Kia Sportage Abilities, Honda CR-V vs Honda HR-V, Lotus vs Alfa Romeo and Indian Cars? [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:

  • Can my 2015 KIA Sportage go off road?
  • Honda CR-V vs. Honda HR-V?
  • Lotus vs Alfa Romeo for best handling?
  • Why do you like cars from India?
2013 kia sportage awd
2014 kia sportage

Today’s first question comes from a Kia Sportage owner who wants to know about its abilities.

Q: Nathan, Nathan, Nathan. I love the job you do and I wish I could do it too! No one shows more dedication to their viewers than TFL Car! So I was hoping you could take a look at my email.

I have a 2015 Kia Sportage Turbo and I love it. Gas mileage is the only downer, but the comfort, performance and value are great. So I took it into the snow during my winter holiday and we went to a ski resort called Camp Fortune in Ottawa. That’s not too far from my home. It had no problem in the snow, but it did get high centered and I lost all traction for a moment. I think that was my fault.

But the thing I was wondering is, can I go back in the hills now? There’s dirt and mud all over the place and I wanted to have some fun.

What do you think?

Cheers to you and the team!

C.W – F

A: Thanks for the compliments!

The Kia Sportage is one of those vehicles that’s better in person than it is on paper. I like the Dynamax system with locking center differential as it worked well in the rough. We took a 2011 model off road and it did very well. Here’s an old video with that vehicle:

One thing all of these vehicle have in common are street-biased tires.

If you want to go into the dirt, your Kia Sportage should be fine on dirt roads. If, on the other hand, you want to do climbing and get a little aggressive in the rough (which I do not recommend in your vehicle), at least get better off-highway tires.

Your vehicle has hill-decent control. This system can help your down-hill driving by maintaining a slow, controlled decent. Use this system if you feel doubt when going down hills; however, please test it out a few times on small hills AND consult your owners manual before testing.

I would also recommend getting a friend to come with “extraction” gear (tow straps, high lift jack, tools, etc.). Talk to a few people who’ve driven the roads you’re interested in. Talk to a park ranger and check out some forums/chat-rooms while you’re at it.

The bottom line is: yes, you can head up some nice dirt roads, just be careful and mindful of what you’re doing.

Best of luck!


Honda HR-V LSF

This next question comes from a viewer who is curious about the Honda CR-V vs the Honda HR-V.

Q: Hi Nathan,

I wanted to ask you, because you have driven both Hondas. As a father or family man, which cross over do you like? I know the Honda CR-V is practical, but I hear the Honda HR-V is fun. I’m curious about which one you prefer.

I have a rare 1997 Honda Accord wagon and I love it. It’s very old and has crazy miles and I think it’s time to look at the new batch. One thing is, I don’t need four wheel drive.

Thank you Nathan. I appreciate your response.


A: Great question. Before I answer, may I suggest that you try to keep your Honda Accord Wagon? Or, at least sell it privately. It won’t get big bucks as a trade-in and it would make an ideal first car for your kids in the future. I say that because those were excellent years for the Accord and the Wagon is super rare.

Let me cut to the chase, if all-wheel drive (AWD) was not necessary and I had to chose between the new Honda CR-V and Honda HR-V? Without a doubt, I would get the front-wheel drive (FWD) Honda HR-V. I haven’t even driven one up here at high elevation; but, with the six-speed manual transmission option for the FWD model – the 2016 Honda HR-V is a fun ride. It holds a lot too! Probably the most utilitarian vehicle in its class.

I have not driven the CVT FWD model, but I did spend time in the AWD Honda HR-V with the CVT, it was fairly perky too. We’ll have a Rocky Mountain review of the Honda HR-V and its variants (hopefully) soon.

Hope that helps!


2015 alfa romeo 4c

This email/Tweet comes from a viewer who wants an opinion regarding the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Lotus Elise.

Q: What would you rather own, the Lotus Elise or the Alfa Romeo 4C?


A: Hi!

Fortunately, I have driven both vehicles and I definitely have a favorite.

Amazing as the Lotus Elise may be on the track, it’s not much of a daily driver. The Alfa Romeo 4C is better in most ways. In fact: if the Alfa Romeo 4C came with a manual transmission (it doesn’t) I would sell a few organs to buy one.

The Alfa Romeo 4C sounds amazing, looks amazing, fills you with many of the same sensations driving a super exotic would and it is a track monster. Sure, there are better all-around cars (like the new Z06) that fetch the same approximate price, the Alfa Romeo 4C is a driver’s machine that rewards the senses like no other.

It’s still not ideal as a daily driver, but it’s not too bad on the streets.

I like the Alfa Romeo 4C a lot.


2014 qoros

This last question comes from a viewer who has issues with my love of unusual foreign vehicles – specifically Indian and Chinese cars.

Q: I am having a hard time understanding your love for junk cars. India and China build terrible cars, but you seem to like them. They are terrible and unsafe. What’s the deal?


A: Thanks for the email. Let me explain why I like what I like.

Usually, I state that I want to drive these vehicles, not that they are something we should import to the United States. While, I agree, some of these vehicles are not up to our standards, the Chinese automotive industry has improved by leaps and bounds. Automakers like Qoros have surprised many critics overseas.

I have no doubt that China can build a world-class car. Still, it’s their cheaper, entry-level cars that fascinate me. These cars are being bought by people who, until fairly recently, got to work on a bicycle or scooter.

While I haven’t driven anything from India, I wish to drive many of their cars.

You see, I like small, inexpensive cars. Vehicles built for people who truly value their investment, for people who don’t have much and need economy too – these machines fascinate me. When a family has to work incredibly hard just to get the most basic of vehicles, it interests me. It’s not about performance or luxury, it’s about doing much with so little.

There are some gifted engineers out there that are making basic transportation more than the sum of their parts. Check out a slick, micro pickup truck for India (Polaris / Eicher Motors Multix Mini Truck).

chines bubble car beijing
I grew up in a wrecking yard family and witnessed people scraping together pennies just to make their vehicles run. It’s something many people in North America take for granted. It’s amazing how many hurdles people are willing to go through to keep an inexpensive car running. It’s heartbreaking too. So, when I see an automaker build something special for people who cannot afford much, I’m very interested.

Do you see what I mean?

It’s so cool to see what can be built on the cheap. Plus, I have a true love of small cars. Ironic, considering my ape-like build.



Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at:

Speaking of inexpensive vehicles, check out this video where Roman plays with the 2016 Scion iA!

nathan adlen Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.[Ask Nathan]