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New Mercedes G-Class – Important Internal Improvements

Last year I reviewed the 2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t. The interior was cramped and outdated. The tall and narrow body on stick axles was fighting physics when 563-horsepower was applied, and losing. The ride wasn’t exactly “class leading”, as the automakers call it. I loved the looks but I didn’t love much else. Despite that, the G-class is selling very well for what it is, an old military vehicle on steroids and with lots of lipstick. Clearly, Mercedes couldn’t just kill it. But they couldn’t change it, either. They had to improve it. 

Per recent press release, Mercedes started improving the G-Class from the inside. The biggest problem with the current interior, bottom picture, is that is looks and feels like it’s been modernized and modified a million times, because it has, but still has the same old bones. There is no room between the seat and the door, so some seat controls are on top of the seats. The center console is narrow, about the width of a cell phone. Climate controls are placed way low and are difficult to see. The screen looks like an iPad randomly attached on top. It’s just dated. 

But the new G-class, top picture, is basically S-Class squared. The most distinctive thing from the older Gelandewagens was carried over, the three locking differential buttons. Of course most buyers don’t know what they do, or when and how to use them, but they’re there. Otherwise, it’s modern Mercedes with sharper angles. But the dash board is not the big news here…

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The New Yorker spotlights our obsession with police chases

Kamil Kaluski December 12, 2017 All Things Hoon

The moment we hear “car chase in Los Angeles” we’re all inclined to grab a beverage and snack, and sit it front to the [you]tube. It’s like watching the best part of a Hollywood movie, but live, and with a mostly unpredictable ending. I am guessing that it’s only more dramatic in Los Angeles where chases get direct local coverage and can actually happen on the same roads that you’re stuck in traffic on daily. The New Yorker takes a critical look at our obsession with Los Angeles police chases. 

Dropping a 707-horsepower Hellcrate motor into a ’68 Charger

Kamil Kaluski December 11, 2017 All Things Hoon

In case you need further confirmation that we live in amazing automotive times, the Hellcrate engine may just be it. Order it from Mopar, install it, and transform a vehicle of your choice into a tire-shredding 707-horsepower monster. Easy, right?

The real question is what vehicle to drop this monster engine into?

A customer of Ace Performance, in Tewksbury, MA decided to drop into what might be perfect candidate for it, a ’68 Dodge Charger R/T.

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The Grand Tour – Season 2

Kamil Kaluski December 8, 2017 Top Gear

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right? The first season of the hyped Grand Tour left me a bit… underwhelmed. It was exactly what I, and many others expected, the continuation of adventures that the three idiot hosts started at TopGear. But somehow, for me, it wasn’t ideal. I hoped for improvement with each new episode but it didn’t happen. Sure features were amazing, the video was great, and there were lots of funny bits. But those were overshadowed but dumb stuff that most people just didn’t like or didn’t get.  

It was the penis and other kindergarten-level bathroom jokes. Silly as it may sound, the occasional R-rated words wouldn’t allow me to watch it with my 4 and 9 nine year old kids. The American Stig substitute was basically just one big WTF moment. The celebrities dying on the way to be interviewed was beyond weird. It was these things that turned a possibly amazing show into just another TopGear knock-off. 

Last night season 2 premiered on Amazon Video. At first glance it was a huge improvement. It wasn’t improved because it was better in any way. No, it’s still the same TopGear-like theme. It was improved because none of the negative things listed above were present. Watching in the middle of the night, my somewhat low expectations were surpassed. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing but it was good entertainment. And the absence of this dumb stuff made into something that I can watch with my kids. 

Dashboards: Into the future with the simplicity of the past?

Kamil Kaluski December 7, 2017 All Things Hoon

You know what’s great? Apple CarPlay, that’s what. Its Android format is probably not too shabby either but I don’t have any direct experience. Android Auto may actually be better as it has Waze and a bunch other apps not available on Apple CarPlay.

The bottom line is that both systems integrate really well into modern cars’ infotainment systems and their touchscreens. Unlike most systems developed by car companies, these two actually understand voice commands. Furthermore, they are always connected the magical thing called “the internet” and thus are only rarely out of date.

But if so many things that we need are on our phones, our modern essential portable communication devices, neatly displayed on bigger screens, and with an voice interface that seems to work pretty well, how will future dash boards look like? There won’t be a need for all the buttons and knobs we typically associate with dash radios. Will future cars just have a big screen like Teslas do now?

What does that do to our gauges? Those can be shown on a windshield via a head-up display. What will happen then? Will all future dashboards look like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and the first generation Toyota Prius?

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Radwood 2 in Pictures

Radwood 2, the show celebrating 1980s and 1990s automotive culture happened last Saturday in California. And I’m kind of pissed-off. I’m pissed because I own cars from 1980s and 1990s, I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and I couldn’t be there. I’m pissed because I know more about these cars than I should and I couldn’t share my wisdom with others. I’m currently reaching out to our own Bradley Brownell, who was one of the main figures behind this show to have one on the east coast. Just for me, just so I can dominate it.

I know I have a pair of Z. Cavaricci’s in my mom’s attic and some Bugle Boy t-shirts. I think I have a Sony Discman which I’d connect to my Integra’s radio with a cassette adapter and play Poison, Bon Jovi, and Nirvana until everyone’s’ ears bled. 

Those who made it to Radwood 2 say it was one of the best shows they have attended. Fuggers. For the rest of us there are pictures. John Binns, a.k.a. zombieite on Flickr, took some awesome pics and was okay with the world sharing them. Check them out in the gallery below. There is also a Radwood Facebook page with a ton of other pictures. Looks like fun!

Radwood 2

Review: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

Sometime ago I reviewed the Mitsubishi Mirage. I didn’t like it. In fact I called it a turkey. Needless to say, the people at Mitsubishi were not happy about that. A phone call was made and words were said. They could have told me stay away from their vehicles and stick to writing about Ladas.

But they didn’t. In fact, they decided to lend me the 2017 Outlander Sport and told me to give it a look. 

I respect that. I respect it because they don’t pick and choose who reviews their cars. They don’t hedge against those who write honestly and the shills who will abandon their integrity in hopes of receiving a box of chocolates for Christmas.

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Bad Idea: Subaru Tribeca Stretch Limo

Let’s say you came into some FU money. You’re a big-shot now so you hire a driver because you can’t party with strippers conduct important business and drive at the same time. Since you have a driver, you decide to procure a custom stretch limo, because Maybachs are for tasteless Wall Street hacks. What do you order?

These days large SUVs are the most popular basis for stretch limos, but you don’t care about what’s popular. Sedans, and whatever the hell Ford picked to replace the almighty Panther, are equally lame. Vans, like a customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, are huge and comfortable but you don’t want to mistaken for a hotel shuttle. No, you think outside the box, possibly while really high, and you find your answer – Subaru Tribeca! 

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Incredible LEGO Technic MAN Bus

Kamil Kaluski November 13, 2017 All Things Hoon

Based on the LEGO Movie, Master Builders are the amazing rouge creators that do not follow directions. Some of their creations are artsy, some fantasy, and others are just a hodgepodge of crap slapped together. In real life LEGO does have Master Builders who are responsible for the company’s huge display models. But outside the company are people like David Gustafsson from Sweden. The man has been building incredible things from LEGO for some time and this MAN articulated city bus is one of latest creations.  

While it looks like just scaled another model at first, it has some incredible details. The body is build out of typical LEGO bricks but underneath it’s all Technic. The 40-inch model is made out of 7381 pieces and weights nearly 12 pounds. The whole thing is made to 1:18 scale. 

The propulsion motor is placed behind the third axle, just like on the real thing, and it drives only the third axle, just like on the real thing. On the roof, where AC units are placed on a typical bus, are motors that control the doors. It has pneumatic suspension with a compressor, just like the real bus, which allows the front-end to kneel for easier passenger ingress, and shocks on all axles. Even the driver’s seat is suspended, just like on real buses. 

The crazy part is that this bus can be controlled from a smartphone. The bus goes forward and back, and steers. The doors and the air suspension are also operated from the phone app. And David is nice enough to provide 3D directions on how to make this. Good luck with that. 

Gripes about Ford’s many similar buttons

Above is a close look at the climate controls of the new 2018 Ford Expedition. They seem rather unremarkable, typical Ford-like, as they have been for many years now. These controls are located below the infotainment screen and below the radio buttons and knobs. Basically, these are the lowest placed items in the vertical section of the center pod of the dash. 

Say you’re driving your new 5500-pound Expedition at 75 MPH on the highway. You decide that you must change the heated seat setting from two dashes to one. You try to find the button by feel but they are all located near each other, and all feel the same. Instead you accidentally press the “fan-” button. Doing so you took the climate control off the automatic mode and you still haven’t reduced the temperature of your seat. 

You curse and you look down. You’re now looking for two buttons, the “auto” to get the climate control back into the automatic mode, and the heated seat button which you were originally trying to press. Say it takes you three seconds to complete the task of finding and pressing these buttons.

How far has your 5500-pound Expedition traveled in that time?

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