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 full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference.
In this week’s Ask Nathan:
- Will there be a Honda EV pickup truck?
- Volkswagen Alltrack or Subaru Crosstrek?
- What is a cheap car to replace an old Suzuki Esteem?
The first question comes from a Honda fan who caught wind of a Honda EV pickup concept. He wants to know if it’s coming here.
Q: (Via Twitter@NathanAdlen) I saw this concept. I wondered if the Honda EV pickup would happen.
Will it come here? What can it haul? Looks very small.
Chris L – Farmington, NM
A: Hi Chris!
What you’re looking at is a student project that is based somewhat on the Honda e Prototype underpinnings. Honda has produced a bunch of EV concepts over the psst few years. They have everything from a hatchback to a sporty little EV coupe, but this utility pickup is unique.
Designed by the Master in Transportation Design course at IED Torino, it is solely a student design exercise. The Honda EV pickup is called the Honda Tomo concept and it debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. The Honda Tomo is 13.1′ in length, 6.2′ wide and 5.1 feet tall. That’s Mini Cooper territory.
No number were available; however, Honda’s other EV concepts have a range of around 125 miles. According to Honda, their other concepts have Panasonic battery cells and could charge up to 80% in 30 minutes. Best of all, they are rear drive.
The small (I think it’s about a one-meter square) cargo area is supposed to covert into a covered passenger area when not in use. I believe it could seat up to four when not in its cargo configuration. Given its size and the possible size of the tailgate, it could be just enough to hold a bike with its front wheel removed.
While production of a vehicle like this is unlikely for our market anytime soon, there could be overseas demand. Something like this in an urban environment could be fun. Imagine it at the beach?
Funny thing is, let’s say Honda builds something like this sooner rather than later. They could be the first automaker to produce a factory-built pickup EV in our market. Still, I would’t hold my breath.
The next question comes from a reader who is looking at a Jeep Compass. He’s comparing it to a Subaru Crosstrek and a Volkswagen SportWagen.
Q: Hi guys! I hope this spring is good for you and all of your off-road videos!
I like watching your Gold Mine Hill videos because you are one of the few video channels that has a set off-road course to test crossovers. Lets face it, they are here to stay and having a little offload capability is a good thing. Thats why I’m emailing you.
I want a all wheel drive car with a manual transmission that can handle Pacific Northwest snow.
Initially I wanted the Volkswagen Alltrack. Based on your videos and reviews, it seemed awesome. I drove one and loved it. Just like you, with a manual transmission! But the price was just too high. I sent you a Twitter question (@Nathanadlen) back in November and you suggested the less expensive SportWagen.
I like it! Then I drove the Subaru Crosstrek XV and I was pretty impressed too. It’s slower but a little less expensive and you’ve suggested it before. Then I drove the new Jeep Compass like the one in your video. It also has a stick option and it was even less expensive than the Subaru.
Which one would you get?
Thanks for all the great videos and reviews. You guys are the first source for me when it comes to anything off road and I like your comic additions to everything. Keep up the good work!
A: Hello Jai!
Thank you for your patronage and kind comments!
While I have driven the newest Compass and Spoirtwagen I have not driven the newest Subaru Crosstrek. With that being said, I know it’s an improvement over the older model, which I thought was pretty good.
My personal choice would be the Volkswagen Sportwagen as it has the best engine and I like its overall driving dynamics. It’s still pricy by comparison. Even with no options, it’s more expensive than the other two.
The Subaru Crosstrek is a safe bet and, from what I’ve seen, quite adept off-road. If you’re sticking with the manual transmission, you’ll have a swifter version than the CVT.
On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised by the Jeep Compass. Even the non Trailhawk version did well in the dirt and I liked the options available for the money. Like the Subaru, the power is tepid and overall performance is merely adequate. Still, it’s fairly comfortable and it has a nicer interior than the Subaru.
Best of luck!
The last question comes from a long time fan who is about to kill an old Suzuki Esteem.
Q: My mother’s 2001 Suzuki Esteem is going to die.
I hate this car. She keeps putting money in it keeping it going and I keep telling her to stop it. It’s on its second engine and the third transmission is about to die. It has over two hundred thousand on the odo. But I don’t know its exact mileage cuz it quit counting sometime in 2015.
She needs a better used car that’s super cheap to run and fix. Any suggestions? I was looking at an older Hyundai Accent.
Not much to go on here. I’m guessing you’re looking at something valued under $7,000.
Sure, Hyundai is alright – as is Kia. There are many models to choose from. I recommend something like the Honda Fit. They are very utilitarian and drive great. One in good condition can be pretty reliable too. Also, the Toyota Yaris is a good bet, as is the Scion xD and xB. Any of these with low mileage are good bets.
Finding something similar to your mother’s car (wagon/hatchback) would be a good idea too.
Best of luck!
Here’s a fun video!