In the murderously competitive full-size truck segment, competitors often act like WWE wrestlers, beating each other over the head with chairs and knocking each other into the turnbuckles with great glee. With the People’s Elbow and Attitude Adjustments being flung left and right, it can be a bit difficult for a new player to get into the mix and throw a few haymakers of their own.
That’s exactly the role Nissan has been playing since the re-introduction of its Titan pickup a few years ago. For 2020, the Mississippi Mauler has been given a roster of new equipment intended to intensify its fight against the traditional truck brands. Like the new wrestler who spent the offseason getting chiseled and learning a few finishing moves, the 2020 Titan is ready to jump into the ring.
Back for another round is the 5.6L Endurance V8, this time making an even 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, the sole engine available for 2020. Nissan is absolutely correct when they assert this mill is the most powerful standard V8 engine in its class but it would behoove the smart shopper to remember that there are more powerful engines on option in other trucks. Note that Nissan recommends premium fuel to make these numbers, though the truck will run just fine on regular.
Full throttle fun was accompanied by a burly soundtrack, with Titan roaring like a NASCAR stocker. This is greatly preferable to the jaundiced ears of your author, a person irked by the vacuum-cleaner turbocharged V6 engines offered elsewhere in the truck segment.
Big news for this year is the introduction of an excellent nine-speed automatic, a box which endows Titan with a couple of extra cogs. This spreads the ratio of gears across a wider swath than last year, allowing for snappier acceleration and potentially better fuel economy. Another big change in 2020 is the binning of two-wheel drive in Canada; the Titan will only be available in 4x4 guise when it goes on sale early next year. On an 80 km drive route comprised of an urban and rural mix, Titan’s on-board computer showed a fuel consumption of 13.8 L/100 km.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The new transmission converts Titan’s behaviour from sleepy to snappy. Highway passing manoeuvres are dealt with in jig time, compared with the old truck whose acceleration sometimes rivaled the meandering sesquipedalian prose of scientific journals if you caught the transmission flat-footed. At cruising speed, the engine was barely turning 2,000 rpm, making for a hushed cabin.
Unladen by trailer or payload, the new transmission had a propensity to pick a gear and stick with it, like a confident youngster selecting their favourite ice cream. The 2020 Titan continues to use hydraulic steering, meaning the truck has more than a modicum of feel in a segment where many pickups have all the feedback of a Forza game. However, the hydraulic system means Nissan cannot yet fit their ProPilot suite of advanced driver assistance features.
Hooking up to a 2,500 lb trailer laden with a quartet of tremendous looking Summit 600 snowmobiles from Ski-Doo, we made our way down a long, winding two-lane before hitting I-80, a ribbon of tarmac that cleaves through Salt Lake City like a chef’s knife through cooked spaghetti. On the downhill stretch, Titan behaved itself thanks to an integrated electric trailer brake and sensible behaviour from its easy-to-modulate hydraulic brakes.
Once up to speed on the highway, the truck acquitted its load well, staying planted in its lane and responding appropriately to minor steering inputs. Setting the cruise control to 115 km/h caused the new nine-speed to hunt between its top couple of gears in an effort to maintain pace. Backing off to 105 km/h permitted it to settle down and remain in top gear on flat pavement. Fuel economy with this load on was an indicated 24 L/100 km.
Like the new kid who hit the gym and became slightly more chiselled, the 2020 Titan employs many cues from the macho Warrior concept truck. New head- and taillamps cast good-looking LED light signatures, while more aggro and exaggerated features are incorporated into places like the tailgate and grille. Trim and badges on the popular off-road Pro-4X models are freshly infused with Lava Red script, which your author chooses to call Liquid Hot Magma. In Utah traffic, a young baseball-cap-wearing bruh stared extensively at the new Titan from his perch in a lifted Ram. That’s a hearty real-world endorsement, folks.
User Friendliness: 8/10
In today’s truck market, the measure of one’s infotainment screen is now nearly as important as the engine size or off-road approach angles. In this, Nissan has returned from the corporate drawing board with a dandy 9-inch high-res touchscreen, complete with attractive graphics and a rethought interface. Adjusting the radio and other major controls is an easy task and one which can be accomplished while wearing gloves.
A new reconfigurable screen also resides between the speedometer and rev counter ahead of the driver, serving up a raft of information in clear type. The new gauge font is reminiscent of that found in the mighty GT-R. In the past, some secondary buttons were illogically placed, as if a designer simply put all of them in his mouth and sneezed. There are still a couple of missteps in this vein, with the switch for the locking rear diff on Pro-4X located squarely by the driver’s left knee as a prime example.
In Canada, Titan customers will have their choice of four trims: base S, volume SV, off-road Pro-4X, and high-zoot Platinum Reserve. The entry-level truck is still available with a bench seat, the way nature intended, and includes the likes of an 8-inch infotainment screen and a rear-view monitor.
Nissan says that a good 40 percent of Titan buyers will pop for the Pro-4X trim and it’s not difficult to see why. Its chiseled face isn’t all mouth and no trousers, incorporating General Grabber off-road tires and all manner of off-road kit including a locking rear diff and skid plates with the trim name hammered into them. Top-tier Platinum Reserve trim is the zenith of Titan plushness, bedecked with wood and brown leather.
Every 2020 Titan includes outboard Zero Gravity seats, front and rear, that are designed to help maximize posture positioning for greater comfort during long distance driving. In the real world, these thrones contribute to reduced fatigue and are some of the most comfortable seats this side of your favourite hammock. Your 6'6" author would appreciate a tad more seat travel. All 2020 Titans bound for the Canadian market will be Crew Cabs with four full doors.
While the company isn’t yet offering their ProPilot on Titan, the Safety Shield 360 suite of safety nannies are on-board as standard equipment. This includes kit like automatic emergency braking (front and rear), rear cross-traffic alerts, and lane-keeping assist. These bring Titan on par with most of its competition.
Fuel Economy: 6/10
Official numbers have not been released by Nissan or NRCan, so direct comparisons with the old model are difficult. However, our tester’s on-board computer recorded a 13.8 L/100 km measure on an 80-km drive comprised of both urban and rural driving. Given the 2020 truck’s similar weight but extra gears, it’s safe to expect a modest increase over the numbers being returned by a 2019 model.
Pricing hasn’t been released as of this writing but, as with most new vehicles, it is safe to assume the 2020 Titan will receive a price hike over the old model. How much? Reps are mum but Nissan spokespersons are quick to point out they have added about $3,000 worth of kit as standard equipment compared to last year, so an increased MSRP on like-for-like trucks. For reference, a 2019 Titan Pro-4X Crew Cab stickers for just two bucks under sixty grand in Canada.
Having spent the time to sharpen its physique and tuck some new finishing moves under its belt, Titan now has the chops to mix it up more aggressively with the big personalities in the ring. It might not win the title but it’ll certainly be pushing itself into contention, irritating the big guys and stealing away a few fans.
|Peak Horsepower||400 hp @ 5,800 rpm|
|Peak Torque||413 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||13.8 L/100 km observed (official ratings unavailable)|
|Cargo Space||1.7m bed|
|Model Tested||2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab 4x4|
|Price as Tested||N/A|