2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Review: Still Playing Catchup


2020 Nissan Titan

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Fast Facts

5.6-liter V8 (400 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm; 413 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic, part-time four-wheel drive

15 city / 21 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

15.1 city, 11.2 highway, 13.3 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $49,790 (U.S) / $69,998 (Canada)

As Tested: $60,180 (U.S.) / $70,163 (Canada)

Prices include $1,595 destination charge in the United States and $2,060 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

On the face of it, the redesigned 2020 Nissan Titan is a fine truck.

The 5.6-liter V8 packs enough punch for around-town driving – and presumably for hauling and towing, though I had no chance to do either during my time behind the wheel – and the all-new nine-speed automatic helps bring the aging Titan in line with the modern truck world.

It rides and handles, well, like a truck, but still on the acceptable side. The interior is pleasant.

If I needed to rent a truck for a day to schlepp some stuff around town, I’d not object if the underpaid rental clerk brought one around.

And yet.

2020 Nissan Titan

Nissan is suffering from the same syndrome as General Motors, in that it has built a darn fine truck that still feels insufficient to play with the big boys in the segment. Those big boys, of course, are the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150.

The situation isn’t exactly the same as with GM – the GM trucks suffer from questionable exterior and interior styling decisions, while the Nissan’s design is just fine, at least in terms of aesthetics. The problem here is that nothing really stands out as an attention-grabbing feature that the competition either doesn’t have or doesn’t do as well.

There’s no big infotainment screen with clever customization, a la Ram. None of the trickeration and “look at me” stuff that Ford dropped on the 2021 F-150 (the fold-down shifter, for example).

2020 Nissan Titan

In terms of ice cream flavors, the Ram and Ford are deluxe indulgences like Mackinac Island fudge or moose tracks, while the GM trucks are rocky road. The Titan is vanilla. Meanwhile, Toyota’s Tundra is a discontinued flavor.

Vanilla can be very good when done right, of course. That does sound a bit like damning with faint praise, I suppose, but the Titan is pretty unobjectionable, as long as you set expectations accordingly. It’s still a truck, after all.

2020 Nissan Titan

For example, you do get some bounciness on rough pavement with an unladen bed, and while that means the Titan loses out to Ram and Ford in ride quality, it’s still within acceptable bounds for a full-size pick-em-up truck.

Perhaps the best thing about this truck is the 5.6. It’s pretty smooth, and 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque are nothing to sneeze at.

Inside, the cabin isn’t as visually interesting as what’s on offer from Auburn Hills or Dearborn, instead working off the philosophy of function first. Controls are easy to reach and laid out in a logical fashion, while the gauges have large, legible numbers. Boring but easy to use isn’t a bad way to approach cabin design.

Plain but still handsome isn’t a poor approach to exterior design, either. That’s what you get here – a burly, rugged look with slightly softened lines in some spots. It looks as tough as any other truck, and the blacked-out grille gives the PRO-4X trim some flare, though the Titan doesn’t turn heads the way a Ram might.

2020 Nissan Titan

Today’s trucks are quite feature-laden, and the PRO-4X is positioned as the off-roader of the lineup. The 4×4 features include shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, Bilstein off-road shocks, and electronic locking rear differential.

Other standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, all-terrain tires, rear automatic braking, lane-departure warning with haptic steering, traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent forward-collision warning, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio, intelligent cruise control, driver-alert system, keyless entry and starting, LED lighting, fog lamps, front tow hooks, spray-on bedliner, and rain-sensing wipers.

2020 Nissan Titan

That put my loaner’s base price just under $50K. A PRO-4X Utility Package added parking sensors, power sliding rear window, Fender audio, electronically locking tailgate, and other features for $2,190. A PRO-4X Convenience Package added leather seats, heated front seats and steering wheel, power tilt/telescope steering column, 360-degree camera, remote start, and more for $3,390.

A PRO-4X Moonroof Package adds a dual-pane moonroof and cooled front seats for $1,490. A Protection Package that adds an off-road adventure kit, medic kit, and all-season floor mats cost $390. Add $285 mudflaps and $1,050 running boards plus the $1,595 destination charge, and you have a $60,180 truck.

One that is pretty good, but already feels inferior to two of the Detroit Three.

Pretty good will be good enough for some truck buyers. But probably not enough for Nissan, especially factoring in the intense loyalty that some truck owners show towards their preferred brands.

If Nissan is serious about titanic conquests, this is a good start, but it’s simply not enough.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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