Moving to the USA, Abusive Reviewing, Cruze for a Manual, and Fanboys [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.

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In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Moving to the USA
  • Ever kill a car you’re testing?
  • Manual Diesel Cruze?
  • You’re total fanboys!
2014 subaru forester first drive review
2014 Subaru Forester XT Turbo debuts at the LA Auto Show

This question comes from a viewer that will be moving to the United States soon.

Q:Hello, I am a huge fan of your work reviewing cars since Roman appeared reviewing cars with a mustache. I am wondering if you can help me, I will be travelling to the US to start graduate studies this fall and I will be needing a car.

I am not from the US and in my country in order to have a car you have to pay the full price cash or apply for a loan with monthly payments. I want to know the ways I can own a car in the US, and which way is the best if my budget is a monthly payment $350 or less.

Also if you could recommend a car (new or used) that is good looking, with lots of utility, fuel efficient (currently I own a diesel vw Amarok and is very efficient), fun to drive (with cojones and oomph),since I am going to Connecticut something easy to drive on snow (I’ve never driven on snow yet, and it has to be durable) and within my budget (truck, sedan like a GLI, hothatches, suv, crossover anything you can recommend). I appreciate your time and collaboration, thanks for your help.


A: Thanks for being a viewer and thanks for the email! I think you’ll love Connecticut. It’s an amazing state. Yes, you should have all-wheel drive (AWD), or at least snow tires. The Subaru Forester XT is always a good pick for environments like Connecticut and they are pretty durable. In fact, you’ll see tons of Subaru owners up there.

A Used Audi A3, A4 or a BMW with ‘X-Drive’ might be affordable, too. I must caution you on the European cars as they tend to get expensive to maintain.

Can any of our readers, possibly from Connecticut, come up with additional choices and insight?

I hope that helps!


One of our viewers has noted our somewhat aggressive driving styles and had a few questions accordingly.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.5L AWD Touring 0-60 MPH Drive and Review
2014 Subaru Forester 2.5L AWD Touring 0-60 MPH Drive and Review

Q:Hi Nathan,

I look forward to both tflcar and tfltruck everyday, but sometimes I’m horrified at how you BEAT the cars. HA!

Burnouts! Roman sliding the Bentley on the ice! Etc. etc.

I have two questions:

Once you return them, are those cars sold as new? Have you ever RUINED one?

Great shows….THANKS.


A: Ah yes, our driving styles when we review. Yep, we are a bit hard on the cars we review and I take responsibility for being apelike when I try to wring performance/fun out of a vehicle. We push the envelope a little bit for one simple reason. It’s how we drive.

No kidding. I am an aggressive driver, as is Roman, Emme and Andre. We’re all a bit heavy on the power and none of us are very good with hypermiling. With that said, despite this harsh environment and our heavy-handed driving, you can rest assured that the vehicle is thoroughly tested.

They are never sold as new. In some cases, they are crushed, given that they may be pre-production prototypes. Some are kept in the automaker’s folds as testers, crash cars, even transportation. Every blue moon, they will sell a few of these test models, but not as new cars.

We’ve been fortunate about not destroying cars in our care and when we are finished, the car’s broker gets back a fairly clean vehicle. It’s the truth. Sure, some cars malfunction and have to be returned early. Others have been involved in fender-benders. Most of the time, we try to be responsible.



Cruze TFL1

This one comes from a viewer regarding the possibility of General Motors putting a manual transmission into a Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

Q: Hi,

I am a frequent viewer of your videos on YouTube. I own a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze ECO. The car gets great mileage (I am on the highway a lot) and I am inclined to buy the all-new 2016 Cruze when it comes out. I am skeptical that GM will again offer a Cruze ECO. I would like to buy a diesel Cruze, but GM currently does not offer a manual transmission on the diesel.

Do you think that GM would be inclined to offer the new Cruze with a diesel engine mated to a manual transmission? I would think that they would since the Cruze diesel is clearly aimed right at the Jetta TDI, and VW has a lot of manual options. I have only ever driven cars with manual transmissions – now almost thirty years of driving – and intend to keep doing so. Thanks for your time.



A: That’s a damn good question. I hate to say it, J.R., but every automaker selling in the USA is dialing down the number of stick-shift cars you can get. General Motors is, for a large American automaker, surprisingly manual-transmission friendly. As you stated, the Cruze ECO has a manual gearbox option, which I love as well.

With that said, there is no indication that GM will add a manual to their diesel. I believe you can get a 1.7-liter Chevrolet Cruze Diesel with a manual throughout Europe. Despite having it available, I doubt they will add it to the lineup as there is such a small percentage of people in the USA that want manual transmissions.

I wish I had a better answer.

Best of luck.



This last one comes from a dissatisfied viewer who calls Roman and I “Fanboys” and feels we are not being truthful about the vehicles we review at press events.

Q: You need to be honest with your viewers because you and Roman are total fanboys. You always talk nice about the cars you own, like the Ford F150 Raptor and you never badmouth any car when you’re invited to press events. I know that every reviewer does it, but I thought you had more integrity then the others. I doubt you’ll even be answering this email.


A: You are right about one thing. We are big fans of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. It’s our long-term tester and we bought it as a project platform called “Project Raptor.” We use it as our long-term test truck and camera/support vehicle. It’s friggin’ fantastic and it’s just getting started.

With that being said, I wanted to use a Ram Power Wagon as our long term test vehicle, but we had no access or assistance in getting one. That’s the truth.

As for press events, you are partially correct about our enthusiasm for the vehicles we drive during a First Drive review. Keep in mind that it is a First (F-i-r-s-t) Drive (D-r-i-v-e) review. Our seat time is limited and we always say that we need to bring it to Colorado for a full review. This is not a ploy to simply drive a car we already know. It’s a request to the automaker to give us more than a few hours behind the wheel, usually up to a week. This way, we get a real feel for the vehicle and can produce a sincere review.

Sure, we’re usually happy to be driving at an event, but we are always honest about our impressions. We never slack off and we always provide as much coverage as we can at each press event.

As for integrity and answering your email… ’nuff said.


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Nathan Adlen Bio Picture Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.

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