The 2020 Nissan Titan finds itself in a pickle

When the Nissan Titan debuted over a decade and a half ago it offered something distinctive: creative packaging such as a fender-mounted lockable storage cubby. The second-generation truck debuted with a muddier mission. It wanted to be like other trucks.

The problem is most of the other full-size pickup trucks are really good. America doesn’t actually run on Dunkin’, America runs on trucks. The Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and especially the Ram 1500 are all stiff competition. 

With a TCC Rating of 5.4 out of 10 the 2020 Nissan Titan wins our hearts over with a strong powertrain, distinct look, and comfortable interior, but the interior isn’t first-class, it drinks gas, and fails to really innovate in a meaningful way.

I spent a week with the 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X picking up groceries, hauling pickle-making supplies, and road tripping to northern Minnesota and here’s what I learned along with a pickle recipe for your eating pleasure.

Hit: No longer derivative

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

The second-generation Titan debuted with a derivative look with zero real brand identity. It was a mashup of other pickup trucks on the exterior. The 2020 refresh finally channels the Warrior Concept from the 2016 Detroit auto show with distinct headlights, and a grille with a Titan logo, just like the Titan logo in the taillight design. Way to finally be you, Titan!

Miss: Where’s the innovation?

The Ford F-150 features a smart bedstep that’s integrated into the tailgate. The GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 feature useful steps integrated into the rear bumper. The Titan features a bolted-on rear bumper step that feels like a tacked-on accessory from the aftermarket rather than an integrated solution. That creative, lockable storage cubby in the rear fender of the first-generation Titan’s bed is history.

Hit: What an engine!

Every Titan is powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque (when being fed premium fuel that many other V-8s don’t require). It’s smooth. It sounds fantastic. It feels strong with a surprising amount of grunt that put a smile on my father’s face. 

Miss: It drinks, a lot

Trucks aren’t usually efficient, but the only truck that gets worse fuel economy than the Titan is the Tundra. That’s not a race you want to lose. Despite the fact the Titan gained a 9-speed automatic transmission for 2020, it has EPA ratings of 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, 17 combined. That is far from pack-leading diesel trucks that get up to 27 mpg highway. On the highway over the course of over 200 miles at more than 70 mph, my Titan tester averaged 17.8 mpg according to the onboard trip computer. Not stellar.

Hit: It’s comfortable 

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

The front seats of the Titan are all-day comfortable, even for someone experiencing sciatica (it wasn’t me, I swear). The seating position isn’t as high as one will find in the Ram 1500 and is akin to the Ford F-150’s experience where you are seated up high with good visibility unlike the bunker-like Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The seats aren’t wide couch cushions like in the Toyota Tundra, but fit my 5-foot-10-inch frame perfectly. 

Miss: Not for all

I’m not a terribly wide person. The Titan Pro-4X’s seats fit me like a glove, but larger humans might not feel the same way. The seats in the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are noticeably wider. 

Hit: Smaller than others

The competition has grown immensely. The Titan hasn’t. Throw stuff into the Titan’s bed and you can actually reach it, even over the bed sides. What a concept. You can’t do that in a Ford F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The cab is smaller too, especially in the rear. This makes the overall footprint of the Titan smaller and makes it easier to maneuver in parking lots. It’s the only full-size four-door pickup truck on the market that will fit length-wise in my standard garage.

Miss: Economy class rear end

That smaller cab means those in the rear aren’t living like a king as they would in the crew cabs of a full four-door F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ram 1500, or even the Toyota Tundra. My kids didn’t complain once, but I know which truck I’d choose to ride in the back of for a cross-country road trip and it wouldn’t be a Titan despite its comfortable seats.

The 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X is a capable, comfortable, powerful, and good-looking truck. Its biggest issue is that other trucks are more capable, more comfortable, more powerful, and better looking. 

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

And now, for a pickle recipe:

1. Make a brine of ½ gallon spring water and ⅓ cup plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Mix to ensure salt dissolves in spring water.

2. Put a healthy-size head of dill, two baby carrots, 1.5 garlic cloves into a wide-mouth quart jar.

3. Pack the wide-mouth quart jar with clean cucumbers. Pack the larger ones on the bottom and fill around and finish packing with the smaller ones. Keep the cucumbers below the neck of the jar. Tap the jar on a hard wood surface to settle the cucumbers.

4. Pour the brine into the quart jar to cover the cucumbers but stop about ¼ inch from the top. Leave a little breathing room for expansion.

5. Put the lids on the wide-mouth jars, but don’t over tighten.

6. Let the cucumbers marinate in the brine for 5-7 days at room temperature, not in the sun.

7. Put the quarts into a refrigerator after 5-7 days, begin eating. Bon appétit!

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

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2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X

Base price: $37,785

Price as tested: $60,180

EPA fuel economy: 15/21/17 mpg

The hits: Distinct design that’s no longer derivative, comfortable seats, fits in a garage, great V-8

The misses: Small back seat, drinks gas, no easy way to get into the bed.

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