Nissan’s 2016 Titan XD durability driver Kevin McClelland had it rough, or so most everyone thought this past week at the automaker’s North American Technical Center in Arizona.
Colliding into curbs at 20 mph, with cracked rims lined-up neatly nearby, but McClelland didn’t mind. He welcomed each collision, slamming into more stuff in 10 minutes than most drivers see in a lifetime, all to demonstrate the durability of Nissan’s latest truck.
A few minutes after getting the truck airborne, he was all smiles.
“I get paid to do this,” he exclaimed to reporters during a test drive of Titan XD last week.
His smile was contagious. McClelland was clearly having fun.
One of the reporters joked earlier about keeping chiropractors on staff at Nissan.
Robotic driving systems are available to lessen the liability. Ford and Autonomous Solutions recently marketed their own version. OEMs have been lining up to buy one, Ford says.
Nissan reported that they have been considering robot drivers for their durability tests.
But in the meantime, they’ve got McClelland and other drivers more than willing to help. And that’s fine for some critics who say that robotic driving systems can’t fully compete with all of a person’s senses.
Nissan’s Durability Group Supervisor Roland Schellenberg said that they’ll sometimes rotate drivers and take breaks. It took roughly a month to complete the brutal durability tests on the Titan XD.
“It does get tiring at the end of the day,” Schellenberg said.
McClelland demonstrated four Titan XD durability tests for reporters who could not reveal their impressions of the new vehicle until Sunday.
In the interim, curious onlookers could turn to Nissan’s literature, which in part reads, “The double-wishbone with stabilizer bar front suspension is reinforced and tuned for hard use and the rigid rear axle suspension utilizes hefty leaf springs and leaf bushings, along with twin-tube shock absorbers.”
Though Wednesday’s demonstrations were designed to test suspension and braking components, everything on the crew cab truck went along for the jarring ride.
Besides McClelland, there were four faux passengers in the cab weighing in at 150 pounds each, and in the truck’s spray-lined bed, which comes standard with Titan XD, a strapped cargo load tipped the scales at 859 pounds.
Is it ever a good idea to get that much weight airborne? McClelland was eager to find out again. Whatever the outcome, Titan XD, dubbed the winner of the prestigious 2015 Truck of Texas award, was in for one heck of a ride.
In one test, the 5-liter, 310 hp turbo Cummins diesel engine brought the truck up to around 20 mph before McClelland ran the vehicle head-on into a nearly 8-inch high curb. The front end of the truck became airborne.
Another test required McClelland to slide sideways into the same curb. The truck briefly popped up on top of the curb before settling down to a stop. Besides the suspension, the truck’s frame received a severe jolt too. Video reveals the fuel tank door flying open.
Referring again to Nissan’s literature, Titan XD’s chassis, a design borrowed from their commercial vehicle line, is a “new fully boxed, full-length ladder frame extensively reinforced and strengthened for use with the Titan XD with added stiffness, vertical and lateral bending, and torsional rigidity.”
A test close-by put all of the truck’s 14-inch rotors and suspension back to work. After getting the truck up to around 20 mph again, Schellenberg signaled McClelland to apply the brakes just as the front tires made contact with a bumpy, brick-covered path. The truck abruptly halted at the end of the path and the smell of burnt rubber followed.
The right front suspension bore the brunt of another tough test after striking a 6-inch high projection at around 20 mph. Shortly after applying the brakes, the truck’s right rear tire came to a stop on top of the projection.
Schellenberg explained that after giving the same truck the ride of its life for weeks, the alignment remained true.
McClelland said the Titan XD has been able to withstand the abuse just fine. And it looks like he has, too.