Category Archives: Four Wheels

Cars and car-like vehicles.

The Subaru Forester Wilderness Is a Factory Overland Rig — Or Is It?

People used to turn their Subarus into wanna-be rally cars. Now, it’s wanna-be overland rigs. Good news! Subaru will now do it for you in the Forester Wilderness. The Drive has a good write-up about it. It’s taller, beefier, and can tow more.

My concern, though, is for the transmission. Subaru CVTs have not proven to be all that reliable. Many people I know have had problems with them. The Wilderness package doubles the Forester’s towing capacity from 1,500 pounds to 3,000 pounds. It does get a transmission cooler, which will help. I foresee it being an item that many Forester owners will retrofit to their own cars, as well as any other models it’s compatible with. Maybe that’ll help cure some of these problems.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the Forester Wilderness is a true overlander, or a fauxverlander.

Subaru Teases Their First Electric Vehicle: The Solterra

Subaru’s been slow to hop on the electric bandwagon, but they’re getting there. They just released teaser photos of the Solterra, their first electric model. Naturally, it’s an SUV.

I agree with Elektrek’s take on this. All-wheel-drive is what Subaru is best known for, and they’re doubling down on that. But when it comes to electric vehicles, all that goes out the window, because you can easily have multiple motors powering the wheels. No trick STI center differential can replace the flexibility of two independent electric motors front and rear. So it’s puzzling as to why Subaru has taken this approach.

Only time will tell how an electric Subaru will blow head gaskets.

There Will Be Another Morgan 3 Wheeler

Morgan must’ve read my love letter to their 3 Wheeler, the last of which was built recently. Or was it? A Morgan press release says there will be another, and they have photos to prove it.

The camo color scheme is amusing, because it’s impossible to disguise a Morgan 3 Wheeler to look like anything other than what it is. What these pictures reveal, though, is the clear lack of a Harley (I know, S&S) V-twin engine comically hanging off the nose of the car. It’s just some ugly gridwork, which will likely look much nicer in the production car.

So what’s under the hood? Morgan says a Ford three-cylinder (1.0 EcoBoost, maybe? That engine would put a lot of pep into this car) and I believe them, but I can’t help speculating that there may be an electric offering in the near future as well. We’ll have to see. But I’m glad that the 3 Wheeler is not dead after all. Thank you, Morgan, for listening to my request.

Paris Sets Draconian Citywide 30 km/h Speed Limit

The early days of motoring, back in the late 19th century, saw the introduction of speed limits. After all, people were operating their new fangled horseless carriages at ludicrous speeds, exceeding 10 mph in some cases!

Obviously things have changed since then — or have they? RFI reports the city of Paris, France, has just set a citywide speed limit of 30 km/h. That’s 19 mph, barely more than some of the speed limits of the 19th century. The goal, then as well as now, was to improve pedestrian safety, as well as cyclists. (Horses are kind of rare in the city these days.) It’s a growing trend across Europe, though, and elsewhere as well. Last week I stayed in Amesbury, Massachusetts, which just set a 25 mph limit across the entire town. By some strange coincidence, I saw numerous speed traps during my travels around town, on roads designed to safely handle speeds greater than 25.

Let’s remember how things used to be in Paris with this whirlwind tour from Rendezvous, where Claude Lelouch might have broken a speed limit or two himself during filming…

Lotus Goes Large On Electric

Colin Chapman would be spinning in his grave. The company once known for “simplify and add lightness” has announced big plans to do quite the opposite, reports Electrek. We knew Lotus was going electric, but three of the four new models on the way aren’t what you’d expect from Lotus. They include two SUVs, a four-door coupe, and a sports car, which will be the last to come out. We’ll have to wait until 2026 to see it. All four of these models will be electric.

While it’s a sad departure from the true sports cars we know and love, it’s also pretty much inevitable for any car company that wants to survive. Survival is necessary if we’re going to keep getting the little zippy sports cars that made Lotus famous in the first place.

Tesla On Autopilot Crashes Into Police Car — Again

Further validating the NHTSA investigation into such things, another Tesla flying on Autopilot has crashed into a police car conducting a routine traffic stop, this time in Florida, reports Automotive News.

It may or may not be the fault of Autopilot itself. It is certainly the driver’s responsibility, because either way, he shouldn’t be allowing his car to smash into police cars on the side of the road. Jalopnik makes a convincing argument about how awful Level 2 autonomy systems such as, but not limited to, Autopilot are. They can drive under ordinary circumstances, but it doesn’t take much to confuse them, at which point the human driver is expected to take over immediately. We’re bad at doing this. It’s not that we’re bad drivers (well, some of us are) — it’s just human nature.

At this point, just add one more incident for NHTSA to investigate, and be glad that nobody got hurt — especially the cop who might’ve been standing on the side of the road if the timing had been different.

Good News! Europe’s Best Selling Car Is the Dacia Sandero

Fans of Top Gear likely remember the trope where James May would report some piece of news about the Dacia Sandero, after which they would immediately move on to some other piece of news that we actually cared about. We have to care about the Sandero now, though, as Automotive News Europe reports that it has displaced the VW Golf as the top selling car in Europe for this past July.

We still don’t really care. It was just a convenient excuse to write a throwback to the old Top Gear days for fun.

GM Temporarily Halts 3.0 Duramax Engine Production

There’s nothing wrong with GM’s popular diesel engine (unlike the Chevy Bolt’s batteries). In an age of endless production woes, though, The Drive reports that a part supplier for the 3.0 Duramax is unable to supply their parts, which has brought production of the entire engine line to a screeching halt.

GM uses this engine in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs and the Express van, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade.

No other engines are thought to be affected by the part shortage. GM believes the issue is only temporary and should be solved soon. In an age of “just in time” delivery, though, with few parts actually on hand, this is what happens when there’s even a small hiccup in the system. Between chip shortages and COVID-19, there are many worse problems than small hiccups in the supply line right about now.

Ford Reveals the “Very Gay Raptor”

In response to an internet troll who called the Performance Blue color of the Ranger Raptor “very gay,” Ford has gone over the top and created this work of art that they call, and I quote, the “Very Gay Raptor.” Motor1.com explains that Ford created this particular truck for Christopher Street Day in Cologne, Germany, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Between the huge rainbow and the gold sparkles, I have to say it looks fabulous, darling.

This isn’t the first time Ford has build a car specifically for this event, either. The Ka parked next to the Very Gay Raptor is a car they built for the 1998 event.