Hellcat Performance, Ram ProMaster City, Large SUV Off Road, and Why Drive the Tatra? [Ask Nathan]

2014 buick verano nathan adlen
Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

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 edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Off road fight with the big boys
  • Ram ProMaster City
  • Why Tatra?
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat performance statement

2015 chevy suburban grille bumper

This viewer is a Canadian oil worker and wants a crew vehicle (large SUV) mashup. Sounds awesome to me!

Q: I think you guys need to do a large a SUV on and off-road mashup. The Ford expedition, suburban or Yukon, that Nissan one, the Toyota one and too bad dodge don’t make one. But I think it’ll be great to know which one is actually better on and off-road. My vote is for Ford but that’s just because jeep don’t make a big one.

I am a huge fan of you and Nathan. I am an oil worker in Canada. And we use those kind of vehicles as crew vehicles to get in and out of the bush. Snow, mud, gravel, wash broads and sand. I’m sure other people would also like to know.

Thank you for your time. B.D.

Sent from my iPhone

A: That’s a hell of a good idea. I like the idea of pulling together a new Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia and (possibly) a Dodge Durango for a full off-road test.

The Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban are the newest and most commodious among all of the aforementioned. We liked the EcoBoost in the Expedition, but we seriously need to test it off road. We will the moment we get it up to Colorado. Same goes for the Suburban.

The Toyota Sequoia is supposed to be updated in the next year or two. Hopefully, Toyota will do more than update the exterior and add garnish. It needs more power, a better transmission, more capability and better efficiency if it’s going to compete with Ford and Chevy.

As for the Nissan Armada, no word on what’s on the drawing board. Will it get the V8 diesel slated for the future Titan? Man, I hope so. That could be a game changer.

Dodge’s Durango is a great truck for suburbanites. Off road, it’s too low and lacks a dedicated off road setup. It’s smaller than the competitors too.

I wish I could give you more information. Rest assured, we WILL get our hands on these big trucks and we WILL take them off road.



One of our viewers is interested in the Ram ProMaster City. Sure, it’s a TFLtruck topic, but the ProMaster City is part minivan too. Besides, it’s a damn good question.

Ram promaster city nose

Q: Hello Roman & Nathan:

I just watched your 7: 4 4 YouTube video talk about the Dodge Ram Promaster City that had just been introduced at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Michigan . In it, Roman interviewed “Bob Hegbloom”.

I’ve been waiting for this vehicle to get debuted since I have had to reject the Nissan NV, the Ford Transit Connect and all the others. I hope this vehicle has the specific feature I want.

I’m interested in the passenger vehicle for exactly the reason Bob stated: Trades work during the week, convert for fun on the weekend and that Nathan stated: RV’ing.

But I have another more specific need of this truck and I can’t get a clean look at from your video or from any other video of the interior of a passenger Promaster City . I would be using this truck for my trades business (only driver and passenger seats), carrying people around (in 2nd & 3rd row seats) and then deer hunting as I now use my minivan. The beauty of the minivan is lots of room and I sleep in it when hunting. THAT saves a lot of money. The cargo version has exactly what I need which is a flat floor, but no passenger seating. So I need the passenger version of this Promaster City and I need it to have a near completely flat floor once the 2nd & 3rd row seats are removed.

So you’ve gotten your paws on this passenger Promaster City . With the 2nd & 3rd row seats out, is the floor flat?

Please let me know as soon’s you’re able about this small detail. Thanks.




A: This is a tough one. Ram only gave us access to the cargo versions of the Ram Promaster City. We only got a glimpse at a passenger version. Fortunately, I have seen plenty of Fiat Doblo passenger vans recently and, it could be assumed, the interior is basically the same as the Ram Promaster City.

With that being said: the rear seats are removable and the second row fold against the front seats. The floor is very flat with a few bumps representing the connecting/locking points for the seats.

Best of luck!


Tatra 603
There are some people out there that question our Tatra 603 adventure. It’s not that they won’t drink the Cool-Aid, it’s just a tad absurd that we commit time, resources and love for a project that will not yield big bucks – if any money.

For those of you who didn’t see any of our posts regarding this journey: TFLcar is driving a 1968 Tatra 603 from its home in the Czech Republic to Pebble Beach, CA. It’s happening at the writing of this post.

Q: Roman and Nathan. You guys are cool and I love your real reviews. But I have a problem, it’s with this whole Tatra thing you’ve blabbered about like forever. Why bother with this journey? It’s expensive, time consuming and you guys are not keeping up with your busy schedule of reviewing new cars. Who cares about this car?

I totally love the reviews, but not the ones about this old piece of @@@@@.

Get back to doing what you do so well! Please!

C. A.

A: Let me answer that with a few questions for you: Have you ever wanted to challenge yourself? Have you ever been passionate about something? Have you ever been in love with the idea of being in love? Me too. Now, imagine working with someone who feels that way about a car.

The Tatra 603 is an air-cooled, rear-engined V8 that has a four-speed manual transmission mounted on the steering column. It holds up to six, floats on the highway and rumbles like nothing I’ve ever heard.

This Tatra 603 represents a time, a place and a people who saw freedom in a completely different way than someone born on our shores. It’s a time capsule and it has a design that wows the historically savvy. It’s cool, unique and follows its own path.

Dude, I’m not even the one who wanted to bring it here and I feel this way.

Now, imagine if you and your family hail from the Czech Republic and you felt compelled to take it to the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as they will have their first Tatra Class spotlighted at the event. That’s why Roman is so involved in this project. Imagine a car with solid enough bones that could cross two continents to participate at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Cool – no?

As I said: I’m not the passionate one working on bringing it across the planet. That’s Roman’s thing. The simple truth is, I grew to love the quirky Tatra and thrill at the challenge of getting it there.


This last one comes to us from a bunch of viewers who immediately poo-pooed the driving characteristics of the mighty 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

Q: (Paraphrased from our YouTube video comments) The Hellcat is only good for drag racing. Show it a corner and watch it hide. A Camaro Z28/Mustang Shelby GT 350 would kill it on a track. It has too much power for cornering.

YouTube know-it-alls

A: Survey says…. “BUZZZZZ!!!!!” You are TOTALLY wrong. Where are you getting this information? Oh, wait… you read it somewhere – right? You got some speculation in your britches – right? You got your information from a “reliable” source before driving impressions came in and “WAMMO!” you’re an expert – right?

Yes, I’ve always been a Challenger fan – and a Mustang fan… AND a Camaro fan. They all kick ass in one way or another and I am the lucky slob who gets to play with all of them. Despite this, I have to say: I’ve never experienced anything like the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

Simply put: it’s a pussycat on the track. Sure, the power is ridiculous, but the grip is fantastic. It’s so easy to corner while spooling up or easing down. I did laps in the eight-speed auto AND the six-speed manual which came out of the Viper. You always know that the power under your right foot releases a cheetah on fire – but the progressive nature of the steering, excellent body control and beefy brakes make this a car of legend.

Love, love, love the manual transmission! It’s easy to modulate the power on the track and, when you work up the nerve, you can downshift and annihilate physics. I-AM-ALL-THAT-IS-MAN when I drive one.

Is it better on the track than a Mustang Boss 302 (my favorite track car)? No, not quite. It’s still a big car with too much power for its fairly thin tires. Still, I think I can take the Boss on a power raceway. All that raw power makes the Challenger Hellcat scary-good on the straightaways and there’s ample grip to back up the power when launching out of a corner.

Nuff said? Yep – it’s a badass car that a ton of (Chevy/Ford) fanboys will love to hate or hate to love.

Good luck!


Nathan Adlen Bio Picture 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.