- 2020 Nissan Titan gets a face-lift along with some welcomed upgrades.
- Tundra is the oldest pickup on the market, but touts Toyota reliability.
- Both trucks offer standard active safety tech along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for 2020.
While Ford, General Motors and Ram dominate the half-ton pickup market, the segment is so huge that there’s still room for a few smaller players to and find success selling full-size trucks. That’s where Nissan and Toyota come in. The 2020 Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra won’t sell in nearly the volume of the offerings of Ford, GM or Ram, nor are they as modern as their American counterparts, but they still have a loyal following and are certain to sell in significant numbers. As both the Titan and Tundra receive some updates for 2020, we’ll compare the newest iterations of these two trucks in a number of categories below to help you understand which one makes more sense for your own needs.
The Titan is built at Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi. Redesigned for 2016, the full-size Titan gets a mild refresh for 2020 consisting of updated front and rear fascias, a new 9-speed automatic transmission, a newly available 9-in infotainment system, a panoramic sunroof and a few other improvements. Since the Titan’s 2016 redesign, Nissan has also offered the Titan XD, which offers increased capability relative to the regular Titan, but still falls well short of the capability of the heavy duty trucks offered by the American big three. Sales of the Titan XD have been slow, and after the cancelling of its optional diesel powertrain for 2020, the vehicle’s future may be in doubt. Regardless, we’ll focus solely on the non-XD Titan for the purposes of this comparison. While pricing for the 2020 Titan has yet to be released at the time of this writing, the 2019 model started off at about $35,000 for a basic 2-wheel drive (2WD) extended cab model in the base trim and topped out at around $61,000 for a loaded Platinum Reserve model. See the 2020 Nissan Titan models for sale near you
Tundra production takes place alongside the Tacoma at Toyota’s truck plant in San Antonio Texas. The Tundra last received a full redesign in 2007, but a moderate refresh for 2014 has helped it to stay relevant. Still, its 5.7-liter V8 has gone virtually untouched in almost 15 years and is currently way behind the times. Still, Toyota’s reputation for building the toughest trucks around, along with the well-marketed TRD Pro off-road halo model are what help the Tundra to stay relevant today despite its ancient architecture. The 2020 Toyota Tundra starts out at about $35,000 for a basic 2WD SR model and tops out at $55,000 its top-spec TRD Pro trim. See the 2020 Toyota Tundra models for sale near you
The Titan gets some powertrain adjustments for 2020. It’s still packing a great 5.6-liter V8, but Nissan’s retuned it and now advertises it as offering 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque as long as you give it premium fuel. New for 2020 is a 9-speed automatic transmission. Developed in-house by Nissan, the transmission is seeing its first application in the updated Titan, and should offer more linear power delivery and faster acceleration on the highway.
Fuel economy figures for the 2020 Titan have yet to be released, but expect them to come in as good or better than those of the 2019 model, which was rated at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 21 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in combined driving for both rear-wheel drive (RWD) and 4-wheel drive (4WD) Titans.
While base models came with a smaller 4.6-liter V8 a few years back, the 2020 Tundra is offered exclusively with a 5.7-liter V8 putting out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy comes in at a rather dismal 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined for 2WD models, or 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy/14 mpg combined with 4WD.
The Tundra and Titan follow a similar trim level structure. Aside from their mainstream trims — SR, SR5 and Limited in the case of the Tundra and S, SV and SL in the case of the Titan — both trucks offer specialty versions geared toward either off-road capability or on-road comfort.
While the Tundra TRD Pro is a little more in-your-face than the Titan Pro-4X, both have their merits. Visually, the TRD Pro is a little more differentiated from the rest of the Tundra lineup than the Pro-4X is from the mainstream Titan trims. The TRD-Pro also comes with special Fox-branded internal bypass shock absorbers that improve both travel and dampening, along with a specially tuned exhaust and a more prominent skid plate up front. The Titan on the other hand comes with more basic Bilstein off-road shocks but is offered with both a locking rear differential and a hill-descent control system, neither of which are available on any Tundra model. While the Tundra’s special shocks are probably better for driving fast off-road, the Titan’s rear locker and hill-descent system means it’s probably better in the technical stuff.
Onto the luxury trims. For the Tundra, these are the Platinum and 1974 Editions, the latter of which is a western-themed take on the former. Either trim comes with 20-in wheels, heated and ventilated leather seats, LED headlights with manual leveling controls, a basic sunroof, a premium JBL-branded audio system and some fancy trim pieces. The Titan’s luxury trim is dubbed Platinum Reserve and comes with 20-in wheels, a large panoramic sunroof (new for 2020), 2-tone leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a surround-view monitor, dark chrome running boards, Platinum Reserve badging and a number of other unique trim pieces like a Satin Chrome tailgate applique.
While the Titan offers a clever foot-activated accessory step that swings out from the rear bed corner, Toyota doesn’t offer any clever way for accessing the Tundra’s bed. One unique feature that the Tundra does offer is a power retractable rear window that slides all the way down into the bodywork, just like the side windows. This is the only feature like this in the pickup segment.
While figures for the 2020 Titan have yet to be released, the Tundra offers more towing capacity than the 2019 Titan did. Fitted with either the extended cab or crew cab, the 2019 Titan could tow a maximum of 9,400 pounds and offers a max payload capacity of 1,630 pounds. The Tundra is capable of towing up to 10,200 pounds and offers a maximum payload of 1,730 pounds.
These two trucks are pretty evenly matched in regard to size, although the Tundra offers a little more space where it counts. Up front, the Titan has 41.0 inches of headroom and 41.8 inches of legroom. The Tundra offers slightly less headroom at 39.7 inches, but more legroom, with 42.5 inches.
In crew cab form, the Titan offers 40.4 inches of headroom and 38.5 inches of legroom in its second row to the Tundra’s 38.9 and 42.3 inches.
While it’s dependent on trim level, the Tundra can be had as an extended cab with either a 6.5-ft or 8.1-ft bed, or as a crew cab (which Toyota refers to as "CrewMax") with a 5.5-ft short bed. Nissan keeps things a little simpler with the Titan, offering it as either an extended cab with a 6.5-ft bed or as a crew cab with a 5.5-ft bed. As of 2020, neither truck offers a basic single-cab variant.
Infotainment and Cabin Tech
For 2020, the Titan comes standard with an 8-in infotainment screen, but a new 9-in unit is now optional. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the board. The NissanConnect infotainment system is modern and easy enough to use. Other tech offered in the Titan includes a 4G LTE-powered Wi-Fi hot spot, a Fender-branded audio system, a wireless charging pad and a good array of charging ports and 12-volt outlets.
Toyota opted to rectify one of the Tundra’s major weak points for 2020, giving it standard Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility for 2020, the inclusion of which makes up for some of the shortcomings of Toyota’s own infotainment software. SR models come with a 7-in infotainment screen, while all other trims get a new 8-in unit for 2020. The Tundra can also offer a 4G LTE-driven Wi-Fi connection for up to five devices at once.
Altogether, while it’s close, the Titan’s available 9-in screen gives it a small leg up in this category.
While the 2020 model has yet to be tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2019 Titan received good marks in all crashworthiness categories. It earned a score of Acceptable for LATCH child safety restraint system ease of use, a Marginal for headlights and earned no points for its lack of a front crash prevention system. Since the 2020 model comes with new headlights and standard automatic emergency braking, we fully expect it to rectify these two issues and come away with a near-perfect score if the IIHS decides to test it.
The updated Titan comes standard with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 across all configurations and trim levels. This means that every 2020 Titan comes with forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams and a rear automatic braking system. Adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, a 360-degree surround-view camera system and a driver alertness monitor are also available.
The Tundra doesn’t score quite as well, which is undoubtedly due to its 14-year-old design. It earns a score of Marginal in the driver-side small front overlap test, and a Poor in the passenger-side small front overlap test. It also gets an Acceptable for roof strengths. Headlights get a score of Marginal, while LATCH ease of use gets an Acceptable. The Tundra gets the maximum available points in the front crash prevention category for its automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection system, which has been offered as standard since the 2018 model year.
In addition, the Tundra also comes standard with lane-departure warning, automatic high beams and radar cruise control. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection is available on all but the base SR trim.
Overall, the 2020 Titan is easily the safer of these two vehicles, due primarily to its proven crash test performance, not to mention the inclusion of standard active safety tech for the new model year.
Warranty & Reliability
One way that the Titan differentiates itself from the pack is by offering a best-in-class 5-year/100,000-mile bumper to bumper warranty, which gives it a leg up on the Tundra (plus every other vehicle in the segment) with its more traditional 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.
In reliability rankings (and there are a lot of them), the Tundra typically scores at or near the top of the segment, while the Titan generally ranks toward the middle of the pack. Toyota trucks are renowned for their reliability, which is part of the reason the Tundra remains competitive today, despite its archaic design.
Even without its face-lift for the coming model year, the Titan is an all-around newer truck than the Tundra, and it isn’t hard to see how this makes it a more competitive entry heading into 2020. While both trucks now offer modern infotainment systems and a good array of active safety features as standard, the Titan has the upper hand in a number of areas. First and foremost, its 5.6-liter V8 is a more modern engine than the Tundra’s 5.7-liter V8 and as such, earns significantly better fuel economy while also making slightly more power. The Titan’s new 9-speed automatic transmission is also more modern than the Tundra’s 6-speed, which generally means smoother shifts and better highway acceleration. Finally, the Titan performs significantly better in crash testing than the Tundra, yet another benefit of its more modern design. Despite the Titan’s upgrades for 2020, it’s still possible that the Tundra will still offer the higher maximum towing and payload ratings, but either way the numbers should still be so close that this is hardly worth factoring into your decision. And if you need to tow more, Nissan offers the Titan XD, which comes with additional capacity. Two things the Tundra has going for it at this point in its life cycle are its lower price tag and reputation for strong reliability, both of which serve to make it a viable alternative to the Titan. So as we head into 2020, the Nissan Titan is pound-for-pound a better truck than the Toyota Tundra, but when you factor in the Tundra’s lower price, the playing field becomes a little more level. Find a Nissan Titan for sale or Find a Toyota Tundra for sale