2021 Chicago Auto Show special | Autoblog Podcast #687

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Road Test Editor Zac Palmer and News Editor Joel Stocksdale. This week was a 2021 Chicago Auto Show special, so the trio kick things off by discussing all the big reveals at the show. There were only a few this year, with the big two being the 2022 Jeep Compass and U.S.-spec 2022 VW GTI and Golf R. After that, they get into the feel of the show, which was unlike any other auto show we've ever been to. You can read a written account here, but we go even more in-depth in the podcast, discussing some of the important cars on display and what the atmosphere of the show was like. Finally, instead of Spend My Money this week, we debate which pizza is the best: Chicago style, Detroit style or New York style — we ate a lot of pizza in Chicago.

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, partially from Chicago, is News editor, Joel Stocksdale, and Road Test editor, Zac Palmer. They just attended the first Auto Show in over a year and a 1/2. Chicago was actually the last Auto Show before the world sort of totally turned on its ear.

But now it's back. And it's the first one. Zac is still in his hotel room about ready to board a train to head back to Michigan. And Joel already has crossed the border back into Michigan and is at home probably waking up a little tired, I would imagine. But, guys, how's it going?

ZAC PALMER: It's good. I'm-- I'm looking across the way. My-- my hotel room has a nice view of Lake Michigan. And it looks like there is a bit of a sea port with some nice boats in there. So the view is considerably better than normal for the podcast, I'd say.

GREG MIGLIORE: Chicago is a great town. I actually have been looking at just-- thinking of trying to get over there for a weekend myself, take the fam, have some fun.

ZAC PALMER: It's good. It's-- it's actually super light right now. You-- we drive along the streets. And it's nowhere near the usual tourism or hustle and bustle that that you normally see, which makes a certain amount of sense because a lot of people are still working from home. They don't have to drive back and forth in taxis or take Ubers everywhere. And streets are just quiet.

GREG MIGLIORE: Joel, speaking of the streets, you took them, and got out of Chicago, and drove back to Michigan last night, which probably speaks to how quick the show was, which we'll get into. But yeah, what did you drive back, Joel? What car did you drive back?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Genesis G70.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, the G70. OK. All right. That's a nice car to take back. Good road trip for the summer.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's comfortable. And this one's got the 3.3 liter, twin turbo V6, which is a little sledgehammer of an engine.

GREG MIGLIORE: Heck yeah, it is. Heck yeah, it is. I-- totally aside, big fan of what Genesis is doing as far as their looks, their power trains, and their styling. They're really just going for it. And it's really-- I think they're really pulling it off. But let's talk about the Chicago Auto Show.

Basically, there are two reveals, as we were talking about off camera here. Some Volkswagen news and the Jeep Compass. Why don't we start with the Jeep Compass? That's kind of an easy headliner. It's a relatively moderate refresh. But hey, I mean, for this show, that's what passes as the headliner. Any thoughts on this, guys?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so the Compass-- I mean, the thing about this reveal is that a few months ago, they kind of already showed it for the European market. But this is just kind of officially announcing it for the US market also. It's very much a refresh. Not a whole lot is different on the outside. It's got slightly different headlights and taillights. And it's got slightly tweaked bumpers and things.

They also did a little bit of retuning. They tried to make the steering a little bit more responsive. They softened up the springs, stiffened up the rear stabilizer bar. Basically, things to make it drive a little bit nicer. The big, big change though is the interior. It's got a much cleaner kind of low and wide dash, which is kind of the popular style right now. It's-- it actually kind of looks like-- like a baby version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer dashboards.

Obviously, not nearly as, like, flashy and wild. But it's got, like, an upholstered dash pad with nice stitching. And it's now got infotainment screen that uses the Uconnect 5 system. So little tweaks like that should make it a lot nicer. It still uses the same engine as before, the 2.4 liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder, 177 horsepower. Nothing crazy. Nothing too underpowered.

The front-drive one gets a six-speed automatic. The all-wheel drive ones get a nine-speed automatic. The Trailhawk is sticking around. So that has over eight inches of ground clearance. And it's got the ultralow first gear for that nice crawl ratio. And-- and one of the other things is that they added a high-altitude trim package for the top-level compass. And then adds body color, fender flares, and things.

The one thing that we were kind of disappointed that they didn't announce was a 4xe version. Because in Europe, you can get a plug-in hybrid version. But they haven't announced it for the US yet. We-- I tried-- tried poking one of the Jeep fellows to get some information.

I got the usual, no comment on future products. But he also reiterated what they said at the Stellantis EV Day, that Jeep is committed to getting a 4xe model in every segment. So it's like, they can't confirm it. But also like, it's going to happen at some point. So looking forward to when that finally happens. I just hope it-- hope we don't have to wait until, like, a whole new generation.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think the-- I think it was actually sort of in need of a refresh, if you will. That interior, that sounds like a nice step up. And as-- we'll get into this. This was sort of the only real, like, like, reveal, sort of. I mean, the VW one is, like, literally a US reveal, which sometimes we wouldn't even cover. But any thoughts on the Jeep there, Zac?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, so like you were mentioning there, this was, like, the only-- only big reveal of the day. And Jeep actually did, you know, sort of try its best to mimic what we've seen at Auto Show's past with-- with the way that it actually did the whole presentation. You know, they-- they drove the Compass up onto a giant rock. They came out there with a Wrangler 4xe doing the same.

And then they also rolled out two Wrangler Recons, which are the-- the big 35 inch tire package ones. And they-- they really sent it up some hills that they had bought for-- for the Chicago Auto Show there. So it was-- it was the most entertaining to watch reveal of-- of the day, I think.

And as-- as you were mentioning there, Joel, the interior really is, like, the big, big thing with this one. I-- I went over and sat in it after things died down a bit. And you know, I-- I really didn't like the Compass's interior beforehand. But sitting in this now, you know, it-- it really does feel like a mini Grand Cherokee L in there. And that-- all of that great stitching.

Super responsive touchscreen that is, like, big and sort of tablet-like on the dash looks really nice. Has a-- a digital instrument cluster. Like, has all of these really, really nice new-- new techie things. And it's still going to be a pretty cheap crossover. So. And the-- they also had a Trailhawk version there with-- you know, the red tow hooks and more-- more body cladding. You know, it just-- just looks a little cooler.

But at the same time, the-- the high-altitude trim that you mentioned, Joel, it has like-- I want to say, like, 20 inch wheels on it or something like that. And like, it is-- it actually has some some presents, like, for-- for a small vehicle. It was-- it was a little surprising how-- how luxurious that-- those wheels and this-- the few little changes there jazzed up the exterior styling.

GREG MIGLIORE: The high-altitude, just looking at pictures, that's-- that looks like a-- like, you know, you guys pointed out, a rather expensive looking Jeep, you know, just to the pictures. You see some real presence there. And it's interesting too when you think about, like, how many people are going to take their Jeep Compass off-road and really need that sort of, like, creeper gear like you mentioned there, Joel?

But on the other hand, if you also think, like, from an off-road perspective, a smaller vehicle like the Compass is really, like, a nice little tool if you're going to go through, like, some tight areas. So there are some benefits for it. I mean, obviously, you think Jeep, you think Wrangler. You know, obviously, you think of, like, some of the luxurious models. But yeah, it's interesting.

I-- I actually drove a Cherokee off-road at the-- the event FCA Proving Grounds. And they have a pretty nice little off-road course there. And I was talking to one of the Jeep designers and product guys. And they were like, yeah, you know, everybody shows up and they want to take the Wrangler.

But if you want to take the Cherokee or the Compass, you can have a lot of fun. Because they're like, we'll admit, we don't, like, maintain all these trees and stuff. It's-- it's a little tight in here. And you can kind of just, like, really, you know, carve that nice little, you know, gap in there and go for it.

So that's the Jeep Compass. Part of me almost can't believe we've spent this much time talking about a US debut of a Compass. But hey, Jeep-- Jeep does a lot of cool things. And this is actually a pretty cool vehicle. So let's-- we'll get into the feel of the show here in just a minute. But let's talk about the VW news, which is also legitimately newsy. So take it away.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, so I was attending the Volkswagen press conference there. They actually did a combination Volkswagen press conference and a lunch--

GREG MIGLIORE: Hey.

ZAC PALMER: --which will sort of tease the-- the pizza chat that I'm sure we're going to have later. Now they-- they, of course, had-- had Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs there. Oh, and also, here are two Volkswagens. So this was the US-spec GTI and the US-spec Golf R, which Greg and I have actually already driven in Euro-spec. But Volkswagen brought them here. And they announced pricing at the same time.

Once again, sort of like Jeep, they had a semi-interesting presentation for us to watch. They had a few Volkswagen guys get together and make a film. And they had every single generation of-- of GTI and Golf R in the film. And they were all driving them around a racetrack. And Tanner Foust showed up and did his-- his little drifting thing. And it was-- it was just fun.

And they-- they had a-- a Mk1 GTI and an R32 Golf R at the presentation too, which, well, you can never go wrong with having those guys out there. But the big news today was the actual pricing. So GTI. If-- if you're looking at the new Mk8, which is a very, very good car. We've already-- we've already proven that. It starts at $30,540 dollars. And the Golf R at $44,640 dollars.

So neither cheap. That's-- that's-- the GTI is no longer even in the $20,000 dollar range. And the Golf R is, you know, nearing $45,000. If you get the DSG with-- with the Golf R, it is well over $45,000 dollars. So very nice cars. But yes, there's some-- there's some price creep going on there. You know, they'll be definitely more expensive. Say, like the GTI versus the new Civic Si that Honda is coming out with, those won't be in-- in the same ballpark anymore.

And one-- one thing that I will note with-- with the GTI that, you know, was the only thing that sort of irked me about it was the fact that they're locking in the adaptive dampers and the really awesome 19 inch wheels with summer tires on the top trim, Autobahn, which is the most expensive version of-- of the GTI at $38,990 dollars.

So you can't optionally add in those really cool, like, uber adjustable adaptive dampers in the $30,000 dollar car. You got to go all the way up to a near $40,000 dollar GTI to get that stuff, which-- that's just, you know, sort of-- sort of irritating. Whereas, the-- the Golf R, at its price, well, it has literally everything. There are no options on that thing. It has drift mode, the [INAUDIBLE] stuff. No options.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I-- it's interesting to actually kind of have this, like, sort of US debut kind of party for the-- these two hot hatches, which I think is kind of a cool thing to do. Sometimes we're so far ahead of the curve here, like in the journalism, like, field that you forget that, oh right, the general public is still approaching the GTI and the Golf R.

Whereas, like, we already drove it. So I think it's kind of cool, especially at an Auto Show like Chicago, which is a, you know, big consumer show. And, you know, a lot of enthusiasts to Midwest City, people get into cars like that. So I think that's-- that's really cool. Cool. Any-- any-- I don't know. Did you see these? Did you see the VWs there, Joel? Any thoughts?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I swung past briefly. I mean, the big news, really, was the pricing. And--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: --I'll defend the GTI's base price a little bit. At-- at around $30,000, that's still actually a couple thousand less than that Veloster N. And then you got the Civic Type R that's up at around $38,000 dollars. So a base GTI is still kind of all right.

I still wish it would be a little bit cheaper. But it's kind of been-- it's been creeping slowly toward that $30,000 dollar mark the last few years. So I'm not completely surprised by that. It is a bummer, though, that they would relegate those performance parts for the super high-level trim, in part because-- because that's-- that's expensive, getting up there close to $40,000 dollars.

And-- and you'll actually-- and like I just said, they'll be-- at that point, you are spending more than, like, what you would spend on Veloster and on Honda Civic Type R, both of which offer more power and more-- and more performance. And then the Golf R is, I mean, 4-- almost $45,000 dollars is a lot of money for-- I mean, granted it's-- it's a heck of a Golf. But it is a Golf.

That's a lot of money for that. I mean, getting into that price range, you can buy a pretty serious, like, Mustang GT, or Camaro SS, or something like that. But I-- the Golf R, I think, has also always been kind of just generally expensive. And I think it is kind of a-- it is a car that you buy because you've got to have a Golf R.

Yeah, I-- that's just kind of-- and you'll just pay what you'll pay to get that Golf R. It's probably also why they-- why they offered it with the custom paint options a couple of years ago. Because that's a particular model that-- the VW enthusiasts that just loves that car will just pay whatever it takes to get it.

ZAC PALMER: I really, really love those spectrum options that they had before. They were expensive. You paid, like, an extra $2,000 dollars. But you got to pick from a color palette that was, like, 70 plus colors long. And there were some really, really cool ones in there. And you could get to the point where it's almost like a Porsche PTS thing where there's, like, two or three in the world in this color.

Because nobody chooses it. And nobody actually goes to the dealer and is like, I want to special order a Golf R in X-Y-Z color. That they just have to go to the back room and be like, hey, do we make this color? Oh, yeah, sure. Go ahead. Order it. And your car will be here in, like, six months. So I-- I hope they do it again this year with-- with the market, eventually. We'll see.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting too when you look at, like, the prices are a little higher than they've been in the past. And you know, I think some of that is to be expected with the demise of the other Golf models. You know, these are-- you know, they're actually-- VW and Hyundai with the Veloster, they're taking somewhat of a similar approach here where it's like, we keep the hot hatches and the mainstream hatches, if you will, where there is-- there already was a very limited audience. Just go away. Which, from a business perspective, makes total sense.

I actually thought, especially the Golf's case, that was a pretty good car. You know, you-- you got a fun little car for a-- you know, a pretty fair value. Good engineering. Interesting dynamics. But you know, whatever. That's neither here nor there. But you know, in light of, like, inflation. And I heard, like, the most recent, like, average new car cost was $41,000 dollars, I think in, like, May, or June, or something, somewhere in that ballpark.

So when you start to look at that, it's like, well, OK, $30 grand for a GTI. I can get on board with that. I do feel like the Golf R pricing is going to be-- it's not going to be problematic. Because you're either going to say, hey, this is what I want and pay it. Or you're not. But I still feel like that-- you know, the value proposition, I guess, that does depend sort of on the things you value. I don't feel like it's there as much for the Golf R as it is for the GTI. But yeah.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, it's-- it's always been tough with the Golf R. But I-- I honestly do think that this generation more than any other is-- is worth the price, just because they've-- they've actually made it a lot more fun to drive. I was-- I was honestly never a-- a huge fan of the previous Golf R's. They were, you know, not-- they-- they were sort of like a GTI Plus in-- in the way that they drove. This-- this is like its own thing. With-- with the new torque vectoring root diff, it really, really changes the driving experience for-- for the better.

GREG MIGLIORE: If you're a serious enthusiast looking to use your, like, Golf hatch as a tool, perhaps on the track or some very aggressive driving, that's where the Golf R could really reward you, like, with that diff. It gives you just that added-- you know, more tools, if you will.

And they used to-- in my mind, I feel like they're still pretty well differentiated. But it's a little bit different than it was even five, six years ago when it seemed like the Golf R, the GT, they were a little more different animals. Now I don't know. I feel like they serve a little bit of the same purpose. But they approach it in slightly different ways.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: On one last thing that I'll bring up with kind of this VW pricing is that now that the GTI has moved up even a little bit more, I think this actually does make the Jetta GLI more appealing and stand out a little bit more, because it's a few thousand less than a GTI.

And you're getting, basically, the same power train as the-- at least the outgoing Mk7 GTI. And I think that's-- I think that's kind of cool. And so I mean, like, if you can't quite make it to a GTI, you can still get a really good, little performance Volkswagen.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. So these were sort of like-- as Autoblog journalists, we like to talk about, like, what's new? What's a global reveal? What's the news? You know, sometimes, we'll sort of, like, lower ourselves to talk about, like, a US debut or, like, pricing. You know, old school auto shows were, like, really, what's the news? Chicago wasn't super newsy, as I think we've discussed at this point.

But you did get to see a lot of things that we have seen on the internet, in magazines, wherever you get your news for the last, like, 18 months. And we got-- you guys got to see a lot of them in person for the first time. And some of these cars are, like, either on sale or pretty close to it. And it's like, you're-- we're seeing them way after the fact. And some pretty cool concepts too.

Things that, like, you know, you might not necessarily still be talking about a year or so after they first came out. So, guys-- you guys were walking the floor. What I think was cool-- or what was cool for you guys to see, just like in the flesh for the first time?

ZAC PALMER: For me, my car of the show had to be the Nissan Z Proto. Seeing that thing in the flesh was honestly, you know, fairly moving as-- as far as sports cars go. It was-- it was pretty neat because they had it, you know, just across the way from the Toyota Supra, just probably the car that that one has in its sights more than any of the other competition. And they're-- they're actually about to reveal the production version of-- of that Z in the New York Auto Show in, like, a month's time.

But seeing the Proto, you know, in-- in yellow, all those-- those retro cues to it, the-- the super compact shape, even-- even peeking into the interior, I really, really love the way this car looks. Like it is-- I've-- I've sung the praises of the Supra's design because I think that's a really, really special car. But you know, as-- as I'm thinking and reflecting on it, I kind of like the way that the Z Proto looks even more.

It really, really leans into that-- that retro look, but grabs some fairly futuristic design characteristics as well with the-- the super neat rounded headlights, the almost, like, floating LEDs in-- in those taillights, the-- the Z script on the back. Everything about it really, really works.

And the-- the only qualm that I had with that car, seeing it on the internet, was the grille, was that it sort of looked like this just, like, black, empty mass in the front. But when you actually walk up to it and see it in person, and you-- you get to look at that, you see a lot more detail that-- that actually comes through.

You know, there are some sort of oval-like shapes that are, like, squared off ovals in there, some-- some more lines, and just generally interesting design going on. And it doesn't just look like this-- this big black square in-- in front there just to, like, have a big grill. It legitimately looks good. And yeah, I think it's a-- it's a really, really great bit of design. So definite number one car in show for me.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's very exciting. I can't wait to see that thing in the-- like in the real world. And I, honestly, just maybe even for me, skip it. I can't wait to see what they do in New York. That's going to be a lot of fun. Joel, how about you?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: So probably the-- the two cars that I was most excited to, like, get up close and personal with were the Nissan Ariya EV and the Kia EV6 electric car. Both of them were there and the Ariya-- I mean, I saw the concept revealed at Tokyo over a year ago.

And I didn't pay a huge amount of attention then, because it kind of looked like sort of a kind of generic crossover thing at the time. But what really got me interested in it was, eventually, when they showed the interior, which had just this really pretty, very simple, elegant dashboard with, like, really nice faux wood trim that had these cool buttons that were, like, integrated into that wood trim, and cool lighting, and stuff.

And so I was really excited to check it out in person. And-- and the interior pretty much holds up. It's got really cool details. One of the things that I really like, it's got ambient lighting in there, that kind of these big light panels that then have sort of a detailed lattice work in front of it.

And there's a little bit of distance between the actual light source and the kind of, like, lattice shade over it. So you get a lot of depth and dimension to it. And it kind of looks a little bit different as you, like, open up the door and see it from different angles. It's really neat. The switch gear looks really cool. It's got comfy Nissan seats. It's-- it's really neat. I'm excited to drive it at some point.

And the EV6 is really cool. It-- one of the advantages for that is that it looks great on the outside as well as on the inside. It's low. It's long. It's got a very muscular nose. It's got a cool fastback roof. They-- they had it there in the GT line version, which has the body color fender flares. It looks-- it looks great. The interior, actually, it reminds me a little bit of-- of modern Peugeots. It's got a slightly-- slightly cyberpunk vibe to it with kind of very angular dashboard motifs.

And it's got-- it's got ambient lighting in there, like little streaks of light that look a little bit Tron vaporwavey. It's-- it's a cool car. And-- and that one is promising really impressive performance. It's the two-wheel drive ones or rear-wheel drive. And then all-wheel drive versions, the-- you'll-- there will be an over 500 horsepower version of it, which should be pretty wild.

I'm sure it will be well out of my price range. But the-- the more affordable, like, single-motor rear drive ones should be a little bit more attainable. But yeah, both of them-- both of them, the Nissan and the Kia, look really cool. And they've got me-- they've got me really excited about the future of EVs. Like they-- they're very different takes. They're very unique. They don't-- they don't really-- they don't really seem like other, like, gas-powered cars. I'm-- I'm very excited about them .

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, and both of those made some pretty big impressions on me as well. Hopping inside the area, Joel sort of prepared me for it as we were out there on-- on the show floor. He was like, hey, you got to check this out because this is, like, really, really cool inside.

And honestly, like even-- even with the prep of, like, hey, this is going to be really cool, it still blew past my expectations for, you know, what this-- this was going to be like. The-- the one, like, little thing with that car that I-- I probably liked the most were the sort of, like, trim and wood-integrated touch haptic buttons that they have on there.

So instead of, like, your normal, like-- I don't know, like black-- glossy black plastic with some touch haptics that some cars have, these are actually, like, just integrated with wood trim on the back. So you-- you tap away this-- this little plus button on the wood, change your temperature, and just control a whole-- whole number of things, which was really neat.

And the-- the EV6's interior was-- was similarly impressive to me. Once again, some really, really neat uses of light in there. And just the super funky prindle that was sort of like a joystick that you, like, move right, up, left. It might take some getting used to, actually, when you actually do drive it. It is-- it is a little weird.

But I tell you, this-- it does not look like most Kias inside. Not-- a lot of them have-- now they-- they're getting to a bit of a family look. But this-- this sort of feels like a-- a new generation, a new-- a new angle on-- on their interior design. And that, obviously, follows suit to the exterior too. It doesn't look like any-- any sort of a Kia that-- that we've seen before. And I was-- I was pretty impressed.

I was having a tough time pinning it down, honestly. Just because, you know, it's-- it's sort of, like, wagon-like in shape. But it's-- it's such a-- like a-- a steep rear-- I guess, like, rear angle lying there. So it's sort of sportback. But then it's sort of lifted. But then it's the GTE line with these colored fenders. And it's like there's-- it's so weird. Like I don't really even know what to call it. But it's-- it's good. It's-- it's a different kind of good, I'd say. So really, really neat to start seeing them on the road.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. Now this is probably the first time for you guys to see the Maverick and the Lightning in the flesh. Did you guys make it over to the Ford stand or-- such as it was? And if so, I'm curious, what did you guys think of those things?

ZAC PALMER: Yes.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yes.

ZAC PALMER: I will let-- I will let you take it away, Joel. Because I-- I know that you noticed that first edition over there when-- when you walked over with-- with the Maverick.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I was excited to check out the Maverick and--

ZAC PALMER: Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Hopefully, to kind of give an idea of scale. Like, me standing next to it, I'm just shy-- I'm just a little bit shy of six foot. I'm like, 5' 11". The-- the roof of the Maverick comes up to about my shoulder. So it really-- it's really not a-- it's not a huge vehicle.

And I think it actually looks a lot better in person than it does in photos. In photos, I've always kind of thought that the grill headlights look a little funny. But it-- it looks a lot better in person. And it actually looks kind of low and pretty neat. I-- I like it. And they had a first edition there, which is kind of an extra package you can get on top of the top trim, Lariat.

And it's got black stripes along the rocker panels. And it's got a big black kind of stripe decal on the hood. And when you get right up close to it, you notice that it's got some texture to it. And that texture comes from a whole bunch of tiny first edition words printed out on that decal, all along it. That gives it kind of some interesting texture.

It's a-- it's a neat package. When I posted about it on Twitter, it got some mixed reviews. Some people thought it was cool. Some people thought it was tacky. But hey, you don't have to have it if you don't want it. So it's up to you. I think it's kind of neat. I-- I can dig funky sticker packages.

And other than that, like, I think the Maverick is really cool. And I had sat inside. The cabin is roomy. It is a little bit on the narrow side. But like, mainly just in the fact that you'll be sitting closer to your passenger than, like, in a gigantic F-150. Otherwise, it feels plenty roomy and comfortable. Seats felt pretty decent. I'm-- I'm excited about it.

And as for the Lightning, I didn't get up super close to it. It-- it looks like an F-150 because-- because it is. But I mean, I'm still excited about the Lightning. Because it offers a remarkable amount of electric power and capability for an impressive price.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, and also just-- just like you, I got up close and personal with both of those. I know that I crawled around the Lightning probably a little more than you, just because I was actually shooting some video with it. And you know, it-- it really does look like an F-150 with-- with some light bars going across the front and back, which, that's-- that's going to help Ford because, you know, they make millions of these things. And you know, it allows them to bring-- bring the cost of an EV down.

But there are some, you know, interesting design cues in there too. So like the-- the lightning script going across the-- the rear fender there by the top of the bed, the T, the actual, like, going down of of the T is-- is a lightning bolt, which I thought was-- was a cool little touch.

Now the-- the rear-- rear tailgates has-- has a lightning bolt down there too with sort of like a-- what looks like an electrified American flag. So they're-- they're sort of leaning into that. It was also a Lariat trim. So it wasn't the-- the full $90,000 dollar platinum that-- that they will be selling. This one will be probably closer to around the, you know, like $60,000 to $60 some thousand dollar range.

So it-- it had the gigantic 15 inch touch screen inside. That was pretty much just taken out of the Mach-E and is now being used in-- in the F-150. You know, it-- I really, really like that-- that big volume knob that-- that they have on it there. That's-- that's one thing that I-- I like to see, if anybody does giant touch screens like that that take up the whole dash.

And you know, it-- it does a decent job of making the F-150s interior more-- more high-tech and, you know, look different than-- than the gasoline one. But at the same time, I mean, you-- you look around and, OK, it's the same exact F-150 door. It's the same exact center console.

It's the same trim. Like every-- everywhere you look, it's like, OK, this is-- this is an F-150. But you just-- you just have that one giant screen indicator there that it's not. And maybe the actual gasoline one will get that big screen one day too. I don't think that that would be a bad choice at all, seeing as the-- the current one only has the big, like, squared off 12 inch.

But going back to the Maverick, as-- as you were mentioning there, Joel. On the interior, I hopped in it. And because this thing, you know, is sort of like Bronco Sport, Escape-based, you know, it-- it felt a lot like an Escape inside from-- from the second that I hopped in. You know, you're not sitting up super high like you do in-- in a lot of pickups.

The steering wheel, straight out of an Escape. The gauges. A lot of the center stack looks-- looks very much like an Escape. Although I will say, it looks-- looks a bit deeper as in, like, there's-- there's more storage down there. There's more places to put things. And the actual screen has a bit of an offset to it with another storage space just sort of tucked up in there.

So it seemed like a thoughtful interior in the way that the Bronco Sport had a-- like, some thoughtful deviations from-- from the Escape's interior. The one thing that I didn't get to do with the Maverick that I would have liked was sit in the rear seat, just to see how much space there is back there.

But for whatever reason, Ford had a mountain bike in the back seat. I don't know. Just to sort of prove that, I guess, you can put a mountain bike in the back seat. So you couldn't actually get back there because that was-- that was mounted into the truck. But beyond that, you know, pretty-- pretty positive impressions of-- of the interior.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, it's kind of an odd choice. Because there's a mountain back-- there's a mountain bike in the bed in the back.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: That it's like, you could just move that. Because they had that mountain bike in the bed, basically, like, square in the middle. And it's like, you know, you could have just, like, scooted that over and had room for the other one too. But yeah, they-- they may have been-- I don't know. I guess if you were planning to use the bed for, like, car camping or something, maybe you would want to put the bike in the back seat or something.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. So some interesting, like, I guess we'll say, displays at Chicago show. It sounds like there were a few, like, quirks to the show. Just as we-- we talk about the mountain bike situation with the Maverick, first Auto Show since February of 2020, I think all three of us were actually at that show. I-- I didn't make it this time. But you know, this is the lead-off hitter, if you will. What was it like?

You know, you guys-- I'll tease this out right now. Check out the notes package these guys put together. It's on our site. Really interesting. It gives you a nice flair of the show. Some really, just like, in the moment pictures, things like that. Check out their Twitter feeds, all that good stuff. But you know, we'll start with you, Joel. Just-- what was it like, man?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, it was-- so I mean, like it says in the headline of our story, it was weird. It just-- well, so first off, there was only one media day. Most of these auto shows, they usually do, like, two media days. Give plenty of time for automakers to do their press conferences and for interviews, for getting videos and photos, all that kind of stuff.

So it was just one day. And it was a pretty short day. The show floor opens at about 9:30 in the morning and was technically closed at about 2:00 ish. But they kind of left it open for people. So it was-- it was very short. And the show floor was not done when we got there. It was all still under construction. And-- and I mean, like, they-- there was no time to spare for them. Because the day that we were there, the following day was when it was going to open to the public.

So it was like, this is the last day for them to finish everything up. So in addition to a bunch of media people showing up, not every single car was on the floor yet. And there were forklifts buzzing around, moving stuff, little tractors and a bunch of people building out displays, just various-- and various commotion and stuff.

A number of times throughout the day, car alarms went off, which led to some poor staff member having to dig through a box of car keys, trying to figure out which one is the one that's honking. The-- the air conditioning was not on in the Hall. Because they had the big doors open to bring in construction equipment, and other display cars, and stuff.

It was-- it was all kinds of weird-- it was all kinds of weirdness. And they were-- they were shuffling media kind of as one group from press conference to press conference. And they didn't want people just wandering around. The only reason I can think of for that was some liability thing, where they were afraid that somebody might get whacked by a two by four or something and sue the Chicago Auto Show.

But again, fortunately, they kind of got lax about that toward the end of the show. So people were allowed to kind of mix around a little bit more freely. But-- and-- and again, that's-- that's not a normal thing for an auto show. Normally, media have pretty much the freedom to go wherever they want in the show hall. And everything is finished.

And people are just kind of mingling, and saying hi to people, and talking to PR people, asking questions and things just kind of whenever and wherever they happen to be. So it was-- it was a little strange for all that to-- oh, and air conditioning is usually on, which is a good thing for everybody wearing formal clothing and fancy or cheap jackets, depending on whether you're with an automaker or whether you're a journalist. Yeah, it was-- it was a strange event.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, the-- the air conditioning thing almost would have been nice to know beforehand. I-- I know that they-- they mentioned in their emails that, hey, it could be a little warm. Like, yeah, you know, you might want to wear some casual clothes, yadda, yadda.

But no, the-- the air conditioning was just off. So you know, I'd-- I would describe, you know, the feeling on the floor of, you know, sort of swamp-like, you know, sort of feels like the-- the Everglades or like you're-- you're down on the bayou in Louisiana.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I was-- I was joking with Zac when we were at the-- at the Jeep display. Because they had all these, like, spruce pines, and-- and kind of mountainous rocks, and stuff. And I was like, you know, really, they should have brought in, like, some palm trees, and, like, some mangroves, and some, like, Spanish moss, just some kind of swampy type environmental obstacles for their Jeeps to drive up onto instead of this cool mountain air vibe that they were going for.

ZAC PALMER: Exactly. Exactly. Now I-- I regretted my jacket almost instantly. I know everybody-- everybody had theirs off that-- that could have theirs off. Because yeah, it was-- it was hot. It was-- it got especially hot as soon as if you-- you're doing any kind of filming under the lights, being out standing by a vehicle, getting into vehicles that, of course, are baking in there without air conditioning. You know, it's all-- it's all just sort of hot, muggy, and a very, very weird atmosphere.

You know, the-- to your point there, Joel, about the construction, I-- it was-- it was certainly, you know, a bit-- a bit weird having all that going on. But I also found it, you know, semi-fascinating to watch the Auto Show come together in-- in the way that it was. Because now that's something that we don't normally see. You know, we'll-- we'll walk in. And all the displays are perfect. Now the lights are on. The music is blaring. The cars are all primped and primed.

And it's-- you know, it's-- it's a show. It's-- it's a display. But no, we got to see, you know, a little peek behind the curtain of, like, how all of that comes together, you know, the-- I mean, it was-- I don't know-- probably a couple hundred workers. Just, you know, constant buzzing around. Cranes going up, trying to put up big displays.

You know, them trying to perfectly position all the cars. You know, they-- they back up. They pull forward. They back up. They pull forward. And you know, it's all just to get it in this perfect, you know, line as-- as they're doing the-- the whole display around there. And you know, they're-- they're jacking up cars on jack stands to, you know, plug them in so that you can get the accessory power to-- and no, it's just-- it was-- it was an event in and of itself there.

And I know you also mentioned, Joel, that, like, soft closing at-- at about 2:00 PM. You know, it was-- it was technically closed but also sort of open. But you could tell at about 2:00, their construction efforts ramped up a good amount. Because they were like, all right. The media are supposed to be gone. And-- no, I-- they-- they turned on some massive fans.

And the-- I don't know if they just brought in more construction equipment or what. But anybody trying to do any sort of a video or interview after 2:00 PM with-- with any of the cars or engineers there, good luck. Because it-- it sounded-- it sounded like the Chicago Amtrak's train station from when I-- from when I arrived, where it's just sort of this, like, you know, deafening bellow if-- if you're in the wrong place.

I know I was-- I was joking with-- with some of the guys there that were, you know-- their-- their main thing, they're-- they're there to film video. And they're just like, yep, it's impossible now. I guess I'll just, you know, hang it up and leave. Just, you know, they-- they obviously need a lot of time doing that.

So they-- they didn't finish in-- in the time that we were being ushered around by, you know, herded like sheep from-- from display-to-display. And I feel like I should also mention, just like the-- the wild differences in the actual press conferences. You know, some of them, they felt, you know, 1/2 normal. Like Jeep one, they had-- Jim Morrison hopped up there, did a whole presentation with-- with a few cars.

They had some cool stuff to climb the Jeeps on to. But then you walked over to Toyota and, you know, it's-- it's just a guy reading off of a sheet of paper. You can tell he's just got scribbled notes on there. You know, there's no music. There's-- there are no cars moving around.

It's just, like, some static displays and running through specs of a car, which is obviously very different from what we're used to seeing with their-- their usual big shows that they put on. So it was-- it was really cool just to see all of those different types of things that the automakers had planned for this super weird show.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, and, like, the guy that did the Toyota presentation was the same guy that did the Lexus presentation. And somewhere in between, he-- and somewhere in between, he had time to go and change out of his Toyota shirt into a Lexus shirt.

GREG MIGLIORE: Maybe he was just hot from the overwhelming heat, it sounds like. And he had to change.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean--

GREG MIGLIORE: I don't know.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: --that was-- that was definitely a benefit of-- of doing both of them.

ZAC PALMER: I-- I could have gone for for a shirt change at some point during the day, for sure. It was-- As I think about it, now I'm a little jealous of him.

GREG MIGLIORE: There was a running joke, like, probably when the Frankfurt and Paris shows were still, frankly, you know, going on. I mean, Frankfurt is going to be Munich this year. But they were always in, like, the very end of summer or, like, first, like, week of fall. And the running joke among the journalists was, like, well, did you bring an extra suit? You just sweated through your first suit. And that kind of sounds like this-- what this was like.

Only, this was mid-July. You know, there was some-- like, I always thought the organizers just were, like, too cheap to pump enough air conditioning through, like, those halls in Europe. But it was like, you know, a September auto show, maybe you don't have to blast the AC. I don't know. You guys sounded like you needed those things you see at, like, football games, where the fan is blasting, like, cold air onto the sidelines with streamers coming at you. So.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, and I-- I was-- I was joking with someone that I was like, yeah, I mean, it's hot and humid. But like, it's-- this is like the Frankfurt Auto Show-- this is what the temperature would be like when they supposedly had the air conditioning on. Because they-- they keep things-- they keep things warm in here.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it sounds like it was a very interesting show. Thanks for taking one for the teams there-- for the team there, guys, and doing it. You know, we'll see what New York is like. And then they'll be Motor Bella coming up. That's sort of like the placeholder this fall for the Detroit Auto Show. That's in that slot we were just referencing, kind of late September. So hopefully we get fall weather here in Michigan as opposed to blistering heat, which could be either.

And then more auto shows. So it's good to have them back. No Spend my Money this week. But do send your questions to podcast@autoblog.com. We'll close things out, though, with, if you're going to spend your money, what kind of pizza are you going to get? You are in Chicago. I've covered the show many times. It's like you literally get out of your car, get off the train, get off the plane. It's like-- there's, like, a deep dish pizza stand in your face.

They're very proud of their pizza. There's a number of kinds of pizza you could eat in this world from, you know, like, New York-style, Detroit-style, which I think many of us are biased towards, Chicago-style. Then there's some other more regional ones. I actually experienced New Haven pizza-- which is kind of like a thinner but also very cheesy pizza-- out east a couple of years ago. Really good with an IPA. Where do you guys fall on the great pizza debate? Why don't we start with you there, Zac.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, so just like you said, you know, you hop off the train here in Chicago and your-- pizza in your face. I-- I had breakfast pizza for breakfast the day of the show. I had-- and that was basically just like glorified quiche, honestly. It was like eggs with-- with veggies and whatnot. There was no sauce in there.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK. That sounds pretty good though.

ZAC PALMER: But I also had-- yeah, exactly. Exactly. It was like that with-- with the pizza crust. And I was like, this is-- this is really good, actually. And then I had just, you know, your traditional Chicago-style, like, just a pepperoni pizza for lunch. But you know, if-- if I'm ranking my pizzas, I'm-- I'm going to have to put Chicago-style last.

Just-- just like you said, I am biased toward Detroit-style. That's definitely number one. You know, you go to Buddies, go to, like, a Crispelli's and get their-- their deep dish. Really, really good Detroit-style pizza. Nice and crispy. And really great crust. Then number two, it's got to be New York-style. I've-- I've been to New York a couple of times. And I have-- I have lots of friends there.

So I-- I went to school in Syracuse. So I'm-- I'm probably biased here. So I've-- I've had more-- more than enough people, you know, show me really, really great New York pizza. And that's-- that's, like, a close second behind Detroit. And I will argue that Chicago-style is not really even pizza. It's-- it's more like a casserole. It's not bad. But it's-- it's not a pizza you can pick up with your hand and eat it how pizza is meant to be eaten, as far as I'm concerned.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Joel, you're shaking your head. Let's-- let's get some rebuttal here.

[LAUGHTER]

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so I've-- I've been a long time backer of Chicago pizza. And I mean, even if you don't necessarily consider it pizza, I still think it's better than New York pizza. I just-- it's just a whole lot of goodness all-- all on one package. And like, I mean-- I don't know. I prefer something like that as opposed to kind of that greasy, foldable, rollable slice.

That being said-- and like-- and for a long time, Chicago pizza was, like, my go-to pick. But having lived in kind of metro Detroit for a while, and having experienced, like, really good Detroit pizza and stuff here, I think Detroit really has kind of become my favorite.

Actually, in some ways, it's almost kind of a good in-between between New York and Chicago. I mean, you can still eat it with your hand. But it's-- it's cooked in kind of a deep pan. And so you get a lot of-- a lot of goodness. You get a lot of toppings, and cheese, and-- and I think the crust is actually what really, really makes Detroit pizza. Because it's got a nice kind of crispy, kind of buttery outside with kind of a soft and nicely textured kind of inside.

It's-- it's a really good mix of, like, everything that's-- everything that you get in, like, really good bread. And then you get a good chunk of toppings on top. Like it's-- I've-- I've really become a fan of Detroit pizza. And even like-- even the rest of my family, for the longest time, it was like big backers of Chicago pizza. It has kind of come around to Detroit. But Chicago is a very close second for me. And then New York is kind of a distant third.

ZAC PALMER: I'm-- I'm really interested in what this New Haven pizza is, Greg. Because I-- it's something I haven't heard of before you mentioned it.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a little bit of a-- it's a variant, if you will, of New York pizza. So it's somewhat of a similar style, like relatively thin, kind of like a hand-tossed crust. You know, conventional toppings. And it's available in New Haven, Connecticut. It's-- it's like a east coast kind of thing.

I was out there a couple of summers ago and I really enjoyed it. It-- it went really good with, like, an IPA, kind of a big green salad, like all pizza does. But you know, there's-- I think there's a little bit more of an emphasis on the sauce, at least the place-- places I experienced it at. So it was-- I thought it was good.

You know, I thought it was actually-- I liked it a little bit more than the sort of, like, New York, traditional New York-style, which I feel like is very-- it's almost like traveling pizza, I feel like, you know, there's this emphasis on, like, folding your slice. I don't like to fold my pizza. It's not really how I roll.

And the places that I had New Haven pizza at, one was almost like they brought it out on this cart. And then it was sliced into, like, squares. And it was just the most amazing thing. And it was so thin. And I ate, literally, like, seven pieces. And it just went down so easily. It was great with a beer. So you know, it's-- I would say this. It's-- it wouldn't be my go-to. But it would be just a different kind of thin style pizza that is really good with summer too.

So that's good. My personal order would be Detroit number one, hands down. Number two is Chicago. I really like Chicago pizza. I think there's a little bit of a Detroit-Chicago rivalry. So sometimes I think there's almost, like, the two fan bases, and food, and sports like to just sort of be against each other, regardless. You know, it's like, you can't like Chicago pizza because that's, like, rooting for the Chicago Bears or something.

But I like it. I think it tastes pretty good. I love the deep-- and like, just-- like the volume of cheese you get. So I think that's good. New York has pretty good pizza, I would put that. You know-- you know what? I'm going to stop. I'm going to make New Haven third, then New York fourth. Just because.

But I will say this, I-- I like New York pizza. Whenever I go to the New York Auto Show, I always get, you know-- have-- got a couple of slices and-- like, I will sort of end with just saying, I like all pizza. Like, god, there is-- if you-- I could eat pizza every day of my life. Have no problems with it. I enjoy all the different variants. So yeah, I mean, I think they're good.

And I will say this. I think, sometimes, a Detroit-style, even though it is my favorite, if you get one that's, like, maybe a little bit overdone or a little bit underdone-- and this-- I think this also applies to Chicago-- there's, like, less room for error there. Like, you're more likely to get almost like a bad batch or something.

Like, oh, they burn the crust. Or, oh, there's not enough cheese or sauce. Whereas the other ones, which-- you know, I will say this. New York pizza is almost like pizza, you know? Like, standard pizza, there's a little more room for error, you know? So.

ZAC PALMER: No, I-- I completely agree. I've had some-- some Detroit-style pizza that the crust just wasn't crispy enough. And it ruins the whole experience, honestly. It is-- it's a fragile thing. When they get it right, it's the best. And it sounds like we all agree on-- on that, that-- that Detroit is the best. So shocker. Three-- three guys from Detroit all-- all think the Detroit pizza is the best.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, I can at least say that, like, I'm not originally from Detroit and hadn't-- I honestly hadn't-- I honestly hadn't really experienced Detroit pizza until-- actually, I think-- I think I first tried that type of piece when Little Caesars introduced the deep deep dish option to their menu nationwide, which, honestly, is a pretty decent pizza.

It's not-- like, if you come to Detroit, you should really get, like, buddies, or Jets, or something like that. But if you can't get to Detroit, the Little Caesars deep deep dish is not a bad way to dip your toe into Detroit pizza.

GREG MIGLIORE: I would agree with that. Little Caesars-- what do they call it? The deep dish, whatever it is, is pretty good. I almost can't believe I'm saying that with a straight face. But it's pretty good.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And yeah, I definitely agree with, like-- you do have to get it right. Like if you-- if you get it wrong, it's not-- if it's-- it's not brilliant. And actually, I think the same goes for Chicago pizza. Like, there have been a couple of times that I've been to one of kind of like the famous pizza places that-- I don't know-- they were just having an off night.

And it was-- it ended up being, actually, kind of disappointing. I was like, wow, that was-- that was really unfortunate. So yeah, the-- I do agree, there's just-- there's more room for error. And it is-- it's a sad thing when it goes wrong.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, because you're so excited. And you know, you don't necessarily have that style of pizza as much, perhaps. And then you get there and you're like oh, it's not cooked quite right. Or like, where's the sauce? Or-- I almost can't believe I'm saying this, you can have too much cheese on a Chicago-style pizza, I think.

It's like-- if it doesn't totally cook or melt right. And like for me, I'll be, like, almost, like, choking on it. I'm like, what is this, you know? You have to really, like, saw into it. But that's a pretty rare occurrence. And even then, that's-- you can sort of compensate by just really getting out the knife and fork, and chopping it up. So.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And I do agree. I mean, pretty much any-- any solid pizza is good pizza. It's like it's-- as much as-- as much as we debate which is the best, pizza is good.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think I'll let that--

ZAC PALMER: Pizza is good.

GREG MIGLIORE: We can let that be the final line. Send us your feedback about pizza. And your Spend my Money, is there any other questions you want us to talk about? We love doing mailbags every now and then. That's podcast@autoblog.com. Everybody be safe out there. Have a great weekend. And we will see you next week.

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