That’s because the market is driven by brand loyalty and the Big 3 has a vice grip on it. Americans love their trucks – some 2.4 million were sold in the U.S. last year alone – and most buyers tend to stay with domestic nameplates like Ford, Chevrolet and Ram.
Still, Nissan has no plans to settle for its little share of the truck market (reported to be around 1.4%) and has introduced promising changes for the 2020 Titan. Consider a best-in-class 400 horsepower and new 9-speed transmission, expanded standard safety features, new technology, and monitors to help maneuver the beast in tight parking lots.
And, for domestic loyalists, know that the Titan is built in Mississippi.
The plethora of improvements are part of a $230 million refresh of this second-generation Titan, introduced in 2016. It has exterior updates on front fenders and bumper, three new grille choices, each unique to the trim level, and five wheel options. It gets distinctive LED “double boomerang” headlights, and four new LEDs in the cargo bed. Opt for the Platinum Reserve, tops among the five trim levels, and get satin chrome grille and chrome tailgate trim, lighted chrome running boards and two-tone paint.
While competitors offer multiple engine choices, Nissan still only has the single 5.6 liter V-8, but it gets a small jolt to 400 hp and 413 pound-feet of torque – if you use premium fuel. Nissan says that’s best-in-class among the standard V-8s out there. The high-octane gas isn’t required but you’ll lose about 10 horses.
Either way, Titan’s powertrain should not disappoint. It is slightly quicker from the get-go, with credit going to engine retuning and a 9-speed transmission that replaced the 7-speed. It gets up the on-ramp with authority and reaches 60 mph smoothly in less than 7 seconds. And you’ll find the transmission is quick-shifting and precise in its decision-making.
Despite its heft, the Titan offers a stiffer but comfortable ride, maintaining good composure on curves. The cabin is quieter this year thanks to new acoustic laminated glass.
In more demanding conditions, Titan performs well, too. In performance tests conducted last fall, car mags reported it exhibited no strain getting up to highway speed even while towing a trailer of four snowmobiles weighing nearly 5,000 pounds.
Properly equipped, Titan has a maximum towing capacity of 9,370 pounds and payload cap of 1,680 pounds. Granted, the towing figure is lowest in the segment but Titan does offer benefits like trailer sway control, trailer brake controller, and a specific tow/haul mode with downhill speed control. Available on the Platinum Reserve’s 5.6-foot cargo bed are watertight cargo boxes and adjustable aluminum hooks on tracks.
With an empty cargo bed, expect an unimpressive 15 mpg around town, 21 highway, for a combined figure of 18.
Brightening the interior is an all-new, dual-pane sunroof – a first for Titan. Seats on the Platinum Reserve are well padded and comfortable, trimmed in leather and heated/ventilated, as is the steering wheel. Rear seats are heated, too, and those can be folded down flipped up for some extra under-floor storage.
Nissan expanded its standard infotainment screen to 8 inches, which is now the largest standard screen in the segment; a 9-incher is available with the Platinum. Nissan says the new screen has WXGA resolution which has a higher resolution than HD. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features now, and an optional 12-speaker Fender audio system can blast tunes with great volume and clarity.
While driver visibility is good in all directions, Nissan’s IAVM (Intelligent Around View Monitor) captures everything you can’t see. An amazing feature, it shows front, rear and side views; you can do split screens for multiple angles or press the camera button and cycle through different views.
Other advanced features falling under the umbrella of Nissan’s new Safety Shield 360 include automatic emergency braking (a first for Titan) with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking (Nissan says Titan stands alone on that one), lane departure and blind spot warnings.
So here’s the deal: Nissan is looking for truck buyers – especially newcomers to the pickup world – who aren’t married to the Big 3 and may not need the top numbers when it comes to horsepower and towing. The Titan is great-looking, solid and plenty capable for most and, with its midcycle improvements, is worth a good look.
2020 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve
What’s all the excitement about? More power, refreshed looks, and a host of new standard safety features
Powertrain: 5.6-liter V-8 engine good for 400 hp and 413 pound-feet of torque, new 9-speed automatic transmission
How’s the performance? Acceleration strong and smooth with adequate composure on corners; maximum towing capacity is 9,370 pounds, with a payload capacity of 1,680 pounds.
Fuel economy: Figure on around 15 mpg around town, 21 highway, for a combined 18 mpg
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