Discovery vs Grand Cherokee, Sunglasses, FCA’s Transmission Reliability and Scion Who?[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.

The 2016 Acura ILX is more than just a restyled Honda Civic.

In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Land Rover Discovery or Jeep Grand Cherokee?
  • Nathan’s sunglasses?
  • FCA’s transmission reliability?
  • Has Scion lost their way?

2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport testin

The first question comes from a Californian who’s fed up with his GMC Envoy and wants something more rugged.

Q: (sic) We’ll be buying a new car shortly as my Envoy has 120K on it and is going to my son. Used for road and light offroad fishing/hiking/camping around California and Oregon. The GMC experience wasn’t great.

I’ve been watching your reviews of the Subaru Forester XT, the Grand Cherokee, and 2015 Discovery. What I gathered is that all can handle about the same sort of terrain (jeep seems a bit stronger off road) but cost and finish varies.

My take away was that you didn’t like the electronics/sound system on the Subaru. Beyond that I couldn’t tell if there were any other standout or keep away performance issues. I gathered fit and finish was best with Discovery, then Jeep, then Subaru.

I’ll try to look at them all up close but I buy a car once every 5 to 7 years (and beat the hell out of it) so I’m definitely not as experienced in a 30 minute review.

The dual use is local traffic with light/moderate off road in the southern california mountains with a few road trips every year.

Any comparisons on the three you could point me to or provide.



A: Thanks for the emails!

Roman liked the way the new Land Rover Discovery handled as a daily driver. He drove the new one in Iceland and reported that it was more car-like than ever before; yet, it could still deal with off-road challenges that would kill most crossovers.

Unfortunately, we have yet to take one up to Colorado and do real testing. It will happen, but we do not have enough data to compare the 2015 Land Rover Discovery to the Jeep Grand Cherokee – yet.

Both of the aforementioned vehicles are much larger and more expensive than the Subaru you mentioned. Although the Forester is extremely capable, it cannot go where the Grand Cherokee and Discovery can. Nor can it tow, hold or out-“snoot” the Jeep and Land Rover.

I have a bias towards the Jeep Grand Cherokee because of its mix of looks, capability and luxury. It’s just damn good.

Hope that helps!


So how much junk fits in the trunk of a 2013 Honda Accord?

There are a few viewers who have questions about the sunglasses I wear. Seriously? Well, it’s more than just about the ones I wear, it’s the reasoning behind me constantly wearing them. I combined the questions below.

Q: (Paraphrased and combined)

What kind of glasses do you wear?
Are they prescription?
Why do you wear them all the time?
Most professional reviewers don’t wear them as often as you do.

A: First, let me apologize for my copious use of sunglasses in the first place. I am aware of their less than professional look, but I need polarized lenses to safely see and prevent headaches. I have what some people call (a light case of) photophobia and it makes working without shades difficult and a bit painful.

I do have a mild prescription which I update annually. After years of trial and error, I find that most polarized sunglasses help mitigate headaches and help me see safely down the road. So, it’s mostly about safety and comfort.

As for a specific brand? Sorry, I do not have a specific brand I use consistently. I usually rotate between glasses and no one “brand” sponsors me or TFL.

With that being said, living in the Rocky Mountains has given me a lot of respect for sunglass companies that know how to make good skiing sunglasses. Seeing properly with the high-glare white powder of the Rockies is a real plus!

Hope that helps.



This viewer wants to know about our take on the transmission issues FCA has had with its new nine-speed automatic transmissions. Also, he wants our opinion about the reliability of the six-speed manuals FCA uses.

Q: Not sure if this is the correct email for this, but I am deeply appreciative of your reviews thus far of the Jeep Renegade. I really like the vehicle based on style and its reported performance. I am definitely going to test drive one — likely the Latitude Renegade with a manual transmission.

But I am truly concerned about reliability issues with Jeep/Fiat.

JD Power has taken its annual turn at putting Fiat’s horrible reputation for reliability on full display. In particular, the web is littered with horror stories about the Cherokee, 500, and 500L transmissions. Being buggy is one thing, but these things are flat out failing and in need of serious repair for many consumers.

The transmissions on the Cherokee and 500/500L are different, but they are all are automatic. Are most of the issues you are hearing about with Fiat/Jeep with the automatic transmissions? Does the six-speed manual paired with the 1.4L multiair engine have a bad reputation too or is that a more proven and reliable engine/transmission combo? And do you think Jeep/Fiat is making a concerted effort to improve the reliability of their vehicles?



A: Great questions.

First of all, we cannot confirm or deny the findings other sites and publications find with any vehicle. Sure, we see the numbers others collect, but we do not have the ability to do long-term data collection based on each vehicle sold in North America. We cannot verify their accuracy, nor can we prove bias (which does exist) from our end.

With that being said, the automotive journalistic community has heard about some serious teething problems regarding the nine-speed automatic transmission FCA is using on nearly all of their front-wheel drive-biased vehicles. It seems like they are getting ironed-out over time, but the glitches have not helped FCA’s reputation one bit.

I have not heard of any major issues with the six-speed manual transmissions in any Fiat or Jeep products sold in North America. TFL has a friend who’s Fiat 500 Abarth has crested 75,000 miles with no (manual) transmission issues. That’s not to say they are all perfect, but we can only base our information at what’s directly at hand.

It stands to reason that the six-speed manual, a setup that’s been around for some time, would be pretty reliable directly out of the box. Unlike the new nine-speed automatic, the manual has had plenty of time to be evaluated in a multitude of FCA platforms.

Hope that helps!



This last question comes from a fan who is concerned about the direction (or lack-there-of) of Scion.

Q: Dude! I love TFL! You guys are honest, funny and make my day, every day!

I am a little sad today. I read on a few Toyota and Scion forums that the Scion iM will be nothing like the concept vehicle I saw. Also, it looks like they will hose us with a cheap four-door that sounds suspiciously like the Yaris four-door.

Totally agree with you about the Scion tC, so much so that I bought one in October ’14 and have been totally pleased with it ever since!

Why can’t the rest of the Scion line be as cool and innovative as the tC? I mean, there seems to be no new direction for Scion other than getting the lowly cars Toyota deems not very important.

Where is the pickup once rumored? Where’s the new xB? Where’s the replacement for the iQ?

I hope Toyota goes back to its youthful direction Scion used to point to. Maybe they’ll listen to you?! You’re the right dude to tell them like it is! Have them add more cars and fulfill their promise to be innovative, fun and youthful!

Thanks bro!


A: Wow, thank you for such a kind email. I agree with you about Scion (kind of) losing their way. You can have all the commercials with DJs and Slayer you want, but it will not help the dust that gathers on their original mantra. The Scion fleet needs to be updated more often than your average Toyota and vehicles like the xB need more substantial updates too.

I will say this: Toyota/Scion is trying. Sure, the iM and upcoming four-door sedan may not be as exciting as other Scion vehicles, at least they are changing things up.

Got the word from an “insider” that the iM has serious potential and that Toyota/Scion will wait and see what the public reaction is to their production version before adding a (possible) performance version. Keep in mind: this is just a rumor.

Thanks again for the email Amigo!



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And for more fun, check out Roman destroying snow in an AWD Dodge HEMI Pursuit Police Car!

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