It’s not enough that truck manufacturers make major changes to their vehicles. As a rule, truck drivers tend to be traditionalists, often sticking to one brand and model, with many loyalties passed down from generation to generation, like Yankees vs Red Sox, or USC vs UCLA. That is why it is surprising that Nissan has rolled out an entirely new Titan for 2020 with the goal of competing with the leading truck manufacturers. But, it seems that General Motors may be up to the challenge with its flagship GMC Sierra 1500. In addition, there is always a question with a complete redesign, since all prior reviews, whether professional or consumer, going out the window. The buyers of a new redesign are taking a risk that the new model will be a lemon, and there is almost no way to know until you drive it out of the dealership. And that may be the biggest issue for a new model like the 2020 Nissan Titan. These trucks were not yet released, and Nissan has been rather stingy with a great deal of information, making some of this speculative based on the information released to the public as of this date. Nevertheless, in the following, we will pit the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2020 Nissan Titan, and let you know the advantages of each vehicle.
Performance Features of the Sierra 1500 and Titan
The biggest change for the 2020 Titan is that Nissan has made its 5.6-liter V8 engine standard in all trim classes. This operates on a 9-speed automatic transmission and is rated to produce up to 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. In other words, this is a very powerful engine, especially for a base model standard size truck. This gives the Titan a possible payload capacity of 1,680 pounds and the ability to tow up to 9,370 pounds, based on early reports. However, it also may be too much engine for a truck of its size, as one early review criticized it for having a ride “with less refinement than newer rivals.” Also, there are no other engine options for the 2020 Nissan Titan. For example, the company did away with its turbo diesel, which had been available in 2019 models of the Nissan Titan XD.
In contrast, the base model 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 has a smaller engine. The standard engine is a 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6 gas engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine has been rated to produce up to 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. If your GMC Sierra 1500 is configured as a regular cab, you should be able to tow up to 7,900 pounds and carry a payload of up to 2,431 pounds. As you can see, the Nissan gives you slightly more power for towing but loses about one thousand pounds of payload capacity in its bed.
In addition, GMC gives drivers the option of upgrading to a larger engine on its Sierra 1500. Drivers can choose a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 VO gas engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This has been rated to produce up to 353 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. If you choose this larger engine, you should be able to tow up to 10,000 pounds with your Sierra 1500, which is almost 700 pounds more than the Nissan Titan. By GMC giving drivers the option to choose between the two engines, this allows them to make their own choice between power and fuel efficiency. Nissan has decided to make this decision for you, and in any event, its engine is still not as powerful as the upgraded one on the Sierra.
Nissan has configured the 2020 Titan in only two models: a two-door two-row king cab, and a four-door two-row crew cab. This may be a mistake since there are many truck buyers who want the option of a two-door one-row regular cab, particularly those who are using their truck primarily for commercial purposes. General Motors continues to offer more configurations for the Sierra 1500, with a two-door one-row regular cab, a two-door two-row double cab, and a four-door two-row Crew Cab.
Nissan has not yet released the official MSRP for the 2020 Nissan Titan. However, industry sources have estimated that it will be about $39,000 for the base model. If this is the case, then this will be significantly more than the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500. The base model regular cab with a 4.3-liter engine has an MSRP of $31,195. Since the 2020 Nissan Titan does not have a regular cab, a comparable 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 with double cab, rear-wheel drive, and 4.3-liter engine has an MSRP of only $35,095, fully $4,000 less than the industry estimate for the Titan. This gives the GMC Sierra buyer the option of pocketing the difference or using it to add on optional features or a higher trim level than the buyer of the base model Nissan Titan.
All 2020 Nissan Titan trucks come with the full range of Nissan Safety System 360 features. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and a rearview camera. Nissan should be commended for this, as most manufacturers still only include these smart technology safety features as standard on their higher trim models, and make those who buy entry-level models pay a premium for these features as an extra. Hopefully, this will become standard practice for all truck manufacturers in the future, much like how anti-lock braking systems became standard features on all vehicles by the end of the Nineties.
The base model 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 has a number of safety features as well. These include a rear vision camera, StabiliTrak, and a tire pressure monitoring system. However, it is clear that the Nissan Titan has more standard safety features. If you want the same safety features in the Sierra 1500, you will probably have to use some of your price savings to pay for them as an upgrade.
An early report has taken issue with one safety feature on the 2020 Nissan Titan. It found that the camera system was “blurry” and that Nissan does not offer any cameras for trailering. The same report went on to commend General Motors for offering up to 15 additional cameras for the 2020 GMC Sierra, including “one that lets drivers ‘see-through’ their trailer.”
One item that is only found on General Motors vehicles is its Teen Driver system. This is especially useful if you have a young driver in your household. Teen Driver allows you to set speed limits on your truck, prevent the young driver from disengaging any safety features, and issues you a post-trip report so you can keep track of their driving.
Because both automakers seem committed to safety, Nissan offers more features standard, but some safety features appear to be better on the GMC Sierra, this looks to be fairly even.
The biggest issue with buying a 2020 Nissan Titan may be that there just isn’t enough information available for you to make an educated choice. While some reviewers loved the new engine, others complained about the ride and found the styling “unimpressive.” Such things can be fairly subjective, with one person loving the way a truck looks and another finding it repulsive. Nevertheless, if you buy a 2020 Nissan Titan, you are going to be acting as a guinea pig for other truck buyers. If you feel confident as a new pioneer and being the first to try something is what you love to do, then it may be worth taking the risk. But, considering the price for a new truck, that can be a very costly gamble on your part. Further, if the early criticism of the 2020 Nissan Titan is true, then it may be a risk that is not worth taking. Finally, on many objective points, including engine choices, payload capacity, maximum towing, price, and configuration options, the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 clearly has the 2020 Nissan Titan beat.