200 Mile Next Nissan Leaf, Hatchback Fight – Honda Civic vs Mazda 3 vs Impreza and Useless Off-road Tests? [Ask Nathan]

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2015 Honda Fit

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

        • Is there going to be a 200 mile Nissan Leaf?
        • Which hatchback is best – Civic, Mazda 3 or Impreza?
        • Your crossover off-road tests are useless!

      This first question comes from a fan who wants to know about the rumored 200 mile Nissan Leaf.

      Q: Nathan Adlen, you guys are great and I love all Tfl channels! Do you have the inside info on the Nissan Leaf that can go 200 miles on a charge?

      Now that the Chevy Bolt can go over 200 miles and with other electric cars that can go way further than the Nissan Leaf they must build an updated one. Am I correct in this logic and do you think it will be a more expensive price? I have owned mostly Nissan products for many years and have have good luck with them. My job has changed and I live much closer to where I will be working which is under twenty miles each way. Nissan Leafs are so cheap now, epecially used ones that I was contemplating buying one.

      My brother told me that there will be the all new Nissan Leaf soon and that I should wait for it. He said it may be competing with the Chevy Bolt which means it will have a 200 mile range or more. That sounds pretty good to me and it will finally look handsome. Please tell me what you know if you can and could you please post this on your Sunday column?


      What?! The Nissan Leaf is doing a 10,000 mile rally!?

      A: Greetings Faraj!

      There are a bunch of rumors regarding the next Nissan Leaf. Nissan is one of the first to automakers to mass produce an electric vehicle for the United States. They led the way and have steadily improved the Leaf since 2011.

      Your brother might be right. The next Nissan Leaf has to nearly double its mileage capability, and get a new look, to be competitive. It’s something Nissan is taking seriously. While they still lead in electric car’s overall sales numbers, it won’t take long for cars like the Hyundai Ioniq, Chevrolet Bolt and others to gain in the market.

      One rumor being passed around is that the next Nissan Leaf will be bigger in most dimensions, but it will be much lighter. Another rumor says all-wheel drive is possible. Many say that it will look a lot like this concept image I added.

      Either way, whatever Nissan has in store for the Leaf, we should know more soon.

      Stay tuned!


      This next question comes from a fan who is shopping a Honda Civic hatchback, vs a Subaru Impreza Hatchback and a Mazda 3 hatchback.

      2017 Subaru Impreza Hatchback

      Q:Hi Nathan,

      I regularly watch TFL car videos on youtube and i really like your and Roman’s impartial and objective analysis about different cars.

      I have a Mitsubishi outlander sport 2014 in Good condition. I am planning to trade it for a more fuel efficient yet powerful hatchback for my daily drive from Fort Collins, CO to Englewood, CO (88 miles one way).

      I have zeroed in on Honda Civic Hatchback, Mazda 3 hatchback and Subaru Impreza Hatchback. I prefer Honda civic hatcback but does not have AWD. Please advice me on a suitable car with a good gas mileage, ability to handle snow on the highway and good torque for highway driving (if you have any other car other than the three mentioned above).



      Honda Civic Hatchback

      A: Greetings Subash and thanks for the email!

      Right off the bat, I would say that the Subaru Impreza is the logical choice. Its all-wheel drive (AWD) system is excellent and it’s very frugal for an AWD vehicle. It’s the smart choice for many people who want something safe, secure and reliable; however, there are other things to keep in mind.

      The Honda Civic Hatchback is turbocharged and will give you fun performance – with minimal power loss (by comparison) and great economy. I like its overall packaging over the Subaru as well. If you drive a manual transmission, it’s the best of the bunch.

      The Mazda 3 is painfully good looking inside and out. While it’s pretty darn quick with the bigger 2.5-liter engine, the 2.0-liter is very frugal, but a tad weak. It’s still one of the best handling vehicles in its class, but its ground clearance is pretty low.

      So – yes – the Subaru Impreza Hatchback is the most logical, but the other two are more fun.

      I hope that helps!


      The last question comes from a viewer who thinks our Gold Hill (Gold Mine Hill) climb is foolish.

      Q:(Paraphrased from several YouTube comments) Your off-road testing of crossovers is stupid.

      No one would ever take their crossover off road. No one would ever subject it to the abuse you do up Gold Mine Hill.

    • “These ridiculous “tests” are mostly useless to a typical buyer because very few people use these cars this way. No other reviews that I saw on Youtube included similar tests.”


      A: Les is referring to the above video.

      Rather than argue again Les, let me tell you what I saw when I went fishing last week: lots of crossovers. Yep, quite a few Subarus, a new Ford Escape (I had a conversation with the owner) and a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. Now, I went up the same trail these guys went in the massive Ram Power Wagon, which was no sweat. Still, the trail was just as challenging as Gold Mine Hill, AND it was partially snow-covered.

      Lots of people camp, fish, hike and drive on nasty, sometimes washed-out surfaces (I do all the time) and there are a few crossovers that are impressive in the rough. Just because you wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean others won’t. Dude, my wife went rafting with a bunch of her friends and used a Subaru Forester (second generation) and was the only one who made it to the trailhead where they were going to camp.

      Think about it. There are active people out there who do venture off the beaten path who need ground clearance, all-wheel drive and good utility. I’m including a video below that has a new Jeep Compass going off road in Moab, UT. It’s a small crossover.

      I agree with you, our test is harsh, but it serves a purpose. We show the consumer where the strong and weak attributes of the vehicle may be. If it slips a lot, tires might be the culprit. If it has a hard time, or cannot handle an obstacle, it may not have good articulation or adequate ground clearance.

      The bottom line is: we’ll keep doing this test as many people enjoy it and use the information we provide.

      Thanks for watching.


      Check out this fun Gold Hill climb!

      (We no longer use the “Snowflake” rating system.)

      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.