2023 Chicago Auto Show Special | Autoblog Podcast #768

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Road Test Editor Zac Palmer and News Editor Joel Stocksdale. The trio kick things off with a recap of the Chicago Auto Show and all the important vehicles that debuted there. From there, conversation switched gears to the Super Bowl and the car commercials that played this year. After that, the three discuss a few vehicles they're driving this week, including our new Toyota Sienna long-term test car and 2023 Genesis Electrified G80. Plus, Greg finally gets some time in the crew's long-term Kia EV6 and provides his take on the electric crossover. It all ends with a little twist on the "Spend My Money" segment, as a listener asks for feedback on his latest car purchase.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: Podcast@Autoblog.com.

Video Transcript




GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog" podcast. I'm Greg Migliori. We have an awesome show for you this week. We're gonna talk about the Chicago Auto Show, as well as some of the things we've been driving. Plus, we will spend your money. So with that, I will bring in two of the guys who went to the Windy City. It's quite windy right now in Michigan. By the way.

That's road test editor Zac Palmer and news editor Joel Stocksdale. What's going on, gentlemen?

ZAC PALMER: Oh, good. Just coming off that Chicago pizza high or casserole. I feel like we had this discussion last year, that the Chicago Auto Show happened, too. We all have some pretty varied opinions on what the best pizza is, so. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: Let's be real. That's all anybody really cares about, is what pizza we like. You know, they can get all the car stuff from the website. How are you doing, Joel?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Doing all right. Trying not to be blown away. Because like you said, it is really, really windy out. I can hear it howling outside.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's crazy. It is like-- sometimes when we talk about the weather at the start of these podcasts-- and I've noticed most podcasts open with a weather commentary. I don't know. But we got some real weather today. The winds are very high. It's crazy.

I just picked my trash cans up, like, literally halfway down the block. It was crazy. I was like, literally, there's a neighbor I don't even know. And I had to go get my recycling bin over there. So good times here in the windy state.

But let's jump into the Chicago Auto Show breakdown. I thought was a pretty good show this year, all around. You know, there was a fair amount of reveals. Let's put it that way. Maybe not like what we may have seen in the past, but you know, it was solid. Let me put it that way. We did our editor's picks.

We did it a little bit different this year because, you know, it was a little more of a, you know, a little bit of a toned down show. But just initial impressions. What did you guys think?

ZAC PALMER: Well, it sure feels like it's kind of back up to just about full strength, like, pre-pandemic kind of size. Like, it's in both of the main hallways in McCormick Place, and it was mostly filled up. Like, most of the manufacturers that we've expected to be there and had, like, full-scale displays. It was feeling pretty normal. It was nice.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. No, there were certainly a lot of manufacturers there. Not a ton of press conferences, but I feel like they still filled up a day full of press conferences. The second day was pretty light.

And you know, honestly, I mean, we've known Chicago as, like, being that truck show. But there weren't a lot of trucks revealed this year. In fact, like, that the only truck news that came out of it was Ram revealing the name of their electric pickup truck, the REV. But beyond that, it was just, like, a bunch of SUVs, crossovers, and then a weird little Mustang wheel thing. So maybe it's a crossover and SUV show, not a truck thing. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, isn't that really what every show is these days, is, a crossover and SUV show? And then maybe you get, like, one hot car or something?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Honestly, it's been the case for a while, but it worked this year. I feel like a bunch of SUVs and crossovers were just fine. And I don't I don't need it to be a 100% truck show. That's the way it's gonna be going forward.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I'm gonna run through the winners, our editor's picks, such as they are, from the show. And that's actually a pretty good encapsulation of everything that was there, you know?

In the past, we would do extensive voting, and we'd pick the top five. And there would be, like, 15 things or 20 things that you could vote on. This year, there was about five things you could vote on. So it was essentially more of, like, ranking the reveals, but that's fine.

So I'll run through them, and then let's just kind of-- you know, you guys can riff. Like, do you agree with them? Do you not agree with them? What did you like? Et cetera, et cetera. So without further ado-- and these have been on the website for close to 48 hours. By the time you listen to this, it'll probably be more like close to 100 hours. So.

But in fifth place was the Ford Mustang Dark Horse. It wasn't exactly the car, essentially. Some of us, myself included, gave it points for revealing the new interior and the carbon fiber wheels, which got enough points to be in fifth place. And I actually kind of fully agree with that. So that was our fifth place one.

Number four was the 2024 refreshed VW Atlas and the Atlas Cross Sport. I always liked the Atlas a little bit more than I think most people have, so I also gave it some points right in that area. Number three, the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe and 392. This is the 20th anniversary editions, which people like Jeeps. People like Wranglers.

And then we get more into the meat and potatoes. This is the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek in second place. Essentially, this was the US reveal of the US spec car.

And then number one was a legitimate, like, new car reveal. We have not seen this before. I'm almost tripping over my words, because it's like a real reveal that you would count in an auto show as opposed to, like, a North American reveal or something. But of course, this is the Toyota Grand Highlander, which I think received almost universal approval as the number one reveal.

So what stood out to you guys? We have five sort of main things to work with. We can also talk about the Ram REV being revealed, maybe get to that a little bit. But I mean, what did you guys like, just being on the ground? What was cool? Which of these, you know, kind of stayed with you?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. I mean, sort of starting from the top of the editor's picks there with the Mustang wheels, that was, like, a really neat surprise. Like, I just sort of walked up to the Ford booth there and saw the Dark Horse sitting on the stand. I'm like-- I think it has carbon fiber wheels on it.

Ford hadn't really said anything. They didn't send out any press release or do any press conference or anything. It was just kind of sitting there, like, hey, maybe you guys will notice this. Maybe you won't.

But no. They're super, super cool wheels. It's, like, the first time that you can actually get carbon fiber wheels on a Mustang that isn't a Shelby. It was only on the 350R and 500 last gen. But now, you can just get it on the GT Dark Horse, so I thought that was super cool, honestly. And that was probably, like, the one surprise of the show that I was sort of just sitting there, like, delightfully surprised. Oh, cool. Carbon fiber wheels. These will be expensive, but they're super neat.

GREG MIGLIORE: I thought that the Wrangler both were, like-- as far as, like, going to the toy bin, those were the fun ones, you know? But go ahead, Joel.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, it's bizarre that Ford didn't put out, like, a press release on it. Because it's like, they sent us a press release on showing off the interior. And it's like, so you thought, like, the color scheme on the seats in the Dark Horse was important but not having carbon fiber wheels on it? Like, what? What? What's the deal, guys?

And I mean, I guess I wasn't, like, that blown away by kind of Mustang parts and features. But there wasn't a whole lot that I was super blown away by at this show. Grand Highlander, I think, was actually the most impressive for me, just because I mean, when they first announced that they were gonna show Grand Highlander, I was like, oh, OK. It's gonna be a Highlander but long.

And they bring it out, and it's actually pretty much its own thing. Like, it doesn't even look all that much like a Highlander. And it's also getting the hybrid max powertrain from Toyota Crown and Lexus RX, which, while I wasn't super impressed by the Crown, the powertrain is really nice. And so I think, like, for people that are looking for kind of a premium family hauler, I think the Grand Highlander could be really nice.

GREG MIGLIORE: I was impressed with the style, too. Like, it does look legitimately different from their quote, unquote "regular Highlander," and the powertrain was interesting to me as well.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. No, I mean, for being the one big reveal there, I feel like it was a pretty big one. I was just looking at the number of comments and all the stories. And Grand Highlander seems to have attracted a lot of attention, probably because it is a big Toyota SUV. And everybody's always interested in big Toyota truck SUVs.

I don't know if you saw the one that was on the show floor there, Joel, but they had one decked out in this Nintendo Switch, like, livery and games. And like, you could play games in the back of this thing. There were a bunch of people around it when I went by, so I never actually got to play games.

But I was just curious if you got to take a look at that. It had, like, this crazy red interior. So there were actually two Grand Highlanders there. I mean, that was the one that was in addition to the actual show car. [LAUGHS]

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I knew that was there. They had said that, I think, like, the first 500 or so Grand Highlander purchases will get a free Nintendo Switch OLED model, which is kind of neat. I don't know that throwing in a free Switch is gonna make me rush out and buy a Grand Highlander.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Let me go buy a Grand Highlander so I get a free $300 Switch. [LAUGHS]

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And also, I don't know. I guess I feel like a whole lot of people that might be in the market for a Grand Highlander probably already have a Switch. So I'm not entirely sure how that's such a huge selling point, but whatever. It's whatever.

And on kind of the subject of whatever, actually, maybe worse than whatever, the Volkswagen Atlas reveal, which I think they look nice, but I also think that the Atlas, in general, has just kind of looked nice.

But I'm just so confused as to what's going on at Volkswagen, because this kind of midsize to large crossover segment is one of the biggest and most competitive on the market right now. And what Volkswagen has chosen to do with it is to do another refresh on a pair of SUVs that are already getting pretty old.

And in addition to that, the refresh dropped one of their powertrains. And in refreshing the interior, gave it Volkswagen's pretty much universally derided infotainment system and touch controls. And I'm just kind of baffled, because all of that just seems like a bad move, especially when in the same convention hall, Toyota has just launched-- has just revealed a bigger and probably more competitive SUV that Volkswagen is gonna have to deal with.

And even Mazda, while not at the show, just in the past couple of weeks, has launched a whole new three-row SUV that Volkswagen will be dealing with, that sounds like it's gonna be a much more impressive package. It's like, what? What are you doing, Volkswagen?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. You know, if you ask Volkswagen, they would probably have the opposite opinion on their Atlas here. But you know, I'm not totally against you there, Joel.

The interior? I mean, honestly, I thought that the Atlas had one of the worst interiors, as far as, like, the three rows go. Like, it just felt so cheap. I remember sitting in it, like, back in 2016, when they launched it. And it was like, wow, like, this is your brand new, three-row SUV that's meant to compete against the Explorer, Pilot, all that? It feels like it's, I don't know, made with LEGOs and just really, really cheap feeling.

And so this redesign certainly makes it feel less cheap. I mean, they throw a lot of, like, faux stitching and leather stuff on the dash and just use nicer materials all around. But then, like you said, they go and toss the infotainment system in it that has just been universally derided by pretty much every media or press that has touched it.

And I wonder-- you know, I mean, obviously, they weren't expecting everybody to hate this infotainment system when they launched it. But now, they kind of have this product roadmap where they're just throwing it into every single car out there.

And I went and tried it out at the auto show there. They said that they made some software updates to it. And honestly, it still has the same problems of, you know, the weird touch capacitive volume and climate controls that don't light up in the dark. Like, you literally can't control it when it's dark outside. And the touchscreen was still fairly laggy and not great to use on this show car. Maybe it'll be better by the time it gets to production, but yeah. It is a little disappointing, to say the least. [LAUGHS]

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And you mentioned Pilot. Like, that's another one that has just been completely redesigned. It's like, this is a seriously tough market, and Volkswagen is coming at it with a really, really old product that now probably has and actually worse infotainment than it used to. I am just-- I'm just kind of shocked.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. To me, the Atlas has been a tricky one. I went on, like, a prototype drive back in 2016, and it kind of resonated with me. I was like, well, this is a little bit different. You know, it's a Volkswagen. You take on a Ford Explorer.

And they were ambitious. You know, they have a plant in Chattanooga. They went for it. You know, they really did. But you know, based on what I've been seeing and what you guys are saying, it kind of feels like, wow, another nice for trying, guys sort of approach. Like, you know, if you're gonna unseat somebody in the segment, you really got to, like, bring it in all areas.

And outside of-- like, again, I happen to like the styling of it. Outside of that, you know, you're kind of like, well, I mean, unless you can get a good deal on one, you know, there's probably better options out there for you. Not probably. There are.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. I have very little beef with the look of it. I actually kind of like the light bar across the front. I was skeptical seeing it in pictures initially. But then I saw it in person, and the light-up badges are even kind of appealing to me.

So it still looks really nice, and it's got this nice, chunky design to it that I think will resonate with Americans. You know, that's one thing that they really want to emphasize with this and that they also emphasize with the Tiguan and the Taos. And like, this thing is designed for America. This thing was designed in America.

This isn't, like, some weird German thing that we're bringing over here. And maybe Americans will like it. Maybe they won't. No. It's big. It's huge. And it should appeal to Americans who want this size of a car. They're just missing out a few of these finer details that, well, pretty much everybody else is hitting on. So.

GREG MIGLIORE: How do we feel about the Subaru Crosstrek? It's a Crosstrek.

ZAC PALMER: Crosstrek. Track

GREG MIGLIORE: That's about it, man. We've already kind of seen it for other markets, so--

ZAC PALMER: The one that they had--

GREG MIGLIORE: --it is what it is.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. The one that they had on the show floor there was this new sport trim that they had revealed and has all these, like, yellow accents on it. I remember-- I'm pretty sure I was talking to you, Joel, about it. And it sort of looked like a Wilderness trim, almost with all of the like the gold/yellow accents, but it's not. It's a sport trim. But it very much has that outdoorsy, almost lifted crossover SUV type look to it.

It looks considerably more SUV-like than the previous Crosstrek did. I feel like the old Crosstrek was like, oh, this is just like a lifted Impreza, like, barely lifted Impreza that just kind of looks like a hatchback. This new one, I feel like they're going more towards, like, rough-and-tumble SUV look, which is probably a smart thing.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And that sport model, especially with, like, the sport badges on the fenders that look very wilderness-y and like the kind of weather-resistant fabrics and things inside, it has that vibe. And it's interesting. I couldn't pin down Subaru reps about whether there would be a Crosstrek Wilderness.

But what they did say when I said, like, is there gonna be a Wilderness? They were like, that's a very good idea. And that was all that they would say. [LAUGHS] Which, I mean, I kind take that as, that's probably gonna happen, which I'm almost a little bit surprised at, just because the Crosstrek kind of is Impreza Wilderness. So it'd be like Impreza Wilderness Wilderness.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: But it'll be interesting. I'm glad that they're still offering the 2.5 liter engine, because the regular 2 liter is really, really, really, really, really, slow, and even more so now that they've dropped the manual, which is disappointing but also entirely predict-- and frankly, I'm surprised that they were still offering a manual on the previous generation.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. It was, like, one of the last. I mean, how many small crossover type things could you get with a manual? Just this, maybe, at this point? So rest in peace.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. But it's the Crosstrek, and it's almost the same size as the last one. It is neat that the 2.5 liter ones are gonna be built in Indiana now.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's true. That's true. Well, like you said, it's a Crosstrek. Jeep Wrangler, 20th, paint and trim model with some extra stuff on there. What did you guys think? I think that's really the only thing we haven't hit on from the "list," air quotes, of reveals. What did you guys think of that one?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, it's pretty cool that the AEV version, the American Expedition vehicle's version you can get with 37-inch tires from the factory.

GREG MIGLIORE: That looks good, man.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: It's pretty neat. And it's neat that you can get that even on the plug-in hybrid.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's true.

ZAC PALMER: That is really neat. I think the headline for that one was, hey, like, you can get a Wrangler from the factory that costs over $100,000 now. So that's a new high watermark for that thing. I don't think even the 392 crested 100 grand before. But now, you throw all these AEV things on it. And there it is, six figures on a Wrangler.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And you know they're gonna sell every single one of them.

ZAC PALMER: I'm sure. I'm sure. I mean, there are plenty of people that will go out and buy a Wrangler for 65, 70 and then easily do it up with aftermarket stuff that crests over $100,000. So we see enough of those around already that Jeep's probably like, heck, why don't we just do this from the factory, and we'll take the profit from it instead of having to sort it together with a bunch of aftermarket pieces?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And I think Byron may have mentioned something about, like, having just one special edition with 37s as kind of a response to Bronco Raptor.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think that's a measured response. Let me put it that way. One thing I will say about Jeep and specifically, the Wrangler, whatever, like, models Ford can cook up with the Bronco, Jeep's like, oh, hey. Cool. Yeah, we've had this one on the drawing board up in Auburn Hills. Get that off the shelf, people. We got to throw another one out.

And I think they're very good at responding and playing to the base and generating good, like, off road-y, Jeep-y coverage. So you know.

All right. I think the other, like, sort of kernel of news out of the show was that Ram confirmed the name of their electric truck, and that was about it. Then they showed the Super Bowl spot shortly thereafter, which, if you read my column, I thought that was a hell of a good idea. I think more automakers should look to make news at the Chicago Auto Show and then maybe buy a Super Bowl spot. And it seems like you're getting-- you're making your money go a little farther. Let me put it that way.

But I mean, I hesitate to even say, what do you guys think of the name? Unless somebody is really against, you know, the REV 1500. But you know, did they do anything special at the show? Here in Detroit, it just looked like they kicked out a press release. But I don't know if they did something better or what.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, basically they just brought the concept from CES out on stage, and that was kind of the first time it was being shown at kind of a public auto show and basically said that they were gonna give the name at the Super Bowl, along with, like, the full reveal.

Which I feel like this has created kind of a weird situation where that pretty radical Ram electric truck concept is gonna be on the show floor at Chicago for the next couple of weeks. And the production one will not be on display--

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, that's weird.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: --even though the production one has been revealed in the Super Bowl TV spots. And that production vehicle is quite a bit more mild than the concept. So I feel like it's gonna be kind of a weird thing to have to juggle with, like, people coming to the Chicago show and being like, oh, is that gonna be the next Ram? Well, kind of. [LAUGHS]

ZAC PALMER: It's gonna share a front light signature.


ZAC PALMER: And that's about it.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And rear. And rear.


No. It is weird, like, how different it was, you know, from what I was expecting, the actual Ram REV that was revealed at the Super Bowl. It honestly looks like the same formula as, like, the F-150 Lightning. Just take your Ram 1500 that everybody loves, slap an electric-looking front end and rear end on it and call it a day.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And to be honest, I don't think that's necessarily a bad move.

GREG MIGLIORE: I was just gonna say that. Yeah.

ZAC PALMER: Absolutely.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And even more honest, I think I actually like the way the production one looks better than the concept.

ZAC PALMER: The concept was weird. You know, I didn't really like it when they revealed it at CES, and I didn't really like it when I saw it on the show floor. Just the crazy high belt lines on it made it look like it was gonna be impossible to see out of, if that was the direction they were going with the actual production truck.

And the three row thing was a weird, novel idea. I feel like they're gonna to be fielding questions from people all week about that on the actual show. It's like, so is the production one gonna have three rows? Well, no. It's not. It's just gonna be like your normal Ram 1500. So yeah. I mean, considering the success of the Lightning has had so far, I completely agree with you guys. Good idea.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Sounds good. So any final thoughts about the Chicago show? Looks like we hit on just about everything here. Yeah, I guess it's-- yeah, go ahead. Other thoughts?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I guess just continuing on Ram.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: I think the Rev name is actually really good, because--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I do, too. Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: It kind of connects with automotive themes and also, it literally can stand for Ram Electric Vehicle. So I think it works really well. And yeah, I think it's still gonna work out well.

It is gonna to be interesting how they had this kind of radical concept, and were promised-- and were talking up a lot of kind of wild, novel features and going with kind of this conservative route.

It will be very interesting to see how these two fare along with the Chevy Silverado EV, which actually is kind of a more radical design since the Silverado is rocking just a single cab style, and it's kind of a little bit more unibody-ish. And it's got the mid-gate and things. It's gonna be interesting to see-- it's going to be interesting to see how those approaches pan out.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Yeah, I think it's a-- one thing I'll say about-- to backtrack just a little bit, I've always thought Ram kind of really goes for it in design. Even going back, like, 15, 20 years, I know Ralph Gilles designed, you know, that generation of truck where some people thought it was a little more, like, cartoonish.

But I always give them a lot of credit because they, like-- again, they go for it. You know, Ford and GM trucks tend to be more traditional looking. And you know, for a while, the Ram was curvy, you know? And they were the first to, like, throw out some pretty different takes on headlights, even before companies used LEDs and things like that. So I kind of applaud them, you know?

And every now and then, they'll slip up into, like, number two in the pecking order, as far as sales. Like, when they really have a truck that resonates and, you know, we'll see.

So Chicago pizza. I got to ask it. I ask it every year. Did you have any? Do you like it? I don't know.

ZAC PALMER: I had some right at the end of the show. I'm glad that I did. I actually don't know where it was from. Volkswagen had it at their stand, and I went and snagged a piece. And it was actually really good.


ZAC PALMER: And honestly, it was, like, a little thinner than what I'm used to from Chicago pizza, which I kind of appreciated because it felt less like a casserole and more like I was just eating, like, a big thick slice of deep dish pizza.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good.

ZAC PALMER: But yeah. No, it was excellent. And I'm glad I actually had some. And I know that-- I mean, in addition to the pizza, though, we had Chicago hot dogs the first day. So two Chicago-style foods this Chicago Auto Show. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: What did you have on your Chicago dog?

ZAC PALMER: Oh, man. What the heck was there? There was, like, onion, tomato--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's like a salad, right?

ZAC PALMER: Relish. Yeah, it's almost like a salad-type deal. Honestly, I can't remember--

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Just as long as you didn't put ketchup on it.

ZAC PALMER: I did not put ket-- so I did one Chicago dog and then one just plain ketchup and mustard dog, and those are my two little, different dogs [LAUGHS] that I had day.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK. All right. How about you, Joel?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Honestly, I just had the dogs. This was one time I went to Chicago and didn't have pizza.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK. Random. But I will-- since you asked, I did not have a Chicago-style pizza, because I was in Michigan. Although it's pretty easy to get around here, too, for a lot of reasons. I tend to like Giordano's when I'm in town, but I've had some, you know, generally good experiences there.

I think Mazda used to do a party there, which was-- I don't know. Did they do that this year?

ZAC PALMER: Sadly, no.


ZAC PALMER: There has been--


ZAC PALMER: --no Mazda pizza party in a while now.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that was a good-- that was a highlight of the show, man. I would give that Best in Show if I could. That was always fun.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Mazda has just, like, straight up peaced out with auto shows. And it's unfortunate. I would have really liked to have seen the CX-90 on the show for--

GREG MIGLIORE: This has been a good place for it.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, no kidding. That would have been perfect, honestly. With Grand Highlander and Atlas, they could have showcased the CX-90 and been like, look. Our SUV is better than all these. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: It would have probably won Best in Show in some ways.



GREG MIGLIORE: Plus, there's Lumonati's. I'll throw that in there, too, which you can order online. I think that's a decent one if you're looking for a pizza you could pull out your fridge. It's not bad. It's better than like Red Baron pizza. Let me put it that way. I don't know if it's worth the three times the cost. Let me put it that way also.

The other big thing was, the Super Bowl was basically, you know, three days later, after press days. And if you're poking around "Autoblog," check out my column. I think this is a really good thing for Chicago. It hasn't always been that way.

Chicago used to be-- Chicago hasn't really moved, give or take, a few days. They've always been right around then.

But the Super Bowl-- you guys might remember this. It used to be in January. It keeps creeping. There's, like, the bye week in the NFL playoffs. And it's just like, there's an extra regular season game. The Super Bowl is now in mid-February, you know, so this works out pretty well for the Chicago Auto Show.

Now obviously, they can't market it. You know, the NFL lawyers will get at them. But it's like, literally, you can do, like, what Ram did. You know, make some news and do a Super Bowl spot that's a lot of Ram news coming at a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

So to me, it's a really good spot for a show that's always said they're consumer-focused. So with that in mind, what Super Bowl ad did you guys like? Any of them?

ZAC PALMER: I feel like the one that stood out the most to me was the GM/Netflix combo.


ZAC PALMER: That was honestly my favorite watch of the whole Super Bowl, as far as the ads, because I love the integration with the shows. It was actually really funny. Will Ferrell was great in it, and there were so many cool EVs that they had on display.

I will say that it carried over my beef from-- maybe it was, like, two Super Bowls ago that GM started doing ads for its EVs. And like, OK, most of the cars in these ads we're not gonna see for a long time on the roads. But that said, I thought that the ad was honestly really cool.

And we got to see a lot of really neat stuff. And I mean, if you watched a lot of the big Netflix shows, like, you would recognize it. Like, the "Squid Game" one was really cool, "Bridgerton," "Stranger Things," like, just really, really cool tie-ins that definitely appealed to more than just car people watching the ad, too.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I did think it was funny, though, that the appropriate situations for all these vehicles that they brought up all seemed to be not good situations.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: It was either being kidnapped for a horribly dark game show or being in a zombie apocalypse. And it's like, I mean, they're nice cars, but, like, do I really want to be in this situation?

GREG MIGLIORE: Kind of like the Porsche "Transformers" one. We had this conversation a couple of days ago in Slack. I saw it, and my son saw it, too. And he's like, this is cool. Wait. What is this? There's a Porsche. There's this Transformer thing. And then I went air frying some wings and totally forgot about it.

So then, like, a day later, Zac was like, hey, did anybody cover this? [LAUGHS] And it had a '94 Porsche in it, which is cool. The new "Transformers" movie looks decent. I haven't really been into them in years, but you know, it was short, to the point. Cool car. So I kind of liked that one, too.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Having the current RS 3.8 in it, there's no getting around that as far as cool factor for any, any car commercial.

So I haven't followed the "Transformers" movies at all, honestly.


ZAC PALMER: Maybe I should.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's been a long time for me.

ZAC PALMER: [LAUGHS] Maybe I should.



GREG MIGLIORE: You know, I don't think they're gonna win an Oscar. Let's put it that way. But I mean, some mental just ice cream, if you will, you know? A way to eat some popcorn and have some fun for two, three hours or however long they are.

And in case you're asking, my all-encompassing air fryer wing recipe is a homologation of a variety of sources, but it involves frying, like, the wings, the drumette kind of things for about 20 minutes, give or take, and air frying, if you will. And then dropping them into a bowl, which I put a ton of Frank's hot sauce. The chicken wing-like sauce, which they actually market separately, is pretty good, if you will.

And then, like, an ungodly amount of butter, melted butter, which makes it kind of stick to the wings a little better and probably takes years off your life. It's not a bad recipe. It's not good for you.

ZAC PALMER: Hey, the only way to do chicken wings is Frank's and butter.


ZAC PALMER: That is the way. Having gone to school in upstate New York, close enough to Buffalo--


ZAC PALMER: I'm sorry. There is no other wing, unless it is covered in Frank's. That is it. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a really good sauce, a really good flavor. I don't even-- the other ones, to me, are like gimmick wings, so.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I hear people put that stuff on everything.




ZAC PALMER: Oh, I have plenty of friends that will put it on anything, things you wouldn't even suspect makes sense. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: It's the most universal hot sauce. Tabasco is too hot for some situations, although I do like it. And the other ones can get a little-- like, you could get any kind of hot sauce you want. So yeah.

All right. So let's get into our Drives segment. You guys both got there different ways. Zac, you flew. Joel, you drove. So you might as well talk about our long-term Toyota Sienna to kick things off. And then Zac, you can tell me what your flying experience was like, if you prefer to dry drive or fly to Chicago. But the floor is yours, Joel. What's this new Sienna like?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, to get all the details, you should check out our long-term intro post. But it's a Toyota Sienna, Platinum, all-wheel drive.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And it's pretty decked out. And I like parts of it, and there are some parts that I'm less enthused about. The fuel economy, of course, is really nice. I've put a little more than 1,000 miles on it already, since I drove out to Chicago. And then I drove down to my parents, and then I drove back up to Detroit, so hundreds of miles.

And on the highway, driving, I've been getting consistently, like, between 32 and 36 miles per gallon, like, depending on the situation, specifically for highway driving. And I mean, that's really, really good for a minivan. It's about the best that you can get in a minivan.

And when cruising along, it's really quiet and it's really comfortable. And I'm very impressed with the suspension tuning on it. It's soft, but it's really well-controlled. So it's not, like, rocking back and forth or kind of floating along. It just absorbs the bump and moves on with its life.

What I'm not as enthused about is, like a whole lot of Toyotas I've driven lately, the four cylinder is just really noisy and really rough. And it's exacerbated by the fact that it's not hugely powerful and it uses a CVT. So any time that you really need some acceleration, it's just groaning and moaning and is generally unhappy with life.

And that gets really tiresome, especially kind of here in metro Detroit, where a lot of the speed limits around me are, like, 40 to 50 miles an hour. And so when you're-- you've got to get up to speed fairly quickly from a standstill, and it's just really unhappy. Obviously, that's not a big issue when you're just soaking up highway miles and you're just at cruising speed. So it has been fantastic for that.

And like I said in my update, it's hard to be too mad at it when it is returning such great fuel economy, but it's something to consider if you're looking at minivans. I would really like to see Toyota put more work into making their engines a little smoother and more refined or just, like, cramming a whole bunch of insulation under the hood and against the firewall, just so that it doesn't sound so strained.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK. So mostly, you joined your trip. It sounds like it was efficient. Did you have to fill up, even? I'm not sure what the range is on that thing.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I had to fill up-- I've only filled this thing up twice. Like, the range is around kind of the 500-mile mark.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's good.


ZAC PALMER: Really good range, honestly. Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And like, the fuel tank isn't crazy huge. I think I was seeing, like, around 15 gallons when I was filling up, so it's not painful when-- I mean, you know, I mean, it could be better. But also, like, it could be way worse. So not horribly painful to fill up, either. And it just takes 87 octane. It's not--

GREG MIGLIORE: That's good.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: --like a lot of turbo engines nowadays that require premium. So I mean, for all that, it's nice. Plus, I mean, it's all-wheel drive, too, which is great.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's impressive for an all-wheel drive vehicle that is not small. Let's put it that way. You know, that's very usable for families. I'm planning to take it to Florida in about a month, so that may be only one fill up, maybe somewhere around Cincinnati, Nashville, and then fill up in Florida. We'll see.

Cool. So that's the Toyota Sienna. A lot more on that to come. We're just getting our first taste on it.

I'm excited that we're able to-- like, you were able to take it to Chicago and get into it, like, this early in the loan. Yeah. Would you have rather done that or flown, Zac? I guess this is a segment I threw on there that sounds like a good idea. I don't know.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So this was the first time that I've ever actually flown to Chicago for the show. I normally do drive, just like Joel, and I think that I'm gonna drive from now on.


ZAC PALMER: I almost miss my flight coming back. [LAUGHS]


ZAC PALMER: Yeah, that was cool. No. I mean, we left the hotel at, like, a reasonable time with, like, just over two hours until the flight. But then the drive that took 20 minutes from the airport into Chicago took over an hour from the hotel to the airport, going back. And then security was just absolutely insane.

And honestly, like, considering all the time that we spent, like, leaving ahead of time and flying and then driving home, like, it was almost around the four-hour mark. And to drive from metro Detroit to Chicago is, like, just under five hours. So it really doesn't make much sense to fly to me, I don't think.

It's a much better trip to do driving, even if it is a relatively cheap flight. I just think that the drive is a lot better and relaxing. You can do it on your own time, as opposed to having to worry about missing flights, Chicago traffic, getting to an airport at rush hour. And yeah, definitely driving now. That's a takeaway. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: It is nice to pull out of your hotel, like, maybe after having a nice, like, room service breakfast. And then you're just home in, like, four to five hours, as opposed to going to the airport, going through that stress.

The only downside is if, like, say it's like a late February winter night and it's like, well, do I really want to drive across the plains of Indiana and the west side of the state to get home? And it's, like, snowing.

In that case, it can be nice to, like, let them fly you home. And then if you live close to the airport, it's a little bit easier. But yeah, I think it's-- drive it if you can.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I think that Joel's experience was a lot better than mine.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, yeah. All of that is kind of the calculus that I've made every Chicago trip that's like, I can leave when I want to, both going there and coming back. I have a more comfortable and more spacious seat for the entire time. I don't have to deal with other people. I can stop and get food any time that I want along the way. Yeah, it's just--

And there are other things about the drive, too, that I just kind of enjoy that I'm planning on writing a little something for an opinion piece coming up. So stay tuned for that. Don't want to give it all away. But yeah, I've just--

And the time is kind of the same. And then once I'm there, like, I can just pull right into the parking garage there, and I'm set up with parking. And I've got a car if I want to go someplace else in Chicago, like, to go get dinner or something.

And then I can kind of change my plans as needed. Like, I was able to just drive straight down to my parents instead of having to take a plane to Detroit, get my car, and then drive down. So yeah, it just works out best for me to just drive.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Sounds good. So right before the Chicago show, days before, Zac passed the EV6 keys to me, the fob such as it is. But you drove it for a lot more than I have. I've only had it for about a week at this point. Really enjoying it, by the way. Think I'm going to charge it up today or tomorrow. I found a fast charger such as it is somewhat near me. But what did you think of it, Zac? You had it for almost a month. Right? You know?


GREG MIGLIORE: Ins and outs, charging experience, et cetera.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So I had this thing during the summer. And you know, the whole charging experience was really great. The one difference that I had it for this past month is that I got it at the start of January, and I handed it off at the start of February. And we all know that lithium ion batteries tend to not like cold weather.

Similar case with this EV6. I can definitely say that it was a lot more enjoyable to live with it during the summer, especially because I'm somebody that doesn't have, like, a home charger. I don't have, like, a Level 2 box. So I'm pretty reliant on public charging if I want to go anywhere or if I'm just doing my normal driving throughout the week and eventually need more charge.

So I want to say I had to charge it about four or five times throughout my month with it. And every single time, you know, it was around 30 degrees or so. So you plug in. And unfortunately, you know, that super cold weather is going to limit the charge speed. So those 235, 240 kilowatt charge speeds that we're seeing in the summer, never got anywhere close to that in the winter.

If I was lucky I got up to about 120 kilowatts, which isn't so bad, honestly. That is relatively quick. But there were multiple experiences that Electrify Americas and EVgos where the thing would max out at around 80 or 90 kilowatts.

I know that I told you right before I dropped it off, like, the night before I spent about an hour to an hour and a half at an Electrify America, just trying to charge the thing, which isn't exactly the way that one might want to spend their Monday night after work or whatever. But you know, that part was a little rough, of course.

But I mean, all of the good things that I liked about it driving over the summer remain driving over the winter, still super quick, very comfy. I love the utility of it. The design is not-- it's just continuing to grow on me. I like it a lot.

And yeah. Overall, like, still really, really digging the thing. But man, I would really love to have a Level 2 charger at home to leave my house every day with a full charge. I think that would probably cure pretty much all of my issues with it, because I didn't do any winter road trips. That would be its own set of problems. But yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I'm debating if I'm going to actually take it on a winter road trip. I've looked at the infrastructure. I think it's definitely doable. I mean, of course it's doable, but a little nervous about how long I might want to wait, you know, with a charger, you know, with, like, the family, you know?

If it's, like, a quick charge under a half an hour to get usable range, all good. You know, essentially, that is a little bit longer than a gas station. But I mean, you know, at a gas station, you know, you go to the bathroom. You get some coffee. You're there for 20 minutes most of the time anyway, if you really time yourself. So I'm still debating it.



ZAC PALMER: You know, if you're doing a road trip so you stop with around 10% charge or 20% charge, I would budget about an hour to charge.


ZAC PALMER: And that's about what it is to get back up to it, like, an 80%, 85% charge. So take of that what you will.

GREG MIGLIORE: You're persuading me against it. Maybe that'll be my long-term update, is, I didn't drive the car because I didn't want to spend an hour like a Meijer in random mid-Michigan, you know, up north place. But we'll see.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. It's a bummer that I feel like there still aren't a whole lot of fast chargers that are in particularly close proximity to, like, restaurants. I know that around metro Detroit, a lot have popped up at, like, Meijer and other department stores and stuff, which, it's not bad. But I feel like the very obvious combination would be, like, to set up a charger somewhere that you could stop and everybody can get out of the car, go, sit down and eat and then come out and resume the journey.

Because I can't imagine-- I'm fine with sitting in a car for, like, half an hour to an hour, just kind of chilling. But I could see how if you've got a family, the rest of the family may not be so into that idea.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, exactly.


GREG MIGLIORE: I have enjoyed driving it, though. You know, since you dropped it off, Zac-- it was immaculate, by the way. I have to thank you publicly for that. It was cleaner than from the fleet seat. And I mean, they do a great job, too.

But again, it's a very attractive car. You know, ours is very nicely equipped. It's a lot of fun to drive. So I'm looking forward to driving it more. We'll see how far north it gets, though. Let's put it that way.

But speaking of electric cars, Genesis G80 electric. You have been driving that. Tell us about it.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So I drove that last week, and I was honestly very impressed with this thing. I like the regular G80, but I don't think that I loved it. The one that I drove was the Sport Prestige with the Twin Turbo V6. And it's sort of-- I don't know. It just Didn't really feel like it cemented in anywhere great for me. It was fine and pretty much every respect, but not a top-of-class thing.

This, on the other hand, this really, really impressed me in how fun it was to drive. It's honestly pretty similar acceleration. It was like the EV6, so 0 to 60 in mid-4s or so, so quick enough. But the handling was just way, way better than I was expecting for a mid-size sedan.

The battery pack being along the floor gives it that super low center of gravity. And this thing felt positively agile when I was out having fun with it. So in that respect, yeah, a really, really great electric sedan. And I'm sad that they only sell it in, like, six or seven states, because not everybody can have this thing.

But you know, all of the good things about the G80 and, like, the gas version stick around, like the interior. Super luxurious interior. I love the look in there, the Genesis infotainment, all of the materials that they use. Mine had this sort of tan and brown combo going on. It was extremely classy. And yeah.

I want to say my one beef with it is it honestly didn't ride as well as I was expecting it to ride. I'm guessing that it has something to do with the fact that it's a lot heavier than the normal G80. So they've had to compensate with, perhaps, some stiffer springs to handle that weight. But it's not quite the pillowy cruiser that the gasoline G80 was.

But outside of that, yeah, I wouldn't charge this thing during the week. Same issue that the EV6 had, but this thing actually does have a preconditioning system, and I used it. It really didn't seem to do much, as far as upping the charge speed. So it's still subject to the slow cold winter charging.

But yeah. No. A lot of positive impressions from G80 electrified. I cannot wait to write the review, because this was a really good one.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Something that I've been slightly let down by. Like, I do really like our EV6. But I was kind of hoping that it would sort of be an electric Kia Stinger, and I don't think it really is that. It's a little bit too soft. The steering's a little bit too numb.

Knowing that the electrified G80 is actually a very similar chassis to the Stinger, I was curious, is the electrified G80 closer to that electric Stinger that I kind of wish existed?

ZAC PALMER: Definitely, yes. Definitely. It is way more fun to drive than the EV6 or the Ioniq 5 are. And I mean, that's saying a lot, too, because, like, the EV6 and Ioniq 5 are fun to drive vehicles. But the G80 was just fun in every respect in that it really handles like a car, and you feel low to the ground. And it doesn't have that sort of tall-ish feeling that you get from the EV6 or Ioniq 5. So yeah. Really, really good there.

I mean, it is certainly expensive. The thing is over $80,000. So in that way, no. It's not like an electric Stinger, because you get, like, a Stinger GT for, like, mid $50,000. But this being a luxury car, of course, you're gonna get a much more expensive final price.

But driving it, yeah. Man, this thing is awesome. It'll do four-wheel peel outs when you turn Traction Control off. The rear end wags around a good bit, and it's just really, really well sorted on the road. So they've done well there.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. Genesis has a lot of momentum right now. This was another one of the many Genesi vehicles that were on the NACTOY list for Car of the Year, if you will.

One of the hang-ups for me, as far as giving it points, was the fact that it's only available in eight states, or at least it was last fall. So you know, it's tricky. But a little insight into my voting ideas. Let's put it that way.

Should we spend some money?

ZAC PALMER: Let's do it.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think we should. All right. So this is from Justin. So this isn't exactly I spent my money, because he's already made the purchase. I recently got a 2023 Audi A5 S Line Prestige. Just wondering what you guys think of it. Previously had a 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec. He did love the Acura. What do you guys think of the 2023 Audi A5 S Line Prestige? So Joel, what do you think?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, I like A5. I think it looks great. And I felt like they've always driven nicely, and I like Audi interiors. Yeah, it's a good little car.

GREG MIGLIORE: Zac, do you agree?

ZAC PALMER: I like the A5, too. You know, I feel like if you wanted something that is a good bit faster than TLX, you got it.


ZAC PALMER: It's certainly quicker in a straight line. I like the handling of the Acura a little bit better, but that said, like, the Audi still handles really, really well. The latest A4s and A5s are a lot of fun to drive. So yeah, I mean, the Audi is probably a little more expensive than your Acura, but you're getting a little bit more car, too. So--



GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. All right. I concur. I mean, to me, it's like it seems like you're in a pretty good spot there, Justin, where you can try out, drive an Acura, then upgrade in some ways to an Audi. Yeah. I mean, it's a good move. I think it's a good car.

So if you think the "Autoblog" podcast is a good podcast, please leave us five stars on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, wherever you get the show. Send us your Spend My Moneys. That's Podcast@Autoblog.com. Let us know what kind of pizza you like. Where does the Chicago style rank? Get into the comments. Let us know. Drop us an email. Be safe out there. We'll see you next week.