Hacking Cars, Chevrolet Trax vs Honda HR-V and Your Moxie when Judging Looks [Ask Nathan]

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In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Is car hacking a “thing?”
  • Chevrolet Trax vs Honda HR-V?
  • Who are YOU to judge a car’s appearance?


Today’s first question comes from a few emails and text that focus on the recent “car-hacking” scare that came from Wired Magazine’s recent article. It’s a scary proposition that many consumers are (rightfully) concerned about.


(A few questions paraphrased from several questions)

  • Is this a stunt, or is car hacking a “thing?” N.W.
  • Are there ways to defeat car hackers?
  • Is there any oversight?
  • Will this be a more pressing issue in the future?

A: Thanks for these questions, you have every right to be concerned.

Here’s the harsh truth: this is not an isolated test, there have been others. This is not an isolated issue, several vehicles share some if not all of these vulnerabilities. This will not be the last time you hear about vehicles being hacked.

Here’s the good news: automakers, such as FCA and Nissan, are already fixing the problem and are far more aware of the vulnerabilities in their products. Public awareness will push automakers to reevaluate their push to connect. Federal oversight may push for new laws and standards that should force automakers to take a hard look at security.

Click (Jeep Cherokee hacking ) for a TFLcar article from our man Andre Smirnov regarding the car-hacking issue.

The real question is: have we already gone too far with connectivity and automation?

I do not have the answers. Hopefully, we’ll get more updates on this issue thanks to the new public awareness.



This next question comes from a viewer who’s thinking about buying a Honda HR-V or a Chevrolet Trax.

Q: Mr. Nathan Adlen! I’m a big fan of the show and I love it when you and Roman review cars together. The funny thing is that you have reviewed both of the cars I’m interested in.

I want a small crossover that gets good mileage and has lots of usable room for my small family. I have an infant and a 3-year old. We’re an active family that enjoys road trips and we do a lot of commuting too. We don’t have much money, so it needs to cost about $25,000 or less with all wheel drive.

I narrowed my search to the Chevy Trax and the Honda HR-V. What do you think? I want the most for my money and need maximum utility too. The Chevy has more power, right? Maybe that’s a good place to start. Your money, which one would you buy?

Thanks buddy!

C.R. Portland, OR

A: Great question. Both vehicles are very utilitarian with the Honda HR-V having better packaging and more variety for seat configurations. The Chevrolet Trax is no slouch with good headroom and enough room to haul a seven-foot ladder, when configured correctly.

The Honda HR-V puts out more horsepower (141 hp & 127 lb-feet) while the Chevrolet Trax makes a lot more torque (138 hp and 148 lb-ft). Both drive great in the city with the Chevrolet Trax having better oomph off the line thanks to its turbo kick.

The only transmission available for the Chevrolet Trax is a six-speed automatic. The Honda HR-V has a manual option for its front-wheel drive models. Otherwise, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only transmission available with all-wheel drive.

Honda HR-V Nose

In all-wheel drive-guise, the Chevrolet Trax feels slightly more lively.

Read about the Honda HR-V (Honda HR-V first test)

Read about the Chevrolet Trax (Chevy Trax first review)

In many ways, the manual-optioned Honda HR-V reminds me of a Honda Civic hatchback, which is a good thing. My money? I would take the HR-V with the manual transmission. It’s a bargain for what it is.

Otherwise, if all-wheel drive was a “must” – the Chevrolet Trax is a fine choice.

Keep in mind, there are a lot of other choices out there.

  • Fiat 500X
  • Mini Countryman
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Nissan Juke

As good as these vehicles are, none of them can match the utility of the Honda HR-V or the bang-for-your-buck, tech-heavy Chevrolet Trax.

Best of luck!


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Motor Mountain USA – Wyoming

This last email comes from disgruntled viewers who have an issue with my taste in ascetics and my qualifications when judging a vehicle’s appearance.

Q: (Paraphrased from two comments) Nathan. Who are you to be judging the way something looks? Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? How are you even qualified to be the judge of how a car is designed? You’re a funny guy, but I don’t think you can say anything about the looks of something else.

A: So, what you’re saying is: considering my looks, I am not qualified to give an opinion – right? That’s like saying only supermodels are qualified to rate fashion, or only a pro athlete can comment on sports. You’re basing this fantasy world you created on the perception you have of the person speaking.

You may notice that I am rather general when I discuss a vehicle’s exterior, unless there is something notable. In some cases, I will comment on the functionality of a design when something stands out. Finally, when a vehicle is exceptionally well designed, I will comment on its looks.


This is what I have done for over a decade. This comes from years of living in the automotive world. Wrecking yards, race tracks, dealer lots, design studios, test facilities and working for several automotive outlets as a journalist; yes indeed, I have some qualifications. I know I am no Adam Sandler, but that’s not the point. Don’t focus on what I look like, focus on what I’m talking about.

The bottom line is like Bruce Lee once said, “Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

… and for the record? I’m pretty comfortable with the way I look.


Speaking of style, check out the MUCH improved Hyundai Tucson!

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.

Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com

nathan adlen Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.