The light-duty pickup truck segment is dominated by the big 3; Ford, General Motors, & Ram. But there are alternatives such as the Toyota Tundra and this, the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X. But can this alternative take the battle to the big 3?
Engine – While Ford, GM & Ram offer multiple engines with their light-duty pickup trucks, Nissan only offers customers with one engine in the Titan. It is a 5.6L V8 that produces 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. It’s not the most powerful engine in this class but it’s not the least powerful either. When the truck is unladen, the V8 engine gets the Titan going fairly spritely off the line or when overtaking a vehicle on a highway. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to drive the truck while hauling a heavy load or towing.
But while the engine itself produces healthy horsepower and torque figures, it guzzles through gas as though it is cheap wine. It is rated for 11.2 L/100km (21 mpg) on a highway and 15.1 L/100km (15.6 mpg) in a city but in the real world, you’ll probably get closer to 17 L/100km (13.8 mpg) as I was getting during my week with the truck. Plus I drove it quite a bit on a highway but the city fuel economy raised the overall rating. Cylinder deactivation and engine auto start/stop are not available on the Titan.
Transmission – For the 2020 model year the Nissan Titan received a new 9-speed automatic transmission. The new 9-speed better utilizes the truck’s engine power and improves the highway fuel economy figures over the previous 7-speed transmission. While shifts are smooth, the transmission is a bit slow to react to driver inputs in particular when needing to downshift for a burst of power.
Braking – 13.78” front rotors and 13.58” rear rotors stop the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X without any hesitation. There is quite a bit of forward nose dive when applying the brakes in an emergency situation but the truck remains straight with a firm pedal feel. Forward automatic emergency braking is standard across all trims of the Nissan Titan.
Handling – Steering feel of the 2020 Nissan Titan is quite good for a pickup truck. It is a little bit too heavy feeling when navigating through a parking lot but once the speed builds, the weight and feel is just about perfect for a pickup truck. Unfortunately when you show the Titan some corners, it feels like the big truck that it is. It is almost 6,000 lbs in weight and about 300 lbs more than the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali and you can feel that weight difference when driving both trucks. The Sierra feels a bit more nimble – relatively speaking – around twisty roads than the Nissan Titan.
Capability – As Nissan only offers one engine and one body configuration in Canada (crew cab with a 5.5’ bed), the payload and towing numbers are not the best in class but are within the same ballpark as comparable Ford, GM, and Ram trucks. This Pro-4X trim has a payload of 717 kg (1,580 lbs) and a tow rating of 4,031 kg (8,887 lbs). The payload rating remains the same across all trim levels but for the most towing, you have to opt for the S trim which can tow up to 4,204 kg (9,270 lbs). The F150, Sierra/Silverado & Ram 1500 have similar towing and payload ratings but because those trucks are available with more powerful engines, their maximum payload & tow ratings can exceed 2,000+ lbs & 11,000+ lbs respectively.
This Pro-4X trim comes equipped with a 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, electronic locking rear differential, and a metal front skid plate. The bed has a damped tailgate and a deployable step on the driver side but it’s only on that side and not as commodious as GMC/Chevrolet’s bumper steps.
Ride Comfort – I had the chance to take the truck on a dirt road for a bit and the Bilstein shocks that are standard on this Pro-4X trim absorbed big bumps like as though they weren’t there. Strangely, smaller bumps at higher speeds were more pronounced especially over the rear axle with an unladen bed. But on smooth tarmac roads the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X offers a comfortable ride for all passengers even when unloaded. Further adding to the comfort are Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” seats which are covered in plush leather and have a lot of padding and support for just about every body size.
Interior Space – While this is a crew cab, it’s not as spacious inside as the Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss or its sister the GMC Sierra 1500. I’m not saying it feels small in the front or rear seats of the Nissan Titan, it’s just about 3-inches less legroom in the front and back compared to the GM rivals. Head room is also less in the Nissan but unlike the GM trucks, the Titan is available with a large panoramic sunroof that extends all the way to the rear head rests. Getting in and out of the cab is easy thanks to the side steps and grab handles on each of the pillars.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This being a big boxy truck, there is some noticeable wind noise when driving on highways. It’s not overly intrusive into the cabin but you do notice it after a while. In terms of engine noise, that really depends on how hard you press the throttle pedal. The engine is quiet when you’re cruising but at a stab of the loud pedal, it becomes that; loud. But a good kind of loud. A V8 rumble kind of loud and who doesn’t like that?
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Apart from adaptive cruise control on the base S trim, the Nissan Titan comes equipped with all of available advanced safety equipment across all trims. So whether you opt for the S or the Platinum, you’ll get emergency automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot sensors, rear emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert as standard. The big 3 do offer these technologies but not as standard not on all trims.
Other gadgets in the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X include a 9-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, and Wi-Fi to name a few. It also comes equipped with a surround view camera system which works well when going off the beaten path or parking but the camera quality is worse than dreadful.
Interior Design – This Pro-4X trim receives a black headliner as opposed to the gray headliner in the lower trims. This can make the cab feel claustrophobic to some but all you have to do is open the panoramic sunroof cover and the interior is bathed in natural light. The layout of the dashboard is not too dissimilar from other pickup trucks. There’s a steering column mounted drive selector, a touchscreen with climate control button below it in the center and cupholders & a large storage bin in the center console. Sure the design doesn’t look as “flashy” as the Ram 1500’s interior but it’s all very functional. I especially like the orange contrast stitching across the dash and seats.
Exterior Design – The Titan has a striking presence on the streets. It is physically a big truck but as well the LED daytime running lights are shaped unlike any other pickup. The red recovery hooks on the front contrast nicely against the black grille and lower bumper. The optional Sport bars over the bed can be fitted with LED flood lights and give the Titan Pro-4X a Baja race truck look, especially in this Baja Storm colour.
The Titan starts at $50,500 CAD ($41,990 USD for crew cab, 4WD) which is a lot more than trucks from the big 3 but then again, you get most advanced safety features, a big V8 engine, and a crew cab with 4WD. This 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X with the Luxury leather appointed seats will set you back $70,000 CAD ($49,790 USD). The price is a bit higher than a comparable Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss for example but you do get more equipment in the Nissan. However, the biggest problem that the Titan has is lack of choice. As mentioned earlier, here in Canada the Titan is only available with one engine, one bed configuration, one cab configuration, and only as a 4WD. It is the most popular configuration among truck buyers though so if you’re part of the majority that is shopping for a V8 crew cab truck, the Nissan Titan is worth a test drive when shopping around.
Thank you to Nissan Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Nissan.ca