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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 Civic Hatchback just went on sale.

Honda

The Honda Civic is one of the most popular and well-known cars of any type. Honda keeps refining the Civic formula to the point that it seems hard for the car to get any better, but that's what we're here to talk about. The 2022 model year sees the Civic enter its eleventh generation, and updates for the new model year make the car more upscale, more refined, and safer than ever before. Honda released the Civic Sedan first, but the Hatchback is now on the streets. Both cars are excellent, but we want to take a closer look at the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback. Here are three things to know about the car.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback The Civic Hatchback is almost as practical as a small SUV, and it's way more fun to drive. Honda

Cargo Space

Looking at the Civic Hatchback, or any modern Civic for that matter, it's easy to start believing that there's nothing to it - that you can't use it as a proper family car. That isn't the case here, nor is it the case with the 2022 Civic Sedan. The Hatchback starts with 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, and the rear bench folds flat to open up even more room for gear. That's shy of a compact crossover, but better than many subcompact crossovers - and the Civic is infinitely more fun to drive than either. The Honda CR-V, for example, offers 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats, but the subcompact HR-V offers just 23.2 cubic feet of space. I know which vehicle I'd rather drive, and it's the Civic Hatchback by miles and miles.


2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Clever design elevates the Civic above its competition.Honda

Refinement and Design

Honda's redesign of the Civic started with the Sedan, which released first. Its interior carries premium feeling materials and a grown-up design that is at odds with the Civic's reasonable price tag. There are several clever design touches like a singular metal grille that runs the length of the dash. The front air vents are concealed behind it and feature thoughtfully designed control knobs. It's a detail that isn't seen in other cars at this price point, and it's one that elevates the Civic from a budget car to one that feels special.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback All Civics come packed with safety tech.Honda

Safety Features and Crash Test Scores

The Honda Civic Sedan and Hatchback both earned Top Safety Pick + awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Vehicles earn the honor by scoring "Good," "Advanced," or "Superior" in all categories, including headlights. On top of that, Honda equips the cars with plenty of advanced driver aids, including forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, collision mitigation braking, and road departure mitigation. Blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are available in higher trims.

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NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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