2020 Nissan Titan and Titan XD Pros and Cons Review

Pros

  • Strong V-8
  • Oots of safety tech
  • Comfortable cabin

Cons

  • Rough ride
  • Vague steering feel
  • Pricey

With its freshening of its Titan and Titan XD pickups, Nissan appears to have embraced the principles of Marie Kondo by keeping what sparks joy and eliminating the rest.

View Other 2021 Truck Of The Year Contenders And Finalists Here

But the trucks’ missions remain the same. The Titan goes to battle in the half-ton segment dominated by the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra, while the Titan XD takes on the heavy-duties.

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To that end, the 5.6-liter V-8 stays and serves as the sole engine for both Titan and Titan XD, which means the eight-cylinder turbodiesel that we struggled to embrace has been cut from the lineup.

Not only does the gas V-8 carry over, but it’s also slightly more powerful than before, making 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, a jump of 10 hp and 19 lb-ft. Better yet, it’s now mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission, replacing the aging seven-speed unit.

“The engine is very stout, and it is mated to the nine-speed transmission wonderfully,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said. “It’s a deceptively quick truck, and it sounds very healthy. Real full throated.”

Both Titans also performed well in our towing evaluation, which consisted of pulling a 5,200-pound Airstream camper up and down the Interstate 5 grade near Castaic, California.

“What a pleasant surprise! The Titan tows really nicely,” features editor Scott Evans said. “It’s such a welcome improvement from the last version. The new transmission and shorter rear end fixed all the issues with the truck we had a few years ago. Now, the engine can do its job. It almost had the power but not the gearing. Now it has both.”

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That said, buyers looking to use the Titan or Titan XD primarily as a tow rig might be deterred by a few weaknesses. The Titan’s max tow capacity, for example, is just somewhat competitive, and the Titan XD is less brawny than the heavy-duties from Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and GMC.

Evans also noted a few head-scratching issues while towing, including backup sensors and warning beeps that don’t turn off when a trailer is attached. He also wasn’t impressed with the Nissan’s low-res camera, which made tedious work of lining up the hitch to the trailer.

When it comes to design, most judges felt the Titan’s sheetmetal doesn’t look as sharp as trucks from the domestic brands. The interior received a fair amount of praise, especially the top-spec Titan XD Platinum Reserve, which sported quilted leather seats and wood-like trim.

Unfortunately, those luxurious vibes were overshadowed by the driving experience. “Steering on both trucks is gluey and blah,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. Added Evans regarding the Titan XD: “The ride is rather busy and stiff.” He also found it “quite loud inside on the freeway.”

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In addition to cutting an engine, Nissan also simplified trim levels and cab offerings. The half-ton Titan ditches the regular cab; buyers are left with either an extended cab with a 6.5-foot bed or a crew cab with a shorter 5.5-foot bed. Meanwhile, the heavy-duty Titan XD makes do with just the crew cab and 6.5-foot bed. The regular Titan is offered in RWD or 4WD, while Titan XD is available with only the latter.

And although simplifying things might be a good for your cluttered studio apartment, we have our doubts about this strategy in the truck segment defined by its varied customer base.

“Both Titans really struggle against the criteria,” Seabaugh said. “They’re not as capable from a payload or towing perspective as Ram, Ford, or GM half-ton trucks, they don’t have the powertrain options to help score points on efficiency, and they’re priced optimistically.”

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