it's great Nissan is jumping into the deep end, but it seems like it would make more sense if it were offering a Titan 2500 three-quarter-ton truck, rather than completely gutting the half-ton truck to put in stronger transmission shaft links, driveshafts, axle shafts, new front and rear axles, ring and pinion gears, and all the other stuff necessary to handle the most torque of any powertrain ever put into a half-ton pickup truck. We may be wrong, but something doesn't quite seem to be adding up here.
According to Automotive News, Fred Diaz, Nissan's divisional vice president of sales and marketing, said there was a point when he had to see the truck himself back in July, so he dropped in on the Southern California design studio and was impressed with its looks and stance. That's a good thing, because Diaz knows his trucks, but he also knows Nissan has absolutely nothing to lose (last year Nissan sold as many Titans all year as Ford sells F-150s in three weeks), so the company is making this the huge bang it needs to be. We tend to agree.
In the half-ton segment, 300 horsepower (plus or minus) and 400 pounds-feet of torque seems to be the sweet spot for powertrains. That's right where Ford's popular EcoBoost sits. That's where the new Ram V-6 EcoDiesel sits. And that's where most of the V-8 gas options sit. Within that context, the Cummins V-8 seems a little like overkill. That's why the Titan 2500 makes sense to us, especially with a powerful diesel. After all, Nissan already has a modified Titan 2500 and 3500 frame sitting underneath its NV full-size vans. This could get interesting.