Summer is here and that also means it’s pickup truck season.
Landscaping projects, towing, hauling car parts and hanging out in the bed at the drive-in are just some of the things that have to happen every summer, and having a pickup truck around makes it all possible. Even as a truck guy, there’s one truck that really just flies under the radar. It’s not popular on the roads around here, nor is there a lot of advertising or pop-culture references to them, so it’s easy to understand why the Nissan Titan usually isn’t the first truck that comes to mind – but, are we missing out on something? We spent hot summer week with a 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Luxury to find out.
One of the benefits of the Titan’s lack of popularity on the road is that when you do see one, it stands out and draws attention. It is a handsome truck with solid boxy lines, better than the Toyota Tundra (reviewed here), and looks slightly less bulky than other current trucks. It doesn’t give up any of its tough truck-ness thanks to its prominent front grille, aggressive LED headlamps, and bold TITAN badging.
Our test truck turns things up a notch thanks to the Pro-4X package which evolves the Titan into an off-road ready machine and adds some pre-runner style exterior accessories. This includes charcoal painted bumpers, big red tow hooks, skid plates, black fender flares, grille and tailgate finisher, and matching 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain rubber. To finish the look our tester was optioned with a tube style headache rack and matching running boards. Painted in ‘Baja Storm’ and sporting all the blacked out accessories our Titan caught plenty of attention, and looks ready to take on just about anything.
Stepping up into the Titan you’re greeted by a tall wide dashboard and a commanding driving position. Our Pro-4X Luxury trim level is equipped with black leather and contrasting orange stitching throughout, which adds a bit of flare to an otherwise plain looking space. The orange stitching compliments the orange back-lit glow from things such as the start button and dashboard controls, but feels a bit juvenile for a not-cheap truck like this. Like other Nissans, the leather isn’t the softest in the business, but it feels hard-wearing and will wipe up easily. The seats in the Pro-4X Luxury are heated, and more importantly this time of year, cooled!
There are lots of rubberized black plastics and grey accents in the cabin as well, and it all feels fairly solid and cohesive. The Titan is not nearly as luxurious or as special feeling as what you’d find with a comparable trim level from one of the big three domestic trucks. Regardless, it’s a comfortable place to spend time, we took it on a six hour round trip to Windsor and back from our home base in Toronto and stepped out feeling pretty good.
The Titan only comes with one cab configuration; Crew Cab, which is a true four-door cab with plenty of space for five adults. The ‘magic’ rear seat can be configured in a number of ways. You can fold the back flat for a tall work or writing surface, or flip up the bottoms to reveal large storage bins, and flip out the false floor panel for a flat loading floor – this is class leading versatility. Unfortunately the innovation doesn’t really carry into the front seat; while I can’t say there’s a lack of convenient storage, it just doesn’t have the crazy amounts of storage options you’ll find up front in most other full-size trucks.The huge dual pane panoramic sunroof and power sliding rear window made cruising around on a hot summer night listening to the Fender sound system more enjoyable than an extra storage bin or two would’ve.
Speaking of cruising around; the Titan has plenty under the hood for that. All models come powered by Nissan’s 5.6-liter direct injection V8 producing a class-leading (standard) 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft. of torque at 4,000RPM. The motor is responsive, sounds great under acceleration and has plenty of passing power, making this one of the more fun to drive full-size pickups out there. The only issue is that the new nine-speed automatic is a little clunky at low speeds, especially in stop and go traffic. Some more refined low-speed programming would go a long way to improve the feel. The Titan gets selectable 2WD, 4HI or 4LO, no automatic modes; and the Pro-4X model comes with the all-important electronic locking rear differential.
On the road the Titan steers with confidence thanks to a firm on-center steering position and tight response. The suspension up front feels well sorted, but the rear end is quite choppy and unsettled, especially without a load in the bed. This may be a function of the Bilstein off-road shocks equipped in the Pro-4X, but we won’t know until we try a Titan with the regular suspension. The off-road shocks should come in handy should you ever decide to take advantage of the Titan’s high approach and departure angles to have some fun off the beaten path. On the flip side, highway cab noise levels are well controlled, though the all-terrain tires are noticeably loud.
When it comes to capability, the Titan delivers just like you’d expect any full-sized truck to; Nissan doesn’t play around with the numbers much, and given that the Titan is only available in Crew Cab configuration, they can’t exactly option out a truck to perfect specs for a given tow or payload target. Either way, the Titan is good for towing up to 9,270 pounds or 1,580 pounds of payload. That’s more than enough for just about anything you’d want to do with a half-ton truck, and if you need more, there’s always the Titan XD to consider.
The Titan scores points when it comes to fuel economy. Despite the big horsepower V8, we saw an average of 12.8L/100km, with about 75% highway driving and the balance in the city. That’s one of the better results I’ve managed from a full-sized truck, and from a simple time-tested V8. The tank can take regular 87-octane fuel with no issue.
Nissan has also worked hard on their high-tech safety suite in this truck, boasting more safety tech in the Titan than any direct competitor. This includes intelligent (adaptive) cruise control, a 360-degree aerial view for parking, forward and rear intelligent emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. These are not features you regularly think about, but many truck owners do a lot of driving on dark highways and country roads, and these gizmos can be a nice peace of mind to have.
Pricing, the Titan starts at a relatively high $50,498, but even the entry level model is a Crew Cab 4×4 with a nice eight-inch touchscreen and the V8. The mid-range SV comes in at $57,498 and adds alloy wheels, intelligent cruise control, a hitch, bed rails and more. There’s an SV Premium at $62,198 with a larger nine-inch touchscreen, intelligent key, and upgraded cloth seats. The Pro-4X starts at $64,498 and adds the off-road kit and Fender sound system, the Pro-4X Luxury like our tester rings in at $69,998 if you want the luxuries like the panoramic roof, leather, heated and cooled seats. Finally, there’s the Platinum at a pricey $74,898, which gets the Platinum Reserve leather and wood grain interior, plus everything else the Titan has to offer.
The bottom line here is that if you’re looking for a stripped down work truck, the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Luxury probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a good family truck with more than enough capability for the toughest DIY projects, comfort and options for everyone and everything in the family, and the experience of owning and enjoying a pickup truck, the Titan is a good way to get great value for your money. Its prices do generally compare favorably to similarly equipped competitors from Ford, GM and Ram, and the sweet V8 and styling may be enough to forgive its few shortcomings.