Monday, May 16, 2016

Wayfarer Vans: Ram ProMaster City Campervan Conversion in 25 Minutes

We really like the Ram ProMaster City, and always thought it'd be a great platform for a small campervan or overland travel vehicle. It turns out we're not the only ones. Colorado-based Wayfarer Vans has developed a simple campervan conversion for the compact Ram van that'll install in 25 minutes, as evidenced in this video. The conversion can include a table, storage, a place to sleep, and new interior panels.

Behold: The Best Photo of our Subaru Impreza WRX

2013 Subaru Impreza WRX studio shot by David Panton

So this is the result of giving the keys to our friend and professional photographer/videographer, David Panton. He shot this photo in a studio using multiple exposures, various lighting techniques, and a variety of photo processing. Needless to say, it's the coolest photo I've seen of our Subaru Impreza WRX. I can hardly believe that's our car!

You can check out some of David's work on his Flickr page.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Installed: WARN WL LED Light Pods

WARN WL LED Light Pods

Auxiliary lighting is important, especially when you are venturing off the pavement. Until recently I ran a set of inexpensive LED light pods, but recently upgraded to a much higher quality LED light from Warn Industries.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review: 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer SEL 2.4 AWC - Same as it Ever Was (Almost)

2016 Mitsubishi Lancer SEL 2.4 AWC

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This phase pretty much describes the latest Mitsubishi Lancer. For all intents and purposes, the Lancer really hasn’t changed all that much since its last semi-major refresh in 2008. Sure, there have been some minor styling changes, some tweaks, and refinements. However, it’s pretty much the same car as it was nearly a decade ago. This is unheard of in the hyper-competitive compact class, which is led by titans such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and Nissan Sentra. They get regular refreshes, updates, and changes. But not the Lancer; it plods along the straight and narrow resisting change more than a republican at a Bernie Sanders rally. So how come the Lancer is able to hang on?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

April 2016 Subcompact Car Sales: A Rebound?

April 2016 Subcompact Car Sales
Last month I was quick to declare a subcompact sales slump. It's pretty incredible how things can simply bounce back. Twelve of the 27 models for sale more than a year have posted positive sales gains this month vs. the same month in 2015. The biggest monthly gainer was, again. the Mazda MX-5 Miata, up 182.8%. The Jeep Renegade also was up over 130%, and BMW's electric i3 was also up 100%. Impressively, Hyundai moved a lot of Accents in April—nearly 13,000 to be exact—for a year-to-date total of over 30,000 units.

The big loser this month was again the MINI Paceman. All I can assume is the model is already on the chopping block, so perhaps its 89% loss isn't truly representative, since it's a dead man walking. The Fiat 500L is most certainly still for sale, although with a 63% decline in sales, you'd hardly know it. The Toyota Prius c was down 54.2%, and the Nissan Versa was down, somewhat surprisingly, 50%. That being said, it still has the most units sold thus far of any subcompact-like vehicle yet with 45,664 units sold.

And in my favorite small car battle of the year, the tiny Mitsubishi Mirage continues to outsell the lilliputian Chevrolet Spark by nearly 16%, Overall Mirage sales are up 12.7% for the year. Talk about surprising.

New feature: Click on the car name for stories related to that model.

Make/Model% Apr. '16 vs. '15Units Apr. '16% YTD Apr. '16 vs. '15Units YTD
Mazda MX-5 Miata182.8108698.03495
Jeep Renegade131.09730514.031681
BMW i3100.0814-48.91576
MINI Cooper /S Convertible79.7541-44.9549
Hyundai Veloster69.2279234.49258
Hyundai Accent57.61293323.030759
Mitsubishi Mirage37.2330212.79534
Chevrolet Trax30.7451038.818237
Buick Encore17.9658921.323808
Honda CR-Z12.8253-12.6736
Kia Soul0.9115175.544593
MINI Countryman0.41249-19.13615
Smart Fortwo-2.9466-12.31766
Kia Rio-10.02523-10.47889
Chevrolet Spark-17.73082-35.98237
Nissan Juke-22.31890-17.97761
Honda Fit-24.35132-32.416645
Ford Fiesta-25.44462-15.315325
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 4 Dr-35.1976-7.74428
Toyota Yaris-36.61365-45.94048
Fiat 500-40.01488-50.05266
Chevrolet Sonic-41.45102-11.417729
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 2 Dr-46.91136-37.54422
Nissan Versa-50.09165-2.145664
Toyota Prius c-54.21676-33.78309
Fiat 500L-63.0463-60.01730
MINI Paceman-89.09-88.539
Honda HR-V698922484
Scion iA302310432
Mazda CX-315046420
Fiat 500X10945058
MINI Cooper /S Clubman8842579

Sales numbers are for U.S. market only.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Armstrong Racing's 2ZR-FE-Powered Yaris: More Racing, More Upgrades

Armstrong Racing's Toyota Yaris Sedan

We told you about Armstrong Racing's 2ZR-FE-powered Yaris back in February. However, since then, there's been a host of updates and upgrades.

Firstly, owner, Tom Armstrong, has been doing a lot more SCCA Solo II autocross. He's been doing pretty darn well, too. This includes a recent first-place in Street Modified (SMF) on April 17. That makes five races with four wins, plus a third-place on the National Tour. He's now got a strong lead in the overall regional SMF category. But that's not all that Tom's been up to.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Photos from the 2016 Oregon Trail Rally

Travis Pastrana launching at Oregon Trail Rally

Words by Andy Lilienthal; photos by Mercedes Lilienthal and Andy Lilienthal

Another Oregon Trail Rally, part of the Rally America circuit, has come and gone, and it was as awesome as ever. The annual race was held April 22–24 with the first stages held at Portland International Raceway. However, this year, things were changed up, and the second day of racing took place around Goldendale, Washington. For the past few years, day two's racing has taken place around Dufur, Oregon, but those stages were moved to day three. Regardless, we had good weather, great racing, and amazing scenery. Plus, you know ... rally.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Custom Winch Fairlead and a Cool App from Custom Splice

Custom winch fairlead from Custom Splice

The Teal Terror, aka Project 1995 Suzuki Sidekick, has had a Warn winch for years. However, I recently got a custom fairlead made for it from Custom Splice. How cool is this?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Around the West in 95 Horsepower: Exploring Moab

Around the West in 95 Horsepower: Exploring Moab

Words by Andy Lilienthal; photos by Mercedes Lilienthal. Video by Jesse Hires.

In part six of Around the West in 95 Horsepower, Mercedes and I had arrived in Moab and explored some of the areas around the iconic Utah town. In this segment, we'll run one of the 4x4 trails. 

Today we'd run our first trail in Moab in the Sidekick. We decided to run Fins N Things, which is rated a 5 out of 10 in terms of difficulty. We figured with our rear locking differential (e.g. "locker"), rock sliders, lift, and tires, we should be set. If we did get hung up, we have our Warn winch and a myriad of recovery gear, too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Our WRX Gets New Wheels and Tires

Subaru WRX With ESM 001 wheels ad Continental Tires

While the stock wheels and tires on a 2011-2014 WRX aren't bad looking, they aren't my cup-o-tea. I'd long been wanting to change up the rolling stock on our 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX, and recently the stars aligned and I ended up with the setup you see above. These are 17x8 (+35) ESM 001 wheels wrapped in 235/45/17 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires. When it comes to buying wheels and tires I can get minorly obsessive, so the choice wasn't easy.