Nissan Titan — More features, more HP

MotorwayAmerica photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Nissan has updated its Titan 1500 pickup truck with a mild makeover for 2020 including a facelift that includes a bolder grille treatment, a new front bumper, newly styled headlights, unique tailgate plaques, and restyled taillights. Perhaps more important, the 5.6-liter V-8 gets more horsepower and torque and is now mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Nissan launched its current-generation Titan in 2017. Until then, it had remained relatively unchanged since its initial launch back in 2004. The 2017 Titan was a major leap forward and huge improvement over the first generation.

Nissan felt the 2020 refresh necessary to stay competitive with the major-brand full-sized pickups that have undergone updating over the past two years. The Titan managed less
than 32,000 sales in 2019, slipping from more than 50,000 in 2017 and 2018.

The mid-cycle changes seem to be designed to resonate best with current Titan and Nissan owners as well as first-time pickup truck buyers — suburbanites who desire weekend hauling capability for a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot, and the towing capability to pull a big boat or travel trailer.

In addition to the exterior updates there are changes inside, including the first ever-optional dual-pane sunroof that’s more than three-foot square and the biggest we’ve seen in any full-sized pickup. Technology is also improved and delivered via a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment center that combines with a new seven-inch driver information display. Nissan calls the new nine-inch screen the “Integrated Command Center” with crystal clear and colorful screen information with icons nicely laid out for intuitive usage.

We thought it fairly advanced. That is, until we sampled the new and massive 12-inch touchscreen from RAM with its split-screen capability, 350-degree camera views and other class-leading features. We think Nissan could have easily equipped Titan with a larger screen. We really like that Nissan has returned to using the Fender premium audio system that includes 12 speakers with Crew Cab models and 10 speakers on King Cab. 

All 2020 Titans are powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 that now delivers 400 horsepower, up from 390 last year and 413 pound-feet of torque up from 394 pound-feet. For the record, competitors offer multiple choices of V-8 engines, V-6, hybrid- and diesel-powered trucks.
Power is delivered via an all-new Jatco nine-speed automatic transmission, up from seven speeds in the outgoing Titan. The suspension and chassis tuning are carryover from last year, ditto for ride and handling, but thanks to added sound deadening material, the new Titan is noticeably quieter.

No one should object to the truck's performance, which is stellar, measured at around 6 seconds from 0-to-60 by a major automotive publication. Nissan says that 50 to 70 mph acceleration is estimated to have been improved by almost a full second compared to the previous Titan equipped with a 7-speed transmission.

Towing capability reaches 9,350 pounds for standard drive train trim levels and 9,210 for 4x4s. That’s competitive for the class.

On the road, our test vehicle felt quick, quiet and refined, with ample power from the potent V-8 powertrain. Seats are extremely comfortable thanks to Nissan’s Zero Gravity construction materials. In fact, our usual passenger without any prompting said her passenger seat was as comfortable as any vehicle she had ridden in recently.

Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 safety technology is now standard, with a suite of six advanced systems, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and class-exclusive standard rear automatic braking.

The new Titan also features a number of available advanced technologies — Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Driver Alertness and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Nissan's innovative Rear Door Alert is standard on all grade levels. And, the 2020 Titan now includes eight air bags (versus the previous six) and four seat belt pretensioners versus the previous two.

The Nissan Titan is available in five trim levels — S, SV, SL, Platinum Reserve and Pro-4X — and in Crew Cab with a standard 5.5-foot bed, and Titan King Cab that includes a 6.5-foot bed. Both 4X2 and 4X4 configurations are available.

Our test Titan Platinum Reserve test truck came as a Crew Cab model with unique 20-inch wheels, dark chrome exterior, 360-degree parking camera, chrome and wood interior accents, a heated steering wheel with wood inserts, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.

But if your pocketbook can afford only the base S model you will be rewarded with a large array of standard equipment for a base price of $36,190 including a lockable damped tailgate, push-button ignition, air conditioning, power windows and locks, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, two USB ports, and a six-speaker audio system. Of course, all models get the big V-8 with the 9-speed transmission.

Our Platinum Reserve Crew Cab 4X4 carried a base price of $63,285 including a $1,595 destination charge and a bottom line of $65,125 with options.

2020 Nissan Titan

Base price, $36,190; as driven, $65,125
Engine: 5.6-lier V-8
Horsepower: 400 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 413 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: 4-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 139.8 inches
Length: 229.5 inches
Curb weight: 5,898 pounds
Turning circle: 48 feet
Towing capacity: 9,350 pounds
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 15 city, 21 highway, 17 combined
0-60: 6 seconds (Car and Driver)

The Good
• Horsepower, torque increased
• 9-speed replaces 7-speed transmission
• Expanded safety features
• Powerful V-8 is standard

The Bad
• Only one engine available

The Ugly
• Towing capability trails in segment