The Japanese automaker has smoothened the rough edges overall but forgot to work on its core essence – the towing and payload prowess

Nissan recently rolled out the 2020 Titan, and the company did a decent job of making the product look fresh. Until the last decade, automakers used to drag on the same models, especially these big beasts, for as long as possible. Check out Nissan’s own Armada. But, given the changing dynamics, even SUVs and pickup trucks are being updated regularly. Now that the facelifted Titan was here, it was only a matter of time before the heavy-duty Titan XD was launched, too. Well, that time is now. Nissan officially revealed the 2020 Titan XD and the company has made some big moves for it, like dropping a few body configurations, retiring an engine, and introducing new exterior shades. Do these things matter in the heavy-duty version of the Titan?

Exterior

  • Available only in CrewCab configuration
  • Different grilles depending on the trim
  • Double-boomerang Daytime Running LEDs
  • LED taillights standard now
  • New 18- and 20-inch wheels on offer
  • Four new exterior shades
left right
The 2020 Titan XD comes with the same changes as the 2020 Titan. For a facelift, the number of changes is quite okay.

We have seen in the past when some models go through the next generation without significant changes, whereas some look like different species even in their facelifts. The 2020 Patrol is the best example of the latter. Coming back to the Titan XD, the headlights retain the same shape, but the detailing inside has been revised. They feature new C-shaped, ‘double-boomerang’ Daytime Running LEDs that look swell. The Japanese automaker also reworked the bumper. Apart from being a tad larger, the air dam receives a new design that now extends till the bottom to make room for the skid plate. The 2020 Titan XD comes with sleeker fog lamps and that add a lot of character to the overall appearance.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868074

Interestingly, Nissan has fiddled with the positions of the front parking sensors here. As we mentioned in the 2020 Nissan Titan review, it is not in the corner anymore and we have our apprehensions. The new position is exposed to more slush and mud and is prone to provide inaccurate feedback. Also, it’s far from the edges. We’ll know the real-world results from owners after a few months.

Moving on to the hood, it does not come with any sort of power bulge or anything.

The simple creases on either side are retained. As for the grille, Nissan has decided to feature different designs on each trim, which seems to be the segment trend. The borders are thicker and feature horizontal slats predominantly. This has helped reduce the ‘honeycomb’ effect and makes the face look less cluttered. The changes incorporated this time around make the truck look a lot more mature. Nissan has coined this new aesthetic philosophy as part of the ‘Powerful Exterior’ design concept.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868130

The side profile is where we don’t see this new design philosophy that Nissan is gushing about. It looks largely similar to the pre-facelift model. The fenders feature a V-8 badge in a chrome housing that looks disastrous in our opinion. The standard Titan loses out on the badge and honestly, it looks so much better now. Another differentiating factor is that the front doors feature the ‘Titan V-8’ moniker in the standard Titan, and ‘Titan XD’ in this model. The ORVMs still receive the same placement, with the window sill still dipping a bit to accommodate the wing mirror in it. For a heavy-duty truck that will surely tow a lot of stuff all through its ownership, Nissan should’ve worked on equipping it with telescopic mirrors like on the Ford F-Series. They are immensely helpful.

The wheel cladding and the borders come in different shades, so you can call this a dual-tone appearance. The XD version misses out on the running boards that were seen on the 2020 standard Titan. The truck comes with a fresh wheel design and it suits the overall stance of the pickup truck quite well. All trims ride on 18-inch wheels, but 20-inch rollers are offered as optional. Some trims come with black treatment, and it looks fantastic in a few colors. The 2020 Nissan Titan is offered with three new shades, other than the six existing colors that have been carried over. The standard Titan received three new shades - Red Alert, Baja Storm, and Cardinal Red Metallic – but the XD is offered with the Super Black shade along with them.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868116

Before we get to the body configurations, let’ cover the other aspects.

The derriere of a truck is generally the most boring side of it.

However, Nissan played it smart by offering each trim with a different design. On trims like the Pro-4X, many elements are blackened out, whereas the Platinum Reserve comes with a Satin Chrome tailgate. Under the rear bumper is a curved-to-the-right exhaust pipe. The bumper receives a step to climb into the bed. Unlike the front where the LED DRLs come only on the top three trims, all the trims receive new, refreshed LED taillights. There is a subtle lip on the tailgate but it adds so much character to the overall appearance. The ‘TITAN XD’ badge on the bottom left of the tailgate feels oversized on most trims, but kind of suits the Pro-4X’s tailgate.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868090
Speaking of the truck bed, Nissan has dropped the Single Cab and King Cab styles. The Titan XD can now be had only in the Crew Cab style.

Flip open the tailgate and you’ll see the new lighting system that Nissan has to offer. There are four LEDs that light up the bed area and will prove to be extremely helpful in dark conditions. Speaking of the bed, it measures 6.5 feet and is about 15 inches longer than the standard Titan. Nissan says that the Titan XD is built on a unique frame and chassis when compared to the regular Titan. The fully-boxed, full-length ladder frame is extensively reinforced and strengthened for the heavy-duty truck and offers a lot more stiffness, vertical and lateral bending, and torsional rigidity as well.

Interior

  • Eight-inch touchscreen standard on all trims
  • Supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • A host of towing assistance aids
  • New off-road gauge
  • Spacious cabin
  • Improved storage spots
  • New dual-panel panoramic sunroof
2020 Nissan Titan XD Interior
- image 868086
Nissan Titan XD’s cabin was never outdated, really. The company actually had everything in place even in the current model. But the 2020 model comes with even better upgrades.

The layout, to start with. Obviously, the cabin mirrors the 2020 Titan’s cabin. Starting from the driver’s seat, the Titan XD feels well-equipped and plush in the higher trims. The meaty, leather-wrapped steering wheel is nicely sized and comes with thumb contours as well. Despite a lot of buttons on the steering wheel, it doesn’t seem to clutter. The left-hand side buttons are for the media and voice controls, whereas the right-hand side buttons are for the cruise control. As for the instrument cluster, the red highlights make it look quite sporty. There is a cowl at the top, again with an excellent fit and finish that’s crisp and clear even under bright sunlight.

In between the tachometer and the speedometer is an LCD screen that puts out data for the driver. The 2020 Nissan Titan comes with Off-Road Gauge that displays vehicle angle, relative pitch, and roll angles. The previous model made use of a gyroscope to determine the results, but the 2020 Titan boasts a new method to calculate the orientation using accelerometer data and G-force readings. According to Nissan, this new gauge is the most accurate in its class at higher speeds. If we were to nitpick something, it would be the long stalk on the right-hand side of the steering wheel that controls the towing settings. It’s quite a convenient location in terms of usage, but spoils the aesthetics of the cockpit. Better integration would have gone on a long way in terms of cabin appeasement.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Interior
- image 868134
The center console now features an eight-inch screen as standard, as opposed to the seven-inch touchscreen in the preceding model.

Nissan now offers a new, nine-inch display with WXGA resolution as optional. The display is a lot crisper and is much better than the HD hardware. The infotainment system is tweaked for improvements and now comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows up to six devices and 45 Mbps worth of connection speed. A 12-speaker, nine-channel, 485-watt Fender audio system is still available, as is NissanConnect with over-the-air software updates. Of course, it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The console is a mix of buttons, dials, and touchscreens. However, I feel Nissan could have written off a few buttons in favor of more touch stuff. The worst thing here is the drive mode knob right under the start/stop button. It looks CHEAP! Nissan could have used a dial, or integrated this onto the huge, chunky stalk on the steering, or gone old-school by offering a lever. But, what does Nissan decide to do? Give a knob that looks like the A/C controller from a 1990s entry-level hatch. Finally, the center console is hugged by two vertical A/C vents that - if you look carefully – replicate the steering wheel’s design.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Interior
- image 868140

As for the storage and seating, Nissan has that covered well.

The biggest factor here is that it is available only in crew cab configuration. So, there’s no dearth of space here whatsoever.

The 2020 Nissan Titan XD comes in five trims - S, SV, Pro-4X, SL, and Platinum Reserve – and all of them are equally spacious. The storage spaces were not thought out well in the preceding model. But in terms of space, you won’t find people complaining once inside. The seats are quite comfortable and placed at the right angles as well. To make things even brighter on the inside and make the feature list even richer, Nissan is offering a new dual-pane panoramic sunroof this time around on the SL and Platinum Reserve trims.

Drivetrain

  • 5.6-liter, V-8 gasoline engine
  • 400 horses
  • 413 pound-feet of Torque
  • New nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Shorter final drive ratio
  • 5.0-liter, Cummins V-8 engine discontinued
  • A host of driver assistance systems available
  • Towing capacity takes a big hit
2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868148

This facelift brings about a lot of changes to the Titan XD, mechanically speaking. The truck is now offered with just one engine option – the 5.6-liter, V-8 mill from the current model. The 5.0-liter, Cummins V-8 engine that’s offered on the current Titan XD will be discontinued from the facelift. But don’t fret, the engine is not carried over in the same state of tune.

Unlike the previous rendition where it developed 390 ponies and 394 pound-feet of twist, the 2020 Titan XD (as well as the Titan) has been pumped with 10 more horses and 19 pound-feet of torque.

The engine now makes 400 horses and 413 pound-feet of torque. Nissan also calls this engine ‘Endurance’. It is now mated to a brand-new nine-speed automatic gearbox that replaces the seven-speed auto transmission. A shorter 3.69:1 final-drive ratio replaces the prior 2.94:1 set which helps provide faster acceleration, thus keeping you in the right power band most of the time.

Although the 2020 Titan is available in two-wheel and four-wheel-drive options, the Titan XD can be had only with a four-wheel-drive system. The system also features a transfer case that’s designed to provide maximum power distribution in every gear. The transfer case distributes torque whenever the vehicle needs extra traction, especially in cases of snow, ice, sand, mud, dirt, water, or gravel. To make sure the Titan XD is, even more, off-road friendly, Nissan has included features like Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Brake Limited-Slip Differential, and the electronic locking rear differential. The 2020 Nissan Titan XD rides on double wishbone suspensions in the front and leaf springs in the rear.

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868073

Since the truck is meant to tow and haul stuff, let’s talk about its heavyweight lifting abilities. Nissan has not increased the towing and payload capacities on the 2020 Titan XD. In fact, you can say that the towing capacity has kind of dropped down in a way. Previously, the Titan XD could tow up to 12,480 pounds in the King Cab version, and 12,710 pounds in the Single Cab avatar. Not to mention, both these figures were for the diesel engines that have been retired.

So, the 2020 Titan XD in the Crew Cab form with the ‘Endurance’ engine can tow up to 10,950 pounds only. The payload capacity is also limited to 2,470 pounds as opposed to 2,990 pounds previously.

The Titan XD comes with a host of towing aids that you can choose from to make your life easy. These include the Integrated Trailer Brake Controller, Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Tow/Haul Mode with Downhill Speed Control, and a Trailer Light Check system. For the trailers hitched, you can get Rearview Monitor with trailer guides and a monitor that provides a composite 360-degree "bird’s eye" view. Not bad, huh?

Safety

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868125

We recently saw Ram 1500 win the highest accolades a pickup truck has ever earned. This shows how automakers are getting serious about offering safety features even on these big beasts. Nissan did its bit by making the Nissan Safety Shield 360 Package standard on the Titan. This includes Forward Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear-Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Departure Warning, and Automatic High-Beam Headlights. Optional items include Adaptive Cruise Control, Surround-View Camera, and Traffic-Sign-Recognition System. The Titan now comes with eight airbags and four seatbelt pre-tensioners, two each more than before. Other options include Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, and Intelligent Driver Alertness and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Pricing

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868123

Nissan has not unveiled the prices of the 2020 Titan XD yet. We don’t expect big changes here, but there will be a marginal increase in price. We are speculating a premium of $2,000-$5,000 over the current models. The current Titan XD in the Crew Cab configuration, packed with the Endurance engine and four-wheel-drive systems cost as follows:

2019 Nissan Titan XD prices
2019 Nissan Titan XD S $41,430
2019 Nissan Titan XD SV $45,740
2019 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X $49,490
2019 Nissan Titan XD SL $54,200
2019 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve $60,080

Competition

Ford F-150

2018 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior
- image 700449

The F-Series has been the top-selling truck series for four decades in a row in the States. All the trucks in the segment rival this beast in one way or the other. The 2021 F-150 is expected to come with humongous changes, but for now, let’s focus on the current-gen that will take on the 2020 Titan. The truck is not a looker and does not top the list in terms of aesthetics, but it is not an eye-sore either. The F-150 comes in multiple trims and the top trim is loaded to the gill. On the flip side, the base trims are very basic and barely come with any features.

Ford offers six engines on the F-150, but here are the top three. The first one is the 2.7-liter, turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine that produces 325 ponies and 400 pound-feet of twist. Power is sent to the wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The second EcoBoost engine is the 3.5-liter, V-6 mill that churns out 375 horses and 470 pound-feet of torque. This engine is also mated to the same 10-speed automatic gearbox that is mated to the 2.7-liter engine. The largest of the lot is the 5.0-liter, V-8 mill that develops 395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The maximum towing capacity is rated at 13,200 pounds.

Read our full review on the Ford F-150

Ram 1500

2019 Ram 1500 Exterior
- image 760707

Ram trucks are the next big thing in the industry, and it is only logical to pit the Titan XD against this monster. Just like the Titan, even the Ram 1500 comes with different grilles depending on the trim. It has an intimidating stance and looks quite bulky overall. On the inside, it is one of the most luxurious trucks you can have at this price point. The top trim comes with all the bells and whistles you wish for. Also, there’s the MultiFunction tailgate that offers so much versatility. However, the biggest change in the 2020 Ram 1500 is the third-gen EcoDiesel engine.

It is a 3.0-liter, V-6 mill that generates 260 horses and 480 pound-feet of torque. This is a noticeable increase over the second-gen EcoDiesel engine that produced 240 ponies and 420 pound-feet of torque. It will be mated to the existing eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission. Trucks equipped with the new mill can tow up to 12,560 pounds compared to the previous rating of 9,300 pounds. The truck also became the first official full-size pickup to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating. Is there anything Ram can go wrong with these days? The truck starts at $31,895, whereas the ones equipped with the EcoDiesel engine start at $36,890.

Read our full review on the 2019 Ram 1500

Final Thoughts

2020 Nissan Titan XD Exterior
- image 868120

Nissan needs the 2020 Titan XD to bring in big sales for the company. The Japanese automaker has made a lot of cuts here, be it the body styles or the engine eliminations, or even the non-availability of the two-wheel-drive system. The discontinuation of the Cummins engine may not please everyone and dropping it on the next-gen Titan would’ve been better. But, given the stringent emission norms these days and the falling demand, there is no reason for it to continue.

Being the heavy-duty version of the standard Titan, this truck needed better figures to make a strong case for itself. The diesel mills in the single cab were the best haulers in the Titan XD range. But, now we are left with the combination that tows the lowest. Nissan has committed a blunder with this and I’m almost certain that it won’t pose a threat to the competitors.

If the Japanese automaker could have increased the towing capacity as well, the Titan would have become a strong competitor. Currently, it does not sell as much as the Fords, or the Rams, or the Chevy twins. The company is moving less than 3,000 examples per month on an average, which is way lower than the competition. There are a lot of positives to take, like better cabin features and smarter looks. But, are these things enough to mask the towing and payload capacity disappointments? I liked the truck, but I’m afraid to say that Nissan may have bombed the product already.

  • Leave it
    • Towing and payload capacities are not its strong suits
    • The 5.0-liter, Cummins V-8 engine will be missed in the workhorse
    • No two-wheel-drive or body configurations to choose from

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