New Diesel Pickup Trucks... from Japan (and everyone else)

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Normally, when you or I think of big diesel-powered pickup trucks, we think of the American Big Three. The Duramax from General Motors, the Power Stroke from Ford, and the Cummins from Dodge (er... Ram) trucks have been on the market unchallenged for a number of years. However, Nissan and Toyota are looking to challenge the titans - pun definitely intended - with the next generation of Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra trucks. The catch? Neither brand is building their own engines. Or perhaps I should say "engine," because both of these new locomotive pickup trucks will have the same power plant between their front fenders. Oh, and it's a Cummins diesel... and a V8. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400"] Image Credit: Cummins[/caption] The Nissan Titan has been confirmed to produce 300 horsepower and 500 ft. lbs. of torque with the new 5.0 L turbodiesel V8 engine from Cummins. Hold onto your hats, Dodge enthusiasts - it's not an inline six cylinder. It would be logical, then, to expect similar power figures from the Toyota Tundra diesel. This also means that the new Nissan and Toyota pickup truck offerings will make more torque than any other light duty half ton pickup trucks currently on the market. Here's a spy shot of the upcoming Nissan Titan, caught doing some towing testing. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="560"] Photo Credit: KGP Photography[/caption] Why hasn't someone thought of this until now, you ask? What could be better than 500 ft. lbs. of stump-pulling power without the extra length, width, and often unnecessary capabilities of a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup? Well, you see, they have - but as we all know, the automotive landscape was incredibly rocky for much of the last decade. The 5.0 liter Cummins V8 was originally intended to be a joint venture between Dodge and Nissan, but as mentioned above, the rock automotive landscape and the resulting 2009 Chrysler bankruptcy shelved those plans (Chrysler would later go on to reveal a new light duty diesel pickup truck powered by a 3.0 liter V6 sourced from its new partner, Fiat). [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="560"] Image Credit:[/caption] Nissan, however, decided to move forward with the plans. This will be the first time a Cummins diesel has ever been sold in something other than a Dodge product. So what does that mean for you, the truck buyer? Simple. More options. More torque. Better fuel economy. Dodge just happens to be the first company to bring their half-ton diesel to market. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="950"] Photo Credit: Motor Trend[/caption] Don't expect General Motors and Ford to be left out of the new diesel party for too long, though. That Fiat-sourced 3.0 liter diesel V6 for the Ram EcoDiesel? That was originally intended to be a joint venture between Fiat and GM through another company - VM Motori. The goal was to fit it in the Cadillac CTS for the European market, but when GM filed for bankruptcy, those plans were also shelved. GM was also planning to make a smaller displacement variant of its successful Duramax diesel engine for a light duty pickup truck application. It was intended to be a 4.5 liter V8, but again, the 2009 bankruptcy put those plans on hold. If the Ram, Nissan, and Toyota entries end up successful, which I predict they will, the General may dust off those old plans and resume development. Ford is also rumored to be developing a light duty diesel powertrain, but the details are very limited, and sources are indicating that it may not be available until 2018. Will that be too late to catch the next big thing in the incredibly competitive half ton truck market? Only time will tell. So, to recap, here's a little half-ton diesel "State of the Union", so to speak:
  • Nissan - 5.0 liter Cummins V8 diesel - 300hp/500 ft. lbs.
  • Toyota - 5.0 liter Cummins V8 diesel - 300hp/500 ft. lbs.
  • Dodge (Ram) - 3.0 liter Fiat V6 diesel - 240hp/420 ft. lbs.
  • General Motors - none at the moment; 4.5 liter Duramax plans shelved
  • Ford - rumored plans in action for 2018 model year pickup release.
Which is your favorite brand of truck? Do you embrace these diesels? Why or why not?

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