By on March 18, 2021

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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31 Comments on “2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Review: Still Playing Catchup...”

  • avatar

    NISSAN: Hey, we make trucks too!

  • avatar

    Nice looking truck. Looks good in red too!

  • avatar

    A modern truck with a two-decade old engine in it. The thirst of that 5.6 is a big issue in my mind.

    • 0 avatar

      The size of the tank is the real, fundamental problem (unless that has been fixed now). The thirst itself isn’t that comparatively bad, if used even remotely like a truck. But somewhat thirstier, and much smaller tank, is no endearing combo….

      OTOH, the beauty of dealing with a corner hardware store, rather than Home Depot, is that American truck guys who actually designed and built (all twelve of…) the thing, may just be the ones who answer when you call about making .50cal turrets for the bed (and/or perhaps other upfits). Not just some stoned sounding lawyer’s clerk somewhere who, at best, ends up asking if you need another copy of the upfit guide you called about getting clarified in the first place….

    • 0 avatar

      Corey- Just like the Tundra.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    The Titan is on death watch. No longer sold in Canada. Nissan has pulled the plug on all Van sales in the U.S. The United States is the only market for the Titan. The sales numbers are abysmal and the motor needs premium fuel (major behavior problems with the motor if you use the non-speced regular per the Titan Forums). Personally-the fuel spec is a killer for me. I am looking for a replacement for my Silverado-and was willing to accept the less mpg-but I don’t like the fuel needed-especially in these times of rising fuel prices. I think it looks much better (but then just about any truck does) than the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado.

    • 0 avatar

      A truck in 2021 struggling on 87 octane is an embarrassing engineering failure.

    • 0 avatar

      The Titan is still sold in Canada. The Titan XD is not, along with its Cummins diesel. But, as you stated, requiring premium fuel is real big reason why their sales sucks.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT,number%20sold%20the%20year%20before.

        Nissan Canada will stop offering its Titan pickup truck on the Canadian market after the 2021 model-year. The decision comes as little surprise given the poor performance of the model in our country.

        How poor? In 2019, Nissan sold 2,807 units across the country, about half the number sold the year before. In the first six months of this year, only 800 models found takers. Yes, Covid-19 has had an effect, but the year prior, Nissan only delivered 1,737 models over the same period. To illustrate the massive gulf separating the hapless Titan from the segment leaders, the Ford F-150 has drawn 56,466 buyers since the beginning of 2020. This means that Nissan currently holds a 0.5% market share in the full-size pickup segment.

      • 0 avatar

        Nissan’s big mistake with the Cummins V8 Titan was not making it a 3/4 ton truck. The payload was abysmal and tow ratings were meh. Reliability isn’t all that good. One would have expected the Cummins to save the Titan like it saved the Dodge pickup.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

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

    Exactly. It is not sufficient to be as good as your competitors if Nissan wants to break the truck triopoly.
    Nissan has to be overall better, or at least much better in at least a pair of performance points.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      schmitt trigger-

      At altitude here in Salt Lake City our regular gas is 85 octane. I have had a total of three Silverados-and they run fine on that. There is some formula that says lower spec’ed octane works fine at 5,000 feet-in some cases.

      But if you happen to travel or live in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountain states, you might be surprised to find different octane ratings at the gasoline pumps. The reason for this provides a lesson in stoichiometry. At higher elevations the air is less dense-the volume of oxygen per unit volume of air is smaller. Most engines are designed to achieve a 14:1 oxygen-to-fuel ratio in the cylinder prior to combustion. If less oxygen is available, then less fuel is required to achieve this optimal ratio. In turn, the lower volumes of oxygen and fuel result in a lower pressure in the cylinder. Because high pressure tends to promote knocking, the lower pressure within engine cylinders at higher elevations promotes a more controlled combustion of the fuel-air mixture, and therefore, octane requirements are lower.

      • 0 avatar

        I did a double take on the way into Zion at the 85 octane sticker. My mumbled words to myself were something to the effect of “what are these people doing out here”? Thank you for explaining it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    IMO, the PRO-4X Convenience Package stuff should be included in the base price. Otherwise, I like it.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “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).”

    And thank God for it as far as I’m concerned. It could be that, as with the Frontier (until now), the absence of many features in the Titan will be its main appeal to a fair amount of people.

  • avatar
    DOHC 106

    The Nissan Titan is a nice looking truck. I love the rugged interior as well, but the pricing and powertrains or lack of is the problem. More standard horsepower sounds great on paper, but also means a higher starting price with lower fuel economy. Nissan should have had 3 powertrains: 300 HP V6, the present V8, and a more powerful diesel with more gears in the tranny. Unfortunately it has been a sales flop for years, but I am not saying it is a bad truck just the wrong packaging.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      The 5.0 V8 Cummins diesel and the magic badges on the side proclaiming it as such weren’t able to save this chitbox.

      • 0 avatar

        @Art Vandelay – exactly. Cummins saved Dodge pickups. Nissan should of built a 3/4 ton for the Cummins.
        I know a guy on his 2nd Titan. I don’t know why he bought another after all of the repairs he put into the 1st one.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Piece of chit. Giant piece of chit

  • avatar

    First show a competitive product. Then we can talk “intense loyalty”. Yes I gravitate towards Ford, but it could be Ram, or even GM if the features/price are right.

    Commercially/fleet, there is no loyalty. But that’s a segment Nissan avoids, therefor the Titan slips further into irrelevance.

    Yet Nissan wants to sell you a truck packaged up like they would an Altima or Maxima. Nissan flushed everything Datsun worked so hard for.

    • 0 avatar

      “Commercially/fleet, there is no loyalty. But that’s a segment Nissan avoids, therefor the Titan slips further into irrelevance.”

      Nissan loves fleets, just not that kind of fleet. Rental lots are full of Nissan cars and CUVs with puny engines and CVTs

    • 0 avatar

      The only fleet trucks I see around my part of the world are Chevys and Fords. Oddly, recently I’ve seen a fleet purchase of base model Sierras on the local dealer lot.
      When it comes to diesel trucks, Ford and Ram rule my part of the world.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the swipe at GM trucks. In 2020, GM full size trucks outsold Ram 846,071 to 563,676. And also outsold Ford’s 787,372. Remember you specifically said “GM” trucks, not just Silverado, although Silverado’s 593,0157 still handily outsold Ram.

    And the comparison to Ram is even more pronounced, because something like 30-40% of Ram’s sales are the old generation, so the new GM trucks outsell the new Ram truck by 846k to maybe as few as 370k, or more than double. Mind you that gets a bit fuzzy since HD trucks are included in all numbers, but since both Ram and Ford tend to sell a higher proportion of HD trucks than GM, it only makes the GM half-ton dominance even more pronounced.

    Yeah, definitely “insufficient to play with the big boys”.

  • avatar

    Setting aside the knee-slapper about the Tundra being nonexistent, there’s one very important thing it still delivers better than any competitor: reliability. That’s very important to some people. Nissan can’t say that. And at $49k they can’t hang their hat on price, either.

  • avatar

    We have a 2016 Titan Diesel Pro-4X as our second vehicle.

    We bought it second hand for a song, and it does everything we need a truck to do. The diesel is nice for towing through the mountains when we visit family in BC, and it’s been very reliable.

    Overall we’re very happy with it, as for the 21K Canadian we payed we can overlook a lot of its shortcomings. But anyone who bought one new for the price they were must have been mentally ill…

    The interior quality reminds me of a 1990’s Lada. No joke, it’s THAT bad.

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