Nissan's Titan Engineer Is Ready to Make a Splash

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The next Nissan Titan has to be a home run. All of its competitors have significantly upgraded and improved their half-ton pickup trucks, with one going through two iterations since the Titan went on sale as a 2004 model. But a new Titan is close, and Nissan's design and engineering team is eager to show it off.

We recently spent some time with Nissan's lead Titan engineer, Rich Miller, as he reinvents the oldest half-ton pickup in the segment. We've known that the next-generation Titan is coming for quite a while, and we've even been told there will be a Cummins V-8 under the hood when it debuts at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit (announced by Andy Palmer, Nissan's chief planning officer, at the 2014 NAIAS).

The announcement of the Cummins engine was likely a hint that the next Titan will offer a heavy-duty model that can take advantage of the new Cummins' impressive technology and torque. A Titan heavy-duty could do a good job of separating itself from the other half-ton players, most of which already offer stronger three-quarter-ton options.

Miller is a truck guy, and he knows as well as anyone that the half-ton segment is ferociously competitive right now, so Nissan will need to focus like a laser beam in certain key areas to make inroads with the next Titan. During our interview in Arizona, Miller said that much of the next-gen Titan has been tested. As we traveled north on Interstate 17 traversing punishing and sweltering grades enroute to Flagstaff, Miller said some of Nissan's durability drives use the same route.In some cases, Nissan drivers even head into the Prescott National Forest, navigating the rutted, mountainous switchbacks to the higher-elevation towns to test out the four-wheel-drive systems.

Miller grew up in Arizona, so he knows about the history surrounding Phoenix, as well as what the best routes are for ferreting out any suspension or chassis weaknesses. So when the new Titan is revealed, the Arizona desert and mountains will bear some responsibility for its success or failure.

Regardless, it won't be because Nissan didn't do its research. Miller knows exactly where other truck guys congregate, so we stopped along our drive route several times to talk to truck owners about what they own and what they like or don't like about their trucks. Whether a truck stop, an off-road trailhead or someone's farm, Miller was not shy about discovering unmet needs and where the best opportunities for the next Titan might exist.

To shoot our video, we stopped at a farm that's been in Miller's family for generations and talked a little about the next Titan, the competition and where he thought the industry might be headed. We came away understanding that he's a very bright guy who completely understands that the challenge in front of him is a huge one, but one he insists will bear significant fruit for those looking for a credible half-ton pickup truck.

Cars.com images by Mark Williams

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Comments

Why do all these chief engineers have to show us how truck they are by taking us to their farm or telling us about it http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/hay+farmer+heads+2014+toyota+tundra.htm.

He should be fired.

The next Titan will be a failure of epic proportions.

And I say that as someone who only about a year and a half ago or 2 years ago was pretty sure I was going to ditch Toyota and buy a Titan when all the rumors talked about a 4 cyl diesel instead of an 8.
But like Toyota, they will abandon the people who buy their vehicles in attempt to go after a larger segment that doesn't drive Nissans. They could've gone from industry trailing fuel economy to record-shattering fuel economy. They could've gone back to their roots and made a tank that lasts for 300k miles that was a little higher priced than the detroit junk but was still reasonable. They could have lured in fleet buyers who are always looking to save money. Nissan has decided to go in another direction entirely. This truck will go down in flames. Poor decisions like this have not only led me to scratching the Titan off my list, but also the Frontier and probably everything that wears a Nissan nameplate. I just can't help but wonder what other poor decisions were made in the design process.

I own a 2010 Titan pro4x crew cab and love it. It swills fuel like its 10 cents a gallon but other than that i think its the best truck I have ever owned. I owned a 2006 Frontier crewcab before that and never had any issues with it. It was a great truck. Nissan makes a great truck and i would recomend one to anyone. I can't wait for the new titan to debut.

@ MaXx: I believe that the new Frontier will offer the Cummins isf 4 cyl TD.But the Frontier is a smaller truck too.I was somewhat disappointed when Nissan said they would be using the big 8 cyl diesel as an option in the Titan,because that is going to be very expensive imo.But,everything is subject to change so I will just take a 'wait and see' on this one.

Titan will be a failure - here is why

The lead engineer is old - instead of full hair 23 years old recent college graduate.

Arizona is not where you can find urban narrow streets.

If Titan wants to make inroad with farmers targeting specifically old angry white males then bravo - however what is the ratio plumbers, electricians, and general contractors in urban settings to farmers.

I do find it hard to convince myself that Nissan knows what it needs to do to make the next Titan a winner.

The Cummins option alone is not enough to save the Titan. It ultimately will be a combination of factors such as pricing, interior quality, capability, etc.

I think it would benefit Nissan to also enter the 3/4 and 1 ton markets, but I don't see that happening by 2015. Given how poorly the Titan has been selling, I think they realize that they need to ensure the Titan is successful before focusing on other markets.

@ HM: When I first heard about the 5.0L v8 diesel for the Titan I did think it would be a 3/4 ton.A V6 diesel for the 1/2 ton Titan would do the job just fine unless Nissan is going to play in the "I can tow more then you" game,which in it's self has been a stupid game they all play,imho.

If the ecodiesel ram is getting fuel economy about 7 mpg more than gas models what can this v8 hope for? especially if it eats urea @ accelerated rate. I hope its more than what i expect but i think it will be the worst on fuel but the best on performance as far as towing in a half ton. any bus engine like this will love carry heavy loads or towing lots of weight. but will it also get 15 mpg avg in the city like most big diesels do now? id say 17mpg city would be really pushing it if the 3.0 ram is doing 19mpg city documented by truck trend. I really hope i see something much more useful than expect. if it can carry a 7 and half foot poly plow and do snow removal then you have a winner!

Nissan much like Ford is making huge conquests out of former Chevrolet owners as I've witnessed this first hand. They're offering premium product. I just threw my hands up in the air and gave up when Chevrolet went and rebadged Nissan's van. They admitted defeat in doing so. This truck is a superior offroader, offers platinum trims, has the thickest/most durable steel body in the industry right now, has round wheel openings and even protects them with wheel well moldings unlike Chevrolet.

Nissan much like Ford and Dodge has made Chevrolet irrelevant thanks to GM/GMC.

Titan will be a failure? Really you don't even know what their going to offer other then a Cummins V8.

So Rich, what exactly have you been doing the past 10 years anyway?

If you have 10 years to design a truck, it better be pretty spectacular.

@ David Robertson

Take your idiotic racist rant somewhere else. Nobody wants to hear it here.

Also, the next time you want to try trolling spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the subject matter first. Your "plumbers, electricians, and general contractors in urban settings" do not currently use pickups (in any real numbers). They have not used pickups in *at least* the last 20 years. They all use vans. You have obviously never lived in a city, don't know what you're talking about, and should have kept your mouth shut instead of opening it up to prove to everyone here you're an ignorant, racist, loud mouth who has nothing to contribute.

Until you graduate from high school have your mother proofread your posts. Maybe you won't embarrass yourself as much that way.

I guess the Titan Cummins will be a 5/8 ton

I can't believe these guys that think the next titan is going to be an automatic failure/junk just because they're offering a 5.0 cummins diesel v8. 5.0 is small for a v8. It will probably get decent MPG(certainly a lot better than todays 3/4 ton diesel trucks and probably better than any 1/2 ton v8) and probably be able to tow more than most 1/2 tons. I have never bought a nissan, but I would consider a truck like that for replacing my F250 in a few years. It may be expensive for a 1/2 ton, but it could be a great cost-saving alternative for a lot of guys that currently drive 3/4 ton trucks. I don't think they will offer it as a 2500 though, I think they'll market it as the most capable 1500 you can buy(or maybe a 2000?). For farmers like me a truck like that would be worth having. I was disappointed when I first heard they would be putting in a "big" diesel engine, but really it makes good sense now that I've thought it through. I've been wanting for a long time for a manufacturer to give us a 3/4 ton truck that sacrifices a little capability (the current HD trucks are overkill for most) in order to improve gas mileage. Hopefully this truck can offer something like that.

@AllWhoThinkTheNextGenTitanWillBeAFailure:

Provide your resumes to Mark Williams so he can post them on this site and we can judge your qualifications for a truck engineering job.

The Nissan Titan came in last in the 2008 Light Duty Shootout. History may very well repeat itself. The next Titan will make a splash, but it will be a small one.

Chris, The Titan was at the top of the 1/2 ton segment when it came out in 2004 . Motor Trend truck of the year and was rated highest in several tests of that time.

Nissan has taken over the A/C 2500 van market where Ford and G.M. abandoned their customers. My first car was a truck. 1986 Nissan hard body. Little z24 motor. If Nissan plays their cards right they can gain market share. Cummins is not a bad start. I do prefer Nissan over Toy O Ta!

Jack, The Titan was not MT truck of the year at the time. The 2004 MT Truck of the Year was the 2004 F-150.

And I am completely aware of what the 2004 Titan was at the time. Nissan launched a rotten truck with a decent motor. They completely and totally misjudged the market. They had the most unrealistic sales expectations, they had a most unrealistic range of cab/bed configurations, and they completely underestimated their competition.

I don't know how you can consider the Titan to be anything other than a failure. It did not live up to Nissan's sales expectations in its first year, and it hasn't come anywhere near them ever since.

Furthermore, revenue from the Titan has not funded its ongoing development, Nissan has had to once again take money from elsewhere in the company to basically relaunch the Titan.

Will it be any better?

Why would you think it would be? What evidence is there? What demonstrated level of competence has Nissan shown in this market? They misjudged the market in '04, and have done nothing since then. How could anyone look at that and think, "Hey, it's very likely that the next Titan will be much more successful"?

What do you guys think of a used 2006 Saturn Vue 4x4 V6 with 130K miles for $5495? or a new 2014 Nissan Rouge S AWD for $17,400?
Is it true the Saturn Vue has the same engine as the Honda Pilot?
Was car shopping with a friend and she needs an SUV.

Success starts at the local Nissan Dealership.
Maybe if Nissan Dealers would treat people better with respect sales would increase!
Take a lesson how Saturn did it!
Saturn sold crap but they had very-very loyal customers!

All of the Awards for Ram 1500 and it is still is in 3rd place in the 1/2 ton race behind the company they bash or claiming they are taking out in GM who is number 1 followed by number 2 Ford. More than likely if Nissan were able to keep the plan they wanted with a re-badged Ram 1500 they would still be in the same position they are in right now as Ram 1500 is still in the same position they started but at least they spent a lot of money and designed something that looks really cool.

not every titan will be diesel powered. its simply a option

Some of you say that the Cummins will not save Nissan. It save the Dodge pickup many years ago! Now called the Ram.

So does anyone know what are the other engines that'll be offered in the Titan? I hope it's not an unchanged 5.6.

i learned absolutely nothing from this article or video. IMO the mfg need to wake up and install very fuel efficient engines for all the posers and personal use buyers then a gas guzzler or a diesel for the guys that use their trucks for work. Put in a lot of conveniences like flat load floors, ram boxes, utility tracks and under seats storage, otherwise your going to lose buyers. does anybody have any common sense in the truck mfg business???
or they just abandoning the common man and going for the rich and wall street govt crooks you can afford $50+K pickups ??

I'm torn. I think Nissan will find a niche. I hope it's more than a prayer of landing displaced Cummins fans. The niche could be a less expensive 3/4 ton. It goes without saying Nissan has it's work cut out for them.

I'm not terribly impressed with Rich Miller. I think he was any good he would've left Nissan a long time ago. But I'm pulling for him and Nissan.


If Nissan does something seriously credible it could become a major contender.

The growth rates the last 9 months of both Tundra and Ram prove that there are a lot of unmet requirements for pickup owners that both Ford and GM are failing to meet. Clearly the engineers at Ford and GM are missing those requirements with flat or declining growth rates respectively. Both Ram and Tundra growth rates have expanded significantly.

If even “half” of the promises are met by Nissan with the new truck, then that is a win for truck owners.

NEWS FLASH!

CUMMINS DID NOT SAVE RAM!

THE RESTYLED 1994 WAS A SALES SUCCESS.

1989 WAS THE FIRST YEAR OF THE B SERIES CUMMINS ENGINE.

Cummins helped sales but, the big rig styling in 1994 is what catapulted sales.
@greg. They were called Ram trucks in the early eighties.


Again, reading some of the comments I do think that people are missing the Nissan game plan.

1. The next Frontier will be similar in size to the D20/22 and with a diesel. Hopefully the 2.8 Cummins. But if you get the 2.3 twin turbo diesel all will not be lost.

2. The Titan will be a cheaper HD alternative. It will be roughly the size of a 1/2 ton, but with many HD capabilities.

3. The Titan's ISV diesel will be achieving a much better FE than the big diesel HDs from the Big 2 and Fiat.

Nissan will have a clear difference in it's pickup truck lineup in size. Also, the size of it's pickups are not what the other manufacturers are offereing.

Consider this, the Ranger's popularity had a lot to do with it's size. Current midsizers are too close in size and capability to have alongside each other.

HDs are becoming stupidly over the top if some one wants a larger diesel. Not everyone tows 30 000lbs.

I think Nissan have done their homework on this. I just hope the next Titan is designed better than the last Titan.

Nissan screwed up with the D40 and current Titan by sharing many components. To share things must have been similar.

The next Frontier is already designed and appears it will be a class leader in vehicle dynamics.

http://www.carsguide.com.au/car-reviews/2015-nissan-navara-ute-review-first-drive-29248#.VAUQirvn_IU

The next Titan is half designed. It will also have some very good qualities if they are transferred across from the Patrol.

This is where Nissan has a lead, in the global market, and the global market will make it's way to your shores in the Nissan pickups.

If Nissan puts the 5.0 Cummins in a 1/2 ton with similar cargo capacity as the max cargo F150's (2300 crewcab) and give it a tow rating comparable to GM (12k) it should do well.

The Cummins will out perform anything that GM or Ford offers in the max cargo/tow department and still get better loaded mpg.

No sense mentioning the VM Motori diesel because it offers ZERO competition for a HD 1/2 ton pickup.

So this Titan will be somewhere between a 1/2 ton and a HD?

Kind of how the first gen Tundra was between a compact and a 1/2 ton?

Nissan Heavy Duty?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaG5SAw1n0c

@Lou_BC
I do think the Titan will not have a huge difference in tow limits over the 'US brands'.

But, for it to run the bigger and heavier Cummins diesel it's GVWR must fit into the cut and paste below.

"The Class 3 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranges from 10001–14000 lb"

So, empty, Nissan will be offering a pickup that weighs around 6 500lbs - 7 000lbs empty and at least 10 001lbs loaded.

This size vehicle will fit in well with the V8 Titan.

I would like to know how and what Nissan plan on doing for Class 2 pickups. Class 2 pickups will face the wrath of CAFE.

Even some of the Big 2 and Fiats HDs will have to increase weight to reach the 10 001lb Class 3 mark.

If you remember Nissan will be producing two different size midsizers. One roughly the size of the current Navara/Frontier and the other the size of the D20/22 which is supposed to be sold in the US market.

It will be interesting to see what the other options are for the Titan.

Nissan and Cummins have already done considerable testing of the current Titan with the 2.8 ISF Cummins.

I wonder if a 'lightweight' Titan with the 2.8 ISF Cummins will be available. The current Nissan V8 gas engine isn't what I'd call an economical machine. The 4 litre V6 is also becoming antiquated.

Also, I bet the next Titan will come out with a similar rear suspension as our 2015 Navara. A multi link coil setup capable of carrying over one tonne. Ram watch out!

You can bet that the Nissan engineers have studied every competitive truck in minute detail, so they know exactly how high the bar has been raised for them. I feel pretty sure that the next generation Titan will be a huge improvement over the current model and will likely be very competitive in the marketplace.

@Bafo
"A multi link coil setup capable of carrying over one tonne. Ram watch out!"

Why RAM? RAM sells this truck with multilink rear coil suspension for many years now.
You better call Ford to watch out.

"Have a look at the $27 000 Ram. What is its capability, it isn't truck like at all in performance."

You are really pushing for the Troll of the month.

@zvirus,
I do think if you've read the link I've posted regarding the next Navara the coil sprung Navara will ride as well as a Maxima, put be able to carry over one tonne, not less than 900lbs as is the case with some of the Fiat/Ram 1500s.

This isn't new to Nissan either, they have had coil sprung one tonne pickups for some time now. Ram must have copied the Japanese, as illustrated below,

"For some time the ute versions of the Nissan Patrol continued with leaf springs, and still does (as of 1996), but a coil-spring ute was added in late 1994."

http://www.4wdonline.com/Nissan/GQ.html

Fiat/Ram still has a little way to go to catch up I suppose, even VW Amaroks had 8 speed transmissions before the Fiat/Rams.

zvirus, yourself coming form Belarus, should know how much weight is in one tonne. These new Navara's should be able to carry 2 700lbs, with a ride as good a the Maxima.

Ram should have a look. Hopefully the Titan will come with a similar suspension as the midsize Navara.

@Bafo
I am not from Belarus. My neighbor still has a Patrol back in Europe. Pretty good capable suv , very spacious. Not as good as Toyota Landcruiser I tested with diesel engine in 1995.

I like my Ferrari / RAM. My son has Titan btw.
You are wrong about copying Japanese.
RAM has 5 link rear coil spring suspension and doesn't even remotely looks like Nissan and Toyota 3 link outdated one.

UCA splaying (making the geometry wider at the frame attachment point)provides for a load sharing between the panhard rod and the control arms.

You better study , before you post some BS.

http://www.allpar.com/model/ram/dodge/suspension.html


@Big Al from Oz - my hunch is the 5.0 Cummins will be in a heavy duty 1/2 ton that will match Ford's max cargo ratings and GM's 12k max tow rating.

Aiming at those figures will keep it out of direct competition with 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks.
That is assuming they do not build a 3/4 ton truck.

Nissan can have the best most bullet proof engine and drivetrain in their new truck, but if the same designer from the award winners like the Juke and Morano Conv. get anywhere near them and their design board/comp/cadcam, all they will end up with is an ugly duckling!

I don't see why the 5.0 Cummins shouldn't be able to get great fuel mileage, if it has enough torque and maybe a 8 speed? transmission it should be able to rival or beat the Fiat/Ram EcoDiesel. I know it won't ever break the top 3 but it should be able to come close if it has a attractive design and great fuel economy/towing/hauling numbers, Nissan had lots of time looking at other manufactures and finding out what people like/want in a truck.

Has this guy been on vacation for 10 years? Couldn't they have made some interior upgrades in this time. They do have a feature that I truly love. Crew Cab with 7' 3" bed. Would love to have that truck. It's also 4" shorter than my ext. cab 8 ft. bed Chevy.

YAAAWWWWWNNNN!!!!!!!

Someone wake me up when there's something exciting coming out from Nissan.

I don't see anything truly ground breaking here. EPA is ruining the diesel option & making it too costly to own for the average 1/2 ton truck owner! I'll stick to my 5.7 HEMI thank you!

Since when has Nissan shown a true commitment to competing in the full size truck market? When the titan debuted in '04 it was a real alternative to the big-3, so much so that I bought one and was very happy in the 8 years I abused the hell out of it. Great truck, no doubt. However, the titan on dealership lots in 2014 is exactly the same truck as the one I bought 10 years ago.

Nissan isn't fooling anyone. They only want a "presence" in the market for brand building purposes and will only do whats necessary to accomplish that, nothing more.

Everyone needs to keep in mind that Nissan has an updated chassis for a 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, and 1 ton thanks to the new line of NV vans. I assume that these will be modified a bit for truck duty but the biggest expense in developing a plaform is already there.

I suspect that the 5.0 Cummins is only for the 3/4 and1-ton options (vans included) with some other tech for the 1/2 ton since that engine would be overkill and nothelp Nissan get the MPG figures they need to hit.

Nissan does have a medium duty range hybrid options with the V-6 that they use in the Pathfinder. It would be obviously a bit light for heavy work in a truck but for sheer MPG this might get put into the 1/2 ton truck. Fleets would likely pounce on the opportunity to get around 25 mpg on a combined basis without the added cost of a diesel (assuming that the hybrid model is less than $4-5k over normal cost versus what I have to assume is at least $5k for the 5.0 diesel)

'HEY GUYS JUST GOT BACK FROM A 10 YEAR FISHIN' TRIP! READY TO DESIGN SOME TRUCKS! WOOOO!!'
In all seriousness, I hope they add a 130 litre fuel tank, and make it a 3/4 ton lite. then we might have something. I still dont know if they'll be past Ford's 2015 model in innovativeness.....I suspect not, they'll have to get up pretty early in the morning to try and best them, even with the big ISV.

Nissan styling is just plain ugly, even there Infiniti interiors are bland and not impressive. I just don't see them hitting a home run here, hopefully I'm wrong.

I love the look of the current Titan. Looks rugged yet sporty, deffinatly has held up well.

Geez..opinions all over the lot.

It does seem to me that Nissan will market a 1/2 ton with an HD option with 8 lug wheels. (And a Cummins diesel.) That is likely a great move. The 3/4 ton trucks of American makers are getting over the top.

We do know from their prior interviews they will offer RC and double cabs. Good move We also know they will offer real stripper work trucks. Another good move.

We also know they have a deep heritage in durable truck design.

I expect they will offer something that will hit a home run.



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