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It's always a little nerve wracking when you mod a car. Especially a new one. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

One of the things I really wanted for BaT was a 2" hitch. The dealer optioned hitch was a 1.25" and they wanted a ton for it. I just couldn't accept not only getting only sort of what I wanted, but also the price.

A couple hours later in the hot Chicago sun, and I managed to install a 2" Ecohitch. Far easier than I expected, which is nice. It's not uncommon for "bolt ons" to be anything but a bolt on affair. I did lay down a small bead of blue Loctite on the bumper bolts before I cinched them down to 50ft/lbs.  Just in case.  I also didn't reinstall the foam bumper support.  I do want to put it in, but I don't have a good enough saw to shave off the 1/4" of foam from the face.  I'll get to that one of these days.  Maybe.

New floor mats

My new car mats came in. On some cars, the floor mats that come with them are completely adequate. Eliza's mini came with a great set of all weather floor mats and so we didn't bother getting new ones. On BaT, the front floor mats weren't the best. Weathertech to the rescue!

Here's a good shot to show how much more coverage the Weathertech mats provide versus the OEM ones. Pretty significant!

There's no sense in having mismatched floor mats, right? Overall, I'm quite happy. I chose the "cacao" color instead of black or tan and to me they fit in pretty well with the other browns used in the interior.

I will say that these Weathertech floor liners are a bit thinner and a different formulation that in the past. Still a great product, just an observation. Feels good to "buy American", especially when they are a drive away in Downers Grove.

First design for Black and Tan

It's funny how these days we depend and use our smartphones so much, and yet car designers by in large provide no easy way to store or charge them. They more or less leave it up the market to figure out.

Here's my attempt at a phone dock for BaT. My design requirements were that it fit my phone and Eliza's phone, though not simultaneously. It took me a few revisions, but I got there. The trickiest part was how to get the mount to firmly attach itself to the car.

Like a few of my other designs, I turned to my old reliable friend. The rubber band. In this case, the rubber band is used to seal itself against the center console opening and to provide tension to the clip that helps to mechanically hold the dock in place.

Not bad! The blue printed part doesn't look like it belongs there, but I think it's better than other solutions. I didn't lose an air vent. I didn't lose a cup holder. I didn't lose any passenger space either.

Clearance wise, my LG V20 in a Speck case doesn't touch anything other than the dock itself. The angle the phone is canted back was an issue though. Hence the need to be a bit nuanced in my plug shape, and the long rear stabilizing base.

Mission accomplished. I can plug my phone in with my charging cord and simply drop it into the dock. It may not be mounted in line of sight like Eliza's Cravenspeed Gemini mount, but my phone's got a proper home now.

First mod is done. Next is... not sure. Weathertech? Ecohitch? Winter tires? hmmmm...

Black & Tan

Shopping for a car can be a stressful experience. Its usually one of the most expensive items an American owns. Having said that, I'm happy and have no buyers remorse. I purchased a black 2017 3.6R Touring with what seems to be the typically equipped "popular package 5" and remote starting. 

Popular package 5 includes:
rear bumper cover
splash guards
rear seat back protectors
all weather rubber floor mats
auto dimming side mirrors with approach lights and blind spot detectors

I swapped out the dealer branded license plate covers and added a front license plate bracket I had lying around. I'll probably get some weathertech floor mats to replace the set it came with. The mats that I have now aren't bad, but they could be better. Winter is coming...

Once those mats get put in, all that there will be left to do is go camping. We've got a couple camp sites picked out in Wisconsin and in Maine. Looking forward to kicken back.

Returning to the scene of the crime

Over the years, I've had the great fortune to be allowed to work from home full time. For the last ten years in fact. Those days aren't gone, but I am being asked to come into the office a bit more. Somewhere between 40-100% is how often I get to work from home. I figure I'm going to shoot for 80% or so. Why so little? Because I got conference calls at 5AM... But I digress.

With that in mind, I started car shopping in earnest. Initially, I just wanted a cheap used car to travel about. A used Honda Element AWD in stick was perfection. That then shifted to a 2009 WRX wagon. Which then morphed into a Subaru Forester XT or Outback XT. Each iteration ended up costing more and more. It got bad enough where the new car bug took a great big bite out of me and I found myself back at good ole Evanstan Subaru.

Of course, the last time I walked these grounds I did the unthinkable. I gave up my pre-ordered BRZ.

I dug up some old pics from that day, and you know, it still kind of hurts. By now this would have been paid off and I wouldn't need to do any car shopping.

Things change though. I am on the hunt for a new 2017 Subaru Forester or Outback. Late summer apparently is a sales lull for a lot of manufacturers, so Subaru is offering 0% APR financing for any 2017 dealer stock Forester and Outbacks. I managed to get my hands on the keys to a Forester XT Touring and it was quite good. The sight lines are simply amazing. The power was also really satisfying.

I then got into a Outback 3.6R Limited. Not bad at all. A couple years back we rented a 2015 Outback 2.5i Limited and drove it around Yellowstone with my parents. It was a great place to take in the driving tours of Yellowstone. It ate up the miles from Jackson Hole and back with aplomb. As things go though, I wanted a bit more power, and the 3.6R delivers. With a bit more research, the price jump from a 3.6R Premium to Limited to Touring didn't seem all that bad to me after more and more options became requirements. I somehow found myself "settling" for a 2017 Outback 3.6R Touring. But then that meant I had to really start talking to dealers and sales people...

Not the most enjoyable of experiences. Lots of false starts. Lots of misdirection. It's obvious the sales guys know what they got and know its going to sell. So why not take in the profit? Thus was born my spreadsheet of all available 2017 Outback 3.6R Tourings within two hours of me. I wanted a green one, but there were only two available. Lets just say the actions of one of the sales guys soured me on green. Even now, every time I think of the green paint job, I think of that sales guy that was trying to fleece me on a loaner with 5k miles. I didn't want to relate something I own to a negative experience.

My journey is almost over. I've locked in a price on a black Outback at Evanston Subaru... Hopefully this time I actually go through with the purchase.