The ROXOR is an under-equipped, out-gunned novelty

Ross Ballot October 23, 2018 All Things Hoon

A while back Mahindra unveiled the ROXOR, a new four-by-four with the looks and feel of the past but with intent to take market share from the ever-evolving-and-expanding class of off-road vehicles currently on the market. It certainly nails the nostalgia feel when going solely based on its looks, but, as we all know, appearance isn’t everything.

Upon its release, we of the Redusernab writing staff had a quite heated argument in our Slack channel over the purpose and prospect of Mahindra’s new ORV. And, as you can expect, it was a many-sided discussion that left us divided on where we as a group stand in regards to the ROXOR.

As one of your resident die-hard off-road guys, I took a stand: the ROXOR, though attractive conceptually, is a novelty. It’s a show-piece meant to garner stares, and not so much as to compete as a serious off-road vehicle. It’s for those who want to look the part, but don’t care as much about actual wheeling.

Recently I finally got to lay my eyes on a ROXOR in person for the first time. Though I didn’t get to drive it, I did get to poke around a bit for about half an hour… and it didn’t change my mind one bit.

Jump with me, and let’s discuss why this thing is outclassed by basically everything.

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Redusernab Asks: How are you taking advantage of the fall season?

Ross Ballot October 10, 2018 Redusernab Asks

Fall truly is spectacular here in New England. Though the cold of winter looms just ahead, the tolerable temperature and gorgeous foliage of autumn make it far and beyond my favorite season. It’s the most enjoyable time of year to be outside, a time when you can do anything and not suffer brutal heat or bitter cold, and looking just about anywhere in your scope vision reveals trees showing off the best colors they have to offer.

It also means that the fall is, at least in the Northeast, the best time to work on vehicles and make use of them alike. They’re content operating, being that it’s not scorchingly hot, and so are you. As such it’s impossible to not want to be doing something automotive-related every waking moment, be it simply tinkering with a project outside or off-roading deep in the woods so as to revel in the changing leaves and fair conditions. Bonuses like football on Sundays, a plethora of delicious beers in rotation, and more than a fair share of hiking only make it better. I’m doing everything in my power to take full advantage of it while it lasts. While many are knocking off autocross events and track days while they can, I’m doing the opposite: the above image is from an off-road trip this past weekend out at the wheeling paradise that is AOAA.

How about yourself? What car, truck, or bike related things are you doing to make the most of the autumn season?

(Not So) Rotten Rental Car Review: Nissan Murano

The last rental car I had from the very same Enterprise facility was a straight-jacket-white Dodge Journey that smelled like a dirty sock. One that had been misplaced for 25 years, filled with Cheez-Wiz, and left out in the sun.

As such, it was reasonable to go in with low expectations. The line of Sentras glared at me; I hoped my hardest I wouldn’t be allocated one of Nissan’s cringe-worthy sedans. Much to my surprise, it was a midsize crossover in which I was put.

A Nissan Murano is a far cry from the Journey I so feared, and it’s leaps and bounds better than I expected. With the first-gen Murano having been one of the cars to lead the charge in the early days of the mainstream crossover, the newest version of the stylized high-riding nearly-a-wagon has evolved into more of the same: a wanna-be futuristic, desperately stylized, high-riding, near-wagon. But it’s a shockingly good one, from interior to powertrain, even despite some of the highly questionable styling elements.

Some vehicles are just good vehicles, and the current-gen Nissan Murano is unequivocally one of them. It has its flaws, but as a whole, it’s pretty damn solid. 

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Project Car SOTU: Stormtrooper 4Runner

We’ve all been there, past the point of frustration and agony and anger and heartbreak and “I fucking hate this giant metal piece of shit,” cresting the point of “why do I even do this?” and stepping well into the territory of, “I’d be better off if I had no involvement in this whatsoever.”

I was there, at that point, with the Stormtrooper 4Runner, wanting to push it off a cliff. And many a days and night as of late, this has been my sentiment towards the truck: aggravated, more so than any “toy” should be causing.

But luckily, it wasn’t all bad. The Stormtrooper 4Runner has been a project vehicle in every regard, but since our last update it’s also provided a few days of important, life-enhancing glory.

What’s been happening in the land of the Stormtrooper 4Runner? Read on to find out.

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Project Car SOTU: MR2 “Someday Race Car”

Huh. Funny, isn’t it, how Project Car SOTU sneaks up on you year after year, and you’re left questioning both how much effort you wish you had already devoted to a project and how quickly time passes without you realizing it.

So here I am, again, a year after an already disappointing not-an-update update, writing about the progress that hasn’t been made on the Someday Race Car.

But…wait…can it be true? Has progress been made? Perhaps something resembling it. Not necessarily on the car, but on some of the logistics needed to line up to make the actualization of our dreams happen. Hit the jump for the “update.”

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Project UTV SOTU: RZR 800 Introduction

Though a small niche of the automotive world, off-roading consumes the majority of my time, attention, and– yes– funds. Going fast on the road might be fun, but going places most wouldn’t think possible…that’s my jam.

One discipline of the off-road hobby is the All-Terrain-Vehicle sector. After ten years with a Kawasaki Brute Force 650 4x4i, the V-twin-powered muscle car of the quad world, and after a spinal surgery forcing that machine to no longer be a reality for enjoyment, I turned my attention to a 2011 Polaris RZR 800 to transport me to the places the ‘ol Brute used to.

For the foreseeable future, this pumpkin-colored Side-by-Side is my off-road exploration device. It’s the successor to the vehicle that made the biggest impression on me of any I have owned, and it’s positioned to take me and a passenger to even more and even greater places.

No, it’s not a car (PSxSSOTU?), but to get the run-down on Project RZR 800, hit the jump.

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ZR2 Bison: A boutique off-roader built on solid bones

Ross Ballot September 7, 2018 All Things Hoon

I’m a big fan of American Expedition Vehicles and their conversions, especially those in the vein of Hemi-powered Wranglers and the ever-awesome Prospector Ram. Their builds tend to be limited-run or in the style of showcasing add-on modifications but today, in somewhat of a surprise, AEV unveiled a new kind of project, one more mainstream and of easier access and broader appeal than many of the company’s other specialty builds.

AEV’s newest project teams the company up with Chevrolet itself in a move that takes the already-amazing Colorado ZR2 and beefs it up for improved off-road capability and much more on-road badassery. Building on the truck’s Multimatic DSSV suspension and already baja-ready looks, AEV worked its magic on the diesel-powered crew-cab configuration and not only allowed the ZR2 to become even more capable, but also managed to not detract from the existing truck in any way.

So, a bunch of coin for skid plates and badges or a much more well-rounded package? Hit the jump to read more about it.

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Review: 2017 VW Alltrack SE 6MT – Dog-hauler deluxe, enthusiast’s fantasy, not so much

When my brother’s Chevy Avalanche looked like it was on its way to the great Car Lot in the Sky, therein lain a decision: what to take its place? His list of wants and needs yielded something seemingly impossible to find. Among those many qualities were: all-wheel-drive, a manual transmission, an interior of good quality, low-to-mid-$20k price point, more speed than the Avalanche didn’t have, and, crucially, space for Macey, the then one-year-old Rottweiler that claims everything located in her peripherals as next in line on the ever-growing list of her friends who will her human food when dad isn’t looking. The Avalanche, despite its high entry height and that it was not exactly engaging to drive, proved a solid dog carrier during Macey’s puppyhood. And as the truck exited his life, my brother was desperate for something more entertaining for him but still capable of doing doggy-duty.

As you can imagine, finding a car that would fit his wants/needs list was no easy task. Ultimately it came down to two: the Subaru Crosstrek and the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. And, as is the case when you care about real-life more than on-paper or on-internet marketing tools, the real life test-drive became the deciding factor, and the Crosstrek’s smaller trunk and utter lack of power gave it disadvantages that were easy for the Alltrack to overcome. Done deal, decision made: VeeDub it was. Make it an SE (the only trim available with the manual), and it was his.

An all-wheel-drive, stick-shift, turbocharged, lifted wagon is a bit of an anomaly, an oddity in the world of electric cars, crossovers and full-size pickups that dominate the streets, the advertisements, and the focus of today’s automakers as a whole. But the car’s purpose was executed well enough on a fundamental level: the Alltrack is tough, capable, comfortable, and a traditional VW in every sense of the Audi-like interior. But while it might be the perfect match for my brother and for Macey, what do I, someone hyper-critical of cars, think of the oddball Alltrack? How does it work for somebody more concerned with inputs and back and driving sensations? Is it the unicorn every car enthusiast (and car site commenter) dreamed of and begs for? Read on to find out.

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San Francisco, Day Two: Exploring more Bay Area wonders

Ross Ballot June 29, 2018 Featured, Road Trip

No set plans: Two days exploring the San Francisco Bay Area in a rented Mustang GT

Some things are hard to explain. Take, for example, an intangible like the connection between car and driver. But break it down and you can begin to build a picture of what goes into “the feeling”: things like the road being transmitted through the steering wheel to your fingertips, the engine’s willingness and responsiveness to your foot’s commands, the engagement of the clutch and the directness of the shifter, and how the chassis communicates the road to your body. Move to more of a grander scale, and you begin to try to describe a driving experience in a way similar to how you would a car.

Luckily, I had the perfect instance in which to do so: Mustang GT, California roads, stir and serve as desired. It’s not so much the car and the roads as it is the experience: the way in which weather, road, machine, and vibes all come together can bring about something that toes closely to all-consuming zen. It lifts up your soul, restores faith in the ability to enjoy things for the sake of enjoying them, and provokes the enthusiast part of your brain that basks in the glory of adrenaline.

Throw the San Francisco roads, a rented Mustang GT, and two free days into the same pot, and, short of some kind of catastrophic failure, it’s a recipe for certain enjoyment.

The prior day was pure excellence. The burger at Alice’s, the Mustang’s ever-present eight-cylinder symphony, the views afforded by driving in areas that would otherwise go unexplored; it was truly a magnificent thing for my East Coast eyes– yes, and soul– to behold. But it wasn’t over yet: I had another day of adventure ahead of me, and the Mustang was still eager to do its best to convince me of its sports car inclinations and its Grand Tourer backbone. What did Day Two entail, and what were my final impressions of the 2018 Mustang GT Premium after two days of driving it in every manner from standstill traffic to full-fledged canyon carving? Read on to find out.

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San Francisco, Day One: “Slower traffic use turnouts”

Ross Ballot June 28, 2018 Featured, Road Trip

No set plans: Two days exploring the San Francisco Bay Area in a rented Mustang GT

The sign stood there, motionless except for the small movements of the wind’s work, as does any sign. A reflection of the suggested all-important driving etiquette, it stands strong in the name of the enthusiast, always there, always a reminder of the roads’ potential. “Slower traffic use turnouts,” it, and they, read, the signs that indicate the consistent, subtle prodding of local, slower travelers to yield to faster, more determined drivers. Inanimate as it may be, it allows the contrary in its indirect encouragement and support of driving. And not just “driving,” but driving. The act of operating a vehicle not just for practical purposes, but for fuck-it-all fun. The sign, as overlooked as it may be, means everything.

I thought my drive in the hills east of Los Angeles was great. Well, yes; of course it was. But just a short month later I found myself in the fun seat of a V8-powered sports coupe hammering through the San Francisco mountains and, contrary to my expectations, it was better than Los Angeles. Much better. Partially due to the car, partially due to the roads, partially due to…well, everything associated with those two all-important factors. From the canyons to the coast, the roads in the greater SF locale spoke to me, and I connected with them in a way that simply wasn’t so downstate in the LA region.

Two days alone with a rented Mustang GT and an expanse of roadways that I had yet to explore at my disposal. What would you do? Probably exactly that same thing that I did: drive.

The roads, the Mustang, the experience, the SF region, and everything that comes along with it all. Read on for Part One of the story.

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