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Muscle Truck: One Week With a 2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X

It’ll haul in more ways than one.

SEATTLE—Pickup trucks are made to haul, and the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X is as capable of hauling a heavy payload as it is hauling your butt and an empty bed around town. But let's start at the beginning.

2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Test: A Freshening

For 2020, Nissan's mid-cycle Titan refresh simplifies the full-size truck's lineup, and also makes both some cosmetic and mechanical improvements. With our 2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X tester, the first thing you'll notice is the new red Nissan badge, along with revised front-end styling and red Titan badging on the black running boards. The black grille and black and silver 18-inch wheels add some needed contrast to our Red Alert test truck, and the big, bold Pro-4X graphics on the rear fenders add more look-at-me appeal. Frankly, it's a great-looking rig that's much improved compared to older versions of this generation dating to 2016.

The Titan has long been a sort of underdog in the full-size pickup truck game, with sales lagging far behind competition from the class-leading Ford F-Series, rugged Chevy Silverado, and burly Ram 1500. For 2020, Nissan pumped more power out of its 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 engine, bringing output totals to 400 horses and 413 lb-ft of torque. A new nine-speed automatic transmission hopes to make the best of this newfound power while also delivering on fuel-economy targets. A newly standard safety suite bundles blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and front and rear automatic braking.

The 2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X's cabin has benefitted from a restyled center stack, which is topped with a larger center display (9.0-inches wide in our test vehicle, though lower trim levels make do with 8.0-inch displays). Beneath it is a combination of rotary and push-button controls for the dual-zone climate-control system, with less-important controls below that for things like heated seats and steering wheel, plus traction control and parking-sensor deactivation.

2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Test: Optional Equipment

A broad center console houses a deep storage area under the armrest, with two smaller bins for phones, wallets and the like, plus two sizable cupholders. Interior materials are just average for the segment, though the Pro-4X Convenience Package on our test truck ($3,390) included leather seats with Pro-4X badging, along with the aforementioned heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote engine start, auto-dimming mirrors, a useful Around View Monitor, and a few other minor niceties.

Other options included the Pro-4X Utility Package ($2,190) with front and rear parking sensors, Nissan's Utili-Track System for securing items in the bed, a 110V outlet in the bed, power-sliding rear window, electronic-locking tailgate, a utility-bed step, and a 10-speaker Fender-branded audio system which sounds pretty darn good. We'd skip the Pro-4X Moonroof package to lower our cost by $1,490 (though we wish the useful ventilated seats were repositioned to another package). The Protection package ($390), Pro-4X mud flaps ($285), and Pro-4X step boards ($1,050) are all just personal preference.

The Pro-4X trim level includes upgrades designed for folks who at least think they're going hit the trails in their Titan (or want others to think the same), so things like Bilstein off-road-tuned dampers, a locking rear differential, skid plates, hill-descent assist, and special graphics are found here. All told, our 2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X test truck's MSRP totaled $60,180 with options. And if you think that's pricey for a well-optioned, full-size truck these days, my friend you don't know the half of it.

2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Test: The Drive

Truth be told, most of our days in the Titan Pro-4X were spent around town with an empty bed, which is frankly how most pickup trucks are used anyway, no matter what their typical owners tell you. In that sort of usage, we liked the Titan just fine. The 5.6-liter V-8 made us fans with its strong output and muscle-car soundtrack. In fact, it made some local mask-less teens fans, too, as they cruised up to us at a stoplight in a '90s Ford Ranger wanting to know all about this "sick" sounding red pickup.  At nearly 6,000 pounds, the Titan is no lightweight, but when the light turned green it left the kiddos coughing in its dust and possibly experiencing some short-term hearing loss. Definitely neat.

Like virtually all trucks if its ilk, the 2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X has a somewhat busy ride, with a measure of up-and-down oscillation from the unloaded rear end, but not enough to be truly bothersome. Anyway, you get used to it fairly quickly, and that's just part and parcel of driving a pickup. The nine-speed automatic worked well enough most of the time, and it reduced cruising revs on the freeway for a quieter ride (also helped along by new, standard acoustic glass). Occasionally, we'd get some sluggish, clunky downshifts when getting back on the throttle for a pass, but most new multi-speed automatics seem to need some further programming before they reach full potential—just ask Chrysler.

2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Test: Real Utility

Toward the end of our week with the Titan, family members called indicating they'd just taken down three large douglas fir trees on their property, and the firewood was free for the splitting. A day of manual labor later, we'd hauled two bedfuls of heavy, wet, freshly split fir logs home in the Titan (maybe 1,000 pounds worth, each load) without feeling like it limited the truck's acceleration much at all. But the heavy load did calm down the rear end, giving a smoother ride when fully loaded.

The 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X is something of a contrarian pickup truck. Pay attention on the road and you'll likely see three or four of its competitors for every Titan you spot, which is possibly part of its appeal. That makes a Titan easier to pick out in the Home Depot parking lot for sure, and we noticed plenty of admiring stares during our week with the truck, even from middle-aged pickup fans. Trucks are all about confidence, and the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X seems loaded to its moonroof with the stuff.

2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Hits

  • Muscle-truck sounds and feelings with a 400-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 underhood and a well-tuned exhaust system
  • New nine-speed automatic is more efficient and allows lower cruising revs
  • Cosmetic improvements and overall styling look great
  • 1,000 or so pounds of payload in the bed smooths the ride, has little effect on acceleration

2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Misses

  • Nine-speed transmission could still use some freshening for smoothness.
  • Interior is adequate but doesn't wow us
  • Though the unloaded ride is smoother than many trucks of yore, it still has a slightly unsettled feel
2020 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $51,385/$60,180 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 5.6L DOHC 32-valve V-8/400 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 413 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD pickup truck
EPA MILEAGE 15/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 229.5 x 80.7 x 77.2 in
WHEELBASE 139.8 in
WEIGHT 5,824 lb
0-60 MPH 5.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 125 mph (est)