Top Gear Series 24 trailer debuts, looks promising

Ross Ballot February 9, 2017 Top Gear

They’re back.

Moving into its twenty-fourth series, the BBC recently debuted the latest Top Gear trailer for enthusiasts and casual viewers alike to lay eyes on. It looks promising, with all the top-notch production and editing quality we’ve come to appreciate melded with the new hosts’ personalities and presenting capabilities displayed at their finest. There seems to be some actual charm this time around, making this a show you definitely won’t want to miss.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer, and for a quick breakdown of what we can expect.

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Straight Outta Canada: Stormtrooper 4Runner Introduction

Ross Ballot February 9, 2017 Featured, Project Cars

The tale of the Stormtrooper 4Runner starts back when I was a young kid, back with memories of riding in a booster seat in my dad’s lifted YJ Wrangler on weekend off-roading trips. My impressionable mind would suck these memories up like a sponge, imprinting upon me a never-fading love for all things four-wheel-drive, off-road, and trail runs. Twenty-ish years later the story has now come full circle, the off-road hobby manifesting itself in my top-priority 2017 New Year’s Resolution: explore more.

With self-inflicted pressure to make the most of life and to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors, and by extension to journey to my bucket-list spots, working towards these goals took a mandatory first step of acquiring the appropriate vehicle. One-thousand round-trip miles worth of road trip to Canada later, the story truly begins.

Welcome to Project Stormtrooper 4Runner.

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Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet: the ultimate luxury SUV

Ross Ballot February 7, 2017 The News!

Source: AutoMailRU

Mercedes has been pushing the boundaries lately with their G-Wagen-based vehicles, and the upcoming “collaboration” with Maybach is no exception. By taking the same mantra as was applied to the S-Class sedan bearing the same Mercedes-Maybach designation, the company is working to infuse an extra dose of luxury (if you can imagine that) into their top-level 4×4 in order to match, or even outclass, competitive SUV offerings like the Bentley Bentayga and the upcoming Rolls Royce whatever-it’ll-be-called.

Enter the G650 Landaulet, a long-wheelbase convertible version of the venerable Mercedes, which will undoubtedly be the most luxurious a G-Wagen ever offered. Hit the jump to read more about this utterly unnecessary, though equally wild, class-topping luxury utility vehicle.

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Forgotten Trim Packages: Lara Croft Tomb Raider Jeep Wrangler

Ross Ballot February 2, 2017 All Things Hoon

Source: FourWheeler

So-called “special edition” vehicles are in many cases, especially that of the Jeep Wrangler, not very special at all. What is frequently little or nothing more than a decal or appearance package, these supposedly limited-run trims are meant to draw in potential buyers by tricking them into thinking they bought something unique when, usually, it’s the same damn vehicle, unchanged except for some graphics and words slapped on the side or rear.

Jeep is among the worst offenders when it comes to this, with seemingly dozens of “special” Wranglers released year-to-year. That’s not the case with the Lara Croft Tomb Raider Edition Wrangler Rubicon though. Read on to see what made this special edition actually, well, special. 

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

Ross Ballot January 26, 2017 Gadget Reviews, Reviews


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


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


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


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


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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