Jeep touts the JL Wrangler’s off-road prowess as company’s “manifesto” in new ad

Ross Ballot February 6, 2018 All Things Hoon

Much like they’ve done with removing the company name from the front end because “the seven-slot grille is the logo,” Jeep has concocted an advertisement for its all-new JL Wrangler that says it all by not really saying much. Take one brand-new two-door Rubicon, show it splashing through deep water and climbing the correspondingly wet ledges, and voila – advertising simplicity at its finest. No music, no visible people, no distractions; just a Jeep doing its thing, and showing off in the process.

As much a commentary on the JL Rubicon as a vehicle as it is on broad, sweeping statements made by car commercials as a whole, the Super Bowl spot takes aim at other automakers’ “all talk, no show” advertisements and in the process does so in its own way. The brand instead uses the Wrangler’s ability to tackle a decently difficult off-road obstacle to remind viewers of the company’s own so-called “manifesto,” which is accurate to an extent being that the company’s reputation is built on the mantra of unparalleled off-road capability. This is somewhat interesting (or is it ironic?) in that many of the JL’s changes over the JK it replaces are direct improvements to its street-friendliness; attention to NVH, creature comforts, and live-ability, as Kamil found out recently.

Still, it’s readily apparent that Jeep wants buyers to know that the Wrangler remains the company’s halo car, and that they still pride themselves on four-wheel-drive prowess above all else. It’s a good spot, and there’s no questioning that the Wrangler, especially in Rubicon guise, is an immensely competent wheeler with its locking diffs and electronically-disconnecting swaybars (among other slew of toys). That said, the driver definitely had some excess speed going into the water and in climbing the upper tier of the ledge, more so than I’d hit any of the aforementioned obstacles with, but it certainly looks good on camera. Take a look for yourself in the video above.

Fiat 124 Hardtop possibly in the works – Could it be the best ND Miata?

Ross Ballot January 25, 2018 All Things Hoon

Image courtesy of motor.es via Miata.net

As of the last year, Fiat has been selling its own version of the current-generation Mazda ND Miata, albeit with some touches and changes to make it their own. The 124, name in homage to its long-deceased predecessor, is marked by a turbocharged MultiAir powerplant, as opposed to the MX-5’s naturally-aspirated Skyactiv engine, a slightly more upscale interior, more intensive use of insulation and sound deadening, and aggressively classic roadster styling. But the 124’s driving dynamics, as a result of different chassis tuning and the engine that peaks early but dies equally so, are very different from the Mazda on which it is based.

There is one other major difference, though, and it’s one explained by two simple letters: RF. As its nomenclature dictates, this represents Retractable Fastback, or a targa-top version that Fiat does not offer on the 124. So, should you want a turbocharged ND Miata or a 124 with a hard-top straight from the factory, you can’t have one. But a thread on the Fiat 124 sub-forum within NDMiata.net caught my attention with its headline: “124 Coupe Spotted?”

It appears from spy photos that Fiat may be working on either a removable hard-top version of its little sports car, or a top that mimics that of the NC Miata’s power retractable hard-top (PHRT). Could Fiat be possibly building the best Miata yet? 

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Hooniversal Opinion: 2018 North American International Auto Show

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, you guessed it, it’s auto show season! Kicking off 2018 is one of the biggies: the North American International Auto Show. This week many automakers and journalists alike congregated in wintry Detroit to show off and inspect the manufacturers’ newest offerings, both updated and all-new alike.

And what a well-rounded show it was. From pickups to performance cars there was something for everybody, a widespread exhibition of new and revised vehicles showcased over the past few days. Noteworthy debuts were the slew of truck offerings a la F150 diesel, Silverado, and Ram, and Ranger; Ford’s Bullitt Mustang; Hyundai’s second-gen Veloster and performance-focused N variant; Mercedes’ G-Class and 53-series AMG models; and many, many more.

What made waves and tickled our fancies? Hit the jump for details on what vehicles were revealed at the NAIAS, as well as opinions on said vehicles from your respective Hoons.

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2017 Subaru WRX: Full-year reflection update

Let’s start off 2018 …by looking back on 2017, and oh what a year it was. A tumultuous, peaks-and-valleys ridden turning of the calendar. Much like that of the world, ownership of my WRX has been one of varied emotions. I’ve fallen further in and out of love with the blue Subaru, having gone through moments of “I need to get rid of this car ASAP” and contrasting it with “I’m keeping this car forever.”

Some things have not changed though, and the car is an absolute riot on a back-road and when driving through terrible weather conditions. But its limitations have begun to reveal themselves further, with frustrations like understeer and an uncompromising rough ride repeatedly bearing their heads and regularly making me want to use the steering wheel to bash mine.

With that said, let’s take a moment to reflect back on how the turbo sedan has me feeling after the last full calendar year of ownership. Hit the jump to read more.

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Mazda releases 2018 MX-5 with luxury Club options
Talk about timing…

Ross Ballot December 22, 2017 All Things Hoon

The timing on this couldn’t have been more coincidental. 

On Tuesday I published a piece in which I wrote about Mazda’s poor option & group packaging on the MX-5 Miata. How it’s a shame that you can’t get an LSD with heated seats or vice-versa. Well… yesterday the automaker announced that changes are being made for the 2018 model year. After many complaints from buyers and reviewers alike, Mazda has done what the people asked of it and is giving them what they want.

What’s changing on the Miata option packaging, and how does this affect desirability of certain trim levels? Read on to find out.

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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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