Monday, June 20, 2016

Subcompact Survival: Emergency Preparedness for Traveling Small or Large

Urban Bug Out Bag Contents
Tony Nester, of Ancient Pathways Outdoor Survival Courses, displays the contents of his urban "bug-out" bag.
By Mercedes Lilienthal

Whether adventuring off-road in a compact 4x4 like our beloved Teal Terror, or lumbering around in a fantastically huge Unimog, or even on a road trip to remote areas, one typically thinks of many things to bring along for the ride: food, maps, music, sunscreen (if you have ghostly skin like me), and clothing. But sometimes, the most important items are overlooked. Bringing enough gear or emergency items along for a fun trek doesn’t seem like any “fun” but heaven forbid, if you get stuck or have a true backcountry emergency, critical survival is of utmost importance. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Low Compression Depression: Time for a Rebuild?

Time to rebuild the engine in the Sidekick?

For months, the Teal Terror, aka Project 1995 Suzuki Sidekick, has felt down on power. Despite replacing the busted up catalytic converter a couple weeks ago, checking to see if the muffler is plugged, and about 100 other potential things, the power is still down. It was very evident after last weekend's trip to the Oregon coast for camping: Lots of third-gear sessions and terrible fuel economy while ascending the hills of Highway 26. Something is up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Subcompact Q&A: Over The Road 'Rolla

Subcompact Q&A - Over The Road Rolla

This is our debut of Subcompact Q&A. It'll features user-submitted questions, and answers from our experts on all things small. Got a question about small vehicles, subcompact overland travel, or anything semi-related to this site? Email it to us at

Our first question comes from our friend Justin in Oakland, CA. We've actually featured his 314 hp Pontiac Solstice Turbo-powered 1982 Toyota Corolla Wagon in 2013. Justin writes:

Hey Andy! On my drive back from visiting Portland in the Rolla, I did a lot of daydreaming about making it a cross country trip travel machine. I've got some questions about adding an refrigerator like you did [in the Sidekick], and maybe you could share some advice from the things you've learned as you've built the Teal Terror and trailer into a similar type of thing.

One of my first inclination is to get one of those aluminum job boxes that you see on the tongues of trailers and fashion it into a hitch carrier for extra cargo. It should be out of the slipstream and not hurt mileage.

I think I can also remove part of my rear seats to open up some more room back there for sleeping. And also wire my blower fan so I could keep it running on low overnight to help exchange the air. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

May 2016 Subcompact Sales

May 2016 Subcompact Car Sales
Is it that time again already? Indeed it is, and three models had big-old gains. The Jeep Renegade, as we predicted, is killin' it. Nearly 11,000 models sold in May; 42,549 models sold this year! That makes it the third best-selling model on this list. The  Mazda MX-5 Miata continues to sell the heck out of is little sports car, which was up 122.7%. MINI also did well last month moving 103.1% of what it sold last year, despite selling the fewest vehicles of any other subcompact model this year. After that, however, things peter out. However, the redesigned Chevrolet Spark, which we still haven't driven, is up 29.2%, along with several other vehicles in the double digits. Of note: Mitsubishi's Mirage was down 39.1%. Will this be a trend for the struggling automaker's surprise sales champion?

The Jeep Renegade sells well in May, 2016
Jeeps subcompact crossover, the Renegade, is selling like hot cakes, which apparently sell pretty well. 
On the not-so-good side of the sales equation, the biggest loser was, unsurprisingly, the unpopular Fiat 500L, down 73% with just 334 models sold. Only Honda's not-so-sporty (or fuel efficient) CR-Z hybrid sold fewer units. The aging Chevrolet Sonic and Smart's Fortwo, Toyota's Yaris, and a few other subcompacts were down more than 40% this month. Not so good.

As of today, fuel prices are $0.40 less expensive than they were a year ago, but up $0.10 from a month ago, so it's trending upwards. We'll see if the lower fuel prices continue to have an effect on subcompact sales.

Make/Model%May '16 vs. '15Units May '16% YTD May '16 vs. '15Units YTD
Jeep Renegade146.010868334.042549
Mazda MX-5 Miata122.71000103.04495
MINI Cooper /S Convertible103.1646-9.11195
Chevrolet Spark29.23495-24.611732
Honda HR-V25.57392371.929876
Hyundai Accent22.7543223.036191
Buick Encore20.8652221.230330
Nissan Versa19.7121141.857778
Kia Soul-1.3137063.858299
Honda CR-Z-4.9234-27.822351
Honda Fit-10.05706-27.822351
Chevrolet Trax-10.6510223.923339
Hyundai Veloster-12.6196522.811223
Nissan Juke-13.52271-17.010032
BMW i3-15.0696-41.82272
MINI Countryman-30.11236-22.24851
Ford Fiesta-34.86150-22.021475
Kia Rio-38.02241-18.410130
Mitsubishi Mirage-38.32098-1.711632
Fiat 500-41.01553-48.06819
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 4 Dr.-42.5908-16.35336
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 2 Dr.-44.1968-38.85390
Toyota Prius c-45.01909-36.310218
Toyota Yaris-48.51236-46.55284
Smart Fortwo-49.8420-23.32186
Chevrolet Sonic-67.12980-28.820709
Fiat 500L-73.0334-63.02064
Scion iA305613488
Mazda CX-315707990
Fiat 500X12506308
MINI Cooper S/Clubman8253404

Monday, May 30, 2016

2016 Overland Expo West: The Essential Overlanding Show

The Teal Terror in Marble Canyon on the way from Overland Expo 2016

Photos and Words By Mercedes Lilienthal
How would one sum up this year’s Overland Expo West? Windy? Fun? Exciting? Informative? Well, yes, we say all of the above. What was my first time attending and covering this show will surely not be the last. The 2016 Overland Expo West was an awesomely windy, thrilling, fast-paced, and exciting event.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eight Hours of Driving With an Open Header is Terrible.

We're back from Overland Expo West and it was an awesome experience. The Teal Terror was even featured in the Warn Industries booth and made it onto Expedition Portal. More on the show coming up. Half the fun of the show was getting there and coming back. Well, not so much coming back, at least the last day.

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?