Popular Mechanics March/April 2021

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

3 min
1 my pop life

PAIGE SZMODIS Commerce Editor Advocate of the Oxford comma. The Best Thing POP Ever Taught Me How to take care of a castiron skillet. (Cleaning with some soap and water is fine; just make sure it stays dry and well-seasoned afterward!) In 2021, You’ll Find Me… Working toward a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. My Favorite App Moleskine Journey. I was always a paper person, but finally switched to this digital planner so I could access my to-do lists on both my phone and computer. Current Passion Project Teaching myself calligraphy with Speedball’s set of dip pens, inks, nibs, and textbook. Minimal list or Hoarder? I aspire to be more minimalist with pretty much everything besides books and plants, mostly because decluttering and organizing is fun to me! MY WFH ESSENTIAL The Logitech MX Anywhere 2S mouse. A quality mouse is crucial…

2 min
does anyone still make a million-mile car?

MY PARENTS BOUGHT A 2004 VOLVO XC70 because, to them, that brand meant longevity. Part of that perception comes from a well-publicized 1966 P1800S that its sole owner, Irv Gordon, drove more than 3 million miles before he died in 2018. But that 1800—same as other record-high-mileage Lexuses, Chevy trucks, and diesel Mercedes-Benzes—is comparatively analog. It runs on simple, usually interchangeable parts. A skilled mechanic could remove its engine in an hour. Now, the newest Volvos have digital dashboards, radars, and super- and turbocharged small-displacement engines. Like most modern cars, they are complicated miracles of safety and convenience that will last into six-figure mileage without major repairs. But there’s no way that XC70, or any modern Volvo, could last a million miles. Right? I asked Volvo Master Mechanic Nino Gambino to check…

4 min
the most anticipated cars of 2021

LIKE MOST INDUSTRIES, AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING TOOK a beating in 2020. Sales dropped as buyers scaled back spending. Factories struggled to keep assembly lines moving in the face of new safety requirements and supplier disruptions. Since then, however, the automobile has regained its mojo. Daily commuting is still down, but interest in new electric and performance vehicles has helped keep consumer appetite strong. People still need, and want, cars. Of the new models arriving this year, here are five that have our editors’ attention. 2022 SUBARU BRZ Price: $30,000 (est.) | ETA: Fall 2021 The second generation of this fun and eminently tossable little sports car will arrive with added power and chassis tweaks that will make it even more fun and tossable. The BRZ is a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota, which sells…

3 min
power+ expertise

Battery-powered mowers and other tools are revolutionizing lawn care—but getting the right mower and using it correctly are crucial. In a recent test of battery-powered lawnmowers, Popular Mechanics awarded EGO an Editors’ Choice Award. Test Editor Roy Berendsohn said the mower impressed as “a perfect example of how to blend battery and motor technology, software to protect both, correct material choices to provide long-lasting deck and lightweight construction.” With next generation EGO mowers, trimmers and blowers now available, there’s a lot to consider when creating and maintaining a healthy, picture-perfect lawn. PEAK SPRING POWER Using a push mower is the ideal choice for small- to medium-sized lawns and can give the homeowner the precision to cut the enviable striped or diamond pattern by mowing in alternating directions. Grass tends to grow in…

4 min
why a whiskey’s age isn’t everything

THE WHISKEY WORLD IS BUILT ON LEGacy. Scotch distilleries tout 200-plus-year histories, and stateside producers find roots in the colonial era. Individual batches can be categorized by age statements with the prevailing idea that older whiskies are better. But if you’re still shopping for whiskey based on age statements alone, you’re doing it wrong. Age is one thing, but it’s maturity that really matters. Most whiskies are required to spend a minimum amount of time aging. For Scotch, Irish, and Canadian varieties, that’s three years, whereas the mandate for Japanese whiskies and ryes sits at two. The outlier is bourbon, which can be any age as long as it’s matured in charred, new oak barrels. Most distilleries choose to exceed these time frames by a few years or sometimes longer, depending…

1 min
hacking the whiskey aging process

In 2013, Cleveland Whiskey made headlines for making bourbon in six days. The first expression to reach consumers actually took about six months from start to finish—still, a veritable sprint compared to the traditional technique. Cleveland Whiskey’s secret is a pressurized rapid “aging” method that CEO Tom Lix began developing in 2007. The production includes three months to three years in oak barrels plus the finishing process, which takes about a day. Inside stainless steel tanks, variations in pressure force the bourbon in and out of finishing woods to quickly extract flavors from black cherry, maple, or apple—woods that would not make good aging barrels. Lix’s team isn’t alone. Los Angeles’s Lost Spirits relies on light and heat to speed natural chemical reactions. Other distilleries favor sonic aging, where loud bass-heavy music…