Behind the Wheel

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Review: Its facelift was kind, but the transmission is not

The 2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X is the most off-road-ready version of the full-size truck.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In 1939, 65 years before the Nissan Titan first arrived at U.S. dealerships, Prime Minister Winston Churchill uttered the iconic phrase, "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key." Here, in 2020, we find the Titan epitomizing the subject of the quote.

Don't get me wrong. I like the Titan. I just want to like it more.

The major facelift for the 2020 model year was kind to the Titan. As tested in the PRO-4X trim, the model is beefy and brawny looking with a black grille, tailgate finisher, and badging. Red-orange detailing is present on the Nissan emblem one the grille and tow hooks. The model looks unlike all the other Titans in the lineup and that's a good thing.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Nissan has loaded the truck with standard safety features. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Moving inside the cabin, the highlight is the Titan's Zero Gravity Seats. They were co-designed with NASA and provide hours of fatigue-reducing comfort. The truck's leather-appointed upholstery is nice but the rest of the interior doesn't hold a candle to the supple materials in and luxe looks of Ram's mid-grade and up models.

The refreshed center stack in the Titan is at least as nice as what's in the GM pickups. As equipped, the model had a 9.0-inch infotainment touch screen that is reasonably responsive though the visual design of the system is not the best there is. Still, it's cleaner than the purple graphics-heavy design of the screen in the 2020 Subaru Outback and Legacy.

Nissan has made the system capable of over-the-air updates thanks to a standard Wi-Fi hot spot. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and two USB are also standard across the Titan lineup.

As fresh as the center stack is for the 2020 model year, there are still obvious places in the cabin where leftover buttons and equipment show their age. Chief among them is the trucks's steering wheel. While the blacked out emblem on its center and black button surrounds that are part of the PRO-4X grade helped the look, there's no getting around the fact that the wheel looks like something a decade older than the rest of the design. However, as ugly and dated as it may be, it's still perfectly functional.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X The Titan PRO-4X also has red-orange accents in the cabin. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Powering the truck is a 5.6-liter V8 engine. It offers 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, making it plenty strong (those are best-in-class figures) and plenty thirsty. Nissan doesn't offer the truck with a host of engine options like its competition does. It's not a matter of holding back. Currently they don't have anything in their lineup that would even be a contender to be made available.

The truck's nine-speed automatic transmission was also refreshed for 2020. It has more ability in higher gears now, which is good for towing, but, quite frankly, the lower gears of the transmission are a complete mess. The nine-speed can't decide what it wants to do while on daily driver duty at moderate speed. It hems and haws and switches positions more often than a politician scrambling to get your vote.

Being behind the wheel of the Titan makes one still feel like you're driving a truck. Like the Nissan Frontier, there's a connected and true truck experience when you're driving that is a reminder of the way it used to be (which is also a reminder of just how good the other truck manufacturers are at engineering their steering systems). It does soak up the bumps in the road well and, based on previous experience, the model is good and capable off-road.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X The truck's seats are very comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The truck also comes standard with Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking. A number of additional driver assist technologies are available. If you're going to spend some extra cash on a Titan, let it be for the Intelligent Around View Monitor, which offers a 360-degree view of the truck's surrounds. This makes parking a breeze.

Nissan deserves kudos for putting that camera button in an easy-to-reach, quickly accessible location on the center stack. How is this not standard operating procedure for automakers?!

After test driving the Titan for a week, and seeing the evolution of the truck landscape over the last few years, the way Nissan has designed the model gets even more confusing. It seems like the truck was a victim of the budgetary process and time constraints more than any other model in the Nissan lineup.

The Titan feels like a compromise, not necessary for the average buyer, but for the truck's engineers. That may be the key here.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X The Titan PRO-4X stands out at the rear. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Granted, every decision in the automotive development process is a compromise, but with the Titan, the sore spots show through more than most. The Nissan Titan is the girl you date while you're waiting for the woman who will be your wife to come along - good enough for a good time, but not the one you want to commit to for life.

While there's a lot of reasons why Nissan isn't selling as many full-size trucks as their rivals, chief among them is the trucks the Titan is up against. They're more capable, nicer appointed, and filled with more innovative features. To gain market share, the Nissan Titan needs to do something, anything, better than the competition. Ram has its interiors. Ford has its capability. GM has innovative camera tech and a new type of tailgate. Toyota has historically good reliability.

On its own the 2020 Titan stands tall, but next to other full-size trucks, it sits in the shadows.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan is the quickest, most powerful vehicle the company has ever produced.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The newest member of the BMW family is also the quickest and most powerful production BMW car ever made. The limited edition 2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan will be made for just one model year.

The model builds on the BMW M5, which was recently updated for the 2021 model year and combines an amplification of power with a weight reduction to achieve its performance and dynamics that enhancing both on-the-road and track capabilities of the 5 Series.

The design of the M5 is mostly unchanged with the new car, however there are definite differences. There is extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. There is a gold finish on the BMW kidney grille, model badging, and 20-inch forged light alloy wheels. The adaptive LED headlights feature L-shaped light tubes that illuminate to yellow instead of the standard white. There is a BWM Individual Shadowline trim that adds a dark shaded appearance and accentuating the yellow accent lighting.

The M5 CS is available in a standard Brands Hatch grey metallic paint with two optional BMW Individual colors – Frozen Brands Hatch grey metallic and Frozen Deep Green metallic.

2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan: Exterior

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW's engineers have tuned the car's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 to achieve 627 horsepower, a 10-horsepower increase over the Competition model, and 553 pound-feet of torque, delivered in a wider band than the M5 Competition. The engine is paired with an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic. The M5 CS reaches 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the M5 Competition model. Top speed with the standard M Driver's Package is 190 mph.

The rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel drive system is standard on the car and is able to distribute all of the available torque between the front and rear axles. The Active M Differential further optimizes power between the rear wheels for maximum grip and lateral dynamics.

Drivers can select from three xDrive modes including 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. The Dynamic Stability Control system can be adjusted to DSC ON, MDM (M Dynamic Mode), and DSC OFF. The Drivelogic switch on the gear selector lever allows three modes - Efficient, Sport, and Track.

There are three drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Individual configuration is available. Drivers can toggle between Road, Sport, and Track settings using the M Mode button. Engaging these modes also changes the look of the driver information screen and head-up display. Road mode is the default setting.

The M Driver's Package also includes a voucher for BMW driver training.

The car's dual-branch, electric flap-controlled sport exhaust system, with quad stainless-steel tips, has a tone that changes depending on the selected mode (Efficient, Sport, or Sport+). Additionally, the M Sound button can soften the exhaust tone for a more understated note.

The M5 CS builds on the M5 Competition Package's offering when it comes to chassis and suspension tuning. There are stiffer engine mounts, firmer springs, a 0.2-inch lower ride height, increased front negative camber, a firmer rear anti-roll bar, and tow-link ball-joint mounts. There has also been furtherspring and Dynamic Damper Control tuning.

Standard mixed-size non-runflat high-performance tires measure 275/35R20 at the front and 285/35R20 at the rear and are fitted to Gold Bronze 20-inch M forged Y-spoke wheels. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are available at no cost.

2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan: Interior

Photo courtesy of BMW

This car is the first time BMW has put four-passenger seating in a M model in combination with M carbon sport seats up front and two bucks seats for rear passengers. Headrests on all four seats are imprinted with the map of Nurburgring's Nordschleife.

The interior of the car has black Merino leather with Mugello red accents and contrasting red stitching. The M Alcantara steering wheel has a perforated section with red background and lightweight carbon-fiber shift paddles with matching red trim in the cut-outs and on the back panels. Alcantara is also used for the headliner.

The lightweight black Merino leather center console cover with red double stitching replaces the traditional armrest and together with the absence of the armrest area tray helps to further reduce weight. Red "CS" badging can be seen on the instrument panel and between the rear bucket seats. The M seat belts feature BMW M tri-color stitching and the "M5" badge also appears on the velour M floor mats with bespoke piping and in the illuminated "M5 CS" badge on the door sill finishers.

Pricing for the car will be announced at a later date. The M5 starts at $103,500. Expect the limited edition model to be priced higher.

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Two Lamborghini Siáns have arrived in London.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini London

The Lamborghini Sián is one of the most expensive cars in the world. The Italian automaker is only making 63 of the models, with just three allocated to U.K. customers.Lamborghini London, operated by the H.R. Owen Group, took delivery of two of the models, and has had them take part in a photo shoot that reveals their full specifications.

Each Sián is individually styled by their owner, working with Lamborghini's design centre and Ad Personam personalization department. The lighter colored model is finished in a Grigio Nimbus paint job with exposed carbon weave roof and Rosso Mars accents, complemented by a Nero Ade interior with Rosso Alala contrasts.

The darker Sián has Nero Helene colored bodywork that is complemented by an exposed carbon fiber bonnet, front lamp inserts fenders, and engine cover. The car's highlights are finished in Oro Electrum, which is also used within the alloy wheels. This owner has opted for bespoke Pirelli tires with white detailing. The car's cabin has Nero Ade base leather and Oro Electrum stitching and highlights.

Lamborghini Sián in London

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini London

Both models are powered by a 6.5-liter V12 engine that is paired with a 48-volt battery to deliver 819 horsepower. The car can get from zero to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 217 mph. That makes it the most powerful and fastest accelerating Lamborghini every produced.

Traditional electrified vehicles have heavy battery storage below the floor of the car. Instead, the Sián uses a lightweight supercapacitor that is fully charged every time the vehicle brakes. The e-motor and supercapacitor system weighs in at just 34 kilograms total, making it three times lighter than a battery storing the same power.

The owners of the vehicles have yet to be disclosed.

If you can't afford a Lamborghini Sián but still want one at your home, you can opt for the LEGO Technic version.

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