Trucks for Shorter People, CR-V Vibration, Jeep Confusion and Caught while Prototype Hunting [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:

  • Trucks for Short People?
  • CR-V Vibration?
  • What Jeep?
  • Prototype Hunting Mishaps?
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Good for short drivers?

The first question comes from a (soon to be) transplant to Michigan. He wants to know about our take on trucks for shorter people.

Q: Dear Nathan,

In the coming months I will be moving from the relatively warm Great Plains region to the frigid northern state of Michigan. Unaccustomed to driving in snow for more than a day or two, I was curious as to what to expect and what to drive. I am in the market for a new vehicle and want (very badly) to buy a truck.

My current vehicle is a Chevy Impala, which in snowy conditions does quite well. A truck (and a proper 4×4) would be even better and would allow me to do more than just commute to work every day.

The problem is that I am only 5 ft 5 inches tall and though I am no stranger to driving big trucks, I have a hard time with the idea of driving a modern full size truck with their gigantic proportions. However, I cannot bring myself to consider a smaller, midsize truck as the current crop of vehicles, even the new Colorado, just don’t appeal to me (a truck should have a proper front bench seat).

Is there a full size truck that you and Roman have tested that “feels” smaller to drive than others?

Thanks for the help,


A: That’s a great question and I have a few ideas. In Colorado, I have a friend who’s a contractor. He knows a thing or two about snow, tuff trucks and he’s about 5’4.” He seems exceedingly pleased with the Toyota Tundra. He’s not the only one – there are quite a few people, under six-feet, who seem to like the cab-forward-like setup the Toyota Tundra has.

All of the big trucks have merit, but the Toyota Tundra has a fairly short hood and it’s pretty easy to find a comfortable driving position. The proportions are huge, but no bigger than the competition. Windows and mirrors are a good size and the headlights can be manually adjusted. Even for “She-who-must-be-obeyed” – who’s about your height, had no problem comfortably driving the 2013 Tundra – which is about the same as the current model.

This is definitely a good pick; however, I also recommend a good set of winter tires for your ride. It’s worth the expense, especially if you are somewhat green on the white powder. Four-wheel drive is almost useless if you can’t stop. A good set of winter rubber will make your ride a smart bet.

I’m pretty sure you can order one with a bench seat too!

Hope that helps!


2015, honda, cr-v, crv
2015 Honda CR-V

There are a few viewers who ask about automobile defects. Usually we leave these questions alone. TFL cannot quantify alleged defects as we do not have the resources to collect and verify the information.

Q: Hi TFLCAR, I buy a honda crv 2015 and I’ve read many problems with the cvt transmission and a vibration that has the car when in drive and come to a stop sign. Could you explain why this happens?? Thanks TFLCAR.CRV

A: TFL cannot verify any of this information. It’s reported that, every once in a while, when some of the new Honda CR-Vs come to a stop, some can vibrate uncomfortably. There are many theories out there regarding the cause of this possible vibration. Engine Controls Management (ECM) system, high pressure fuel pump, low idle, engine mounts – you name it.

Unfortunately, I have no data about this possible defect. I cannot comment about something I have no real information about. No, this problem never occurred with our test vehicles. I have no personal experience with this purported defect either.

If you are having a problem, I suggest contacting Honda.

Honda customer service is: (800) 999-1009

Hope that helps.


2015, jeep, renegade, snow, ice, trailhawk
2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

This email comes from someone who is conflicted about their Jeep choice.

Q: Hello,

I have been wondering and going back and forth between different Jeep models. So I mainly want a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon either 2door or 4door with Manual Trans. ok now Jeep throws out the Renegade which seems to be more Cherokee, Compass, Patriot area of Jeep capabilities (correct me if Im wrong). I love the look of those other Jeeps however I have never been a Grand Cherokee or Cherokee guy I a Have always wanted to own a Jeep wrangler Rubicon.

So I’m really not understanding why im questioning it or asking you guys but I live in the Wrangler to whatever you want and with the Rubicon and the Dyna 44’s and the abilities of bigger wheels lifts etc etc anyways any I over thinking all of this and trying to make one of the non Wrangler ones fit where is really shouldn’t?

I may sound like I’m rambling however I don’t know why Jeep has the Patriot, Compass, and Cherokee and the Renegade not to say anything is wrong with them but when I think of Jeep I think of the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee and the Old Boxy Cherokee. I figure you will just say so over thinking it and just go with the Wrangler Rubicon are all the others mainly for just the bad weather or general light off roading camping class as the Wrangler Rubicon is the same however you also can climb a mountain with it. lol I just don’t know why they make so many different ones to confuse us new to the Jeep world folks also I did say I wanted a Wrangler Rubicon what are your thoughts on the 2door vs the 4door.

Thanks again sorry for the repeating and rambling I usually like to talk to people via face to face or over the phone I don’t like typing up stuff to much any ways thanks again hope to hear from you soon.

Monona, WI

A: You are totally correct! There are so many Jeeps to choose from, the pool is deep indeed. Now, keep in mind that the Compass and Patriot are being phased out and Jeep is tight-lipped about a possible replacement.

I believe the Jeep stable will soon consist of the Renegade, Cherokee, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee and something bigger to haul more people – soon. I think that’s as far as they’ll go for now.

Still, it’s no surprise you’re feeling confused with all of the choices.

Here’s Roman and my simple way to look at buying a Wrangler:

Us: “Are you going off road – for real?”

You: “Yes”

Us: “Great! Get a Wrangler.”

On the other hand…

Us: “Are you going off road?”

You: “Not really. Maybe camping or skiing.”

Us: “Okay. Look at the rest of the fleet.”

Hope that helps!


2016, kia, sportage, awd, snow, ice
2016 Kia Sportage prototype (by S.O)

This last question comes from a fan who wants to know about confrontations when we film prototypes.

Q: Hi Nathan,

What will the prototype drivers do to you if they catch you photographing their cars?
You always seem very worried that you’re going to be caught!

A: Good question.

Keep in mind: we are not disobeying any laws when we hunt prototypes. Once they are on public roads, they are fair game. Still, some test drivers get a bit miffed when they are assaulted by a ton of clicking cameras.

I was once a test driver, and it’s happened to me.

My worry is: we don’t want to upset the driver(s) and have them do something ill-advised. We’re not out there to piss them off. We just want some snaps of what they’re driving – nothing more.

Now, if someone is trying to get into the vehicle or follow it into a restricted testing area, that’s a big “no-no” and the law can be notified. We cannot touch a car, in any way. We cannot force the driver of the vehicle to alter his or her path. We always avoid confrontations. We have to be safe.

The life of a test driver is filled with long, tedious hours behind the wheel while gathering data. In many cases, they have to adhere to a specific route again and again. Having a car full of journalists pulling alongside for a few snaps is a minor irritant for most, but some overreact.

When a driver tries to grab our gear, drive dangerously or – worse – we back off. These are rare occurrences and we rarely make them this irate. We’re usually pretty passive when we shoot photos and video of prototypes. Most of the drivers understand that nearly every Joe has a camera-phone and can freely shoot photos of them.

Our equipment is slightly better than an average phone.

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.