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:
- What’s a good soccer-mom kid hauler under $45,000?
- Can the Ford Transit Connect Wagon tow?
- Best anime car movie or television show?
- Where’s the KIA Rio reviews?!
This first question is from a viewer who wants a good three-row SUV that performs well on ice and snow.
Q: Can you sum up your top 3 choices in order of preference the best “mommy haulers” under $45,000 that have no issues with snow and ice covered roads?
It is an important question when you have more than one child playing ice hockey and need to haul luggage and equipment while driving through bad north east weather during the winter months. Sometimes rink to rink across neighboring states through elevated terrain at times.
We already own a Toyota 4Runner Limited (meets all the needs except my paycheck goes to ExxonMobil each month) and a 2014 Honda Pilot EX-L that receives a grade “A” for interior and cargo space, but receives a “D-” for the perceived non-existent AWD system unless you lock the wheels with VTM at a maximum driving speed of about 12mph. Looking to replace the Honda since it has been a performance disappointment both in dry and snowy conditions.
Out of curiosity, where would the 4Runner find itself in your recommendation even though I already own one (and keeping since it works well for this situation)? Looking for a recommend replacement to the poor performance Pilot.
A: Thanks for the email and the great questions. First of all: we love the Toyota 4Runner Trail as it is one of the best off road vehicles in its segment. All of us agree about your gas-mileage assessment. In every 4WD trim, the Toyota 4Runner has performed very well on snow and ice. If Toyota offered one with a manual and/or a diesel – I would own one.
As for a recommendation for a proper three-row utility that works well on ice and snow: I like the Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander and was pretty surprised by the 2014 Toyota Sienna AWD (it had Blizzaks on) as it was unstoppable in fairly deep snow. The Nissan Rogue is pretty surprising in the white stuff too. The third-row section is very tight, if that’s important to you.
Snow tires, or Mud & Snow (M+S) truly are key with most of these models. You can have the greatest AWD/4WD system in the world and not get traction without good rubber. Still, having confidence in your family hauler is important no matter what.
Other honorable mentions include the Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder and even the Mitsubishi Outlander.
Hope that helps!
This next email is from a fan who is getting conflicting views on the new Ford Transit Connect Wagon’s towing ability.
Q: Nathan, I am confused and frustrated. I really like the Ford Transit Connect Wagon and I’ve been looking at every bit of information I can find on the net about it, including the T.F.L. video. So I ask the dealer about towing and he tells me that Ford does not recommend towing! Later on I went on line and it clearly shows the Transit Connect can tow up to 2,000 pounds!
Does this dealer know something I don’t? I need the van to be able to tow abut 1,100 pounds and if it can’t, I need to look elsewhere. I am pretty upset and I’m thinking of abandoning the Ford Transit Connect Wagon altogether.
What do you think?
A: Sorry about the confusion my friend. I recommend you find another dealership. If that dealer representative is too lazy to locate the section on the brochure where it clearly states the Ford Transit Connect Wagon has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 lbs when properly equipped, find a new dealership or find this dealer’s boss and go to town.
In some cases, dealers are ill-equipped to answer technical questions. They might be filling in for another salesperson, or they are simply too stupid to know the details of their product. This irks me to no end. Sure, used cars dealers can be a bit ignorant about technical details, but new-car dealers? No excuse in my book and it makes a good product look questionable.
The 2015 Ford Transit Connect can tow 2,000 lbs when paired with the towing package which includes a hitch and trailer sway control. It’s a $395 exterior extra.
You were smart to be your own advocate and research it yourself. It’s entirely possible that the only vans he/she had on the lot did not have a tow package. Maybe your dealer misunderstood and thought you were talking about towing the Ford Transit Connect Wagon with another vehicle? I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Please don’t take your frustration out on the vehicle itself. Ford built a great little van and it’s worth your while to try another dealer or a different sales-person.
Keep us in the loop.
Hope that helps!
Here’s a special reader who befriended me while I was waiting to depart to China for the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. He’s an Anime geek!
Q: Hi Nathan!
I know for a fact that you like geeky things just like me, including Anime! I spoke to you two years ago in Chicago when you were heading off to China and I noticed your shirt was from Akira. Back then, I didn’t know you were so popular! I love the Fast Lane Car and The Fast Lane Truck so much!
You guys are great and you are SO lucky to do videos with Emmy!
So here’s my question.
Which Anime movie or television show is the best one featuring cars? I pick the Gunsmith Cats and Initial D! What about you?
Give everyone at TFL a こんにちは from Japan!
A: HA! I totally remember you! We talked about the Z20 series Toyota Soarer.
Yep, I’m still a geek and, yes – I dig anime and manga.
There are a lot of good new ones featuring racing and whatnot, but I’m still fairly old school. I grew up with Riding Beanbeing my favorite – it still is. I don’t think they ever finished the manga, but I dig the movie. The other film is much newer, it’s 2009’s Redline and it’s a hoot. The story was penned by Katsuhito Ishii and it took over seven years to make.
Great film, lots of fun.
Great question and great hearing from you Amigo!
The last question comes from a KIA owner who wants us to review the 2015 KIA Rio5. So do I…
Q: Guys, when are you going to review the Kia Rio5? I’ve seen your minivan and Sorento review, but nothing on the Kia Rio5.
I think it’s the best looking small car you can buy. I’ve seen lots of your stuff on the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa, but not a thing on the Kia Rio5.
Please, please, please review it!
A: Thanks for the email. We did review a 2012 KIA Rio5 back in late 2011 when it was an all-new car.
That was just when we were playing with a new format when we review vehicles. Still, we cover all of the bases.
I have no idea when KIA will give us another Rio to review, but I can say that it still offers a lot for the money and the power, even up at high elevation, was mighty good.
We’ll do our best to get one as soon as we can.
Hope that helps!
Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.