Subaru three-row SUV, Cruze Hatchback vs Sonic Hatchback and Inexpensive Holiday Gifts [Ask Nathan]

2014 Dodge Durango RT

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Info on the Subaru three-row SUV?
  • 2017 Chevrolet Sonic vs 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback?
  • Inexpensive gifts for car people?

This first question comes from a fan who wants some information about the upcoming Subaru three-Row SUV.


Q: Hey Nathan! Hope all of the TFL crew is doing well.

It’s me again with a Subaru question. I was just wondering if you have seen the Viziv-7 concept that is supposed to be a basis for their upcoming three-row SUV. What are your thoughts on it and what have you heard about Subaru’s three-row vehicle so far?



2014 Subaru Forester 2.5L AWD Touring 0-60 MPH Drive and Review

A: Hi Nobel!

I’ve seen the photos and the concept car; from what I gather, this next Subaru three-row crossover will be a cross between the Subaru Viziv-7 and the overseas’ Subaru Cross 7 Exiga II. It will be bigger and (much) more user-friendly than the Subaru Tribeca.

It appears that Subaru is aiming directly at the new Mazda CX-9 and Ford Explorer, among others. This will be the biggest vehicle Subaru has sold in the United States. It will be interesting to see what they can do with the (turbo?) H4, H6 and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as they are completely dedicated to that transmission.

Recently, we caught a glimpse of a Subaru three-row crossover testing up in the Rocky Mountains, so we know it will be produced soon.

While Subaru does not allow us to drive their press cars, we will try to get one through other means and compare it to the segment’s best. I have a feeling they will be competitive, especially in price and economy.

Thanks for the email!


subaru cross 7 exiga II

This next question come from a fan who is in the market for a Chevy hatchback, there are two for her to choose from and she’s looking for some clarity.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

Q: Hi Nathan! How are you doing in freezing Colorado?

I am finally ready to get a new car and I’ve narrowed my choices down to two Chevy hatchbacks. I know there are other brands out there, but I get an amazing discount on GM cars through my family and my current car which is a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, has been pretty reliable for over 150,000 miles. I only had an air conditioner issue and replaced the front brakes.

I totally agree with you about hatchbacks. They make so much sense and there are more available than ever before! I like the idea of holding more junk. I looked at the Chevy Spark and it’s a bit too small for me.

I was just about to get the Chevy Sonic hatchback when my father told me about the new Chevy Cruze hatchback. He said it’s pretty much the same car as the Sonic with a larger body. He said the small turbocharged engine is the same thing and that they are pretty close in cost.

I priced the 2017 Cruze Premier 5-door manual against the Sonic LT hatchback manual and they are within a few hundred dollars of each other. Now I am confused. What Chevy do I buy? Is it better to get the bigger car that will be slower or the smaller car that will be tighter?

Can you help me?

Thanks Nathan!

Jules from Modesto, CA

A: Hello Jules!

Great question and thanks for the email. It’s chilly here, but that’s a small price to pay for living in the Rocky Mountains!

I did some research and it looks like your dad missed an important point about the 1.4 liter turbocharged engine that these two cars share. It may be the same displacement, but it produces different power in each car. The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Also, it weighs about 2,800 lbs.

Now, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback makes 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque out of a similar 1.4-liter engine. It also weighs about 2,900 lbs. That means the Chevy Cruze hatchback makes more power and has a better power to weight ratio.

The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is rated at 31 mpg combined, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback (“Sonic 5”) is rated at 32 mpg combined.

While I like the little Sonic, I have yet to drive the 2017 model. The same goes for the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback. Still, on paper, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback appears to be the smarter buy.

Hope that helps!


Holiday Show: Everything you always wanted to know about Team TFLcar
The holidays are here!

The last question comes from a few fans regarding gift ideas for the holidays.

Q: What are good car and truck gift ideas for the holidays?

Magazine subscriptions and gift cards are good starts, but what else is there?

A: Ah, the holidays…

On top of the gifts suggested in the video above, (yes, there are a few good ideas amid the silliness), here are a few interesting ideas that are inexpensive:

  • Emergency tool kit
  • Automotive Videos
  • Small R/C cars
  • Automotive Cleaning kits
  • Model cars
  • Automotive coffee table book(s)
  • Car Keys tile (key finder)
  • Dash Mounted Cameras
  • Buy an app (0 to 60 mph)
  • Shirts, sweaters and mugs for their favorite video program swag


Here’s the next video episode of “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.

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: