Dodge goes electric in style | Autoblog Podcast #744

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder. There's been a lot for Dodge news recently, including the reveal of the Charger Daytona SRT electric muscle car and Hornet crossover, and the announcement of some special, final versions of the internal-combustion Charger and Challenger. Rivian has decided to drop its base trims, raising the entry price of its electric pickup and SUV. A 1932 Duesenberg took "Best of Show" at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and a lot of high-end supercars and concept cars debuted around the event. As for the fleet, Greg took a family road trip in the VW Atlas, while John just took delivery of a Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Finally, they help a listener choose an electric car to replace a beloved 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia AWD.

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

Video Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to "The Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We have a great show for you this week. An electric Dodge Charger. Well, what do you think about that? Revealed last week around the Woodward Dream Cruise. Lots to talk about, lots to unpack there. It served as a preview of Dodge's electric future as a muscle car maker. A lot to unpack there, like I said.

We're going to talk about what this means, however, for the end of the road of the Dodge Charger and Challenger in their current forms. They're going to end production in 2023. Something is going to replace them at that Brampton Factory in Ontario. We'll see what.

More Dodge news. The Hornet is now a thing. Getting more information about that. We're going to talk about Rivian, Pebble Beach recap, and Duesenberg-- surprise, surprise-- took top honors. Seems like Duesenberg always takes top honors.

And then we'll talk about what we've been driving. I've been in a VW Atlas. Jon's been driving a Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek. And we will spend your money. But with that, I will bring in senior editor for "All Things Green," Jon Schneider. What's going on?

JON SCHNEIDER: Hey, man. Just enjoying the last little bit of summer that we can squeeze out. But I am also looking forward to winter. Looking forward to getting into some cars, putting them in to snow mode, and then hitting the slopes.

GREG MIGLIORE: Mm-hmm.

JON SCHNEIDER: Just got the-- just got the emails about the openings for the different mountains around the country. So.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's exciting. That's exciting. I was just thinking I got a bit of a preview of fall last week. We were in the UP. Which for a non-Michiganders, that's the upper peninsula. You're North of, like, Canada, you're next to Wisconsin. Mornings were pretty cool. And that's where I took the Volkswagen Atlas. And then it would get to be like 80 during the day. But it's kind of nice to fall asleep with like a 58 degree breeze wafting through the cabin. So it was kind of nice.

JON SCHNEIDER: It's wonderful. Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: So, like you, I'm excited about winter. I was just talking about that yesterday. I can't let that go. We were just talking about that in my house. And like, ice skating, being outside in the snow, hockey season.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah!

GREG MIGLIORE: Hey, man. It's all good. But to end summer I cut the grass in the sweltering heat last night with my electric lawnmower. Which we have talked about on the podcast. So summer is still here for another, probably, three or four weeks. I guarantee you for the Detroit Auto Show it will be 90 that day.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah, of course.

GREG MIGLIORE: Like, September 14th, it's going to be like 110 degrees.

[LAUGHTER]

Or it'll rain. Or it'll snow.

[LAUGHTER]

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. You don't know.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's my cynical thing.

So let's unpack the news last week about the Dodge EV concept. Just the news in general surrounding the Charger and the Challenger and what's next for them, and what this, like, at a higher level, means for Dodge as an electric vehicle maker. This is really their sort of initial foray into really, like, having some sort of cohesive electric strategy.

And the concept car, which we can talk about-- and we should talk about. we will talk about it. It looks like a '68 Charger. You get my attention when you see that. Because I like Chargers. I own an '06 Charger. I mean, hell, yeah! When you see this, this is exciting.

They sort of showed off their electric power-train which frankly, we haven't known a whole lot about. Stellantis has been behind with EVs. And this is sort of like their big swing to try to catch up. So how do you feel about this?

JON SCHNEIDER: I am really excited about this. The Daytona concept, the Charger Daytona concept-- that's what the EV is called-- is really cool looking. And it sort of previews the design for the Charger, Challenger, whatever EVs, sort of muscle cars that they end up making in the next few years. And I think it's a really good step forward. Really holding on to those sort of retro looks that we've come to love Dodge cars for. But still providing ridiculous performance.

And really interesting that they're keeping some sort of gearbox. They say multiple gears. We don't know how many that is. But I think that's an interesting thing. [INAUDIBLE] said that their team just really likes the way a car feels when it shifts, when it's being pushed hard.

So you're not losing that sort of feeling if that's something you like. It does give you a little sense of speed and that the car is actually doing something. A lot of EVs, you know, you just go, and it's just so linear and smooth that it doesn't really-- other than being pushed back in your seat, there's not really a whole lot going on. But with this, it will have some sort of gear shift going on.

And also it will make this one-- this concept, anyway, makes noise. And if you look on our website or on YouTube, we have a video of the sound of it. And it's a really good sound. It sounds kind of almost like a V8. With a little bit of a-- I don't know. A little turbine sort of whine to it. And yeah, it sounds really good.

It's not like a projected through a speaker sort of sound. Joel wrote about it. He says it's a pipe system with various chambers tuned to make noise. So like a pipe organ almost. But the result is pretty exciting. So you get that aural feedback too, driving this thing. Even at idle, just bumbling around.

So yeah, this thing really holding on to the muscle car ethos while moving into the future of electrification just as everyone else is.

GREG MIGLIORE: They're calling this power train "The Banshee," which is another name from the past, and a good way to kind of get people actually excited about Dodge performance, you know, with electrification supporting it, powering it, if you will. We don't know much about it. And this is very, I'd say, on brand for Dodge and Stellantis, which is show a concept but you don't exactly know what's under the hood sometimes. Or you kind of question what's going on there.

Regardless, these things are going to be arriving in 2024-ish. So they're going to have to show us the goods sometime pretty soon. But, I mean, it sounds like it's capable of fast charging. 800 volt is what it's called. So, I mean, we don't really know anything else.

And honestly, in some ways, that's fine. This is more like, I would say, to start the conversation, versus to really do like a tech deep dive. And I think that's-- for Dodge, they have to start the conversation. Because they haven't started it, really. You know?

Whereas, like, every other car company almost has said, hey, this is what we're going to do. This is how we're going to do it. Blah, blah, blah. Dodge hasn't quite gotten there yet. So they're at least articulating at a high level, what they're going to do, how it's going to look and then they're going to kind of have to fill in the details.

And Stellantis is a huge company. There's a lot of resources for them to draw upon. I think they'll get the power-train to be solid. As it will have to be, to be competitive for these new variants.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. And I do like that they're going with an 800 volt architecture, so it can take advantage of the fastest chargers out there. A car like this, you're going to be driving it fast, and you want to charge it fast. Who knows how big the battery is going to be. But I'm sure people are going to not want to spend a lot of time at the charger with this thing.

A couple other details about it. It's all-wheel drive. They say it's faster than a current Hellcat. It will have an overboost function. So a little-- they call it power shot, where it clocks up the output for a span of time. They haven't really said what that span of time is.

And then it has drive modes. Slam, drift, drag, and donut. So-- [CHUCKLING] it promises to be pretty fun just by the name of those modes.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I'm excited about some of this. I think to me, this is-- and I'm pulling together sort of like an opinion piece on this for the next, maybe, week or so. This isn't exactly what they're going to do. But it shows off all the things that are sort of in their arsenal. Things that they probably will do in different places.

So you'll get these driving modes maybe at, like, the higher end one. You'll get all sorts of different-- as far as probably, like, power ratings, from the battery packs and things like that. So we'll see.

I mean, to me it's also interesting, as somebody who's always liked the Dodge Charger, this looks more like the original Dodge Charger. Or I would say the second generation, because there actually was one before that based on, I want to say, the Coronet. This looks more like the '68, '69, '70 Charger then the current one does. You know, the current one more, like, builds on the idea of what a Charger is. But it's not literal.

This is more, like-- literally, this is closer to a '68 Charger. So I think if you're an enthusiast, this helps you get-- you see this car and you're excited about it. Then you find out it's electric, and you're like, well, I don't know. Maybe I don't know how I felt about electric in this sense, but you're winning me over. And I'm sort of making up a potential Dodge buyer. But I feel like that's how the conversation could go.

JON SCHNEIDER: Well, I feel like-- at least around here-- you know, the Dodge buyer range is a wide swath of people. And Dodge has basically a variant for each one of those people. And I imagine they'll do the same with this.

They sort of democratized muscle, having a powerful, cool, car by making an affordable version of the Charger and the Challenger. And then going up to the Hellcats, and the Demons, and things like that for the people who have the means and/or the passion to go that far with it.

I imagine that there's going to be a little bit of something for everybody here. And yeah, there's going to be different outputs, and there's going to be different ones with different features and different capabilities for different types of driving. So it'll be interesting to see. And yeah, it's going to be fun to sort of try all the different ones. And everyone has their own sort of favorite Charger or Challenger. And I'm sure we'll all each have our own different favorite versions of this. And they'll all be quite different.

GREG MIGLIORE: I do wish they'd added some scallops onto the doors. I think that would have been even slightly more retro.

[LAUGHTER]

But they didn't.

JON SCHNEIDER: That would have been cool!

GREG MIGLIORE: I don't think-- it's almost like a post-modern Charger when you look at this concept.

Now, to sort of extend this thought a little bit, we know the Charger and Challenger in their current forms are done-zo in the next year or so. And this is sort of previewing what's next. But it's also a little bit confusing, because they didn't exactly say, hey, we're going to replace these cars directly. And it's interesting, because the concept is a two door Charger. The charger currently is a four door. The Challenger is a two door.

So what do you do with that? Do you make-- I don't know. I'm struggling to almost write my own theories and opinions in this column without, like, straight up doing fiction, because you're trying to look into the future and there's a lot of different ways they could go here. You know?

My current thinking is that you don't just want to do, like, a two door Charger necessarily. Even though that's almost like a home run play for some enthusiasts, because then you're giving up the sedan segment. And you're also sort of giving up all of the good will and customer base that the Challenger has built up.

So the Challenger at times has sold better than the Mustang and the Camaro. I haven't looked at who's currently atop the leaderboard. But the challenger is doing-- like, they're a strong seller. Let's put it that way. So to me there's a little bit of a dilemma, a conundrum. What do you do there?

So they haven't exactly said what nameplates are going to continue. Certainly a two door Charger would probably, you know, assuage some of the people who would be sad about the Challenger going away. But there's a lot of brand equity built up there too. So what do you think will happen? I don't know. Look at your crystal ball.

[LAUGHTER]

JON SCHNEIDER: I don't know. They could just call it Charger and offer two and four door versions. Who knows? But I sure do hope that the first one that they offer-- you know, of a two door version-- looks just like this. Because this looks so cool.

And it doesn't look too-- I mean, on the inside it looks a little concept car-ish. But on the outside, it looks very much something that could be put into production pretty much as is. And people would, I imagine, gravitate toward it quite easily.

GREG MIGLIORE: That is, I think, the single biggest question I have from all of this, which is in some ways losing the point of it. Because the point of it is more, like, it's electric. But I mean, for me, the biggest question here is what does this actually mean for the Charger and Challenger and how they're positioned going forward?

You know, every now and then we'll hear rumors about like Barracuda, which was a Plymouth. But, I mean, a Dodge Barracuda would be fine in my opinion. I don't really see a net gain in swapping out Challenger for Barracuda, though, you know? So I'm just very curious of what they do.

I would like to see a two door Charger, though. I think that would be-- we are seeing a pivot away from sedans. What would be ironic is if, like, moving to coupes is Dodge's solution for declining sedan sales. You know, I don't know. To me there's a lot-- again, I keep saying "unpack." But there's a lot we don't know. But the point here is to get people excited about it. So I think they're certainly doing that.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. And I imagine Dodge will cater to-- they'll find the niche in the market that's not being covered, and cover that. That's one thing they've been doing well for a while, especially when it comes to performance cars. So I imagine that that's going to be the case.

And people who want what they know and love with Dodge, I don't think they're going to have to really worry there's going to be something for them. Dodge knows who their customer is, and they will make something for them.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a good way to put it. But if you like the current Charger and the current Challenger, some kind of fun things on their way out of town, if you will, you can get a convertible Challenger. Which is something people have been asking for years. Some pretty fun colors and fun additions, if that's what you're looking for.

For what it's worth, these two cars, with a few others, helped sort of resurrect the muscle car segment in the US and frankly make-- bring about this onset of modern enthusiasm.

I mean before the Charger and the Challenger and the Magnum, you didn't really have rear-wheel drive performance. The Mustang kind of was living on as a breed of its own. The Camaro went away, came back. But, like, 250 horsepower was a lot of horsepower. It was tough to find a rear-wheel drive car. The design was super boring.

Dodge and like-- I mean to really the Chrysler 300, 300C, under Dieter Zetsche, the CEO at the time, they're the ones who were like, hey, we're going to put big engines in Mercedes platforms, and we're going to run with it, and this is going to work. And everybody else is like, [GRUNTS] what are you talking about? No, it's not! And they've made it work for a long time. So to me that's the enduring legacy of the LX platform.

But on the way out of town, you can get some cool stuff here, too. Any of the stuff strike your fancy?

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Well, not the convertible. I like the way it looks. I'm actually surprised at how good it looks. I'm just not really a convertible guy. And I don't know, something about the structural integrity of that scares me a little bit.

GREG MIGLIORE: Drop-top Hellcat doesn't seem like the safest thing in the world?

[LAUGHTER]

JON SCHNEIDER: It sounds like fun. It'd be fine. I don't know. It'd be cool to get some Scat Pack wide body to go, to keep in the garage. But yeah, there's going to be more versions coming out that we haven't been told what they are yet.

So there's more to learn. There's more surprises coming from this current generation before it goes away. So I'm excited to see what they are. And I think those are going to be some pretty neat collector cars. Those are going to be fun to see at car shows in 30 years.

GREG MIGLIORE: Let's talk about the Dodge Hornet kind of quickly here, because this is turning into the Dodge Cast. But this is interesting. You know, it's basically the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Actually, that's our subhead as I read our story here.

I think it looks pretty good though. Dodge needs this. I don't think there's a ton of overlap between the Dodge and the Alfa buyer, except maybe in Detroit where people are, like, sharing their discounts. You know, all-wheel drive. Pretty powerful. Looks interesting. Pricing is fairly competitive. I mean, to me, that's kind of interesting. Like Stellantis is letting one brand undercut the other in some ways.

There is a plug-in hybrid power-train, ironically, in the RT-trim, which isn't necessarily where I would expect that. Interesting. It's 1.3 liter four cylinder. That's almost European. Which-- probably, it is European. An RT Dodge with a 1.3 liter four cylinder?

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: What do you think about that?

[LAUGHTER]

JON SCHNEIDER: I don't know. It's easy for me to sort of be hard on this car just because it just doesn't grab me the way a lot of other Dodge products do. Even though there is a plug-in hybrid version. Knowing that electric Dodge is coming right around the corner, it's just really hard for me to get super excited about the Hornet.

I like the name. I'm glad they brought that back. But again, you know, you can get performance for a good price point and-- Yeah, I don't know. Maybe I'd get inside the RT, drive it, and absolutely love it. You know, 288 horsepower, 383 pound-feet of torque, again with that PowerShot overboost and launch control, could be pretty cool. 0 to 60 6.1 seconds, not mind blowing, but not terrible.

I haven't driven the Tonale either. So I don't know, really, how the car handles. That would be a big question of mine. But even if it's not super fast, if it has good low-end torque, and some neat features, and if it has the handling to match, I might be able to fall in like with it at least.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. You know, it's interesting. I haven't driven a Dodge Crossover for quite some time. I'm not sure many people have. But some of these-- like the Maserati Levante, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, just the crossover executions from some of Stellantis's Italian brands, I've generally liked. So I feel like I'm probably going to-- like you-- "like" the Tonale.

Probably not nearly as much as-- like I really enjoyed driving the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Which makes a ton of sense. What's more fun to drive? A boring crossover, or a C-segment sports sedan that looks awesome? But I think I could be all right with that.

Dodge Hornet-- I mean, it'll give Dodge some volume. I mean, sometimes you just got to, like, feed some different people, I guess. I don't know.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah, they have to be in that segment. And you know, it's the segment to be in right now. I mean, it's good that they're entering that. I mean, someone wants this. And someone will really enjoy it.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, the Durango is-- you see plenty of them on the road around here. But it's actually a pretty good SUV. You know, there's really nothing wrong with it. Jeep underpinnings. Looks OK and you can put a ton of stuff in it. You know? So I think if they could pull off sort of that level of ethos here, they're going to be just fine.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. The Durango kind of drives like a three row Charger. And if this can have that same sort of Charger vibe to it on the road, yeah. Not bad.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Cool. Let's shift gears here a little bit over to Rivian. They eliminated one of their lower level trims. So that, basically by default, raises the base prices of their vehicles.

At first I put this in the show notes thinking, hey, this might get people excited. But it's not that big a deal. Because frankly, one, everybody's raising prices on their cars. And two, you are seeing some of these trim level consolidations, if you will. And in some ways, sort of getting rid of the more entry level one is better than just raising the price on the entry level one, if that makes sense. But what do you make out of this?

JON SCHNEIDER: I think they just sort of fell flat with their expectations of which versions people were going to get.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JON SCHNEIDER: I think they thought they'd have more entry level customers and just didn't. I think when someone goes to buy a Rivian, they're already spending over $70 grand. So you know, those people are probably-- they have neat options. So they're probably picking those options and picking higher tier versions of the R1T and R1S. And I can see why there wouldn't really be as much demand for the entry level version.

I mean, if you're an early adopter and you're enthusiastic enough to drop that kind of money on a cool new EV, you're probably going to spend a little more to make it even cooler.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense in some ways. Rivian's been on kind of a roller coaster the last year or so.

JON SCHNEIDER: That's for sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know, I'm excited to get behind the wheel of R1S. I have driven the R1T, which is the truck. And the SUV, as the names-- as the letters indicate. I'm starting to see a lot of versions of the truck on the road around here. Which makes sense. They have-- I believe they do have a facility around here in Plymouth.

Yeah, it looks cool on the road. Let me put it that way. I mean, you see it, and it's just kind of like the right size. It doesn't look too big, but it's a good sized truck. You know, I'll be interested to see how the next couple of years treat Rivian. Let me put it that way. I think if you're Rivian, you want to be more in, like, the auto blog's and the "Car and Drivers," as opposed to like the "Wall Street Journals" and the "Bloombergs." It seems like their money, or lack thereof, has been making more noise than their products lately.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. I keep fearing that they're going to be another one of those companies that phases out of the customer car market and goes toward-- goes all-in on fleet vehicles.

But I think now that they're getting some traction and building a little bit of a customer base, and building some interest, and now that they're actually getting at least a few of these in the hands of customers-- you know, they've had the supply chain problems and stuff.

But yeah, they have enough interest from companies like Amazon to keep them going no matter what. So long as that those deals hold up. I hope they keep going with the customer car arm of the business and expand it, frankly. I think they could be in more segments.

They shouldn't get ahead of themselves, obviously. They're having enough trouble as it is. But hopefully they stick with it and eventually find the opportunity to expand the passenger vehicle market.

GREG MIGLIORE: That pivot, like we saw Bollinger do last year, it's interesting, because a lot of these startup EV makers try to build like an aura of desirability. Their cool-looking vehicles that are also electric. Or they're electric, and they're cool. But when I think of, like, Amazon delivery trucks, I don't really think of either of those.

And I mean, granted, there's certainly a business case there where you sort of lock in your orders so you know what your revenue is going to be. And then you only focus on delivering. So from like an MBA perspective, it makes all the sense in the world. You just literally can predict your balance sheet.

But, I mean, it also to me seems a little bit like a waste of some pretty cool products, if you will, when they're not going to be in the hands of consumers who can drive them and really build a culture around them. Which I think is something the electric segment has. And you want to be a part of that. So you know, we'll see.

So let's go back in time. We've talked a lot about electrics. Let's talk about Pebble Beach. I'm going to surprise you here and say a Duesenberg won best of show. Shocking. It seems like a Duesenberg always wins best in show. Although to be fair, it actually hasn't been Duesenbergs all the time. It's been a few other things in recent years.

My big takeaway from this was-- the winner was a '32 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo. And my takeaway from this-- I just thought this was cool-- was how this car specifically sort of highlighted that, like, era of coach-building in the '30s, where you would sort of order your car and then you'd commission somebody.

In this case, it was Joseph Figoni, who made a living as a coach-builder between the wars. And this is actually a one-off. Reading [? Ronan ?] [INAUDIBLE] story here on our site.

Cool trivia fact, [? Ronan ?] writes that it was driven in the Paris to Nice rally. That's kind of awesome. Back in 1932. So what I like is when I see some of these-- like, when a car that wins a car show actually sort of highlights an era. And that's what, to me, this car did. You know? And I always like 1930s cars.

I remember I had, like, 1930s Cadillacs, and Packards, and [? Chords ?] and Duesenbergs that I played with as Hot Wheels. So, you know, when we're talking about building a culture, there is this historic side where people make connections with it.

So cool show this year. Somebody always wins. Nobody really loses. Let's put it that way. And then there was just a gazillion concept cars that were shown. Like, everybody it seemed like, brought a concept car.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: I tended to like the Aston Martin. It was called the DBR22. I wanted to like the Lincoln one a little more than I did. But I thought that was just kind of weird. What stood out to you?

JON SCHNEIDER: Well, that Lincoln. The L100 concept. They didn't really give a lot of details about it. But it is very eye-catching. It has those suicide doors and that rear hatch thing that opens up. It's supposed to be autonomous, which instantly makes it slightly more boring. I don't know.

But it does look really neat. Definitely very, very much a concept. And I don't know really what it could actually preview, except that they're thinking about weird things and thinking about autonomy.

Let's see, there were some cool cars there. I'm still really skeptical about the new DeLoreans. They had the--

GREG MIGLIORE: I was just going to bring that up.

JON SCHNEIDER: The DeLorean Alpha5, which we've seen. Then they have the plasma tail, sort of that shooting brake sort of deal. And then that Omega off-roader that doesn't look like-- we'll never see that. (LAUGHING) You know? That's never going to exist.

But the Bentley-- the Bentley Mulliner Batur-- I don't know if that's how you pronounce it-- I think, looks really nice. It took me a little while to get used to those little hood vent things. But you know, it's a farewell to the W12, and I think a beautiful one at that.

And it sort of previews the design of some of the EVs they're going to be creating. Which is similar to their current design. Except on the inside, they took it a little further. The craftsmanship on any Bentley is just incredible. Go look at the interior photos of this. It's really something. But yeah, that one really, really stood out to me.

And then I was kind of excited about the ZDX. Just those letters got me excited. I love that car. But yeah, the Acura Precision EV concept. And then they sort of announced the ZDX SUV that'll be coming.

But the Precision EV concept, it's a neat design study. Again, this is going to be one of those cars that's going to not-- I mean, it's definitely a concept. But there are some aspects of it that I think that Acura will incorporate into future vehicles.

Hopefully not all of it. Some of it's just way too futuristic. Like the steering yoke looks completely unusable. The interior is very futuristic and very sparse. But Acura, I feel like their production vehicles always end up looking really cool. And it's one of the things that sort of sets them apart. They look different than other vehicles while still looking classy and athletic. So those caught my eye and my attention.

And I'm looking forward to seeing what Acura does in the future. The ZDX will be based on the GM Ultium platform. So there will be some things shared there with a Blazer EV. But again, another car we haven't driven. So we can't really make a full analysis of what this will be like to drive. But I'm looking forward to it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, it sounds good. One other I want to mention, too, is the Lucid Air Sapphire. I thought that looked really, really good. The McLaren Solus GT, I think that looks awesome.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think that is-- like, that's almost '80s Decepticon vibe. I love that one. That looks great. Porsche's 911 GT3 RS, and then their tribute to the Carrera RS package was pretty sweet.

I don't know. The rest of the stuff didn't really catch my fancy. I thought the Lincoln thing was just almost a cliche. I don't know. I mean, it looks good. But I don't know, I expected more, considering it is the 100th anniversary and they were one of the featured marques. And it's just kind of like-- you know, I don't know. It seems like maybe a chance to show out a little bit more when you get the center stage like that.

But otherwise, that's what Pebble Beach's concept car lawn is. You know, they get revealed throughout the course of the week. And then they all end up on the lawn in front of the lodge the morning of the [? Concours. ?]

Let's transition to what we've been driving. Back to the present. I've been driving the Volkswagen Atlas. You've been driving the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek. I mean, this is kind of like two flavors of, I don't know, like, mildly interesting ice cream. Maybe not quite vanilla, but not Mackinaw Island Fudge either. So flip a coin.

I guess I'll talk about the Atlas real quick. Took it up North. Took it to the UP, filled it with everything. I mean everything that you could possibly fit in there. Three rows, which is nice. Got the family in there plus a 67 pound golden retriever, according to her most recent weigh in at the vet.

So I mean, this one comes in at 52-5 so it's nicely equipped, if you will. And yeah, it had the art sort of, like, trim, if you will, that kind of gives you a little more like the dressy pieces. Like the chrome accents, that type of thing. 21 inch wheels. 3.6 liter V6, which Volkswagen has been using for quite a while. Full motion all-wheel drive, and then of course, the eight speed automatic. So that's kind of a high level look at it.

Beautiful racing green exterior. I don't know if I'd call it racing green. It's more like a forest green. But a really good looking vehicle. Multiple people commented on it. And then the inside is brown and black, so very classy inside. Good value for 52. Almost 53. A lot of vehicle. Very functional.

It's a good size vehicle too. So if you're looking for something in this three row segment, you know, Volkswagen went with the size play, that's for sure. And a little bit of a style play. I think it looks a little bit different than some of the, I'll say, domestics. Which you could argue, this is. It's built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I like what they did with the Cross Coupe, as they called it, too. Which gives it almost like-- and I said this last week on the podcast-- almost like a less expensive X4 or X6 kind of look. Not particularly good on gas. I filled it up twice. But it was highly functional, let me put it that way. So a good family vehicle.

I wouldn't say it's the best or the worst in segment, which I really know is sitting right in the middle on the fence. But it's a very solid competitor. You know, reading some of the different reviews out there, some of our competitors kind of give it some pretty high praise. Some of them don't like it so much, if you will. So it's kind of right in the middle, if you will, as far as like, it goes in the ranking.

Lot's of good storage spaces too. A big center console. There's kind of like a shelf on top of the dash, which is amazing for, like, sunglasses, maps, masks, anything you might need in 2022 that you're carrying around and want to leave in the car for whatever you might face. Yeah, very comfortable driver too.

JON SCHNEIDER: You know, the Atlas has always struck me as sort of a nice vehicle, and a practical vehicle, but never an exciting vehicle.

GREG MIGLIORE: Indeed.

JON SCHNEIDER: I've always been really bored whenever I've been driving one of them. But you know, sometimes cars aren't all about excitement. And if you want a car that's comfortable, and nice, and has a clean design, the Atlas might be for you. And yeah, it's very, very roomy. So a good car for a road trip. Except for the gas.

GREG MIGLIORE: And are you starting to get your initial impressions of the Pathfinder Rock Creek? I drove one similar to this about a year ago. I think it was the Rock Creek edition, but a different model. I think that was also green, if I recall. Must be a thing. Good color for cars, I must say. And football teams. But what are your initial impressions of the Pathfinder Rock Creek?

JON SCHNEIDER: Well, it looks really good in my driveway to start with. Those big all-terrain tires look great. Mine's in this sort of gray color. Dark gray, while all the Rock Creek stuff on it is black. Like the Black tubular roof rack. You know, this thing looks like it's ready to go on a Safari.

It sort of feels like it could be an alternative to the Explorer Timberline, which was another one of those vehicles that-- Timberline took Explorer, which I really didn't have any excitement about, and made it interesting to me. And Nissan sort of did the same thing with the Rock Creek edition. I'm not terribly enamored with the Pathfinder, but the Rock Creek edition makes me take note of it, and it does feel special and look special going down the road.

You can feel the suspension and that you're riding on these great big all-terrain wheels. You even hear them going down the road. So other than that-- let's see.

One thing that really kind of drives me nuts is the infotainment screen is sort of far away. And it almost feels as though it's turned away from you. I don't think it is. I think it's flat, flush, perpendicular to and parallel with the dash. But it feels like it's on the other side of the car.

And then a lot of the car functions, you have to manage them through the controls on the steering wheel, which is a little bit frustrating. Although once you get used to it, it is nice to have it right there and not to have to reach over to that super faraway touchscreen to operate different things.

But yeah, it's pretty comfortable to drive. It's not super powerful. It's 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. So it's not fast, but not slow. It's fine.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I like the Rock Creek. I think it's a cool name. It sounds cool. You get some cool stuff on it. And I think it sort of underscores how Nissan wants the Pathfinder to be. That kind of rough and ready off-roader, even though it's not exactly. But they're playing up the image of it. I mean, they're even calling their all-wheel drive system four-wheel drive.

And I'll say this. They're at least sticking with this identity. For a while it seemed like the Pathfinder-- I mean, for a while it seemed like the Pathfinder didn't change. Let's put it that way. But it did have some different identities in the last, say, 20 years. They're kind of sticking with this. I think it's a successful formula. Let me put it that way.

JON SCHNEIDER: I agree with you. Yeah. It takes a product that, I don't know, is kind of cool on its own, but it just definitely amps up the interest factor for me. Especially, you know I really like those big all-terrain tires on it. I think those are the coolest part. So you've got at least a little bit of capability to crawl over some stuff with it.

GREG MIGLIORE: That was another takeaway I had, thinking back to my test driving it, and it was how well it actually drove with those large tires on it. Like you tend to expect a little bit of, like-- Yeah, I don't know. A little bit more just bouncy, jouncy, or with those big rims, it could get a little uncomfortable. But it handled pretty well cruising through the suburbs.

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah, any automaker that wants to keep making Timberline Rock Creek wilderness versions of their vehicles, I'm for it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Me too. 100%. Should we spend some money?

JON SCHNEIDER: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Let's do it. This is a good one. Let's see. Dave from East Brunswick, New Jersey writes, "Good day from the Garden State." Hey, good day to you. Or as one of the most famous natives from New Jersey would say, Good evening. Good evening. That's our good friend, Bruce. He's a friend, if you will, from my "Auto Weekdays," so good to hear from you Dave.

Here's the scenario. "My wife currently drives a 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia all-wheel drive. Loves the car." We do too. We were just talking about it. "It's at lease. We're not crazy enough to actually own an Alfa." OK, fair enough. "It's been amazingly trouble free. Low mileage, about $15 grand." Lease is up in six months and they're starting to think about her next ride.

Probably not a terrible idea to cash out and get out of dodge at this point, right? You've had a trouble-free period of time here with the Alfa. Keep it that way, right? So there's that.

Here's the scenario. She wants to go electric. No SUV or crossovers, and Teslas, as far as where she's thinking. Let's see, trying to paraphrase some of this here. I want to stay under $70 grand. No used. Basically boils down to what electric sedan do they want to go with. So how is it going to compare to the Alfa? Can they beat it on price? And also a note here, David is 6' 4" and needs to get in this car somewhat easily.

So that's the criteria. Spend my money. And he leaves us a nice little note here that we could get to after this. Don't let me forget, with our little beer talk. But let's get into it. And here's his rundown. He just sold his '08-- or her '08 Miata. They have a BMW K1600 GT. Very cool. Ford Explorer as a company car, and of course, the outgoing Alpha. So let's spend some money here.

What do you think there, Mr. Green editor?

JON SCHNEIDER: Polestar 2 dual motor.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK.

JON SCHNEIDER: It's got the performance. It's a cool, unique car that not everyone else on the road is driving. Kind of like an Alfa. It has sort of a minimalist but interesting interior. It's very thoughtfully crafted. Again, kind of like the Alpha.

And I looked, and taller drivers seem to have no problem with it, other than the center console. The sides of it go up pretty high. So your knees might be bumping into that. Well, you're one knee might be bumping into that. But you probably shouldn't have problems with headroom, or room otherwise.

But, yeah, I think that's the move. It's a quick car. It's a cool looking car. Very sort of stealthy looking. If it catches their eye, it will turn heads. But it won't always catch their eye. It kind of goes under the radar. Again, the performance is great. It handles really, really well. So that would be what I would recommend.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a strong one. That one came to mind immediately as well because you can comfortably get in under that $70 grand barrier. And you get a fun to drive car. You get a lot of capability. I just saw one driving the other day, and the looks are really growing on me. So that's one I would recommend.

The other one I would suggest-- and I know I'm really blowing the budget here-- is look at a Taycan. The base price, just looking at it on Porsche's website is $88. I don't know how flexible you are. If you could go like $18 grand over $70, I mean, that's a fun car to drive.

JON SCHNEIDER: It is. It really is.

GREG MIGLIORE: If you want to get some of that emotion. I mean, you know, Alfa Romeo-- a Porsche is probably one of the few things that is a step up in that range. So I know that's kind of fudging it, if you will. You know the $88 grand sticker, I don't-- Porsche isn't breaking down incentives. Those are changing even as we speak. So you know there probably is some sort of incentive at some point.

But, I mean, it sounds like they have the Alfa for six months. We have to wait and see exactly how the dust settles on those. But that's a fun one. I mean, that's another one I would look at. I like Polestar too.

You know, you're taller than me. You fit in the Polestar 2 pretty easily, right? If I remember right.

JON SCHNEIDER: Oh, yeah. No problem. I'm 6 foot even. Not a small guy by any means at all and totally comfortable in there.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JON SCHNEIDER: You might-- yeah, it depends on how you feel about leg room. Like side to side lateral leg room. But I didn't have any problems with it. I felt perfectly cozy and happy, and honestly more focused on the drive on that experience than on anything else.

Although I would just go out and sit-in the car too. It's a nice vehicle. Comfortable. Interesting. Makes neat sounds. You know, the turn indicator makes a neat little pulsing sound. Just everything about it is just a little bit different. It's not quite like anything else out there right now. Which could turn some people off if it was done wrong. But it's done in such a great way that all the little things that are different and that you aren't used to are attractive and are easy to live with and easy to use.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny you mention that. I think that's where Rivian actually goes astray with some of their funny little things that are different. Like those things bugged me in, like, the R1T. We'll see if they can maybe clean that up as far as like just infotainment. Total side note, total tangent.

But that's-- I think Polestar and Rivian are good examples of like, hey, this is how you can do it right. This is how you can do it maybe different, and maybe not do it so right. There are parts of the R1T, like that pass through storage area, that I really do like. I digress.

Polestar 2 is a good one. You want to spend a little more? I would look at the Taycan. Maybe talk to your tax person, see if there's a way to get that a little closer. I don't know. It would still be a very base Taycan too. Because Taycan gets to $150 like really quick. Let me put it that way.

Also, one other one I want to mention-- or two more-- is a Kia EV6 literally arrived in my driveway during this podcast. It's pretty roomy. I'm a little bit, I think, shorter than you guys. But I have no problems fitting into either the EV6 or the Hyundai Ioniq 5. I would say the EV6 is a little bit more emotional. So that would be one I might want to look at, Dave, if you're thinking about something that's I think is truly fun to drive. And then I think--

JON SCHNEIDER: He said no crossovers. We're going to call it a wagon.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I was going to say.

[LAUGHTER]

I would literally draw the line between those two cars. The Ioniq 5 to me is more of a hatch crossover. The EV6 feels like more of a wagon. So that's where I would go with that, even though I think even Kia calls it a crossover. Mach-E is a crossover. So I guess we'll eliminate that right now. Even Ford calls it one. But I had fun driving it. So I'll leave that where it may be. All right.

JON SCHNEIDER: Fair enough.

GREG MIGLIORE: Good letter there, David. Thanks for writing. He writes that he is already enjoying Hefeweizen by the pool. It's late August, you're getting close to Oktoberfest season. I've been in Munich, and I've been in Germany in like mid to late September when this stuff gets popular. What are you drinking these days, Jon?

JON SCHNEIDER: Let's see. We've been still doing these-- my wife got a cocktail of the month club.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, right.

JON SCHNEIDER: And we've been doing those. They're great. The last one we got was this marionberry syrup. And me growing up in Oregon, I would ride my bike around and pick marionberries and eat them. And you can just craft these different cocktails in different ways depending on what liquor you use, or what other things you add to it.

And those have been really nice. Great way to start an evening. End of the day, head out-- if we're up North-- head out to the beach. Sit on the sand and sip one of these little cocktails that we brewed up.

But as for beer, I think the last beer I drank was just a plain old Polish sort of pilsner style beer. I forget where it was from. Somewhere in Michigan. I'll have to look it up, because it was pretty decent. And I'm a big fan of that style of beer, like the German and Czech pilsner. And this one was Polish. Couldn't really taste that it was Polish. But I don't really know what makes a Polish style pilsner Polish style. But it was good.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JON SCHNEIDER: And I don't remember who made it.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's funny. I was golfing with somebody, and they pulled out like a Czech beer. And I was like, well, I don't see this every day. But he's like, no, it's good. Here, have one. I was like, yeah, no, this is pretty good.

So I'm keeping it super local. I am drinking a Keweenaw-- not literally at this moment-- a Keweenaw Brewing Company Red Ridge. This is the blood orange flavored. It's a blonde ale. It's perfect for really any time of the year. It really is. But it's real nice in the summer when you maybe don't want to quite go all the way over to like a shandy, or something. But it's just a little bit sweeter.

I like how beer tastes. Like I like a Coors Light. But this also tastes like a very crafted beer. So I drank a lot of that up North. So I got a few left over. I don't want to drink them too fast, because they're a little tougher to find around here downstate. It's a little easier up North, as we say. Not just up North, but in the UP. It's brewed in Houghton. So you got to go North--

JON SCHNEIDER: Nice.

GREG MIGLIORE: --to really get it. But it's a really good, smooth beer. I'm going to throw some chicken on the grill tonight. Eat it with some leftover basil pesto pasta that my wife made that's outstanding. And yeah, crack one of those open in the next few hours.

JON SCHNEIDER: Nice.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. So we can leave it there. If you find the "Autoblog Podcast" outstanding like I find this blood orange beer-- and we hope you do-- that's five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get the show. Send us your "Spend My Moneys." that's podcast@autoblog.com.

I want to thank our producer, Eric Meyer, and his group Skyway Traffic we will let the soothing tones of Skyway Traffic take us out. Be well.

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