Proof that Subaru Once Made Cool Trucks: the 1969 Subaru Sambar 360 Pickup Truck

Via: TFLtruck
What you’re seeing here is a prime example of a 1969 Subaru Sambar 360 Pickup Truck. This baby is a two-stroke, so you have to mix your oil and petrol. This model was for sale three years ago and these photos accompanied the truck. Yep, I said truck. This model probably has the 20 -25 horsepower (18 kW) air-cooled 356cc (EK series) engine. It was later replaced by the more powerful (EK34) water-cooled engine. A three-speed manual transmission was standard.

According to Wikipedia: “The nickname for this generation is “baban” Sambar.”

These trucks (there – I said it again) were street legal in the United States and could fly down the highway at nearly 55 mph. This is the same engine and gearbox found in the tiny Subaru 360 and it had a hell of a time moving it quickly. Around town, they are quick enough and easy to park. On large North American highways, they are not especially happy. Add some crosswinds and your Subaru Sambar 360 Pickup was downright unhappy.

I have firsthand experience driving one of these from Southern California to Seattle WA. It wasn’t fun. Still, the Subaru Sambar 360 Pickup Truck is a hoot around town.


There’s more going on than just a refresh: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Turbo


The 2.0-liter “Theta” turbocharged engine makes 245 (@ 6,000 rpm) and 260 lb-ft of torque (all the way from 1,350 rpm up to 4,000 rpm). It’s a frisky power-plant, one that helps the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Turbo get up and dance. It weighs under 3,500 lbs, but it feels lighter. Acceleration, deceleration, cornering and overall handling are commendably athletic. Still, this power is a carryover from last year. The eight-speed automatic transmission has been updated to work more efficiently in power delivery and fuel consumption.

Additional information about the Sonata is available (here).

Hyundai beefed up the independent multi-link rear suspension and enhanced the steering with better heft, feel and a beefy, flat-bottom steering wheel. These enhancements translate into a smooth commuter that’s legitimately fun to drive. That’s a hell of a combination.

While many think the only enhancements for 2018 are esthetic, they would be wrong. Sure, a majority of sheet metal along with the nose and tail are all-new, performance is indeed part of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. I must add that, aside from the new steering wheel, the center stack and dashboard are updated. New goodies like Android Auto and Apple Carplay are now standard.

If I had one issue with the 2018 Sonata, it’s interior noise. I could definitely hear tire and wind noise. It’s an issue they need to address soon.

How will the 2018 Hyundai Sonata hold up against the big sellers from Toyota and Honda? This heavy refresh was meant to buy the Sonata a little bit more time before they come out with something new to compete against the all-new Camry and Accord. I think it’s a good effort, enough to slow some of the loss – for now.

In this video, I get a chance to play with the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Turbo in the hills of Southernmost California. It was a good day in the office!

Nathan Adlen
Nathan Adlen

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.



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Questions about the Kia Stonic tiny Crossover, Electric (old) Beetle and a great Used SUV for under $10,000

    • Will there be a tiny Kia SUV that competes with the Honda HR-V?
    • I saw an old VW Beetle that’s electric. Is that a thing?
    • Can I get a good off-road capable SUV for under $10,000?

This first question comes from a fan who wants to know if there will be a tiny Kia SUV.

Q:Nathan and Andre, do you get inside information on Kia or Hyundai?

I wanted to know if Hyundai or Kia will build a challenger for the Honda HR-V. I like the Honda, but I hate the CVT transmission. I know the Koreans shy away from CVTs and my son’s 1999 Hyundai Elantra has over 150,000 miles on it with no issues ever. I like Hyundai, but the Tucson is too big.

Please let me know if you have heard anything.

Thanks guys!


A: Hi Bertrand!

Yes, Kia and Hyundai are both working on small crossover SUVs that will compete with the Honda HR-V, Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-3 (among others). While most of the information coming out on both the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic is conjecture, I’m somewhat certain they will have a similar powertrain the Kia Soul and Hyundai Veloster have.

That is to say, the Kia Stonic may have an optional turbocharged engine.

Continuing on that level of thought, it’s possible that the upcoming Kia Stonic could make more than 200 horsepower (if they do make the turbo optional). If that is the case, the Hyundai/Kia cousins might be the powerhouses of the small crossover market.

Both vehicles may be based on the new J5 platform. If that’s the case, both vehicles could share hardware with the next Hyundai Veloster and Hyundai i30. While all-wheel drive (AWD) will be optional, I suspect it will be similar to the current Hyundai Tucson’s AWD system with Active Cornering Control.

I wish I had some solid information for you. I know these crossovers are due some time in 2018. Hopefully, the TFL team will get behind the wheel of these baby crossovers soon.

If any reader has additional information, please post it below!


This next question comes from a longtime fan who is noticing a lot of homemade electric conversions of old VW Beetles.

Q:Is customizing an old VW Beetle with an electric motor a “thing?”

I live in SoCal and I’ve seen a bunch, including a VW van. I think my neighbor’s kid has an old Porsche kit car with an electric motor too.

What gives?


2011 nissan leaf porsche speedster ev

A: Hi!

Yep, it’s a “thing.”

One of the features that attracts electric-folk to VWs is the fact that all of the mechanicals are in the back. The gas engine, transmission and rear suspension components are easy to remove and replace. Plus, in some cases, rolling chassis of old VW Beetles are still affordable.

Years ago, Roman and I drove a Porsche kit car with an electric powertrain. It was fun (but cramped)!


The last question comes from a fan who needs an inexpensive SUV to head off-road with on a regular basis.

2011 nissan xterra moab utah off-road

Q: Mister Nathan! I am such a big fan of TFLcar and truck and TFLnow!

Several times you mentioned how old trucks and Jeeps are good for people who like to offroad. I have a very small budget, but I want something that feels new that can go off road. I work with the Missouri Department of Conservation and I often find myself offroad.

My 1998 Honda CR-V is not up to the task and it has over 200K miles on the ticker. My husband has an old Jeep Cherokee that goes everywhere, but it’s not very reliable.

I need enough room for my equipment, my dogs and my husband. I only have about $10K to play with and maybe, just maybe very small payments. That’s only if I get a warranty of some sort.

So far, we’ve tested a Toyota FJ, that I didn’t like and a newer Jeep Wrangler Unlimited which was too expensive. I don’t want a pickup truck and I don’t want a Subaru either. I REALLY don’t want a Subaru!

Please, please, please let me know what you think!

Karen J

A: Hi Karen!

There are a few great choices out there for you. I highly recommend the Toyota 4Runner as it truly is the whole package. Even the older ones are damn good. The problem is, a newer one will have a ton of miles on it. No matter how good a vehicle is, tons of miles can be a issue. Warranties and insurance may be issues too.

Another one that I recommend is the Nissan Xterra and 2008-2011 Nissan Pathfinder. Both are based on a truck platform, but they are both great buys. The Nissan Xterra may have more options for you as they were numerous and there were several variants built.

Between the Nissan Xterra and Toyota 4Runner, I would say the Nissan may be more affordable for a newer year with less miles.

Hope that helps!


Speaking of Toyota…

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at:

The 2018 Toyota Camry – Top Five Surprising Facts with Video

By: Nathan Adlen (TFLcar)

The 2018 Toyota Camry, that TFL car was invited to drive in Portland, Oregon earlier this week, is actually three distinct vehicles. The V6, which has a 301-hp, the 4-cylinder, which has either a 203 or 206 hp (depending on the trim level) engine, and the 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which make 208 hp via its electric motor working with its gas engine.

An eight-speed “Direct Drive” automatic is the only transmission available on I4 and V6 models.

All three vehicles receive updated power, all-new styling and an all-new interior; even the platform is new. According to Toyota, this is the first of their vehicles to fully embrace the “TNGA” (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. The TNGA platform will soon underpin several of their global products.

Utilizing this new platform allows for several changes. The cargo capacity for the trunk on all three 2018 Toyota Camrys 15.1 cubic feet. Yep, even the Camry Hybrid has the spec thanks to Toyota engineers moving the hybrid system’s batteries from the trunk to the space under the rears seats. According to Toyota, this move lowers the center of gravity, gives the hybrid the same trunk-space as other Camrys and it aids in handling.

In black and white, the Camry drops its utilitarian roots and looks, dare we say it, sinister. [photo: TFLcar]
The TNGA platform also aids in the 2018 Toyota Camry’s (slightly) longer, lower and wider stance.
One of the more noticeable changes is the double wishbone rear suspension which is available in all three cars. The rear suspension setup is a double-wishbone connected to wheels that are 16 – 19-inches, depending on the model. Toyota says this new suspension layout aids ride and handling.

Sorry sailor, there is an embargo on driving impressions, efficiency numbers and pricing (Wednesday, June 21st), but these features are permitted. Fortunately, we are permitted to show the car in action and give you facts. There will be more videos following the end of the embargo too.

In this video, we cover five surprising facts about the 2018 Toyota Camry.

The Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X Hellwig “Rule Breaker” [Video]

Via TFLtruck’s story by Nathan Adlen:  “NISSAN TITAN XD HELLWIG-LANCE RV IS A “RULE BREAKER” AT OVER $118,000”

Hellwig and Nissan got together last year to build the Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X Hellwig “Rule Breaker” Overlanding Truck with a Lance camper. In many ways, this was a proof of concept project for both companies as Hellwig and Nissan wanted a rolling example of what they were capable of. The Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X Hellwig “Rule Breaker” Overlanding Truck was well received at the 2016 SEMA show and it impressed journalists on the trails right before the 2017 Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Hellwig used a Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X with a Cummins diesel V8 that is rated at 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed Aisin transmission and the Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X has an electric locking rear differential. It can tow up to 11,790 lbs, but with the diesel, the payload is limited to 1,744 lbs payload – and that could have been an issue. Hellwig’s upgraded, off-road suspension with air-bags can easily compensate for the (2,000 lbs) Lance camper.

The Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X Hellwig “Rule Breaker” Overlanding Truck was stellar on hard-packed dirt, rocky riverbed and washboard roads. I had a chance to truly scrutinize it as I filmed it from one of the chase-trucks. Not only does the Hellwig suspension compensate for the extra weight, it kept the Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X Hellwig “Rule Breaker” Overlanding Truck from swaying too.

I would love to try it out in Colorado and see what it can really do.

Here’s an equipment list with prices.

Nissan may have hit upon something special with its XD models. Think about it: less weight than a “Big-3” heavy duty, but more capability than a 1/2 ton. It’s a compelling perspective.

The Lance camper was only unusual in its lack of a folding/collapsible roof option. Many overlanders prefer a roof that lowers a bit to aid in a lower center of gravity, better aerodynamics and a lower profile. Still, the Lance camper, which has a kitchen, bathroom, queen bed and provisions to build a smaller bed where the dining table is, looks like it belongs – especially with the matching wrap.

I think the yellow design motif looks outstanding.



Two of the most anticipated small cars to enter our market are the 2017 Honda Civic SI and the Honda Civic Type R. Both of these vehicles, along with the whole Honda Civic line were on display at the 2017 New York Auto Show. Considering the success of other hot hatchbacks like the Ford Focus ST and RS along with new offerings from Hyundai, Volkswagen and Mini (to name a few), this is an important segment for Honda.

Davis Adams, West Coast PR Manager for American Honda Motor Company was kind enough to take Andre through the details of 2017 Honda Civic SI and the Honda Civic Type R, along with the rest of the Civics available. It was interesting to see the differences side-by-side between all of the Civic line.

The Honda Civic SI coupe on display produces 205 horsepower and 195 lbs-feet of torque. It has a limited slip differential and it comes standard with a 6-speed manual (short-shift) transmission. The Civic Type R produces 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Currently, that represents the most powerful compact front-drive production vehicle sold in North America.

The 2017 Honda Civic SI and the Honda Civic Type R go on sale soon. The Civic SI goes on sale in May 2017 and the 2017 Honda Civic Type R goes on sale in June. Expect mid $20,000 for the SI and mid $30,000 for the Type R.

Here’s TFLcar’s Honda Civic coverage right from the floor of the 2017 New York Auto Show!

The New Autopia is Powered by Honda

Excerpt from “Ask Nathan” on

Hi Nathan! I know you’re a Disney freak, so riddle me this.

Disneyland California (Anaheim) closed Autopia ride in January for refurbishment. It was sponsored by Chevron Gasoline but my friend’s recent visit to Disneyland showed a new sign. It’s now sponsored by Honda! I can’t believe it! Honda is all I drive and they are in Disneyland! Now, it’s going to be a year or two before I can visit Disneyland again. I live in Portland and it’s an expensive vacation to go to Disneyland. But every trip has been worth it. I was going to wait until the new Star Wars Land opened in 2019 but maybe I should go sooner?

Do you know anything about the new Autopia? Please let me know!

Your the man!



A: Hi Todd!

You’re absolutely correct, I am a Disney nut. Growing up in L.A., I would buy season passes all the time. I often found “ways” to head to Disneyland forgoing other commitments. When I was a kid, I grew up with the Autopia cars that looked like tiny Corvettes. Loved that ride!

Did you know that Autopia is one of the few rides remaining at Disneyland that dates back to the park’s opening back in 1955? Crazier still, my mom visited the year it opened and drove one of the original cars! Also, the maximum speed of the cars is supposed to be around 7 mph; however, these golf-cart-powered machines occasionally exceed 8 mph, but often have a hard time surpassing 5 mph.

As for Autopia’s now Honda sponsorship: Yes, there are quite a few small changes, but nothing big. If you live for the details, you’ll notice many things right away.

Entering the line, you’ll see many vintage animated shorts showing transportation predictions for tomorrow. Many of these films were produced in the late 1940s-1960s. You’ll see films that inspired The (non-Disney) Jetsons. Some of these films are present on smaller screens while others are on a big screen hanging near the actual Autopia cars.

The cars still have the same body and drive, but they have new colors. The track is the same, fortunately Disneyland changed some of the scenery giving the ride a retro-futuristic vibe. Honda has been pretty quiet on additional changes to the ride, but I feel that there may be a few cool things brewing.

That’s all I have for now. If any of you readers have info, please let everyone know below!

Give Mr. Toad my best!


Which is Best for Off Road – Raptor, Power Wagon or Tacoma TRD Pro [Video]

2017 Ram Power Wagon. Photos and video via

Ram Power Wagon vs Ford Raptor vs Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. The task is simple: which one is the best all-around off road truck? The gang from TFLtruck (The Fast Lane Truck) take all three trucks to Moab, Utah to find out. In this video, the boys prove why they are the best at making enjoyable truck videos!