Just to repeat, the Texas State Fair is a big event, drawing more than 2 million visitors every year. And it’s worth making clear that Texas is, was, and always will be about pickup trucks. Big, brawny ones. So while Chevrolet selected the fair as the venue for rolling out a couple of Silverado special editions, Nissan wasn’t about to be left a wallflower. It chose this celebration of country living and chicken-fried steaks to unveil its redesigned 2020 Titan full-size pickup.
The 2020 Titan advertising campaign centers around its new theme of Powerful Warrior, which emphasis its solid-beam, ladder-frame construction and what Nissan bills as best-in-class horsepower and torque figures, as generated by its 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 that produces an even 400hp, which for 2020 is mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2020 Titan is visually distinguished by its new trapezoidal-shaped LED headlamps and double-boomerang LED DRLs, plus three different grilles and five wheel choices – but hey, do we detect just a hint of Ford F-150 cues in the overall package? The Titan’s interior is fully redesigned, based around a seven-inch programmable information display, mated with a flexible smartphone holder and charger. Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies abound, including 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, plus Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, standard Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Around View Monitor. Other systems include Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Traffic Sign Recognition and Rear Door Alert.
In addition to being a truly great take on the full-size American pickup, the Chevrolet Silverado is returning for the 2020 model year with a pair of strongly popular special editions. Chevrolet picked last week’s Texas State Fair in Dallas – a massive shindig where you can sample the likes of deep-fried bubble gum and, yes, fried beer – as the wholly apt locale for reintroducing buyers to the latest version of these trucks. One special edition is off-road oriented; the other is a pure street fighter.
Aimed at those who enjoy getting dirty, the Silverado Midnight Edition is offered for 2020 on the LT Trail Boss and Custom Trail Boss trim packages. It’s built, quite literally, around a two-inch suspension lift from the factory and the popular Z71 Off-Road Package, whicht makes use of Rancho monotube off-road shock absorbers, an automatic locking rear differential, skidplates, 18-inch black-finished wheels and Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires. All-black accents and badging complete the model. For those who prefer to strut down the street, the Silverado Rally Edition, pictured above, is offered on the Custom and RST trim packages and is based upon high-impact visuals in four colors with blacked-out accents. Engines: The Midnight Edition can be ordered with a 5.3-liter V-8 coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, or a 6.2-liter V-8 with a 10-speed automatic and up to 420hp. The Rally Edition starts out with a 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four mated to an eight-speed automatic, with the two V-8s optionally available.
We’ve pointed out here earlier that 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of what’s usually been a hugely underrated and underappreciated car, the Volkswagen-based Porsche 914. It had decidedly plebian origins, and its angular, appliance-like styling didn’t appeal to everybody, but the 914 was a genuinely transformative sports car and gave Porsche something of a new identity. Before the 914 was introduced, the only way you could experience a true mid-engine Porsche was to shriek down the Mulsanne straight at 240 MPH in a 917 prototype.
That’s why it’s so pleasing to know that midships-mounted power is still percolating very nicely at the storied Stuttgart manufacturer, following a hiatus that stretched for some 20 years. The blazing yellow car on the right is the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 coupe, which has received a significant horsepower boost for 2019. Its layout, with the engine ahead of the rear transaxle, dates to 1996 when its forebear, the Boxster roadster, was first introduced. Its engine positioning was chosen to differentiate the Boxster from the eternal, sainted 911. The Cayman followed as a coupe variant of the same engine-transaxle orientation, and like the Boxster, it’s been a major success in the marketplace. There’s now enough room behind the transaxle to allow the placement of a diffuser at the rear of the car, which would look very much at home at Le Mans. While the Boxster was traditionally a four-cylinder car, the Cayman GT now makes full use of a 4.0-liter flat six that produces 420hp, and allows shutdown of half its cylinders during steady-state cruising for improved fuel economy.
It hasn’t even been formally introduced yet – that’s not supposed to happen until December – but the Aston Martin DBX is still undergoing some pretty intensive evaluations. The iconic British producer’s first SUV is getting a pre-production wringing out at Aston Martin’s two engineering centers, at the historic motorsports venues of Silverstone in England and at the Nurburgring in Germany. And believe us, this thing is making some very big noise.
Behind that unforgettable grille opening is the main weaponry of the DBX, a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 produces the equivalent of 542hp in street trim, which, incredibly, is higher output than either the Aston Martin Vantage or DB11 sport GTs can manage. The DBX has already bested 180 MPH in testing, boasts a shorter braking distance than the DBS Superleggera GT, and has lapped the fabled Nordschleife circuit at the Nurburgring in less than eight minutes flat. So this is very serious stuff, just the ticket for taking the typical Porsche Cayenne down a notch or two. No MSRP has yet been announced.
Expensive cars tend to get the bulk of media coverage, so it’s refreshing to take a break and look at something that most everyone can afford. That’s certainly the case with Mazda’s entry-level product, the Mazda 3, which is coming off a full restyling for 2019 with the latest iteration of the automaker’s Kodo body architecture. For 2020, the edgy little subcompact is being treated to a complement of interior accoutrements that give it a premium presence.
Key among those changes is the adoption of an 8.8-inch in-dash screen with touch-sensitive Mazda Connect interactivity, which can now be operated through voice command. A seven-inch digital dashboard presents virtual gauges of analog appearance. There’s a whole range of features for 2020 that you’d expect to find on more expensive cars than this, including Radar Cruise Control with a stop-and-go capability, Driver Attention Alert, power folding side mirrors and one-touch power windows. Speaking of power, the Mazda 3 gets motivated by the Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter inline-four with cylinder deactivation – sizable displacement for this size automobile – which is rated at 186hp of output, and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system is offered for those who like to feel their eardrums throb.
In the greater automotive world, sedans are becoming an endangered species, sent tumbling by the tsunami of trucks and SUVs that have become the primary choice for millions when it comes to buying a “car.” Except at Cadillac. The august General Motors brand is realigning its product lineup that remains sedan-oriented, the massive Escalade notwithstanding. That process advanced with the announcement of the 2020 Cadillac CT4, its entry-level sedan, which replaces the ATS in the Cadillac lineup but still shares its platform.
Not only is the CT4 a sedan, but it rides on rear-wheel-drive architecture and boasts an all-turbocharged selection of engines. Beyond that, all-wheel drive is available on every version of the CT4. The base CT4 engine is a turbocharged inline-four that displaces 2.0 liters and produces 237hp. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Opt for the CT4 Premium Luxury version and the displacement goes to 2.7 liters, with 309hp and a 10-speed automatic. If you’re a really committed driver, you can go all the way to the CT4-V performance model, where the 2.7 rates 325hp when coupled to the 10 speed. That model also gets a limited-slip rear differential and Brembo front brakes with four-piston calipers. All the engines make use of a three-stage sliding camshaft design, active fuel management and automatic start-stop. And in calendar year 2020, you’ll be able to select Cadillac’s Super Cruise option, which allows for hands-free motoring.
We’ll bet you don’t even know about this one. Quietly, much more so than its corporate parent Hyundai, Kia has been making deep inroads into the United States market. Those who follow it know that Kia is a producer of affordable, high-content vehicles sourced in its native South Korea. But how many of us know not only that Kia operates a vibrant U.S. assembly plant, but that it also cranked out its 3 millionth vehicle just last week after only about a decade of existence?
It happened in West Point, Georgia, where Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia Inc. operates a sprawling final-assembly facility that builds the Sorento SUV, the Optima sedan and the new Telluride premium SUV. It was the latter model that achieved Kia’s production milestone, as a white 2020 Telluride SX Prestige rolled off the line and headed for Kia’s dealership network. Kia sank more than $1.1 billion into the plant, which produced its first vehicle in November 2009. That means it took Kia less than 10 years to reach the 3 million mark, a remarkable record of success. The Telluride has been finding buyers in a hurry, so by no means will the be the last one rolling out of Georgia.