Nissan Titan hoping for 2020 revival in tough truck crowd

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By James Raia

Nearly 20 years ago someone decided on the not-so-keen idea of naming a full-sized pickup truck after a mythological Greek god. It’s been a curse for the Nissan Titan.

Perennially low-selling in the country’s best-selling vehicle segment, the Titan has had only two generations since 2003 and none since 2016. The Titan had the poorest sales of any mainstream full-size truck last year, losing nearly 38 percent of its share from a year earlier.

The Nissan TITAN full-size pickup undergoes an extensive redesign for the 2020 model year. The new TITAN features substantial powertrain updates and unique styling for different trim levels. TITAN now also offers standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 across all grade levels.
The Nissan TITAN full-size pickup undergoes an extensive redesign for the 2020 model year. Image courtesy of Nissan.

Refreshing the truck for 2020 was the least Nissan could do after only 31,000 Titans were purchased last year. The brand finished an unlucky 13th and at the bottom on the sales list.

The Titan was never bad; its rivals are just drastically better and supported by massive marketing campaigns. Ford, Chevrolet and Ram rule the truck empire with the rest maneuvering up and down for a share of the ever-expanding market.

Despite its lowly status, the 2020 Nissan Titan is now worthy of decent promotion. It’s as good as it’s ever been in a tough crowd.

Five trims, S, SV, Pro-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve, are offered and either with a double-cab (king cab) or crew-cab. The single cab has been discontinued. A dual-panel panoramic moonroof is a new option in the crew cab.

Further refreshments include new and more attractive interior and exterior designs. A 5.6-liter V8 engine is the only option. It’s been increased to 400 horsepower and is joined by a new nine-speed transmission.

Nissan calls its driver assistance suite Safety Shield 360, and it’s standard on the Titan for the first time. Reverse automatic braking is part of the improved safety offering, and it’s a first on any pickup. Adaptive cruise is also new, and two more airbags (eight total) and two more seat-belt pre-tensioners (four total) have been added.

The Titan’s ruggedness is impressive. It has huge power-adjusted and heated outside mirrors. A utility package in the bed includes the utilitrack system and four tie-down cleats. There’s also LED under-rail bed lighting and a 110-volt power outlet.

Twenty-inch chrome wheels, a chrome exhaust and chrome front grille give the Titan a good dose of flash and class.

With its 2020 improvements, the king cab trim has a base entry price of $37,785, about $2,000 more than in 2019. It’s a value-worthy expense.

Durability and versatility are long-time pickup signatures. Comfort is now also superior in the top-selling brands. The Titan improves those areas, too. The standard Zero Gravity cloth seats are wide and comfortable and have multiple seating adjustments. Leather available in some trims is high quality and fitted properly. Further high-end quilted leather is optional only in top-line Platinum Reserve trim.

The Titan’s interior is spacious with an open, airy feel and plenty of head- and legroom in the front seat, but limited legroom in the back seat. The large front cabin is complemented by an equally expansive view in any direction. Drivers like pickup trucks because of the style’s high seating structure. The Titan does it well.

While not quick by truck standards, the Titan’s acceleration is satisfactory. The maximum towing capacity is 9,370 pounds, lower than rivals, but enough for RV considerations. Road and wind noise have also improved via the Titan’s new acoustic laminated glass.

How the Titan’s improvements will help sales, particularly as the industry suffers during the coronavirus crisis, won’t be known until the end-of-the-year statistics. One thing won’t change. It’s no easy challenge when you’re named after a Greek god.

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and newsletter both with sign-ups available on his website: www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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DMW
4 months ago

WHEN will the Japanese brand trucks come out with diesel for the U.S. market??? They have them at home.

Ahmad
4 months ago

I hate nissan and renault after buying sentra because of bad cvt damage and costly never buy nissan again

Thomas
4 months ago

I would never have thought about a Greek God. Why would anyone?
Sounds like a good vehicle. Nissan makes wonderful cars. There is a company named Thor that makes crappy rv,s. They sell a lot of them.

Donald N Wright
4 months ago

Chuck, you should test drive one for a year, pulling a trailer. Go visit Maine, Key West, big Bend, San Diego, Pikes Peak, Death Valley before returning to Seattle.