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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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New Amazon Fire TV for Auto technology is debuting in the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are set to be unveiled soon. Ahead of those debuts, Jeep has announced that those vehicles will be the first in the industry to integrate Amazon Fire TV for Auto.

Amazon Fire TV for Auto will give Wagoneer family occupants access to their favorite shows, movies, apps, unique vehicle features, and Alexa. It will communicate directly with the SUV's Uconnect 5 infotainment operating system. Just like in other Amazon devices, content syncs with an existing Amazon account. This means that customers will be able to pause a show in their home and seamlessly continue watching once they get into their vehicle.

"The all-new 2022 model-year Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are designed and engineered to set a new standard for American premium in the large SUV segment," said Christian Meunier, Jeep® Brand Chief Executive Officer - Stellantis. "Launching Fire TV for Auto as an industry-first technology to the Wagoneer lineup illustrates one of the many ways we intend to deliver class-leading technology and connectivity to our customers."

Amazon The screen for Amazon Fire TV for Auto looks very similar to what you'd see on a TV at your home.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Amazon

Fire TV for Auto builds on the Fire TV experience that exists today with unique features that include:

  • Passengers can view Fire TV in high definition from the rear seats and the front passenger screen (a privacy filter disables driver viewing). When the vehicle is in park, the driver also can view Fire TV on the main Uconnect 5 screen
  • Touchscreen controls and support for compatible content can be downloaded on trips where wireless service is limited or to save on data
  • A Fire TV for Auto-specific remote provides control of the experience and includes push-to-talk access to Alexa, making it easy to find and quickly play shows
  • The remote includes a button that connects Fire TV with the new Uconnect 5 system for control of vehicle features, such as climate, maps and more

"We reimagined Fire TV for the automobile with a purpose-built experience that delivers the best in entertainment, anywhere you go," said Sandeep Gupta, Vice President and General Manager of Amazon Fire TV. "With Fire TV built in, customers can stream their favorite shows, see if they left the lights on at home with Alexa, and take advantage of unique controls through the Uconnect system."

Fire TV for Auto will be packaged with other connected services and made available in fall 2021 in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

This isn't the first time a Stellantis company has been on the cutting edge of in-vehicle tech. Jeep's stablemate, Ram, was the first to integrate SiriusXM 360L into a vehicle, its 2019 Ram 1500.

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The Nissan GT-R probably isn't the first supercar that comes to mind, but it's worthy of consideration if you're not all about being seen.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

You put the pedal down. A confident growl busts out the back end. The wheels may squeal, and you might too. It's not all about the power, though it has plenty. The 2021 Nissan GT-R delivers the type of drive experience that you're never going to get from an electric vehicle - and it's magnificent.

Godzilla has been in production since 2007 with nips and tucks and add-ons here and there along the way. It's not as sleek or stylish as the Audi E-Tron GT or even Audi's R8. There's no giant wing out back à la McLaren and certainly nothing Italian about it. The GT-R is it's own man.

Even areas of the country that are supercar-heavy, aren't heavy with GT-Rs. A Ferrari or Lamborghini is a bigger status symbol for adoring eyes. It's the real drivers out there who know that a GT-R is perhaps the better investment for someone who wants a supercar to drive, not just to be seen in. Its unique looks are subtle but properly athletic.

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium The car is capable as a daily driver but it can also push the limits during a track day.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

The reason for that starts but doesn't end with Nissan's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6. It rests below the hood, not behind your ears, and delivers 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque creating a visceral acceleration experience. It's enough to satisfy you, bring a smile to your face, impress those around you, and make you realize that Godzilla really is a beast.

The six-speed dual-clutch transmission in the GT-R Premium ($113,540 base price) manages the power nicely and shifts relatively smoothly - it's no Ford 10-speed automatic and that's okay. If you want a GT-R with a manual transmission, you'll have to upgrade to the NISMO model. Don't "save the manuals" me. So few people are buying them that they're becoming extinct despite your bumper sticker saying and hashtag. Most supercars don't have them. Nissan is just simply following an industry trend and the DCT is perfectly fine for drivers not spending the majority of their time on a track.

All wheel drive is standard on the model, meaning that the GT-R sticks to the road as you put it through its paces. That also means that you don't need to head home every time there's rainfall or snow in the forecast, and you can take corners a little faster than the local constabulary may prefer.

The car has athletic looks despite not conforming to the typical supercar design language.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

Proper engineering has made the GT-R a great daily driver. It's fun to push it around the twisties on a winding road in the country during a long weekend, but it's also not a bad car to commute or run errands in (it has a real trunk!). Like any good supercar, the GT-R goes right where you want, when you want it, whether you're doing slow speed maneuvering around a neighborhood or putting the throttle down on the highway. The speed-sensitive steering calibration is spot-on.

Parts of the interior are dated, especially when compared to other vehicles in its price point. But none of those parts are enough to make the GT-R even the least bit undesirable. The seats are surprisingly comfortable and the ride isn't too harsh. Analog dials are a nice break for the eyes.

But the real reason you're in the GT-R isn't because of the the amenities. It's because you love to drive. Because you're confident enough to go with Godzilla rather than a flashy Italian or German. Because you understand that the car nicknamed after a fictional monster, and its gasoline-powered ilk, are in danger of going extinct as carbon neutral priorities seem keen on removing the type of visceral fun that internal combustion engines provide.

The car has analog dials in front of the driver.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If we're going to have to make concessions to make the air and water cleaner, it would be nice if, on the other end of the spectrum, the powers that be let us keep having the muscle of the GT-R.

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