Tried & Tested

Tested: Roofnest Sparrow rooftop tent for SUVs, crossovers

The Roofnest Sparrow rooftop tent fits snugly on the Honda Passport.

Photo by Nicole Wakelin

The 2019 Honda Passport splits the size difference between the CR-V and the Pilot, giving those with an adventurous spirit a more rugged two-row SUV to shop for. Honda recently highlighted that idea by customizing a Honda Passport Elite with all-wheel drive to include a higher ride height, underbody cladding, and larger tires. It also put a Roofnest tent on top for a unique way to stop for the night.

AutomotiveMap put the Roofnest Sparrow, which retails for $2,795 and comfortably sleeps two adults, to the test. The Sparrow collapses to 11 inches and expands to 85" by 50" with canvas sides. A collapsible ladder attaches to the bottom shell for easy access, although adding duct tape to the rungs to prevent slipping is a good idea.

Roofnest Sparrow on a 2019 Honda Passport

Photo by Nicole Wakelin

The Roofnest rests on the Honda Passport's roof rails.

Opening this Roofnest is easy and requires only one person. Pistons hidden inside the tent do the bulk of the work, but those on the shorter side might find opening the door and standing on the sill necessary to reach all four clips

Each side has a zippered panel to let in fresh air and there's a soft mattress on the floor that's easily as comfortable as an air mattress. There's room for sleeping bags, necessities, and a handy net on the roof to hang things you want within easy reach, but out of the way.

The trickiest part of the Roofnest is closing it up, which calls for two people. Pull down the front strap, secure the front clips, then pull a similar strap in back to partially collapse the tent. Next, tuck in the fabric sides and slowly pull the front fully closed.

Since it needs to be collapsed before driving, the Roofnest isn't ideal for those who plan to be in one spot for a weekend and drive to favorite hiking trails. If, however, you're on the go and want to stop anytime and anywhere, then the Roofnest is an appealing option.

Roofnest tents aren't just for the Honda Passport. The company offers a number of tent options that can be placed on top of more robust SUVs including the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota FJ Cruiser, and even crossovers like the Subaru Crosstrek.

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New SUV Review

2021 Ford Bronco review: Return of a legend

Several of the Bronco's body panels are removable.

Ford

Ford says its 2021 Bronco is 'Built Wild' like its wild-horse namesake and, as this iconic model returns to the U.S. market after a 25-year hiatus, it's ready to gallop to glory once again. Released from the Ford stables in 1965, the Bronco was America's first-ever "sport ute" and heralded as the first "4WD sports car" with both off-road capability and on-road competency; it was also dubbed the "G.O.A.T." (goes over any terrain). The all-new model is reincarnated as a modern-day midsize SUV with heritage-inspired styling; rugged engineering; and a collection of smart technologies for the backcountry and four-wheeling, as well as for a smoothish ride around town and on the highway. It marries the tough attributes of Ford's F-Series trucks with a fully-boxed steel-ladder frame and advanced 4WD systems to the performance spirit of the Mustang—and, once again, is nicknamed G.O.A.T! Larger than its stablemate, the Bronco Sport competes with vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee, while the Bronco is a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. It goes on sale this summer starting at $29,995

Bronco Trims and Configurations


2021 Ford Bronco Two- and four-door versions of the Bronco are available.Ford


The new Bronco comes in 4WD only, and is available in a two-door version that seats four people or a four-door model with room for five, plus hard-top and soft-top options. There are two engine choices: A turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4 that offers up to 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque (best-in-class) is standard. It pairs with either a 10-speed auto or a 7-speed manual. The optional engine is a 2.7-liter V6 with a twin turbo that produces 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, which is also best-in-class. The V6 is available only with the ten-speed automatic transmission.

The manual transmission has six traditional gears, plus a "crawler gear" that has a best-in-class gear ratio of 94.75:1. There are seven Bronco models that include Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, Wildtrak and a limited First Edition that quickly sold out when order banks opened.

Bronco Features and Styling

The Bronco comes in a staggering number of exclusive color combinations that vary between models. The highly configurable off-roader is designed for both novice and hard-core 4WD experts, with easily removable roof panels, bumper sections and doors that can be stored in the trunk.

Though all-new, the latest Bronco takes its design cues from the proportions, square, boxy looks and flat sides of the original model. Large, open wheel wells are amplified by removeable bolt-on front and rear fenders, while the Bronco's fender flares sport quick-release fasteners to help with customization. Interior appointments vary by model but are designed to appeal to the heart and lifestyle of weekend warriors and 4WD adventurers with durable, with waterproof surfaces, an off-road performance app, and an available 12-inch LCD touchscreen paired with Ford's SYNC4 system touchscreen (an 8-inch is standard), among other communication and audio features. A 12-volt hook-up and USB power connections are at-the-ready to mount cameras, navigation units, phones or other devices.

Bronco First Drive Impressions


2021 Ford Bronco Several color combinations are available with various Bronco trims.Ford


We tried out 5 different models during our test drive that began in the urban environment of Austin, TX and took us to Ford's first Off Roadeo 4WD playground in Marble Falls. Our road-going drive was in a 2-door Outer Banks model with the manual transmission. On the plus side, the manual shifts smoothly, and we had the opportunity to use the crawler gear at a local boat launch. On a steep uphill over loose-surface terrain-we found it suitably impressive.

In general, there was good power, plenty of torque, and competent steering that carved the twisty roads with ease. The Bronco offers surprisingly smooth braking, although we'd like the brakes to be a bit "taller" for more aggressive stopping. Notable is the quietness of the cabin and comfort of the seats. Our only complaints were seatbelts that are not height-adjustable and a couple of ergonomics complaints for our 5'2" driver (although Ford is looking into making changes for both!).

We navigated our way through three off-road courses designed by 4WD experts that included rocky terrain, muddy motoring and dirt two-track with up and downhill climbs. We were impressed with Ford's Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. (goes over any terrain) modes, which allow up to seven driver-selectable settings (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, plus Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-roading). Two 4WD systems include a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case and an optional two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand selection between 2H and 4H. A Dana 44 solid rear axle and Dana independent front differential unit are both available, as electronic locking differentials-provide more grunt. Bead-lock 17-inch wheels compliment aggressive off-road tires.

We also tested the Bronco's Trail Toolbox, which is a suite of off-road technologies that includes Trail Control (cruise control for low-speed trail driving), class-exclusive Trail Turn Assist (tightens off-road turning radiuses through torque vectoring), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (aids in acceleration/braking control for precise and confident low-speed rock crawling).

The Bronco's four-wheel-drive attributes include:

  • Up to 11.5-inches of ground clearance
  • 43.2-degree approach, 26.3-degree breakover and 37.0-degree departure angles
  • Best-in-class water fording of up to 33.5 inches (w/ optional 35-inch tires that are available on every series)
  • Steel underbody armor to protect vulnerable parts and an available front bash plate
  • Heavy-duty modular steel front bumper w/ an integrated accessory winch mount
  • Side rock rails
  • Standard front and rear tow hooks
  • Sway bar disconnect
  • A 360-degree camera system with class-exclusive off-road spotter views for additional visibility in technical off-road terrain
  • Trail sites (a styling cue from the first Broncos) on the front fenders that also serve as tie-downs with a 150-lb. capacity for securing longer items, such as canoes.

The Bronco moves with ease at both slow- and high-speeds as a result of its class-leading front and rear suspension travel with a high-performance off-road stability suspension system (HOSS). Up front is an independent front suspension set-up with a solid rear axle with long-travel coil springs; suspension systems vary by model-for instance, the Sasquatch off-road package (available on all models) and standard on Badlands is long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers, with end-stop control valves that allow more articulation, reduce harshness and bring durability.


2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco can be ordered with either a hard or soft top.Ford


After years of buildup and speculation, the Ford Bronco had to be good, and for the most part it accomplishes that goal. The combination of technology and off-road prowess, combined with a mostly reasonable price tag, should be enough for the Ford to put up serious competition against the Jeep Wrangler and other off-road SUVs.

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Friday auction find

Is this the cleanest Honda Prelude left?

This 22-year-old Honda looks almost new.

Cars and Bids

It's Friday, which means we're rounding out the week by obsessing over sales listings and car auctions. It's a good time to be looking, if only from a distance, because there are cars like this 1999 Honda Prelude Type-SH just waiting for us to take them home.

We hear it all the time, but this is likely one of the cleanest remaining fifth-generation Preludes around today. No modifications have been performed, which alone makes this car rare, but the mileage takes the exclusivity a step further. With just 28,700 miles on the clock, this Prelude is nearly new.

The Prelude's 2.2-liter inline-four made 200 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque when new, and this one's mileage is low enough that those numbers are likely still close to accurate. A five-speed manual is on board here, and despite the fact that the car is front-wheel drive, Honda made numerous upgrades to the car that gave it sharp handling.


1999 Honda Prelude Type SH Manual transmission and patterned cloth seats. Does it get much better?Cars and Bids


The Prelude Type-SH was better than its standard counterpart in nearly every measurable way. It rode on 16-inch alloy wheels and lowered suspension that set it an inch lower than the normal car. It also features an active torque transfer system, which could transfer as much as 80 percent of drive power to the outside wheel during cornering. Independent front and rear suspension rounded out the package to make the Prelude Type-SH a quick and nimble front-drive car.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the nostalgia of these cars. After all, for many of us they bring back fond memories of our school years, when cars like the Prelude were new and unobtainable by most young drivers. Even so, it's important to remember that a 20-plus-year-old Honda won't provide a modern driving experience and won't be as sharp as you probably think it will. That's not enough to stop many people (us included) from wanting one, but it's worth noting.


1999 Honda Prelude Type SH The Type SH features many upgrades over the standard Prelude.Cars and Bids

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