2023 Honda Pilot and the promise and pitfalls of PHEVs | Autoblog Podcast #766

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd for a chat about the new 2023 Honda Pilot and its beefed-up TrailSport model. After that, we get a winter-weather long-term update on the BMW 330e care of Greg. Then, it's on to news. The big headlines this week were the brand-new Mazda CX-90 crossover and word that Genesis plans to build its outrageous (and expensive) X convertible concept. Is the world ready for a Bentley fighter from Korea?

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 Migliore. We have an awesome show for you today. We're going to talk about the all-new Honda Pilot and what it's like to maybe get a little rough and muddy and ready off-road. So with that, I will bring in Associate Editor Byron Hurd. How are you?

BYRON HURD: Hey, doing pretty well. How about yourself?

GREG MIGLIORE: Not bad, not bad, it is freezing. So, you know, we're at that point of winter. I think the last time I had you on the show you-- we were both kind of musing about how it felt more like late March. Well, now it feels like the first day of February, no doubt about it.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, yeah, we're definitely here. And it's-- we're talking about where we've been, what we've been doing. The Pilot drive was out in Sedona where we got-- I don't know-- three, four inches of snow on our way, which is very unusual there to the point where it paralyzed pretty much the entire trip.

You get all these people lined up and ready to go. And they're like, oh, can we go? Can we even get down the mountain? Are we going to be able to get around the local traffic? Nobody has snow tires here because it doesn't snow. And there are two roads that go anywhere.

Meanwhile, I come back to Michigan. And we get 10 inches of snow. And it's like, maybe they'll plow today. Maybe they won't. Eh, we'll see.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, that's a little bit of a different experience. That's for sure. And it is cold. Let's put it that way. It is--


GREG MIGLIORE: --my phone just went from 20, and now it says it's 9 degrees. I feel like it's so cold that Google doesn't really know what the temperature exactly is. 9 degrees is cold. Let's put it that way.


GREG MIGLIORE: But-- so talk about the Pilot, talk a little bit about the long-term 330e that I've been driving. I think I'm going to swap that car out in the next couple of weeks. So podcast listeners, I'll have something else to talk about pretty soon. And also some big news this week the Mazda CX-90 was revealed. It is really-- that's really quite an attractive-looking, large crossover. We'll have to talk about that.

And then reports say the Genesis X is going into production. We will spend your money with one that I think is pretty well-suited for you, Byron, given your sports sedan leanings. I think I know it could be on some of the short lists. So--


GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it actually works out for me too as a charger owner. You know, I have some ideas too, so--


GREG MIGLIORE: --so that's coming up. Let's jump right in. The Honda Pilot, Arizona, you got to go off-roading. What did you think?

BYRON HURD: Well, it was honestly a very off-road-heavy trip. And that's kind of surprising to think of something like the Pilot, which is very much a street-friendly, family crossover, pretty much like the definition of a soft-roader or a mall crawler. It is not the first SUV that's going to come to anybody's mind when you talk about off-road prowess.

And it's interesting that Honda's kind of taken this hard lean toward the trail sports where everybody is doing something off-roadie, whether you've got-- it's the-- Toyota's got the Adventure models. And Mazda has these Meridian models. All this is-- everyone's trying to do something that says this isn't just an on-road company cruiser or a minivan without sliding doors. This is an actual SUV. Even if it's unibody, it can do things.

And, I mean, sure, it made sense for Honda to jump in too. But they seem to be taking it a little bit more seriously than everybody else but at the same time pretending they're not taking it more seriously than anybody else. So they're doing a really good job of managing expectations with this. Especially because they-- we get to this-- we get to the trip.

Normally with these things, if you're doing an off-road course, it's either been built by the manufacturer or it's been heavily groomed by the manufacturer. Or in some cases, it's not even an actual off-road course. It's just some things that have been purchased that you can drive over with whatever vehicle you're there to sample. But this time it was very much like, here's the trail. That's where we're going. You can watch our engineers drive up. And if you don't feel like it, you don't have to. And then just kind of point the car in the right direction and go.

And normally on these trips if you're doing off-road, you're basically not allowed to breathe without being told how deeply. It's very well curated, very aggressively guided. And in this case, it wasn't at all. Honda was just kind of like we know it can do it, go out there, get to the top, see what there is to see, come on back down, and let us know what you thought.

And that's exactly what we did. It was-- one of the trails, I believe it was called Broken Arrow Trail. And it's used by the Pink Jeep Tours. So there were a lot of these huge-- they're factory chassis but with a few modifications. But Jeep builds them for these guys. They're nothing, like, crazy custom. They're fairly stock Wranglers with a big old basket on the back for hauling people who have had too much wine.

And there-- it was us, them, and a couple of people in Land Cruisers up at the top of the trail. So that should give you an idea of who's going to venture off on these paths without guidance, right? And so even up at the top, we're thinking, we spent a lot of time going up this trail on the skid plates. We spent a lot of time bouncing and doing our best not to penetrate the paint on the foliage and stuff like-- it was a route you actually had to think about. It wasn't automatic.

And it really impressed me that Honda was so confident in the Pilot that they would just let us do it fairly freeform. Because even on a Jeep program, you're not getting that. Jeep is telling you where to put that wheel, where to put that-- it's very regimented. And Honda was just like, yeah, it can do it, go see for yourself.

So I came away from this a lot more impressed than I normally am by these off-road things because, clearly, Toyota and Mazda and everybody is trying to get into this same kind of basket. But I don't think I would have the confidence in those vehicles. Even knowing that most crossovers are really more capable than we give them credit for, I don't think I'd come up to that very first check obstacle and just go, oh, yeah, my Highlander's going to get me up this trail no problem. I would take pause.

And if I had been driving a Pilot on my own before I did this program and encountered that same obstacle, I probably would have turned around. So it was very revealing of the capability of these trucks. And especially now with-- we used to really shun anything brake base. Like, oh, if it's not a real locking or a limited slip differential, it's not worth it. It-- don't bother. You need a real lock, or you need-- and honestly, you just don't anymore.

The computer controls are getting so advanced to the point where the capability far exceeds expectations. And so Honda's got these real kind of like secret rock stars in these TrailSports because they're the most rewarding to drive even off-road-- or even on-road, I apologize. it's-- the torque vectoring all-wheel drive is excellent. There's a lot more feedback in the steering wheel than you'd expect from just a big soft cruiser. it's actually a vehicle that you can kind of toss around.

And because it's a little more off-road rough-and-ready, you feel what it's doing a little bit better. There's a little more feedback. And it's just, like, that kind of refinement that they backed off on just a little bit allows a lot more to come through which, of course, is something we talk about all the time. It's like the more advanced, the more isolated these drive experiences get in every car, the less feel you have for what's going on around you.

And the TrailSports actually genuinely dial that back enough that-- I can't believe I'm saying this-- but it's-- they're really fun to drive almost all the time, which that's never going to be a bullet point you see on the Honda Pilot. Like, yeah, this is fun to drive. I mean, fun to drive for a three-row crossover? Sure, that's one thing. But when you're actually driving, and you're just like, hey, you know, this really just isn't a miserable way to get around. And I came away really impressed by it.

And it's-- the manners on-road are still good. And Honda's come a long way on fixing things like road noise and wind noise. Bad pavement's bad pavement. And tires are tires. That's one of those things you can probably fix if you find yourself still kind of short of what you expected because you need a little-- spend a little extra on some good rubber the first time your tires are due up, and that can solve a lot of problems for you.

But it's it's amazing how far they've come in just a few years from being, like, it's a Honda; they can survive on their name to that's actually an interesting vehicle over there, and you should check it out. So needless to say, it was quite a trip.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting because you obviously would assume the lion's share of the Pilot lineup would not necessarily be people opting for the TrailSports model. The Elite is, you know, elite, if you will. And it seems like they-- it's just not the type of vehicle where I think buyers really need that type of capability.

But we're seeing it more and more with the Pathfinder Rock Creek. Granted, Pathfinder is one that does have a bit of more of a heritage than, say, the Pilot does when it comes to going off-roading. But I also think it was probably a stroke of good luck for them. As we talked a little bit sort of behind the scenes at what these press events are, they're like-- they're almost canned, off-the-shelf adventures. I looked at the pictures. It looks like you had a hell of a time.


GREG MIGLIORE: This is quite the adventure, maybe even more than they expected for the Honda Pilot drive.


GREG MIGLIORE: Like, they kind of thought, hey, it's going to be a little gnarly but not too bad. And then, boom, it's like snow in Arizona. Even at that altitude, it's like, whoa, OK.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, and Honda even said multiple times-- they were very much on message-- that the Pilot TrailSport is not supposed to be an off-road model. It is a Pilot. . It is an on-road vehicle. The TrailSport is just there for the person who wants that extra reassurance that should they perhaps get in a little bit too deep, they can probably make it through.

It's a little bit of built-in insurance that you're buying it mostly for the looks. You're buying it more for the attitude. It's not, well, I can do this and go chase Grand Cherokees. You can't. That's just not happening. But it's still a pretty nice compromise, especially for people who just-- you occasionally get someplace where things can get a little dicey. You like going to parks where the trails aren't always reliable, things like that. It's a slight insurance premium, essentially, that you're paying upfront for TrailSport to know that in that weird corner case, you probably won't have to call someone for help.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, that makes sense. And again, the Kia Telluride, the X-Pro, things like that-- they all offer a variety of like, hey, if you want to go off-road, we give you some of the tires, some of the looks. And they can do more than you think they might, frankly. And the Pilot itself is an important vehicle for Honda, obviously. The engine-- I liked how you wrote it. The dual-overhead-cam engine sounds the same, but it is actually a bit different. The interior, the exterior-- they are a bit different. And this is just a huge volume play for them.


GREG MIGLIORE: It's hugely important when you look at all the different crossovers and SUVs that they make. I'm curious given just how competitive this segment is-- and I think I know where I would tend to fall-- but how do you rate this? Where is it? Is it at the top of the heap? Is it in the middle of the pack? Where are you putting it these days?

BYRON HURD: It's going to be up there for me, honestly.


BYRON HURD: And that wouldn't have been true of the last generation. But then, really, we've seen a lot of changeover in three-row crossovers in just over the last couple of years. Because the Highlander is not that old at this point. Pilot's brand new. Pathfinder's effectively brand new.


BYRON HURD: It's a year and a half, two years old. And the Pathfinder-- it had a long way to go going from the last gen to the current gen. So really, anything they offered was going to be a huge improvement. But they really did take it seriously.

And it's interesting. It's, like, the Pathfinder, I think, is probably the best direct competitor to the Pilot at this point. And I don't know that either company would necessarily want me to say that, maybe Nissan more than Honda. But you get a very similar package. You get a V6 that just works. You get-- it's kind of a low frills, we're doing this in as few variants as possible, but you know what you're getting kind of approach.

And between the two of them, it would probably be tough. I think I'd rather drive the Honda, that one for driving. But for maybe all-in total value and utility, it's pretty close. And especially since the Pathfinder-- I think the real trick there is it's now proven itself over the past couple of years. I wouldn't-- When it launched, we're like, OK, it's a lot better. Are we still going to feel that way after we see some other new products come out because it was-- its own bar was so low.

And now having seen the new Pilot, I say, OK, I still take the Nissan seriously. And I think it would probably-- it might even come down to the two of those. I'm not a huge fan of most of the three-rows, to be honest. And being in my position, it's not a segment that I would ever personally cross shop.

But I think if someone came up to me today and said, hey, should I buy the Pilot? Should I buy the Highlander? Should I buy-- unless they want a hybrid, unless they have some sort of particular need that needs to be suited only by like, well, it has to be German-- OK, buy yourself an Atlas-- something like that, I have this-- the pilot almost makes me forget that the Subaru Ascent even exists.


BYRON HURD: And just a couple of years ago, that might have been my, oh, yeah, that's the new one. That's probably what you should go for. In fact, I did recommend it a couple of times when it was brand new. So that's a-- that-- especially with, like, when you look at the Ascent, you would think that that's a car where all the things that you expect from a Highlander Adventure or a Pilot TrailSport or the Pathfinder Rock Creek are all kind of baked in automatically because it's a Subaru-- but maybe not necessarily.

And the interior that you get with the Honda or the Nissan-- and I can't believe I'm saying that-- are probably both better. I'd certainly rather deal with the tech in either of those than the Subaru. So, yeah, it's up there.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's interesting. OK, I-- looking at this fairly expansive field, I-- and I've driven the Rock Creek, the Pathfinder, and I did like it. Maybe if I really was feeling that kind of off-roady vibe, I might like the Rock Creek a touch more than the TrailSport that you could get on the Honda Pilot. Overall, without having driven it, I just-- I tend to feel like I would probably vibe on the Pilot as well as far as giving it at or near the top of this segment.

There's so much in here, especially when you talk about three rows. We like the Palisade. We like the Telluride. They just are all-around goodness. And then, of course, the Jeep Grand Cherokee or the Grand Cherokee L. I will say this. I think if I really wanted to go into that off-road vibe, I might just not kind of do the trim model. I would just go over straight to the Jeep. I would just say, well, I-- that's-- this is what I look for when I'm buying something. I'm just going to go ahead and get a Jeep, rather than get like a TrailSport Honda, so yeah.

BYRON HURD: Well, and on top of that, too, we always kind of forget that it is still technically a direct competitor. But you look at the Ford Explorer. And if you really care about vehicle dynamics, you want a rear-wheel-drive based chassis. So that might be your first go to. And you can-- I mean, they have the Timberline if you do want off-road.


BYRON HURD: And they have the sportier models. You can get the ST if you actually like-- so there's-- you have the Explorer, which is-- just because it, by nature of being kind of weird in the segment where it's up against so many vehicles that are not on the same kind of platform, it makes it a little strange. And you kind of get a little bit of a disconnect there.

But the thing about the Explorer for me, though, is I just don't know which ones I'd recommend necessarily in this case. Because the boring Explorers, the plain-Jane Explorers that I would say most directly compete with the Pilots and Highlanders and Tellurides, et cetera, of the world are also the ones I'm just not interested in. So while they might on paper have dynamic advantages and what have you, I just-- they don't excite me at all, so--

GREG MIGLIORE: Not to throw us off the rails or the trails, but the Explorer is a weird one for me too. I do like that rear-wheel drive setup. But then-- and I kind of like how they look. They're so ubiquitous in Metro Detroit. But to me, the interior is always-- don't do-- they tend to fall short from what I'm looking for. They're not great. I don't love Ford's infotainment. It's not the worst. It's not the best, either.

But to me, the Explorer is another one that does kind of get into that Pilot territory where maybe it's just very-- it's, again, ubiquitous. Like, you might look at it like, hey, this is the thing I want, and it has it, so I'm going to go with that. Yeah, so, I mean, any other thoughts? Any other adventure things from any other trims or any other parts of the Pilot that stood out to you?

BYRON HURD: I was really fascinated by that removable center seat. I thought that was going to be-- because Nissan's got that gimmick with the removable console in the Pathfinder. And the nice thing about the console is it's nice and lightweight. Well, it's kind of bulky. It's pretty easy to wrangle. The Pilot center seat-- when I was trying to remove it, which I did on camera so everyone can watch me fumble around with it if you watch the video review we did of the Pilot.

But when you remove it, it weighs close to 50 pounds. And I was doing it in not, maybe, like, I wasn't in hiking shoes or anything like that. I was just wearing tennis shoes. And it was muddy and slippery. And trying to get leverage on it to yank it out of the middle in order to get it into the rear storage cubby, it was a little more challenging than I think some people would tolerate for doing it on a case-by-case basis. I think it's far more likely we're going to see that people pull that middle seat out, and then stash it in their garage, and then forget it's there when it comes time to trade the car in.

So it's a nice gimmick. It's handy for people who don't want to think about whether they want an eight seat or a seven seat. You just buy the car that you want, and then worry about the rest later. And it is kind of a bummer that you can't get that feature on TrailSport just because the all-wheel drive system interferes in the rear with the placement of the cubby. So you couldn't-- you can't get away with that, which is kind of a bummer.

But it's one of those features where it's like, let's see if Honda's, which is kind of the more evolved version of the same plan, works better than Nissan for real-world customers. I'm really looking forward to James doing a luggage cargo test and a seating test with the Pilot, especially if he can compare it directly with the Pathfinder. I think that'll be very informative just in terms of an ease-of-use, quality-of-life-type thing.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's almost old school. I remember growing up with the Dodge and Chrysler and Plymouth minivan where like-- and my dad would take the seat out, and he'd just stick it in the garage or something.


GREG MIGLIORE: And then it would take two or three of us to load that-- those huge seats back in just before stow-and-go, or before we had stow-and-go. Let's put it that way. Cool, man, well, that is the Pilot. I guess we'll segue way over into the BMW 3 Series. This is our long-termer, the 330e, that I'm still driving. It's been great in the snow. That's-- since we've last spoken here on this podcast, just some really quick notes in the last probably seven days or so,

I've done exactly what I've said I've been doing with it for the last recent, like, this winter, which is drive it in the snow. And it was good. It's still good in the snow, all-wheel drive. Plus those winter tires-- those Nokians are still working like a champion.

And I also went to the gas station, as I often do when I have a car with a relatively small fuel tank. It's-- I drive it down to about the range-- it'll say-- it signals when you have 50 miles or fewer. So once I get into that area and it's cold out, you don't really want to play roulette with that. So that's been about my highlights, running around town. And I did take it on a little bit more of a highway jaunt too, so that's it.

It's-- like I said, it's-- I think it looks good. Ours is that beautiful shade of Marina Blue, interior orange, brownish-orange with kind of orange light pipes. It looks great. It steers well, brakes well. But again, it's just-- unless you're going to charge it basically every day, you're going to really go through the fuel econ-- the gas, the fuel really quick.

Because what I've noticed is in real-world driving-- so you top it off. You get say like 214 miles of range, total range. Driving home from the gas station, it'll be at 200 already. You know, it's just-- it feels like anecdotally you just burn through the miles. I'll leave my house and it'll say 70 miles of range and, boom, you're like 55 miles of range, and you only drove 5 miles. So it's-- to me, that's frustrating.

I guess if you have an in-home charging setup, you're good. And again, to be very aware, I'm not trying to comment on the structure of the world or all that stuff. But I mean, you basically need to have a charger in your garage and you can leave it on there for all the time it needs. And then you don't really use much gas. If you don't have that, well, you have a 3 Series with a pretty small gas tank is what you have. So that's my mini review of it. Yeah, I don't know. I do like it. It's a very likable car.

BYRON HURD: Well, it's interesting. I think we've hit a point where we're looking back at how plug-ins have developed over the past 5 to 10 years. And it kind of looks to me that the industry almost chose all the wrong platforms for plug-ins because they built them around the smaller cars first, the city cars, the stuff which-- which makes sense because we saw a lot of them from manufacturers that have a large presence in Europe where they have the emissions regulations.

And a lot of the city centers lock you out if you can't drive in an EV mode. So effectively, you can't drive your car in the center of Madrid unless it's a hybrid or an electric car. So gearing it for for people who needed small cars like that made a lot of sense. And so the 330 being a compact by European standards, or at least previous European standards, makes sense as one of the cars that they would have launched with. And the RS60 T8 now will recharge that we had as the long-term car made sense in that context.

But in America, those are like the worst possible candidates for plug-ins because they're going to be owned by people who don't have space for the most part. Where you look at missed opportunities in pickup trucks and SUVs, where not only was there plenty of room for a big fat battery, plenty of weight that was already accounted for so nobody would have cared about a little extra heft, and people who have space to park and plug-in a vehicle but also need the range you get from a gasoline engine.

So I feel like all of the pickup makers just pretty much dropped the ball or never picked it up to begin with because plug-ins would work beautifully for so many people in the middle of nowhere. Because if you're just running quick errands either around your own farm or just around town, you could plug in for that, use nothing but electricity for your day-to-day. But then when you actually have to make a long-haul run somewhere, you have gasoline or diesel if they'd ever gotten around to the idea of a plug-in hybrid diesel in the United States.

So it really feels like we've missed the boat on that. And I think it shows up a lot with with cars like this where you look at commutes and the ability to plug in or not. Because if you cannot plug in, and you commute with your car every day, a plug-in hybrid is basically useless. And you're just spending extra money. And why? So, I don't know. I feel-- I love plug-in hybrids. I love the formula. I just feel like we missed the opportunity to make the best of them here. And it's kind of a shame.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, that's-- I see what you're saying. And it's a challenge. Different plug-in hybrids, given how they've been marketed and how their specific usability with their range, have succeeded. They have cut through the clutter. I thought the Chevy Volt did a great job. But the big difference is that it had 30 miles of range, which was a very usable 30 miles of range. Whereas, the 3 Series is 20. And 20 just goes quick. So, yeah, to me, the sweet spot for a plug-in hybrid would have to be more like 50-ish.

And then you start to look at, like, it's exceedingly rare where you talk about fast charging. I know that came up yesterday in our Slack channel about a plug-in that offers that. It's just-- it's rare because you need the battery tech to be there. And you don't generally see that kind of battery tech in a plug-in hybrid. It's all in the all electrics.

So these are good. I think they're part of the transition. I think at the time, even a couple of years ago, we talked about the air quotes "transition" to full electric. And everybody's kind of like, well, whatever, these are pretty good. Or all electrics are already going to be here. But I mean, not to be cliched, but it is a journey, you know. And it's like, we got some of these things that are a little-- the execution and the usability maybe isn't quite what we would have wanted after testing them. So, yeah, that's the 330e-- I would almost say my weekly audio journal on it at this point.

So let's talk about some other new stuff. The Mazda CX-90-- this replaces the CX-9. It's three row. You can get-- it will come as a plug-in hybrid, speaking of. I think this thing looks awesome. This is-- you talk about things that might give the Pilot a run for its money. I mean, this is a pretty big three-row crossover. But it's out there.

So initial impressions are I'm very excited to drive this thing. I think it looks like it's going to be a step up over the CX-9. Powertrains are pretty impressive as far as the ratings, things like that. So, yeah, I think this is going to be good. And Mazda interiors have not let me down in the last few years. So I this is a sweet spot for them. It's a large, stylish, three-row SUV-- undoubtedly will have a good interior.

And I just-- I don't know if it really needs that Mazda sportiness because I don't know if you want a sporty vibe in your SUV. But Mazda does a good job of making these things among the best to drive, usually the best to drive in their segments. So I'm optimistic on this one.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, I'm with you on that. I'm a not-so-secret Mazda fanboy. So I was kind of predisposed to like this thing. But at the same time, I was over here literally covering the badge on the front looking at it. You could tell me that was a lifted Jaguar wagon and I'd believe you. That is a good looking car. I'm really impressed by it. I'm excited, genuinely excited. I think it looks really good.

I'm happy to see Mazda doing some kind of mainstream hybrid stuff here, not just the-- we're going to do weird little things with the rotaries and batteries that may or may not work right. But this is-- this looks legit to me. It'll be interesting to see-- the Interior's kind of made a good leap forward with the last generation and a half of Mazdas. And I think they probably still have a little more to go with that. But the photos of the interior of this look really promising. So, yeah, my hopes are high. The bar is going to be high too. So let's hope they can clear it because it's very promising.

GREG MIGLIORE: I-- at first, I thought you were crazy. I'm like, this does not look like a Jaguar. If anything, it looks a bit like the Pilot. But then I looked at it. And I'm like, OK, I can see the silhouette. I can see a little bit. There's a bit of F-Pace in there--

BYRON HURD: Yeah. Just a little--

GREG MIGLIORE: --if you want to see it. Let's put it at that--


GREG MIGLIORE: --put it that way.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, that's fair.

GREG MIGLIORE: You got to really want to see it. Let's put it that way, yeah. How do you feel about the Mazda naming scheme-- like 90, 60-- does it work for you? Or do you think they're getting confusing? It doesn't matter?

BYRON HURD: I-- well, everybody's doing something weird right now. Whether it's to account for electrification or whatever. And it's-- we're going to-- by the time we get used to all these kind of goofy naming conventions, they're going to be obsolete anyway because they're just going to go back to whatever they were doing before. I don't really-- Mazda hasn't really done a lot marketing-wise so far to differentiate the base numbers versus the 10 numbers, whatever you want to call them.

So for now, yeah, I think it's confusing and pointless. But I don't know. I don't-- there's probably a reason I'm not in marketing, so-- probably more than one. But it's an approach. And it's-- like I said, for the next couple of years, just don't get married to any branding, I think, is probably the key takeaway.

Because you look at Volkswagen with ID. That's all going to go away. All of this stuff is going to go away as things just kind of become whatever the next electrified version of them happens to be because then they can just go back to calling it whatever it was, and it won't matter. But, yeah, it's-- this is a mess. It's not quite an Infiniti mess, but it's dangerously close to being an Infiniti mess. [CHUCKLES]

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No I hear you. That's-- you really-- when you start messing with your, like, literally your make model, what are you doing here? And that's where I think some brands, you know, like Lincoln has done a great job. They realized they were on the wrong path and they quickly dipped back into their heritage and found some good names, and they're OK. I mean, they're maybe not the most trendsetting. But I mean, everybody knows what a Navigator is and an Aviator. That's-- they're, to me, the the most glaring example of a brand that realized they were doing something sideways, pumped the brakes, and figured it out.

It's not as easy for everybody else because not everybody has 110 years of historic names they could go at, and not everybody wants to do that. But I don't know. I think it's going to work OK for Mazda mainly because, for me, Mazda is the brand-- they don't have a huge lineup like Chevy or somebody. So it's like, they can tweak it a little bit. Whereas Infiniti, for example, does not have that strong of an overall brand. So then when you mess with what the actual vehicles are, I think you really start to lose people, so--


GREG MIGLIORE: --and plus, they keep changing it every few years.

BYRON HURD: Yes. I mean, and at least Mazda is leaning into their heritage with this, like, the whole whatever X, So they-- the going back to the RX days when it was rotary experimental, and MX and CX. All of that, at least, has precedent within their branding. It's just the numbers used to be very simple. And now they're complicated, but in a way that seems like it shouldn't be, but instead, it still is.

And if I can't easily in an elevator pitch articulate the differences, then I feel like the differences aren't worth denoting with a different modeling. But I understand that Mazda is in-- this is more of a product issue for them than it is an actual branding issue just because they're trying to find their new lane. And they're going to have overlap in the meantime. So it'll be less confusing once there's only one lineup to worry about. But how long it takes to get there, who really knows?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, that's true. Ah, cool, so let's move on to the Genesis X. Genesis is a brand that I think-- well, you know what? I can't say that-- the GV60, the 70-- their brands, their names get a little confusing too. But everybody seems to like their cars.

And now they're talking about building the Genesis X, which is like-- I can't believe I'm saying this-- a Bentley Continental competitor, so they say. This is a report we reported on this week. I don't think anybody has had anything bad to say about the Genesis X. Once we have seen it to two plus two, it's gorgeous. It looks fairly realistic. They did a really good job of giving it like a concepty vibe, but it's reasonable. I imagine they'd have to do some stuff with the lights and whatnot. And there's some real running gear on it too.

I'm a little torn. I don't know if they need the distraction of doing this. You know, I think we raised this question with the Cadillac Celestiq, like, what are they doing, man? But I mean, Genesis is trying to build its brand. And sometimes you got to take a big swing. So this is a great looking car. If they want to build it, more power to them. I guess that's where I land.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. I'm kind of in that boat. I mean, if they can afford to do it, they can afford to lose money on it, hey, whatever, [LAUGHS] go nuts. And it's-- we're in kind of a weird place with all those right now too. We've got the Cadillac that you mentioned. Lincoln has that L100, the Century concept, which is interesting but feels far less real than any of the others mostly just because of the fact that it's not real yet.

But we could have said that about the Genesis until just a few days ago too. So that's kind of where we are. Honestly, Genesis hasn't missed on a concept in years. I feel like the--


BYRON HURD: --ever since the Ioniq5, every concept they've shown since then has been great. And between this and the N Vision 74, which I don't think there's a car enthusiast on Earth who doesn't want to see that built--


BYRON HURD: --it's really cool seeing some of these from them. And if they can afford it, and if they can sway a little interest with it-- it's interesting to me that-- we keep saying it. Customers want SUVs. But all the concept cars that we've been talking about for the most part have been coupes and convertibles. But they've been of SUV scale. So clearly, it's the grandiosity that we're attracted to. We all kind of have that in common. We want it to be big and splashy.

But it's interesting, too, that these designers are like, no, we know what an elegant, beautiful concept looks like, and it's not tall boxes with five doors. It's lean, mean, and large. And it's a weird combination. When you think of it, they kind of seem a little antithetical, but it works.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, yeah, speaking of the N Vision 74, man, that is something that I would definitely like to see them bring to production. That would be, actually, if I could pick a concept, that would be the one-- the single concept that I'd like to see brought into production.

BYRON HURD: Easily, that thing is fantastic.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. Can we spend some money?

BYRON HURD: Let's do it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Looks like we've kind of ripped through the show. Let's do it. All right, so this is a good one. This is from Chase in Texas. Hey, everybody, looking to get a new-to-me car in the next few months. Back in 2017, I leased a 2017 Giulia-- Alfa Romeo Giulia, sounds good. And it changed what I thought I wanted in cars both in terms of having a driver's car and in terms of driving like a loaner or a lease vehicle.

So that-- I don't know. It's kind of interesting. When you start off an email like that, like, OK, I like it. So here's some of the criteria. I'll kind of whip through it. This'll be a daily driver. Daily commute is super short, less than 30 minutes, but does like to take three to five-hour long road trips to see family. Doesn't have a home charger but could be talked into a plug if the car was-- would work.

Here are the must haves-- sedan, four doors, rear seats need to have a rear-facing baby seat-- I won't be the primary baby mover, but it does need to have that option-- fun to drive, as close to an Alfa as possible, must-have safety is a backup camera.

I have low enough mileage to hang on for at least another 50 plus-- 50,000 plus miles; and Bluetooth, more reliable than a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia. I was trying to make a joke there, and I couldn't quite get the name of the car company out of there. So I guess that's karma punishing me. But I mean, to be fair, a 2017 Giulia, not the most reliable thing on Earth. I think we can work on something, set you up right here.

Strongly want panel shifters, remote-start heated seats. Nice to have-- Android auto, and aiming for at least 2018 or newer. Looking for no more than 35,000 miles on the clock. That's it. Thank you for writing, Chase, appreciate it. This is a good one.

A couple of things right off the top. And I'll throw some in, and then we can kind of bat this back and forth. I was thinking Cadillac when I saw this. I know you own a CT4 Blackwing. You're not going to get that for this kind of money. But you can get a CT4, usually with all-wheel drive, for in this price range and some of them, actually, quite below it.

And also I want the CT5. I'm looking at one here. Let's see. Where did it go? There it is. This one CT5, it has the turbo four-cylinder. You get a pretty good sized back seat with the CT5, so I think the car seat will get in there pretty reasonably well-- again, the twin scroll, turbocharged four-cylinder. The one I'm looking at has a really nice satin steel metallic color scheme here. Heated seats are on it, nine speaker premium audio-- I'm just reading from the listing at this point. But this has a lot of what you want, so-- and it does have Bluetooth, heated seats as well.

So I mean, maybe you don't necessarily want this one. But it's $35,995, the low-low price. It seems to be literally straight out of central casting. This or something like it, I think, would work. Let's put it that way. So I would look at those two as far as something that is like an Alfa Romeo Giulia, something that's passionate, that's fun to drive, that looks great.

It's not going to be everybody's flavor of brandy. But to me, when I look at something close to the Giulia, I tend to think the CT4 and 5 really fall into that same kind of bucket. So those would be my two initial choices. It's basically that line from "Mad Men," "What size Cadillac do you take?" you know?


GREG MIGLIORE: That's kind of where I would fall.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, well obviously, Cadillac is going to be my go-to for this. And I think realistically you could probably-- it's tough. Two or three years ago, before pricing went crazy, you could have gotten into a used ATS-V automatic for $35,000 without much work. That would have been almost a gimme. I'm not sure that's true anymore, and that's kind of a shame.

I did look the-- it looks like both the ATS and CT4 will fit rear-facing child seats. So in either case-- I mean, it's the same car, effectively. So either of those would work. If you do need more space, the CT5 is a good choice. I also like the idea of-- well, again, the $35,000 thing kind of becomes a problem-- but like an older Chevy SS because they're a little bit bigger. That's more-- that leans toward midsize, where the CT4, ATS lead towards subcompact, really.

That's-- but the price is what gets you. Because again, a couple of years ago, you could have found an SS for $35,000 no problem. Right now, I don't know if that's true anymore. But, yeah, that-- the pricing, especially with everything being as crazy as it is, makes it tricky.

The only other thing I can think of off the top of my head that-- the Volvo that we had if you got it with the-- I forget what the performance package was called on that. There was a suspension option that we didn't have because we had the Inscription model that didn't have the sport stuff.

That-- It's a heavier car. But for one that's a little heftier, it certainly handled quite well, especially if you're getting the T8/recharge powertrain. You're getting plenty of power. That's for sure. And the center of gravity is nice and low because of the battery, which kind of improves the handling a bit. So it's not going to carve corners the way an ATS, or ATS-V, or CT4, or CT4-V will. But they're still quite competent handlers. And we were just talking about plug-in hybrids earlier. If you're in a position to take advantage of that, It's kind of a nice little thing just to have as a bonus.

So that's tricky. It's the price, I think, that's going to be the real compromise here because that locks you out of a lot of the certified, pre-owned, luxury options that would be kind of a gimme in this situation, I feel like. But that said, pricing is kind of starting to chill out a little bit. Maybe in the next six to eight months, it'll be a bit more realistic to get some of the used items that we were discussing in this price range.

But, yeah, this is like-- clearly, we were joking yesterday when we first saw this because that must be more reliable than a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia thing-- I mean, that's a low bar. It's-- sorry, Alfa, but it is. And-- [LAUGHS] so we were like, oh, this is going to be a breeze. But then once you start to figure in the pricing and the handling constraints, it actually becomes a little trickier. So this was a tougher mental exercise than I expected. So thank you, Chase, for giving us a little something to chew on.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, the price and the mileage-- those two constraints get a little tough. I was thinking-- because I do like the 3 series. And I probably wouldn't say go with a plug-in hybrid. It's not really in the range anyway. But even just looking at like a 2020 or a 2021 3 series, you're either-- like the one-- I found one here that's 63,000 miles for about $27,000.

You know, it's literally-- you really got to kind of like-- the scales go up or down. It's tough to get that one that is right in that, like, you know, the right mileage range. I mean that's obviously something if you can find the one where the numbers work for you-- a two, three-year-old 3 series would be a great thing.

The SS-- I'm-- like, I wonder how many more years we can keep dropping that onto the podcast. it's really-- it's getting to be a vintage thing. The ones out there that I'm seeing-- because when you say it, I got to go trolling for an old SS, right? The ones that have the lower miles are more like maybe a 2017. I didn't realize that car lived that long. I thought it was done by that point.

But you're looking at $46,000 for a car with 41,000 miles on it. And I'm even seeing one with 63,000 miles on it for $46,000. So-- and those, I would imagine, are fairly hard miles. And the other thing with the SS is I feel like it's going to kind of become a trivia question. I liked it when I drove it. It was a lot of fun. It is what it is.

I think another option, too, would be to take a look at-- see if you can find a-- maybe a somewhat gently-used Charger or a HEMI-powered 300 from a few years ago. I think that would probably-- those do tend to fall in the right price range if you're into, obviously, trying something domestic. Those-- that would work. It would literally be like a poorer version of the Cadillac. The Charger's not for everybody, though. It's, again, the interior is-- even the newer ones, the interiors are a little not what you're going to get from a Cadillac or even an Alfa.

So, yeah, that's-- I have my two, and then you can kind of talk about fun sports sedans, you know, which way you want to go. You could probably get a car seat in a Challenger. It's a huge back seat, but I don't think I'd probably tell you to go down that road. Yeah, maybe look at even like a lightly-used Jaguar.

But again, I don't-- when you're talking about Alfa Romeo reliability, maybe Jaguar-- the bar is a little higher, but [GROANS] I don't know. When you're talking about a used Jaguar sedan, XE wasn't that much fun to drive. XF was, that type of thing.

But just trying to think of those brands that blend the passion with some level of sportiness, luxurious, and of course, practicality-- Cadillac is one that does tend to come out pretty well. Lexus did it well for a while, but I think their design is even more polarizing than Cadillac. So, yeah, I think that's all I got on this front.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. I'm with you there. And I was just thinking-- because you mentioned the Mopar options, and I would probably steer you toward a-- if you want to look at a Charger or a 300, try and find one of the ones that has a multimode suspension of some kind because the fixed suspension cars, the Scat Packs especially, can be a bit rough for a family deal. They might be good for corner carving on your own. But they're a bit harsh for everyday driving.

But if you can find one of the older SRT models that has the two-mode suspension or one of the newer models that has the multimode suspension, the-- even the old two mode goes from soft and comfortable to too uncomfortable for daily driving. So it does have very discernible difference in suspension feel. So it really-- it changes the character of the car completely.

And I know the Charger is-- it's big. It's heavy. It has a reputation for just not being as tight or buttoned down as the Chevy SS and the old Pontiac G8. But that doesn't mean they're bad. They're just-- it's different. And I owned a Challenger for a couple of years and bought the CT4 V Blackwing. So I was ready for something smaller and maybe that's what you want too, but don't sleep on the Mopars just because you think they're too big. They are actually surprisingly competent to drive.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's a really good point. I-- like I said, I'm an owner of an '06 Charger, looking to probably get rid of it. But it handles-- I mean, handles well is not the right way to take it. But it's a very drivable car. It's a predictable, large car that you can understand its dynamics. Let me put it that way.

And not every full-size sedan, or even mid-size sedan, offers you that sort of predictability. So they are good daily drivers, especially if you enjoy that muscle car vibe. So, yeah, I think, Chase, let us know where you land. Good luck. Maybe you'll come up with something totally different. That's great. Good luck to you. Got a winter beer, Byron?

BYRON HURD: Oh, I'm out of my key winter beer season because most of the ones I like are the holiday stuff--


BYRON HURD: --so Christmas sales and things like that. I'm already-- I'm ready for spring.

GREG MIGLIORE: A lot of people are.

BYRON HURD: I'm just-- [LAUGHS] I'm waiting for the spring stuff to show up at the liquor store. That's my sign that the season's changing.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. Cold Snap by-- I think it's Sam Adams is pretty good. That one you're going to start to see in a few weeks, I think, if it's not already there. I've literally-- because we've been shoveling snow again-- Labatt Blue Lights, drop them in the snow. These are cans, so the aluminum is great, put them in the snow. The ones that I've been drinking have Red Wings logos on them so definitely a Michigan thing right here. And they've been getting me through.

It's February 1. A couple of months either way, I think it'll be-- you're going to get into somewhere where it's pretty warm. So I think we're on the other side of winter. Knock on wood. We just-- the path is not clear to get out of it. But you can see more, like, the end zone. Let's put it that way.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, yeah, it's-- once you tick over into February, you're on the right side of that pivot point, I think, so yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think I'm going to try to golf in February. That was my stretch goal. Because usually you get a day where it's like 55 and sunny. People are wearing shorts. It's not that cold just because what have we been up against. The courses are usually a mess. So we'll see. Definitely I-- you can easily golf in March around here. It's not that big of a deal. But I was like, ah, maybe I can try to get out in February. It depends on if the snow melts. A lot of things have to go into-- the dominoes have to fall so--


GREG MIGLIORE: All right, if you enjoy the show, please give us five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get the show. And send us your Spend My Moneys-- that's podcast@autoblog.com. Be safe out there, and we will see you next week.