Observation: April 28, 2017

By Addy Oberlin
The Banner

My son-in-law races sprint cars. They are rather small cars with a slanted roof and a high powered motor.. My daughter always goes along and is at times part of the pit crew.. They had not been able to go for a few weeks, because he could not leave his business. When I asked my daughter if they were able to go this weekend she replied that they were going because her husband had a need for speed. It made me laugh out loud when she told me that. I was home alone and the dog ran to the back door to find out who I was laughing with. Laugh is good for a person. I spent many hours in the care home and when I hear someone laugh it is uplifting. It is wonderful to hear a laugh or a giggle.

Read more: Observation: April 28, 2017

Faithfully Yours: Economic slavery

By Neil Strohschein
The Banner

At any time, any one of us can find ourselves facing a huge expense for which we do not have sufficient funds. That happened to me several years ago. Fortunately, a clause in my mortgage allowed me to borrow the funds I needed. That amount was added to my mortgage, increasing my monthly payment and with it, the control the bank has over my life and resources.

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Homebodies: It began as a casual weekend conversation

By Rita Friesen
The Banner

Warning – some individuals may be offended by the content of this column.

Assurance- I am in great health!

It began as a casual weekend conversation. During the week, I had prepared the order of service for my “Celebration of Graduation from this Life to the Next”. I had chosen the scriptures, the hymns and prayers for my funeral. As I spoke to my trusted friend about this, I mentioned that now I needed to choose the urn. Lets’ just say that as member of the widow’s club, I know how challenging all these decisions can be, and am thinking ahead, wanting to spare my children as much pain as possible. (I am trusting that they will be sad enough at my death!) 

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Nissan Titan: GiTITANic

By Ben Castle
The Neepawa Banner

The original Nissan Titan full-size pickup was introduced in 2004, specifically designed for the North American market and built in the USA.  Available in both King Cab (extended cab) and Crew Cab bodystyles, it amazingly stayed in production for 12 years, but despite its chunky good looks and strong 5.6 litre V8 engine, it never really managed to challenge sales of domestic rivals from Ford, GM and Dodge.  With its second generation Titan, Nissan took a slightly different approach with its “5/8 ton” Titan XD launched in 2016.  

The Titan XD is aimed at those who need more capability than a conventional half ton truck but don’t want the day-to-day compromises, such as the firm ride and considerably higher purchase price, of a Heavy Duty ¾ ton truck.  In Greek mythology, the Titans were divine beings of incredible strength who ruled the world during the Golden Age.  Does Titan XD live up to its name?  

You pay $2,700 more over the conventional half-ton Titan for the Titan XD and it is now available either as a single cab with 2WD or 4WD or a crew cab with 4WD. Titan XD shares its 5.6 litre V8 gas engine with the regular Titan. It now has over 20 per cent more power and two per cent more torque than the previous generation and combined with a new 7-speed automatic transmission, promises to deliver more than 15 per cent better fuel economy than the old 5-speed transmission.  

Nissan have also teamed up with Cummins, the legendary diesel engine manufacturer, and for a very reasonable $7,500 upgrade price, you can get a 5 litre V8 Cummins diesel with over 40 per cent more torque at 1,600 rpm (vs. 4,000 rpm for the gas engine) and 10 per cent more towing capacity (up to 12,640 pounds). It’s paired with a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission.  Nissan don’t publish official fuel consumption figures for the diesel, but based on anecdotal evidence, one can also expect a 15 per cent improvement in highway fuel economy. 

Although the cab is the same size as the regular Titan, Titan XD is 14 inches longer, 2 inches taller and has a 12 inch longer wheelbase. Most of this length is in the box, which at 6.5 feet long, is nearly 11 inches longer and nearly 12 inches wider than the regular Titan, and can accommodate up to 900 pounds more payload.  You also get larger brakes, high capacity front suspension springs and a full-length heavy duty fully-boxed ladder frame, using components from Nissan’s heavy duty NV commercial cargo van range.  Most models also get an integrated gooseneck hitch in the box and an integrated trailer brake controller.

The test model supplied by Birchwood Nissan in Brandon was the Titan XD Crew Cab diesel in SV spec. Titan XD was actually styled inside and out by a Canadian design team and has undeniable presence.  It looks almost as big as the domestic ¾ ton trucks, but is between three and seven per cent lighter. The XD has a raised and lengthened hoodline over the regular Titan, in order to accommodate the Cummins diesel engine.  In white and in test SV spec, it looks a little plain and slab-sided on small 17 inch steel wheels, but the Pro-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve models, with their design flourishes, larger wheels and option of two-tone paint, look rather better.  

It’s a high step up to the box with the tailgate down, as there are no corner steps in the bumper, but the tailgate is extremely light to lower and raise and the box lighting very powerful, although I would have expected a box liner to be standard on a commercial spec truck.  

The gooseneck hitch is removable, so as not to compromise payload.  

Likewise, without any side steps in this model, the cabin is a big step up, but once there, it is comfortable and very roomy, with lots of storage and a multitude of cupholders.  Interior materials are of high quality for a truck and the interior is attractively styled.  Ergonomics and visibility are good, but there are a few minor annoyances. The basic ventilation controls on this model were difficult to see in bright sunlight and a little cheap to the touch, there was no height adjustment on the driver’s seat, no backup camera as standard and the low temperature warning overrides the driver information centre and has to be switched off manually.  The lack of a touchscreen and the rather low resolution display in a $60,000 truck were also a little disappointing.  However, I did like the flip down cupholder panel in the front and the rear cabin is huge, with a wide seat, bags of legroom and seat bases that flip up if you want to use the rear cabin for storage.

The main reason for choosing this truck though is that fantastic 5 litre V8 Cummins diesel engine.  Refinement at idle and low speed was very impressive, although I noticed a bit of a drone and some wind noise at highway speeds.  The power delivery is exceptionally strong and smooth right, from tickover, making for effortless progress, but my test fuel economy was a little disappointing.  Owners have reported much better figures for highway driving.  The six-speed transmission is operated via a column shifter on all models and shifts very unobtrusively.   Like most new diesels, DEF fluid is required, with the filler located next to the gas tank filler.  

Out on the road, Titan XD feels like the big truck that it is and never shrugs off its size and weight like some of the better half ton trucks do. The steering doesn’t feel as precise as an F150 for example, but it is hydraulic and does weight up nicely at low speed for increased confidence when manoeuvring.  What really impressed me though was the excellent brakes, powerful headlights and an exceptionally smooth ride for a big truck, with only the very biggest bumps being transmitted into the cabin. The 4WD system offers up three settings: 2WD, 4-Hi and 4-Lo and you can shift in between 2WD and 4-Hi on the fly. The long service intervals and class-leading warranty also promise low running costs, reduced downtime and more peace of mind.

S models offer all the basics: four-wheel disc brakes, dampened assist tailgate, remote keyless entry, pushbutton start, CD player, Bluetooth, steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise controls and a sliding rear window.  4WD will cost an extra $3,000 on single cab models and is standard on Crew Cab.  

However, if you want that integrated gooseneck hitch receiver and trailer brake controller, you’ll need to pay $4,600 more for SV spec. You also get power, heated tow mirrors with puddle lights, interior mood lighting, carpets, trailer sway control, XM radio and Nissan Intelligent key, which allows you to check the brake lights on your trailer from outside the vehicle.  

An SV is a perfectly adequate work truck, but if it was my own truck, I would want at least Pro-4X or SL spec.  Pro-4X (Crew Cab models only) is a hefty $8,950 more over SV but gains significantly more features, highlights include hill descent control, electronic locking rear diff, Bilstein off-road shocks, 18 inch aluminum wheels with All-Terrain tires, auto lights and fog lights, backup camera and front and rear sonar, spray-on bedliner, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, heated front seats, 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert and a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio upgrade. 

SL ($4,950 more) adds 20 inch aluminum wheels, leather seating and remote engine start and top-line Platinum Reserve dark chrome trim, bed-mounted storage boxes, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, climate-controlled front seats and an around-view monitor. Additional cost packages are available on SV and Pro-4X models to add some of the features available on SL and Platinum Reserve models.

I would choose the Pro-4X Crew Cab and although on the face of it, the diesel option seems like an expensive upgrade, it’s nothing compared to what you will pay to upgrade on the larger ¾ ton trucks.  The gas model does offer increased capability over the regular half ton Titan but in my opinion, not quite enough to distance itself from the most capable half ton trucks. The Cummins diesel is an exceptional powertrain and finds the middle ground in terms of capability, between the best half tons and the larger ¾ ton trucks, while being on average, a good 35 per cent cheaper spec-for-spec and for towing, it should be significantly more economical too.

If you do a lot of heavy towing and don’t need to exceed 12,000 pounds, Titan XD diesel promises big truck capability, durability and effortlessness, combined with the smooth ride, comfort and lower running costs of a smaller truck.  You can get a very capable work truck or if you go Pro-4X or higher, a very luxurious, well-equipped truck too.  Good deals are to be had on remaining 2016 Titan XD models at the moment, so if you’re in the market for a capable tow vehicle but don’t need or want a full-on big truck, then Titan XD is well worth a look. 


My perspective: From small beginnings

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson
The Banner

For much of the last year, in the Neepawa Press, we have been publishing a series of stories called “Where are they now?”.  The stories are by Rick Sparling, a local sports historian who has published two books about Neepawa’s hockey history: The History of Public School Hockey in Neepawa and Amateur Hockey in Neepawa— A Scrapbook. For those outside the Press’ circulation area, or who haven’t read the articles on www.myWestman.ca, Sparling catches up with the players whose teams were featured in his books to find out what they went on to do with their lives.

Read more: My perspective: From small beginnings