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Check out the 2020 Nissan Titan ESPN 97.5's Joel Blank is driving this week

ESPN 97.5 Houston host Joel Black is test driving a 2020 Nissan Titan this week for AutomotiveMap.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Joel Blank, co-host of "The Press Box" on ESPN 97.5 Houston and a SportsMap contributor, is test driving the 2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X this week. Curious about the truck? Here's what you need to know.

The Nissan Titan is the company's full-size pickup truck.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In the Nissan lineup, it slots above the Nissan Frontier.

Nissan sells two different types of Titans, the Titan and the Titan XD.

The Titan's main competitors are the best-selling vehicles in the country - the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and Chevrolet Silverado. It also competes with the GMC Sierra and Toyota Tundra. These are all half-ton pickup trucks.

The Titan XD isn't a half-ton pickup and it isn't quite a three-quarter ton either. Nissan gives the Titan XD a stronger chassis which gives it more payload and towing capacity but not quite as much as the Ford Super Duty or Chevrolet Silverado HD. Nissan does sell a PRO-4X variant of the Titan XD.

Nissan refreshed the truck for 2020 and made big improvements.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Despite the fact that the current generation of the Nissan Titan is only a few years old, it aged quickly as Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC all introduced new models in the last 18 months.

Nissan debuted the 2020 Titan at the State Fair of Texas last year (above). It features redesigned front and rear fascias, a boatload of new tech, and bigger differentiation between trim levels.

The company has also streamlined the number of Titan offerings making it easier for dealerships to have the right stock on hand for when buyers arrive for a test drive.

Joel's driving the Titan PRO-4X. What does that mean?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Titan comes in a variety of trim levels: S, SV, SL, PRO-4X, and Platinum Reserve. The Titan S is the base model and the Titan Platinum Reserve is the top-tier truck. The Titan PRO-4X isn't just the Platinum model with a few less features. It's a totally different take on the truck with more rugged looks and off-road-ready equipment.

That also means that the truck is crew cab model with a 5.5" bed. Nissan doesn't sell the PRO-4X in any other configuration.

The Titan PRO-4X stands out.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Unique exterior accents separate the Titan PRO-4X from other Titans on the street. It features LED front fog lamps, automatic headlights, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, Nissan Intelligent Key with door handle request switch, semi-gloss dark painted over fenders, semi-gloss dark grey lower front fascia and rear bumpers, and a black tailgate finisher with PRO-4X logo and bedside decals.

What color is that?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan sells the Titan PRO-4X in six exterior colors: Red Alert, Baja Storm, Deep Blue Pearl Metallic, Super Black, Gun Metallic, and Glacier White. The truck Joel has this week sports a Baja Storm paint job and a black interior.

All Titans have the same engine.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan does a lot of things differently than Ford, Ram, and GM. This is one of them. Buyers will get a 5.6-liter V8 gasoline engine under the hood of whatever Titan they buy, no matter the trim level, box, or cab size.

The 5.6-liter V8 yields 400 horse power and 413 pound-feet of torque. That's enough to get it going promptly. The truck has no problem getting up to speed on the highway, towing is maximum load, or picking its way up a rocky hillside.

That last bit is in large part thanks to its new nine-speed automatic transmission.

You said "rocky hillside." How capable is the Titan PRO-4X off-road, really?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Titan PRO-4X is the only Titan that comes with an electronic locking rear differential. The trim level is only offered with four-wheel drive. It also comes with an off-road gauge display, tire pressure monitoring system, Bilstein mono-tube shocks, and a "PRO-4X" embossed skid plate. It also has hill descent control, which helps moderate your speed when you're heading down a steep slope. The Titan PRO-4X rides on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in General 275/70R18 tires.

But can it haul and tow?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Titan is capable of towing and hauling. The Titan PRO-4X comes standard with a spray-on bedliner; Removable, lockable, and damped tailgate; four fixed tie-down hooks; and a rear cab roof-mounted LED light. Front tow hooks are standard on the Titan PRO-4X, as is trailer sway control, and receiver hitch.

The list of available equipment is just as extensive. Buyers can get a Titan with Trailer Light Check, an integrated trailer brake controller, rearview camera with trailer guides, Tow/Haul drive mode, Intelligent Around View Monitor, front and rear sonar sensors, an in-bed 110-volt power outlet, four moveable aluminum cleats; cargo bed lights; a rear utility bed step; and LED lights under the bed rail.

A built-in four- and seven-pin connector and plug with connector in the bumper are available as part of the tow package.

The 4x2 Titan is actually slightly more capable than the 4x4 model. It has a maximum trailer towing capacity of 9,350 pounds and 935 pounds of tongue towing capacity when properly equipped. The Titan 4x4 models have a maximum trailer towing capacity of 9,210 pounds and 921 pounds of tongue towing capacity when properly equipped. Titan has a maximum payload capacity of up to 1,630 pounds.

How many people fit into it?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Titan PRO-4X comes with seating for five. Up front are two spacious bucket seats. In the back is a three-seater bench. There's enough legroom for adults in both rows. Two car seats fit with plenty of room to spare.

What's included in the Titan PRO-4X base price?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan has given the Titan PRO-4X a long list of standard comfort and convenience features. It has:

  • Front driver and passenger captain's seats
  • Driver eight-way power-adjustable seat
  • Driver power lumbar support
  • Stain resistant seat covering with a vinyl bolster and "PRO-4X" embroidery
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique contrast stitching
  • Metallic instrument panel finishers
  • "PRO-4X" branded floor mats
  • Contrast stitching on the center console lid, arm rest, and instrument panel
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Climate control digital display
  • Rear climate control vents
  • Center console box with soft-touch topped armrest
  • Side pockets
  • Rear cup holders
2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The list of standard technology in the truck is also long. It includes:

  • NissanConnect with navigation
  • 9.0-inch infotainment touch screen
  • SiriusXM with Travel Link (subscription required, sold separately)
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Wi-Fi hot spot with seven-device capability (data subscription required, sold separately)
  • 7.0-inch driver information display

The Titan's touch screen features WXGA resolution, which is a step higher than what traditional high-definition screens offer.

Buyers can opt for a dual-pane panoramic moonroof that measures over three-feet square.

You can pump up the jams too.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

A 12-speaker premium sound system powered by Fender is available. In the Titan base model, there is a six-speaker sound system. Titan PRO-4X buyers who don't want to upgrade to the Fender system still get a 12-speaker system.

Nissan has loaded the truck with safety features.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Each Titan comes standard with Nissan Safety Shield 360, a suite of six advanced driver-assist systems. Safety Shield 360 includes:

  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Blind spot warning
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning
  • High beam assist
  • Rear automatic braking (class exclusive)

Additionally, there are a number of available technologies including intelligent forward collision warning, intelligent around view monitor, adaptive cruise control, driver alertness monitoring, and traffic sign recognition.

All models also get Nissan's rear door alert.

It has the best warranty you can get on a new truck.

Nissan offers the Titan with America's Best Truck Warranty, a bumper-to-bumper limited warranty for five years or 100,000 miles.

What does the truck cost?

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Monroney

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The truck that Joel is driving this week comes all-in at $60,180. That's the total after all costs are factored in. Check out the truck's actual Monroney above. Here's how that breaks down:

  • Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Base Price: $49,790
  • PRO-4X Utility Package: $2,190
    • Front and rear parking sensors
    • Utili-Track System with four tie-down cleats
    • 110-volt outlet in bed
    • LED under rail and tailgate illumination
    • Power slide rear window with defrost
    • Fender Premium Audio system
    • Electronic locking tailgate
    • Trailer brake controller
    • Proximity headlamps and cargo lamp activation
    • Rear utility bed step
  • PRO-4X Convenience Package: $3,390
    • Leather appointed seats with contrasting stitching and PRO-4X embroidery
    • Four-way power passenger seat
    • Heated front seats
    • Automatic entry/exit driver seat
    • Heated steering wheel with power tilt-telescoping
    • Memory function for steering wheel, driver's seat, and outside mirrors
    • Remote engine start
    • Auto-dimming outside mirrors with reverse automatic tilt
    • Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection
    • Trailer light function check
  • PRO-4X Moonroof Package: $1,490
    • Dual panel panoramic moonroof with tilt, slide, and one-touch open/close
    • Driver and passenger ventilated seats
  • Protection Package: $390
    • Off-road adventure kit
    • Adventure medic kit
    • All season floor mats
  • PRO-4X Mud Flaps: $285
  • PRO-4X Rugged Step Boards: $1,050
  • Destination Charge: $1,595

Be sure to listen to Blank, along with co-host Charlie Pallilo, weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT at 97.5 FM in Houston or via the 97.5 Houston smartphone app, which is available via Google Play or the Apple App Store.

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The new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is coming soon to a LEGO store near you.

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The Jeep Wrangler has fans the world over. For those fans whose extracurricular activities include LEGO building along with Jeeping, there's a new LEGO Technic model they'll want to take a look at. The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the first LEGO model of a Jeep SUV.

Ask any Jeep Wrangler owner and they'll tell you that their vehicle is just a bigger version of this new LEGO set," said Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design. "The design of the Jeep Wrangler allows them to take it apart, top off, doors off, reconfigure it, add new pieces from our Mopar team, and then put it back together again. This LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler should bring a new level of joy to our Jeep enthusiasts and help inspire future designers to the brand."

LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The 665-piece model features all the classic Jeep hallmarks - a performance 4x4 system, rugged tires, fold-down rear seats, and a seven-slot grille. It features a button operated front steering system and axle-articulation suspension. It has a yellow-and-black color scheme.

"The Jeep Wrangler is an icon in the off-road world" says Lars Thygesen, Designer, LEGO Technic. "The Rubicon has a lot of the iconic details loved by 4x4 fans the world over, so it was important to me to pack as many of the authentic, powerful features of the real vehicle into the LEGO Technic replica. I hope LEGO fans and vehicle lovers enjoy all aspects including the suspension, winch and open air design that we developed alongside the talented Jeep design team."

The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler is designed for Jeep and LEGO fans alike, aged 9 and above. It will be available from January 1st 2021 from LEGO.com, LEGO stores and other retailers globally, priced at [49.99€/49.99$/£44.99].

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Audi is only making the car for U.S. customers.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2021 Audi R8 Panther special edition is one of the rarer gifts you can get for your garage this holiday season. With a limited run of 30 coupes in the works, the R8 Panther edition models are the first available units in the R8 rear-wheel-drive model line and available only for U.S. customers.

If the name sounds familiar to you, that's because it should. The R8 Panther edition joins the 2019 RS 5 Panther edition, which was also a limited run and featured the same paint color and interior upholstery.

2021 Audi R8 Panther The hallmarks of the model include its black paint job and red-edged wheels.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The unique 2021 R8 Panther comes covered in an Audi-exclusive Panther Black crystal effect paint job with carbon exterior mirror housings. Its badging has been coated in black. The model rides on 20-inch five-double-spoke dynamic design wheels that have been milled cut, finished in matte black with red trim, and wrapped in summer performance tires.

Your neighbors will hear you leaving the cul-de-sac thanks to the car's sport exhaust system, which amplifies the sound of the V10 engine. LED headlights and LED taillights, with dynamic turn signals will help their eyes follow your path on the way out as they peer out their windows.

The R8 Panther is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V1 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It has a top track speed of 201 mph.

The chassis of the R8 Panther edition has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber.

2021 Audi R8 Panther

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The model has a full black leather interior with Crimson red stitching. Its racing shells seats are covered in red Nappa leather and have power height and manual fore/art seat adjustment. The car's gear selector and parcel shelf are covered in Alcantara, and the headliner features a diamond-stitched Alcantara. Audi has given the model a brand-exclusive steering wheel with leather/Alcantara and 12 o'clock marker as well as exclusive R8 floor mats with Crimson red leather edging.

Audi virtual cockpit, Audi smartphone interface, Audi phone box with signal booster, navigation, a 13-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system, and illuminated door sill inlays are included.

A carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades while the carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents, as well as the center console.

The 2021 R8 Panther edition will be available in select dealerships this month with an MSRP of $183,300. There is an additional $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax, sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

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