Mazda ND MX-5 Miata: Frustration in option packaging

Ross Ballot December 20, 2017 All Things Hoon

I love Mazda, probably more than I do any other manufacturer. Scratch that – as of this writing, I love Mazda more than any other manufacturer. There, I said it. I’m sorry, Jeep, Mazda just has its mojo no in a way no other company does. And, if I’m honest, I’m head-over-heels in love with the ND MX-5 Miata.

Which is why I’m so frustrated by Mazda’s option packaging on its world-famous sports car. Put simply: if you want some things, you can’t have others. And if you want other things, you can’t have some. Not that these are catastrophic flaws, the models are great across the board, but there’s a few items that have me, and many others, questioning the reasoning behind Mazda’s offerings.

What is my issue with the availability of options, both mechanical and on the comfort front, and how does it affect the theoretical purchasing of an ND MX-5 Miata? Read on to find out.

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HCOTY 2017 Nominee: Bradley Brownell’s 1976 Porsche 912E

As much as I love cars for what they are, I really love them for what they enable people to do, to see, and to experience. Which is exactly why, when Zach Bowman and family packed up and spent a year in their Odyssey Rig, as much as the whole ordeal was made possible by the Ram with which their travel was afforded, it was the adventure itself that mattered and that was so inspiring; the truck was simply the means to the madness. It’s not so much the metal as it was what it allows the driver and its occupants to see and enjoy, and this year we saw more of the same within our own community.

It was Hooniverse’s own Bradley Brownell who took his 1976 Porsche 912E on a ~7000 mile road trip this year, one that I and many others would follow in envy. A real-life solo journey across the wide expanse of our country, allowing Brad to experience everything from behind the windshield of a unique, special, oft-forgotten car: that’s the Hooniverse way, and it’s one so many of Brad’s friends and readers alike were wildly jealous of.

So while I’m still pretending the Odyssey Rig won last year (in reality it did…), it’s now time to nominate Bradley Brownell’s 1976 Porsche 912E for 2017 Hooniverse Car of the Year and hope that Brad’s own spirit of adventure is capable of carrying his 912E to victory.

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2013 Nissan Rogue: A Road Trip Review Story

Ross Ballot December 13, 2017 Road Trip

Inset image courtesy of Autotrader

Enthusiasts always look for something fun in a car. Something exciting, adrenaline-boosting; something that makes a car rewarding. Things like good steering feedback, a willing and fun engine, and that special something that makes you want to drive.

But not every situation requires such characteristics; rather, sometimes a vehicle needs to simply be comfortable, efficient, spacious, and reliable– that is, it simply needs to be a vehicle. Take, for example, a Columbus Day weekend road trip from Connecticut down to Washington, D.C. and back– a drive necessitating cargo space, forgiving seats, and an automatic transmission to make tolerable sitting in the inevitable holiday traffic.

With my own stable of a manual-trans/low-on-cargo-space WRX and a parking-garage-and-gas-mileage-unfriendly 4Runner not fitting the bill, we turned the task on my then-girlfriend/now-fiancé’s new-to-her 2013 Nissan Rogue.

How’d the Rogue do, and how was my first proper adventure to our nation’s capital? Read on to find out.

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Stormtrooper 4Runner: AOAA “Last Fall Bash” Trip Report

Ross Ballot November 29, 2017 All Things Hoon, Featured
“You never have an idea of just how capable a car is until you have it on the track.” That might be all well and true, but it’s even more so for off-roading, and a recent weekend at Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area is the perfect example of why, and how.
After months of planning, a wide assortment of members from the TacomaWorld forums met up in the coal hills of Shamokin for a long weekend of wheeling. The plan was relatively simple: congregate at an off-road park, and use our truck’s to their capabilities fullest. In practice though, it’s a bit more complicated, but without so much a a hiccup everything came together beautifully and the mid-November weekend came into view just as all of us were itching harder than ever to spend time in the woods.
Hit the jump to ride along on my, and the Stormtrooper 4Runner‘s most recent off-roading trip.

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Modify your own virtual JL Wrangler before the official debut tomorrow

Ross Ballot November 28, 2017 All Things Hoon

The official debut of the JL Wrangler might be less than 24 hours away but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some last-minute fun outside of the imminent Jeep-backed Build and Price. As we prepare for the JL’s official unveiling, why not spend some time virtually modifying the upcoming four-door Jeep?

What we have here is a fantastic tool-meets-toy, brought to you by JLWrangler.com and powered by InteractiveGarage.com, in which you can customize your very own virtual 2018 Jeep JL Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

My dream JLUR “build” can be seen in the lede image. I went with a 2” lift, 35” KM2s on stock wheels, sliders, a Mopar hard top, Smittybilt bumper, LED headlights, stubby front bumper, chopped flat-fenders, and so on. It would be a daily drive-able rig with full off-road capability, focused on wheeling prowess over parking-lot praise. How would you build yours?

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2018 Jeep Wrangler JL: Colors, pictures, parts, MPGs, and more

Ross Ballot November 7, 2017 The News!

Another day, another outpouring of information about and photos of the upcoming JL Wrangler which very shortly, and very thankfully, will no longer even be “upcoming” with the reveal just weeks away. It seems we know just about everything about the JL by now, all while still waiting in eager anticipation of the LA Auto Show unveiling.

Fresh from the press event in New Zealand, our friends at Road & Track have been lucky and kind enough to share the exclusive first-look photos of the JL Rubicon in both 2-door and 4-door Unlimited guises for our salivating souls to take in. Better yet, additional info– gas mileage, color options, and in-house performance add-ons– have been revealed through other outlets as well.

Hit the jump for more.

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Jeep JL Wrangler: First official production images revealed

Ross Ballot November 1, 2017 The News!

They’re finally here. Jeep must have sensed our communal desperation and has revealed three official images of the production JL Wrangler in both two-door and Unlimited four-door guise to pique our interest even further before the full-blown LA Auto Show reveal. We know these images are legitimate as they are on Jeep’s own media site and we oh-so relieved to have actual photos backed by the company itself out there in the open.

This may be among the longest and most drawn-out reveals of all time and we’re well overdue for the actual JL images to have been shown. And, right before the SEMA show at which so many products are showcased for their ever-popular line of off-roaders, Jeep has delivered.

What can we make of said images? Hit the jump for a brief analysis.

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Preview-review: /DRIVE on NBCSN

Ross Ballot October 31, 2017 TV Shows

The bar has been set exceptionally high for automotive programming with shows like Top Gear having brought us into a world in which car shows can be more than simply informative but rather genuine entertainment. This alongside the blossoming of web-based films finally gave us a new view into the realm of cars being used for enjoyment, and in doing so a wide number of ways to watch this new-found enthusiasm for cars-on-camera has taken form.

Among these is /DRIVE. Now in its fourth season, high praise is to be sung for the show for which the creators once had to fight to keep alive. The effort invested is evident, and /DRIVE presents itself as exceptionally well-produced, well-shot, and damn-enjoyable entertainment. Having been in attendance at the Season Four premiere party and also having viewed /DRIVE in its past iterations, I had high expectations upon sitting down to watch a few preview episodes of this season– and I’m happy to report that the show fully satisfies.

What more can be said of the latest season of /DRIVE, at least that of which I have seen? Click past the jump to find out.

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Jeep JL Wrangler: Owner’s and User’s Manuals leaked, ton of info surfaces

Ross Ballot October 18, 2017 All Things Hoon

In what seems like the longest, slowest unveiling ever, intentional or not, we are now finally seeing actual internal Jeep documents about the upcoming, still-yet-to-be-officially-released JL Wrangler. It appears that a massive amount of information about has been brought to life by JLWranglerForums, among them the ever-crucial User’s and Owner’s Manuals.

It is also immediately evident that the images we’ve been seeing have been extremely close to the production body, and we now know the 2.0L Hurricane turbo and V6 Pentastar will be the only engines available upon launch. As expected, the drivetrain receives a thorough overhaul and upgrade, and the vehicle will showcase a slew of tech that will, finally, make the open-roof Jeep a truly modern, current vehicle.

For more on what new JL information has come to light, click past the jump.

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In photos: Greenwich Cars & Coffee, Aug. 2017 edition

If you follow our Instagram account you know that a few months back I attended one of the more affluent car gatherings– at least in my area– at a meetup that consumes the whole of Greenwich Avenue in the quaint, ultra-wealthy town bearing the same name as that of the street on which the show takes place.

With carbon-fiber body panels, re-imagined German sports cars, an absolute plethora of vehicles exhibiting their owners’ wealth and, much to our content, their willingness to have other car enthusiasts swooning up close and personal over their respective rides, it was impossible to not have an enjoyable morning. Greenwich Cars & Coffee is one of the rare opportunities to closely inspect and take in the real-life, in-person drama and aura of many of the cars we regularly discuss and fantasize over on the internet. From Singer Porsches to carbon-fiber Hellcats, Greenwich C&C is, unquestionably, a show worth going to.

Click past the jump to take in some of the sights and highlights from this past summer’s event.

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