Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sun, Fun and Subaru in Hawaii

I'm freshly returned from driving the all-new Subaru XV Crosstrek. It's a crossover in the spirit of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman. In fact, these are the very vehicles Subaru wants Crosstrek to engage.

For reasons I am not questioning, Subaru chose Oahu, Hawaii as the site of this press introduction. At the risk of sounding like a Hawaii snob, Oahu is my least favorite island, well if you don't count Molokai and its leper colony.

It's just way too congested and Waikiki Beach reminds me of Ft. Lauderdale, and not in a good way.

On the other hand, I find that since I no longer live in South Florida, I am less a critic of tropical locations no matter how overcrowded they might be or how long it takes to get to them. I am currently sporting what will be my only tan of the year. How can I complain about that?

Subaru put us up in the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. Off my terrace, I walked over a 5-foot strip of grass and was on the beach. I left the slider open at night so I could fall asleep to the sound of the waves. This was a first-class program and only the fact that we were only there for two nights took away a little of the luster.

The Crosstrek is a great looking little all-wheel-drive cruiser powered by a 148-horsepower 2-liter BOXER four-cylinder engine. The opposed-cylinder design of the engine gives Crosstrek the lowest center of gravity in its segment. Pretty remarkable when you consider it has more ground clearance than a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The cabin is comfortable and stylish. There's more than 35 inches of rear-seat legroom and with the rear seat folded flat, there is 52 cubic feet of cargo room. Sweet! It's amazing the amount of stuff you can cram into the back.

When it finally goes on sale in September, it will come in two flavors: Premium and Limited with a starting price before delivery charges of $21,995. Fuel economy is pretty good too -- particularly for an AWD vehicle. The EPA estimate is 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with the CVT. That's better than some FWD competitors.

Subaru routed our drive so that we wound up at the Kualoa Ranch for lunch. Here's what you need to know about this property: It's stunningly gorgeous. It has been the location for exteriors for more movies than you can count on all your fingers and toes. And it's a tourist trap of the first order.

These guys have developed quite the business model. They charge movie companies exorbitant amounts of cash to use their property for shoots. Then they charge tourists -- mostly Japanese tourists if what I witnessed is indicative of their daily traffic -- any where from $49 to $140 to tour the ranch in buses, on ATVs, on horseback or some other conveyance where they get to stop and snap photos of signs with names of different movies and TV shows on them. I'm not making this up. You don't see actual movie sets. Nope, you see a sign with the name of the movie painted on it.

There was a huge carved-out footprint with a sign that read "Godzilla." My driving partner and I found that rather hilarious considering the bus loads of Japanese tourists crisscrossing the property. We could only imagine 40 Japanese tourists yelling "Godzirrah" from their windows as the bus passed by.

I did see one set of sorts. It was what appeared to be the ruins of a temple of some kind. No one seemed to know exactly what movie it was from. Everything from "Jurassic Park" to "Windtalkers" to "50 First Dates" had scenes filmed there. It wasn't until watching movies on my flight home that I chose the semi-lame "Journey 2" as one of my selections. Turns out the set I saw was supposed to be part of the Lost City of Atlantis on Mystery Island around which the movie's plot revolved.

Subaru had lunch catered near the top of one of the mountains scattered around the ranch. We were then invited to hike another 40 or 50 yards straight up to get to the top. Once up there, it was easy to establish that the view was the same one used in the Clooney movie "Descendents" that was supposed to be his family's land.

We were on a cattle ranch after all, so after lunch I decided to herd a few head. This is where AWD comes in really handy.

By mid afternoon we arrived at a remote beach on Turtle Bay's property where we were treated to a beach party. Subaru brought in vendors for paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkeling. Chairs and lounges were provided for catching sun and napping. They also provided shuttles back to the resort proper, so they had a bar set up as well. What a blast. I had to hustle to get back to my room in time to shower, dress and arrive at the hospitality suite for cocktails before dinner.

I may have slept 10 minutes during the 9-hour flight back to Atlanta on Friday night/Saturday morning. I need a nap.


  1. This is one trip I just may have relaxed my ban on journeys across 2 time zones for.

  2. The flights were a bit tough; not to mention that some of the internals had their return flights cancelled. What a mess that was. But the program itself was relaxed with loads of free time. Nicely orchestrated and executed.