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2020 Nissan Titan First Test: Slow and Steady Progress

We snagged the keys to a 2020 Nissan Titan Pro4X to see if the revised Titan has what it takes to take on the F-150s, Silverados, and Rams of the world.


In the automotive world, there's perhaps no buyer more fiercely loyal than pickup truck buyers. Ford F-150 buyers buy F-150s, Ram 1500 buyers buy Rams, and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 buyers buy, you guessed it, Silverados. It's been hard for the Nissan Titan (not to mention the rival Toyota Tundra) to snake in on the Americans' turf. With its latest updates to its half-ton Titan truck, Nissan hopes it finally has the pickup formula right. We snagged the keys to a 2020 Nissan Titan Pro4X to see if the revised Titan has what it takes to take on the F-150s, Silverados, and Rams of the world.

When a Detroit 3 automaker gives one of its trucks a midcycle update, it typically adds features, it doesn't take them away. Take the Ford F-150. For its latest midlife update in 2018, the F-150 got new equipment inside and a new look outside, and new powertrains, including a base V-6 and a Powerstroke diesel engine. But adding new content wasn't a luxury Nissan could afford with the 2020 Titan; Ford sold 896,526 F-Series trucks in 2019, which was a down year for the automaker. Nissan sold just 31,514 Titans over the same period. So clearly, Nissan had to be strategic with its changes.

The changes streamline the 2020 Titan lineup. The slow-selling regular cab is gone, and Nissan has simplified the Titan's cab and bed configurations. Extended "King" cab configurations get a 6.5-foot bed, while crew cab models, like our Titan Pro4X tester, come exclusively with a 5.5-foot bed. The Titan's standard 5.6-liter V-8 carries over with some minor changes, giving it a 10-horsepower and 19-lb-ft of torque increase, for a total of 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. The biggest change to the 2020 Titan is bolted to Nissan's V-8—a new nine-speed automatic replaces the old seven-speed unit. The power upgrade, new transmission, and new, shorter final-drive ratio promise to improve acceleration and tow/haul performance, even if the Titan's max payload and towing numbers remain unchanged at 1,680 pounds and 9,210 pounds, respectively (9,350 for 4x2 trucks). The most obvious changes to the 2020 Titan are cosmetic: The exterior sheetmetal sees some minor nips and tucks, each trim level now gets its own unique grille, and inside Titan drivers will undoubtably appreciate the extra sound deadening and larger infotainment system.

Unfortunately the added power, new transmission, and shorter final-drive ratio don't seem to make a difference at the track, where our 2020 Titan Pro4X tester proved to be slower than the quickest comparably equipped pre-refresh Titan we've tested. The new Titan accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and completes the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds at 90.9 mph. That's 0.4 second slower than the pre-refresh Titan to 60 mph and two-tenths of a second slower at the dragstrip—not to mention 2 mph off its pace, too. It was the same story in our braking test and nearly the same on the figure eight. The new Titan stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet, 5 feet longer than the pre-refresh Titan, and it was a tenth off the old Titan's pace around the figure eight, lapping the course in 28.4 seconds, though besting it by 0.01 g at 0.60g average.

In the real world—and unless you were lined up at a red light next to the pre-refresh truck—you wouldn't know the new Titan was any slower. Its 5.6-liter V-8 is weirdly hesitant off the line, like there's an electronic lasso reining in the Titan's 19-newfound lb-ft of torque. Thankfully, the Titan's engine wakes right up around 1,500 rpm, pulling hard and strong, with a guttural, muscular soundtrack backing up the strong shove back into your seat. The new nine-speed auto is also worthy of praise; it shifts smartly and smoothly, and it doesn't hesitate to downshift early or hold lower gears longer, ensuring you're always in the meat of the Endurance V-8's powerband.

© Motor Trend Staff

Although the Titan's powertrain is arguably among the most compelling V-8s in the segment, its ride and handling are just average in the super-competitive half-ton truck class. The Titan's steering is light and overly boosted, and it lacks both the feel and precision of something like a Ram 1500 or Ford F-150. The Nissan's ride quality is middle-of-the-pack, too. When unloaded, one-and-done harsh impacts are dispatched quickly, but the Titan struggles with repeated and high-frequency bumps on poor-quality roads like you might find in the snowbelt.

© Motor Trend Staff

Inside, the Nissan is certainly upgraded compared to the version that preceded it, but the 2020 Titan still has a ways to go to catch up to segment leaders like the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150. For the same $58,655 our Titan costs, both Ram and Ford offer supple leather, rubberized materials, and satin metallic trim, and the Ram ups the game even more, offering a large 12.0-inch infotainment screen. The 2020 Titan may be quieter and have a new 9.0-inch infotainment system, but overall design and material quality is lacking at this price point. The new infotainment system was also a bit disappointing; it was prone to crashing (an issue that occurred frequently on our old long-term Titan XD) and suffered from poor terrestrial radio reception.

© Motor Trend Staff

Despite its drop in objective performance, the revised 2020 Nissan Titan is nevertheless an improvement over its previous version. It's quieter, more powerful, and more distinctive than before. Although it's doubtful that the changes made to the Titan are enough to win over Detroit 3 pickup buyers looking to jump ship for one reason or another, for the loyal Nissan buyer, the 2020 Titan is certainly worthy of consideration.


See more at: Motor Trend

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Autos Magazine: 2020 Nissan Titan First Test: Slow and Steady Progress
2020 Nissan Titan First Test: Slow and Steady Progress
We snagged the keys to a 2020 Nissan Titan Pro4X to see if the revised Titan has what it takes to take on the F-150s, Silverados, and Rams of the world.
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