In this edition of Ask Nathan:
- The Dodge Durango’s off-road abilities?
- Updates on the Hyundai Santa Cruz?
- New Honda Fit or used Honda Element?
This first question comes from a viewer who wants us to take a Dodge Durango up the Ike Gauntlet and off road!
Any possibility of taking a Hemi Durango up the Ike Gauntlet (7400 lbs towing capacity) and up Gold Mine Hill (the Hemi versions have low range)?
It seems like Nathan really likes this vehicle, so why not see if it can do SUV-ish things (towing and off roading)?
A: Interesting question.
Regarding our Ike Gauntlet test: absolutely, IF FCA sends us a Dodge Durango with a towing package. I’ve spoken to owners of newer Dodge Durangos about towing and, other than a bit of rear-end sag, they said it tows well. So, if we get one before they are discontinued, we’ll be sure and take it up the Ike!
We took the Dodge Durango off road, but not the newer version with the eight-speed transmission. It did very well; however, the ground clearance and front articulation were unsuited for anything other than dirt roads and snow. If you get the RT package, you run the risk of scraping up its painted wheels.
The approach angle and low ride height make obstacles dangerous to the Dodge Durango. It’s just too low. As such, I can’t take it up Gold Mine Hill without running the risk of damaging its underside, wheels and nose.
I still think the Dodge Durango is a damn good vehicle.
This next question is from a fan who (like many others) wants an update on the Hyundai Santa Cruz.
Hi there any updates on the Hyundai Santa Cruz? Haven’t heard anything in a while…
A: Hi Jay!
The last batch of quotable Hyundai Santa Cruz news was many moons ago. There’s nothing new to report, as far as I can tell. Things were looking pretty positive, but now there’s unnerving silence from Hyundai.
With that being said, I have a theory: Hyundai is waiting to see actual sales numbers for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline. If the Ridgeline’s take looks good, they may move ahead. The Hyundai Santa Cruz would compete for a similar consumer.
Keep in mind: this just a theory. I’m keeping an ear open and checking the net all the time. I’m very interested in the Hyundai Santa Cruz too!
Here’s hoping they build it!
The last question is from a fan who’s deciding between a new, base model Honda Fit or a 2011 Honda Element.
Q: Hi Nathan and Roman and Andre!
I have a weird problem. My mom wants me to take over the payments on her almost-new Honda Fit, but I really like the Honda Element. If I don’t take over my mom’s base model Fit, she will trade it in on a new Civic. If I buy her out, she’ll get a new Accord. But I still want an Element.
See my problem? What would you do in my place? Am I crazy wanting the Honda Element so much? My best friend had one and it was incredible! So many ways to use it! It’s perfect for a crazy cat lady (I have 5 cats!) like me.
Can you help me with some logic? I love your shows and all the stuff TFL is into!
Thank you bunches!
A: Hi Claudia!
Wow, five cats?! Yes, the Honda Element is a better choice if you transport the little buggers around. There are a ton of cute animal-friendly upgrades available for the Honda Element. It’s not as frugal or fun-to-drive as the Honda Fit, but it is very utilitarian.
While I love the Honda Fit, I can tell that you don’t. Happiness is a hard thing to come by nowadays. My first recommendation to anyone choosing between two vehicles is: choose whichever one will make you happiest.
Oh, don’t worry about your mother, the new Honda Civic is quite good – she’ll be happy enough!
P.S.: Andre is a big cat lover, he would like to know what your choice is. Keep us in the loop!
Speaking of the Honda Civic…
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.
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