Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Mercedes-AMG E 53 and BMW 2 Series | Autoblog Podcast #734

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore and Senior Editor, Consumer, Jeremy Korzeniewski kick things off with a discussion of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and the future of the brand. The Mercedes-AMG E-Class is next up, followed by the BMW 2 Series Coupe.

Next, Senior West Coast Editor James Riswick reports from the ground at the first drive of the latest Honda HR-V.

Our hosts revisit the week's news, including automakers requesting a lift of the EV federal tax credit cap, Chevy giving us a peek at its electric Blazer and Ford recalling millions of vehicles, including about half of all the Mustang Mach-E EVs it has sold. Finally, they dig through the mailbag to help a reader decide whether to purchase a Ford Focus ST or another hot hatch.

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

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We have a great show for you. We're going to talk Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-AMG E53, the BMW 2 Series, and that's just what we've been driving. We have HR-V Dispatch, our series on reports from the field, if you will. And we'll break down some car news. Car executives want the tax credit cap lifted. The Chevy Blazer breaks cover. It's quite the looker. And there's a couple of Ford recalls that are pretty significant. Finally, we will spend your money. With that, let's bring in senior editor for all things consumer, Jeremy Korzeniewski. How are you?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I am hot and sweaty. It is-- we're recording this, and it's pretty early in the morning. And it's already sweltering out here in Columbus.

GREG MIGLIORE: 80 degrees here in the northern suburbs of Detroit. And it is, again, pretty early. And it's not just hot, it is, as you said, sweaty.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, it's like a--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's damp.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, it's like a swamp outside.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cut the grass with my electric lawnmower last night, and I was drenched by the time I was done with it.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I went and saw--

GREG MIGLIORE: I was not quite ready for that.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I went and saw a concert, an outdoor concert last night, which was really poor timing. We bought the tickets way in advance, not knowing that it was going to be 94 degrees out and sweltering. Yeah. So fortunately, we found a spot in the shade, and water was readily available. But, man, it was hot. Uncomfortably so.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, there's some great outdoor venues around here. But it-- you know, you really got to start putting down some, like, I don't know, hydration beers, some Coors Lights or something, just to keep-- probably electrolytes isn't the right word, but to stay hydrated.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I walked up to the beer stand, and I was ordering a local Platform, Platform Ohio. It's a Ohio brewery. I was about to order a Platform IPA, and I said, you know what? Make that a Mich Ultra. And he looks at me, and he's like, yep, got to stay hydrated.

[LAUGHTER]

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I was going to say, a Platform IPA in this weather, I mean, you need one or two of those, and you're done.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, exactly.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, let's talk about what we've been driving. Don't drink and drive, as a friendly reminder to everybody out there. But we'll talk some summer beers maybe as we get through the podcast. I guess, let's kick things off with the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. I mean, why not, right? This is the first Rolls-Royce I have ever driven.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Oh, wow.

GREG MIGLIORE: I've been fortunate-- I've been fortunate to drive some cool cars, as I know you have. And just, there's certain, like, edge case cars that just don't come to the fleet, maybe you don't-- like, a trip comes up, and you're not able to make it work, somebody else goes on it. That's just the way the world works. But this one costs $429,400. The base price was $341,500. I, of course, had to go with some options and some other things, nearly $80,000, $90,000 worth of options. But it was a beautiful car.

You know, I-- I'm coming up with kind of like a bit of a feature. And basically, some of the things that stood out to me is what I'm trying to, like, sort of contextualize. Because we've already done a road test. We've already done a first drive. So, I mean, for me, it's kind of like, does this car feel more special than something else you might get? And I did drive a Maybach fairly recently. I would say, slightly more. It's one of those things, though, where just the aura of Rolls-Royce does still have tremendous just, like, value. There's a cachet to it.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: For sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: So to me, it is still a Rolls-Royce. And, I mean, when you pull up in a Rolls-Royce, I mean, you know, people just-- their jaws drop. They're like, what is that? So it was tremendous.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Yeah, interesting-- interesting you say that because I've driven a couple of Rolls now. I had a Rolls-Royce Ghost for, like, a week. And then I did the initial press launch in Switzerland of the most recent Phantom. And, I mean, I thought-- the Ghost I drove first, and I thought, wow, this car is special. And then I drove the Phantom, and I'm like, no, this car is special.

And I think the-- you know, you buy a Ghost because you want to have the appearance that you're driving a Rolls-Royce. Like, you know-- and I totally get that. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. You buy the Phantom if you actually want the real legit Rolls-Royce experience, you know, like the ridiculous solidity of the ride, the just, I don't know, opulence and, like, cut out of a single piece of metal feeling.

And I've never driven the Cullinan. So I don't know if it, like, has that kind of sense of specialness or not. Being that it's like its own bespoke thing, my assumption is that it probably does. And, you know, I still think of the Phantom as, like, Rolls' flagship, like the quintessential Rolls-Royce. But I think the one that we're going to be seeing the most on the roads moving forward is, for sure, going to be the SUV, right?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I mean, this is-- I mean, I tell you what, when Rolls-Royce finally does an SUV, like, you know that's where the market is.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And Ferrari coming right up.

GREG MIGLIORE: Ferrari coming right after them. I thought it-- as far as like, does it feel like a Rolls, like some of the cars you mentioned, and I haven't driven the Ghost or the Phantom, part of it was the name, which I believe is like a rare jewel or something, or evokes that. I think because it's an SUV and it is like a different kind of name, for me, there was a little bit of not quite the aura. Still a ton of aura, if you will. It's still a Roller. But that part was a little bit different. And even some people, you know, remarked when I pulled up, and like, oh, that's a Rolls Royce, that's cool. But it was also like, but that's an SUV.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Right.

GREG MIGLIORE: And, you know, even pick your different brands that do things that are a little different than what they maybe originally have done, you know, like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which they've done that for years. But still, when you see an enormous Jeep SUV, it's a little jarring. Or different Porsches, things like that, there's still a little bit of dissonance, I think. So-- but, I mean, as far as like just the styling cues, I mean, the hood ornament goes up and down, the Spirit of Ecstasy.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Does it have umbrellas that pop out of the doors?

GREG MIGLIORE: I did not see those.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Oh, boy.

GREG MIGLIORE: It may have. I don't see them on the option list here, though. It did have the suicide doors that open up. And you can use buttons so that it can open or close at a push of a button. Like, all just this, like, "Downton Abbey" level of opulence was there. It was interesting, too, because it was Jubilee Silver. And so this is the week of the 70th, or it was the week of the 70th, for the queen. So it's like, well, this is all just kind of lining up.

It did remind me, too, it was a little imposing, if that makes sense. I'm trying to find the specific color. It was-- where did that color go? It was-- in simple terms, it was gray, but with a little bit of, like, kind of black on it. So it really had that kind of like British battleship kind of look, if you will, as far as being imposing. So that was cool. So anyways, it's a very imposing vehicle. It is about as long and wide as I think, a Chevy Tahoe. I think it's actually even wider than a Tahoe by a few inches. So it's a big vehicle.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So it's battleship gray and the size of a battleship, basically.

GREG MIGLIORE: I was doing--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It kind of floats over the road like one, too, right?

GREG MIGLIORE: Indeed. Have you ever heard of a boat called the HMS Hood, ship?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I don't think so.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, it's a battleship the British built for World War I. It was sunk in World War II by the German Battleship Bismarck. That is your history lesson from Greg. But I happen to be just kind of randomly googling that chapter in history, and, I don't know, just British things kind of lined up when I had the Roller. I'm told that there were crystal flutes somewhere, but I didn't have them in there, or at least they could come with it. That may be another COVID thing.

The Maybach we had a few weeks didn't have the silver-plated flutes. So, I mean, even in-- it's 2022, inflation, still pandemic, vestiges, you got to have some cutbacks. You can't have-- we can't be sharing crystal flutes, I guess. So it goes.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So it goes.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I don't know, I mean, it's a Rolls-Royce. My story will be coming out in a couple of-- probably maybe next week, I think. You know, I think it's-- I think after driving this car, it gave me, I think, a good inclination and feel that the brand is still pretty viable. Because sometimes you wonder like, well, OK, what really is a Rolls-Royce in this day and age? Well, it really is a rolling status symbol that's built like a tank, that is just super luxurious. Obviously, there's always a market for stuff like that. But then when you experience it, you feel like, hey, this is definitely a legit execution, so.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. I mean, that's the thing about it. You mentioned it's a status symbol. You know, basically, you can get a much less expensive vehicle that's going to drive super well, feel super luxurious, give you all the bells. I mean, you could very easily cut the bill of the Rolls-Royce in half and end up with a really great car. But it's not a Rolls. And so as long as people are saying, but it's not a Rolls, then I think the brand will be viable.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think you have a-- give a great point. I mean, you can get a Maybach for literally half the price, which is probably another super expensive car. You can get a rare vintage car for half the price. So it is, how do you want to prioritize? How do you want to, like-- like, what kind of level of richness do you want to portray, you know? And, I mean, it's clear-- this is generational wealth as opposed to, like, an S Class, which, you know, you can just be doing well on your investments and probably get. So, you know.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You mentioned-- you mentioned "Downton Abbey." Have you ever seen "Gilded Age" on HBO Max?

GREG MIGLIORE: I need to. I don't have HBO Max right now. I need to because I want to get back into "The West Wing." But--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, so you mentioned generational wealth versus, like, new wealth. That's-- the story kind of revolves around that. And it just reminded me of, you know, the more things change, the more they stay the same. You know, like, you're watching the show, and you're like, man, I can't believe they're treating them like that, like they're lesser people, blah, blah, blah. And we're still talking about, well, you know, you could get the Maybach. But for twice the amount of money, you can get the Rolls. And it's, like, a status symbol of generation. I mean, it's the same. Humans are the same.

GREG MIGLIORE: One of the funny things-- and this is kind of a funny footnote to history, too, I noticed-- is Rolls-Royces were used by Lawrence of Arabia in World War I. They-- I was going through the press pack, you know, because when a car arrives, you want to read up on all facets of it, try to educate yourselves. And I thought to myself, this is a really cool chapter of history. I want to try and weave some of it into just this, like, kind of mini feature I'm going to write.

But also, what a stretch. Like, is there-- like, this is an SUV. You're building an SUV. Yes, there's a common thread that Rolls Royces were used for rough, rugged war 100 years ago. But, like, really? I mean, come on. That would be like Cadillacs actually were used in World War I. I believe they were for, like, the generals' cars, which would make sense. And they also had very powerful engines. But would anybody turn around and justify Cadillac making an Escalade because they were used in, like, you know, rugged campaigns 100 years ago? Like, I don't know. It's--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Someone.

GREG MIGLIORE: Someone probably would. But I was going to say, I got to really give them some credit. This is a stretch. It's super interesting. I am going to try to write about it. But, like, wow, OK.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Greg dropping the history lessons in the podcast today, too.

GREG MIGLIORE: So let's go to the present and talk about the AMG GLE SUV that I just drove. This was a paltry $90,000. $90,550 was the sticker. 429 horsepower. This is probably the most extended time I've had with the new inline-six turbo engine. Like I said, 429 horsepower, 384 pound feet of torque. It had that EQ Boost feature, which I thought was pretty neat.

Nine speed automatic, which, you know, is OK. I found it to be a little, like, hunting for gears in the low ranges, unless you were in more of a sporty mode. But overall, pretty good. You know, for me, this reminded me-- I think that I still tend to look at the GLE as maybe the best in its class. It's probably ahead of the X5. You know, and I think they're both very, very good. Beautiful car. It had the AMG interior with, kind of, like, the red and black sort of seats and leathers and all that good stuff. It had the--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I still think that's where-- I think interiors is where Mercedes really sets itself apart from BMW.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You know, they all drive really well. Their powertrains are spot on. Like, everything's great about the experience of it. But the Benz just looks classier inside. Like, the BMW is, like, austere luxury. And Mercedes has kind of morphed into, like, I don't know, more ostentatious luxury, with quilted everything and chrome and matte finishes and beautiful woods and stuff. And they like-- instead of, like, letting that be subtle, they really highlight it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I would agree with that. It's interesting, I am in a BMW X3. So a step down as far as size, but still a very nice vehicle. And interior's pretty nice. But compared to this, you know, I mean, this was a nicer interior. And I would agree with you, especially the AMGs. I think the AMG lineup, even compared to the M lineup, they cost about the same. You know, they use a lot of the same materials, carbon fiber trim, leather. But AMG just pulls it all together in a better way, I think.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. And they do a good job keeping it cohesive. You know, that's-- the one thing about the BMW is, you know, 10 years from now, you'll look at the interior and it's still-- it's not going to be-- the infotainment for sure, but the rest of it's not going to look dated. Like, you're not going to be able to say, oh, that's the BMW of x era. And that probably will be true of the Benz.

But, I mean, we're talking a decade from now, when, you know, these luxury cars are going to be-- they're going to have lost 75% of their value at that point anyway, and then they're just used cars. So I don't think that matters quite so much. But there is something to be said for just kind of, like, consistency of design, which BMW does a really good job interior-wise. A terrible job exterior-wise, but that's a topic for another discussion.

GREG MIGLIORE: Indeed. Have you driven the straight-six, the new Mercedes turbo?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I have, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: What do you think?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Oh, it's my favorite-- it's my favorite of Mercedes current power plants. It's-- you know, there's a reason that car companies continually go back to this straight-six design, and it's because it just works. It just feels right. You know, and there's nothing wrong with a well-balanced V6. It's kind of like-- German luxury inline-six is kind of like American muscle car V8. It's just-- it's just right. It's what it should have. And the Benz is, like, such a great well-executed application.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I would agree with that. I think it's a nice differentiator, too, in this, sort of, era of turbo 4s or enormous V8s sort of on their dying breaths, if you will. It's just a very usable engine. I think it's kind of neat that Stellantis is going to roll one out, too. We're going to see that, speaking of dying V8s and some of the MOPAR muscle cars, I think, and probably across their lineup, plenty of Jeeps.

Really pleased with it. I have driven it before. But this is the first time-- like, I rolled up a lot of miles on this thing. I went out to the other side of town, which is like, geez, how long is that? It's probably a 90 mile round trip, and just a lot of miles piled up on this thing as far is just driving the car, which is great. I was impressed with it. The only thing I would say that bugged me a little bit, and this is more of just the overall, I think AMG 53, like, just vibe, the exhaust note was kind of buzzy, you know?

And at times, I was kind of like, it felt a little more turbo-y as opposed to that real inline-six feel that you want to have, you know? I mean, I guess in some ways in my head, I kind of chose to forget about the turbo and almost tell myself it was naturally aspirated. It's not. But, I mean, that's kind of how I was, like, playing it. But overall, a great car. Handles well. You know, I think the GLE is in a good place, especially in 53 trim.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, turbos in general, when they use it for performance, then you know what you're expecting. Like, you get on the gas, and there's maybe, like, a split second lag and then just whoosh. You can feel it. And it's fun when it's specifically designed to make you go fast.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: When automakers are kind of downsizing their engines, knowing that they're going to turbocharge them because it's a more efficient overall package, then you get what Greg is talking about here. Like, you know, you're wanting just the feel of a naturally aspirated power plant. And when you feel the turbo kick in, it's just a reminder that that's not what you're driving.

But still, I would say that-- I mean, it's just a reflection of the times that we live in that automakers have to do-- they have to pull out all the stops for efficiency in this interim time between gasoline and fully electric vehicles. And Mercedes, honestly, probably does better than most making their inline-six feel like what you want it to feel like, you know, just a solid. I think, ultimately, it's the smoothness. You know, like, it's got plenty of power, but it's just the overall smoothness and properness of it all that I appreciate.

GREG MIGLIORE: I got to really mention, too, this one really looked the part, too. It just-- it was a really dark, almost black color. I think it may have been kind of like a gray. And it just was really a tough-looking vehicle. It had 21-inch AMG twin-spoke wheels with black accents, the enormous AMG grille. You know, it's funny, literally as I said that, an ad for Lexus popped up on the Autoblog home page. So I guess everybody is listening to me, right? But just a really cool looking vehicle, I got to say. A lot of brushed aluminum trim, that type of thing. It was pretty awesome. So--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Awesome.

GREG MIGLIORE: --yeah, that is the GLE 53. Let's switch over to the 2 Series BMW. Which one did you drive?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, let's-- yeah, let's keep it all German.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Even the Rolls is, like, German-owned, even though--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's ancestral, right?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: --company, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know, kind of. Which, honestly, isn't the royal family kind of German, too, on some sites?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, you know, I thought of that earlier, and the moment passed. But yeah, I believe so. I mean, we watch, like, "The Crown" on Netflix and stuff like that. And yeah, you see it's a lot of German influence there. Anyway, I drove the 2 Series Coupe. And remember, there's two 2 Series. And hopefully, that doesn't sound too confusing to people who are listening.

There's the front-wheel drive base 2 Series Gran Coupe, which is not a coupe at all, but is a four-door fastback. And then there's the 2 Series Coupe, which is rear-wheel drive. And that's, like, the classic BMW, too, that you probably instantly think of. The 2 Series Coupe that I drove was the 230, which is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine.

But you can also get the, I think, it's the M240, which is the six-cylinder, nearly 400 horsepower. It feels like a, I mean, total muscle car. The 230 that I drove is still very pleasant to drive. It's nicely quick. It's fairly efficient. I did real well, you know, solidly in the upper 20s, while I had it. And yeah, it's like-- I think of it as the most BMW of all BMWs.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And I mean that in the way that it drives, the immediacy of the-- you know, of its dynamics. It just feels like a BMW more so than most BMWs. And I know that sounds strange. But I think to understand the point, you'd have to have, like, driven a lot of BMWs throughout the years and have really come accustomed and appreciated the way that they drive, the way that they ride and handle.

And a lot of current BMW models, including M models, like the M3 and M4, I mean, the performance of them is just off the charts. But there's a certain syntheticness to it in the steering, the inputs, the throttle pedal applications. They pump fake audio through the speakers. Like, it's in their goal to make faster and faster and faster cars. They took a little bit out of driver enjoyment out of it. And the 2 doesn't really suffer from that. Like, a little bit because it's obviously still-- everything is controlled by electronics.

It's not like you've got a direct-- you know, unboosted steering or a cable connected from the throttle pedal to the engine, like an old car would be. But it feels more like you do. And I really appreciated that. I do think it sits in a unique spot, too, which it's got something going for it, you know? If you are shopping for a sporty coupe, there's not really a whole lot else to choose from.

Like, you'd have to-- you'd have to look at, like, Mustangs and Camaros and Challengers to try to get a similar performance driving feel. But it's a completely different kind of car. There's not a whole lot that competes with the BMW 2 Coupe. So yeah, it's definitely a vehicle that I'd recommend. If you can get away with two doors, and you want something maneuverable and fun to drive, the 2 Series Coupe is a really good option.

GREG MIGLIORE: We are hearing rumors and seeing some prototypes for the next-gen M2 coming up. It sounds like they're going to stick to the script. You know, we're looking at actually a fairly high horsepower is what it sounds like they're going for, 450 horsepower. And somewhat of a traditional styling. But, you know, I would agree with you. Whenever I have driven the M2 or the different versions of it, it's about as close as you get to, like, the 2002 or something, or, you know, the old M3 Coupe.

Or, you know, for a while, they did have the M1, which was kind of-- the 1 Series M, I guess, is the proper thing. They also had the 1M, something different. But, you know, this, to me, is where I think sometimes you can-- where BMW is at its best. They can get some separation from Mercedes. Like, Mercedes can do a luxurious SUV and many times just straight up win on points, if you will, over BMW, and sometimes Audi as far as just full luxurious executions.

Whereas I think BMW, they-- like I said, in the current-- the X3 MN and the X5, they tend to be a little more less over the top, whereas Mercedes really goes for it. When it comes to an M2, though, BMW can really just be like, look, this is who we are. You know? Like, they can just roll the ball out, and I think really, it all just comes together. So this is a car I'm really excited to drive.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, the cool thing about BMWs as well-- I mean, there's a lot of cool things about BMWs these days. But one cool thing is, they're much better performers than you'd think they'd be on paper.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You know, something like 450 horsepower out of the M2, if that really is what it has, it's going to feel more like 550 horsepower from behind the wheel.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And all current BMWs are that way, all the way down to, like, their smaller 2-liter turbocharged engines. They all feel bigger and more powerful than the spec sheet would show, would indicate. And Dyno results show that, too. Like, it's not just your feeling from behind the seat, like it's more powerful than you expected. It really is more powerful than they rate it at.

And I'm not suggesting that they're doing anything, like-- you know, I don't think that they're, quote unquote, "underrating their engines on purpose." I think they're following a very specific set of parameters that the numbers that they're giving captures what it actually does under their circumstances. But out in the real world, they outperform their spec sheet, which is nice because, you know, these days, that's just not true

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: --for most vehicles.

GREG MIGLIORE: No, 100%. I think that's-- and that's a good observation on, you know, just how they-- like, that real visceral experience you get behind the wheel.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Mm-hmm.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, any final thoughts on the M2?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, this wasn't an M2 I drove. It was a 230i.

GREG MIGLIORE: 230i, sorry.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, no, we were just talking M2. Yeah, I do have a couple of final thoughts on it. Another thing that I like about it, and not to-- you know, every time you have me on the podcast and we mention BMW, I always have to talk about the styling because, I mean, they lost me a long time ago with what they're doing on a lot of their-- a lot of their cars. Like, you know, do it to a 7 Series, whatever. But the M3 and M4 are just not attractive cars to me at all, and it kind of hurts me a little bit.

But the 2 Series, they've added some interesting creases. They've bulked out the fenders a little bit, almost like a Group B, '80s Group B rally racer, like, with squared off bulky fenders. I think this is proof that BMW stylists can push and can kind of express themselves without ending up with something that's just unattractive. I really-- I like the kind of bulldog stance of the 2 Series, especially in M240is, I think it looks just-- it looks great. Big wheel arches and wheels that fill out those arches. And it also looks great in purple. Mine was red, but they look beautiful in that unique BMW purple shade.

GREG MIGLIORE: And where do you stand on the grille again?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I hate--

GREG MIGLIORE: Just to be clear.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: --the oversized grille. But I'd like to point out that the 2 Series, in none of its current guises, has the oversized crazy grille. It's got a legit attractive, classically BMW kidney grille.

GREG MIGLIORE: I actually really like the oversized grille. For a while, I was taking the position that it only worked on certain vehicles, like the larger-- some of the larger crossovers or even the 4 Series. I've just gone full-on. I think it works. I think it harks back to some of their great grilles from the '30s, '40s, and '50s. I have no problems with it. I think it's functional. I mean, more air to the engine is not a bad thing. And even some of the different versions they've done where they've sort of toned it down so it's slightly smaller, I think that's maybe a little bit more of a sweet spot. I will give you that it is over the top. But I do think the large grille works. So, I mean, I think we got--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You know, here's where I would stand on it, and we don't need to belabor the point.

GREG MIGLIORE: No.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You can look at the current-- you know, the 3 and 4 Series that have the big grilles, the M versions. You can see that the grille is too large for the vehicle because the hood actually has to blister out to meet the edges of the grille. That's where they lose it. That's where they lose me. If they were to maximize the actual available space that's there with as big of a kidney nostril as they can fit without doing that, I think I'd be like, yeah, it's not really my thing, but it's OK. You know, I get it. That's the design.

But when it is obviously too large to be-- to fit, they've got to, like, push out the edges even to make it-- to make it fit, I think it's no longer cohesive. And that's the problem. So, I mean, just like-- it's like an inch and a half. Like, just take the available space and maximize it, fine. But they're, like-- they're making a statement by going even bigger and then blistering it down so that it comes and meets the natural flow of the body too much for me.

GREG MIGLIORE: Fair take, fair take. You know, that's actually the devil is in the details. I mean, that's a fair take on how they-- they could tweak that grille a little bit and get it a little more closer to perfection, we'll say. I don't know. With that, let's talk about a car that doesn't have a particularly large grille. That's the crossover. James Riswick is on site. He's driving the Honda HR-V. What's going on, James?

JAMES RISWICK: Thanks, Greg. This is West Coast Editor James Riswick. And in many ways, I'm doing exactly what I do every week, I'm driving a car through the Columbia River Gorge, taking in the spectacular scenery. I have just finished taking photos of that car, shooting video. I'm sitting right next to the Columbia River. I'm sure there's a seal somewhere over there and a peregrine falcon overhead. Looking at just mountains on either side, again, totally spectacular.

But in this case, it is different because I'm on a press launch for the all-new 2023 Honda HR-V. It's very convenient. It's right here in my beautiful backyard, so to speak. So the HR-V, it is a lot bigger than the old version. It's almost-- it's over 9 inches longer. It is 2 and 1/2 inches wider. It's also now based on the Honda Civic as opposed to the Honda Fit.

And you can see that, the difference, in the back of this vehicle, whereas the HR-V before had the Honda Fit's, quote, "magic seat," which was the result of moving the gas tank under the front passenger, which freed up underfloor space. It just really opened up a whole lot more back seat and cargo space than the car's footprint would suggest. This car does not have that anymore. It has basically the same amount of cargo space as the old HR-V. So although it's bigger, it has the same interior space.

Frankly, looking at the car, I'm not sure it's going to be as functional. The back seat also kind of low. So, you know, for the subcompact, mid-compact SUV segment, this is probably going to be kind of a mid-pack vehicle in terms of size. In terms of interior quality, this is a lovely interior. It looks-- it's very much similar to the Honda Civic, upon which it's based. It does have that super cool hexagonal honeycomb metal look air vent that goes across the dash.

A little different directional knobs. Instead of having the little round nubs that the Civic has, this has horizontal tabs that have a little metal look piece that continues the straight line through it. It's a pretty nice look. It's really nice materials in this interior, definitely better than average for the mid-compact segment. So think a Kia Seltos, VW Taos, as well as a Ford Bronco Sport.

Now, driving impressions at this particular moment are embargoed. So that's why I'm only talking about things you can see and look and feel in the interior. The other thing is, this car looks a lot different not just compared to the HR-V but compared to other more recently introduced Hondas.

It's not quite that kind of rugged look-ish thing that they're going with the new Passport and Pilot and what we expect to see with the CR-V. And it's definitely not what they're doing with the cars, with the Civic, the Accord, and that kind of started with the Insight. It's its own different thing. Frankly, I can't say I'm a big fan of the look. I don't think it looks that much better in person than it does in photos, particularly from the front. From the rear, it's actually quite nice.

[DING]

In general, though, as my phone dings at me, it doesn't have as much of an SUV look to it. It's a little wagon-y, a little hatchback-y. It's not as crossover-like as some of the other vehicles in the segment. So that's all I can say for now about the all-new Honda HR-V. But otherwise, I'm going to continue on doing what, well, I guess I always get to do luckily every week here in Oregon/Washington, and that's to drive in probably one of the most underappreciated areas in the country for natural beauty.

If you do get a chance to visit us out here, the Columbia River Gorge is just a gem and worth a drive, worth a hike, and definitely a place you want to visit. So thanks. Back to you and the regular podcast, Greg.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, thank you, James. Safe travels home. Let's talk some news, Jeremy. What do you think? Let's see here, car executives want the tax credit cap lifted. In simple terms, this means you will be able to go to the dealer and say, hey, I want this car or this car, this electric car I should say, and get the full $7,500 and not have to worry about, hey, did General Motors sell this many cars, and they've already used up all their tax credits. Or Tesla, I believe, has already used up all of their tax credits because all they sell is electrics.

So this would just make it so it's, like, level playing field. If you can sell more electric cars, you can-- your buyers can get the tax credit. As it is now, you might want a certain car, but you may not be able to get that full tax credit. It's a little nuanced. But I'll say this, if you're in the market for an electric car and you know that there is a $7,500 incentive on the hood from the government, I think that could put you over the edge, you know? So what do you think?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, I've got a couple of thoughts on this. I don't think it's-- I don't think it's fair that they punish car companies for their early success in EVs, specifically General Motors. GM gets a lot of hate from a lot of different people for missteps in the past. But they came out with the Chevy Volt at, like, a perfect time, in my opinion. It was like a-- it was like an early transition from gasoline to electric, and it seamlessly worked. And it was just incredibly efficient.

When-- I had a first gen, the very first model year, so the smallest battery capacity that they had, that they offered over the Volt's model years, whatever. And for the week that I had it, I plugged it in when I could and, you know, just drove on gas when it ran out. And I averaged over 100 miles per gallon. And it was just my normal driving. And I think that's indicative of what you get in the real world for, you know, most people that-- if they don't live super far away from the city and they're making, you know, like, 40, 50 mile commutes all the time.

And it just-- it was brilliant, and it made a lot of sense. And they sold a bunch of them. And then, you know-- and each one of those sales counted-- it was like a notch against them till they came out with the Bolt, and then which, I mean, don't get me started on Volt-Bolt. But hopefully, you guys can hear the nuance in my voice when I say that. The Volt was the plug-in. The Bolt is the full EV. And yeah, I mean, they've sold tens of thousands of those now. And they've hit this point where they're being penalized for being-- for offering consumers an early chance to get on the EV bandwagon.

And Tesla, too. Tesla is the most shining example, obviously, as the world's leader in electric vehicles. They're the best selling EVs in the United States and in the world for good reason. And they're penalized, too. And then there's-- you know, Ford is just-- they dipped a toe in the market with things like the Fusion Energis and the C-MAXs and stuff like that. But, I mean, we're literally talking dipping a toe.

They didn't go fully-- they didn't buy in like GM did. And now they're going to come and vastly benefit at a time when gas prices are super high. And, I mean, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for the consumer that they're going to have this option. But every Mach-E, having the potential to get $7,500 off on your taxes. Or if you lease it, you know, you realize a lot of that savings right off the bat.

So yeah, I don't think it's fair. I think car companies have reason to complain about it, to ask for it to be extended. But here's the devil's advocate view. They could just do away with it at this point. Like, I don't-- I'm not saying that they should. I'm not going to comment on the politics of the matter. But if we're talking about what's fair and what's a level playing field, either give it to all of them or give it to none of them.

You know, you could make a legit case that it's no longer needed. I think, what is it, Senator Manchin, Joe Manchin-- I'm not sure if I'm saying his name right, I've only ever read it, I've never heard it spoken-- from West Virginia, he made a point that car companies are selling every EV that they can build, whether they've got the-- whether they've got the rebate available or not. So does it make sense to extend it? I mean, if you're talking in those terms, maybe not.

However, as far as consumers go, cars are getting more and more expensive. And we're not talking about, like, free money here. We're talking about rebates on your taxes. And you have to have-- your tax liability has to be enough that you're going to realize that savings in the end. Again, unless you lease, and you might realize some of the savings or a good portion of the savings right off the bat.

I mean, I understand the argument to go, like, really all in on it. I think the Build Back Better plan that stalled in, you know, Congress or Senate or whatever, it was going to extend it to $12,500. It was going to add extras for US-made. It was going to add extras for US-made batteries, and also extras if it was made by a union. I think that that was bound to fail because of all those, you know, caveats and gotchas. But I get the idea of really speeding EV adoption.

And, you know, if you believe, which I do, if you believe in climate change and manmade causes of it, we've got to get-- like, we've got to get off fossil fuels. Why not give consumers an extra reason to go in that direction? Like, if you believe that, you know, we're causing this problem and that there's a potential solution to it, and one of the potential solutions is monetary, I mean, if we're talking about money versus the future, that's an easy choice. The future wins every time, right?

So yeah, I mean, it's a very big argument. I think the car companies are probably right to band together and say, you know, extend this because Ford's going to hit the number here soon. And, you know, Toyota will hit the number, and Nissan will hit the number. All the car companies are going to hit their figure where they no longer qualify for it soon enough. So it makes sense that they would all ban together now, even though some of them haven't lost it yet. So yeah, I mean, as a consumer, as the consumer editor, I would be in favor of them extending it out entirely or getting rid of it entirely, one or the other.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's an interesting position staking out there. A couple of thoughts here. One, if they extend it, this could help certain cars tremendously, like the Chevy Volt. Because again, Chevy, General Motors, they've exhausted their credits years ago, actually. So, I mean, now you're talking about a car, you know, nominally a crossover, that could be quite affordable.

You know, that's where a thing-- where if you take $7,500 off the price of some of these sort of mid-level cars, they drop from-- like, let's just make up, an EVX is $35,000. You can get that down to roughly $28,000, that's a screaming deal for what's generally a pretty technologically sophisticated, fun to drive product of the future, right? That's a pretty good deal. So just from, again, like a raw consumer perspective, you could really be looking at, you know, getting into a different higher level of transportation, if you will, if that's what you want to do.

Second thought, there's some tax nuance here. Like, if your liability is not greater than $7,500, you may not get the full credit. So that's the--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Or any at all.

GREG MIGLIORE: Or any at all. And just kind of looking around at some of the, again, nuance to that, you know, we've looked at getting the plug-in Pacifica Hybrid because, hey, it's a hybrid minivan, right, with 30 miles of electric range. Sounds pretty good for a family, right?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Mm-hmm.

GREG MIGLIORE: But I've been talking to my tax advisor like, well, hey, like, you know, how would this actually work for me, you know? I mean, so there is some nuance, you know. And if your tax bill isn't particularly high that year, you know, you've got some things to do, like maybe write off some investments or something so you have a bigger tax hit that year, and then go get your plug-in BMW or whatnot. It's not straight cash that the consumer gets.

I've talked to John Snyder about this, our senior editor for All Things Green. I don't know what his current position is, but I'll go ahead and speak for him. He had suggested that even just more, like, straight incentives could work as opposed to making it this tax thing, which is quite complicated. And one of the reasons that earlier part of the-- earlier, that broader legislation failed is, like, to your point, there were so many different caveats and nuances that, again, I mean, car buyers just want-- they want money. You know, they want to know how much money is on the hood of the car. And even this, which is fairly straightforward, isn't totally straightforward. You know, anything that you have to consult with your tax guy means it's a little more challenging than it could be.

So I think in general, I would like to see them extend it, maybe even increase it. But I could also see a better way of doing it, which might be take away all the incentives and just see if the market could correct on the pricing for EVs. I mean, as it is right now, I think automakers have to try to build in, well, we can-- maybe some people can get the credit, so we're going to charge this much. We can market this price over here. There's, like, a lot of different prongs that go into it.

It might be better for the automakers and the consumers if they could just be like, OK, the Bolt is going to cost $31,000. General Motors is going to know if they're going to make money or not at that point on it. And then you just-- everybody lives with it. And then over time, you decide if, hey, you're going to make more-- like, where your profitability comes in. And maybe it's on, like, the second generation of said product.

So, I mean, that's me going all over the place. But in the short term, I would like to see them extend it and, you know, extend the incentives, but also make it so-- it's a level playing field currently. Like, if you want to invest in EVs, your customers can get that. That's how I would do it right now. But to bring it together, I would agree with you that just a rethinking of the overall strategy. Maybe there's no incentives. Maybe it's more-- or tax incentives. Maybe it's straight cash incentives.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: There could be a better way to do this. This is old legislation, too. It dates to 2004 from the Bush administration. So, you know--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And also, I think-- I think that this is-- OK, and not to get, like, too crazy and nuanced with it, but there maybe should be a price cap on it. You know, a lot of people have brought this up, that like, OK, so you're buying a Porsche, an electric Porsche, that costs $180,000. And Porsche hasn't, you know, hit the thing yet, and you get your $7,500 tax break on it.

Does the person buying a $180,000 Porsche need it? Yeah, probably not. I don't think that that was a big thing that factored into their purchase decision. Someone who's buying a $35,000 Bolt or a $45,000 electric crossover, or even let's say a $65,000 Cadillac EV, those people-- like, that could actually be the thing that sways them into getting the zero emission vehicle. That makes sense to me.

So maybe they can-- I mean, it's never-- I don't think it's ever going to happen because we're talking politics now. But if they just came up with a set of rules that everyone could be on board with. Like, you know, no one wants the super uber wealthy people to just get $7,500 back. But if we want the young family to be able to afford the EV that they couldn't afford otherwise, I think, in general, people would be in favor of that.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting, too, like you mentioned politics, it's also, like-- it doesn't have to be politics. Like, one of my earlier points was, this original policy was, like, President Bush legislation from back then. So it's definitely the kind of thing where, I mean, you know, it's gone through, I mean, what, four different presidents since then or three? So it's like, I mean, you know, both sides of the aisle could look at this and say, hey, how do we want this to work? Is it, you know?

And the other thing, too, I would say is, from an industry perspective, I kind of wonder if-- like, to me, it comes back to the cost of developing this technology. That's where I start to look at it. Like, automakers are trying to bake that figure into the pricing strategy. And to me, that's where things get a little confusing and where maybe there would be a way to do this better. But we'll see. And it's also, like, different states have their own sets of incentives. But again, you've got to have that tax liability, you know, to make it actually pay off. So, you know, I guess we'll see. I mean, it's--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: There's a lot of moving pieces to it. And, you know, even looking at some of the different proposals over the year-- over the years, it does get-- perhaps there's more nuance to this. You know, to me, it should be more like, how does this work for automakers, and how does this work for consumers? And politicians are kind of coming at it from different ways, which is fine. That's how problems are solved or not solved in this country.

But, I mean, there's some tactical things here that, you know, as somebody who's nominally in the market for an EV and who covers the industry, you know, you start to see some of the challenges with the existing legislation or plan and some of the plans being proposed, so. Should we shift gears and talk about some product? It's an EV. It's not eligible for the $7,500--

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: There you go.

GREG MIGLIORE: --tax credit. It's the Chevy Blazer coming up in 2024. This is the all-electric version. Looks drop dead gorgeous.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It really does. I love the way it looks.

GREG MIGLIORE: July 18, I think, is the full reveal. We'll get more information.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yep.

GREG MIGLIORE: I'm impressed. I think this looks even better than the gasoline-powered version. It's got very much like a wagon-type look. Kind of looks like something Polestar might roll out. Love the front end. A few years ago, I interviewed Mark Royce, and he said something like, you know, the way Chevy wins is by being, like, sort of the boldest American brand. And his point is, it's not this, like, syrupy retro thing. It's like being the best in the time you're in, which is what they did when, like, their style was just crushing everybody in the '50s and '60s. And this, to me, is, like, takes that theory and manifests it in a current product. So I'm very excited to see where this goes.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I am, too. And I like the trend that Chevy is doing here with their EVs. They-- this is June 2022 because, you know, these podcasts live forever on the internet. Chevy made a big announcement, was it, a week, maybe two weeks ago? I don't recall exactly. They were cutting, like, 6 grand off the price of the Bolt EV and the Bolt EUV, which is, like, the slightly larger, slightly more crossover-y version. And I think what they're doing is they're making way for a lot of their upcoming products, like this Blazer EV.

It's-- it's going to be relatively affordable. Like, people are going to be able to actually, you know-- we were just talking about this huge debate on the tax credit. What GM seems to be doing is like, well, we don't have the tax credit anymore, and we're going full in on EVs. So we're going to have to come up with a pricing strategy that will allow us to compete.

So, I mean, I suspect they'll be able to do that with, like, decontented versions. And the one that you really want is going to be, you know, $7,000, $8,000 more than the base price, but I think that's fine. Like, they're offering this-- these reasonably priced and desirable vehicles to the heart of the market. And everything we've seen-- all the EV stuff we've seen up to this point, or nearly all of it, has been aimed at the-- an upper market. You know, Teslas are pretty expensive. We talked about the Porsche Taycan.

We talked-- you know, I mean-- and it's not every GM. I mean, look at the Hummer. It's $100,000, $150,000, depending on what you get. You know, they have expensive EVs, too. But I love that we're finally getting to a point where the heart of the market is being-- is going to draw these electric vehicles that don't look like appliances. They look like desirable vehicles. I fully suspect it'll drive like a desirable vehicle, too, which I think is great.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I think this one looks like a winner. That would be my way to kind of bring it together. Real quick, let's talk about a couple of Ford recalls, pretty significant. 50,000 Mach-Es, which is a significant amount of just the Mach-Es that have been made all time, they could fix that one with a software flash, it sounds like. And then over 3 million Fords, which you wrote that piece. So, Mr. Consumer Editor, what do you think of these recalls?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, well, I mean, Ford has a tendency to do this. They'll-- I don't know if it's just happenstance or if they decide to get all the bad news out at once, but they announce a whole bunch of recalls. This 3 million vehicles, first of all, the number is huge. Second of all, we're talking, like, Ford Escape, Ford Edge. Like, these are crossovers, the Fusion. Like big deal cars, like, tons and tons of them sold. And so that's why we're talking about the numbers being so high.

First of all, let's talk about what the recall is. It's for a bushing in-- you know, that connects the shift lever to the transmission. A bushing is, if you don't know what that is, it's like where two metal things might come together, there's a piece of hard plastic or hard rubber that takes up the shock so that it's not metal on metal. You know, kind of like joints and ligaments, you want something compressible in there. And so there's a bushing, and it is starting to wear out.

And, you know, reading through all of the documentation from Ford this morning, it seems like it's especially an issue in hot and humid climates, which breaks down rubber and plastics faster. And that's what's happened. So now when someone shifts their vehicle from Park to Drive or to Reverse or whatever, it might shift fine, and they might not realize there's a problem.

The problem comes when they try to shift it back into Park, it might not actually go into Park because that bushing is degraded. And the vehicle-- the shift lever itself might have been put into Park. It may even show on the dash that it has gone into Park, or it may not, but it's not actually in Park. And so they shut the vehicle off, walk away, and it rolls because it wasn't put into Park. Another consequence of that, if a vehicle isn't in Park, the engine won't restart. So some people are walking out to their cars. It didn't roll away. But they try to start it up and drive away, and it won't start up. So it's kind of a double whammy there, you know, roll away risk and risk of leaving you stranded.

The other unfortunate part of this is, this is not Ford's first time dealing with this issue. This is actually the fifth time Ford has recalled vehicles over a similar issue. You know, it's easy to point fingers and say like, man, you knew that you used the same parts in all of these vehicles. Don't you think maybe you should have just recalled them all at once? I don't know if there's supply and demand reasons for that. Like, if they did it all at once, would everyone be bringing their cars in and they don't have enough bushings to replace it? I don't know if that's part of it. I don't even want to speculate as to whether it is. Or were they thinking, you know, maybe the supplier used a different quality polyurethane in the bushing or something.

I don't-- I don't know the answer to any of those questions. But it's not a good look for Ford that they have done this five times now. And we're talking millions and millions of vehicles. Just earlier this year, they recalled a bunch of Lincolns for the same issue. They knew that the Escape had the same transmission-- or the Fusion had the same linkage, the same transmission powertrain as the Lincoln, what is it, MKZ or-- yeah, I think MKZ. Those Lincoln MK names get confusing. And they only recalled the Lincolns earlier this year. And now they follow up with the Fusion.

So yeah, I mean, I can't comment on the reasoning. But I can say it's not-- it doesn't look good, you know, especially if you're the owner of one of these cars and, let's say, you are one of the few that Ford acknowledges, yeah, that car rolled away, and it rolled into your garage door. You know, there were a few slight injuries even from it. You know, you can imagine the car rolling and going over a foot.

Or, you know, there was-- this hasn't happened in this case, but worst case scenario, you know, a couple of years, the "Star Trek" actor got pinned to his garage door and died by-- it was actually a Jeep. But it was similar. It was a roll away risk that-- caused by a transmission issue. So, you know, it's a serious thing. And it's a huge number, 3 million vehicles, very popular vehicles, vehicles that you see on the road every single day. So yeah, this is a big one.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think this is kind of another, you know, toe stub for Ford for just some of the quality issues. For some of their important launches in the last couple of years, they've had some issues in the first year. A lot of that was related specifically to, like, a Chicago area factory. But, you know, I mean, this is a couple of years ago when we were talking about the success of the Lightning, the Bronco, the Mach-E. We were like, these products look amazing. Are they going to launch them OK?

You know, because at that point, the record was a little scattershot in recent years. So it's a big recall. Check out our story if you're wondering if your car is affected. Head over to some of the federal sites, too, and you can check that out as well. So we're really jump in between like super serious and super luxurious parts on this podcast. And it's like, M2, Rolls-Royce, tax credits, recalls, Chevy Blazer. So I guess we should spend some money, right?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, you know, a little bit of something for everybody on this podcast, right?

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, sounds good. Well, this is Ford. It's sporty. It's not business-y. Let's jump right in. Jacob in Utah writes, "I've been wanting to get into a Ford Focus ST for a while, and I think I'm finally ready to get into it. The only problem is, it's hard to find one within my $18,000 budget that's in decent shape and has the options that he's looking for. Ideally, looking for a 2016 or newer because I don't like the interiors or infotainment systems of the pre-facelift models." Is this a case of him being too picky, given his budget? We'll get to that in a minute, but probably.

"Do I buy an older or lower trim model and just get used to the MyFord Touch or lower trim sync systems, especially since performance-wise, the pre- and post-facelift Focus STs are similar? Can a case be made for something better for an $18,000 hot hatch with a six-speed manual with creature comforts, like a Golf GTI or a Mazdaspeed 3? Or do I simply wait and hope that the used car market cools down to the point that a loaded up 2016 to 2018 Focus ST becomes more affordable? The market will cool down, right?" I don't know about that one. Hard to say.

I would say, off the top, just some initial thoughts, yeah, I don't think you're being too picky. But I think given all the craziness going on, you might have to take one of those, like, sort of pre-2016 infotainment and interiors if you want to stay somewhere near your budget, just because inflation and the used car market being what it is, I struggle to think you're going to be able to quite make your budgetary needs line up, unless you go with the older car or you really look. I mean, you know, good on you if you could find one that's newer and in your price point. But what do you think, Jeremy?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, I mean, I think you're absolutely right. It comes down to-- there's two questions here. One, how badly do you want the one with the interior and the infotainment that you want? How badly do you want that? You're going to have to answer that question, Jacob. The second thing is, are you going to be able to-- is the market going to cool down anytime soon? Probably not.

Like, if you're ready to pull the trigger, you know, it's good that you're ready to pull the trigger and finally get the car that you want. But if that's the case and you've been waiting, you might just want to wait a little bit longer, save up a little bit more money, and buy the one that you actually want. I don't think it makes much sense to compromise over a few thousand dollars in this day and age and in this marketplace.

If the one that you want costs $21,000 and you've got $18,000 saved up, save a little bit longer and get the one that you really want. You're probably going to own it for several years. You're probably going to enjoy driving it for several years. I don't think this is a case where you compromise. If you're talking about a $20,000 swing, then yeah, you're going to have to talk compromises. But we're talking about a few thousand dollars.

You might have to drive a little bit longer than you wanted to to get the low mileage one or the color and options that you want. But, you know, this is an enthusiast vehicle, not something that they sold an absolute ton of. You're not shopping for a Camry. You're shopping for a Focus ST. So, you know, widen your search out to 500 miles. Use Autoblog's used car finder tool. Set the-- set your budget. And you might have to-- you might have to wait a little bit. You might have to save a little bit more money. And in this case, to get what you actually want as a specialized vehicle, I think that's the way to go.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know, Jacob, I would say, too, it's like, you're kind of, like, right on the cusp, too. Like, just looking at-- going through a few different listings here, you can get one-- like, here's one, a 2017 for $17,976, but it's got 111,000 miles on it. You know, here's a 2016 for $18,480. You're, like, right on that cusp.

I think if you could get a little bit north of $20,000-- you know, I'm seeing one here for $23,000. OK, this has 67,000, we'll call it, miles. It's a 2017. To me, that's a better car. That's a little more palatable. Here's one I'm seeing for $26,000 with only, call it, 39,000 miles. That seems like a little bit much for, like, a six-year-old Focus at that point, even an ST. But still, you're like, I'd say, a couple grand away from probably getting the Focus ST you want.

So I think I would track with Jeremy's advice to maybe try and wait a little bit, hope the market's going to correct a little bit. I struggle to think that inflation in the used car market is going to stay this wacky for forever, right? Like, at some point, in a year or two, prices are going to come back down. You're going to have a little bit more money, and you're going to be able to get the Focus ST that you want, which I thought that was a just bananas car to drive. I thought it was so much fun.

You know, my personal preference is, I think I would go for a GTI over that car. The GTI is a little more refined. I personally preferred kind of that German engineered look and, like, the very precise dynamics. But the Focus ST was, like, I believe, European tuned, if you will, as well, probably German from Ford's, like, European centers over there. So there's some of that as well.

I just thought the car felt a little more-- it wasn't as precise as the GTI. And the GTI prices, just looking around, you could get one-- I'm seeing a 2016 GTI with 85,000 miles for 16 grand. It seems like the price is there probably because, like Golfs and GTIs, you know, I don't know what the sales numbers were. But, I mean, they weren't as, like, you know, these special things as the ST was. The ST was pretty-- like, that was Ford's return to hot hatches. And the people who wanted them got them and prized them. So, I mean, that's what I would do. I would probably wait it out just a little bit. But again, if it were me and I were in this segment, I would go GTI, so.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, it's hard-- it's hard to beat this, you know-- it's hard to beat the GTI for performance and driving fun for less than $20,000. I don't know that I would choose it over a Focus ST. The Focus ST is a lot of fun. It feels-- to me, it's like a little bit more raw of an experience than the GTI's refined experience. You know, so pick your poison. Which one is it that you're looking for?

They are comparable, though. And I actually did a little bit of searching too, and I found a Focus ST, a 2018, for $19,995, something like that, in Virginia. They're out there. Like I said, you'll have to-- you might have to drive. You might have to fly someplace and drive it home. But then you've got $1,000 plane ticket, so maybe it's not worth it.

But, yeah, I mean, I think when you're talking about-- I said this before-- I think when you're talking about, like, a very specific vehicle, I don't think it makes sense to try to compromise what you actually want. Like, get the one that you actually want. I don't think you're going to regret the few thousand dollar difference in price a couple of years from now.

GREG MIGLIORE: The other thing, too, is it does depend a little bit is, how long do you want to keep the car? Is this, like, fun for a few years? Maybe you don't try to time the market, if that's the case. You know, you scrape together a little bit more money and make your move in, like, a few months. If you're going to keep it for 10 years, maybe, again, you do want to try to get more precisely what you want, but.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Last little caveat I'll throw in here if we're talking about the 2018 Ford Sync system. If you are going to keep it and you prefer that over the older ones, if you are going to keep it for a while, five years from now, that-- even the better Ford Sync system that that came with is going to be pretty dated.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So, you know, I don't know if that sways you at all to getting one of the older ones or not. But just something to keep in mind and consider is that, you know, infotainment dates pretty quickly as they constantly get upgraded and changed. So, anyway, that's the last I've got on that.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, well, I think that's the last we have on this podcast. We have hit all different parts of the cosmos, I will say. It's been a great show. Good catching up with you, Jeremy. If you enjoyed the podcast, five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. Be safe out there. Stay cool. podcast@autoblog.com for your Spend My Moneys. Be safe out there, and we will see you next week.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting