Technology of the Year Special | Autoblog Podcast #709

This episode of the Autoblog Podcast features Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore and Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. The pair begin by discussing the 2021 Technology of the Year award. Ford's Pro Power Onboard system in the F-150 wins this year. Why the Ford won, how testing went down and Ford's competition are discussed. Plus, Greg interviews a Ford program manager about the system, and Ford formally accepts the award. After wrapping up Tech of the Year discussions, editors discuss the vehicles they've been driving lately, including the 2022 Subaru BRZ and 2022 BMW M340i xDrive. Lastly, the two have a quick debate about cars on sale today that they don't think will ever go out of style.

Video Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to The Autoblog Podcast. I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me today is Road Test editor Zac Palmer. How are you?

ZAC PALMER: I am doing great, Greg. How are you doing on this fine Tech of the Year day?

GREG MIGLIORE: Tech of the Year day-- I've got an espresso. I've got some ice water, and I am psyched. This is a big show for you. This is kind of a special podcast. We are going to talk about some of the cars we've been driving. But before that, we will reveal the 2021 Technology of the Year Award from Autoblog.

So pretty excited-- without further ado, we might as well just throw it right out there is the Ford Pro Power Onboard. This is the onboard generator that you could get in different versions of the Ford F-150. It beat out the Mercedes augmented reality and infotainment screen and head up display, which we tested in the EQS. And it's also available, I believe, in the S class.

It also beat out the Android Auto system, which we tested in the Polestar 2. And we'll start to see that roll out in other vehicles. But Ford took the top honors this year by it was a healthy margin. It was a healthy, spirited competition. Let me put it that way. But Ford, the onboard generator, was the winner here. So I think it was a worthy winner. We're going to have Steve Herbert. He is the program manager for the Ford F-150 as a guest coming up in a few minutes.

But Zac, let's talk about this technology. You and I were both among the testers this year. What did you do with it? I'm curious. You could do a lot of different things with this. We saw that it powered a wedding here in Michigan this summer when one of the guests showed up and said, hey, it looks like we're having some technical difficulties. Maybe I can help. It helped in some of the storms in Texas earlier this year. It's a very capable technology. What did you do with it, Zac?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, yeah, just like you were saying, this thing is super, super capable. So we had the top of the line 7.2 kilowatt system in our f-150 power boost test car, which means it has, well, a lot of power to power all of those things that you just mentioned there, Greg. Specifically, what I did with it is I pretty much brought out just a boatload of household appliances from my house. And I went and plugged them all in, turned the F-150 on, hit the generator on button, watched what happened.

And it's a fairly simple thing having an onboard generator. But yeah, everything worked. Everything worked lovely. I had my PS5 hooked up with it. I was playing some spooky Halloween tunes on it. I was actually doing all of this on Halloween night itself. So I went and strung Halloween lights around it. We had big ghosts in the bed. And overall, it served as my Halloween handing out candy slash I'mma play some video games while you wait for folks to run around.

So, yeah, that was my main test of it there, after plugging in a TV, game consoles, and all that. And, yeah, like I said, it worked perfectly. I know that West Coast editor James Riswick did a very similar thing with his, except he got a fridge out there. I think he might have even got a microwave and a popcorn maker. Those are some pretty big power draws. And I know that his worked splendidly as well. So, yeah, that's about what I did with it, Greg. What did you get up to with the F-150?

GREG MIGLIORE: I didn't really even scratch the surface I plugged-in a few different household appliances. I actually have this hot glue gun that has been kind of finicky over the years. It's like literally shorted different outlets and things I've used. So I thought, well, if it can take this, even though it's not a lot of power, hey, it's going to work. So I did some gluing. You know what really impressed me, though, was just how seamless the interface was. It pops right up in the screen inside, the touch screen. And it's super easy to get to. And you can just figure out, hey, this is how much power you're using. This is how it works.

In this day and age, there's a lot of technologies that are very complicated. This is very usable, very simple. So I think that's what also impressed our testers.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, 100%. You're back there with the specific system that we had. We had four 120 volt outlets and one big 240 volt outlet. Now, that big 240 is what you'd plug your house into, or a giant fridge. Or you could even go like an electric stove, or a camper van. That's a sort of level of power that this system gets you.

And that's one of the reasons why it is our Technology of the Year winner. Just because of the massive versatility and ability to plug things in that this gets you that, well, has never really been done before in cars or trucks. There are outlets in a whole lot of SUVs and trucks, but they just don't provide anywhere near the amount of actual firepower that you can get in this hybrid.

And you can read our huge post on it explaining everything. But I think another big reason why this is a winner is just because this is the first iteration of it. I think that a lot of other people are going to iterate further upon this. And this is going to be a thing. Trucks, electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids-- the capabilities that this could give you, whether your power is out, whether you're out camping, tailgating. The possibilities are, well, as far as your imagination go. So yeah, really impressed by it.

GREG MIGLIORE: It really underscores the notion of a pickup truck as a tool. I think the best way to explain it now is to bring in Ford F-150 program manager, Steve Herbert, who could take us through some of the technology features. Steve, congratulations on winning our Technology of the Year Award for the Pro Power Onboard.

Why don't you take us through some of the early days of how you guys thought, hey, this is a good thing. We should bring it to market and try to meet our customers' needs. Take us through some of that early strategy.

STEVE HERBERT: Sure, we spent a lot of time with our customer. And as we spent time with them, one of the common things that we noticed is that customers were carrying a portable generator with them. And they were taking valuable box space to store this portable generator and the gas cans that went with it. And whether they were working on a job site, or they were camping, or they were tailgating over common, many uses there was this common thread of carrying a portable generator. So that spurred the idea, and our engineers really went to work on how we could do that better.

GREG MIGLIORE: This year, we've seen some really interesting uses of it. I think I read about a wedding where it powered just the reception or something. I know it's been useful with some of the storms and things we've been having. Tell me what's maybe the craziest or most intense purpose you've heard this generator used for?

STEVE HERBERT: The wedding story is a great one that went viral. That was a Ford engineer that went to a wedding here in Detroit. And there was a power outage during the wedding. And he just happened to drive there in an F-150 that had Pro Power Onboard. And it absolutely saved the day just to have that available. The lights came back on. The music came back on. And the wedding was back on. So that one story is a really great one.

There's other stories that are just common usage. I was able to use it. One of the great things about Pro Power Onboard, is that you can use it while you're driving. So my oldest son was headed to college. And we loaded up a refrigerator for him. A mini fridge that you'd have in your dorm room. And we plugged it in, and kept it cool all the way to take him to his dorm.

So it's everything from just the mundane thing that you would do, and it changes how you do some normal things, to these extraordinary things where people are in a situation. In the Texas situation where a lot of people lost power, having that capability with electrical power that's portable and with you everywhere your truck goes is really powerful. And you can do so many things with it-- camping off the grid, or just something that you need. It's there when you need it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Why don't you take us through just how this technology works, how the feature comes together, and just the different ways it operates?

STEVE HERBERT: Yeah, we offer it in three different ways. So we offer a two-kilowatt system on our 2.7 our 3.5 and our 5 liter. And then on our FEV, those vehicles it comes standard with the 2.4-kilowatt system. And then you can option up to the 7.2-kilowatt system. And so on the FEV you have an onboard generator and an inverter. And it operates whether you're in drive or in an idle mode. And it's a one-button capability. You turn that feature on and your electrical capability is there. So it really is just a very simple to use technology for the customer. And it's integrated into the truck. So there's really nothing that we've compromised. As far as package, the box is the same, the cab is the same. It's all packaged within the same vehicle that a non Pro Power Onboard would have.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. I know when I used it, very simple, very intuitive to use. You get the information you need right there in the infotainment system, just in that big screen there. So it's very clear when you're using it and how much electricity you're using. So that's a very cool, like I said, intuitive thing. We tested this in the F-150 hybrid. And I know electrification is a very big part of Ford's strategy now and going forward. What opportunities do you see in the electric space, where this technology could have perhaps even greater uses?

STEVE HERBERT: Well, if you just look at our f-150 lightning it has the Pro Power Onboard capability as well. So while we certainly wouldn't comment on any battery, electric, and future offerings of the Pro Power Onboard capability, we certainly see the customer usage is there, whether it's a [INAUDIBLE] vehicle or a [INAUDIBLE] vehicle. The need to have that capability of portable electric power is certainly there.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting when you talk about the f-150. It's one of the most, I think, mature segments of the market. Trucks have been around for so long. There's just only so much it seems like you could do to it. We're seeing different things like tailgate features and bed features. And you have seen some trucks with outlets and things you can plug-in, and even some off roaders, perhaps, too, where you might want to plug-in your camping things at the trail or something.

But obviously, the power output has been fairly limited as far as how much juice you can get and for how long. Were you guys almost surprised that nobody had really tried something like this to this extent? It really seems like it was an opportunity that was right out there for the taking.

STEVE HERBERT: Well, I certainly think it's something our customers were-- our customers were doing it already. They were doing it in a different way. They were taking the generators with them. And I think that's an OK solution. And people will continue to do it. The leap here, is that we've integrated into the truck, and it's really a better solution integrated into the truck. It's quieter. You don't have to carry gas with you. So it's certainly a natural evolution. And it was something that people do now. And integrating into the truck was a very natural progression. That's certainly true.

GREG MIGLIORE: Was there like an aha moment or anything in the development process where you guys thought, hey, we've really got something here. We've really had this breakthrough where we can make this easier for Ford customers. We can really, like you said, integrate it with the truck's normal operation. It was really the-- pardon the pun, the light bulb went off or something? And you just knew you had really harnessed something?

STEVE HERBERT: Well, it was a feature we were excited about all the way through the development. One of the things our engine calibration team did, is they took some of the first trucks that we built and took those camping off grid. And so they took everything they'd need. They took a refrigerator with them. They took a griddle with them. And they actually experienced the camping supported by Pro Power Onboard and all the electricity that you need to do that.

And so just hearing them come back and telling the stories and how well it worked that just got us even more excited. And we knew that our customers were going to do that too. And be just as excited about it as we were.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Is there anything I haven't asked you you would like to add here, throw in?

STEVE HERBERT: Well, for me, it's just it's a great feature. That having the ability to carry the electrical power with you. It gives you the freedom to go anywhere you want, and you have that electrical power with you. And being able to operate off grid, or help someone when they need it, or charge something when it needs to be charged it's a capability that's not unlike towing or payload. I really see it as fundamental to our truck now having that Pro Power Onboard capability.

GREG MIGLIORE: It sounds good. Well, congratulations again, Steve, Thanks for joining us.

STEVE HERBERT: Thank you very much. Really appreciate it. It's an honor to get the award.

GREG MIGLIORE: Thanks, Steve. Now, Zac, we tested a couple of other things here that were very, very good. Really, it's a great time to actually, I think, have a Technology of the Year Award. Kia's blind spot detection won in 2020. Cadillac's Super Cruise won the year before that. Other things have won in the past like from Audi, from Tesla. We've been doing this for a while coming up on at least 10 years now. So it's sort of like this is our signature award, where we try to test the latest and greatest technology that improves people's lives and makes cars more interesting, compelling, or fun to drive.

The Mercedes Head Up display was, I thought, very interesting. It came in second place and the Android Auto and the Polestar 2 was in third place, again, very competitive competition here. What I liked about the Mercedes Head Up display was, was it helped me get through very unfamiliar neighborhoods with me. It was good for that last-mile experience, where you get off the expressway and you're like, OK, where am I? And the arrows right in front of me were saying, hey, turn left here, dude, or go this way. So I liked that side of it.

The downside of it is, it's technical to use. It's a very sophisticated system. And of course, you get it in like one of the most uber plus Mercedes ever built. It's in the flagship electric car. And a version of this is also in the S Class. Now, do we expect this to proliferate across the Mercedes lineup? Of course, that's how this works. But that's where it's available. So I liked it too. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. The augmented reality head up display, I think, was the flashiest piece of tech that we had at the competition this year. It's that new whiz bang thing that you expect to see at like a CES booth or something that's a little out there that's like, oh, OK. This is in production cars now. This is going to be a thing. You've probably seen augmented reality on your phones and whatnot. But actually seeing it implemented in a head up display was, well, it was pretty cool, I think, for me.

At first, it's something that takes getting used to. I believe, to try and describe it the best way that I could, it's almost like you have your own little personal flag man, just out in front of you there. You get little animated arrows in the head up display assuming that you have a route plugged into the navigation system. And they animate almost as though they're physically on the road out there in front of you using the 72-inch head up display that Mercedes uses on the S-class or EQS.

And it kind of makes it such that you can't miss a turn. You get these giant arrows just showing, all right, turn right, turn left, there. And the same message comes up on the infotainment display as well. Just pretty much brings a camera feed up and displays those arrows just the same.

Now, like you were saying there, Greg, I know that one of the bad things about that and from what we've heard from testers who didn't like it so much, is that it was just flat out distracting. Because it was so in-your-face and so very turn here, turn now that they just didn't like that extra added layer of navigation on top of everything else that was there, which is a fair point.

It is a redundant technology. We have a screen in there that is actually showing you turn left or right. There could be a voice also there saying, turn right in 50 feet. So it's slightly redundant. And the actual distraction part of it is-- those are some of the reasons why it didn't quite score as high as Ford's Pro Power Onboard, just wasn't quite as bulletproof of tech, even though it is pretty neat and I personally believe helpful, when you're actually trying to use the in-car navigation.

GREG MIGLIORE: Now, Android Auto was, I think, split the difference between these two technologies as far as flashiness. Very nice infotainment system, again. Not obviously as flashy as what we saw on the EQS. But literally, nothing is. That car is like a Best Buy TV department with all the screens you have in there. But it's a more of the times technology than just a traditional onboard generator. So it was interesting to see what they were going for here with Android Auto and the Polestar 2.

Their philosophy was hey, like infotainment things aren't really our-- like operating systems aren't really our thing, we'll just let Google do it for us. And it's a good setup. It was easy for me to-- I have an Android phone, so that paired very seamlessly with this. And it was fine. But as far as like moving the industry forward, which is one of our criteria, it can't compare to the Mercedes, which is moving technology forward, I think, or just the raw usability and usefulness to really improve lives of the Ford technology.

That being said, it was our third place finisher. It had some support. We culled it from a list of very good technologies, so it stood above the rest of the field this year. I'm certainly excited to see what we could do next year, as well. But I thought it was a good, straight ahead, usable technology. But finished third in a very good field.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, Android Automotive, it really feels like there is some great potential for this thing down the road. Just like you, Greg, I'm also an Android user. And I really like the idea of infotainment being built on the backbone of Google and Android. That said, I'm not sure if this infotainment system, as it stands now, is really the game changer in infotainment that we've been searching for.

I've long said, what does everybody want with their infotainment? Well, they want their infotainment to work as well as their smartphone because smartphones are really, really good these days. So what's the most obvious thing to do? Just have Google do it. Well, here it is. Google is doing it. But just like Android, the automaker is skinning it. The automaker is designing it how it wants it to. So there's a lot of differentiation. And I think we're going to see even more differentiation as more automakers pick up on it.

And I just don't think that being able to have Google Maps as your native navigation, Google Assistant, and the Play Store having those like main Google standbys, just isn't quite enough to really be that massive revolution in infotainment technology that I was hoping for. Is it good? Yeah, it is good. But I don't think that we're there yet. And I hope that we get there one day. But slight bugs here and there, just a not fully-finished and fully-baked products means it finishes third in this competition. So those are my thoughts on Android Automotive.

GREG MIGLIORE: I was glad, frankly, that we're even able to do Technology of the Year this year. In 2020, we were able to award one in February at the Chicago Auto Show. That was the year Kia won it. And literally, the world shut down about three weeks later. So we were able to get that in in the last normal part of 2020. And then hey, here we are at the tail end of 2021. So it's good to continue the Technology of the Year Award.

We tweaked our system a little bit this year. So we had a group of testers who tested each of these vehicles and voted on them. And then our broader staff of editors also acted as jurors. And we had a broader vote. So it was kind of like a two-tiered approach. Some very vigorous discussion almost like a peer reviewed process. I was excited. The way we were able to debate some ideas-- come up with different takes on how these things could work.

Every technology that landed here on the podium, had strong supporters and critics, frankly. And I think that's healthy. That's good. So I'm very happy how the process came together this year. We always ask the question of, what is the technology? Does it work, and does it advance the industry? Those are the three questions we ask and the lenses through which we try to evaluate them.

In the past, there have been great technologies that didn't work. Or they were technologies that didn't really have a broader implication beyond the car that it was in. All three of these, I think, do score well on those. And of course, Ford just came out a little bit ahead. So that's Technology of the Year, 2021. Let's move on. Let's talk about the cars we've been driving.

ZAC PALMER: Cars, driving, yes.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, so you have had some very interesting things in your driveway. Let's move along to the M340i. What did you do with that?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, so the M340i that I had, I feel like I should just say this right off the top. It was purple, which is automatically exciting. It was specifically, Daytona Violent Metallic, which is a BMW individual color. It's $4,500 option, pretty expensive. But the interesting thing about that is that we're coming up on BMW M's 50th anniversary here soon. And BMW has communicated with me, just because I am the fleet guy around here, that they're going to have a number of very interestingly-colored cars coming our way to celebrate that 50 years of M.

This one was basically the start of that. It was a while ago at this point, but that color debuted on the e36 M3 if I am getting all of my history correct here. So very cool, right off the bat, there. You got yourself a little throwback color for the 3 Series. And with this being the M340i, this is pretty much the highest performance 3 Series that you can get below the full on M car, something like an M3 or M3 competition.

So what did I do with it? Well, I had some fun. I hit the gas. I took it to some fun roads. And yeah, this thing rocks. The engine, I think, is really the star performer of the show. It's the three liter, inline six, turbocharged, 382 horsepower, 368 pound feet of torque. BMW says 0 to 60 in right about four seconds. And yeah, it feels every bit of that. This thing will rock it right off the line. Honestly, it feels quicker than 382 horsepower, which is a pretty common BMW trait these days.

And on top of going fast in a straight line, this is a 3 Series, so we obviously expect it to handle. Yes, it does handle quite well. There have been a lot of detractors of BMW and their cars being fun or not so fun to drive these days. But I think that the new 3 Series is a big step in the right direction for that, especially this m340i version, which is definitely the one to get if you want something that is going to be fun to drive that isn't quite as expensive as a full M3.

Now, as I say that, I should also look at the spec sheet because yes, this car has specced $71,570. That's just about $1,000 off of a base M3. So that shows you how quick these cars can get expensive after options. There's really not much you can do about that other than don't pay $4,500 for paint or stop optioning them up so high. But as it is, this is a super rocking car. Really great engine-- if you love engines, that's one of your top priorities in a car, it's hard to steer you toward anything else except for this one at this price point with sports sedans. So sounds good, feels good throughout the entire power band. And man, it is quick, so m340i.

GREG MIGLIORE: This is-- so it's a 3 series, so I got to ask you. The steering-- what did you think? How's the 340i steering measure up these days?

ZAC PALMER: It's very accurate. It's very precise. And in that when you turn the wheel, you get some of the most accurate steering of any car out there, which I think is a very good thing. And that's something that BMW has obviously spent time on. As for feel, no, it's largely numb. And that's just what you get with pretty much most BMWs that I've driven these days.

The only couple of exceptions, have been the new M3, M4, which have slightly, actually very different, feeling steering racks than BMW uses on its non M cars. Those give you a whole different feel through the steering wheel, through the chassis. Whereas this one just feels like it's tuned to be a little softer, not quite as feelsome through the wheel itself. So, yeah, there's still some missing feedback there. But I'm not sure that we're ever going to get that back from BMWs with electric power steering these days. I'm afraid it's gone.

GREG MIGLIORE: So it goes. So it goes. It's funny you mentioned the 50th anniversary of the M division. I visited Munich 10 years ago for the 40th anniversary. They did a press trip. And it was interesting as they went through the different strategies and some of the things back then that they thought they were going to do in 10 years later. And with the benefit of hindsight, they clearly didn't go down that path.

But I would say the division is in a pretty strong and healthy place. I think they've definitely expanded the notion and the meaning of what an M car could be. And I actually think that's OK. I think they have adapted to some modern realities and probably brought in some new customers. If you still want that really razor's edge M car, you could get it. You can get something else, like what you drove with the color and some of the enhancements but with the Twin turbo 6.

And it can be a little bit different. It could be a little bit more like what you want it to be. And I actually think that can be a good thing. This is a total non sequitur but I was walking by-- one of my neighbors has a Silverado Trail Boss. And I thought to myself, that thing looks awesome. I love how the Trail Boss looks. It's like, as far as the appearance of the Silverado, that to me is that's how it goes. Do I need really any of the things the Trail Boss gives me? Not really. So just as I was walking the dog I thought to myself, yeah I can see why AM, GM, Cadillac with the V series you can get cars that look the part that maybe don't do all of the things you necessarily need them to do, like on the track or something, and then bring in a different buyer, and grow the brand.

So this car, to me, would be very appealing simply because I don't need all of the capability of an M car. But I still might want to drive a very capable 3 Series. So sounds like it was fun.

ZAC PALMER: Oh, it was. There is no shame or any downside if you're going between this or an M3. This is still a real hoot to drive. If you don't have $72,000, 75, 80, whatever you want to option that M3 up to to buy it. This is not a bad car to downgrade. I should go ahead and put that in air quotes, "downgrade." It won't feel like a downgrade in any way. So the sort of like AMG Lite, M Sport version of the 3 Series is a very, very good one this time around.

GREG MIGLIORE: We will, maybe, tease this out. We are eyeing, considering, it's not officially official, looking at adding a 3 Series to our long-term fleet, future product on the Autoblog long-term garage. Maybe we won't comment too much on that. But I am very excited because that would replace our TLX A-spec and somewhat of the Type S that we've had for a while too.

And I think, one of the things we try to do with our long-term garages unless we want to make a dramatic departure, which we do sometimes. But we do like to have certain segments filled. And a sport sedan is one that we've had for a few go-arounds here. And we had the S60, then we have the A-spec TLX slash type S, and then moving into a 330 that would be the hybrid version, I think, is, potentially, going to tease out some cool things for our readers, get into that EV space a little bit. But also, hey, it's a 3 Series. If you're an enthusiast, I think you're interested in what we think of it and how it handles for fun and then on a daily basis. So for me, this is going to be exciting.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, hey, me too. And for long-time listeners, it's sort of the, I guess, successor to our Volvo S60 that we had two long-termers ago, as far as a plug-in hybrid sports sedan.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's true.

ZAC PALMER: I'm excited for more electrified, sports sedan driving.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. Well, let's talk about the BRZ. You had an automatic BRZ, which is interesting. I remember-- this is a while ago because we were all in the office. I remember we had an automatic BRZ, maybe it was an '86 or an FRS, I don't know. And I remember, there was this consensus like, well, what do you even want that for? But then whoever had it, I don't remember who it was, came back and said, no, it's pretty good. Everything you want is still there and the automatic is just it's an automatic version. And the last time I drove one, not this one obviously, I had the same take. So what do you think? What's life like with an automatic BRZ.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, it's funny you say that because after driving this thing, I came back with a very similar take. The automatic BRZ is not a bad or sad car. Now, it might sound very sad trombone right off the bat just to say, oh, yeah, I've got a Subaru BRZ. It's an automatic. Just because that's a very non enthusiast, stereotype to go forward for the automatic and a very small, lightweight rear-wheel drive performance car.

But there really isn't anything to be all that sad about with this thing. it's a six speed automatic, just your classic torque converter automatic. Unfortunately, it's not a dual clutch, seven speed or any fancy transmission like you'll find in a Porsche. This thing still costs under $30,000. So they needed a transmission that would keep it at that price point, and here it is.

Although new for this new generation of BRZ, they've given it a new automatic sport mode and some new, I guess, transmission tuning as well, such that you can just throw it in automatic mode. And it'll actually work with you on a back road, on a track, wherever you may put it. And it'll hold gears properly. It'll downshift as you're going into corners, just as you'd expect from any very smart transmission that you'd find in a sports car.

It really impressed me to the point where I was having a great time driving it. And it didn't have a third pedal, and it didn't have a stick shift that I was constantly moving around. Are the paddles, perhaps, a little slow to respond? Yes, they are slower than, say DSG on a GTI, or say you're in a C63 AMG or something like that and slap a paddle. Yeah, it takes another beat longer in this car. But that's just fine for the money.

So, yeah, the BRZ as a base car, still super, super fun. And I would argue that it's even more fun than the previous one just because they've finally rid themselves of the torque dip right around the mid-RPM range. Now the engine just pulls super strong the whole way through to right around 7,500 RPM. And it handles so well, so, so well.

I don't think that if you bought this car, you would ever get tired of the handling. And my specific test car, it being an automatic fully-based, not a single option on this thing, had the Michelin primacy Prius tires. I know that was always the joke with the car back when the BRZ and FRS/86 were new was that they put the tires with no grip on them. And, yeah, that's still a thing. These all seasons still don't have much grip, so that just means it's easier to get the tail out. And you can do that no problem with an automatic, doesn't stop you in the least bit. So two big thumbs up for me on the automatic BRZ.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think that's a very modern approach. To hark back to my M car adventure 10 years ago, one of the things the then head of BMW, I believe he's on to a different job at this point, said, was like, if you don't want an automatic transmission or at least a dual clutch, what are you doing these days? He made a point that M customers want performance, and automatic transmissions can help you get around a track quicker. Or they can help you do things better and reach your skill as a driver. So it wouldn't be the car I would get. I would clearly get the manual.

ZAC PALMER: Same, same.

GREG MIGLIORE: But the benefits though, it just like to look at it holistically and as an unbiased just how does this product measure up. I agree with you. It sounds like a very good car, a fun sports car.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, yeah and just like you said, you'd still get the manual. I just said all those really great things about the automatic. But at the end of the day, I would also get the manual, just to set that record straight. I would totally want to be shipped in my home in 0 car this fun to drive.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. All right, let's close things out. We don't have a "spend my money" this week. But Zac, you did a piece a while back about 12 cars that will never go out of style. There's a lot of things in here that, I think, are actually pretty cool and in fact, won't go out of style. A couple of the entries that I wholeheartedly agree with, is the Alfa Romeo Giulia. I think that's a car that's really going to stand up as far as the test of time, as far as stylings.

Ford Bronco, two- and four-door Jeep Wrangler are on there. The Wrangler has stood up the test of time. I think the Bronco immediately goes into that same category. But, yeah, that Lexus LC on there is another design that I think really-- that was a risk taking one. That and the Giulia, I think, go into some, like the bucket of designs, where you're not pulling from something in the past. A little bit with the Alfa, but it's still a very modern of the times look. But I don't know. 10 years from now, which of these do you think you're still going to be saying, look at that car?

ZAC PALMER: I think for me, it's easily the Lexus LC.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sure.

ZAC PALMER: If I'm going to pick like a Hall of Fame, like number-one design from the 2010s for me, it's going to be the Lexus LC hands down every single time. I remember seeing the concept for that car, and then the production version of that car. And I was like, you just built the concept. Literally, just built the concept car. And there's been no more obvious example of turning a concept car into reality in such a successful way for me than the LC. Each time I see one, it just breaks my neck going by. Maybe part of that is just because it's so rare. But still, this car has an exterior and even interior design unlike anything else on sale today. And to me, it's quite honestly my favorite design in the industry right now. So Lexus LC for me. All the way.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. I would go with the Giulia. I think you do get that historic grill, the V-shaped grill, that you've seen that an Alfa Romeo's through the years. I think it's great that they found a modern interpretation of that. That car looks good in literally any color, and it's great they brought back such an iconic name. So lots of good stuff on this list. Check it out.

And that's it. That's all the time we have this week on the Autoblog Podcast. Congratulations to Ford for winning the 2021 Technology of the Year Award. Do check out our story. It's on site, and all of our social assets of course. Send us your Spend My Moneys, that's podcast@Autoblog.com. Be safe out there. We'll see you next week for the last show of 2021.

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