Phil Floraday: 2012 Year In Review
Favorite work trip: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition on the Rubicon Trail
The first vehicle I bought on my own was a 1988 Jeep Wrangler with a 4.2-liter I-6 and a five-speed manual. I loved taking off the top and doors all summer and fantasizing about the off-road trails I could conquer with it. That particular Jeep rusted to pieces about a year after I bought it, but I've gone through at least a dozen other Jeeps since then. My garage has been free of a Jeep for a few years now, but I never stopped dreaming of the Rubicon. Jeep decided to launch its 10th Anniversary Edition model of the Rubicon in September and the only logical place to do so is the Rubicon Trail itself. It took the better part of two full days to drive the trail and we spent on night in a makeshift tent village Jeep put up for the event. Although the obstacles weren't as intense as I had imagined (a Rubicon veteran told me there was a lot of trail maintenance before we arrived, so the trail had to be modified a bit to get the heavy equipment in and out) but it was beautiful scenery and still offered a few technical sections to highlight the new Rubicon's abilities.
Favorite personal trip: Long weekend in Boone, NC
I headed to Boone, NC with a friend for a long weekend with our first-gen Miatas. Our real destination was US-421 just over the Tennessee state line. Known as "the Snake" to locals, 421 offers 22 blissful miles of switchbacks once you leave Mountain City, TN heading north. We managed a few mostly uninterrupted runs before the weekend crowd moved in on sportbikes and crowds gathered in the few open turns. Luckily there are dozens of fun roads in the area that attract less attention and offer stunning views. We remembered why we bought such small, underpowered cars that handle so well, even though they make little sense in a state like Michigan that offers snowy winters and hardly and fun roads.
Most disappointing new car: 2013 Porsche Boxster
Unlike most of my colleagues, I just don't feel the same spark with the 2013 Boxster as I did with its predecessors. Earlier Boxsters were never very fast cars, but they were hugely communicative and had almost telepathic handling responses. In short, you felt like everything the car did was a direct result of your input. Now we have a slew of acronyms for Porsche-supplied technologies that, indeed, make the car must faster around the track of your choice, but those same technologies take a bit of the connected feeling out of the car. I know this is splitting hairs because the Boxster is far more communicative than 99% of the cars on sale today, but I much prefer the outgoing car as a driving enthusiast.