RedlineNorth Rant…..

We try not to focus on rants but since we are now in the heat of summer we thought it was a good time to get a few things off our chests.  Big rigs, trucks, tractor trailers and road trains are among the most common names for these ambivalent vehicles. Yes, we are referring to those 18 wheelers that we share our roads and highways with across this continent.

tractor trailer

Truck in Canada’s Winter

Well, what’s the deal?  The other day we drove during business hours on the 401 west of Toronto and oh my gosh, there are so many trucks and man do they ever go fast!

What happened to the law in Ontario that stated they were going to all be governed at 105 KM/H? Well, that was thrown out of court back in 2012 as seen in this Toronto Star article.

The other thing is the insanity of these trucks driving in the left lane when they are only suppose to be in that lane for passing purposes. Honestly, on the day in question I would say more of them were in the left lane than the right lane. Now, before everyone goes crazy on us we are not suggesting all truck drivers behave like this as it’s just some of them and we do respect the hard work and important job the majority of them do. Nevertheless, it has become evident to me why when people from other countries come to visit they are shocked by the 401 and the trucks.  I mean it is Canada after all and we are suppose to be super civilized….aren’t we?

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Honda Indy Toronto Part 2

As promised we have some coverage from last week’s Honda Indy “Fan Friday”.

Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

It’s always a pleasure to see the “Great American” Dodge Viper in action on a North American racetrack.

Cadillac

Cadillac in the pits

True to its premium brand, Cadillac brought an amazing level of resources to Toronto from its newly developed race cars to even better team food in the pits. I guess it really does pay to be the top of the line brand of the world’s largest auto manufacturer.

Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon – Winner of both races

Scott Dixon the “Kiwi” from New Zealand driving for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team won both races to secure the $100,000 dollar prize offered to the racer who won the whole race weekend. The victory is the 32nd of his career, making him the winningest active driver in the Izod Indycar series and the seventh most successful driver in American open-wheel racing history.

James Hinchliffe

James Hichcliffe’s car

Unfortunately, our hometown boy James Hinchcliffe finished eighth the first day and 21st the second, after his throttle got stuck in the pit lane before the start, resulting in him getting stuck at the back for the whole race.

Cadillac

Cadillac testing the track out

Stadium Super Truck

Stadium Super Truck

A new race series called Stadium Super Trucks recently launched by former NASCAR driver Robby Gordon also ran over the Indy weekend. The series consists of racing style monster trucks equipped with off road tires and massive suspensions tearing around while also hitting BMX style ramps. With a field of star drivers behind the wheels including Canada’s own Paul Tracy, the new series is quickly becoming a fan favourite throughout North America. Although Paul’s day was not so good with him hitting the wall hard as seen in this video it was great to see him driving fast on Toronto’s downtown street circuit once again.

Make sure you block out next year’s Honda Indy Toronto dates so you can be a part of this racing enthusiast experience.

2014 Subaru Forester Review

RedlineNorth recently had a chance to review the all new 2014 Subaru Forester.  We used this opportunity to take it on a spin up to beautiful Awenda Provincial Park, near Penetanguishene, Ontario for a weekend camping trip.  It also allowed us to put the Forester through its paces, both in town and on the highway.

Subaru’s mid-sized crossover is now on its fourth generation, and comes in two main configurations for the 2014 model year – a 2.5L, 4 cylinder boxer engine, or a 2.0L turbo charged version.  Within each configuration there are multiple trim packages, with the base Forester 2.5i starting at $25,995. RedlineNorth test drove the 2.5i Touring Package model with a six speed manual transmission ($29,995).

2014 Subaru Forester

In town with the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i

The Details

With a MSRP of $29,995 the 2.5i Touring Package provides you with:

  • 2.5L 4-cyclinder Subaru boxer engine
  • 175 hp and 174 lb-ft torque
  • Six speed manual transmission with Hill Holder system
  • Subaru’s symmetrical full-time All-Wheel Drive system
  • Power liftgate with memory function
  • Large sunroof
  • 17×7 aluminum alloy wheels
  • Premium cloth upholstery
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver seat
  • Heated front seats
  • CD/MP3 system
  • Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with voice activation and steering wheel-mounted controls
  • Bluetooth streaming audio
  • Rear-view camera
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • 36 month – 60,000 km New Vehicle Limited Warranty
Forester-7

At home in the woods

Exterior

The 2014 Subaru Forester has a more upright, boxy, and overall SUV type look compared to its crossover cousin, the Subaru Outback which can easily be mistaken for a large wagon. While the Forester styling is somewhat understated, to its credit it provides plenty of ground clearance, 8.7 inches to be exact.  This is particularly nice to have when driving around the city, clearing speed bumps with ease. We also found the raised body made loading and unloading camping gear from the rear cargo space on our trip more convenient. Likewise, the raised profile of the Forester also translates into larger window space, giving the interior a very bright and airy feel. This is heightened by the extra large sunroof that comes standard in the Touring Package. The size and placement of the sunroof was one of our favourite features of the 2014 Forester and accentuated the open feeling of the whole interior cabin.

RedlineNorth appreciated the extra large sunroof which comes standard in the 2.5i Touring Edition

RedlineNorth appreciated the extra large sunroof which comes standard in the 2.5i Touring Package

Interior

Driver seating in the 2014 model is solid and at no point did we feel cramped.  The placement of the climate and steering wheel mounted controls make vehicle operation a seamless experience.  It enables the driver to concentrate on driving, rather than fiddling with buttons.  The one exception is the menu navigation on the 4.3 inch multi-function display.  The system isn’t as straight forward as it could be at the outset, however, we did get use to it after a short period of time.  The rear view camera images on the 4.3 inch display are small in size and it would be nice to have a larger monitor. However, at the end of the day the monitor is still large enough to determine if there are any obstacles in the way, which is what it’s designed to do.

Forester-8

Interior cabin view

We were pleasantly surprised with the interior build quality and overall design of the Forester.  The retractable rear cargo cover is a nice addition to keep valuables out of sight and its solid construction gave us confidence it would last the life of the vehicle. Similarly, the rear cargo and floor mats are made of a higher quality material and stood up well to the loading and unloading of camping gear.

There is decent interior storage space, with plenty of cargo room in the rear. The powered rear cargo liftgate is a nice touch and came in handy on our trip. With one touch open and close it makes accessing the interior storage space very easy.  We should also note the location of the rear latch connection for the child safety seat was positioned in a very convenient location and made the placement and removal of the seat a breeze.  It’s one of those little things that all add up to a big overall impression.

Rear cargo space in the Forester was plentiful and easily accessible

Rear cargo space in the Forester was plentiful and easily accessible

Performance

The six speed manual transmission found in the Forester feels smooth and responsive.  Effortless shifting between gears and the full time All-Wheel drive Subaru is known for, make the Forester a pleasure to drive.  Fully loaded with a weekend’s worth of gear the 2.5L engine wasn’t as spirited entering the highway as we would have liked so we would recommend an upgrade to the 2.0 L turbo engine with its 250 hp and 258 lbs-ft of torque if more powerful full time performance is required. Nevertheless, the 2.5i is fun to drive and provides more than acceptable power and performance for the vast majority of daily driving.

The 2.5i Touring Package comes standard with a 6 speed manual transmission

The 2.5i Touring Package with a six speed manual transmission

Fuel efficiency in the 2.5L version of the 2014 Forester is rated at 9.5L/100 km City and 7.0L/100 km Highway.  While climate, driving style, maintenance and a number of other factors can influence fuel efficiency, we are happy to see the efficiency during our test period fell within the stated range.

Summary

The 2014 Subaru Forester is a bit of a sleeper hit for us.  We are pleasantly surprised with its interior cargo space and convenience options such as the powered liftgate and rear car seat latch placement.  The full time All-Wheel Drive and smooth six speed manual transmission made for a very good driving experience. As a result, families considering a small SUV or minivan should take notice of the 2014 Forester and we think they will be happily surprised both in terms of day to day performance, but also in value for money.

Key competitors to the 2014 Forester are the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V.

Honda Indy Toronto

Once a year, the Indy series comes roaring into town for a three-day party like no other so make sure you head down to Toronto’s Exhibition grounds to take it all in.  This year, there is a “Fan Friday” event where admission is free and you can you walk the grounds and see the practice runs all for a donation to the Make a Wish Foundation.

As for Canadian talent in this year’s race, Alex Tagliani and Oakville’s won James Hinchcliffe will be gunning for podium finishes. We wish them good luck!

Honda Indy

Image source: Sportsnet.ca

For more info and tickets check out the Hondy Indy Toronto site.

Be sure to stay tuned for coverage from this weekend’s racing action next week.

Isetta

Isetta

Isetta

The Isetta was a micro car that was originally developed in Italy by the scooter and refrigerator company of Iso SpA and was first released in 1953. It was powered by the 9.5 hp motorcycle engine found in the Iso Moto 200 and became known as the ‘bubble’ car thanks to its egg like shape.

The design of the Isetta was licensed to a number of companies around the world including in Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, the UK and to BMW of Germany.  In 1955, BMW redesigned the Isetta around a one-cylinder, four-stroke, 247 cc motorcycle engine which generated 13 hp. Although the design remained the same ,much of the parts in the BMW version were not inter-changeable with the Iso Isetta. BMW produced over 160,000 vehicles until production ceased in 1962.

The Isetta has been featured numerous times in pop culture since its launch 60 years ago, including being the vehicle character Steve Urkel drove in the TV sitcom Family Matters and an Isetta was found by Barry Weiss wrapped up in a storage unit in the first season of the reality show Storage Wars.

Steve Urkel's Car in Family Matters

Steve Urkel’s Car in Family Matters

Most recently Petrolicious has recently added a video to their library on Jack Charney, an auto enthusiast from California that owns a 1957 BMW Isetta which he originally bought new, sold it and then was able to acquire it again years later.  It’s a wonderful video, with the fantastic cinematography we have come to expect from Petrolicious.

Sources: Wikipedia, Microcar Museum, Petrolicious

2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4 – 10th Anniversary Edition

With the kids out of school and the pools all open, summer is now in full swing. And what is more representative of summer than a soft top Jeep?

Yes, the Jeep Wrangler is synonymous with summer so what better time to get behind the wheel of a beautiful Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4 – 10th Anniversary Edition.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

At home in the City

Whether it’s the charming Jeep wave, monster ride height, or the distinctive lines largely unchanged from its beginnings more than sixty years ago, one thing remains; everyone has an opinion about Jeeps. Although there is something very polarizing about the Jeep, it continues to be an endearing vehicle like no other. With its round curves and friendly grill, it truly is one of the most iconic brands within the automotive world. Market researchers routinely place Jeep a top of the list of the world’s most known brands. Still sold throughout the world it remains popular in many different locales resulting in top seller status globally for Chrysler.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

In the country

Of course, what would a Jeep experience be without a little camping in the countryside. Our Wrangler Rubicon tester was totally at home cruising through the countryside northwest of Toronto searching for the perfect plot to pitch our tent. As well, with its large amount of rear cargo room it was very practical for heading out on a family camping trip.

The idea behind the Rubicon is to offer a model from the factory that includes a ton of off-road upgrades for the enthusiast. Beginning with Chrysler’s new 285-hp Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 the Rubicon is a treat to drive around town and the country. But the real goodies for the off-roader, lie in the guts of the vehicle with its 4.10:1 Dana 44 axles working through a Rock-Track part-time transfer case with a 4:1 low-range ratio and Tru-Lok locking differentials.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Perfect camping companion

Beginning with Chrysler’s competitive 5 Year /100,000 km powertrain limited warranty the Rubicon offers the outdoor enthusiast an unmatched unique vehicle experience.

Wrangler-2-2

With a base price of $36,045 CAD and a total price as tested coming in at $48,680 our tester included all the bells and whistles you would ever want, or need, on your Jeep.

In addition to its standard equipment, the following are just some of the extra tricked out options that are available with the 10th Anniversary Edition:

  • LT265/70R17E OWL On/Off Road Tires
  • Rock Rails by Mopar
  • Red Front and Rear Tow Hooks
  • Steel Front and Rear Bumpers
  • Radar Red Stitching Accents
  • Quick Silver Interior Accents
  • Chrome/Leather-Wrapped Shift Knob
  • Uconnect 730N with 6.5″ touch screen, navigation and 20GB Hard Drive
  • Integrated Voice Command with Bluetooth
  • Rear Window Wiper/Washer
  • Trailer Tow with 4-Pin Connector Wiring

Wrangler-6

Our test vehicle came mated to a standard six speed manual transmission which was quite fun to drive in both city and highway environments. Although getting it into overdrive (sixth gear) was a little challenging initially, we got use to it quickly and found the transmission very smooth overall.

Wrangler-7

From the Jeep icon silhouette on the front windscreen to the simulated tread marks of the rear floor mats, to the red leather stitching on the armrest, Jeep brings a leading level of attention to detail to the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 10th Anniversary edition.

As for the Rubicon’s interior technology, Chrysler’s Uconnect system worked very well as it understood voice commands when spoken to the first time and navigation within the system was very intuitive overall. Our test vehicle came with a 6.5 inch touchscreen media centre with enhanced navigation and a solid stereo which included a subwoofer in the rear cargo area.

Wrangler-4-2

Additional Comments:

  • There was an acceptable amount of noise coming from the tires considering they are LT265/70R17E offroad/onroad tires.
  • Fuel economy is stated at 13.4 L/100 km (21 mi/gal) City 9.6 L/100 km (29 mi/gal) Highway. Considering its pedigree and what it’s built for this is solid fuel efficiency.
  • As expected there is some body roll when taking sharp corners, or going over contoured surfaces on the highway.
  • The split rear door was useful for passengers accessing the rear storage area easily.
  • Placement of standard equipment such as power window and power mirror adjustments were located in the centre console and not on the doors themselves, which took some getting used to but quickly became familiar.

Wrangler-3-2

As expected rear leg room was slightly limited, but seriously who buys a Jeep Rubicon for rear leg room?

Competitors:

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon really is in a segment of its own since there is nothing available here in Canada that truly parallels all its offerings for an apple to apple comparison.  That being said the main general competition are the following models.

  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Land Rover LR2
  • Subaru Forester
  • Nissan Xterra
  • Ford Raptor * not in same class but target for off-road enthusiasts

Final Thoughts:

While the the Rubicon is not for everyone, for those looking for a vehicle with a little luxury for the city during the week and the capability to go hard core in the country during the weekend, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4 – 10th Anniversary edition is for you. Chrysler has hit a home run within this specialized market by blending every day practicality with unparalleled off road abilities.

Hidden compartments in vehicles

For those of you who watched the gritty HBO hit series “The Wire” you will be well versed in the role hidden compartments in vehicles play in the life and death of drug dealers. Well, it seems as if it is not just television fiction since we are now seeing laws in the US be changed to deal with the rise in hidden compartments in vehicles designed to transport contraband materials such as guns, drugs and money.

Secret compartment

Secret gun compartment in SUV

Car and Driver magazine recently did a feature on this very topic which is well worth checking out. As well, here is a video clip which shows an example of a VW Jetta modified to transport drugs.

Sebastien Loeb King of the Hill

Nine time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb has destroyed the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record in his Peugeot 652kW 208 T16 with a time of 8m13.878s. He beat the existing record of 9m46.181 set by Rhys Millen in 2012, by more than a minute and a half.  Loeb’s average speed in this year’s race was 140 kph (87 mph).

Millen was a distant second this year with a time of 9:02.192 in his 2013 Hyundai PM580T, and Jean-Philippe Dayraut of France also topped the previous record with a time of 9:42.740 while driving a 2011 Mini Countryman.

You can see Loeb’s record breaking performance below.