Small Crossover for Canada, Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Concept, 2016 Nissan Armada Diesel and Politics? [Ask Nathan]

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.
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:

  • Small Crossover for Canada?
  • Who wants the Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck Concept?
  • Will the 2016 Nissan Armada have a Diesel?
  • Is TFL politically active?
2014 Nissan Rogue Colorado Winter Off-Road Review
2014 Nissan Rogue Colorado Winter Off-Road Review

The first question comes from a fan who has some suggestions regarding how we rate our crossovers.

Q: Hi guys, love your work.

I was noticing you are trying to take a consistent off road benchmark on small SUVs, ie Rav4, CRV, Forester etc.

You also say most people don’t drive off road.

One thing a lot of us Canadians do is drive in the snow!

Could you start testing how that is handled? Ie. can you force power to rear wheels, can you defeat stability control, ground clearance, does the car need expensive sensors in the wheels and does it go through snow 😉
Any thoughts


A: Great suggestions.

We are in the process of refining our ratings for “Ruts & Guts.” These videos center around crossovers that we compare off road. We have two locations in the Rocky Mountains that we use. For real SUVs, these pathways and obstacles are pretty easy, but most crossovers will be challenged.

These obstacles consist of:

  • Snow, mud and/or slippery conditions
  • Off camber small hills
  • Six to eight-inch-high boulders
  • Deep, off-set ruts
  • Dirt roads
  • Over 9,000 feet of elevation

These challenges put crossovers to the test without being so difficult that they permanently damage our test vehicles – provided we’re careful when we drive. The aforementioned obstacles test traction, articulation, AWD/4WD systems, brakes, ground-clearance, approach & departure, power and overall drivability. We think that, based on our short video format, this is the best way to cover all of the bases.

We are beginning to refine and simplify our ratings and, hopefully, make Ruts & Guts an easy to follow (and fun to watch) video series. Our point to taking a crossover off the beaten path? If it does well during our test, it will be a worthy all-weather, difficult driving-condition vehicle for the consumer. Even in Canada.

Cheers eh?


Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

This next one comes from a few viewers and readers regarding the Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Concept. I paraphrased a few questions and comments below.


  • Is Hyundai teasing us again with a concept they will never build? Remember the KIA Mojave?
  • I think it’s exactly what I need to get me through college!
  • What type of market is there for a tiny pickup truck like this?
  • Why not build a “real” truck?

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept
A: If you read our TFLtruck analysis of the Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept (here) you’ll notice how slim the facts are on this vehicle. In many ways it represents where Hyundai wants to be in a few years. Given that this year was pretty slow for the Korean automaker, they are looking at new ways to grow and evolve.

Remember when Hyundai/KIA was a joke? The past decade has proven lucrative and deservedly so. Hyundai/KIA represents new ideas and (mostly) intelligent decision making at the highest level. They build cars people want, not just appliances that bean-counters can focus on.

So, the idea of this crossover pickup truck – which is what it truly is – could be the next step in Hyundai/KIA’s evolution in North America.

Yes, they toyed with the possibility of building a mid-to-full-sized pickup truck a while back, but nothing ever came of it. I think they wised up and recognized that the North American market was filled with beefy, purpose-built pickup tucks and quit while the quitting was good. Still, they never fully gave up on finding a way to enter the pickup segment on their own terms.

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is, for the most part, a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport that’s been beefed-up and modified to have a small pickup bed. Interestingly enough, that pickup bed represents all kinds of awesomeness. It extends several inches (I’m guessing a foot) from the taillights telescopically. Drop the tailgate and extend the bed and you can hold a full-sized motorcycle in it. That means it could hold something that’s over six-feet in length!

Hyundai is carefully measuring consumer response and market viability. They want to do it right the first time – if they do it at all. With no one else in the game right now (the Honda Ridgeline is a bigger vehicle and it’s on hiatus for another year) Hyundai could build a vehicle like this for the people out there that need a car, but occasionally want some additional utility.

It’s handsome, yet logical and I bet some of the same people that were looking at the Hyundai Veloster before will look at the Hyundai Santa Cruz now.

I hope they build it and so do you.



This gentleman is curious about what might power the 2016 Nissan Armada.

Q: Your coverage of the Detroit Auto Show was awesome! But I have a question and wanted your take. I know that the big deal was Nissan Titan with its diesel V8. While I don’t care much for the way the Titan looks, I think the engine could be brilliant.

My question is, do you think they will put this Cummins diesel into the next Nissan Armada? That would be a game changing move and it would drive Ford crazy!

Any way, I just wanted your take.

You guys rock!



A: Great question! Anything that makes 310hp and 555 lb-ft of toque is going to turn heads. Being that the replacement for the Armada has yet to be “officially” announced, I fully agree with you – it would be pretty awesome if Nissan put the diesel in it.

Power was never in short supply for the Nissan Armada, but economy was a major issue. If that Cummins diesel is as good as Nissan says it is, it might be an ideal power-plant for the next Armada.

Other automakers are moving to diesel. Just look at Land Rover (you can read about their diesels coming to North America by clicking [here]).

In about a week or so, Roman and I are pitting a GMC Yukon XL against a Lincoln Navigator. It would be interesting to see how they would do against a big SUV with a diesel.

Thanks for the email!


Nathan, Andre and Roman reveal the TFLcar top five cars revealed at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
Nathan, Andre and Roman reveal the TFLcar top five cars revealed at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

This last question is something a little different as it asks us about our policy on politics.

Q: Hi TFL,

I noticed that you guys seem like you avoid talking about world politics. In fact, I think you have never discussed anything political, ever. I have watched you for a few years and never a mention of anything other than local flooding and fires. Even with that, you avoid talking about local politics and how they change your environment.

Don’t you have an interest in the world around us? Don’t you want to tell your viewers what your point of view is?

I’m not judging you. I am a bit curious where you all stand politically.

I would appreciate an answer if you have a chance.



A: Interesting question, but one that I can only answer with what our TFL policy has been from the very beginning.

Unless it directly pertains to the automotive industry, we will leave it out.

Let me explain: We are not a political group of journalists, we are automotive journalists and entertainers; plain and simple. Sure, we have opinions on many topics, but we save that for our personal time. We only report on the world of automobiles.

Let me put it to you like this: After a painful day of reality, after dealing with the daily grind and seeing how discombobulated the world can be; do you want to see even more commentary regarding the world? Or, would you rather take a “time-out” from the world’s woes and dig the automotive scene?

All of us at TFL car share something special with the world, our love of cars. We love the automotive world and the gear-heads who make up this world. Automobiles are a worldwide phenomenon that grows and changes every year. It takes a lot of energy to cover even a little bit of it.

That’s our focus.

That’s how TFL contributes to the world.

Thanks for the question!


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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.