Ask Nathan: Your TFLcar Emails and Questions Answered Here!

2014 buick verano nathan adlen
Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your questions. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it.

Ask Nathan is here! Sure, we could have gone with Roman, Andre, Nicole or Emme, but the group felt that I needed a challenge to raise my IQ and self-esteem. Besides, many of your comments will be bounced off the team, so it’s TFLcar inclusive.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting. In this, the first of the new column Ask Nathan, your emails, questions, comments and observations will be publicly answered.

In this edition:

  • Shifting via column
  • Buying a snow-country SUV
  • Disliking video additions and
  • bench seats

In our very first Ask Nathan question, we find a poor soul who misses the column shifting days of yore:

Mercedes Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive, (W 242), 2013

Q: I subscribe to your YouTube channel and am a big fan. Best thing I like is real world testing, not unrealistic numbers from some test track.

So my question for you and Nathan is this, why have automakers done away with column shifters? Searching internet I found that last u.s. car available with column shift was 2013 Impala, and even then only as option.

Why does every car gave to have a fighter jet style cockpit? I loved the bench seat in my old ’97 Taurus and Impala. I, like many American men over 40 like to spread my legs width-wise when driving. Add to that the fact I’m extremely claustrophobic and I’m tired of squeezing in to tiny cockpit of supposedly large cars like the current Taurus. Bleh.

I’m all for sporty cars having sporty cockpits, but where’s the variety for the buying public? As a younger man I figured one day I’d move on to Buick brand for more relaxed, open air bench style seating, but Buick doesn’t even offer a column shift/bench seat anymore! Now senior citizens have to climb down into their fighter jet style cockpit just to ride over to bingo night? Why have different models and different brands if everything’s the same? One size does not fit all.

Is there any hope for us wider Americans who don’t want our family sedan to be only available with fighter jet style cockpit? I do enjoy driving an old F150 with my lovely column shift and bench seat but mileage on big trucks is terrible for commuting, and how much longer before all trucks have closed in wrap around cockpits as well?

One fan’s rant.

Keep up the great work guys!


From Windsor, Connecticut.

A: One of the best things about driving cars and trucks with a column shift and a bench seat was the easy snuggle positioning and manly room. Sorry to say, column shifting went the way of the 8-track many moons back. With that said, if you look at Mercedes-Benz, they do offer their gear lever in a similar location where old-school column shifting levers resided. It functions differently and annoys some (I think Emme tried to rip one out with her teeth), but it’s as close as you can get. As for bench seats in new North American passenger cars? Sorry, bench seats were deemed (by some) not very safe in automotive crash tests and have vanished.

Best of luck!


This next one is from a disgruntled viewer who is distressed over some of our new segment ideas:

lexus isf bmw m235i

Q: Normally I love you guys. (But) this new track review thing is a BAD idea. What happened to a full review and a drive through the country? I understand doing race track reviews for racing cars, but you stopped all of your zero to sixty runs as part of your review. Now it sits on its own and it’s not as informative as your old reviews were. I’m sick of your long week runs too. A week of Jeep and Viper and BMW? Boo! Come on guys, do the reviews like you used to!

D. E.

A: We are constantly changing and evolving. Our format is something we keep a close eye on and we tend to try and incorporate new ideas into our format. As you know, our reviews are – usually – pretty short. I like to call them Short Attention Span Theater, but they are usually complimented with second and third videos to expand on the vehicle (Mashups, 0 to 60, Off Road Reviews, Up-close & Personal, etc.). The track review is another tidbit we use to augment our reviews. If you see a track review or track 0 to 60 mph video, chances are that the vehicle has been or will be reviewed. Look at it this way, we use the track as a safe location to legally conduct tests that will round out a review.

As for the one week specials, we love ’em. Usually, these specials are filled with time sensitive video material that fans of those vehicles want ASAP. Usually, during these one week specials, we add other videos to give folks more viewing choices during the week. While I respect your position, I hope you can see that we are trying to keep The Fast Lane Car as fresh and entertaining as possible.


This last one comes to us from a viewer/reader who is moving to the great state of Colorado:

2015 GMC Yukon

Q: First, I’m a huge fan of TFL and self-proclaimed car-fanatic. I watch TFL youtube videos regularly and follow TFLon Twitter. (hope you’re having a great time in Europe, by the way!)

I am writing in need of some advice. My wife and I plan on moving to Colorado this fall and we will be in need of a new car. I will be working temporarily in Breckenridge and could end up there permanently (or possibly in Colorado Springs). My wife currently drives a Ford Expedition and is whole-heartedly sold on continuing to drive a traditional body-on-frame design (she likes the height & truck-like drive, etc.). We are of course looking for a 4-wheel drive SUV, and are currently trying to decide between the another Expedition and a new GMC Yukon.

If you have the time to answer, I have some specific questions: Should we look at anything else? How would these and similar vehicles perform in Colorado mountain conditions (snow, ice, and altitude)? Are there any other factors (such as ground clearance, approach angle, etc.) we should consider when driving in Colorado? Would servicing the vehicle be an issue if we’re in Summit County and the closest (GMC) dealer is in Denver?

I know you are very busy and thank you in advance for your kind attention to my email. We would appreciate any advice you might have for our quest. Thank you very much for your time!

A. M.

A: I’m so happy that you are coming to our great state! Yes indeed, the GMC Yukon is a great choice. I haven’t driven an Expedition in years; however, we are going to an Expedition event next month and we’ll be able to put together a modern take on the big Ford then. As for other vehicles to consider, I am a big fan of the Dodge Durango, Infiniti QX56 and Jeep Grand Cherokee – so is Roman.

I especially like the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel in the snow and for long distance driving.

As for servicing. I think you’ll be only slightly inconvenienced with the distance. With that said, give a service manager a call (NOT a sales person) regarding time between service calls to make a more informed decision.

Best of luck and welcome to Colorado!


Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum.  His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.
Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.