CES 2022 was huge for EVs | Autoblog Podcast #711

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder. CES took place this week, and there were some nice electric surprises from automakers, especially General Motors. John has been driving the Ram 1500 Power Wagon, as well as what seems to be its polar opposite, the electric Mini Cooper SE. Greg talks about the differences between the Acura TLX A-Spec long-termer (which is back in the shop) and the Type S loaner that's filling in for it. John's also got some interesting thoughts on leather interiors. Finally, the editors reach into the mailbag and help a repeat customer decide on a suitable replacement for a 2008 Lexus GX 470 in this week's Spend My Money segment.Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: Podcast@Autoblog.com. #AutoblogPodcast #CES2022 #GMEV

Video Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to The Autoblog Podcast. I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me today is Senior Editor for all things green, John Snyder. Happy new year. What's up, man?

JOHN SNYDER: Happy new year to you. I'm enjoying this winter weather we have here. It came late this season, but it's fun to drive in, and it's fun to play in, and it's beautiful to see.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's snowflake day. I was playing in our Acura TLX Type S, playing as in I took the corner to my driveway a little bit aggressively and really lost it for a second. Good thing I wasn't going quick. Yeah, it's that kind of weather out there right now. The winds, the ice, it's all there.

JOHN SNYDER: Pure Michigan, man.

GREG MIGLIORE: Pure Michigan. There you go. There you go. So we will talk about that accurate TLX Type S. You may have noticed I'm referring to the Type S is back. There's a reason for that. We'll get to that in a second. The A-Spec is gone again. Bon soir, it's gone, for quite a while it sounds like, or at least a while. We'll also talk about the Mini Cooper. That'll be fun. We've got the Mini Cooper SE and the RAM Power Wagon. Before we do that, though, we're going to talk about all the news out of CES. It was kind of like an Auto Show. Some of it was there, some of it was virtual. Got the Chrysler Air Flow concept, Mercedes EQXX. Lots of news from Chevy and some other stuff too. Cadillac, BMW. We'll hit some of the highlights. Best thing to do though, if you need to get really brought up to speed on all of this, check out our site. We've got this covered. It felt like an auto show in some ways and that was fun. That was cool. Lots of cool stuff.

JOHN SNYDER: It's funny how, especially compared to a couple years ago, this tech conference has become such a venue for vehicles. It's an interesting overlap there. But go on.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's interesting to me too, though. Because even though a lot of this was virtual, this, to me, might have been the best showing by the car industry in Vegas, actually. I mean, there's a lot of car stuff there. I remember a couple of years ago we were like, is CES going to knock out Detroit, and Chicago, and New York? And that never really came to pass, obviously. COVID knocked out Detroit, Chicago, and New York, as far as auto shows. But this is just a very legit showing by the car business in a variety of forms at CES.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. And it was a coup by Chevrolet-- well, GM in general. But yeah, especially Chevy with the Silverado EV, and confirming the electric Equinox, its Laser, and teasing the Silverado Trail Boss EV. Good stuff.

GREG MIGLIORE: So let's just get right into that. We will spend your money by the way, but let's shift right back over to Chevy. To me, the Silverado is obviously the headline, because it goes right up against the Ford F-150 Lightning. Specs are comparable in some areas. There are some areas we don't totally know. Each of them has a slight edge in certain departments. But I think in real world usage, they're both going to be strong vehicles for work and play.

The advantage the Ford has is that you can order it now. It's going to be here soon, whereas the Silverado is still kind of conceptual. I mean, we saw the work truck, which, I love that work truck, by the way. Those steel wheels. The grille is a little whatever. But that's a cool looking truck, the Trail Boss. I'm very excited about that. It's kind of like we got to bring out the term Avalanche is back. It's got that mid gate kind of thing.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting. This, to me, is almost-- I think the F-150-- my take is the F-150 is an electrified F-150, whereas the Silverado is an electric Chevy pickup truck that we're going to call the Silverado, but to me it is more of almost like the ethos of a Rivian R1T. It seemed like they really re-thought some of the elements of a truck and incorporated them here. And that, right or wrong, I think there's going to be people who want maybe a more traditional truck execution, and some people who want some of the different things that Chevy might offer you. So I'm very excited about this.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. I'm going to have to reserve my judgment on which I like better until I've driven both. I've ridden in the Lightning in a prototype, and it was-- seemed a lot like a Mach E, a tall Mach-E with a bed. It was super fast. Lot of the same tech inside. But it looks very much just like the rest of the F-150s. I like that the Silverado is differentiating itself visually from its internal combustion siblings.

And I do like the looks of it. I like that sort of Avalanche look. It's a way better execution than it was on the Avalanche with those sail panels. And yeah, that work truck looks pretty sweet. I love those steel wheels on there. It looks like it has a very nice, easy to use frunk that looks easy to load into. The fact that you can get 664 horsepower is pretty impressive too. This will be probably pretty capable, and definitely pretty fun, at least in a straight line.

GREG MIGLIORE: One thing I think Chevy needs to do is communicate what the consumer product is going to be. Because if you read our comparison piece, which is really nicely done, we expect eventually the 2024 model-- excuse me, the 2025 model is going to be right about with the Lightning base MSRP. That's going to be about just a shade under 40 grand. But I mean, one, you got to wait for it. And two, you don't want to be, I would say confused, by the fact that there are versions of the Silverado that are $105,000, in which case you're in Hummer territory. Really right up there. It's a true super truck. Now, the Lightning could definitely really get expensive pretty quick.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think it's just Chevy is going to want to really, I think, articulate, and obviously get the trucks out on time, because you're still a couple years out from that. It's 2022, hard as it is to believe. They need '24, '25 to get here quick, because you have electric Silverados on the market. Those are game changers. And you don't want Ford-- Ford's going to sell all the electric Lightning F-150s to Ford customers they can. But it's a very compelling truck.

On many podcasts we've discussed how, wait a minute, you can get a basic truck with this much stuff and this much range for 40 grand? Maybe I should just get one. I remember Zack Palmer was like, I don't even need a truck, but throw in the tax incentives, yeah, let me see where I can pull together some cash and go get one. So Chevy needs to, I think, make sure they execute and get this. And then the cheaper Hummers-- which aren't going to be as cheap, frankly-- get them out there so they don't lose like Rivian buyers, or the Cybertruck buyers. Because you can have the best vehicle in the world, but if your market's already spent its money, that's a thing.

It seemed to me like the Lightning kind of came out of nowhere too, remember? Like, we knew they were going to do something. They hinted at it. They kind of said it. And then it was like, last year, boom, here it is. It's going to be on sale next year. We're like, OK. And Chevy has got a compelling product. They're talking a big game. They need to deliver now.

JOHN SNYDER: And I have to point out that these wouldn't be true American trucks if you weren't able to option them up into at least close to six figure territory. It is wonderful, I think, that they're offering base models that are affordable, lower than the average transaction price of a new vehicle nowadays. And then you factor in things like the-- well, GM has used up its tax credits. But when you factor that into something like the Lightning, it's really compelling. Really compelling.

GREG MIGLIORE: So we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about all the other stuff at CES. But even at GM, at Chevy, the new Equinox, the new Blazer, yet again the Chevy design department just crushed it. These are, I think, really compelling looking vehicles. They look far better than the current Equinox.

JOHN SNYDER: 100% agree.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, frankly it's got a little bit of a Blazer vibe. Almost like a Polestar feel, too. Good looking crossover.

JOHN SNYDER: I'm really impressed with the design. A couple of years ago, right when COVID was starting, I went to the GM EV day, where we got to see the Hummer in person. And they had all these mock up vehicles that were all production intent. And one of them was a midsize Chevy crossover that looked just like the Equinox, but it looked more like the gas powered Equinox than this electric Equinox we're seeing here. And yeah, it looks way better like this.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's a strong looking vehicle. This is the kind of thing where there's actually not a lot in this segment. You've got like the ID.4 is pretty traditional. You've got-- the Mach-E is I think still trying to be a Mustang. I mean, it is. Whereas this is just very much like-- you kind of get into like almost Ioniq 5 territory, EV 6 territory, things like that. Where it's like, hey, this is your grocery getter, your midsize crossover. Maybe it's your family car, maybe it's your-- you have a bigger three row and this is the other car. This is very mainstream. And this is where you start to see, like wow, GM's really got some stuff up its sleeve.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. And the timing on the Blazer is next fall. So about a year and a half from now. Maybe a little more. Probably it depends on the hiccups with supply chain and stuff. It could get pushed back. But that's pretty quick for something like this. And the fact that it'll be using GM's Ultium power train platform is pretty cool to me too. I think that's really interesting technology. And I think it could be a win in GM's favor if it deploys well. We'll see if they don't have any hiccups with that like they did with the bolt technology, the current bolt. But maybe switching to Ultium could have saved them that headache too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JOHN SNYDER: But the fact that they're doing a lot of the development for Ultium in-house is promising. And that gives them their own intellectual property to build off of. And if it's good, then it could be really good for Chevy and GM's competitiveness in the EV set.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting that they have-- I know they're working with Honda on essentially developing an Ultium-- like, employing, I think it's a crossover that Honda is going to use. I don't remember if it's a Honda or an Acura or whatnot, but Honda Motor Co. will be getting access to this. So it's almost like General Motors truly has the scale that a company like Tesla really doesn't right now, where they can feed all of their different models as far as the brands and vehicles, and then say, well, hey, this is actually somewhat fairly generic technology a few years down the road. We'll let you guys use it. And we'll definitely take our cut of the proceeds.

And that's where you start to really see some movement, I think. Not only in the electric space, but that's where you start to see General Motors flexing in a way that we haven't seen them in years, really.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. And with the raft of products that they're coming out with, there should be a little something for everybody. Like you said, the feeding the many mouths. I mean, look at the things Cadillac's coming up with. Those are beautiful vehicles. And people seem genuinely excited about them. Far more excited about Cadillac than people have been maybe a decade ago.

So that's really exciting to see. And it's exciting to see people be excited about electric Cadillacs too. I think it's a neat fit, and hopefully a recipe for success. And I can't wait to get in and drive these vehicles. I've gotten to see the Lyric and the Celestic in person, and they are just gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous vehicles. They were pre-production, of course. Still very designy. But a lot of that stuff is-- at least with the Lyric, what I've seen, is carrying over.

And it's impressive design work. It really is. It's top notch and it's beautiful. It integrates a lot of lighting, and wood, and touch surfaces that don't look like they're going to get covered in fingerprints. Inlaid in the wood. You can use a touch point surface on wood, which is pretty neat. But yeah, they're really swinging for the fences with design of these new EVs, and I think that's a great way to set the foot forward for the future for GM.

GREG MIGLIORE: The Interspace concept that we're seeing looks sort of like a personal luxury autonomous coupe, I guess is how they're billing it. Honestly I don't know of anybody outside of maybe Lincoln who's ever done personal luxury coupes better than Cadillac. I mean, Mercedes too, I guess. All those iconic SLs over the years. But when I think of some of those great cars, especially '60s, '70s, like the El Dorado, Cadillac has some-- they have some heritage, and they have-- I think in a way to translate some of that into a totally modern, futuristic vehicle. So this is another good looking concept. We'll see what comes of it. It's got all the stuff like the interior with the LED screens, all sorts of different things like that. No steering wheel. Very futuristic. But it's honestly, to me, this is the perfect thing to show at CES, actually.

JOHN SNYDER: For something that requires no human driver and even has no steering wheel, this thing looks so much like a car I'd want to drive, personally. It looks super sporty. It looks like something I'd want to take on a track. But alas, no steering wheel. But I mean, it sure looks luxurious inside. It seems like a nice place to spend time. And yeah, it definitely is a statement maker too. I guess you wouldn't really pull up to the valet. You'd just send it off to Park, probably. You pull up somewhere with that and you will be noticed for sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: A little less striking, but I still think a really strong execution, is the Chrysler Airflow. They brought back a another iconic name. It feels like everything that's old is new again. They're really dusting off some cool names. We don't know as much about this one. Another CES debut. This was a concept. We expect it by 2025, so it's about three years.

It's always good to reveal something in like January of a year and then say "by." So it's like what '22, '23, '24, and then '25. What does by '25 really mean? Does that mean you're going to be at '25? December 31 '25? Does that mean it has to be in the year '24? What does that mean? So they got some wiggle room here. But everybody does it, so not rag on Chrysler. But this is impressive.

So there's two electric motors. They're 201 horsepower. They didn't give out a ton of specs. We're looking at range of 350 to 400. So I mean all of that sounds pretty good. Again, it looks good, good name. You know, I've done a few columns on what the Chrysler brand needs. Maybe bring back the 300. Not bring it back, but electrify it or do something-- basically electrify it or make it their technology sort of hub. But this is it right here. I mean, this is what you need. An electric crossover with an iconic name. So done.

JOHN SNYDER: I love the concept. I love the name. I love that it seems kind of practical and not some flashy concept that 25% of it will make it to production.

GREG MIGLIORE: Right.

JOHN SNYDER: I'm not entirely sold on this design. The shape of the body looks to me a lot like the EV6 which looks kind of like-- it looks like a EV6 dialed back just a little bit.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I see that. I see what you're saying.

JOHN SNYDER: And maybe it's the white paint color with the black roof too that is throwing me off, and if I saw it in a monotone, some other color, I might like it more. And I'm not super in love with the nose of the thing. I don't know. It just seems a little generic to me. I do like that little light up strip down the middle of the top part of the, I guess you'd still call it a grill, right below the hood. But I think that space could be bigger, or more dynamic, or have a little something more eye catching. It's maybe a step further than the fascias of the Model X and Model Y, which basically have nothing there. This has a little more than that. But still just not a lot going on. It seems a little unfinished to my eye.

GREG MIGLIORE: Airflow was used in the mid to late '30s on the Chrysler. I feel like I saw one at a Concours, probably a decade ago. Can't say for sure, because I just vaguely remember a lot of those like '30s cars would show back up. But obviously it's a name that resonates. Maybe I've seen one in a museum. I don't know. At this point I'm just babbling. I think I've seen an old Airflow at some point. So I love it when you dust off some history and try to repurpose it like 80, 90 years later. I think that's a great move. Just more stuff for Chrysler.

Mercedes is going-- they have a ton of great names, but EQXX, I'm not sure that's one of them, to be honest.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, the XX sounds like a placeholder for something--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JOHN SNYDER: --which I'm sure-- I mean, it is. It would be another number, maybe two numbers, or a letter and a couple numbers or something. But yeah, that car is really cool though too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I think it's 620-ish miles of range. I drove the EQS earlier this year. So I feel like this is continuing in that trajectory for Mercedes. We'll get a chance, I think, to drive the EQE, sort of COVID willing, fairly soon. So their electric portfolio, they're really building it out.

We're sort of seeing how-- I feel like at some point that's going to start to really take over the Mercedes strategy, is it's going to be like, these are going to be the things that a lot of people buy, and then the internal combustion engines are going to be more like the niche. Probably not anytime soon. But they're investing in there. And this thing does look great. Just sits with the rest of the Mercedes family on that side. I think it actually looks a little better than the EQS. It's a little more striking.

JOHN SNYDER: I love that it's almost a sort of boat tail thing going on there. It looks really cool. And the fact that the design is quite functional too. The drag coefficient is 0.17 or something-- yeah, 0.17, which is really something.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's unbelievable. Yeah.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Every now and then you see some of these things that like legacy, air quote, automakers do, and you're sort of reminded, oh, right, General Motors, Mercedes, Volkswagen, they've been making cars, Ford, for 120 years. They have huge engineering and design departments that could really do borderline miracles of design when you see these things. So yeah, that's just--

JOHN SNYDER: And Mercedes has been making cars longer than anybody.

GREG MIGLIORE: 1886, thereabouts. So what's that, 136 years?

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: There we go. All right. So that's CES. That's the news section. Lots of good stuff. Go to our site, check it out. Subscribe to our newsletter. Last few days we've really been CES heavy. Lots of good stuff in there. That's the best way to get it delivered to your inbox whenever you want it. You don't even have to do anything, except you have to sign up.

So yeah, let's talk about some of the cars we've been driving. You were in the Power Wagon. That's beastly. I was in the TRX a few weeks ago. We talked about that on the last show. But now you're even going crazier. So what did you do with the Power Wagon?

JOHN SNYDER: I ran a lot of errands with it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds like a good thing to do with an off road, tuned, heavy duty truck, but sure.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. I did take some time and flog it down some dirt roads--

GREG MIGLIORE: Nice.

JOHN SNYDER: --some are rutty roads and stuff. But a lot of it was right before Christmas, so I was trying to get everything ready for that sort of hectic time. But Wally rode around in it with me quite a bit. He actually hurt himself getting out of it

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh no.

JOHN SNYDER: It's so tall. There's a tiny little nubbin of a running board sticking out. And that height is at the height of my knee. And the truck itself towers over me. I'm 6' I don't know. I'm probably 6' 6" at least tall. And so yeah, it's got quite a presence.

The inside, I was impressed with all the little details. You know, there's some Easter eggs in there. You lift up the center console lid and there's a ruler, different calculations and things that might be helpful on a work site, and things like that. And then the rear seats, you can fold those up, and then fold out a panel, and turn that whole rear floor into a table, like a work surface. And if you're standing outside the vehicle, that's about the height of your navel. It's the perfect standing table height for getting things done, which is pretty clever.

And I don't know whether they planned it to be that ideal with the Power Wagon, or whether that's just sort of incidental based on that feature and the truck's height, but it works out really nicely. And if you want to load something in it, the bed's all full and you want to load something in there, it's a nice flat surface. It's a big backseat too. You fold those back down, and whoever is sitting back there has a lot of room for themselves.

GREG MIGLIORE: Nice. One of the great things about using, I would say, a large pickup truck as your personal transportation is that it really is-- like, the cabins are huge and so luxuriously appointed in almost any trim, it seems like. They're surprisingly functional for kid duty and stuff like that. I mean, it's funny you mention that. Running boards really help getting kids in and out of trucks. I had the TRX, which is also an off road vehicle, essentially. And my kid would say, what am I doing, a base jump here? And I'm like, oh yeah, that's right. You're like, a foot and a half up in the air and there's no clearance. Let me help you.

The dog wanted no part of it. So it's kind of like-- even though she could basically leap a four foot fence if she gets a running start. It's like-- maybe not quite. But she can leap. But still, these things are pretty high off the ground, obviously for a reason. Did yours have all those crazy decals or did you get the subtler edition?

JOHN SNYDER: It was sort of in between. There were some decals, but it was on a dark body color. I think it was black details on, I think it was dark green.

GREG MIGLIORE: Nice.

JOHN SNYDER: I'm kind of colorblind, so I can't be totally sure. And maybe that's why they didn't stick out as much to me too. There were some details, but it wasn't egregious. Really, when you see this thing coming, you're just looking at its sheer size. And then that winch on the front is a nice little accessory, a nice little visual accessory. I didn't have a reason to use it, but it's cool looking.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. I can't wait to get into one of the new Power Wagons, because it's been a while since I've driven one. And I've always-- I've liked them. They're one of those things that when you get to do this job, there's cars, trucks, whatever, that you just would never, probably, seek out most of the time. But then you get in, you're like, this is amazing. And-- for what it is. And that's where I put the Power Wagon. I like the name. I think it's another good, sort of heritage name that RAM/Dodge has used over the years to great effect.

JOHN SNYDER: I'm impressed with how fun it is to drive. A lot of trucks that size and even smaller feel very laborious. It's a chore to drive them. This thing was fun. It was able to get out of its own way. It was fairly smooth. Not quiet, but yeah, generally easy to get around. And fun to get around. It doesn't beat you up over the road. It does a good job of sorting out the imperfections and giving you a comfortable ride. I mean, you know you're in a truck, but it's not that super truck-like ride where you're bouncing up and down the whole way, which I really appreciated.

I wasn't hesitant to take this into downtown Ann Arbor and Park it on the streets. With the cameras, it makes it a breeze. It's pretty precise and easy to steer down those narrow one way streets. Last time I was in a Power Wagon I sort of thought the same thing. That one was a little more truck like, a little rough around the edges. But this one-- it's been several, several years, and I was impressed with the ride quality and the drivability of it.

GREG MIGLIORE: I would say that's sort of a hallmark of a lot of the RAM trucks. The suspensions, the steering. Even when you step up into the 2500 range, they're very drivable. I mean, they've had that characteristic for I'd say literally as long as I've been doing this. I mean, I remember driving a RAM 2500, geez, 10 years ago. And it was over around the holidays, so I had a little bit of time off. And my first thought was, oh boy, I have this large truck, and this is what I'm going to be with for two weeks.

That's a lot of times how it works, is the young guy, they're like, here you go. You get like the MazdaSpeed 3 on Summers for like Christmas break, or you get the heavy duty RAM or something. It was great. I was just like, this is my own luxury truck. And it had huge wheels. But yeah, I'd agree with that assessment, as far as specifically with Rams. You know, Chevy and Fords are good at this too, but I really feel like RAMs are very drivable in a way that doesn't compromise anything. It's just, they're good to drive. And I think as a maybe someday truck buyer, maybe, maybe not, they're very, very approachable.

JOHN SNYDER: And I'm not going to lie, I did drive this one on my lawn.

GREG MIGLIORE: I hope you did. That's good.

JOHN SNYDER: Every once in a while I just got to split that horseshoe driveway in half and go straight down the middle.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go. Got to get it muddy for the pictures, right?

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Well, let's transition over to our long term. I guess I'll call it accurate TLX Type S, because I feel like we've had that almost as long as we've had the A-Spec. I am back in the Type S. In the last show we talked about the TLX, the regular A-Spec. It had just come back after some extended service. And then, on Christmas Day, I was out and about and I went to start the car, and it lit up like a Christmas tree. And it went into this kind of like limp mode.

So got it home, very, very short distance, and it's back at the dealer, and we haven't heard from it since. So we're definitely looking forward to finding out what the issue was here. Our TLX has had kind of an up and down year. And the one we have, to be clear, is the A-Spec. And Acura replaced it with the Type S, which is great. We're still testing an Acura TLX. But the A-Spec has had some issues this year. It's spent a lot of time at the dealer in dry dock. So it'll be interesting to see what the diagnosis is, and we'll go from there.

The internet was filled with a variety of things, from electrical things, to all sorts of things like that. Which makes some sense. It seems like similar things have happened with other Acuras over the years. So just a wait and see mode. And that's that.

The Type S, meanwhile, though, it actually-- it's given me a really great opportunity, a sense of clarity to figure out which one I would get between the two. And I have come to the conclusion that I think, again, if it was my money, I would go with the A-Spec, because it's in that 45 range, and it looks great. It gives me everything I want. Like we discussed on the last podcast, from the driving dynamics, the chassis, the steering, the brakes, everything is there.

The Type S, with a 355 horsepower V6 engine, is great. And you do notice a difference. Literally driving them two days apart, and yeah, no, this thing, you put your foot on the floor and away you go. There is no hesitation. Because you're paying for it. Type S starts at about 53. I'm not sure, even with all the other things you do get on the Type S, that that's the road I would go down. You know, it's still a pretty reasonable deal, actually, when you look at how capable that car can be from a performance sedan perspective.

But yeah, for me, a little bit less is more here. Service issues notwithstanding, I'm totally happy with the turbo four. It's plenty good around town. The Type S in general, I think-- I think it was you, John, mentioned the transmission you don't love in the A-Spec, or the lower trim TLX.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: After driving them both, it finally has kind of clicked with me. Initially, I was like, yeah, it's not that bad. But I see what people are saying about it. And just in general, the Type S feels a little better tuned. A little better calibrated. And yeah, I mean, I think that would be sort of my verdict between the two after having been in both of them at different points over this year. But I mean, if you want 355 horsepower and you want some other things, you got eight grand, yeah man, more power to you, literally. So that's kind of my mini review of them. And we'll see what happens to our A-Spec.

JOHN SNYDER: Well, I'm glad to hear that your assumptions held up under real world testing, that you would still stick with the A-Spec for your money. Because that's, without having driven the Type S myself, that's where I think I would land as well. So it's interesting to hear the final verdict on that.

GREG MIGLIORE: And to be clear, the Type S is brilliant. That's a great engine. And it's a lot of fun to drive. Like, you're not going to, I would say, get in the Type S, and think, hmm, I think I want the slower car. But when you view it through the lens of the cost, and then just how much better is it really in some of the things, do I really need them? That's where my verdict, if you will, does land with the A-Spec.

JOHN SNYDER: Now, if they did something where they offered a manual, and they only offered it in the Type S, then I would have a much harder decision.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's true. That would be tricky. Although, I mean, that's where you get the Integra kind of in there, is you can get a manual in that car.

JOHN SNYDER: That's a good point.

GREG MIGLIORE: We'll see. I mean, I actually-- I'm not surprised they didn't do a manual on this car. But if they were going to, this could be sort of like-- you have the Integra, and then you get the TLX. The TLX is like the stopping point of where you could do a manual. You're not going to make a larger vehicle with a manual in this day and age. But I think they could have, maybe. But I don't think they will at this point.

Tell me about this Mini Cooper SE you were rolling around in. Did you drive it on your lawn? Please tell me you did.

JOHN SNYDER: I actually cut across part of my lawn on it, to Wally's amazement. He's like, is this car an off road car? I'm like, no, we're just doing it. But I was a little concerned because it was-- I got it, it was snowing really hard. Thing doesn't have a lot of range. It's-- I forget what the rated the stated range is, but any time I got in it on a full charge, it was maybe, at tops, 80 miles available. It was cold. And after driving the Mazda MX-30 around and having to deal with the range issues with that, and the impracticality of that, and then going into this, which is also low range and also quite impractical-- especially if you have two kids.

But gosh, it's just such a joy to drive. It's so fun, and so plucky. And right away, I could overlook its faults very easily. It was tough. I had two car seats in there. I had to put Wally's--

GREG MIGLIORE: Oof. That's aggressive.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. I had to put Wally's front facing car seat behind me, and then I put the Lola's rear facing car seat behind the passenger seat. I couldn't get Lola in from the passenger side, though. It was just too small of a path over the top of the car seat to get her in from there. So I would have to go into the driver's side, move the seat up, and then sort of-- and from there it was fairly easy. I could just sort of plug her in from across the car.

It's not a big car. There's not a very long reach-- and then let Wally in after that. And Kat had to ride in front of Lola couple times. It was not terrible. Kat it was getting pretty carsick in it, because it's just so easy to maneuver quickly. It's almost hard not to maneuver it quickly. It really likes to rotate. And you're very close to the ground, and it feels so sporty that-- and you're close to the glass, you're close to the road. So she was getting a little bit car sickness as a passenger, but I was having a hoot. Really fun car to drive.

It starts at about $30,000, and you get the tax credit with that too. So it's a fun little car. It would maybe go on my list of second cars to have if I didn't have kids to put in the backseat all the time. That's the one thing. But other than that, if it were still just me and Kat, I would seriously consider getting this for driving around town, and running errands, and whatnot.

And then we've got the Palisade for-- that's Kat's daily driver, but we'd have that for driving up north, and if I needed to drive beyond the Mini's driving range in a day, I could more than likely use that if there wasn't some conflict with us both needing the car at the same time. But yeah, overall I really enjoyed it, as impractical and cramped as it was.

GREG MIGLIORE: Just looking at that silhouette, and then looking at some of the specs, how could it not be fun? It's like your little electric go kart.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, it is very, very much like a go kart.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds awesome. That's one of those things that where, as we move past this first generation of electric cars, there's going to be some really interesting used cars out there. Like the Cadillac ELR. Jeremy Korzeniewski did a cool piece on why the Chevy Bolt is actually the used car you should try to buy. You could probably get five years of good hybrid electric driving out of many of those. And what I like about this Mini Cooper is I probably could get it in my garage because I cleaned--

JOHN SNYDER: Oh yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: --well, not probably. I could definitely. But also, my garage is sort of clean. It was clean. It's not as clean as it was. It's clean, but it's cluttered. But you get this car in there.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, you can fit this car in your pocket.

GREG MIGLIORE: Exactly. Exactly. You know, I need to continue the upward arc of cleaning the garage so I could get an ID.4 or a Mach-E in there or something. But this car is so small, I don't even need to move the Christmas lights. It's great.

JOHN SNYDER: The range on this is 114 miles, which is up from 110 miles in the previous model year. But yeah, like I said, I was not getting anywhere near that. And not just because of the way I was driving. But I think a lot of it was just the cold weather that sucked a lot of energy out of it, a lot of range.

GREG MIGLIORE: So tell me why your position on leather in cars. I would say why you're against leather in cars, but that's a little strong.

JOHN SNYDER: Hot take. I'm vegetarian. I know that the cattle industry, agriculture in general, is very, very land, and water, and carbon intensive. And particularly livestock is one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gases. And I like animals too. But the thing is, I'm not the kind of person who's going to tell someone else how they should live their lives, or how they should spend their money. I think people should buy the thing that's best for them after looking through all the different options and all the different-- there's life cycles to these products, and you've got to pay attention to that. And of course there's cost and value.

But leather is a product of this agricultural industry, and it's bad. It's really bad for the-- it's terrible for the environment. And we live in a time now, where-- and I feel like it's just starting to rapidly advance in terms of materials. I've always sort of been interested in these materials that make up the vehicles we drive. And more and more there's been lots of innovations. And the things that are becoming available to us now, a lot of them are plant based, and a lot of them incorporate recycled plastics rather than brand new plastics for the synthetic leathers that we use.

But these products that are coming out are, in my opinion, quite superior to leather in tons of ways, in terms of just overall look and feel. The durability of these materials has advanced incredibly. And I think we would be in a better place in terms of the outlook for our climate if the livestock industry was downsized, or reformed, or transitioned. And I think that-- you know, this is opinion and this is hypothesis.

I don't think someone's a bad person for choosing leather seats. I just think that these other options should be made more readily available to us. And that's what's happening. That's the trend. And the more that we choose these options, these natural or less climate impactful products, the less demand there is going to be, obviously, for leather. And leather is a big part of the economic incentive for raising these animals for slaughter.

If we, as consumers, can get better products, and choose those products, and vote with our dollars to prevent that illegal cattle farm in Brazil that was responsible for thousands of acres slash and burn of Amazonian forest, I think that's a win for everybody. Get a better product and have less of a negative impact on the planet. You know, it's a complicated, nuanced thing, but that's basically my thinking on it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, check out that full opinion piece. It went up this week. John's column. We do our opinion pieces once a week. Everybody on the staff rotates through them. That definitely a well-researched piece. John invites you to make comments, and get in there. Great story. It's a interesting issue and interesting take.

JOHN SNYDER: And if I could offer further reading for anyone who's interested in this sort of thing, if you look at the EQXX that we mentioned earlier, it uses two different kinds of plant based leathers. The most interesting one of them to me is the mushroom leather. This one, in this case, it uses the mycelium, which is basically the equivalent of roots for mushrooms. It's the part that grows underground. There's vast, vast networks of mycelium underground. They're easy to grow in labs. And yeah, the mushroom, mycelium leather is really, really interesting to me.

Another type of letter that's in there, in the EQXX is I believe that's a cactus leather made from I believe prickly pear cactus. Deserttex-- there's a couple different brands out there. Deserttex is the one used in this. I know at least one of those uses prickly pear cactus, which is incredibly abundant, and easy to grow, and easy to harvest, and very, very low impact on soil and water usage, which is fantastic.

And I'm really curious to feel this mushroom leather. The mushroom leather is a pretty new product. That wasn't really a big thing when we used to-- my wife and I used to own a clothing store that sold a lot of leather alternatives. We didn't have access to mushroom leather at that time. So I'm really curious to see how it stands up. I've heard wonderful things about it and read lots of interesting things. And just the whole process of creating this leather is really interesting. If you want to go down to a neat sort of sciencey rabbit hole, look up mushroom leather.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Well, that's-- podcast is going in different directions than I could possibly have thought. So mushroom leather. Check it out. Sounds like a good hashtag maybe or something. You said you didn't want to spend other people's money, didn't judge, didn't want to tell them how to live their lives. Could we put that on hold? We need to tell somebody how to spend their money and live their life.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK, sounds good.

JOHN SNYDER: I'll be called a hypocrite enough in various comments already.

GREG MIGLIORE: Rock on. So this is a repeat writer. Thanks for hitting us up again. I remember this podcast, actually. He was looking to downsize and sell his lifted 2006 Sequoia. This sticks out in my head because he was looking at an XJ, a Panamera, or a Quattroporte. I feel like I may have said Quattroporte. That seems like something I would have said. Or the XJ. Anyways, two years later, he did sell the Sequoia. Also bought and sold a 2000 Jeep XJ, which he loved. I would too. And a 2005 Jeep Cherokee.

Currently, all of those have sort of funneled into a 2008 VX 470. He has a new job. He's looking for something that is just-- basically doesn't really need a VX 470 for the short commute. Looking to maybe flip this, make a little money because the commute is not that big a deal. Still wants to stay out of a payment. So that's the scenario. He could also keep this. I think that's actually a strong option.

Here are some of the options. Considering another 2005 Cherokee or Grand Cherokee with the 4 liter engine, and any year of a Lexus LS. His wife has a high mileage ES 330 that they still love. Older BMWs are great. Not real familiar with wrenching on them. I would say this. If you're not going to wrench on the BMW, they might get expensive. I've looked at some of the older 3 Series, 3 Series coupes-- BMW dealers are-- it's expensive. They're older cars. The parts are-- they're available, but BMWs are expensive cars, whether they're old or new. So there's definitely that, even though that would be on my short list. Early 90s Mercedes S Class, wow, that's pretty wild. I love that idea though. He's going to still wait on his 911 fantasy. No Ford's. Sub $6,000. Looking for a cool car but balances reliability, and again that price.

Great letter. Thanks for writing. I hope I did it justice. Running out of oxygen and my voice. Going to toss it over to you, John. I've got a couple ideas though.

JOHN SNYDER: OK. First of all, the car he's in is-- oh, no, that was before, the Sequoia. Well, looking at this list, there's a couple of things that stand out to me. The Lexus LS seems like something he would enjoy. But if you've already got a Lexus sedan in the family, maybe stick with what you have now, the GX 470. That seems like something you ought to enjoy.

But you mentioned the Jeep XJ and you said you loved it. And I have to agree that that is a fine vehicle. I owned a '99 XJ and loved that quite a bit. If you could find one of those in your price range, I think that's what I would pick.

GREG MIGLIORE: Good choice. I think that is a very solid option. I think they will run forever. From an emotional perspective, I would definitely look at one of those two. You see a lot of those on the roads, especially in Michigan. A lot of people have had those.

JOHN SNYDER: And they're getting more modified. The ones you see on the road are getting more customized as people have owned them longer, and it's a fantastic culture.

GREG MIGLIORE: So, agreed. But I love the ones that are in great condition, like bone stock. Even like the original paint. To me, it's almost like-- yeah, I love that aesthetic. I would pick one of those up. So that's one of my choices. I would also say-- let me see, where did my choices go here. I found a 2003 Lexus LS 430 for about $5,400. I'm looking at CarMax. They're actually a partner of Autoblog, so I'm sort of keeping it in the family here, I guess. There's a listing there if you're looking for something. That's like right in your range. Might change things up a little bit. You might like that as a daily driver. There's like a buck 70 I think, on the clock, so it's a pretty high mileage car.

Or what you could do is look at like a 2004 Grand Cherokee, something like that. I'm seeing one here for like-- depending on the miles, you're looking at like 2 to 5 grand $2,500, somewhere in that range. I feel like those are going to be the next classics from the Jeep lineage. After the XJs, after those things either rust out, die out, or become legitimate collectibles, I feel like you're at that moment where the XJ, this is the last chance you're going to be able to get one I think, before they start to either, like I said, die out or become go up in value, like we're seeing with Blazers, and Broncos, and things like that. They're already not cheap. Essentially, if you can get one, you're going to get one that's got a lot of miles on it, for the purposes he's sort of ascribing it to.

But if you want just a straight up daily driver, you go a couple of years, get the newer body style-- which I think is a pretty good look too-- drive it for a few years and then get rid of it. So I think those are like-- those are three choices in order of what I would consider doing, maybe putting the '03 or '04 Grand Cherokee ahead of the Lexus, simply because it seems like you kind of like that SUV body style, footprint. I feel like that might help you. Seems like you might have an active lifestyle. So that's the order I would do. XJ, then go the next generation, go the Grand Cherokee from like '03, '04, somewhere in there. Then look at that Lexus if you want something different. I think that that would be my diagnosis, if you will.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. If I'm ranking choices here, I'm going with pre-2005 Cherokee is top, the second choice is keep what you got, third choice is look at the LS.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think that's a pretty good way to sum it up.

JOHN SNYDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Any final thoughts?

JOHN SNYDER: Nah. It's 2022. First podcast of 2022 and I'm excited to see what comes this year. Hopefully good news in terms of supply chain. We've already had good news in terms of vehicle reviews. It's been quite an exciting past couple days with CES. And yeah, just looking forward to the next thing.

GREG MIGLIORE: Here, here. We'll leave it there. If you enjoy the podcast, please leave us a good rating, five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. We could use some more spend my money's. Podcast at autoblog.com. Subscribe to the newsletter, listen to the live stream, enjoy a glass of red wine at night. We'll see you next week.

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