Monthly Archives: August 2019

Fastest Woman on 4-wheels Jessi Combs killed trying to set new land speed record

Diana Duel…The Driving Range

Fast was just never fast enough for racer/TV personality Jessi Combs, who died August 27th while racing a converted fighter jet across the Alvord Desert in Oregon. She was attempting to surpass her own record set September 7, 2016, when she hit a top speed of 477.59/mph driving the Other American Eagle. That record came just 3 years after she initially claimed  the women’s 4-wheel land speed record driving the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger at Alvord on October 9, 2013. She did so with an official run of 398.954 mph, and a top speed of 440.709 mph. Far outpacing the 308.51 mph mark set in 1965 by Lee Breedlove, who had held the crown for an amazing 48-years.

Just days before the fatal crash, Jessi posted on Instagram that she hoped to break 512mph.

It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire… those who are willing, are those who achieve great things. People say I’m crazy. I say thank you,’ she wrote, adding the hashtags #gottabreak512 #aimingfor619

In addition to being the 2014 Ultra 4 Spec Class National Champion with Falken Tire, other successes included winning the 2016 King of the Hammers with the Savvy Off Road team in the EMC Modified Class and a 2017 12th place finish in the Unlimited Class driving the same Stock Mod car. She also won the 2015 — Rallye Aicha des Gazelles (9 off-road rally race) – 1st – First Participation – 10th overall ; 2015 — SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 7; 2014 — Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – Spec Class; 2014 — Ultra 4 National Championship – 1st – Spec Class; 2014 — Ultra 4 Western Region Series – 1st – Spec Class; 2014 — Ultra 4 American Rock Sports Challenge – 3rd – Spec Class; 2014 — Ultra 4 Glen Helen Grand Prix – 2nd – Spec Class; 2014 — Ultra 4 Stampede – 1st – Legends Class; and the 2011 2011 — SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 10.

Born July 27, 1980 in Rockerville, South Dakota, Jessica Combs graduated from Wyo-Tech in the Collision & Refinishing Core Program, as well as the Street Rod Fabrication and Custom Fabrication and High Performance Powertrain programs in 2004. Upon graduation, the school gave her her first professional job when the marketing department hired her (and a fellow student) to construct a car from the ground up in 6- months. The car was to debut at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) show in Las Vegas.

In addition to time spent behind the wheel, Combs’ career put her in front of the camera on several television shows, including 12 episodes during the 7th season of MythBusters, and a 4-year stint as the host of Xtreme 4×4, a part of the Powerblock. Before quitting the show following a serious accidents. In October 2011, Combs began recording an AOL Autoblog Show called The List of 1,001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, an award winning automotive based adventure series along side co-host Patrick McIntyre.

New episodes of The List continue to air with Combs’s co-host Patrick McIntyre. That same year she also became the host of the Velosity Channel’s All Girls Garage ( a program about women repairing and upgrading new and classic cars). She remained with the show until 2014. Other appearances included acting as co-host with Chris Jacobs during the sixthh season of Overhaulin’ on the Discovery and Velocity Channels in 2012, and the Discovery Channel panel show Break Room just last year.

2020 Kia Soul X-Line

Always a pleasure, the Kia Soul is a favorite. We have three in the family, one 2020 just purchased. This car just keeps getting better and better. The extended wheelbase adds to a smoother, more even ride. The Soul is quieter, more than accommodating and a pleasure to motor around. In a very crowded field, the Soul easily stands out and has since its inception. The competition includes the likes of the Fiat 500x, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Kicks, Toyota C-HR, Hyundai Kona and Jeep Renegade. We can’t imagine the Soul’s styling ever getting old.

More defined for 2020, the Soul is a tad edgier with sharper light fixtures, a grille that stands out and bigger and brighter “boomerang” taillights. Our test Soul was the x-line model, making it seems a bit more ‘rugged.’ Added are plastic fenders, additional cladding up front, silver accents and trim-exclusive 18-inch wheels. Feeling a little off-road, the 2020 Soul x-line adds new trim, rather than anything functional. Although there has been talk of adding all-wheel-drive to the Soul’s lineup, it hasn’t happened yet.

Matching the Soul’s exterior changes are some inside the car, including a silver trim panel on the front door. Triangular air vents are up-to-date, and the cloth seats are attractive, sturdy and two-tone black and grey texture.

The standard engine produces 147 horsepower which seems adequate for a car of this size. One can opt for the turbocharged engine of the GT-Line. Horsepower is increased to 201 hp. And torque at 195 lb.ft. The 2020 Soul LX trim level offers optional 6-speed manual, the EX trim gives you 17-inch wheels and the GT-Line, and GT-Line Turbo have the 18-inch wheels.

The standard engine in the 2020 Kia Soul provides 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, while the available turbocharged engine of the GT-Line adds some desired omph. Turbo trim increases horsepower to 201 and torque to 195 lb-ft.  The 2020 Soul LX trim has the option of a 6-Speed manual transmission or an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) while all the other trim levels equipped with the standard 2.0L Inline 4-Cylinder engine work solely with the IVT.  The turbocharged engine option pairs with a 7-Speed Dual Clutch transmission for optimal fuel economy specs.

All trim levels of the 2020 Kia Soul have auto on/ off headlights and the top trim level gets loaded with LED headlights, LED taillights, LED positioning lights, and the EX and GT-Line Turbo trims have heated outside mirrors as well.  The LX and S trim levels have 16” wheels while the EX trim level has 17” wheels and the GT-Line, X-Line, and GT-Line Turbo have trim specific 18” wheels.

The interior has been somewhat updated and provides a 7-inch color touchscreen display (10.25 inch in top two trim levels). All offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity; the GT-Line Turbo trim adds Harman Kardon audio with subwoofer.  Wireless charging capability is offered on the GT-Line Turbo and EX trim, as well as automatic climate control, smart key with pushbutton start/stop and dual level cargo board for added cargo space.

As expected in today’s automobiles, safety equipment abounds, including dual front advanced airbags and seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, ABS with Brake Assist, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, hill-start assist and tire-pressure monitoring. Auto on/of headlights are always helpful, a roof rack is standard for tose needing extra cargo carrying options. Power windows, A/C, AM/FM/MP3 , remote keyless entry, cruise, tilt/telescopic steering column and center console all standard.

Our test Kia came equipped with the X-Line package which includes Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, X-Line Exterior Body Cladding, Front Fog Lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, Roof Trim and leather wrapped steering wheel/shift knob, at no charge.

One can’t miss with this little gem of a Kia product. From it’s distinctive styling, to pricing, to clever and comical advertising since 2010, the Soul is our favorite pick of all the available hatch’s on the market today.


MSRP: $21,490; total vehicle price $22,615 X-line features included

Engine: 4-cylinder, 16-valve, 2.0-liter, multi-point fuel injection, 118 lb. ft. torque, 130 hp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic,CVT, FWD

Wheelbase: 101.2 in.

Height: 63.5 in.

Width: 70.9 in.

Length: 163 in.

Tires: 235.45/r18

Wheels: 16-inch Steel wheels (standard)

Weight: 2,942 lbs.

Tank Capacity: 14.2 gal.

Warranty: 5 yr/60,000-mile limited basic warranty; 5 yr/60,000-mile Roadside Assistance, 10 yr/100,000-miles limited powertrain

Trim levels: 1.6-L, 6 M/T ($16,490); 1.6L, 6 A/T (18,190); 2.0L+6 A/T ($20,490); 1.6T! 7 DCT ($22.990); EV ($33,950); EV+ ($35,950);

2019 Mazda3 Hatchback, w/Premium Package

There seem to be plenty of hatchbacks on the road these days; always a handy combination of pizzazz, spunk and space.

Included are the likes of Chevy Sonic, Chevy Cruze Hatch, Ford Focus, VW Golf GTI (a favorite), Hyundai Veloster, Kia Forte5, Buick Regal Sportback, Audi A3 Sportback 3-tron, Honda Fit, and BMW3, to name a few. Pricing varies as does the image one wants to portray. Our hatchback from the fleet was the 2019 Mazda3, with the Premium Package in the Polymetal Gray Mica with red interior. A different kind of gray, the Polymetal stands out, making its own statement rather than blending in with today’s popular gray and silver paints.

For the most part, we enjoyed driving the Mazda3 hatchback, except when first attempting to go somewhere. We found it necessary to pull out the manual to figure out how to undo the automatic parking brake: Start car…buckle seatbelt…put car in gear and tap accelerator. Doesn’t seem that hard, but it was frustrating. Not all vehicles today automatically throw on the parking brake. The need for it, we’re not just sure, unless you’re parking on a hill.

The other irritating feature was the sound system, operated from the center console (Multi-functional Commander Control), much like Lexus’ system. There were two preset stations (one religious, the other Far Right talk radio: neither one to our liking) we couldn’t get beyond. Never did I figure out how to find other available stations, how to set them or even find something else to listen to. I’m sure it’s much simpler than assumed, but I lost the patience needed, apparently, to get it right.

Somewhat modest, yet comfortable, the Mazda3 interior is small, but accommodating for 4-5. Not much legroom between the rear seats and the front seats for long-legged passengers. The remaining cargo space, with rear seats up, is limited. Nothing about the dash or interior of the Mazda3 stands out. Simple and functional, but nothing worth noting. Standard equipment is as usual including A/C, alloy wheels, AM/FM/Radio Bose (12 speakers), automatic headlights, cargo area light, cruise, daytime running lights, driver/front passenger climate controls, electric steering, interval wipers (we liked this), leather steering wheels, power adjustable exterior mirror, power door locks, power windows, rear window defogger, rear wiper, remote lock, speed sensing locks, steering mounted controls, telescoping steering tilt steering and tire inflation/pressure monitor. Front seats were heated, and sound system includes the Bose 12-speaker and 8.8 inch color display screen.

Options on our test Mazda3 hatchback included cargo mat ($90), floor mats, all-weather ($125), illuminated door sill trim plates ($425), frameless auto-dim mirror ($275), navigation so card ($450), and the Premium Package, including Active Driving Display (windshield), Adaptive front Lighting System, leather seats, black finish alloy wheels, front LED signature illumination, Rear LED Signature Illumination, Power sliding glass moonroof, and paddle shifters. Safety features include anti-theft engine immobilizer, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rearview backup mirror, advanced smart city brake support. Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Driver Attention Alert, ABS w/brake assist, front-side impact airbags, Advanced Dual front airbags, side impact and front/rear airbags, along with Lane Departure Warning System and Lane Keep Assist. We had to get used to the Smart Brake Support which let us know with a chime that both brake pedal and accelerator pedal were being applied simultaneously.

Mazda suffered an unexpected fall in sales of its core Mazda3 compact sedans and hatchback. Due to a remodel of their cars and revamped engines aiming to compete with premium European brands like BMW. However, the price increases that accompanied the changes backfired as U.S. drivers continue to prefer SUV’s and larger vehicles.

The Mazda3 is a fun car to drive and agile around turns. Rated by Popular Mechanics to be one of the best Hatch’s on the road, the Mazda hatch’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 186 horse is spunky and enough for the size and weight of the hatchback. Don’t expect to be overpowered. It’s peppy and might be able to compete with the VW GTI. What you will get though, is the Mazda promise of traditional “fun,” even if the price tag is a tad higher than choices like Kia Soul, Chevy Sonic, etc.



MSRP: $28,900; total vehicle price $31,460, delivery $920, total $31,460, 5 seats

Engine: 2.5-liter, DOHC 4-cylinder, 186 hp, 186 lb. ft. torque.

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, FWD

Tires: 215/45/R18

Wheels: 18-inch alloy

EPA Fuel Economy: 24/32 mpg., up to 26/35

EPA fuel tank capacity: 13.2 gal.

Wheelbase:107.3 in.

Height: 56.70 in.

Width: 70.70 in.

Length: 175.60 in.

Weight: 3,082 lbs.

Cargo volume: 20, 1 cu.ft.

Trimlevels: AT4-door, SKYACTIV ($21,000), Select AT4-dr. SKYACTIV ($22,600), Select AT 4-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($24,000), Preferred AT 4-Door, SKYACTIV ($24,200),2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($25,000), Preferred 2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV ($25,200), Preferred AT 4-Door SKYACTIVE AWD ($25,600), Premium AT 4-Door SKYACTIV ($26,500), Preferred 2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($26,600), Premium AT 5-Door, SKYACTIV ($27,500), Premium MT 5-Door SKYACTIV ($27,500), Premium AT 4-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($27,900), Premium 2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($28,900).

Warranty: 60 mth/60,000-mile powertrain, 36 mth/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, 24-hour roadside assisstance