2020 Nissan Titan: Nissan refreshes, simplifies Titan lineup [First Look]

2020 Nissan Titan SL 24.JPG
2020 Nissan Titan SL (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Nissan knows that truck buyers are loyal. Thus, the automaker isn’t out to woo longtime Ford, Ram or Chevy truck owners away from their preferred brands.

But as Tiago Castro, director of trucks and commercial vehicles for Nissan North America, pointed out, each year there are about 600K new truck buyers who enter the full-size truck segment.

And that is who the 2020 Nissan Titan targets.

So, Nissan has $230 million invested in making this refreshed Titan “better in every way.” Specifically, this Titan gets more power, more standard safety features and more available technology – more, in fact, than the other trucks in this segment.

The 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 engine in the Titan is retuned to deliver 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque: These numbers best the standard V-8 engines in the Toyota Tundra (381/401), Ford F-150 (395/400), Chevrolet Silverado (355/383) and Ram 1500 (395/410).

This is a plenty of power for towing as well as comfortable cruising.

The transmission also gets an upgrade, and Titan is now equipped with a 9-speed automatic.

We towed a trailer with four snowmobiles that weighed about 4,900 pounds, and with the vehicle in Tow Mode, both braking and acceleration were seamless. The extra weight was noticeable – but towing anything always is.

Maximum tow rating in 4X2 models is 9,370 pounds, and it drops to 9,250 in the 4X4 models.

The real selling point in my book, however, is the standard safety features. Every Titan comes with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic reverse braking, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, high-beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

The automatic reverse braking alone is worth its weight in gold because rear visibility in pickup trucks is hindered by small rear windows and a long truck bed. The only other competitor that even makes this available is the Ram 1500.

Available safety features include intelligent forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, intelligent driver alertness and traffic sign recognition.

In addition to safety tech, Titan adds some other technology features of note, including standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, an available 9-inch infotainment screen, a WiFi hotspot and connected services.

The Titan also gets a design refresh with greater differentiation between the grades, as well as new headlights, LED lights in the truck bed and an available dual-pane panoramic moonroof.

Some specific grade highlights of the more popular trims to note include:

  • PRO-4X: standard 4X4, electronic locking rear differential, PRO-4X skid plate, all-terrain off-road tires, a black grille with a red-lava Nissan badge, red lava interior accents and red lava tow hooks.
  • SL: a lot of chrome, including a bright chrome grille, step rails, exhaust finisher, front bumper, door handles and outside mirrors as well as 20-inch wheels and full LED cargo bed lighting.
  • Reserve Premium: satin chrome finish on the grille and tailgate, 20-inch dark painted wheels, two-tone painted overfender and illuminated chrome running boards.

Note: Even though Nissan didn’t call specific attention to them, there will also be base S and SV trims for both Titan and Titan XD in 2020.

In terms of looks, I’m a huge fan of the PRO-4X with the red accents and rugged persona. It matches the Ram Rebel in attractiveness.

And while I’ll say that I didn’t find anything bad in the interior of the Titan, I do like the overall fit and finish of the Ram 1500s better.

During our quick first look at the Titan, Nissan had us tow, do some mild off roading and hit the highway. Overall, I found it to be comfortable and easy to drive – even if the driving position wasn’t optimal for a 5th percentile female. I felt a little close to the steering wheel.

On the highway, even with 20-inch tires, very little road and tire noise crept into the cabin. The Titan certainly drives like a truck with a little more bounce than you’d find in an SUV, but it is generally smooth in highway and side-street driving.

Both the off-road and towing activations were brief, so it’s hard to say definitively that Titan is an excellent tower or prolific off-roader. But in the curated situation we were exposed to, Titan did well.

Though Nissan hasn’t announced any pricing, it has stated that the Titan lineup and configurations have been simplified for 2020, including the fact Nissan has done away with the single cab option.

The specific grade levels will be as follows:

  • Titan King Cab with a 6.5-foot bed will be available in S, SV and PRO-4X, with 4X2 and 4X4 availability.
  • Titan Crew Cab with a 5.5-foot bed will be available in S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve, with 4X2 and 4X4 availability.

We didn’t drive the refreshed XD, but it’s worth noting it loses the diesel for 2020 as well as the Single Cab and King Cab configurations.

Titan XD Crew Cab will be available in S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve, with 4X4 standard on all grades.

The trucks will be available in early 2020, so we expect pricing and fuel economy numbers to be announced closer to that date.

For reference, the 2019 Titan has a base price of $32,285, with the single Cab and 4X2 configuration. The King Cab with the 4X2 configuration starts at $35,555, so we expect the 2020 starting price to be closer to that.

The bottom line:

The 2020 Nissan Titan is a nice truck. But Nissan is right: They won’t win any conquests away from loyal owners with other brands.

But with a No. 1 ranking in the JD Power Initial Quality Study and the bevy of standard safety features, which are often only available on its competitors, the Titan does stand an excellent chance of wooing a great number of those 600K new truck buyers – especially if they were previously Nissan owners.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Nissan covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.