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Review: Rokblokz mud flaps for my 2015+ Subaru WRX/STI

Ross Ballot January 26, 2017 Gadget Reviews, Reviews

Lede

Winter in the Northeast means road salt. It’s an inevitability; as soon as accumulation can be measured, the highway department starts spreading the stuff like it’s free. While helpful on the traction front, road salt is harmful on paint and can do serious damage over time. Hence why mud flaps have become such a popular “modification” in the Northeast: aside from being inexpensive, they are an easy way to add visual flair while also protecting one’s paint.

When it comes to purchasing a set, mud flap options for the Subaru WRX are more extensive than for most other vehicles but are still limited. After much searching I decided on a set from Rokblokz; they had just what I was looking for at a fraction of the price of other companies’ products, so I ordered up a set to give my WRX both a little appearance boost and to help keep the demon of winter from ruining the paint. Read on to see if they’re a worthwhile investment for your 2015+ WRX/STI.

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Our Cars: 2017 Subaru WRX – Time flies, and so do the miles

Ross Ballot January 25, 2017 Featured, Project Cars

Dates: 9/13-1/17 —– Odometer: 16,000 miles

Time flies and so do the miles when you commute roughly fifty miles to and from work, five days a week. Combine daily driver duty with innumerable weekend trips and it’s no surprise that my WRX crossed 15,000 miles ten days shy of six months of ownership. With the odometer now displaying over sixteen thousand, I’m here to report that the Subaru has been nearly flawless and, aside from a few annoyances, is as great a car to own as it is to drive.

The WRX has turned out to be very well suited to my wants and needs, eating up the miles with aplomb, regularly putting a smile on my face, and doing all the boring stuff with ease. Enough good can’t be said about it as a daily driver, and that it’s withstood my snow drifting shenanigans and handled a few days of autocross so well shows that it was designed for just this kind of use.

Read on to see how my WRX has fared in its first six-ish months.

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Review: General Altimax Arctic tires and Sparco Terra wheels

Ross Ballot January 23, 2017 Featured, Reviews

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Winter in the Northeast can be a brutal, bitter time of year. Rain, snow, ice, sleet, you name it; if Mother Nature can concoct it, you can expect it just when you want it least. As all of us in the automotive community know, summer tires are absolutely inappropriate for getting around once the temperature falls below forty degrees or so, and only get worse and more dangerous from there as the mercury continues to drop.

My Subaru WRX come from the factory with summer tires, it’s a no-brainer to grab a set of dedicated winter set to simultaneously assure your safe-going and protect your summers. Going with a cost-effective but high-performing combination, I picked out a set of General Altimax Arctics and Sparco Terras to help get me, and my beloved Subaru, through the worst that winter can throw at us.

Read on to see how they fare.

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What Jeep needs to get right with the upcoming JL Wrangler, Part V: Packages, tidbits, and trims (oh my)

Ross Ballot January 11, 2017 All Things Hoon
jlwranglerforums4

JLWranglerForums

Pitting the company versus the buyers: From turbodiesel to pickup, your semi-comprehensive and somewhat speculative guide on the upcoming JL Wrangler

[This is the final piece in a five-part installment about the 2018+ Jeep Wrangler in which we’ve explored the exterior, off-road hardware, drivetrain & interior, and the pickup. Hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll know how close my, and the industry’s, predictions were…]

So here we are, at the conclusion of our speculation series about the upcoming Jeep JL Wrangler. We’ve covered a lot in the last few months, from engines and transmissions to the interior to the pickup and damn-near everything in-between. The JL Wrangler is shaping up to be one hell of a vehicle, especially so should FCA keep their shoddy quality out of the equation, and we’re more eager than ever to see it. So while we’re still in the dark about what the production-spec JL will actually look, sound, feel, and drive like, let’s predict and speculate some more! This time we’ll delve into the realms of available trims, packages, easter eggs, and more. Read on to see what we the people want from the JL, and what we’ll likely/probably get from Jeep. Things are heating up quickly, so be sure to stay tuned. Now jump with me as we dive into some of my final thoughts on the next-gen Wrangler.

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Review: Everyday Driver’s ICON film

Ross Ballot December 23, 2016 All Things Hoon, Featured

icon

As a lover of such a wide variety of cars, and holding no brand bias whatsoever, it may come as a surprise that I’m not head-over-heels in love with BMW’s M cars. It’s not that I dislike them, it’s just that, with a few exceptions, there’s always been a competitor I’ve found more appealing. Keeping that in mind, there needs to be good reason for me to spend over an hour or so viewing content focused solely on the Bavarian brand’s performance division. Recently though, the guys at Everyday Driver completed a film on just that topic, and I decided to give it a watch.

For those of you not familiar with the ED crew, they regularly put out top-notch quality content, including everything from the podcasts to their traditional YouTube videos. Being a fan of their usual work, I happily spent my own time (and money) to watch the ED team drive and review the full lineage of one of the most important sports cars of the last thirty years, even knowing full well that it’s not a lineup I love. Bottom line, quick-fire review: ED’s latest film, ICON, is near-mandatory viewing for the even the most casual of M car fans, and easily manages to qualify as a good watch for those who don’t care so much about the brand as they do genuinely good automotive journalism. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and you very likely will too…yes, even if you don’t love M cars.

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2016 HCOTY Nominee: The Bowman Odyssey Rig

bowman-odyssey-rig-hcoty-2016

I’ve heard it all my life, felt it pulling at me from the dark and lonely places behind my ribs. It’s there when my mind goes quiet a second, when the distractions and noises I’ve painted all around me bed down. There, in the last long minutes before dusk gives up the dance floor, when the stereo lulls and there’s nothing in the air but the soft smell of her hair from the passenger seat and the spice of roadside eucalyptus. It wells up, that old echo. Run. Run. Run.” – Zach Bowman

Nobody says it better than Bowman himself, and no words I spew upon the pages of Hooniverse can fully embody what he and his family set out to do. By way of a camper/home-touting Ram 2500, they are amidst a year on the road, seeing, experiencing, being what they otherwise wouldn’t have. A journey of a lifetime. But it wouldn’t be possible without their truck; what was once a farm tool now is the driving force behind adventure and ambition, allowing Zach, his wife, and their young daughter to hit the open road or, in many cases, trail. It’s not just a beat-up Dodge, but a vessel for generating endless memories and the stories that accompany them. There’s a little adventure deep down in all of us, and the Bowman family is exploring that to the fullest. A a certain three-hundred-thousand-plus mile Ram truck is making that possible; it’s as much a home as it is an escape pod.


For everything it allows the Bowman family to do and for everything it represents, I’m proud to present this 2016 Hooniverse Car of the Year nominee: the Bowman Odyssey Rig.

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What Jeep needs to get right with the upcoming JL Wrangler, Part IV: the pickup

jlwranglerforums7

Source: JLWranglerForums

Pitting the company versus the buyers: From turbodiesel to pickup, your semi-comprehensive and somewhat speculative guide on the upcoming JL Wrangler

[This is Part 4 of a multi-entry installment about the upcoming 2018+ Jeep Wrangler (read the previous pieces here: 1, 2, 3). Stay tuned for further breakdowns of what we want Jeep to do vs what Jeep will actually do.]

Part 4: The Pickup – “Gladiator” / “Scrambler” / “Comanche” / “JT” / “WE DON’T CARE WHAT IT’S CALLED JUST PLEASE OH PLEASE GIVE US A WRANGLER-BASED PICKUP ALREADY”

Ahem. Sorry, excuse the outburst above; that’s just the final pieces of my patience failing to hold it together. Anyways, few vehicles have as much hopeful speculation surrounding them as the revival of a long-absent Jeep pickup. Just this year we saw a Renegade-based concept, which turned out to be nothing more than a marketing gag, and in the past there’s been no shortage of drool-inducing concepts from Jeep and Mopar that only the delusional could think would actually make it to dealers lots. But I’m not focusing on any of those here. No, I’m talking about a real mass-production Wrangler-based pickup: something to slot in the Jeep lineup where nameplates like the Comanche, Scrambler, and Gladiator once lurked, and something that makes as much sense as an offering as a vehicle can possibly make.

If the rumors and spy photos are to be believed, we’re finally going to get what we’ve been asking for: an honest, good-looking, midsize pickup with more than enough off-road capability and a modest amount of truck ability to match. A pickup for those who want a Wrangler but need a bed, for those who need a pickup but still want to go off-roading (but don’t want a Tacoma or ZR2 Colorado), a down-to-earth fun vehicle that’s a livable size and that has an endless aftermarket to go with its macho character. Given what we know about the JL-based pickup, it should be tough for FCA to screw this up…but we want more than just a pickup. We want a true Jeep pickup. We want perfection. Read on to see what we’re pining for, what we’ll probably get, and if it’s enough to put you firmly next to me in the camp of those believing it to be among the most highly anticipated vehicle of the next few years.

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What Jeep needs to get right with the upcoming JL Wrangler, Part III: Drivetrain & Interior

Ross Ballot November 30, 2016 All Things Hoon, Featured
ecodiesel

Source: TruckTrend

Pitting the company versus the buyers: From turbodiesel to pickup, your semi-comprehensive and somewhat speculative guide on the upcoming JL Wrangler

[This is Part 3 of a multi-entry installment about the 2018+ Jeep Wrangler. Stay tuned for further breakdowns of what we want Jeep to do vs what Jeep will actually do.]

We’ve recently discussed the exterior and 4WD Hardware, so now it’s time to explore a two more aspects of the upcoming JL Wrangler. First we’ll delve into the Drivetrain, which should be receiving relatively major changes, and then we’ll assess the interior, which could go either the way of a minor progression or that of a major revamp. What does the future hold for the world’s most iconic 4×4? Read on to explore with me as we dive into the inner workings of what will make the JL tick, and see if you agree with our hopes and dreams.

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What Jeep needs to get right with the upcoming JL Wrangler, Part II: 4WD & Off-Road Hardware

Ross Ballot November 22, 2016 All Things Hoon, Featured
jlwranglerforums

A wild JL Wrangler mule appears, amid some off-road testing —– Source: JLWranglerForums

Pitting the company versus the buyers: From turbodiesel to pickup, your semi-comprehensive and somewhat speculative guide on the upcoming JL Wrangler

[This is Part 2 of a multi-entry installment about the 2018+ Jeep Wrangler. Stay tuned for further installments, and further breakdowns of what we want Jeep to do vs what Jeep will actually do.]

Part 2: 4WD & Off-Road Hardware

You know what must be a stressful job? Redesigning something as beloved as the Jeep Wrangler. I can’t imagine that being part of the team helping to prepare any other all-new vehicle is anything short of overwhelming, and, with so much riding on its success, it has to be a thousand times more so to be part of the crew working on Jeep’s four-wheel-drive convertible off-road legend. Even compared to the re-introduction of another treasured nameplate, a la Bronco (which we’re hoping Ford doesn’t screw up), contributing to a project with so much riding on the line must induce high-level stress. It’s one of the few vehicles that the general American public cares about, and one that everybody expects to live on forever. The Wrangler is, after all, an American icon.

As such, it’s absolutely crucial that Jeep gets the next generation of Wrangler right; not just to help the company meet sales projections, but to succeed with the buyers as well. Amidst an explosion in sales and no sign of slowing down, Jeep is at a crossroads: build a vehicle that will sell, or build a vehicle that’s true to the loyalists and hardcore off-roaders? In Part 1 we explored the JL’s exterior and what it will take to make it a success, so now let’s dive into the prospective upcoming Wrangler’s 4WD and off-road hardware/credentials, dissect what Jeep needs to do to please everybody, and hopefully paint a picture of a desirable future JL in which Jeep can hopefully please the consumers and the corporate heads alike. Now, if you will, jump with me…and don’t dream too much about a Rubicon pickup along the way.

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What does Jeep need to get right with the JL Wrangler? Part 1: Exterior

Ross Ballot November 15, 2016 All Things Hoon, Featured
jlwranglerforums6

Source: JLWranglerforums.com

Pitting the company versus the buyers: From turbodiesel to pickup, your semi-comprehensive and somewhat speculative guide on the upcoming JL Wrangler

[This is Part 1 of a multi-entry installment about the 2018+ Jeep Wrangler. Stay tuned for further installments, and further breakdowns of what we want Jeep to do.vs what Jeep will actually do.]

Part 1: Exterior

Few vehicles are as iconic as the Jeep Wrangler. As such, it goes without saying that it’s absolutely crucial that FCA– and Jeep specifically– doesn’t botch the next iteration. Short of the 911, the venerable Jeep may have the most die-hard fan-base of any enthusiast-minded vehicle out there. With an all-new replacement for the JK on the horizon–and the potential for the Bronco to join the market as a competitor, the first to do battle with the Wrangler since the FJ went out of production — the stakes are higher than ever. Add in hopeful additions of a diesel engine and a pickup variant, and it’s no surprise that the upcoming JL Wrangler is making waves on the internet long before it even debuts.

Jeep and FCA are hoping for a sales hit, especially considering the JK’s unprecedented success, but what does Jeep need to get right for it to garner both mainstream approval and the attention and lust from fans of the brand and the model itself? Just as I did with the Bronco, let’s break things down bit by bit, comparing the Wrangler that Jeep wants to sell with the Wrangler we want Jeep to sell.

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