Project Car SOTU: The Integra GS-R

In October 2015 the Integra looked and ran perfectly. It was freshly detailed, which included wet-sanding and headlight clearing. The engine was serviced; new plugs, fuel filter, valve adjustment,  cold-air intake with a new filter. It ran strong and it ran well.

Then I parked it temporarily in my friend’s huge garage. And I haven’t driven it since. I didn’t mean for that to happen. The access to it wasn’t always easy. I didn’t always have the time. And the time just flew by. But last week I did spend some time with it…

… Continue Reading

Project Car SOTU: 4Runner Project keeps running

My 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 has been getting somewhat regular updates on Hooniverse. In recent times I installed Rigid Industries off-road lights, eBay LED interior lights, and provided a four-season update on my BFGoodrich KO2 tires.

Other than routine maintenance and one annoying intermittent issue there’s not much to report. It currently has less than 50,000 miles so I don’t expect major issues for a while. I do have some new parts laying around and some plans but time is lacking…

… Continue Reading

Sampling the Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted bicycle rack

Transporting bicycles isn’t easy. If your vehicle is big and functional enough, it’s possible throw a bike or two inside, with the front wheels removed. The roof is a good place but placing bicycles on a larger vehicle may be challenging for some. Also, once on the roof bikes cause significant drag, make a lot of noise, and kill the fuel economy. 

Transporting bikes on a rack mounted behind the vehicle seems like it makes the most sense. Here, the bikes are easier to load and don’t create drag. Still, it’s not a perfect solution as the rack extends the length of your vehicle, may block visibility, and now your trunk is inaccessible. Unlike a roof rack, for full vehicle functionality the rear racks need to be removed when the bikes are off. 

With the FullSwing, Yakima tries to make living with a hitch-mounted rack easier. This is a large unit designed to accommodate four bicycles and also swing out of the way even with bikes on it. Now you’re allowed access to the hatch or the tailgate of the vehicle.

Can this be the perfect solution for bike transport?

… Continue Reading

Hooniverse Asks: What’s a good replacement for an FJ Cruiser?

When Toyota introduced the 2007 FJ Cruiser it immediately created a cult following. It looked different, a retro design pulled off well. It was built on a fourth generation 4Runner frame, known for its capability and strength. Add to it the element of Toyota reliability and it’s no wonder that Toyota sold a ton of them. Out of production for over a year now, ridiculously high prices of used ones further reinforce the love that this vehicle has from its owners. 

A friend messaged me the other asking what is a good replacement vehicle for his 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. I asked him what is wrong with his FJ? Does he need space? More towing ability? More functionality? 

… Continue Reading

Toyota takes the 86 into Pirelli World Challenge

Kamil Kaluski August 3, 2017 Motorsports

Last time I reviewed the Subaru BRZ I said that I would want nothing more than it, or its Toyota 86 sibling, with a gutted interior and a roll cage for my track weekends. Toyota must have read that review and said “Kamil is right, we should race the 86! 86 buyers do a ton of autocross and track events with their cars and so should we!”

This is why, in my mind, Toyota entered the 86 Cup Car into the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) racing series. The 86 will be running in the TCA class and will be driven by Craig Stanton. Craig is a former GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT and Continental Tire GS class champion, which is similar to my own experience of racing 24 Hours of Lemons for four years.

The car will be fielded by the Dan Gardner Spec (DG-Spec) Racing team. DG-Spec previously won the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship with the Scion tC in 2010, and has also competed in GRAND-AM.

… Continue Reading

Quick Spin: 2017 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang

It’s fucking amazing. That is all you need to know about the GT350R. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but it is amazing. It looks purposeful but not tacky. It’s really fast and it’s properly loud. It stops well and handles wonderfully. It’s cliche to say, but it is a race car for the streets and it makes no secrets about it. 

But anyone with even the slightest interest in cars already knows that. Because it’s so amazing but imperfect, let’s take a closer look at those imperfections. And then let’s look at what makes it so amazing. 

… Continue Reading

Death Valley Torture Test: Three New Pickups, Shocking Failures

Dan Edmunds, who coincidentally works at Edmunds.com but has no other relation to the company that happens to have the same name, to me one is of most interesting automotive experts in the industry. His approach to discussing how things, especially suspension things, work is much more detail orientated than anyone else. 

Some years ago an editor at Edmunds decided to go to a place called Racetrack Playa which is dry lake in a remote area of the Death Valley National Park. It’s accessible by driving more than 100 miles in the park, on a paved road, and then another 25 miles on a dirt road. But this dirt road is a bit different – it has a dry washboard-like surface but is otherwise free of any challenging obstacles. Looking at the video, it looks like most conventional 2WD vehicles should be get through it. The editor at the time took the first generation Honda Ridgeline. 

Once that editor got off the dirt road and back onto paved road he noticed how poorly the vehicle handled. Long story short, the shock absorbers on that first generation Ridgeline failed miserably. The constant prolonged vibrations at speed and in high temperatures were simply too much for the shocks. Ten years later, at the introduction of the new Ridgeline, Dan Edmunds questions Honda engineers about the new shocks. Honda was more than familiar with Dan’s story and said that they applied changes to the new truck based on it. 

So now Dan took the new Ridgeline to the same Racetrack Playa in the middle of a hot Death Valley. He drove over the same roads, at the same speeds, in similar temperatures. But he wasn’t convinced that the Ridgeline could take the abuse so he brought along two support vehicles: a new Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road (not TRD Pro, wasn’t available at the time) and Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X. Both vehicles were equipped with their off-road packages, giving Dan confidence in their abilities. 

But a funny thing happen. Watch the above video as it is really worth your time. The oscillations of the shocks, the speed, and the temperature yielded some amazing results. Then watch the below video for a less dramatic conclusion. 

… Continue Reading

Traxxas Ford Mustang GT 4-Tec 2.0 is the AWD Stang you can afford

Year after year Ford keeps stepping up its game with the Mustang. The 2018 model will have 460 horsepower out of its five point oh vee eight. With the optional GT Performance Package it won’t be far behind the GT350 around many tracks. But with all those goodies comes a high price. Check off all the boxes and you’re looking to spend over fifty grand on your loaded GT coupe. 

But there is another way, another Mustang. While it does not have a V8 engine, it is all wheel drive and it goes like stink. And, at $279.99 is much more affordable. The only problem with it is that it is one tenth of the size of the real Mustang. But that doesn’t make this Traxxas RC Mustang any less fun. 

… Continue Reading

Comparison: 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country vs. 2005 Volvo XC70 Cross Country

Despite of many pundits’ outcries, station wagons are not dead. They never really left us. Some of the most popular SUVs are simply jacked-up wagons with body cladding and a promise of a rugged outdoor life. Volvo’s popular Cross Country models were always that, jacked up versions of their conventional models. Their latest offering in this genre is V90 Cross Country – the SUV’ed version of the V90, which is the wagon version of the gorgeous S90 sedan.

In the process of switching owners and generally reinventing itself, Volvo has done an extraordinary job of remaining Volvo. The company’s core designs have been retained but were fortified with more style and technology. But how does this new technology and design of the new V90 Cross-Country compare to a weathered twelve year old XC70 which has always favored function over form?

… Continue Reading

Waze is now on Android Auto

Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto have really transformed how we use our smart phones in our cars. Just plug your phone in and bam, instant access to your music, podcasts, contacts, text messages, and maps. It is not perfect as some applications are limited. The usefulness of the system also varies with the car that it’s used in. It seems to work best in Fords and Audis without a touchscreen are probably the worst. BMW recently stepped up with its new 5-series being the first car to connect to CarPlay wirelessly. 

But one specific app was always missing from CarPlay and Android Auto – Waze, possibly the most driver friendly app in existence. It not only gives directions but it uses real-time date to select the fastest route. It has warnings of construction, debris on road, cars on shoulders, and, most importantly, police speed traps. All those are user reported, so not always fully accurate, but what is?

It was just announced that Waze is now available on Android Auto. Rejoice, Android users. iPhone users may now have another legitimate reason to change to an Android device because it is not expected to come to CarPlay. That’s a shame, too, because it is a great app. Using on one’s phone while driving is not always easy or even legal, as it could be mistaken for the very offensive “texting.” 

Source: The Verge. Image: 9to5google