The Titan XD is here and the aftermarket has gone full steam ahead creating products to make these smaller diesels our own. When Nissan announced it’d be releasing this new truck with the Cummins engine, the Nissan suspension experts at CalMini grabbed one of the first XDs made and immediately tore it apart. Their goal? A 6-inch lift kit for the new pickup. After a few weeks of R&D, the dust settled and CalMini had created the first ever 6-inch lift for the new Titan XD. The kit consists of multiple drop-down brackets used to drop the lower control arm mounting points, new upper control arms, new steering knuckles and a whole slew of other parts to get the truck sitting at a trail-ready stance.
CalMini owner, Steve Kraemer, called us and asked if we’d like to see the first production kit being installed. Of course we were in, but there was a catch. Because it’s such a new truck (with an even newer suspension system) no one had designed a wheel specifically for the XD. So we gave Ultra Wheel Co. a call. Ultra Wheel was great and worked with us to find the perfect wheel to fit the truck and to match the Titan’s style. As it turned out, some of the same wheels that fit on a full-size Chevy 1500 fit the Titan XD. So designing a wheel specific to the Titan XD wasn’t necessary at all.
- FRONT DISASSEMBLY
The new Titan uses a double wishbone suspension system (aka A-arm suspension) up front with a strut. Everything seen here must be removed in order to install the CalMini kit.
- After removing the brake caliper and unbolting the axle half shaft from the hub, CalMini’s Bert Tapia used a brass hammer to break the three different ball joints free. This technique is a helpful mechanic’s trick: By hitting the side of the steering knuckle surrounding the ball joint with the hammer, the vibrations will actually free the ball joint.
- The CalMini kit uses multiple drop brackets, which, among other things, lower the bottom control arm mounting points that in turn allow for a taller ride height while retaining the stock ride quality. This requires removal of the factory rear cross member seen here.
- FRONT LIFT
Here’s the front CalMini drop bracket/cross member being installed. Note that the front differential is currently held up by a screw jack. CalMini’s kit lowers the differential as well so that all shaft angles stay within good working range under full suspension compression and droop.
- When you move suspension pivot points with drop brackets, you lose a small amount of strength back, and then included a ton more by adding strut bars (top) and tying the two drop brackets together with a massive .25-inch thick skid plate (bottom)
- The sway bar was also lowered, using a pair of steel brackets, to match the new suspension
- With the new drop brackets installed, the factory lower control arms could be bolted in their new locations. It’s important to leave the two pivot bolts loose until the vehicle is resting on the ground. Failure to do so could cause the bushings to tear from being loaded at an incorrect position.
- Next on the list were the upper control arms. Seen here is the stock arm next to CalMini’s highly adjustable heim-jointed arm (the heims are optional with the kit). The new arm is slightly different from the stock piece but entirely necessary to keep the alignment angles correct. Plus, it’s a much stronger piece than the stock stamped steel arm.
- Next, Tapia installed the modified factory strut. CalMini makes a spacer that moves the strut down to match the rest of the suspension. This spacer simply bolts to the factory strut, and then to the factory strut mounting locations on the Titan.
- A bump stop spacer is also used. Notice that all the hardware used in CalMini’s kit is high-end Grade 8 fasteners.
- Tapia’s modification involves moving the hub, brake rotor and wheel speed sensors from the factory speeding knuckle onto the new CalMini spindle. The CalMini spindle is a 100% new unit that moves the steering pivot point, as well as the upper control arm mount, to work flawlessly with the other parts in the 6-inch lift kit, keeping steering geometry where it needs to be.
- Tapia hung the new knuckle on the vehicle, making sure to first slide the 4WD half shaft through the hub. Failure to do so would necessitate removing half the shaft from the differential to properly install it in the hub. Better to do it right the first time.
- The new Titan XD front end is all done and ready to hit the trails. We’re sure that skid plate will come in handy in the dirt and will keep the undercarriage nice and protected.
- LIFTING THE REAR
Getting the rearend up to match the front was a much easier task. Here’s Tapia installing the 3-inch lift block and longer U-bolts.
- Due to the added distance between the axle and the truck’s frame, brake lines and sensors neded to be extended. Instead of adding all new lines and wire leads (which is unnecessary for this type of build), CalMini made a few brackets that extend the mounting points for said lines and leads; this will make sure nothing is overextended.
- A new set of Bilstein 5100 shocks are employed to soak up the bumps.
- NEW ROLLING STOCK
The last piece of the puzzle is new wheels from Worx Alloy and tires from Falken Tire.
- Word Alloy’s 810 Sentry wheels are one-piece cast from A356.2 grade aluminum for strength. The black powder coat also has a clearcoat to protect the finish even more. We chose to wrap them in Falken’s Wildpeak A/T3W tires for good manners both on- and off-road.
- FINAL SAY
When all was said and done, the entire installation tok the better part of the day, and the Titan XD is definitely looking (and performing) better with the extra height and more stylish wheels and tires.
SOURCES CalMini (800.345.3305) Worx Alloy (800.321.4456) Falken Tire Corporation (800.723.2553)
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2016 print issue of Street Trucks Magazine.