2021 Acura TLX Type S, 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe | Autoblog Podcast #706

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd. They start off with a chat about the (sort of) long-term 2021 Acura TLX Type S, then segue into the 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe. It's a light news week so far, so in lieu of a current-events recap, they finish off with two scoops of "Spend My Money."

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. Joining me today is Associate Editor Byron Hurd. What's going on, man?

BYRON HURD: Hey, not a lot. Just came back from a nice, long weekend road trip. Got to put the TLX Type S through its paces a little bit-- get to talk about that. It was a very informative drive.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, sounds good. This is the very-- the V6 with 355 horsepower, I want to say it is, so it's a little bit of an upgrade over our A-Spec TLX, which is a little less powered, if you will, but pretty fun car to drive as well. We also have the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which you drove out at-- was it Moab?

BYRON HURD: Yeah, yeah--

GREG MIGLIORE: All right.

BYRON HURD: --took that down in Moab. That was fun.

GREG MIGLIORE: I drove the Grand Cherokee L in Michigan, which was also actually pretty fun. But we talk about just-- you know, to me, like, what the Grand Cherokee means right now. You know, it's a very important vehicle for Jeep. And this is perhaps the most significant redesign they've done.

And I mean, to me, it goes back to like, 2010 at least. So this is very significant. And we will talk about the BMW M240i. So lots of good stuff, and we will spend your money. Lots of good stuff to talk about on this show.

You're listening to this-- hey, happy Thanksgiving. It's Thanksgiving week. I hope you're enjoying "The Autoblog Podcast" wherever you might be.

Let's talk about the Jeep Grand Cherokee. You drove-- just to be clear, there's now actually two versions. There's the L, which has three rows, and then the Grand Cherokee, which is the traditional two-row model, which is what you drove out at Moab. So--

BYRON HURD: Bingo.

GREG MIGLIORE: --we kind of thought this would be capable off-road. John Snyder and I, our green guy, were talking about this a little while ago. And he threw that in there. I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But I drove the L, and it was almost like a luxury SUV. And it really was, with the seat massagers and the huge screens-- very nice. But there are some differences here. And I think one of them is that the slightly smaller Grand Cherokee is probably a little easier off-road, and more capable just because you can-- it's easier to avoid trees and rocks and things like that.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: But I mean, real quick, what did you think?

BYRON HURD: Well, I mean, you pretty much nailed it. I mean, they let us drive both the regular, like, quote, unquote, "on-road" versions. And because the two-row is carrying on the traditional Grand Cherokee formula, it also gets the Trailhawk model. So that gets like, the extra off-road goodies.

But really, it's using the same tech to do two different things. You have the-- like, the Summit, Summit Reserve models, you know, they're the-- drop the air suspension down low, put it in sport mode, and it's a great cruiser. It can even carve up some corners.

They actually dropped 200 pounds or so out of the two-row model compared to the old one. So the three-row actually weighs as much as the old two-row did. And the new two-row weighs less. And you feel it.

It actually feels like a nimbler, like, more compact vehicle. But it really, dimensionally, for the two-row, didn't change a whole lot. The interior got roomier, and they shifted the packaging around a little bit-- lowered the center of gravity.

The engine sits lower. The front half shafts actually go through the oil pan. Like, it's very fancy-- just trying to make it handle more like a car than the kind of big, bulky, mid-size SUV that it is.

And honestly, the tools that they use to make it a much better car on-road were exploited to make it better off-road. So the Trailhawk model, you get extra ground clearance from the air suspension. You also get the fancy e-diff in the rear, which is an electronic locking-- I'm sorry, not locking, limited slip rear differential, which is important.

The front end, like the all other Grand Cherokees, I'm pretty sure, even down to the base model, gets the very simple, like, brake-based torque vectoring that pretty much everything can do now. Like, it's pretty much built into anything with a decent stability control system at this point. But basically, just to-- you know, when you have a wheel that's spinning, it brakes it to try and slow it down and transfer some of that torque across.

So you don't get, like, a Rubicon experience where you have front and rear locking differentials. You do get the electronic disconnecting sway bar, which is nice because it actually improves your articulation a little bit off-road. But that's about as close to a Rubicon-type situation as you get with the Grand Cherokee.

But even with just the limited slip diff and the brake diff up front, it handles itself really well. It sits really high off the ground when you put it in off road mode. And we had a crew of maybe seven Grand Cherokees in our little off-road trek that we did.

And we went up around-- it's called Raven's Rim, which is literally-- like, if you're standing in Moab, you can look up at one of the mesas. And it's right along the edge of it, so you're looking down over the town. It's very beautiful.

It's very narrow, and it's all rocks-- rocks and cactus. So all of us made it through, like, I will say literally without a scratch. I don't think anybody put a ding on a car that wasn't, you know, like on a skid plate or something like that, which is pretty good for how these things go, especially with Jeep, because they don't really play around when it comes to their off-road courses. Like, they actually-- they want to show you that these things are capable, not just that, oh yeah, you can drive it on your farm road or whatever. They want to prove that if you decide you want to take this thing overlanding, it's a pretty good canvas to paint that picture.

So I was pretty impressed by it. You know, for not being Rubicon, hardcore, it's a pretty impressive car, and just amazing on the road. I'm really impressed with what they did. Even with the V6, it feels really good. The HEMI's nice, and honestly, to a degree, even feels kind of antiquated compared to a lot of the powertrains we're seeing now.

Like, that's my biggest beef with Grand Cherokee in general, is that while the chassis is great, and the interior tech-- like, the new infotainment system, the side screen for the passenger that gives you access to the nav system, but also like, personal infotainment, each position in the car can have its own Bluetooth headphones. So you could literally have three people in the car watching something on Amazon or Netflix. Everybody gets their own audio, everybody gets their own thing. You could even be watching the same show and watching three different episodes of it, if that's what you want to do. So obviously, not for the driver, it's for your passenger and your rear passengers, but it's pretty cool tech.

And the passenger side screen hasn't even made it into the L model yet. For now, that's still exclusive to the two-row. So we're assuming that's coming as soon as Jeep can do it. We're kind of-- at this point, I think everyone's assuming, even though Jeep won't confirm it, that it's a chip issue. Like, they just don't have the parts to build them that way.

So I was incredibly impressed. It's a great car. And the 4xe is coming soon, so if you want a more advanced powertrain, you want that plug-in hybrid and some electric range, just hold out for that. And they're even doing a Trailhawk version of the 4xe.

So that's going to be, as far as we know, limited to two-row just because of what you said. It's the more off-road capable model because it's shorter, more contained, more nimble, and it just makes sense to do that. So I was generally quite impressed by it.

And what a beautiful place to drive a car. It was my first time actually staying in Moab. So it was a lot of fun.

GREG MIGLIORE: I've never been to Moab. I've done the Rubicon Trail, which was really something on the bucket list. We camped out there, which was pretty awesome. So Jeep really puts you on some interesting trips, let's put it that way.

But Moab is obviously on my bucket list. We can trade. You can do the Rubicon, and I'll do Moab next time or something.

BYRON HURD: There you go. We'll get that invitation to go drive 4xe, then Greg's off to Moab.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, yeah, I'm really interested to see like, what the 4xe does for like, the Grand Cherokee. I know some of us have gotten through the Wrangler version of it, so I think that-- you know, it's-- I'll give Jeep credit, they've been aggressive at rolling out this-- it's like a measured electrified approach to their lineup. It's not like, this, you know, total Tesla fighter. But it definitely offers you something.

And you know, in light of recent inflation and things, the prices aren't insane, you know? I feel like in some ways-- I don't know if this makes sense, but in some ways, it feels like inflation has helped Jeep. Because their vehicles have always been pretty expensive.

But now, when you're like, oh, jeez, this is how much this thing costs? It's like, well, you know, I don't know, Grand Cherokee or a Wrangler or whatnot sounds pretty good. Now, what will you actually pay the dealer, and can you get it, and all that stuff is a different story, but yeah.

BYRON HURD: Well, I mean, to Jeep's credit, it's one of the few manufacturers where we haven't really heard a lot about them having to shut down due to shortages, supply issues. And I'll tell you, when I was driving back from the DC area yesterday, I-- that would have been Monday, depending on when you're listening to this-- I swear I had to see 20 or 30 car carriers coming down the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes loaded with Wranglers and Gladiators coming from Toledo-- just load after load after load. So they're definitely still cranking those out. Even going into a holiday week, they're still sending them out. So that's the good news.

I mean, especially if you're hurting for a 4 by 4, and you're turned off by the fact that Broncos are so thin on the ground, and they have issues, I mean, Jeep will gladly sell you a car. And they've actually got them to sell, which is saying a lot in the current climate.

GREG MIGLIORE: Now, I'm curious-- like we mentioned right off the top, this is the biggest Grand Cherokee redesign since again, over a decade, I would say. And obviously, the one I drove is now the three-row, which is-- you know, just completely broadens the lineup. And really, to me, this makes Grand Cherokee-- like, I mean, they weren't hurting for sales.

But now, they can really compete in all parts of this segment. Because I mean, it's table stakes. You've got to have a third row, even if your third row, it seems like the primary function is to like, fold it down, it just seems like you've got to have a third row, right?

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Because everything has one. So I think they did some interesting things to differentiate them a little bit, like some of the interior things, and obviously the size. But it's-- my sense is maybe a year or two on, the only real differences will simply be the size. I feel like they're going to kind of like, collate, if you will, to get them where they are.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

BYRON HURD: Agreed.

GREG MIGLIORE: But I mean, I was impressed with the L. It sounds like you were impressed with the regular one, if you will.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I mean, I think this keeps them very competitive in this segment, near the top of it. So you know, it's-- it's solid, solid vehicle. Any other thoughts from the trip?

BYRON HURD: No, I think that covers it pretty nicely. I'm with you. I think you're-- I think you're right, they'll consolidate everything down to the point where there won't be any difference between the two of them besides the number of people you can fit inside, and how much they can tow.

I would really like to see them come in with either a replacement for the Pentastar V6, or another engine underneath it that's a little smaller, maybe. Maybe even like, a smaller version of the 4xe, maybe like a-- smaller is the wrong word, but a lower output version, just to be kind of a more economical option that isn't as antiquated as that V6 now is. Because that V6, at this point, is as old as the Grand Cherokee redesign.

Because if I recall correctly, that was one of the cars that it actually-- not necessarily debuted, but that was one of the like, marquee cars that Chrysler put that engine in when it was ready. And it served them very well, obviously. I mean, they had some initial kinks, but that engine's been pretty much flawless ever since.

But you know, it's old. I mean, a decade's a long time for anything in this business. And you know, anybody proves that they can do it, it's Stellantis. But-- at a certain point, it's time, you know?

So I'd like to see a change there. But yeah, overall, fantastic car.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, no, that is one historic engine. And it's-- it's still reasonably competitive. I think back to times in the car business when like-- you might remember the-- say, the '08 Mustang when it was at the end of its lifestyle, and it had that, like, really underpowered V6 in it. And even the V8 wasn't at all competitive by today's standards. And it wasn't by those standards, either.

This Pentastar at least is-- it's OK. It can carry the water. But I agree with you, it'll be interesting to see what the Stellantis global footprint can leverage and get into some of the US vehicles.

So why don't we shift gears over to the M240i? This is a pretty important car for our readers, BMW. What did you think of this?

BYRON HURD: So I really liked it. When we first saw the new 2 Series coupe, I really liked the looks of it, mostly because I think the 2 Series Gran Coupe-- which is a completely different car, and front-wheel-drive-based, and really shouldn't even be in the same sentence-- looks kind of frumpy. And that might be being kind. It's just not a very good-looking car.

The 2 Coupe looks great. And it came in this-- I've got to look up the name of this color on the BMWs, because it's just fantastic. And here we go-- Thundernight Metallic. How ridiculous is that?

So it's a really deep purple, like that color you get as lightning's fading in a thunderstorm in a night sky. That's where they get the--

GREG MIGLIORE: Wow, OK.

BYRON HURD: --I literally looked it up. I figured it was like, you know, German-- like, they had just taken the same word and translated it to English, basically. That's not the case, because [GERMAN] is not a thing, apparently.

But when you google that, you see like, photos of lightning in the sky. And I swear it looks just like the color on that car. It looks beautiful.

But it's a great little car to drive. You know, I'm-- obviously, I'm a fan of like, compact and subcompact rear-wheel-drive sports sedans and coupes. And getting behind the wheel of that thing, it feels great. Steering's great.

The engine is fantastic. I personally would probably not want an all-wheel-drive car that small because I feel like that's a lot of weight to throw into a small chassis. I'd rather keep it, you know, light and nimble.

But it performs beautifully. The ride's a little firm. But I'm also a little biased. Cadillac has that beautiful MRC 4.0 adaptive suspension. And I've already been spoiled by my Blackwing.

But it's-- it's a fantastic little car. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody who's been waiting to see what's going on with the new 2 Series. Zac did an excellent first drive review on that, too, which we also have already live. And then I'll have a follow-up road test for you guys with a little bit more just, you know, local knowledge thrown in.

But yeah, very impressed by it. And I think it looks great, even not in that awesome purple color.

GREG MIGLIORE: So this one is 335 horsepower with the M-tuned straight-six, which is kind of cool. I'm not sure what yours cost, but it actually starts at about 46.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: 0 to 60 is 4.4, according to the BMW website. So to me, that seems like even though it's small, you get a lot of car. And the stats seem to add up. Most BMWs-- I mean, you know, there's a few outliers where the horsepower is like, crazy. But they're never going to be like Hellcat levels of like, whoa, look at this.

So to me, 335 for something this size seems totally right. And it's-- to me, it's a little bit of a quasi-traditional approach in a segment that we've seen go a few different ways.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. And I mean, you figure, too, one of the things that kind of was going against BMW for a long time, especially in this segment, was that you could get a Mustang or a Camaro V8 with most of the performance options you'd want for probably like, $40,000. And that's just really not true anymore. You pretty much start in that territory to get into a Mustang GT or a Camaro SS or a Challenger Scat Pack.

So now, the value proposition's shifted. Because the one I was driving was specced out about close to $60,000. But it was pretty much every box checked. We're talking adaptive cruise, all that kind of stuff, which BMW really firewalls behind some expensive options. So when you try to load these things up, they get pricey.

This actually comes off kind of reasonably. Because while you don't get as much raw power, you are going to get about as much performance as you would from a pony car. And it's more flexible performance, because you do get the all-wheel-drive. So you know, you throw on a set of winter tires, that thing's going to be unstoppable.

So you have some advantages to it. And you're not really spending the premium that you used to have to in order to get one of these. So you know, the increasing price of pony cars has kind of made these even more enticing than they used to be.

And I mean, the last time I've driven a 2 Series coupe was the M2. And I drove that out at Laguna. And I was blown away by that car. I loved it way more than the contemporary 3 Series. And that's when BMW was really struggling with 3 Series stealing-- sorry, steering, and 2 Series didn't seem to have really fallen behind quite as far.

Now that BMW's kind of caught back up, I'd say the gap there is much smaller. But I still think the 2 is a better car to drive. So it would get my vote of the two of them. And the value proposition's definitely there more than it has been in the past.

GREG MIGLIORE: I would agree with that, especially for the rear-wheel car. The numbers I quoted were actually for the rear-wheel. Horsepower is the same. All-wheel-drive is actually a little quicker, at 4.2 seconds. And then that's where you see the starting MSRP is $48,350. And now, as I flip through the Bimmer website here, still, I think that's-- I mean, for all-wheel-drive, that's not a bad surcharge to pay.

And I would agree with you, the pony car segment is-- unless you want like, really, one of those basic Mustangs or Camaros, which are great, and I encourage you to like-- if that's what you're doing, you're kind of almost in like, BRZ territory, Miata-- just like, you're sort of maybe going up a size, but still going with that very pure dynamic. Like, generally, the Camaros and the Mustangs and the Challengers cost a bit of money. So you know, even if you get a Scat Pack or something, with like, the 392, which I believe that's still north of 40.

So I mean-- and that's a different approach. You're getting the big car with a lot of power. The 2 Series offers you something a little bit different. This is appealing to me.

I've always liked BMW rear-wheel-drive performance. The coupes, like the 3 Series, that element of them has really appealed to me. Just-- I mean, since I got into the industry, you know? I mean, it's-- I think for most of us, it's those areas resonate deeply.

But yeah, we'll see. I can't wait to drive this one. Now that you have driven it and Zac has driven it, it feels like I should get a chance behind the wheel of this. You know, now that we've written two stories, we could send it to me and talk about it on the podcast or something, right?

BYRON HURD: Yeah, sure, soon enough, I'm sure. And I've got to say, really, the only thing you're giving up with the 2 Series in terms of-- well, the most significant thing, I would say, is the 4 Series, based on the larger 3 Series, has a genuinely usable back seat, especially if you get the convertible. Because you drop the top, and you've got all the headroom in the world.

The 2 Series back seat is definitely a "just in case" proposition. It is not meant to be used on a regular basis. So that's the real trade-off there.

And you know, if you're shopping for one or two rather than three or four, then yeah, I think you'd be much happier with the 2 Series than the 4.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good, sounds good. So let's shift over to the Type S. This is kind of our-- sort of long-termer at the moment. Our A-Spec TLX has been in the shop for a bit. So we've been using this loaner, which is awesome.

And you actually really put some miles on it. I did a lot of around town driving, some aggressive driving, I would say. But you actually got to kind of stretch this out and think, hmm, would I want this version of the TLX with more power? Is this what I'd really want, you know, for like, long road trips?

So with that as preface, I mean, you know, how does this kind of hold up as like-- with an ownership type of experience?

BYRON HURD: Yeah, so I have not been blown away by the Type S so far. And I'd really only done what you had described. It was mostly driving it around town and all that kind of stuff, which you didn't really get to enjoy the things that make the Type S special when you're just using it as a surface street commuter car, basically.

But I put a good chunk of mileage on this thing driving to and from DC. And I accidentally boxed myself out of an exit I needed to take in Pennsylvania, and ended up going on the turnpike about 20 miles farther than I'd planned, and had to take a detour that sent us on some mountain roads through basically what is like, southern western Pennsylvania ski country. And we're talking back roads with, you know, 45, 50 mile an hour limits-- very twisty, lots of elevation change.

And I was just like, you know what? Let's actually see what everybody's talking about with this thing, and threw it over into the most aggressive-- you know, the sport mode, so it stiffened up the dampers and everything, and actually tried to attack it a little bit. And I was-- finally, I was like, oh, OK, this is what-- this is it. This is what matters about this car.

Because it really does handle quite well for being so big. And you actually get to use the power. I mean, that engine can actually-- I would say it's somewhat uninspiring, day to day. It's fine, it gets the job done, but it's not very exciting.

And you know, for highway passing and stuff like that, it works. But you don't really get to take advantage of its strengths that way. And I mean, that thing is fantastic on a back road. I was really blown away, mostly because I kind of had, you know, low expectations for what I was about to do when I went into it.

So this is finally me saying that I've come around on the Type S. I was definitely in the A-Spec corner leading up to this. And now, I'm saying, OK, if you can justify the cost, the Type S is actually a heck of a lot of fun to throw around.

It really-- I mean, it weighs close to 4,400 pounds. It's a big car. Doesn't look big, but it is.

But when you get it on a back road and you actually throw it around like that, you don't feel the weight. And that matters. So I've kind of-- I've done a 180 on that car. I'm now on-- now, I'm on Team Type S, at least as much as I was on Team A-Spec. So it was a nice little awakening for me.

GREG MIGLIORE: Interesting. So it's your money, which one are you going with here, at this point?

BYRON HURD: I'm probably still going with the A-Spec. Because--

GREG MIGLIORE: Interesting, OK.

BYRON HURD: --strikes against the Type S are, we live in Detroit. So personally, you know, the A-Spec makes a little more sense because I'm not going to get as much time to really flex that muscle, and go out and charge around really fun back roads or anything. And the frugality of the smaller engine's appealing. That was another thing I learned on that trip, is that is kind of a big tank, and it likes the juice.

I think it was-- we were probably pushing about a 25 mile per gallon average, which I think was actually a mile per gallon better than EPA says.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's not bad.

BYRON HURD: So yeah, we had a pretty good, steady cruise. We didn't have much of a headwind going either direction. So it was-- yeah, it did pretty well. And you know, two people in comfort for 500 miles each way-- can't argue with that.

GREG MIGLIORE: Been on the Pennsylvania Turnpike a few times-- several times, actually. It can get a little-- little dreary, and--

BYRON HURD: It's better than Ohio, at least, because at least it does things. There are turns and hills, and-- as an Ohio man, it's just pretty straight. Especially from Toledo to Cleveland, there's just nothing happening.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, 100%, Pennsylvania over Ohio.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: I will agree with you there. You know, I go back and forth. I feel like I've been on both sides of it here, A-Spec or Type S. I definitely was on A-Spec at the start of the year.

Then I drove it. And sort of prisoner of the moment, I'm like, ugh-- you know, Type S. This is what I want. I like more power.

So here's how I'm going to try to bring this together. I think if it was like, just in general, I would do Type S. I like big, potent V6s. I like how it looks. The brakes look good.

There's a lot of touches on it that make it a little over the top. If it were truly my money, I would probably do A-Spec, though, just because for like, real world driving, like, this is money, fuel economy, frugality, actually-- not fake press car money, like, real world, your money, I would probably do Type S, you know?

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Or excuse me, A-Spec. Maybe that was a Freudian slip, I don't know. But I think I would do A-Spec, but we'll see. I mean, I'm not going to buy either. But you know, I don't need a sports sedan in my fleet.

But yeah, it's-- I mean, I will say this-- Acura has had a good year. You know, the Integra reveal looks impressive. I think the TLX rollout has gone pretty well. You know, we're talking about two cars here, we're debating them as enthusiasts, but we like them both.

Like, this isn't like, well, this one's kind of not great. You really got to do this, or you're driving a penalty box or something. It's like, well, no, they're both pretty good.

We've given both pretty good reviews. I believe the TLX is an Editor's Pick. I'd have to double-check. So we have- generally liked this car, so--

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, so should we spend some money?

BYRON HURD: I think it's time.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, we have two Spend My Moneys. So we're getting to it a little quicker this time, and that's OK. So Scott in Texas writes, good evening, Autoblog team. Just finished listening to the Cadillac Blackwing episode, and heard mention that you need Spend My Money questions, so thought I'd write in. Thanks, Scott.

OK, so currently a three vehicle household. He drives a paid-for 2014 RAM Cummins 2500. His wife drives a paid-for 2019 Ford F-150-- or 250 [INAUDIBLE] 4x4. And they have a 2019 Jetta GLI six-speed manual as the commuter car for work.

Drives about 4,000 to 6,000 miles per month on the GLI, with about 1,000 to 1,500 of those being business, and the rest just commuting miles. So he's driving some cars. They live an hour and a half from work, so it's an 86-mile commute, all interstate.

Because the mile changes-- the oil changes come due every fifth weekend. So a lot of-- that's just a lot of driving. That's a heck of a commute. It's been a while since I've commuted, and that reminds me that I really don't want to. I mean, just that many of oil changes is quite stressful.

OK, so the GLI has been a fun commuter car, especially with the six-speed. I would love to hear some recommendations for a replacement. Needs to be fun, because you spend so much time in it, comfortable for long drives, reasonably priced, since it will depreciate so quickly due to the mileage, get good fuel economy, cheap, easy oil changes, and it must be a manual transmission-- caps. All right.

Previous vehicles on his car plan include a 2018 Ford Fusion with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost. Let's see-- the RAM 2500 diesel, and a 2012 Toyota Tacoma V6 PreRunner. That's cool. All right, so that's what he's owned, and this is what he's looking for.

Essentially, he wants like, a pretty decent commuter car to replace the Jetta. We don't have, other than just like, a reasonable price-- and let's just maybe throw in that kind of Jetta GLI framing-- we don't have a specific price. But I will throw it over you. What are you thinking, Byron?

BYRON HURD: Well, I-- this one, I-- actually, I told Greg earlier, I was like, this is kind of a narrow ask, especially what you get to the manual transmission. Because the combination of manual and good fuel economy is becoming very difficult to find. So I went to-- I went to the EPA with this one, and I just pulled up fueleconomy.gov and did a search for manual transmission cars that got at least 30 miles per gallon highway. I picked that kind of arbitrarily, but to me, it still constitutes decent highway mileage, especially for an enthusiast car. And it also actually gave us some options that were vaguely enthusiastic.

So I mean, there are a couple on here that are actually pretty promising, like the Elantra N line, which is interesting enough. That one gets the fancy independent rear suspension instead of the twist-beam on the base model, stuff like that, to get-- I think it's 200 horsepower. That's not a terrible little car. And it's big enough, and it has a long enough wheelbase that it's certainly going to be comfortable for road trips, but still slightly more aggressive suspension tune. So it should actually be fairly fun to drive.

But looking at these, like, the combination of him wanting simple maintenance and all that kind of stuff, I'm looking at the turbocharged pony cars. Because you figure a Mustang or Camaro, certainly comfortable enough for two people to go on a road trip. And you've got back seat if you need it. A convertible will get you even more back seat room, if you can actually drive it without the top on all the time.

The nice thing about these two is, you know, they're designed for much larger engines. So that engine bay is going to be much more roomy than some of the compacts. Like, a Mini Cooper or GTI might be a better all-around practical car, but in terms of like, doing your own maintenance and stuff like that, they're going to cost more. It's going to be harder work, and you're going to bust your knuckles more trying to get to and from parts.

It's hard to argue with the simplicity of a big, old-fashioned, if you want to use that word, pony car with a tiny little engine in it that's easy to get to. So we love the EcoBoost Mustang. I love the turbo Camaro.

I don't know if you've driven one or not, but I've driven it and liked it. My only beef with that was I didn't love the pedal placement and the pedal box shape inside the cabin. So that's definitely a try before you buy type situation.

But I think for actually checking all the boxes presented, those might be the most appealing options. And then, you know, if that's just not enough, I mean, there's plenty of ceiling in a pony car. If you want more engine, you can get it, so--

GREG MIGLIORE: That is-- I mean, when you talk about fun to drive, manual, little bit of car around you, like, Camaro sounds pretty good to me, I'll say that. I saw a Camaro the other day when I was walking the dog, and I was just thinking to myself, man, the design of-- like, this current generation Camaro really does hold up pretty well. I know they had some issues with the grille a couple of years ago.

But you know, they really got just a nice blend of like, modernistic interpretation of the classic Camaro. There's a lot of like, late '60s in there. To me, the proportions almost-- they're a little bit of like, the 1970 model, which is my personal favorite.

So I concur. That's not my pick, but I concur with what you're saying. I think that can be a lot of fun.

But my choice is going to be a little bit different here. I'm going to go with the 2020 Honda Accord 2.0-liter with the manual transmission. It's a little bit of a bigger car, more something like-- kind of like a Jetta GLI, if you're in that kind of budget. Let me see if I can find the fuel economy ratings. I have like, three different EPA tabs up, which is a little random here.

All right, so let's see if I can find it. Oh, where did the 2.0-liter go? I had it, then my dog lost her mind.

OK, so here we go-- 2.0-liter four cylinder, manual, six-speed turbo, regular gasoline-- 22 in the city, which is not great-- not terrible. But on the highway, it's 32. And you're going to be spending a lot of time, it sounds like, on the highway. So 32 miles per gallon is nothing to sneeze at.

And it's a pretty nice car. I've always liked the Accord. I like this current-- the styling that they have with it. I think it's-- again, it's a good sized car.

You know, there's a lot of things in that segment that are pretty credible. Like, if you're a car company that's still in this like, midsize or above segment, generally, you have something pretty good. So there's that. So that's what I would go with.

I guess it's technically a used car at this point. But that would be my choice. Other things I've driven, just looking at this list-- the Corolla hatch with the manual, I just drove that last week. Great car, a lot of fun to drive.

I would go with the bigger Accord on the highway, just because, yeah, you have a little more car around you, you know, and do that. I know he said "must have a manual," but I also would say, hey, look at a Dodge Charger or a Chrysler 300, since-- mainly, when you started to bring up domestic pony cars, I always think, hmm, LX, which is not a pony car. But the Challenger is on that chassis.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: So you might find you like one of those, as far as highway cruisers, so--

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: --those two are--

BYRON HURD: True, and honestly, if you're cool with a V6-powered LX, I mean, you could get a manual transmission V6 Charger. And that's-- it wouldn't be my choice, but--

GREG MIGLIORE: Challenger, right?

BYRON HURD: I'm sorry, Chall-- if I said Charger, that's my mistake. You can-- so a Challenger is an option. And honestly, I mean, my 392 on the highway did, eh, 24-ish, 23, 24 miles to the gallon, which you know, if it's literally all interstate, that might be tolerable for you, especially coming from a truck. But I mean, I certainly wouldn't consider it good fuel economy. But I would certainly consider it surprisingly good, considering it's a 4,400-pound V8 monster, so--

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Let's get to Ryan in West Virginia, I believe a friend of yours.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: It was a family car, a Pilot for his wife and kid duties, and wants something more fun for himself without being too impractical. A sportier SUV/CUV options are on the table. It should have two rows, four doors, and all-wheel-drive-- a hilly area that gets snow often in the winter. Budget's 25 grand. New or gently used.

I have that John Denver song now going through my head, so-- yeah, I'll kick it over to you since this is kind of the friends and family plan here.

BYRON HURD: Sure, yeah. So the first-- well, not the first, but the thing that I kind of narrow down to is one of the kind of dark horse entries for small CUVs-- was the Hyundai Kona, which--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah?

BYRON HURD: I mean, it's not an exciting car. I will acknowledge that up front. But the small footprint and all-wheel-drive, especially with the turbo engine, it's actually a lot of fun to drive. It is-- we did a-- I say we-- a group I was on a few years back, we did a compact crossover comparison test. And the Kona was the only one that showed up that was a subcompact, technically. But we had a CX-5 there, we had a couple other cars.

And the car that was second most fun to drive out of everything, behind the Mazda, was the Hyundai. And I mean, yeah, the interior's a little on the cheaper side, especially once you start to load it up, and you get towards like, $30,000 with the all-wheel-drive and turbo. But if you're getting one used, and you know, it's depreciated a little bit, and you're getting it more in this price range, I think it's a really good choice.

I threw out a couple of the other kind of standards-- like, you know, you can get into the CX-5, it's perfectly good. CX-3, CX-30 if you want to go a little smaller. Like, there are options there from Mazda. And I mean, even Honda CR-V is not the worst thing in the world, but I wouldn't consider it fun.

So you know, the Kona's kind of where I settled. But I wanted to get more opinions on this forum, so that's why I suggested he do this.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. So you may hear the barking in the background, you may not. But my dog's name is Bloom. Her sister's name-- she was from a large litter of dogs-- was Kona. And I think there was a Luna in there, as well. So you can hear the barking, the Kona fits with the dog.

And what I would say my pick is is the-- maybe a used Mazda CX-5. I think it's sporty. It looks pretty good.

You're going to like the steering. You're going to like the handling. I think the styling is-- you know, it's going to be spot on, for me.

If I were in this-- like, if this is what I was looking for, and this was my criteria, I mean, I don't think you're going to go wrong with a CX-5. If you just do a quick search for a 19-- like, used one, you're going to-- I mean, the prices are a little-- prices are so like, out of whack right now, it's a little hard to figure. But I'm seeing them everywhere from like, low to mid 20s to upper 20s. And it's not-- not terrible, you know? I mean, especially, again, for like-- I searched for a 19, and that comes right in there.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: You can find some stuff in the Autoblog listings. I'm seeing some stuff on KBB here. But I think that's where I would go.

I mean, you can always go a little more boring and go like, Outback, or the RAV4 is pretty good. But mindful that he's looking for something that's got a little bit of like, you know, [INAUDIBLE] if you will-- I mean, usually, Mazda is pretty good at carrying the water for that. So yeah, hopefully, you have a good-- good time with this car purchase.

It's a good time of the year. I don't know if it's a good time of the year to buy. It used to be a good time of the year to buy.

BYRON HURD: It did, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Now, it's hard to say, so--

BYRON HURD: Yeah, I feel-- I feel-- Yeah, I think he's been searching for a car for probably over a year at this point, where he just can't-- he can't decide what he wants, and nothing really good's falling into his lap. So it's just a matter of like, he has working transportation, so it's not that urgent. Which is a wonderful place to be right now because if you don't need a car, this is a really terrible time in history to be shopping for one.

But you know, depending on what you're looking for, you can still find a lot of good, healthy options. And even going back to our previous Spend My Money ask, you know, one nice thing about going after a coupe or a sedan right now is that they're less popular, and they're more likely to actually be on lots. Especially, you know, if we're talking Texas, where you look at a truck dealership, they've got nothing on the lot, but there'll be a few Dodge Challengers and Chargers and stuff like that sitting along the back fence.

And they're like, hey, you want one of us? Because we're still here. So you know, you got options if you know what to look for, and you're comfortable with what you can actually get.

GREG MIGLIORE: So now that I have John Denver stuck in my head, a quick google says he wrote "Country Roads" while driving to a family reunion. So I think that's probably a good way to end the podcast here. It's Thanksgiving.

Hopefully, you can find a way this year to see some friends and family, and be safe, and have some good food. I'd say "Country roads, take us out," but I think that's like, trademark infringement. So we can't do that.

But thanks for listening. Obviously, we'll be back next week. But have a great holiday. Happy Thanksgiving. We'll see you next week.

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