A SUV for Vermont, Cello & Bicycle Wagon Maybe Hyundai Tuscon and Direct Injection Carbon Buildup [Ask Nathan]


In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Need a SUV in Vermont!
  • Best wagon/SUV for cello & bicycles?
  • Any info on carbon buildup in DI engines?

Today’s first question comes from a viewer who lives in Vermont. He needs a SUV that can handle light off-road conditions and daily driving.

Q: Good Evening TFL Car and Truck,

I just love all of your videos and insight that you give too all of us.

I’m looking for an SUV or Truck that can handle the daily driving and mild off road trips. My sports are snow skiing, fly-fishing and canoeing and kayaking. What else would we do in Vermont.

Can you give me some expert advice of what SUV or truck that will work for me. I have a Subaru Outback now and before that I had Toyota Tacoma 2004 for 10 years.

I’m one of those folks who lease because I drive low miles. My lease runs out in August 2015. The New 2016 Toyota Tacoma will be out in October so I’m told. Not sure I can wait that long.

I do agree, Ford needs to make a Raptor Ranger that would be perfect. I heard you mention it, in one of your videos.

Keep up the great work!! Love TFL Truck and Car.

Thanks again for your time!



2015 toyota 4runner trd pro off-road

A: Great email and great question!

There are two directions you can go: unit/uni-body or frame-based. I find myself recommending uni-body-based SUVs more often. If you use your vehicle as a commuter, considering something like a Jeep Cherokee/ Grand Cherokee or a Ford Explorer.

If you want an old-school SUV, the Toyota 4Runner is hard to beat.

Hope that helps!



This next question comes from a fan who rides bikes and needs room for a cello!

Q: Hi Roman, Nathan, Emmie (is that how you spell her name) and the TFL staff

First of all let me tell you how much I enjoy your videos. As a new subscriber to your web site I find them to most informative and sometimes quite funny. Thank you for your hard work.

I need your help. My current lease on a Fiat 500 thankfully is coming to an end in two months. I have been looking at and test driving cars since May. Because I live in the New York City area where I do mostly commuter type driving over some pretty terrible roads my criteria are the following:

A comfortable and quiet interior to block out city noise,
Good city m.p.g.
Good suspension to absorb the bumps and ruts I drive over every day.

I need a small or mid-sized SUV or wagon because my girlfriend and I are avid road bicyclists and would like to put a hitch on the back. She is also a cellist so I need the room for her instrument. Sedans don’t work.

I am purchasing my new vehicle and not leasing. I can spend between 38000 and 42000 so I have narrowed it down to the Hyundai Santa Fe sport or the new Tucson though I haven’t test driven it yet and the Volvo V60.

I have ruled out the Ford Escape – poor reliability, any German car – too expensive to maintain after the warranty is up and they nickel and dime you for everything and the Subaru Outback – it’s reliable but boring.

Any suggestions of vehicles that I missed or comments would be greatly appreciated.



A: Great question! You’re looking in the right direction; the Hyundai Santa Fe is a great choice, especially if you opt for the turbo. The same could be said about the KIA Sportage Turbo and even the Mazda CX-5 (although the interior is a bit noisy). Roman loved the 2016 Hyundai Tuscon.

I would also recommend the Toyota Venza as it’s excellent on most roads, very quiet and well built. It has great cargo capacity and it’s not very common on the road. It is; however, a tad bland.

Hope that helps!



This last email comes from an email asking me about carbon buildup in direct injected engines.

Q:Any information on maintenance problems with Direct Injection?

Curious as the intake valves don’t’ get ”washed.”

Consumer Reports oil consumption.

Hope that you have something to say.

I’ve been considering 2 cars who on on their list and am likely to make another choice.



A: Yes indeed, as direct injection (DI) engines multiply, there seems to be very little data about carbon buildup being an issue. There have been a few cases of carbon buildup in DI engines, but nothing that seems to address why or how the carbon buildup happened.

It’s not supposed to happen in DI engines.

The whole point of a DI engine is greater efficiency, power and a smaller carbon dioxide footprint. This is based on the DI electronic system’s (PCM) ability to making the air and fuel burn as completely and cleanly as possible. If it works right, there is no appreciable carbon waste left behind. On the other hand, if it doesn’t work correctly, the carbon build up can kill an engine.

The cases of consumers needing to de-carbonize their engines seems rare, but that’s not much of a help for your question.

Automakers seem pretty confident that DI is the wave of the future. It seems like, if your vehicle’s PCM is working correctly and the gas you’re using is not filthy, DI should be good to go for the long run.

I wish I could give you more information, but there’s little out there.



Speaking of direct injection…

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.