Rivian says they’re on a mission to keep the world adventurous forever. Robert “RJ” Scaringe founded the company in 2009 with the idea that he wanted to find a more responsible way to explore the world and make the transition to sustainable transportation an exciting one. RJ earned his MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was a member of the research team in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory.

Eleven years, millions of dollars, and the growth to a couple of hundred employees in seven locations later, Rivian is poised to launch its all-electric pickup truck. The R1T truck claims 400+ miles of range; an impressive 0-60 in three seconds; wading depth over three feet; max towing 11,000; and a a jaw-dropping 750 hp. The R1T is roughly the same length (within an inch) of a Jeep Gladiator and about a half-inch wider than a Honda Passport; it should be nimble enough for both work and play, city and country.

We spent a little time with Rivian chief engineer of special projects Brian Gase, who drove the brand’s in-development three-row SUV (the R1S) from the southern tip of South America all the way up to Los Angeles. But first, they had to design and install the electric infrastructure to do it. What is this upstart company up to?

Kristin Shaw:  Hi, I’m here live at Fully Charged Live USA in Austin at COTA and I’m here with Brian Gase from Rivian. So we’re very excited to hear what Rivian is up to. Brian heads up special projects, which means he gets to do really cool stuff…

Brian Gase:  Sometimes…

Kristin Shaw:  …like driving from Argentina to L.A.

Brian Gase:  Yup, so we ship vehicles end of August for durability testing. We went down the southern tip of South America and then drove for about 105 days up to L.A through all conditions and all weather. We’re doing tremendous amounts of durability testing on our vehicles, normal proving ground types of work. But we’re an adventure company first, so we went out and said, “Let’s do something that’s a little bit more extreme. Let’s build up the charge infrastructure and go and have this journey now that we’ve put that grid in place.” It was, for me, a really amazing lifetime experience. But also, seeing our vehicles on the road for the first time, driving along, was really, really cool.

Kristin Shaw:  So you set up an infrastructure of charging stations along the way?

Brian Gase:  Absolutely. We built basically two Level Two chargers every – give or take – one hundred miles throughout the route. The reason was, while the vehicles we took had a 300 mile range with it, you might not want to stop at the end of every day and fully charge it, so we put it in place so that we could stay where we wanted to, go off the path, go off-roading, do some cool things, see some really cool places.

Kristin Shaw:  Which model did you take on this trip?

Brian Gase:  We took two of the R1Ts.

Kristin Shaw:  Okay. You went off-roading. So off-roading in a EV: what’s it like compared to a fuel-powered car?

Brian Gase:  The cool side of it is: obviously, with four motors you’ve got all time, all-wheel drive, with independent power per wheel. The vehicle has a lot of capability. On the downhill side in an EV I no longer have to downshift the engine brake, I’ve got a generating system that’ll hold the vehicle in position on a hill. On one of the coolest weather days, we were up on this mountain and we took a bunch of photos, then we went down and the battery was at 6% more at the bottom than at the top.

Kristin Shaw: And now you’re offering a three-row SUV.

Brian Gase:  Correct. The R1S has about a 12-inch shorter wheelbase than the truck. It’s built on the same chassis and is common forward of the B pillars, which helps us to develop it more quickly, keep investment low, and put out a vehicle that will be on the same line as its sister product, the truck.

Kristin Shaw:  When is it going to be available?

Brian Gase: The truck will be end of this year and the SUV Q1 of next year (2021).

Kristin Shaw: And have you announced pricing?

Brian Gase:  We’ve announced that it’ll come pretty well equipped so not fully loaded; it’s $72,500, before federal tax credit, and you can go up from there, with additional functions and features, or you can go down from there.

Kristin Shaw: Now I’m excited because the three-row SUV market is hot. Kia has the Telluride, and Hyundai the Palisade. The Rivian is going to be competitive.

Brian Gase: Absolutely.

Kristin Shaw:  It might be one of the more expensive, but it’s an EV. What would make somebody choose the R1S: what kind of features do you offer, especially with regards to safety, that makes it comparable?

Brian Gase:  That’s a great question. So I’m a family guy; I have a wife and three boys: a 10 year old and twin eight year olds. I actually joined Rivian in 2010, just before my kids were born. Safety absolutely matters, and our SUV is a vehicle designed to be safe. It’s set up that way. The most important thing to have at the end of the day is making sure that if something bad does happen, you’re as protected as you possibly can be. From the vehicle perspective, safety is one way we differentiate ourselves outside of just being an EV.

Also, we wanted it to be known as an adventure vehicle you can use to have family adventures, take your kids, get to the beach, go out on the trail, get up to the base camp that you’re hiking, whatever it is. There’s a lot of off-road capability with the vehicle, especially with the 400 or so mile range. It’s a comfortable seating pattern with a third row that will comfortably fit a child or an adult in the back seat.

Kristin Shaw:  I know there are some automakers who are doing a really good job offering safety features standard. Is that the same with Rivian? It’s included in the base model?

Brian Gase: Yup, yup. So we have, some of our autonomous systems features are with the higher level trim packages but from advanced collision detection, all of that stuff is based on what is absolutely critical to us.

Kristin Shaw: And Brian, you’ve been with Rivian for eight years?

Brian Gase:  Nine and a half. I joined in 2010.

Kristin Shaw:  What was it like when you first started? What were you thinking, this new company…?

Brian Gase:  It was a very interesting place. We were a really small team, and everybody was quick to align; we all had shared values and a shared vision of doing something better. From our CEO down, we’ve never wanted to build a car company or a vehicle just to put another car on the road. The goal isn’t to make another SUV so that you can have another three-row SUV in the market. The goal is to put a product out there that is compelling and exciting and different.

To get back to the family side, let’s make the world better for our kids and our children’s children. We feel that electrifying the vehicle space, doing it this way, where you’re not making tradeoffs and going into a smaller footprint vehicle, where you can still have your stuff, still have your adventure, and then being able to use those batteries sustainably for a second life, to electrify the grid that provides power to the vehicle.

The thing that won me over, the reason I joined Rivian and the reason I’m extremely excited to talk to people now is this. The product is great, but the leaders have always said, “We’re going to build this thing that doesn’t exist. We’re going to do something.” And you’re like “Yeah, but what about all these challenges?” We’ll solve the problems, we’ll bring in the funding, we’ll get the right team, we’ll get the right product. When you’re around people who are just eternally optimistic, it’s so refreshing. It makes you motivated to do what you’re doing. When we spend time with our CEO, R.J., we might say, “I’m going to tell him this isn’t going to work. I’m going in,” and you walk in, and by the time you leave, you’re saying “Why am I excited to do this thing?” And you know you got “R.J.ed” again.

Kristin Shaw:  You got “R.J.ed”. It’s a verb.

Brian Gase:  Exactly. The fun side of it though is as you build people that share those values and share that sense of “No, we’re going to do this because we’re determined and we’re passionate.” Because we’re big-picture thinkers. It’s really, really cool to be a part of. I mean it’s so much more exciting to work with positive people in general.

Kristin Shaw:  That sounds like a great company to work with. How does it compare with its competitors?

Brian Gase:  From a current market today, there are a few EVs out in space. But from a SUV perspective, finding a vehicle that does 0-60 in three seconds, has 8,000-pound towing capacity, goes through three feet of water, has 400 miles of range, and is built in America just doesn’t really exist out there. Competitors are a really interesting thing though, because you can look at us from specialty truck side: are we competitive with trucks or are we competitive with EVs?

We’ve got the performance specs of sports cars, and it’s this real cool dichotomy of this and that, where you can bring all these features of a sports car into this truck but it fits more of their stuff. Or from the perspective of the vehicle as a truck, you have the space but you’re not trading off all those other daily uses to emissions. We’re really proud of that combination.

Kristin Shaw:  I think that’s where families are really going to see the difference. They buy vehicles for what they might do, maybe not what they do every day. They might tow a boat, they might tow a camper, they might need it to tow plywood or put furniture in it, but they can also not have a gas-guzzling vehicle.

Brian Gase:  We’re an adventure brand; we want people to go out and see the world and do things. For me, my adventure is no longer going out and snowboarding with friends, it’s taking my kids to a park and hanging out with them. I’ve got three kids in Cub Scouts – I pre-ordered the R1T as soon as I could and I can’t wait to have the kitchen and go to the Cub Scout campout with my boys and pull out the kitchen and cook off my battery.

That, to me, is going to be such a cool experience for people to see that you can use this electric footprint to do some really amazing stuff, and you can do it in a way that you no longer have a gas-guzzling vehicle. For me, it’s a really cool story to be a part of.


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The heartbeat of Aston Martin’s sports car range just got a little bit faster with the introduction of the new Vantage Roadster. Joining the Vantage Coupe, which was launched in 2018, Aston Martin says this convertible model amplifies the emotional appeal of a model renowned for delivering a compelling blend of potent performance, outstanding dynamics and everyday usability.

Powered by Aston Martin’s 4.0L twin-turbo  V8 engine and mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, Vantage Roadster accelerates from 0-60mph in just 3.7 seconds and is capable of 190 mph with the roof raised. Weight increases by just 132 pounds (60 kg) compared with the Coupe thanks to a new, lighter Z-fold roof mechanism and optimized exterior and chassis revisions throughout.

Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andy Palmer, said of the Vantage Roadster: “Open-top Aston Martins are always firm favourites with our customers, so it’s very exciting to introduce the Vantage Roadster. For many, driving with the roof down is the true definition of the sports car experience as it truly brings your senses to life. Vantage has always delivered the purest of thrills, but in Roadster form that adrenaline rush is set to go to the next level”.

Careful development of structural shear panels and chassis components ensures the Vantage Roadster retains the strong dynamic ability and sporting character achieved in the Coupe with no compromise to feel or refinement. Sharing the same adaptive damping, dynamic stability control, dynamic torque vectoring and electronic rear differential, the Roadster benefits from specific dynamic refinements. These include a bespoke tune for the rear dampers, adaptive damping system software and ESP calibration.

As you’d expect from a dedicated sports car, a choice of Sport, Sport + and Track chassis modes – also tuned specifically for the Roadster – give the driver control of its dynamic character and behaviour. Working in harmony with Sport, Sport+ and Track powertrain modes retained from the Coupe offers the ability to progressively increase the car’s overall responsiveness and excitement, meaning the Roadster has a tremendous breadth of ability and feels equally at home on road or race track.

Aston Martin Vantage

While Vantage Roadster mirrors the Coupe’s exceptional tactility, pace and cornering performance, the design of the body is very much its own. The tautly tailored fabric hood features a compact powered Z-fold mechanism that ensures rapid operation (lowered in 6.7 or raised in 6.8 seconds at speeds of up to 50 kmh/31 mph). In fact, the roof of Vantage Roadster has the fastest full operating cycle of any automatic automotive convertible system.

An impressively low stack height pays the double dividend of allowing Aston Martin’s award-winning design team the latitude to create a seamless rear profile with minimal impact on the Roadster’s luggage space. For all of you who love the links, the Vantage has a trunk large enough to stow a full-sized golf bag and accessories.

The introduction of the Vantage Roadster sees a range of new options introduced across the Vantage range. To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Vantage nameplate, Aston Martin is introducing the company’s iconic ‘vane’ grille as an option, available on both Coupe and Roadster as an alternative to the track-inspired ‘hunter’ grille featured on the Coupe from its launch in 2018. There is also a new range of optional alloy wheel designs in a choice of finishes. Enthusiasts will also welcome the manual 7-speed transmission being offered as an option on the Coupe, having initially only been available in the limited-edition Vantage AMR.

Matt Becker, Aston Martin Chief Engineer, adds: “Convertible sports cars are often seen as compromised when compared to their Coupe equivalents, but the Vantage Roadster remains absolutely dedicated true to its mission of delivering precise, agile and expressive handling dynamics combined with stonking straight-line performance. And of course, there’s the added dimension of driving a great-sounding sports car with the roof down”.

The Vantage recommended retail price of the Vantage Roadster starts from $161,000 in USA. First deliveries of the Vantage Roadster are scheduled to begin during Q2 2020.

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The Toyota Camry is the best-selling sedan in the U.S. Not just one of the best, but the best model in the sedan category for the last 17 years prior. Sedan sales overall, however, have eroded due to the popularity of crossovers. And one advantage crossovers have held over sedans up to now is all-wheel drive.

While others are abandoning the sedan segment, Toyota continues to double down with new variants of its sedans. Right now, in the middle of winter, Toyota is aptly launching the new all-wheel drive Camry and Avalon models to combat that erosion.

It’s the first AWD Camry since 1991 (Toyota offered an AWD Camry in 1988-1991, called the AllTrac), and the first-ever Avalon with AWD. The Toyota-developed AWD system will be available as a standalone option for the Camry LE, XLE, SE and XSE grades and on Avalon XLE and Limited grades.

Both the Camry AWD and Avalon AWD get a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine teamed with an 8-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission. Most Camry AWD grades have 202 horsepower, while the Camry XSE AWD and both Avalon AWD grades have 205 hp with dual exhaust. The new AWD system balances added traction with exemplary fuel efficiency.

The Camry and Avalon AWD models underscore Toyota’s commitment to the sedan category. Both the new-generation Camry and Avalon sedans offer hybrid models, and, last fall, both added their first-ever TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance versions.

Smarter All-Wheel Drive

To many car buyers, “all-wheel drive” may mean one thing, but there are many different AWD technologies on the market. Toyota found an ideal type of AWD for Camry and Avalon in its new-generation RAV4 compact SUV introduced for 2019. The Dynamic Torque Control AWD system provides effective traction for inclement and slippery weather while minimizing AWD’s typical drag on fuel economy. Admittedly, the system name is a mouthful; Camry and Avalon models equipped with it will carry a simple “AWD” badge on their trunk lids.

The Camry and Avalon AWD system can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, in response to acceleration from a start or slippage at the front wheels.

Notably, when AWD isn’t needed, such as on long highway stretches, the electromagnetic controlled coupling on the front of the rear drive axle can disengage the propeller shaft from the differential to prioritize fuel efficiency. The AWD is designed to re-engage in an instant when needed. AWD operation is transparent to the driver and passengers. On that note, the Camry and Avalon AWD models match their FWD counterparts in critical passenger space, trunk room, ride comfort, cabin quietness and vehicle agility.

Made in the USA

The Camry AWD and Avalon AWD are North America-only models developed in the U.S. and assembled exclusively at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky.

Neither the new-generation Camry nor Avalon was originally planned to have an AWD version, so the engineering team at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development in Saline, Michigan, developed them to meet the market demand for AWD sedans.

Since the RAV4 is also based on the same platform as the Camry and Avalon, the opportunity to share components and basic engineering was built in. The team combined the upper body structure of the Camry and Avalon with the engine, transmission, transfer case and rear differential from the RAV4. The RAV4’s version of the multi-link rear suspension was adapted with some modifications and tuning to suit the sedans. Both the Camry and Avalon AWD use a modified version of the propeller shaft from the all-new Highlander SUV.

Adapting the AWD drivetrain to the Camry and Avalon required floor structure modifications, plus the use of an electronic parking brake and a saddle-style fuel tank with an optimized capacity for AWD models rather than the flat-style tank in the FWD models. Inside the car has the same rear seat hip point height as the Camry and Avalon hybrid models. Despite the addition of a rear differential, the trunk floor height remains the same as in the FWD versions.

The transformation to AWD adds just 165 lbs. over the Camry FWD while the Avalon AWD weight is similar to that of its FWD V6 siblings.

Customers can expect the Camry and Avalon AWD to provide similar ride and handling characteristics as the FWD models, plus of course the added traction capability. The suspension tuning, wheels, and tires differentiating the Camry and Avalon model grades carry over to the new AWD models. That means, for example, the Camry XSE grade features the same sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels in FWD and AWD versions.

The Camry AWD will be model year 2020 and arrive at dealerships in early spring. All AWD grades can get an optional Cold-Weather Package, which adds heated seats and mirrors on the LE, heated seats, mirrors and steering wheel on the SE, and heated steering wheel on the XLE and XSE. All other standard and optional features carry over from the FWD versions of the LE, XLE, SE and XSE model grades, including the latest Toyota Audio multimedia systems with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility.

The Avalon AWD will be model year 2021 and go on sale next fall. Both XLE and Limited AWD grades will receive a standard heated steering wheel while other standard and optional features carryover from the FWD versions.

Safety Features Standard

All 2020 Camry and Avalon models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) a suite of active safety systems that includes:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Dynamic radar cruise control
  • Lane departure alert with steering assist
  • Automatic high beams

Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert are available on Camry and standard on Avalon. Intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross traffic braking also are available on both models.

All 2020 Camry and Avalon models have 10 standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, anti-lock braking system, and smart stop technology. All come equipped with a standard backup camera.

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The new 2021 GMC Canyon was revealed in the mountains of Colorado today, including a first-ever Canyon AT4 aimed squarely at premium midsize truck customers who purchase their trucks to venture off-road. The AT4 brings capability and appeal to the updated Canyon range.

“The new 2021 Canyon AT4 broadens the appeal to midsize truck customers who live an active lifestyle,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC. “Much like the Sierra AT4 has attracted new customers from outside GMC, the Canyon AT4 will attract outdoor enthusiasts looking for a premium midsize truck to GMC with the capability, technology and refinement they’ve come to expect.”

2021 GMC Canyon AT4

First-Ever Canyon AT4

The Canyon AT4 advances the brand’s commitment to offering premium off-road capable vehicles with impressive styling details. Bolder exterior design is defined by dark chrome finishes, with a new larger grille design and red recovery hooks. The interior features premium detailing, including unique Kalahari stitching and AT4 headrest embroidery which brings the Canyon interior design in-line with its stablemates.

Added off-road confidence comes from standard equipment, including:

  • Greater capability from 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac® tires fitted to 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Off-road tuned suspension with Advanced Hill Descent Control System
  • Four-wheel drive system with Eaton G80 Rear Automatic Locking Differential
  • Transfer case skid plate providing additional protection when traveling off the beaten path

“This is a truck created with outdoor adventurers in mind,” said Aldred. “The Canyon AT4 is a perfect complement to the driver’s other passions and appreciation of the details, whether that’s a mountain bike, a snowboard or their truck.”

Refined Canyon Denali

GMC designers enhanced the iconic Denali grille with a more sculpted and layered pattern. Coupled with 5-inch chrome assist steps, signature chrome accents and Denali-exclusive 20-inch Diamond Cut aluminum wheels, the new Canyon Denali is modernized with a new look similar to the new Sierra and Sierra HD trucks.

“Denali represents GMC’s bold design philosophy and these changes further elevate the Canyon from the mainstream competition, while delivering a modern look for the customer,” said Holt Ware, director of GMC exterior design. “It features a more distinctive and sophisticated design that has become synonymous with Denali.”

Interior refinements include authentic open-pore ash wood trim, aluminum decor and unique stitching. A new Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere color theme further elevates the Denali interior and gives customers more options. Standard heated and ventilated front seats with a heated steering wheel increase driver comfort.

The new Canyon Denali and AT4 are powered by a best-in-class 308 horsepower (230 kW) 3.6L V6 engine. Additional power comes from an available 2.8L Diesel engine, offering 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque.

The new 2021 GMC Canyon is built at GM’s Wentzville Assembly Center in Wentzville, Missouri.* The 2021 Canyon will be available later this year, with pricing announced closer to production.

Original post on the GMC site.

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If you don’t know Lexus, you might not know about the donation match up to $10,000 for each of their 200+ dealerships across the country. Or about their Eco Challenge, a nationwide STEM contest for students in grades 6-12. Or their devotion to quality materials and Takumi master certification.

You might not know the vision of their design, based on Japanese iconic elements like a samurai sword, or a traditional tea whisk, or origami folds. Or that the engine designers might dream of the faces of every person who contributed to the process over a six-year time period.

You would be surprised to discover how much of the Lexus process involves individual people doing very precise, challenging jobs that require perfection, like logo placement and ensuring the surface is absolutely smooth.

When you sit inside the a Lexus ES, now in its 7th generation of this vehicle, you may not think of these things. But you’ll know it feels like luxury. And you might feel a little closer to the brand. It’s about much more than the new paint colors or even the styling alone. It’s all of the little touches together.

The Knife’s Edge Of Luxury Sedans: The F SPORT

The F SPORT model is geared toward buyers who are ten years younger than the typical buyer of the ES. Lexus shows off its sporty side with aluminum pedals on the F SPORT that make the driver feel like mashing them to the floor. (We didn’t, but it was tempting.)

Lexus continues to impress with their innovation in interior design. In model year 2019, the ES offers three choices of wood trim: Linear Dark Mocha, Linear Espresso, and Matte Bamboo. They now offer a metallic trim that is standard on the F SPORT model called Hadori Aluminum, which is inspired by the Samurai sword-polishing process. The Hadori Aluminum trim has a 3D appearance, and the effect is indicative of the level of detail and craftsmanship that Lexus seems to display at every turn.

New Technology In The ES

The 2019 ES was the first Lexus to offer in-car integration of Amazon Alexa, called Lexus Plus Alexa. Much like someone might use it at home, drivers may use voice commands to direct Alexa, including Alexa Home Automation, which guides tasks such as turning on lights, setting a thermostat in the house, and, of course, even ordering Amazon purchases.

The 2019 ES was also the first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay. The 2019 model didn’t offer Android Auto, but take heart: the brand added it for the 2020 model.

For music fanatics, the audio system can be upgraded to the spectacular Mark Levinson system. I had a chance to listen to the Mark Levinson system in Nashville, and the quality was unreal. Whether you go for hip-hop, rock, pop, or classical, it’s going to sound incredible in this vehicle.

The Sounds Of Silence

Chief Engineer Yasuhiro Sakakibara and his team were tasked with improving the performance of the ES.

According to Sakakibara-san, “We knew that this ES had to feel responsive and easy to drive, no matter what kind of road it was on and that can only be achieved with a solid foundation.”

Part of that foundation on the inside of the car is the extraordinary attention paid to noise. More accurately stated, the vast reduction of noise.

The new ES features absorbing materials that covers 93% of the interior, and incorporates a silencer pad that muffles unwanted engine noise. Noise-reduction wheels on the available 18-inch version have hollow sections and a “resonator hole”, which directs the air through the tire to helps to reduce road noise, too. And under the floor, performance dampers have been added improve handling stability and ride comfort.

Our Pick: The 300h

Of the three trims available – the ES 350, ES 350 F SPORT, and the ES 300h – the 300h was our favorite. The zippy hybrid engine puts up an impressive 44 mpg, which is stunning. And the 2019 model adds 15 to the total horsepower, and it feels evident from the first acceleration. Built exclusively at the Kyushu plant in Japan, the 300h is something special; the rest of the ES trim levels for North America will be built in Georgetown, Kentucky.

FACTS: We’ve Got ‘Em

  • This is first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay
  • Largest in class 10.2-inch head up display as an option
  • The new model offers increase of 34 horsepower and 0-60 MPH in half a second faster
  • Overall greater fuel efficiency then the previous model
  • Updated battery placement gives the vehicle an additional four and a half cubic feet of cargo storage area in the 300h
  • Plenty of new technology and features in all models to reduce road noise
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At 25, I was driving a 1989 Toyota Camry. Compact, practical, and zippy, it packed a 2.5-liter V6 with 153 horsepower and double-overhead cams. There is something about your mid-twenties that makes you feel as though you can take on the world, and driving feels like an extension of yourself. I still love to drive, but now I’m more careful. Smarter. Wiser. Sometimes, anyway.

When I slid behind the wheel of a 2020 Mazda3 hatchback last week, that same feeling from my invincible 20s flashed back. Streamlined and punchy, this hatch has a lot to offer.

Trim Levels

This vehicle is available with one engine: a 2.5L four-banger with 186 hp and the same number for torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and a six-speed manual transmission is available on the FWD Preferred model.

  • Base LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, simulated leather upholstery, 8.8-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker audio system
  • Preferred + power driver’s seat, heated front seats and a 12-speaker Bose audio system
  • Premium + adaptive headlights, sunroof, head-up display, leather upholstery (paddle shifters available)

Audio/ infotainment

  • AM/FM audio system with 8 speakers and HD Radio
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 8.8-inch center display
  • Infotainment system voice command
  • Multifunction Commander control
  • Pandora integration
  • SMS text message audio delivery and reply
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Two USB ports


  • Whiplash-reducing front seat headrest
  • Dynamic stability control with traction control system
  • Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning system
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Cruise control with stop & go
  • Driver attention alert

Five Things to Love

  1. Zippy acceleration and firm braking
  2. Bose speakers and audio system
  3. Leather double stitched perforated leather seats
  4. Interior ornamentation consists of beautiful, flowing lines
  5. Super easy to park anywhere

Three Opportunities for Improvement

  1. Take a look at the video from Jill Ciminillo about the command control knob, which explains how it’s supposed to be used. It’s logical. However, it still doesn’t work for me – it feels like too many steps to get to what I need and it’s not intuitive. I want to be able to change the channel or seek when I’m on road trips easily.
  2. Gearing is middling in normal mode. I’d use it on sport mode all the time, and as long as you don’t mind the drop in mpg, it’s the better option.
  3. The space feels a little cramped in the back. I have a ten-year-old kid, and he didn’t mind, but adults might not enjoy it as much.

Overall Impression

I thought this hatchback was really fun to drive, and while I’m an avowed fan of the Soul Red Crystal, I must say the Machine Gray Metallic is quite handsome. Mazda makes a great car for the money, and the Mazda3 in both the sedan and hatch versions are a good value. You can park it anywhere and it’s easy to get in and out. This would be a terrific car for a college student or young professional in the city.

Mazda says:

Creating a sense of motion, even at a standstill—That’s the essence of Mazda’s KODO: “Soul of Motion” design philosophy. It allows designers to imbue each model with its own personality while staying true to a unifying theme. Cars are our canvas, and every one we make begs to be driven.


We’re in the golden age of computer-aided design. It allows us to render 3D models with a level of accuracy that was out of reach just a few short years ago. But at Mazda, design starts with a block of clay. And for that, there is simply no substitute. Artisans shape the clay until the ideal lines reveal themselves and only then do they collaborate with digital modelers. This traditional/digital partnership takes the best of both worlds to create uniquely appealing designs.

News You Should Know (directly from Mazda)

Announced December 19: Mazda North American Operations has filed a Part 573 defect notification with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a safety defect, which exists in certain 2019 and 2020 Model Year Mazda3 vehicles. The affected vehicles may unexpectedly stop while driving due to inadvertent activation of the Smart Braking System (SBS) automatic emergency braking system.

Incorrect programming of the SBS control software may cause the vehicle to falsely detect an obstacle in front of the vehicle while driving. In certain cases, the SBS control software may automatically apply the vehicle brakes to prevent or reduce damage from a collision, even though no collision is imminent. If the SBS automatic emergency braking system unexpectedly activates while driving, the risk of a rear-end crash from a following vehicle may increase. There is a warning alarm sound and warning message displayed in the multi-information and active driving displays when this defect occurs.

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Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, will offer the Matt Furukawa Collection, comprising 19 vehicles spanning six decades of American horsepower, during the 2020 Scottsdale Auction, January 11-19, 2020. Featuring nearly every decade since the 1950s, this collection includes diverse examples of U.S.-built collector cars that range in diversity from a 1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner Retractable Hardtop (Lot #727) to a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Edition (Lot #426.1).

“We’re honored Matt Furukawa entrusted us with selling his incredible collection, all at No Reserve, during our 2020 Scottsdale Auction,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “We bring bidders from around the world to Scottsdale, all seeking to find their perfect collector cars. The vehicles from the Matt Furukawa Collection are the kind of vehicles many buyers would love to have as part of their collections. We couldn’t be more excited to have this incredible offering as part of our Scottsdale Auction docket.”

Highlighting the Matt Furukawa Collection is a duo of coveted, low-mile 2006 Ford GTs. Each is powered by a 550-horsepower, supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine teamed with a purpose-built 6-speed Ricardo manual transmission. Lot #1353.1 is one of only 343 Heritage Edition Ford GTs produced in 2006 to commemorate Ford Motor Company’s 100-year anniversary. Factory dressed in the Heritage Blue and Epic Orange Gulf Oil livery as a nod to the iconic 1968 and ’69 Le Mans-winning GT40, this 2006 GT has only 2,384 miles. Lot #1353 is finished in a brilliant Mark IV Red with white racing stripes and has only 29 actual miles.

Crossing the block on Saturday, January 18, is a pair of pristine 1970 Plymouth Superbirds. Due to NASCAR homologation rules to qualify as a “stock car,” just 1,920 of these flightless birds were built for public purchase. Finished in Limelight Green, Lot #1352 is one of 458 440ci, 4-barrel, 4-speeds built and is still equipped with its original matching-numbers engine. Lot #1352.1 is a ground-up restored Superbird finished in B5 Blue and is powered by a 440ci V8 mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission.

“Matt Furukawa’s collection of American horsepower is a full stable of late-model high-performance vehicles, many with exceptionally low miles,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “It takes a discerning eye to gather such a collection of desirable horsepower in such immaculate condition. I can’t wait to see these pristine collectibles cross the block in Scottsdale.”

Vast amounts of American V8 horsepower is thematic in the Furukawa Collection. With a mere 18 miles on the clock, Lot #1009 is a 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye finished in B5 Blue with a black interior. Powered by a 6.2-liter 797hp supercharged V8 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, this Redeye claims a 10.8-second quarter-mile out of the box. Arguably one of the most sought-after muscle car of the ’60s was a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 RS (Lot #1009.1). Powered by DZ 302ci V8 engine paired with a 4-speed manual transmission, this fully restored Camaro is finished in Hugger Orange with black interior.

Other vehicles from the Matt Furukawa Collection include:

  • 2009 Ford Shelby GT500KR (Lot #1008.2) ‒ One of 712 KRs built in 2009. Factory-equipped with a supercharged 540hp engine and 6-speed manual transmission. 10 actual miles.
  • 2009 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake (Lot #1008.1) ‒ Features only 2,502 actual miles and is powered by a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
  • 2017 Ford Shelby GT350R (Lot #1008) ‒ Powered by a 526hp flat-plane crank 5.2-liter V8 “Voodoo” engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and has 440 actual miles.
  • 1976 Ford Bronco (Lot #729) ‒ Fully restored, finished in Torch Red with a custom diamond-stitched interior. Powered by a 302ci V8 engine and a 3-speed automatic transmission.
  • 1975 Ford Bronco (Lot #728.1) ‒ Unmodified Bronco finished in Grabber Blue; powered by a 302ci V8 engine with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
  • 1968 Ford Mustang GT (Lot #728) ‒ Ground-up restored; powered by a 302ci V8 engine paired with a 4-speed manual transmission.
  • 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible (Lot #727.1) ‒ Finished in red with a black interior, this Mustang is powered by a 289ci V8 engine paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
  • 2005 Dodge Viper SRT/10 convertible (Lot #427.1) ‒ Finished in yellow with black interior, this is one of just 2,005 produced for the model year and features 14,500 actual miles.
  • 2001 Ford F-150 Lighting Pickup (Lot #427) ‒ Powered by a 5.4-liter V8 engine paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Has 1,837 actual miles.
  • 2004 Ford Mustang Saleen Convertible (Lot #426) ‒ Finished in red over a black interior. Powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
  • 1991 Chevrolet 1500 Pickup (Lot #425.3) ‒ Unrestored and in showroom condition with 3,487 original miles. Powered by a 350ci V8 engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission and fully optioned.
  • 1992 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 convertible (Lot #425.2) ‒ Unrestored Heritage Edition Z/28 with a 5.0-liter V8 TPI engine and a 5-speed manual transmission and has 2,858 original miles.

The 2020 Scottsdale Auction Docket is now available to view online. To consign a vehicle, receive more information on becoming a bidder, or purchase tickets for the 2020 Scottsdale Auction, visit

About The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company
Established in 1971 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions®, is the leader in collector car and automotive lifestyle events, which include authentic automobilia auctions and the sale of high-profile estates and private collections. The company produces auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona; Palm Beach, Florida; at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut; and Las Vegas, Nevada. With broadcast partners MotorTrend (formerly Velocity) and Discovery Channel, Barrett-Jackson features extensive live television coverage, including broadcasts in over 150 countries internationally. Barrett-Jackson also endorses a one-of-a-kind collector car insurance for collector vehicles and other valued belongings.

This press release originally appeared here

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  • Global collaboration working to trace cobalt, mica and 3TG conflict minerals: tungsten, tantalum, tin and gold
  • First blockchain-powered audit will launch in early 2020 to trace cobalt in FCA supply chain
  • Supply chain transparency and mapping imperative to mitigate unethical practices in mineral mining

FCA today announced that it has joined the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), an industry collaboration using blockchain technology to support sustainable, responsible sourcing and production practices from mine to market. 

Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and assured by RCS Global Group, the RSBN is on track to become commercially operational by spring 2020. Simultaneously, FCA will work with RSBN to launch a global audit and trace of cobalt in its supply chain. 

Traceability and mapping of raw materials are essential to more efficiently and preemptively mitigate unethical practices that threaten the future for the communities where the raw materials are sourced.

“Our commitment to the responsible procurement of raw materials is vital to the integrity and sustainability of our supply chain, especially as our electrification strategy ramps up,” said Carl Smiley, Chief Purchasing and Supply Chain Officer, FCA. “Embarking on this journey together with technology and industry leaders will propel our ability to have visibility into artisanal and small-scale mines, allowing us to better manage the social and environmental impacts of our business.”

FCA intends to launch more than 30 electrified nameplates by 2022, and the consortium will help enable a responsible supply chain of cobalt, which is used in lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles.

The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is America’s first and only electrified minivan and is among the top five best-selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the industry. FCA intends to launch more than 30 electrified nameplates by 2022. Responsible sourcing of battery materials is vital to mitigating unethical practices in mineral mining.

RSBN is building an open, industry-wide blockchain platform to trace responsibly produced minerals from source through to end product, with RCS Global assessing each participating entity against responsible sourcing requirements set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and industry bodies. RSBN participants include Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen Group, Volvo, LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt.

“We are hugely excited that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, one of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, has joined the RSBN. With this move, FCA signals its intent to robustly address the issue of responsible sourcing in its supply chain and we look forward to working with them to achieve this,” said Dr. Nicholas Garrett, CEO, RCS Global Group. “The RSBN is expanding rapidly, connecting actors throughout the battery supply chain and beyond, all of whom have a focus on proving good practice in responsible sourcing and production.”
“We are excited to welcome FCA to the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) as this will help to expand the benefits of the network to many more participants across their global supply chain,” said Dirk Wollschlager, General Manager, IBM Global Automotive, Aerospace and Defense Industries. “RSBN has already made significant progress in improving ethical sourcing of minerals.”

Additionally, FCA recently contributed to the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) Foundation Upstream Due Diligence Smelter Fund to help enable smelters and refiners to partially offset the costs of on-the-ground due diligence activities, in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) due diligence guidelines. The Foundation supports the charitable, scientific and educational purposes of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), of which FCA is a member.

FCA corporate citizenship efforts are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to address global challenges, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

The Company also uses and teaches suppliers the OECD 5-Step Framework for Upstream and Downstream Supply Chains, which provides a common and foundational tool to help solidify responsible sourcing practices and decisions made throughout our supply chain. FCA requires that suppliers and their sub-suppliers adhere to all applicable global laws and regulations. 
Visit FCA 2018 Sustainability Report to learn more here.

Link first appeared here

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Do you ever slide into the driver’s seat of a car and sigh in satisfaction? The 2020 Lexus LC 500h might just do that for you. With a throaty purr, this elegant Lexus hybrid is not only sporty but fuel-conscious, logging an impressive 27 city/ 25 highway mpg. We drove it from Austin to Fort Worth – roughly a 3-hour drive – and back home with less than one-third of a tank of gas. Can your sports car do that?

This is no family car but it’s perfect for date night, so park one in your garage and rev it up to savor the plush ride and stellar standard features like LED lights, automatic high-beam control, heated/auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, ambient interior lighting, a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, heated/ventilated power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, and leather-upholstered front seats.

Take a look at the technology offerings on the Lexus LC 500h, and you’ll find dual USB ports, a 10.3-inch central display, a navigation system, and a 12-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility were added to the in 2019, as well as in-car Wi-Fi.

Let’s talk about the music potential. While the Lexus LC 500h comes with a 12-speaker premium audio system, we highly recommend the upgrade to the 13-speaker Mark Levinson. Delivering 915 watts, this is a no-joke carnival for your senses. Go ahead and wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care… as long as the vehicle is parked, of course.

Lexus doesn’t skimp on safety either, including safety features like forward collision warning with automatic braking and lane departure warning/intervention.

Few luxury sports cars offer a hybrid powertrain, and the LC 500h is a notch above.

The starting price on a 2020 Lexus LC 500 is $92,950 and $97,460 for the hybrid Lexus LC 500h. Worth it.


What we love about the Lexus LC 500h is the instant torque – or VROOM – off the line. It can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds, if you’re into that, and the acceleration and shifting is smooth as silk.

Lexus engineers built the LC 500h with an advanced hybrid powertrain—a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with two motor-generators for a total of 354 horsepower. And the 10-speed transmission feels great when you need to get going.


Lexus says: “Lexus Safety System+ 2.01 is designed to help protect drivers, passengers, people in other vehicles on the road, pedestrians and cyclists from harm. This latest generation of Lexus Safety System+ represents the next milestone in a long history of creating advancements and innovations in safety that help prevent crashes and protect people.”


  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection,
  • Lane departure alert with lane keep assist
  • All-speed dynamic radar cruise control
  • Intelligent high beams


Ultra White, Liquid Platinum, Atomic Silver, Smoky Granite Mica, Caviar, Infrared, Nightfall Mica, Obsidian, and Flare Yellow


Black leather, red leather, and toasted caramel leather are standard, with bespoke white available with the convenience package for an additional $1,000.


  • The list of standard features goes on and on
  • Takes the curves like it’s on rails
  • Luxurious leather seating in the front
  • Feels like a luxury car should: smooth and hassle free


  • Head-up display
  • Mark Levinson stereo
  • All-weather package: heated steering wheel and windshield de-icer
  • Convenience package: front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Touring package: Alcantara headliner, upgraded leather upholstery and superior Mark Levinson audio system
  • Sport package adds special front sport seats, and if you upgrade to the next level, the Performance package adds to that a carbon-fiber roof, adaptive rear spoiler*, active rear steering, carbon-fiber kick plates, an Italian-made Alcantara headliner, and more.

*What’s an adaptive rear spoiler, anyway? When you drive at speeds of 50 mph or more, the rear wing reduces lift and balances the downforce or enhanced handling and control. When you slow down to 25 mph or less, the wing folds itself back in. Why drive when you can fly?


  • If we could change one thing about the LC 500, it would be the touchpad. Universally, the touchpad and infotainment system seem to be a sore spot, because it can be frustrating to use. Adding Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa voice commands should help now that those features are standard.
  • The trunk is teeny, but big enough for a suitcase and computer bag as long as you don’t mind sharing luggage, ‘cause that’s all that’s going to fit. You could, however, use the back seat for bags since the leg room is quite limited anyway.


“Good Life” by One Republic

This has gotta be the good life

We all got our stories but please tell me

What there is to complain about?



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Nissan is proud of their truck line, and we say rightfully so: it’s a popular, well-loved model with a loyal community. The brand is so sure of the TITAN that it offers the best truck warranty in the business; bumper-to-bumper coverage of 5 years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first. My father-in-law owns a first-gen 2004 and it’s still navigating west Texas dirt roads just fine. Better than fine, actually; that truck gets beat up on a daily basis at the ranch and it’s standing strong.

Nissan’s full-size pickup has seen an extensive redesign for the 2020 model year. The new TITAN features substantial powertrain updates and unique styling for different trim levels, and now also offers standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 across all grade levels. This, we believe, is a major accomplishment – safety should be standard if manufacturers are serious about reducing fatalities on the roads.


  • The most powerful standard V8 in its class, a retuned 5.6-liter with 400 horsepower paired with new 9-speed automatic transmission; 413 lb-ft of torque
  • Standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 technology
  • Refined interior design with available Integrated Command Center with 9″ high-resolution touchscreen display


We’re loving the new flexible smartphone holder/charging system. And we highly recommend the available 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System with a 485-watt, 9-channel amplifier with Panasonic’s proprietary Acoustic Motion Control.

Also, every 2020 TITAN includes front and rear Zero Gravity seats. So let’s talk about those Zero Gravity seats for a sec. If you have ever stayed at a Westin, then you know they pride themselves on their Heavenly Beds. They’re cushier, with a pillowtop to help you sleep better, theoretically. Nissan has the equivalent of the Heavenly Bed in their Zero Gravity seats, inspired by NASA, of course. You may not know this, but people naturally slump forward when sitting for long periods, which can cause spinal fatigue. So these particular seats are created with 14 pressure points to increase driver comfort on long trips. They’re based on science and designed for a more comfortable journey across the board.


The engine utilizes Nissan’s VVEL (Variable Valve Event & Lift) technology, which combines hydraulic-controlled variable valve timing and electronically controlled variable valve lift on the intake side to provide high performance and crisp response. The V8 also features direct injection gas technology, which provides better wide-open throttle performance and improved fuel economy and emissions performance (versus a non-direct-injection system) by reducing engine knock, improving combustion stability and offering precise injection control.

The engine is mated with a new 9-speed automatic transmission with a larger final gear ratio of 3.692:1– providing more torque at the wheels in a given gear and smoother and faster acceleration. For example, 50 mph to 70 mph acceleration is estimated to have been improved by almost a full second (compared to the previous TITAN equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission). The larger range also means better range coverage for optimal power on standing starts and at cruising speeds. The powertrain feel is more linear through the gears.

The 2020 TITAN is available in a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drive configurations. Nissan TITAN 4×4 models feature a transfer case designed to ensure maximum power distribution in every gear. It distributes torque to both ends and provides four-wheel drive when added traction is needed on snow, ice, sand, mud, dirt, water or gravel.

Durable off-road performance has also been emphasized, with features such as Hill Descent Control (PRO-4X only), hill start assist, brake limited-slip differential and electronic locking rear differential.

The 2020 TITAN features an enhanced off road gauge that displays the vehicle’s tire angle, relative pitch and roll angles. Without using a gyroscope, a new method was developed to calculate the vehicle’s orientation using accelerometer data and calculating the vehicle’s G-force. Nissan’s new gauge is expected to be the most accurate (versus competition) at higher speeds.


The redesigned TITAN lineup offers three unique grille designs to give the truck TITAN’s powerful new look includes a higher degree of differentiation between grade levels – one model with different personas. For example, there are three different grille designs, allowing for more owner customization straight from the factory.

The new headlights produce around 120 percent more light output in low beam than the previous TITAN design, giving the driver a much better view of both ahead and the sides of the road. They are standard on TITAN PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve grades. The available LED fog lights add another 15 degrees of visibility on each side of the TITAN’s front end. High Beam Assist, which allows drivers to leave the light stalk in high beam position indefinitely without blinding drivers or pedestrians, is standard on all grades.

The new daytime running lights are among the largest ever produced by Nissan and consist of four LED boards putting out 800 lumens each. They are standard on PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve grade levels.

New all-LED lighting has been added to the pickup bed, using four light sources for full surround lighting. The rear exterior design includes new LED lights and tailgate finishers. TITAN PRO-4X features a black finisher, while Platinum Reserve utilizes a Satin Chrome finisher.

Other new exterior items include the front bumper, fog lights, badging and new wheel designs. The new interlocking frame grille and surround is designed to convey strength, boldness and precision while enhancing cooling performance for the 5.6-liter V8 engine.

There are three dynamic new colors among the palette of nine total exterior colors. Color availability is matched specifically to model grades. The new colors are Red Alert, Baja Storm, and Cardinal Red Metallic (premium color). Carryover colors include Brilliant Silver Metallic, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Pearl White TriCoat (premium color), Glacier White and Deep Blue Pearl.


TITAN’s standard 8.0-inch center area display is the largest standard screen in the class, while the available Integrated Command Center with 9.0-inch WXGA touchscreen features WXGA resolution – higher than HD. It serves as the gateway to the 2020 TITAN’s enhanced next-generation connectivity that includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The internal WiFi router allows rear seat passengers to stream their favorite network content (WiFi subscription required, sold separately). Up to six devices can be connected with a connection speed of up to 45Mbps.

The next-generation NissanConnect allows over- the-air software updates, new safety and security features, HD Traffic and Google Places/Search.

Interior storage has also been enhanced for the new model year, including front and rear door storage capacity and additional assist grips. Now you can get a dual panel panoramic moonroof, the first offered on TITAN and one of the largest in the segment, measuring over three square feet.

Standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 with class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking
The 2020 TITAN is a showcase for Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies, starting with standard 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 and class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking.

The new TITAN also features a number of other available advanced technologies – Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Driver Alertness and Traffic Sign Recognition. Nissan’s innovative Rear Door Alert is standard on all grade levels. And, the 2020 TITAN now includes eight air bags (versus the previous six) and four seat belt pretensioners (versus the previous two).

The 2020 TITAN will be offered in King Cab and Crew Cab body configurations and five well-equipped grade levels – S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve.

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