Month: February 2017

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: A New Small SUV with an Old Name ""

Mitsubishi is debuting its first all-new model in several years, but the company has mined its past for the new small crossover’s name: Eclipse Cross. No, it doesn’t share anything beyond the badge with the long-running Eclipse sports coupe that, at times, bolstered Mitsubishi’s reputation for performance before disappearing in 2012. Instead, the Eclipse Cross is a decidedly non-performance-oriented small SUV sized similarly to the new Jeep Compass and the Subaru Crosstrek.

The new Eclipse Cross shares its 105.1-inch wheelbase with both the current Outlander Sport and Outlander crossovers, although the new model’s 173.4-inch length fits neatly between the two. Mitsubishi says that the next Sport will shrink a bit and the next Outlander will grow, better spacing out the three, but for now there’s plenty of overlap among the models.

Unless you need the Outlander’s third-row seat, the Eclipse Cross appears to be the pick of the Mitsubishi litter thanks to its mostly attractive design, upgraded interior, and all-new turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The direct-injected turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four will be the only engine option in the United States (Europeans get a diesel as well), mated to a standard continuously variable automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive. Horsepower and torque numbers aren’t available yet, but Mitsubishi has said that it will be more powerful than the current 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder that makes 166 horsepower in the Outlander. So no, it won’t be a revival of the Eclipse GSX you remember from the 1990s.

The Eclipse Cross uses the company’s “dynamic shield” grille design; it reminds us a bit of a slightly toned-down Lexus NX. A wedge-shaped profile features a character line that rises to the distinctive rear end. Back there, the styling is less successful, with the bisected rear window and chunky aesthetic evoking memories of the much-maligned Pontiac Aztek design.

On the inside, Mitsubishi seems to have taken a page from Lexus’s book, with a new touchpad controller that’s nearly identical to that luxury brand’s Remote Touch Interface, albeit without the mouselike controller. We’re not fans of that system, so we hope the Eclipse Cross can improve upon its operation. A head-up display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are available, and the interior design looks to be decidedly more modern than those in Mitsu’s aging current offerings.

The 2018 Eclipse Cross is slated to arrive in Europe this fall, with U.S. sales beginning in early 2018. Pricing has yet to be announced, but it should fall somewhere between the $20,690 Outlander Sport and the $24,390 Outlander.

Biblical Mud, Potholes the Size of Kiddie Pools—This Was the Road That Should Not Have Been Taken ""


From the March 2017 issue

Last month I drove our Honda Pilot to a resort in Ashton, Idaho, to fish on the Henry’s Fork. The route led me through the Idaho National Laboratory, home of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, not to mention Mud Lake and Atomic City. I am still glowing.

I wound up shelling out about $100 for every trout I caught, although a 22-inch brownie—“six kinds of awesome,” said the guide—induced a kind of fiscal amnesia. But then it began snowing, so I opted to drive home via the quickest route. The Honda’s nav system suggested U.S. 20 north, then west on Idaho’s Fort Henry Historic Byway. The byway, marked as “scenic,” would lead to the village of Spencer and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, both on I-15. I estimated that the byway was perhaps 25 miles long.

The road started out fine, paved and everything, with maybe three inches of snow and exactly no human beings. I knew when the pavement ended because the Pilot leapt six inches skyward after fording what I later learned had been a small stream. After that, there was just mud, interrupted by gravel swales and potholes the size of kiddie pools. In some places, the snow eradicated the road altogether. I can’t remember exceeding 12 mph. An ugly front rolled in, with purple clouds rear-ending each other on the Centennial Mountains a couple miles north. The Pilot’s altimeter indicated I was never below 5500 feet. The GPS showed a little icon resembling a dung ­beetle spinning in circles on a blank brown field of, well, excrement, it seemed to me.

Fort Henry Historic Byway

Occasionally the road was visible almost to the horizon, a mile or two of cold nothingness to let me obsess on the apparent cessation of life as we know it. In places, I saw not so much as an abandoned barn or outbuilding. Sometimes there weren’t even barbed-wire fences. No signs. My sense of critical distance collapsed. In theory, there should have been one village—Kilgore—but it apparently was a gassy aneurysm in some cartog­rapher’s stand-up routine. “Where’s Kilroy?” came to mind. Also death came to mind.

I had set out at noon. Now it was nearing two thirty. A Dodge Ram ­dualie with snow chains came splashing in the opposite direction. “Does this road connect to I-15?” I asked the driver. “Eventually,” he responded, his wife looking as if she’d only recently been let out of a box. “Is the road passable?” I asked. He thought about that for way too long, then said, “I suppose” and clanked away in a fog of diesel fumes.

The Pilot was now coated in more gritty sludge than the average Louisiana swamp buggy. Not one piece of metal or glass was visible beyond the B-pillars. The rear wiper just skated over a hardening crust of opaque sediment. No one could see my brake lights, but there was no one to see them anyway. So much crud collected in the wheels that I felt a paint-shaker imbalance coming on. The left-rear door was sealed shut.

It became so dark that I switched on the high-beams. I think there were six warning lights glowing on the Pilot’s IP. I felt as lost as Robinson Crusoe’s cat and was swallowing the acidic bile of panic every couple minutes, contemplating how I’d fumbled into this monochromatic Black Mirror. I drove another 60 minutes—now 3.5 hours total—with road and weather conditions morphing from merely awful to approximately appalling. I crested a small hill and fetched up against maybe 250 cows standing inert, blocking passage. We—them, me—all expressed the same look of wonderment. I nudged the Pilot through the herd slowly—a kind of black-and-white parting of the Red Sea. I tell you, it is sobering to see an animal’s head as big as a microwave oven only two inches from your nose. Then I encountered a full-fledged Marlboro man in Carhartts, leather chaps, crap-­splattered Stetson, and what looked like—I swear—an Hermès silk scarf around his neck.

“Am I near I-15?” I pleaded, revealing a few sharp misalignments in my psyche.

“Wow,” he responded as he casually scanned the Pilot, which by then was a massive molten fondue of mud. “You drove the whole thing, didn’t you?”

I’ve encountered such black-hole vortexes before. I once flew to Ottawa, Ontario, for instance, and rented a Dodge Charger mid-blizzard. I immediately got lost and wound up in Hull, Quebec—wrong side of the river, but close—where no human beings were on display. Nuclear winter, I thought. So I dashed into a McDonald’s, almost hugging the clerk, then asked, “Where’s Ottawa?”

Crickets, as they say. Her face was blue, as if she might be low on oxygen.

“Ottawa,” I repeated, using more volume. “It’s the capital of your country.”

She turned and said something in French to the staff, who all stared, fingers poised to tap out 9-1-1.

When you see “scenic” on a map, it does not necessarily mean it should be seen.

A $3 Million Tucker 48 Prototype Once Was Discovered Stuck in Mud behind a Barn ""

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Preston Tucker launched his car company after World War II. One of the biggest events in his company’s story was the unveiling of his prototype Tucker 48—sometimes called the Tin Goose. Tucker’s enterprise ended a few years later, and for a decade or so, the 51 cars he completed were not considered all that valuable. Today, however, a top-end Tucker 48 might auction for more than $2 million. (Here’s one that recently sold for $1.35 million.) Still, there was a time when you might see a Tucker stuck in the mud behind a barn.

Occasionally, copies of these photographs show up on the internet with the suggestion that you might still be able to find yourself a Tucker stuck in the mud somewhere, but that is really not the case. First, these photos were taken in the early 1970s, and Tucker experts can now tell us where every Tucker automobile extant resides. Along with the Tin Goose, there were 50 production Tucker 48s built. There is one “missing” Tucker 48, but it was almost certainly destroyed, as pieces of it have surfaced.

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The photos here are of the Tin Goose, taken behind a barn in Pennsylvania. Near it rested the front half of another Tucker—#1018—one of the few 48s, which no longer exists intact. The Tin Goose was rescued from this field and restored shortly after these pictures were taken, although it was painted maroon instead of the red it wore at its world premiere. The bumpers, which went missing sometime before or during its slumber in the field, also were replaced.

1947 Tucker 48 Prototype

1947 Tucker 48 Prototype

The car eventually was sold at auction in Auburn, Indiana, in 1995. It was bought by the William E. Swigart, Jr., Automobile Museum, which bills itself as America’s oldest car museum. Its antique automobile collection in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, started as the private collection of an insurance salesman fascinated by cars when they were still a new invention. In the early 1990s, the collection did not contain a Tucker, so the museum bought two at the auction that day in 1995: the Tin Goose and #1013.



Although the Swigart museum occasionally takes Tucker #1013 to car shows, it is almost always displayed at the museum next to the Tin Goose. The museum has an unwritten rule that while some cars rotate in and out of displays, the Tuckers are always out to be viewed. And considering the years the Tin Goose spent sitting in a farmer’s field, it certainly deserves to get the star treatment now. Watch this clip for more on the Tin Goose and Tucker’s history:

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This story originally appeared on Road & Track.

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Redskins place exclusive franchise tag on Kirk Cousins — now what? ""

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