One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Nissan Titan is everything it needs to be, but is that enough?

The Nissan Titan has been significantly refreshed for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Forget the challenge of having the fastest lap around the Nürburgring. There may be no greater feat in the automotive industry at the moment than gaining full-size truck market share from the Big Three. That's exactly what Nissan is aiming to do with its refreshed 2020 Titan.

To get to the 2020 Nissan Titan, the automaker listened to its customers, who were vocal about a number of issues they had with everything from the truck's infotainment system to the dealership experience.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Nissan has given the PRO-4X trim a distinct new exterior design.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

On the outside of the truck there are more differences between trim levels than before. The PRO-4X grade is the most aesthetically robust with a big, black grille that features a blacked-out Nissan logo for the first time alongside 18-inch wheels; lava red badging, stitching, and tow hooks; and a skid plate. Other trim levels got flashy chrome trim and new chrome grilles.

There are numerous other highlights of the refresh. The Titan's new headlight design doubles the light output on low beams and reduces the glare for oncoming traffic. There are new LED fog lights that add an additional 15 degrees of visibility. Nissan has also given the Titan an available panoramic moonroof that is the largest in the segment. The company also employed new acoustic laminated glass to keep road and engine noise at bay.

2020 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve headlights front Nissan showed off their new LED headlight design as part of the first drive event.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Each trim level of the Titan is powered by a 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine that has 413 pound-feet of torque. That's a significant upgrade from the 2019 model and makes the engine the most powerful base offering of all full-size pickups. In testing on the roads and trails of Utah, Titan's nine-speed automatic transmission was sufficiently smooth shifting and its improved ratios worked in the Titan's favor. With 4,500 pounds of weight towed behind the truck and when traveling up steep off road climbs, the 2020 Titan did not show any strain while being tested.

2020 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve With its powertrain enhancements, the Nissan Titan didn't flinch when towing 4,500 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Inside, the Titan is improved where it matters. A new 9-inch touch screen is available and features the latest version of Nissan Connect and hardware. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The system looks good, especially in its handsome housing, and works as advertised with much more responsiveness and quicker command activation than what you'll find in any other Nissan infotainment system to date.

Nissan has included numerous safety and driver assistance technologies in the Titan as part of the automaker's commitment to what they call "intelligent mobility." Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, high beam assist, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and eight airbags are standard equipment on every 2020 Titan.

2020 Nissan Titan infotainment screen system The truck now comes with an available 9-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

With the revisions, the Titan is a complete package that doesn't feel left behind. It's not as nice on the inside as the Ram 1500, nor is it as easy to drive. It's also not as capable as the Ford F-150. However, the Titan is nicer all-around than the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, mainly because of its interior.

Pricing and fuel economy numbers will be released closer to the model's on-sale date in early 2020. Those factors will be the tipping factor as to whether or not Nissan truly boast about its improvements and value. Either way, the Titan is worth cross-shopping, especially if you're getting into a full-size truck for the first time.

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The 2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST gives buyers more performance at a lower price.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer lineup is getting a three-model enhancement for the 2021 model year. The Explorer Enthusiast ST, Platinum, and Platinum Hybrid will be making their way to dealership lots later this year in a targeted attempt to identify customer desires.

The new models join the just-announced 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch, also a new addition.

2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST

The Enthusiast ST grade takes a lot of what customers like about the existing Explorer ST and delivers it at a far cheaper price. The Enthusiast ST has a starting MSRP of $48,750 as opposed to the ST, which starts at $52,830.

Setting it apart from there Explorers is the Enthusiast ST's quad chrome exhaust tips, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets, and sideview mirrors with ST projection lamps.

The new model comes equipped with the same 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that's in the Explorer ST that churns out 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain.

Ford has given the model a sport-tuned suspension and a top track speed of 143 mph. A standard Class III Trailer Tow Package provides towing capability of up to 5,600 pounds.

The cabin of the Enthusiast ST is complete with leather seating surfaces, unique Miko micro-perforated inserts, and City Silver accent stitching with the ST logo. There's a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated sport-style steering wheel with the ST logo, and paddle shifters.

The Explorer Enthusiast ST also features standard Ford Co-Pilot360 technology.

2021 Ford Explorer Platinum

2021 Ford Explorer Plat Ford has two new Platinum models coming to a dealership near you.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Explorer Plat

The new Explorer Platinum is powered by a 3.0-liter engine and comes standard with rear-wheel drive. Four-when drive is available.

To make the Platinum version worthy of its upscale price tag, its packaging includes door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, roof-rack side rails, a twin-panel moonroof, and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish. Its cabin is fitted with leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Platinum has a starting MSRP of $52,480. The hybrid version of that model starts at $53,085.

All the models are currently available for order via Ford dealerships. Deliveries are expected to begin this summer.

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Drivers will be able to utilize the Mappo app in their Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Mappo is a new way to explore. The app provides culture-oriented travel recommendations based on books, movies, music, and more, going further than the traditional reach of points of interest recommendations. It includes themed routes and utilizes crowd sourcing to generate content from locations around the globe.

The app launched with 30,000 points of interest with references in more than a dozen major cities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Points of interest aren't just marked on a map, but are supported with content such as quotes, book clips and trivia. Users can browse points of interest nearby, or you can use the search box to look up themed routes based on a place, the name of an author or book, or several other filters such as movies, music and history.

Mappo app interface in SYNC 4

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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Ford will be the first automaker to add Mappo to its vehicles. The addition is the result of a collaboration between Mappo, a startup from Tel Aviv, Israel, and the Ford Research Center in Israel.

"People love telling their friends about interesting places in books, movies and music – now they can share these passions with the world through Mappo," said Stuart Taylor, global director, Ford enterprise connectivity. "Mappo makes long drives or brief escapes richer experiences, whether people stay inside their vehicle or step out to experience a landmark."

Customers who have vehicles equipped with SYNC 3 or SYNC 4 technology will be able to use Mappo through voice commands, giving them an easy way to experience the app as they travel. Mappo also will be available for the 2021 F-150, Mustang Mach-E, Bronco, and other future Ford vehicles.

Vehicles equipped with navigation technology can use SYNC AppLink for the unique capability of creating routes to the points of interest found in the Mappo app.

In addition to Ford vehicles, the Mappo app is aviaalbe for iOS and Android devices.

Getting in and out of your vehicle to explore doesn't stop the Mappo experience. Any saved route on your smartphone can be easily selected once running the app inside your vehicle, and you can quickly pick up where you left off – whether leaving a vehicle to explore or coming back to continue to your next destination.

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