Hellcat owner threatens suit, a Dodge Hornet sneak peek and Amazon looks beyond Rivian | Autoblog Podcast #772

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd. They start off with the latest update on Autoblog's long-term BMW 330e, which is finally seeing some proper Michigan winter. From there, they talk about another electrified sedan: the battery-powered Mercedes-Benz EQE. From there, they flip back to another hybrid with an update on the new long-term Toyota Sienna. After that, it's on to news and features, starting with the story of a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat owner who is publicly considering a lawsuit against the company for continuing to build its "limited-edition" super-SUV. Then, Byron offers a sneak peak at the still-embargoed Dodge Hornet. From there, they take a look at the new three-row Kia EV9, followed by the news that Amazon is walking back its van deal with EV builder Rivian. After that, it's Spend My Money: Third Car Edition.

Video Transcript

GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the Autoblog podcast. I'm Greg Migliore. We have an awesome show for you today. Lots going on in the car world. We've been driving some interesting things.

We're going to talk about the BMW 330e. Byron and I have been in that car somewhat recently. Byron is in at right now. He's also going to talk about the Mercedes EQE sedan, and I'm going to bring home the Toyota Sienna. That's our newest long-termer. It's a very nice, nice minivan. Let's put it that way.

So with that, going to go ahead and bring in associate editor, Byron Hurd. Welcome aboard.

BYRON HURD: Hello, hello. How are you doing?

GREG MIGLIORE: Pretty good, pretty good. We have some sun today. It's like a totally different day than the rest of the week.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. It's been a while. We just waited until March to have all of winter, it seems like, and--


BYRON HURD: It's driving me crazy. Like, in the backyard of my house now, like, half of it is just bare grass, and the other half, there's literally a line right down the middle. Doesn't make any sense, whatsoever. But the other half is still inches of snow, and I-- it's like a perfect representation of what we've been dealing with here the past few weeks.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny, I got a text from the-- I'm using this new sprinkler guy, and I was like, hang on, dude. I'll see you in, like, three or four weeks. Like, I'm not going to winterize these pipes just yet.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, it's a little sketchy, but at least we're finally turning that corner. It's nice to see the sun and be in daylight savings time, and actually feel like maybe spring's almost here.

GREG MIGLIORE: There's a spring-like vibe in the air. The days are longer. It's been a little sunnier. You know, it's nice. But I'm not golfing. Let's put it that way. So a lot of the things that you might expect, have not quite happened yet. Let's put it that way.

BYRON HURD: Definitely not quite patio weather yet.

GREG MIGLIORE: Not patio weather yet. Cool. So we will spend your money. We've got some features on this Dodge Durango Hellcat owner, who's suing Stellantis because they're making too many of what they said was an allegedly limited edition. That's according to the suit, not my words. But we'll break down what that means, and perhaps what it means for just some of these limited-edition vehicles in general, as well as what is sort of a reservation crisis.

If you want a certain kind of vehicle, it could be very tough to get right now, just given the supply chain inflations, how competitive it is to really buy anything like a house or a car. So we'll get into that a little bit, talk about the Kia EV 9, and some news out of Rivian/Amazon. So with that, let's talk about the 3303.

You have been in it. I have been in it. Again, there's a video. You should check that out if you're listening to this on the weekend. It's called the Autoblog Garage, so that was kind of like my closing remarks, if you will, on the car. I did the video right before I handed it off.

In general, I liked it. I like the fact that, you can plug it in. I didn't like the fact that unless you have a level 2 charger at home, it's not super convenient, and obviously, doesn't charge super fast, because there is no fast-charging capability regardless.

But it's a very nice 3 series. It's fun to drive. I know you've spent some time in it. What did you think?

BYRON HURD: So I've been enjoying it quite a bit, actually. It's interesting to me. It doesn't have quite as much power, but it reminds me a lot of that Volvo S60 T8 that we had a few years back as a long-termer, where it's a sporty-ish sedan, but it's not necessarily a full-blown sport model.

The engine's a little coarse when it's running. Like, you know, it's a little rough around the edges, but I'm finding the whole to be very satisfying, especially since I do have a level 2 setup here. So plugging in has been great.

I have yet to put fuel in the car, because I don't need to, and I doubt I will, for the duration of the time that I'll have it with me, unless I have to do a road trip. So for the next few weeks, driving to and from the airport-- I'm about 15, 20 miles from it-- I can just about make a full loop to and from the airport without using any gas, unless I actually get in the throttle a little bit, which, with the output of this, it's-- again, comparing it to the Volvo, the Volvo's total system power was around 400 horses, I think.

This is down in the 260 range, I think. And so it's not nearly as potent. But the electric motor is very punchy. It's quiet. And even in the snow, this is one of the-- I'm, I think, one of the first people to actually get to play with this thing on snow tires.

And with the combination of all-wheel drive and the Nokians, that thing was virtually unstoppable. We got a good 5, almost 6 inches of really nasty, heavy, wet snow about two weeks ago now. And the first thing I did was like, yeah, I've got the Jeep on the big all-terrain snow tires, but let's try the BMW first. Let's see if it can handle the rugged, nasty roads, given that it only sits a couple of inches off the ground.

And it was an absolute monster, just plowing right through the snow like it wasn't even there, probably leaving weird little trails behind me. It was fun. The neighbors were looking at me funny as I was driving around all the fallen branches and everything like that, and people coming out telling me, oh, don't go down that road, I got stuck, there's a tree down there, don't go down this road.

I did the whole neighborhood, basically, in a grid, just to go out, see the sites, figure out if anybody had lost power, see if anybody needed help getting dug out. And that little thing was absolutely unstoppable, so it's been great. I've been appreciating the electric flexibility so far. And I think that's probably going to be the theme of it, as we round this up, because I don't think we're going to have it with us too much longer at this point, just a couple more months.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Yeah, and just to be clear, you do have a level 2 charger at home, right?

BYRON HURD: Yeah. Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Makes the difference, yeah.

BYRON HURD: Which is-- yeah, it's great. And of course, the BMW has its own 110, so I just leave that in the car, in case I end up someplace where I can plug it into a regular 110 outlet. So far, that actually hasn't really come into play, mostly because whatever destination I get to, I usually still have a charge, and if I'm shopping or something like that, then you know, I'm not looking for a plug in a strip mall. But if it's a larger destination or something like that, it's handy to have that, too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. My one challenge is, when I went to a local Myer One-- and it's Royal Oak, I think-- they actually didn't have the right chargers for the 330e, whic I thought was kind of weird-- that Teslas, they had other fast chargers. So to me, in some ways, what was a very forward-looking car when they launched it, to me, is already starting to feel a little bit like, oh, maybe it's a little bit moving past its time, if you will.

I mean, to go to the snow part, though, I agree with you completely. I drove this thing-- I had it from late November, I want to say, until, like, early February, probably, maybe January, somewhere in there. So I spent, like, winter in this thing. And it was-- you know, I mean, it was great.

I actually think unless the snow is particularly challenging, being low to the ground, I think, can actually help you, with all-wheel drive and snow tires, you know. So yeah, it was a sled.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, absolutely. And honestly, this car-- the paint on it's beautiful. You'd hate to beat it up too bad. But I mean, if you put some nice protective film on the front bumper, you don't even have to worry about plowing. Like, with a good set of snow tires, it just goes.

The one thing I did think was interesting was trying to get the traction control systems and everything to behave in a way that felt normal to me, with the electric torque involved. Because one thing I noticed-- leaving all the nannies on, if you just went out and gunned it in the snow, pretty much, nothing would happen, because the electric torque-- the computer is trying to modulate it so aggressively, so that you don't just sit spin or kick the tail out, even with the all-wheel drive.

So the ability of the ECU to really control how much torque you get to the wheels really becomes magnified by EVs, because there's no sound to it. Like, you just-- you're not hearing the throttle being modulated. You're not-- there's really no feedback telling you what exactly is going on. But the car's just ever so quietly finding traction at all four corners, and then just kind of saying, OK, we're there, and then it lets you have as much as you want, and you go.

And as you dial back on the nannies, you can tell that they had to be kind of careful, just because of the instant torque of the electric motors. Because you don't want it to snap on you. Because it would be like experiencing turbo lag in a very weird situation, where you've got nothing, nothing, nothing, and suddenly, you've got all that torque. And that's not great, if you don't have traction at all four corners.

So it's interesting to see how delicate of a dance that can be, but I'm really impressed with how well BMW did. I never really felt like I was sitting there helpless, like I couldn't move. And at the same time, there was power available somewhere.

So like, you know, as long as it could find it, and it was always able to, with those nice Nokian snow tires, it could get going. So yeah, thumbs up on that front. And then, of course, took the Jeep out after that on the outpost, and that thing-- I mean, that was not driving around trees. It was driving over trees.

So it was a kind of a best-of-both-worlds experience for me. But yeah, so far, I'm in, I think, about week 3 with the BMW now. I'll probably do a long-term update on that to talk about the snow stuff here in the next week or two. So keep an eye out for that.

GREG MIGLIORE: I had a lot to talk about with this car. I was a little surprised at first, and it was in a different way than I thought. Like, going into it I was like, this is gonna be great. Get a 3 series. I like the three series. It's a plug-in hybrid.

And I did an update, where I basically-- like, the headline was like, I have thoughts. I'm conflicted, you know. Just because-- so I don't have a level 2 charger, so I was using the level 1, kind of, trickle charger, if you will, filling it up a lot more than I thought I would be, because I didn't realize just how usably small the fuel tank is.

So it was kind of all over the place with it. I think if you do have a level 2 charger, like you and Zac-- road test editor Zac Palmer, for those of you listening at home, had setups. And you could charge your BMW, and you're good to go, whereas I was kind of more at the mercy of running the charger out of my garage to the car.

And part of this is, my garage is a little messy, so I couldn't pull the BMW all the way in. So you know, I've said this before. I'm not hammering the infrastructure, or even totally the car, but say you live in an apartment, or say you already have a couple of cars. You know, like, it's not like a total unicorn situation. Let me put it that way. So. But yeah, that's the 330e. Let's go all electric, EQE, the sedan. What do you think?

BYRON HURD: It's still interesting to drive EVs, especially back-to-back with gas-burning cars. Just because it completely recalibrates your sense of performance. Like, you go from-- a gasoline car with 400 horsepower and electric car with 400 horsepower performed very, very differently. And the electric car is always-- almost always going to feel quicker.

I have to say almost, because there are some manufacturers who are doing their best to kind of make their EV calibration feel more like gasoline. I don't know why. Volkswagen, I think, would be the number-one call out there, because you look at, like, the ID4. Like, its 0 to 60 is very much what you'd expect from any gas-burning compact crossover. It's not what you'd expect from an electric.

So it's very strange to go into these and think, OK, so I was in an EQE 350 formatic, so it's the all-wheel drive, but it's the base powertrain. And you would think, all right, I mean, a standard Mercedes e-class is basically a German taxicab, right? Like, it's not a phenomenally exciting vehicle.

Yes, it's luxurious, especially the way they're equipped here, but it's not like, oh, yeah, that's a super sedan. But the EQE-- the acceleration you get from it makes it feel like a much more powerful vehicle, even though, ultimately, it really isn't. And if you can be judicious with your inputs, I mean, you can actually stretch the electric range on that a bit farther than it seems like you would be able to on paper.

That all aside, it's just really impressive how well these things handle for being so heavy. And it sounds like we're apologizing for the weight of EVs, when honestly, it's the thing that most of us probably hate the most about them. But on the enthusiast side, that is.

And it's weird. Like, it completely changes your sense of what a car is supposed to do. And it spoils you, in a sense, because you get back out of an EV, into something even like the 330e. And the 330e, by comparison, feels gutless.

And so that all aside, it's really impressive, what Mercedes is doing with this set of cars, where the interior feels very Mercedes. It doesn't necessarily scream, I'm an electric car, everything about me is different, treat me differently. It's just a Mercedes inside.

And it doesn't have the hyperscreen setup that you get in the EQS. So you're a little less overwhelmed by the kind of electronic-ness of everything. It just feels a little more traditional and luxurious in the way Mercedes is.

The flip side to that is, you step out of it and look at it, and it's this weird kind of like-- I keep saying this, but the '90s Chrysler kind of streamlined cab-forward look, which, frankly, Chrysler did a lot better in the '90s. [LAUGHS] So it's like, you can tell that this is an intermediate step, right?

This is not what they expect the EV end game to look like. This is just what we can do now with what we have, especially-- and we'll probably beat on them for a few more years about it-- when you look at the European manufacturers who were responsible for the diesel emissions scandals and all of that, and the fact that they were compelled to go EV more so than kind of choosing to go EV is evident when you see some of the cars they've built so far.

And there are a lot of weird little things we could point to on that, but we could fill an entire podcast just with, like, malicious compliance for manufacturers. But I mean, it really feels like the EQE is like, OK, this is a complete vehicle, but it's not the ideal. So it's very good for what it is, but it kind of makes me more curious to see what comes next.

Because we are getting so close to just holistically wonderful electric cars. There are just a few more obstacles that we still need to clear, and I think that car is a good example of how.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think it's interesting, too, just some of the-- I almost think-- cultural pushbacks we might see towards EVs coming out of Europe. Like, it's a very diesel-oriented part of the world. You know, they literally-- at times, there, the split, as far as, like, fuel, if you will, would be like inverse to what it was in the United States.

Their market was very diesel-heavy, with a little bit of gasoline, whereas with us, diesel is like horse-racing. It's like a novelty, if you will, outside of heavy-duty trucks. And you even saw, this week, that several nations-- I think, sort of led by Germany-- are trying to form a consortium to push back against the EU's ban on internal-- new internal combustion engines by 2035.

So to me, that's a situation that really bears watching. Because you're getting, like, pockets. Like, I think Paris, for example, wants to, like, ban cars within certain parts of the cities, and then other countries, in parts of their countries, where it's probably not all different than it is here, are kind of saying, well, hey, wait a minute. And some of it's technological, some of it's political. So we'll see where that lands.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, and John just did a-- John Snyder, our electric editor-- just did a great op-ed this week about the fact that while electric might be the answer for light passenger vehicles, going forward potentially, as far forward as we can look right now, there's still room for other propulsion in the transportation sector. The problem is it probably just won't be for cars-cars.

Like, the fuels and hydrogen and the other things that are still in development are still viable, but just not necessarily for cars. They would probably be for trucks and over-the-road shipping, that kind of thing, maybe even intermodal transportation that we haven't really defined yet.

But the idea being that, yeah, electric is great for most people who need to commute, for most people who need to take short trips, for people who live in denser urban areas. But there are people, especially in the United States-- because it is so large-- who can't be served by electric infrastructure as it currently exists, and may not be able to, even in 10 or 15 years.

So you know, when you're dealing with a country that's as large-- and in many places, as remote-- as ours, you need a multi-pronged approach, and I think he did a really good job of outlining what that future could look like. So that's worth a read, if you have not already come across that.

GREG MIGLIORE: Definitely. Check that out. Definitely something to read, maybe Saturday morning, over your morning coffee, or right now. Don't delay. Go read it right now. Get to your phone.

We'll go back, maybe, to sort of the middle, if you will-- Toyota Sienna hybrid. It's a traditional hybrid. It's not a plug-in. It arrived on my doorstep last week when the EV 6 went away-- maybe two weeks ago.

I don't know about you, but my long-term loans are flying. It feels like the EV6 showed up, and it was gone. And time's flying, I guess. Right?


GREG MIGLIORE: So. But anyways, the Sienna is a plug-in hybrid. It's very nice. It's the platinum trim. If you're wondering about the powertrain, it's the 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder. And then, you've got three electric motors, total system output. It's 245 horsepower.

That's with everything working at full force. It's all-wheel drive. And then, the transmission is a CVT, an E-CVT, if you will. For a hybrid in a minivan, it's 4,725 pounds, which is not terrible. I mean, for, like, this barge of a vehicle, it's-- not that we care about weights when it comes to minivans.

But you know, I've driven some of these things that feel like transporters, and this is-- it doesn't have that dynamic. It's not quite as, maybe, sporty to drive as, like-- I always thought the plug-in hybrid Pacifica actually was "sporty," air quotes, to drive. Because it's like you just have a really good view of the road, the steering's pretty good, and then you get some of that electric help upon takeoff.

But overall, I'm liking it. I have been using it for preschool drop-off. Minivans are outstanding, let me put it that way, for things like that-- the fact that I can-- just the sliding doors. If you have kids and you've forgotten just how much sliding doors can make your life better, I urge you to go test drive a minivan, because that is-- that's really nice.

And the Sienna is in an interesting place, I think. You know, when you look across the segment, there's a lot of things in it at this point, far more than there were four or five years ago. The fact that it's a hybrid is significant. You know, we also have-- like, the Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in.

And then, you've got the Sedona, which, to me, is kind of like the design play. I think it's the best looking minivan. Then, of course, the Honda Odyssey, which is-- you see a lot of those on the road around here, too.

I think you see the Pacifica and the Odyssey the most in Metro Detroit, which is really irrespective of nothing, but that just happens. It seems to be the market makeup. And I'd say this. They're all pretty good, to be honest.

I've driven most of them. I think they're all very solid and credible. I still tend to put-- I think the Pacifica is near the top of the segment. Maybe it's the top, depending on how you can charge it and how much you're willing to drive around with a bunch of batteries, once your charge runs down.

Then, I tend to look at the Sienna and its hybrid application as being right in there. It's very good. I think you lose some points, because I think the interior is a little dull. The Chrysler is a little bit better. The Honda, I think, is a little bit better.

But if you want a traditional hybrid, this is the one to get. So to me, that's been a really smart play for Toyota. I think they-- it's the best Sienna I've ever driven, which, you know, I don't know if that's a compliment or not, or a bad thing, but it's not totally meant to be a diss. It just is what it is. And it does all the minivan things you want it to do very well. So yeah.

BYRON HURD: I'm looking forward to getting a shot at that, just because-- obviously, I don't have kids, so for me, it's going to be more of, like, what kind of truck things can I do with a minivan. Because I don't have a truck, either, so. [LAUGHS] And that'll be a good opportunity to actually to see how it does in the goods-hauling, I guess, would be the best way to put it-- see if I can make some Lowe's and Home Depot runs with that thing that are worth writing about. I think that'll be fun.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. And I think that's a good take, too, because while the market is-- frankly, me, if you will, people like me who want that, I think it's also good to really dive into the functionality of these things, too. You know, like, how does it work if you're going to go load something up at Home Depot? How does it work--

You get a bunch of different perspectives on these things, too. Like, is this-- how does this look to somebody who, maybe, isn't looking at it the way I might look at it? So I think that's going to be interesting to get your take on it.

I will say this. I think the Sienna is probably one of the worst-looking in the segment. Design is subjective, but you know, Sedona looks great, because I think Kia is just crushing it with design. I think the Pacifica is a pretty good look, too. It's held up pretty well. They haven't done too much to it over the last few years.

I don't know, man. The Sienna just-- it feels like it's got some almost like Lexus-y design cues, like those taillights. It seems a little overwrought, but also dull at the same time. Maybe, who cares? It's a minivan. Who cares? But I don't know.

Just, design is subjective, and that's-- that's, I think, the one downside. But if you want a hybrid, and you want to, like, fill it up and drive for 500-plus miles and not even think about it and do so efficiently, I mean, this is your-- this is your thing.

I mean, after being in the EV 6, which I had to charge a lot, and that's fine, and again, the 330e, which I had to fill up and charge a lot, it's nice to get in a vehicle that just sips fuel, has a huge fuel tank, and you don't even think about it. That's really nice.

I think it's interesting to look at hybrids and gas cars the way we look at electric vehicles, you know. So. So that's the Sienna. Check that out. We have an update from Joel already on site. He was the first person to get behind the wheel.

And got some news. News-slash-features. Kind of a weird one, out of Hellcat world. You wrote this one about the Durango Hellcat owner, who is suing Stellantis because they're still selling Hellcat Durango.

To be fair, I don't know if they ever exactly said when or where they're going to stop. But you know, anybody can lawyer up and file a lawsuit in this day and age. This is America. What do you think?

BYRON HURD: Yeah, this one-- this one is interesting. And if we have any lawyers who happen to be listening, if you are up on contract law and you would like to take a look at the article, I wrote that went up-- it would have been Tuesday-- about the owner who wants to sue over this. Take a look at my take, let me know what you think.

But the basic idea here is that, essentially, the owner is saying that Dodge-- and specifically, he's calling out Tim Kuniskis, who is their brand's CEO-- saying that we're only going to build these for one year. And I think the line that came out when the product was announced was they were only going to build them for the remaining six months of production for the 2021 model year or something like that.

And then, they managed to extend production a little bit longer than that, so they built more 2021s than they said they were going to build. And then, it went on hiatus for 2022, I believe. I don't think there was a 2022 model. And then, now, with 2023, they're bringing it back.

And so the argument that the owner is making is essentially that the more of these that Dodge builds, the less special the original ones become, which, on face value, sure, that makes perfect sense. Like, yeah, your uniqueness didn't use to mean that you could be more than one of them, but your car, in modern parlance, becomes less unique the more of them there are. Sure. I buy that. I think a lot of people would, too.

Whether it actually is on the level of, like-- this guy is saying he basically wants to sue for false advertising. And the thing with advertising is, you actually, like-- it has to be advertised, right? And I don't think anybody was-- like Dodge was out actually publishing advertisements that said, we will only sell 1,700 of these.

Like, you know, there's, obviously, some wiggle room here, but there is this concept of promissory estoppel, where if somebody can prove that they were financially harmed by a promise-- not something written in a contract, but just a promise-- then ostensibly, they can collect damages. So that's basically what this guy's argument is-- that the value of my 2021 Hellcat is now lower, because you have built more of them than you said you would. So I would like you to compensate me.

That's the long and short of it. Whether that's actually going to stick is a whole different thing. And this is a concept that-- I mean, obviously, it's been-- it exists within US law, so it's something that's been tested before. And it's something that people have come across in collectibles markets and things like that.

If you play like Magic the Gathering, the card game from the '90s, which still exists, believe it or not, there's a big controversy surrounding cards that they've promised to never print. But again, there's no contract. And it's something they've kind of tested the legal waters on before, and it's gotten messy.

And the fans, as it turns out, don't really like the situation any more than the game producers do. And I'm sure in this situation-- like, I made a comment at the end of the article that I wrote, that the people who wanted a 2021 Durango Hellcat aren't upset that they're making more of them. It's the people who bought a Durango Hellcat who are upset that they're making more of them.

So this is kind of a weird balancing act for Dodge. And maybe kind of an example for other automakers to keep an eye on, too. It's finding that line where, yeah, you want your cars to be desirable, because that makes them big headliners.

You can get, basically, like, free exposure out of a car you built 20 years ago, if it ends up on "Bring a Trailer," or "Cars and Bids," or something like that tomorrow. Right? That's good for you, because it boosts your brand's, kind of, standing without you actually having to build or sell anything. So there's value in the limited-edition vehicles for Dodge beyond what they get for a customer buying them the day they hit the showroom floor.

And you want to maintain that relationship with your fans. You want those buyers, those whales, especially who are going to come out and spend outrageous amounts of money on something new or special. You want that. But you also don't want to alienate the customers who can't afford it.

Because if you're selling your limited-edition cars to the same 15 people every time you do it, then that's not doing as much for your brand awareness as it would be if you were spreading them around a little bit. Like, you want people to buy your cars. You want them to sell themselves.

You want people to see them on the street, want one, and go buy another one. It's free publicity. And obviously, it's negative when you run into a situation like this. And you know, it can be interpreted as shady, but it's really tough.

And it's a balancing act that I think has really only kind of come to light recently, and something that was-- I think, two, three weeks ago, there was a story about the two brand-new Z06 C8 Corvettes that were listed. One was on "Bring a Trailer," I believe, and the other one on "Cars and Bids."

Neither one of them hit their reserve, and one of them was being sold by a dealer, one of them was being sold by a private owner. And of course, GM has this new rule now where if you try to flip a vehicle, they can either curtail or cancel the warranty on them. There's all sorts of weird stuff that makes it tricky to do.

So like, the automakers are kind of locked in this battle with their own customers, where, you know, obviously, they want them to buy the cars, and they would love for them to give them as much money as they possibly can for them. But at the same time, you know, you need to strike a balance, where your cars are actually accessible to the people who want to buy them, and when you have people sort of monopolizing that channel, as an additional layer on top of the dealers who already have a ton of leverage, it just makes for unhappy customers.

And from conversations I've overheard from Dodge employees, there are a lot of customers out there who are already upset with Dodge because a lot of Hellcats and stuff like that go missing from factories, as we've-- we've covered it. They're getting-- they're being stolen. You know, they get chopped up for street racing and all that kind of stuff.

Imagine you're the person who's put a $35,000 deposit down on a Durango Hellcat that you know for sure you're getting. It gets stolen from the plant. The dealer can't offer you a replacement. They give you your money back.

Great, but you don't have a good story there. So there are a lot of directions that these companies are being pulled in, trying to satisfy owners, who just want nothing more than to give them money for desirable cars. And it's frustrating for everybody when you can't do that for annoying or stupid reasons like theft or the pandemic or things like that. So it's just another layer on this already crazy kind of resale market cake that we've been building over the past few years.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting, too. When I look at this, I kind of wonder if they made a calculated decision. And clearly, this is hearsay. I can't speak to state of mind, if you will, since we're getting really law-and-order-y here.

But I wonder if they were like, hey, we could get in trouble for saying we were going to sell this many units. But somebody's going to sue us. They probably won't. But if they do, let them do it. Because we're just going to-- we'll settle the case. We'll throw a couple of grand at them.

But then, we're going to sell another X number of Durango Hellcats, and that's going to way balance out any little lawsuit. That's just the cost of doing business. So I can see that being, like, just a tactical response.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, absolutely. And also, you have to figure, too, that, I mean, in order for you to trigger this promissory estoppel situation, you have to demonstrate that it costs you money. And the only way you can do that is by selling the car. Because if you don't sell the car, then the value in that car is entirely theoretical.

Because its value is what the market will bear, right? So if this particular order turns around and sells the car for $125,000, let's say, he would then have to make an argument that he could have gotten more for it had Dodge not built additional examples of the car. And proving not only that they could have gotten more, but how much more, is very tricky. Because it's entirely hypothetical.

It's like yeah, if they had built fewer of these, I could have, maybe, gotten another 25,000. How do you prove that? And that's the problem. So you'd have to go back to examples of cars that were sold before additional ones were built, and try to kind of extrapolate the value of a sale years later.

I mean, you would be able to argue that maybe the car appreciated in that time. You might also be able to argue that the car depreciated in that time. So if there's a lot out there, it's not a simple matter of, hey, you promised you'd only make this many, and now, you owe me money.

So it's like you said. Like, when you're dealing with volumes this small, even if this does turn into a class action suit, which is what this individual is hoping, the class is, by definition, very limited. Because if they built-- it sounds like they built fewer than 2,000 of the 2021 models. That's a very small group of people to represent in a situation like this.

And how much leverage will you really get? And again, these are all people who are like, you're going to have to demonstrate that you've been harmed financially. And doing that, I think, is going to be the trickiest part for these people.

Because the number of them that have sold is going to work against them. Because the smaller the population you have to work with, the more difficult it becomes to point out trends, whether they're the kind of trend you're hoping for or the kind of trend you're not. So it's going to be difficult.

And I think-- and again, I mean, I'm not a lawyer, and I would love to hear from somebody who is, who wants to pick apart my argument. If you've got anything for us on this, feel free to email me. You can find me on our blogger list, on autoblog.com-- byron.hurd@autoblog.com, if you'd like to reach out directly.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting, too. You're not a lawyer, but you sound like one. And I thought your link to the Cornell Law School, which actually-- their [INAUDIBLE] must be really good. When I was looking up advertising, they were the first result.

I'm like, oh, hey, look. This is just right next to the story Byron cited. Just as far as sort of proving false advertising, the law itself is vague enough that it would seem they could probably meet that criteria, but how well they could meet that, you know, is going to be tricky.

And sort of the fourth or fifth bullet point here is that there was a likelihood of injury to the plaintiff. I mean, kind of good luck with that, you know? And I don't really see that you have to prove malice anywhere in this. It's a little bit different than, say, like, journalism and media law.

So I mean, it's going to be tough, I think, a very uphill battle for them to, like, just say the company made a different decision a year or two later. I mean, like, how do you make that, literally, a federal case? So I mean, that's going to be tricky.

And I think it's interesting, too-- you speak of a value. Like, if this were like, I don't know, a super rare Shelby GT 500-- 50 of them, they're signed by Parnelli Jones-- that's one thing. At the end of the day, this is just a really high-powered Durango.

Like, it's entirely reasonable to think that this thing is not going to be worth more than it was, just simply because there's a hell of a lot of Durangos rolling around. So that could be tricky, too.

BYRON HURD: And another angle that Dodge can always take with this, too-- and it would be interesting to look back and see whether this is true. But if they made any changes to the car, even if they were, like-- they offered it in different paint colors or different options, or they removed an option or something like that-- if they can demonstrate that the 2023 is in any way materially different-- and it doesn't-- I don't even think it would need to be significant.

And again, lawyers, correct me if I'm wrong. But like, if they can say, well, the 2023 model does this little bit differently, then the 2021 model-- so technically, they're different. And we did say we would limit the number of 2021 Durango Hellcats we would build, but we didn't say anything about 2023. Like, you know, there's going to be wiggle room, and they're going to try to exploit it. So.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I mean, it's rare that a vehicle changes over completely unchanged. Even if it is essentially carry-over, they change something, you know, even if it's just flashing the infotainment. So you know, we'll see. It's interesting.

And then, to really dig into this, look at the precedent. I mean, how many car companies have said, hey, we're doing this limited-edition model, oh, hey, everybody snapped them up, let's do 500 more, let's do another one. You know, the Ford GT comes to mind. You know.


GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting, because normally, the owners are just so happy to get the car. They don't lawyer up and sue, you know. But in this case, it's like, I don't know. It's a very interesting story.

We don't see too many class-action lawsuits in the car business related to product. Usually, it's when somebody gets hurt or-- usually, when somebody gets hurt-- or recalls.

BYRON HURD: Exactly.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I don't know. I think this could be a good one for an update. Who knows? You know? Good one to maybe get a hold of a lawsuit.

All right. Wow, that really-- that just makes me think, when is the next episode of "Law and Order" coming up? They usually come out on Thursdays. It's Wednesday. So staying with Dodge here, let's talk a little bit about the Hornet.

Disclaimer-- Byron drove it last week. We're not going to talk impressions. We'll probably get to that in a future podcast-- driving impressions. But he's free to talk about everything else that happened.

So how is the trip? This is the first big Dodge trip you, or really any of us, have been on in some time. I imagine there weren't some lawyers for this other guy crawling around looking for statements. But how was it?

BYRON HURD: It was a very, very nice drive. We went to Asheville, North Carolina, which is not not the kind of place you would think of for this kind of thing. Normally, especially this time of year, it's, oh, we're off to California to drive the whatever it is.

So it was a nice change of pace. Asheville is a beautiful, beautiful little town, great college town feel. It does not feel like the Carolinas. It's a very strange kind of, like, hippie enclave in the mountains. It's delightful.

It was a wonderful place to drive. And they have beautiful roads out there, which were great for a drive event. We really got to put the car through its paces.

I think the thing with Hornet-- there are a lot of things. There's going to be a lot to cover next week. So on Wednesday, when this goes live, you'll be able to read all about it.

But the key here is that Dodge hasn't built a small, compact crossover vehicle like this before. This is kind of new to them. And so of course, they've drawn on Alfa Romeo, which has its own new vehicle it's doing, and it's also closely related to the Jeep Compass.

But they made some interesting choices with it. We've got-- you basically have your option of turbo, or turbo plus electric. And there's no, quote unquote, "base engine," for this. The base engine is that 258-horsepower turbo, and you get all-wheel drive.

So it is, for Dodge at least, what seems to be a very premium product, and one that kind of flips the script on what you would expect from Dodge. And it's going to be interesting to see the split on buyers between the base turbo engine and the plug-in hybrid. There is a pretty big spread between them, price-wise.

There's not a big spread between them, power-wise. In fact, depending on how you're driving the plug-in hybrid, it actually produces less horsepower than the standard turbo version. And again, I'm being very cagey with my language here, because we get into what's a driving impression versus what's just the numbers.

If you actually break down the numbers on the plug-in hybrid, the actual power output is about the same as the standard turbo model. But it takes advantage of a feature that momentarily increases the output. It's very similar to the Ford Focus ST's overboost, in that I believe the ST was rated at 240 horsepower.

That figure included overboost. So that was not all the time power output. That was when the engine was running cool enough and all the systems checked out. It would unlock those extra few pounds of pressure and give you the full 240 horses.

The Hornet's plug-in feature that allows for the full advertised power works very similarly. Only, it uses the electrical components of the car, rather than the turbos, to do it. So think of it as a momentary overboost, only it's power is being extracted from the battery, rather than asking your turbines to work overtime.

There's a weight penalty for the plug-in. So the car is, obviously, significantly heavier with that big battery pack. All of these things combine to create two very different cars. That's really all I can say at this point about it.

But I'm really interested to see how people react to, first of all, the power output of the base model, which, when you look at the new Jeep Compass, with its 200-ish horsepower version of the same engine-- the 2.0-liter inline four-- that's what says base engine to me. So this is kind of a Stellantis way of saying the Compass, somehow, is the entry level for their compact crossovers, with Dodge then slotting in between that, and Alfa, which is not the hierarchy I think most of us would have expected.

Normally, we think of Jeep as being the slightly premium alternative to a Dodge, in many cases, where they overlap. And in this case, that script is flipped a bit, because you would think of, like, the Grand Cherokee, especially with the previous generation that lined up a little more closely with the Durango. It was a two-row that cost as much as a three-row Durango. So you were expecting premium content, higher-quality materials, all that kind of stuff, from Grand Cherokee, that you wouldn't necessarily expect from a Durango.

So if you draw that same parallel between the Compass and the Hornet, it's reversed. So the Hornet is the premium entry. The Hornet has the power. The Hornet is the more interesting one.

So it's weird that they did it. It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. And it's also-- you have to kind of feel for Dodge's product planners just a little bit, because had the Inflation Reduction Act not included all the provisions for domestic production of the electric components to qualify for tax rebates, the plug-in hybrid Hornet could have been a lot cheaper than it's going to be.

So that-- if you lease, you can still take advantage of it. So if you're leasing, you can get the plug-in, and it's a lot less expensive. So maybe that makes it more worthwhile. If not, if you're buying, it's a large-price discrepancy between the two of them that may not necessarily be reflected in even the numbers.

So again, that's right up against the limit of what I'm allowed to talk about before we get around to next Wednesday. But encourage you all to check it out, especially if you're interested in this segment. It is going to be the most powerful base, mainstream Compact crossover out there.

The number's there. That's not giving away anything you don't already know or couldn't already find out today. So keep that in mind, and we'll come back to this in a bit.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, check it out. I think, you know, maybe I'll be your lawyer here, and I'll urge you to stop talking. We'll leave it out there.

But I'm very intrigued to drive this thing myself. I think it looks pretty good. I think Dodge has had some success in the past. Like, the Dart was essentially an Alfa Romeo platform, and it even vaguely looked a bit Alfa. They've had some success, sort of, using-- sharing some of the platforms, the technology between those two brands.

So more on that to come. And Hornet, I think it's a great name. They almost used it before. Jesus, it's probably 14, 15 years ago. They were going to make it a small car.

It was going to be like a rebadged Nissan. And as part of that deal, they were going to trade the RAM pickup to Nissan. You probably remember this. That was, like, right before bankruptcy, when they were desperate to get a fuel-efficient car in their lineup, and they had no way to do it, basically.

So they-- that was like the trade they were offering up. The Nissan was going to be called the Hornet, and they were going to-- the next Titan would have been RAM-based, which, man, talk about footnotes in history. I mean, that would have really screwed, like, Stellantis, that was that Chrysler. And Nissan would have a very different conversation about its full-size pickup truck game. Let's put it that way.

I don't know if people would have flocked to Nissan, knowing that it was a RAM. Hard to say. But man, what a strange chapter in history that was. And I think Sergio Marchionne came on board, and that was one of the first things he did. He was like, oh, hell, no, we're not doing that.


GREG MIGLIORE: You want a small car? We could get that Fiat 500 over here. You can sell that at some of these dealerships. That'll make the government happy. It's all good.

Whoever was in charge of that deal, hit the road. We're going to shred these contracts, dunzo. So that's the-- and of course, the Hornet has a great history before that. Well, a lot of it's good. Let's put it that way. Some of it's not so good. But it's a storied history, I guess.

BYRON HURD: This is true.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, Kia EV9. Just dropped yesterday, late in the day. Brett Burke saw it. He's one of our contributors. He's got some really nice design observations in this piece as well.

This is interesting, you know. We've both driven the EV6, and now, we're seeing how they're going to scale up to larger vehicles. All we know is how it looks. You know, and we're basically getting it sort of second-hand, too, but it looks pretty good.

You know, there was some chatter this morning in Slack about the interior. I can't get a good read on it myself, as far as that. But looks good.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. And that's-- I mean, that's pretty much where I am on it right now. I think they chose the wrong interior to show for this-- for the debut vehicle. Just the lack of contrast, the all-gray tone, everything kind of gives it that sort of early-'90s concept-car look to it.

Like, it looks like it could be the interior of an expensive and fast boat, and not necessarily a pretty one. So I don't know. Like, it really-- honestly, I'm not trying to criticize, because the design looks fine.

And the whole idea of, basically, it just being a longer EV6 works perfectly. Like, it doesn't need to be anything but a three-row EV6. So you know, the bar is not set particularly high on this one. It's a family hauler. It doesn't need to set the world on fire. But certainly promising for what we've seen so far. I'd just like a better look at a-- perhaps, an interior with a bit more contrast to it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. Family hauler-- I mean, you've got my attention. So let's see. Then we'll close out this kind of news feature section with, Rivian appears to have its deal with Amazon. This is for 100,000 delivery vans. It may be over.

Now, one of our contributors, Stephen Williams, who's done some work for "The New York Times," wrote this one up. We're kind of aggregating this one, actually, off the "Wall Street Journal." We'll see.

This was a big deal, because it gave Rivian, sort of, credibility back in 2019 when there was some talk that Ford did end up taking a big stake in them. They kind of edged out General Motors. Rivian really was the hottest thing three or four years ago.

And now, as you look at some of the stocks prices and just the number of vehicles they've produced, like many of their ilk, it's-- I wouldn't say the bloom is off the rose, but people are looking at some of these new EV makers a little more cynically. Like, hey, where's my car, man? That kind of thing.

This, though, originally, it was one of the paths on their-- like, the touchstones on their path to legitimacy-- is they had this deal with Amazon. We'll see. I mean, the other thing is, maybe they don't need it. But it always seemed a little one-sided, in that it was exclusive for Rivian, but not exclusive for Amazon.

Because why would Jeff Bezos ever do that, right? I mean, I think he knows how to make a dollar or two. Why would he ever agree to put all of his delivery footprint in the hands of this company that, at that point, hadn't even made a thing? But we'll see. Maybe it's mutually beneficial. I don't know.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, they're kind of spending it as Rivian having the opportunity to branch out and explore other arrangements. And I mean, that's true, but I can't help but wonder if they'd rather just have all those guaranteed sales, rather than opportunities, you know. So yeah, it'll be interesting to see how that kind of pans out.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I-- clearly, Rivian would need Amazon more than Amazon needs Rivian, obviously. I don't know. Speaking of lawyers who have really guest-starred in this podcast, I wonder if somebody told them, hey, you, you can't really fight this exclusivity part of the deal, you might just want to try to get out of it.

On the other hand, like, I don't really think there's that many companies, especially of the size and scale of Amazon, that are going to line up and say, hey, Rivian, let's go. You know?

BYRON HURD: Especially when you see the Postal Service just signed a deal with Stellantis for ICE and with Ford for EV. So one of the best opportunities they would have had is already off the table.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's a really good point. That's a good point. OK, should we spend some money?

BYRON HURD: Let's do it.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Let me-- this is a good one, Dave writes, I have another Spend My Money request. Thanks for writing back in, Dave. And this may be a unique one.

Currently lease a company car, and he's changing jobs, so I have to turn the car back in on my last day. My new employer also offers a car company lease program, but it may take four to five months to arrive after he orders it, just because it's 2023.

Evaluating options to cover me in the interim. My wife has her 2011 Nissan Rogue, and he has his 059 11 Carrera S manual. This was the third car.

Here are the options. Option one-- get by, by daily driving the 911 for several months. He has two sons in booster seats, and they still fit in the back of the 911. I have a booster seat. I haven't tried that in the back of the 911. That's interesting.

Plus, he has a roof rack, in case he needs to move cargo when the Rogue is not available. He doesn't mind the extra mileage and the wear and tear in the 911. I say, more power to you, man. I think, use your stuff, you know? I mean, don't worry about some of the extra mileage, wear and tear, if you will.

Option two-- buy a cheap $10,000 practical vehicle, like an older Toyota Lexus SUV or minivan. Use it, then sell it. Minimizes the mileage and wear and tear for the 911. Option three-- find a reliable-ish four-door unique, fun, quirky, practical vehicle, also for about 10 grand, to use for several months, and then sell it.

He closes with, I don't know if this unicorn exists. What other options am I not thinking of? Signed Dave. So thanks, Dave.

My initial thought right here-- and I don't want this to sound lazy-- is maybe just keep-- see how far you can ham-and-egg it with the 911. It sounds like you've got a system in there that does work. It's probably not going to be ideal.

Maybe you get the company car sooner than you think. It seems like by the time you actually go to the trouble of researching and buying another car, you could be pretty close to getting that other car. And then, what do you do?

Now, the downside to my proposed option is you probably could make some money if you found something decent and flipped it. On the other hand, if you find something decent that does-- that isn't as decent as you think, you could end up making it a money pit. It's very hard to find anything for $10,000. So over to you, Byron.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. Honestly, I think in that position, granted, use values are so stable right now that you probably could get away with buying a secondary vehicle and selling it for what you paid, or maybe even a little more, or at least not losing that much. I agree.

The thing is, with the window being so uncertain and everything really being so uncertain, I would hesitate to buy another car, unless you thought it was something you might actually see value in keeping long-term, even after you replace it with the company car. That way, just in case, for whatever reason-- things change in the next few months-- it's something you can live with, right?

It's not-- you're not committing to it entirely, but at least you're saying, well, whatever happens, I wouldn't be miserable driving this indefinitely. You know, and that makes it kind of a tougher purchase decision. And at $10,000, if that's kind of where you're hoping for, I mean, like an older BMW wagon something like that might be a good kick-around car for just a few months.

I would hesitate to overspend on something-- I would assume Toyota Lexus are being floated for their kind of sturdy resale value and their strong reputation, where you feel like you can buy a Toyota or a Lexus, in whatever shape it's in, and it's still probably worth whatever you paid for it in a few months, because nothing's going to go wrong, right?

And that's probably going to be true of, really, anything you buy, because that's a really narrow window, especially if you're not going to be putting a ton of miles on it. But it's like-- this is basically describing why I bought the Matrix when I bought the Matrix two years ago. It was a practical vehicle that I could use when I wasn't driving my Challenger or my Jeep, because those were both two-door-- sure, they're four-seaters, but nobody wants to ride around the back of either one of those if you can help it.

So the Matrix made a little sense, in that, well, if I decided I didn't like it all that much, I could flip it. Or if I decided it was worth keeping, it's the kind of car you can keep for a while and not worry about it sitting, because it's Toyota Matrix. It's a Corolla.

So if you think you can get away with it, sure, but I just don't know what cars to suggest, especially because it sounds like you're trying to avoid falling in love with this thing, which means you probably just-- it's a utility play. And I think my advice would be start with the 911.

And if you realize that that's more than you want to do to that car, then worry about it. Because maybe you get through the 911, you do two months with the 911, you realize it's not a good fit, and you say, OK, well, I park that. Can I get by for three months on Uber and Lyft or whatever?

Is there an option out there for me? I mean, you might even be able to find a dealer who would do a short-term deal on like a lease, basically. So you never know. There are options out there, but this is a tough one, just because of how narrow that window is.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting, too. You mentioned, like, a short-term lease. I think you could-- I mean, you could also look at, like, Turo or one of these kind of, like, sort of newer rental leasing things. You could just do, maybe, literally, rent a car.

You know, maybe see how far you could get in the 911, then see how much farther out your company car is, and make, like, a tactical, in-between play. Looking at, like, a $10,000 just whatever, some interesting lists out there. I came across one on cars.com.

Like, if you were looking to go for, like, a sedan, you could maybe try to grab a fusion, which you probably would be willing to get rid of pretty quickly. You might get find a Mazda 6. You know, these are like 10-, 12-year-old cars. You might end up liking the Mazda 6, and that's a pretty functional car.

Design is a little dated, but it was good for its time. It handles pretty well. It's got a big trunk. You might decide you just want to keep that, and then it becomes like, you know, you have your 911, then you have the Rogue, and you have this practical Mazda.

That does go down a little bit more of the commitment road. There's a good story on KBB from our friend Nelson Iyerson, who's done some freelance work for us, where he's got some of the SUVs on here. This is one where I think you get a little more could get a little wilder.

You could go with, like, a Nissan Xterra, like one that's, like, 10 years old. That was kind of like blocky and SUV-like. Or like, you know, at 8-, 9-, 10-year-old Subaru Outback. And you might decide-- that's a good list, by the way-- that the Outback is one that you might just like.

To me, that could be one-- get in there, and you drive it for five years, and it becomes part of your rotation. Maybe it's a little bit newer than the Rogue, and your wife decides to unload the Rogue. That could maybe be a good car swap.

Or like, you like the Xterra. You just get in, like, a 10-year-old off-road-style vehicle, and you're like, oh, man, you can't get this too much anymore, and Jeeps and Broncos are super expensive. Maybe you roll around in that, and feel kind of like the cool dad. That could be fun.

BYRON HURD: And I'm looking at a couple of the-- I was suggesting the BMWs. You can find-- well, looks like 328 eyes and the 2007-to-2009 range. But-- and these are going to be under 10,000. But you're going to be getting them with miles. You'll be getting at least 120-- 150,000 miles, it looks like.

But I mean, those older ones-- at least they get that naturally aspirated inline 6. So the potential for issues is much smaller than it would be with, maybe, a modern compact turbo engine. So an older BMW like that may not be a money pit. It might actually-- it might actually be a good fit for something like this, especially if you want it to be different, but you know, at least conventional enough that you can take it just about anywhere to get it serviced.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a good take, too. Because if you did get, like, say, a BMW wagon of that kind of vintage, you might decide you really like it. And then, that just becomes like a fun investment. And those things, I think-- with the number of miles, you know, you're probably not going to be able to flip it for more money.

But there's always going to be a market for people who want, like, a BMW wagon. So it's not going to go to zero. Let's put it that way. That could be a fun approach, too. So we've given you a lot of ideas, Dave. Let us know what you do. Thanks for writing back.

It is spring. We're on the cusp of March Madness. What do you do this weekend, Byron? You got any spring beers? You get to watch basketball? Are you much of a hoops guy for college?

BYRON HURD: I do enjoy March Madness. I don't actually have any plans for it this weekend. I'm actually going to take advantage of our newfound daylight savings time and go get at the lawn a little bit, I think. Because there's still a lot of new-to-this-property-type stuff that I need to be taking care of.

So I've got a whole lot of dirt back there that I'm trying to turn green. And this is-- we're starting to get to the time of year where it's kind of optimal to start trying to fill that in.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, speaking of turning green, I am a proud Michigan State alumni. So this is the time of the year where we really care about basketball, because quite frankly, it's usually Final Four or bust for us.

It's been bust a lot lately. So we'll see. Hopefully, it's-- hopefully, it's a good run, but we'll see. By the time this podcast drops, we may be already out of the tournament. We'll see. You never know. You never know.

So if you enjoy the show, please leave us five cars-- five cars? That would be great. Give us five cars. I'll take three, send one to Byron, and one to Dave. That would be five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever the hell you get this show. [INAUDIBLE] Spend My Money. That's podcast at audible.com. Be safe out there. Cheers.