Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: 2016 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

2016 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

By Scott Araujo

So I get a call from Andy.  "I've got the 2016 Civic Touring with the 1.5 turbo engine.  Have you got time to review it?" No. Not at all. Not even a little bit. But I'm certainly not going to turn it down.  Who would do that?

As you may remember, I purchased a brand new 1997 Honda Civic CX hatchback and drove it for over seventeen years and 217,000 miles. It was basic, simple, and just fun to drive. Just the other day I had my wife's 2012 Civic LX sedan for the whole day by myself which doesn't happen too often. It was like putting on my favorite old sweater, familiar and comfortable. That feeling was still fresh in my mind when Andy called.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Mongol Rally: The Biggest Small Car Adventure

Ever wanted to travel from the UK to Mongolia? Ever wanted to do it in a car with a 1.0-liter engine or smaller, or perhaps on a 125cc motorbike? Of course you have! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Mongol Rally—the biggest small car adventure out there.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

June 2016 Subcompact Car Sales

May 2016 Subcompact Car Sales
We are officially into the summer car buying season. The weather is getting warmer and so are some of the subcompact car sales.

The biggest year over year change goes the Kia Rio, which is somewhat surprising. The Korean-made subcompact sold 116.4% more Rios this year than last. Mazda continues to be at the top of the charts with its Miata, which shows no signs of slowing down. Speaking of hot sellers, Jeep's Renegade was up a very healthy 99% vs. this time last year. And hey everyone, look—the Chevy Spark has returned to the top five, with sales up more than 70% vs. June of 2015.

The biggest loser goes to Toyota's Yaris, which sold a measly 1,300 models for a 53.7% drop over last year. Also skimming the bottom is its cousin, the Prius c down 52.7%. Joining the pity party is Hyundai's Accent, down 52%.

The big year-to-date seller is, unsurprisingly, the Nissan Versa; the big loser thus far is Honda's out-going CR-Z, which isn't long for our market (or any other market for that matter). It should be noted that the Kia Soul continues to give the Nissan a run for its money in terms of overall sales.

2016 Kia Rio leads sales gains in June, 2016.

Make/Model% June '16 vs. '15Units June '16% YTD June '16 vs. '15Units YTD
Kia Rio116.452383.615368
Mazda MX-5 Miata102.0889102.55384
Jeep Renegade99.09688262.052237
Chevrolet Spark70.16559-5.818291
MINI Cooper /S Convertible61.66357.21830
Nissan Versa44.1146838.272461
Honda CR-Z10.8235-3.01205
BMW i310.3608-35.42880
Buick Encore10.2609119.236421
Honda Fit3.75034-5.727385
Kia Soul3.3122293.770528
Nissan Juke-1.72524-14.312556
Chevrolet Trax-2.9579617.429135
Chevrolet Sonic-3.97583-23.528292
Mitsubishi Mirage-7.71541-2.413173
Hyundai Veloster-17.7170015.412923
Honda HR-V-18.66567157.736443
MINI Countryman-30.01429-24.16280
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 2 Dr.-40.4850-39.06240
Smart Fortwo-47.4407-28.42593
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 4 Dr.-47.9983-23.56319
Fiat 500L-48.0274-62.02338
Ford Fiesta-49.04064-18.725539
Fiat 500-51.01113-48.07932
Hyundai Accent-52.061399.339330
Toyota Prius c-52.71355-38.811573
Toyota Yaris-53.71300-48.16584
Scion iA293916427
Mazda CX-315129502
Fiat 500X11567464
MINI Cooper S/Clubman10074411

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2016 NW Overland Rally

Teal Terror, Dinoot trailer, CVT RTT: Our beloved Suzuki Sidekick, the Teal Terror along with our Dinoot trailer and CVT rooftop tent set-up.
Teal Terror, Dinoot trailer, CVT RTT: Our beloved Suzuki Sidekick, the Teal Terror along with our Dinoot trailer and CVT rooftop tent set-up. 
By Mercedes Lilienthal

The NW Overland Rally is quite possibly our most favorite event of the year. We’ve been to almost every one of them and as each rally comes and goes, we see dozens of familiar faces, friends, fellow off-road adventurers, and meet many new travelers. This event is akin to a yearly homecoming or gathering of like-minded folks: The adventurers at heart, the thrill-seekers, or “push-your-boundaries” type of people. We learn so much from these people every year, such as how to trouble-shoot an ailing engine, tie specific knots, and tips and tricks to living cheaply on the road. An extended weekend of classes, workshops, happy hours galore, trail runs, and a huge nightly raffle and prizes to give away around a bonfire! What is not to love?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review: 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec

Back in 2012, we drove the then-new 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo and touted its avant garde looks, better-than-expected fuel economy, and gusty power. Fast forward to 2016, and Hyundai still offers the boosted hatchback in a few trim levels, including this R-Spec variant, which is the least expensive way to get into the turbocharged Hyundai. This is the model buyers will want who don’t need all the extras goodies that might be found on the standard Veloster Turbo or Veloster Turbo Rally Edition models. In other words, if you just want a more basic Veloster Turbo, this is the one to get.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Armstrong Racing Yaris is featured on The Smoking Tire

Tom's 1.8-liter swapped Yaris has appeared on The Smoking Tire's One Take segment with Matt Farah behind the wheel. Additionally, the car and video appeared on Road and Track.

Matt pilots the Corolla-swapped sedan through some canyons in California and seems to really dig the car. (Tom said Matt legitimately enjoyed the car, and I'd believe it.) Tom's swapped Yaris looks like it rips, even with the automatic.

The Yaris is a capable platform, and always has been. However, there haven't been that many people in the U.S. that take advantage of it. (I love mine.) There are parts out there for them, and it doesn't take much to turn the little economy car into a subcompact sleeper.

Swapped Toyota Yaris with Subcompact Culture decal

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Engine Issues for the Teal Terror

Yes, that's the Teal Terror and trailer on a trailer. We had some engine problems on the way up to the 2016 NW Overland Rally, and it turns out, it wasn't able to make the return trip back to Portland under its own power. Thank God for good friends who have 30-ft trailers and are willing to drive 12 hours to get your broke-down ass. 

So what happened?

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.