Electric Beetle, Lexus GX 460 vs Toyota 4Runner and Inexpensive Mercedes-Benz? [Ask Nathan]


    • Will they build an Electric Beetle?
    • Lexus GX 460 vs Toyota 4Runner?
    • 2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 kompressor for $2600 – a good buy?

The first question comes from a reader who heard that Volkswagen is considering building an electric Beetle.

Q: Hi Nathan and Roman! I heard a crazy rumor that the next VW Beetle will be an electric Beetle.

Is there any truth to this? I don’t mind I guess as I have a Nissan Leaf which is my daily commuter. It works flawlessly getting me back and fourth while my big Chevy pickup is these for me to play with on the weekends and on holiday.

I like VW and the Beetle with an electric power unit would be very cool.

Greetings from Alberta!


VW Beetle Dune

A: Hi Al, thanks for the email!

Yes, there is a possibility that the next Volkswagen Beetle could be built on a platform that no only would allow it to be electric, but to be rear-drive as well. Our friends at Autocar got this quote: “If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel-drive” – – Volkswagen AG Board Chairman Herbert Diess

That’s not to say it is definitely happening, but the odds are good that a future electric Beetle could be in the works. Remember: Volkswagen is going full-speed ahead with building a multitude of electric vehicle over the next few years.

The future for electric cars is curious indeed!


This next question comes from a fan who is looking at the Lexus GX 460 vs the Toyota 4Runner.

Q:Hi Guys

Love watching your videos and reading your website, multiple times per week! Great stuff and keep up the good work.

I live in Silverthorne and know you do an awful lot of testing of trucks and SUVs in my area. Curious what your thoughts are on the GX460 vs the 4Runner at 9000’+. I’m looking to upgrade my wife’s 2008 Jeep Liberty, since we’ve added two children to our family and need something safer and more spacious. I have a 2011 Tundra with 122k miles and am happy with the overall experience from safety, performance, usability, etc.

I’m a staunch proponent of a V8 at our altitude and concerned that a 4Runner with V6 would not perform well with two adults, two children and cargo. I started looking around and found the GX460 to likely be the next best option for us. While the added cost is somewhat substantial, a used one can be had with similar mileage for about $4k-$5k more and we’ll get a V8 with the lower end torque, slightly more interior room, all time 4wd, third row seat and what seems like more and better safety features with the Lexus. Also, the leather is a nice touch for messes that will be incurred as a result of children.

I was curious what your thoughts are on the 4Runner vs GX and/or if you had any other ideas for an SUV that would not be a dog at elevation (that’s my concern, not my wife’s) and handle the snow conditions, third row and reliability for what should be a term of 8-10 years of ownership.

Many thanks in advance and I look forward to one day bumping into you in town.

Best regards,
Donato L

Toyota 4Runner

A: Hi Donato!

I totally agree with you, the extra grunt at high elevation is paramount. With that being said, I feel the 4Runner’s V6 is up to the task. It’s not fast, but it’s not embarrassing either. For serious off-road folks, I would still recommend the 4Runner.

If you’re not bashing every weekend and family comfort is more your thing, than I would suggest the Lexus GX. It has a much more comfortable and quiet interior. Rear space is great for children and it has a better overall on-road character.

Hope that helps!


The last question comes from a fan who is thinking about buying a 2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 kompressor for $2,600.00.


Q:Hi Nathan. Can you help me? I am thinking about buying a 2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 kompressor for $2,600.00. !

I think it’s a cute car and I love driving stick. This car (I included a photo) is perfect for my needs. I don’t mind paying a bit more for upkeep, but I don’t want a money-pit either. I think the price is a bit low for a Mercedes. Am I right?

I am looking for a cheap car to get me through the next two years before I get an all new car.

I graduated from college a year back and (thanks to your recommendation) just finished my fifth year with my 2011 Scion TC. It was an excellent car, but it’s kind of the “kids” car at the office parking lot. I want something a bit more grown up I guess. With my sweet TC hitting 200,000 miles soon, I decided to sell it to my brother for $4,000.

It’s kind of like a larger version of my TC and it has less miles! It doesn’t have many options in it and it is a bit retro inside with unusual patterns in the seat design, but it’s okay with me. The owner just installed a new bluetooth receiver and the only repair needed is the sunroof which isn’t working.

Am I being unreasonable?

Please let me know what your think.

Thank you so much!



A: Hi CBC!

First of all, love that Mercedes-Benz! I enjoyed driving them way-back-when and I’m bummed there’s nothing like them in Mercedes-Benz’s current fleet. They were great for folks who wanted something fun and affordable with a bit of a luxury peddigree.

I’m glad the Scion tC worked out for you, but the Scion and Mercedes-Benz are very different machines. Unlike the normally aspirated, front-drive Scion tC, the 2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 kompressor is rear-drive and supercharged.

The only red flag I see is the cost of maintenance. Maintaining a Mercedes-Benz over a Toyota product is a hell of a leap. Hopefully, if everything is in order, you will be okay, but if there are major repairs needed, it will be much more expensive than the equivalent Toyota product.

Test drive that Mercedes-Benz and bring it to a reputable mechanic who can give you an idea of what is and what will be needed.

Good luck!


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.