April 1 is a great day every year. You can have one eye looking for the coming spring and the other eye watching warily for the day’s pranksters. Some people, notably FM DJs, annually jeopardize their careers by pulling some sort of outrageous stunt on the air.
It’s also the day that Jeff Morrill, president of Planet Subaru in Hanover, comes up with his annual April 1 news release.
This year it was a driving comparison between a 2014 orange Subaru Crosstrek and the dealership’s 2011 Ram 2500 plow truck (also orange) bought from the company’s sister store, Planet Chrysler, Jeep, Ram in Franklin.
Plow truck won the horsepower battle (383-148), and the towing capacity (8,800 pounds to 1,500)—basically the ability to pull a small house vs. the power to pull a small trailer. It also was heaver, 6,050 pounds (3 tons) vs. 3,164.
And Blue, the store’s canine greeter, absolutely preferred the truck. What dog doesn’t love riding in the bed of a pickup?
Of course, the Crosstrek had its moments, too, winning the fuel economy race. “Fuel economy isn’t a term generally associated with a hemi-powered truck,’’ says Morrill.
And there was one surprise win for the Subaru: It had greater ground clearance: 8.7 inches vs. 7.8 inches for Mr. Truck.
Past pranks have included:
• 2011: An announcement that Subaru was bringing back the Baja by popular demand. I always thought he aimed that one at me, an unabashed Baja lover.
• 2012: The solar-powered Tribeca, to be sold only at Planet Subaru, the dealership that has installed 374 solar panels on the company’s roof (true).
• 2013: The Subaru BRZ Methane Fusion Drive GT Special Edition, designed to use methane as fuel for hybrid drive. The exhaust reportedly had a nice sound but a terrible smell.
April Fool’s II
The Honda or Toyota national website isn’t a place you’d normally look for humor. After all, selling cars and trucks is serious business.
But there it was on the media section of Honda’s website on April 1: The announcement that Honda was going to become the first OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to offer a complete do-it-yourself kit to assemble an all-new 2015 Fit.
Honda billed it as “the first production car you build yourself, in the convenience of your own home,’’ and said customers would receive a detailed instruction manual and DVD along with the truckload of parts.
Honda said it would begin offering the kit, including all 200,000 parts, starting on April 14 to coincide with the launch of the all-new, fully assembled Fit available in dealers’ showrooms.
“We read comments every day on enthusiast forums suggesting they could build a better car themselves,’’ read the announcement, “so we decided to take it a step further and let people actually build one.’’
Of course, Honda noted, “building your own Fit isn’t for everyone. It requires basic mechanical skills, a creative spirit, and a strong desire to connect with the product you create.’’
Mustangs Across America is a drive that takes place every five years to celebrate the iconic vehicle’s anniversary years.
This spring, for the marque’s big 50th anniversary, 519 Mustangs from 1964½ to the present have signed on for the ride that began April 10 at the headquarters of car-builder Steve Saleen in Corona, CA.
Drivers are scheduled to average 350 miles per day on the southern route across country with nightly stops scheduled for Phoenix, Las Cruces, Midland, Dallas, Jackson, and Atlanta before arriving in Charlotte, NC, April 16.
Why Charlotte? Because that’s the site of the 50th birthday celebration hosted by the Mustang Club of America at Charlotte Motor Speedway from April 17-20.
R2D2 Meet ASIMO
Honda plans to introduce a new version of ASIMO, its advanced humanoid robot on daytime TV’s “Live with Kelly and Michael’’ on April 15. ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, stands 4 feet, 3 inches, weighs 110 pounds, and runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery with an approximate operating time of 40 minutes.
The latest ASIMO has enhanced digital dexterity; it can sign in both Japanese and English, meaning it would have been more useful than the signing imposter at the state ceremonies surrounding Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
It also can run faster than its predecessors, transition seamlessly between walking and running, climb stairs more smoothly, hop, jump, and balance on one foot.
“ASIMO was designed to help those in society who need assistance, and Honda believes that these improvements in ASIMO bring us another step closer to our ultimate goal of being able to help all kinds of people in need,’’ said Satoshi Shigemi, senior chief engineer with Honda R&D Co., Ltd. in Japan, responsible for humanoid robotics.
Just wondering if he’ll be the designated driver for the coming autonomous car.
The New York Auto Show will be making headlines this coming week. One vehicle that automotive aficionados will be watching for among the 60 scheduled introductions at the show is the Alfa Romeo 4C, a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-seater that will continue the marque’s slow return to the United States. It will be a pricey competitor in the world of the Lotus Evora, Porsche Cayman, and Chevrolet Corvette.