2023 Cadillac Escalade-V and Honda HR-V | Autoblog Podcast #735

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore and Senior West Coast Editor James Riswick. They've been driving some interesting vehicles, including the Cadillac Escalade-V, VW Jetta, BMW X3 and the new Honda HR-V. They also compare the Duramax-powered Chevy Silverado High Country to the 6.2-liter GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate. Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder drops in with a dispatch from the first drive of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, previewing his upcoming review of the brand's first EV. Finally, they open the mailbag and help a reader pick a used car for under $20,000 in the Spend My Money segment.

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

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We have a great show for you this week. We've been driving a lot of different cars. But with that, I'm going to bring in, West Coast editor, senior West Coast editor, for all things up and down the West Coast, James Riswick. What's going on, man?

JAMES RISWICK: Just sitting in the Silverado, recording a podcast.

GREG MIGLIORE: Story of your life, right man?

JAMES RISWICK: Oh, yeah, absolutely. So it's actually though-- see, normally if I don't have my-- if you know, the house is loud or whatever, I sit in my three in the garage, but that's not available. I'm going to tell you, this is much more civilized and spacious.

Instead of zero cup holders to put my water, I have three nice, big, flat, split space to put a very, non-car, friendly car bug in. You know, we have the standard, weird, rubber mat in the middle of the center console, that GM's been putting in for years, perfect size for my phone on silent. It's a lovely, mobile podcast studio, but we can talk about those later.

GREG MIGLIORE: We have a great show, lots of things to talk about. You're actually doing what I've been doing with some of my preschool drop off and things, which is use an actual mug as opposed to a travel mug. I will just-- especially in the bigger like the trucks and the SUVs like GM, and Ford, and RAM trucks, and SUVs. You could put cavernous amounts of like liquids in those cupholders, so.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I don't know, man. I learned from a very-- I grew up with an Acura Integra and a Honda CR-V, just reeking of coffee because my mother, despite travel mugs, would spill all over the place. So I don't know, I think you're playing with fire there, that seems. That seems sketchy. My mug here will remain in a parked car. And I still might just end up spilling it.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go.

JAMES RISWICK: We'll see. That could be-- maybe coming later on the podcast.

GREG MIGLIORE: There we go. We'll have to edit out the spills, maybe, or maybe we'll leave them in. They add a little texture and fluidity to the podcast.

JAMES RISWICK: And swearing, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: There we go. So we're going to talk about the Silverado High Country, the GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate. So James has been driving, speaking of those big GM trucks, he's been driving a couple of them. Other things, well, speaking of GM trucks, we've got the Escalade-V.

Also spent some time in the Volkswagen Jetta, which took you down memory lane a little bit. I think that's kind of cool. And yeah, we'll round up the car section with some time in the BMW X3 M40i and the Honda HR-V. We will spend your money. And we have a little bit of a preview of the Cadillac Lyriq.

Senior editor for all things green, John Snyder is driving it right now. He filed a dispatch this week. You'll want it kind of wet your whistle for what that's all about. We'll have the full review on site and in future podcasts. So with that, why don't we just talk about some big GM trucks. Tell us about what you're sitting in.

JAMES RISWICK: Well, I am currently sitting in the Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country, with the optional 6.2-liter V8, as well as the optional Super Cruise system. So it's a very succinct short-named vehicle. And in fact, I've been driving back to back with a purple BMW in between, I should say, this, and the GMC Sierra 1,500 Denali Ultimate.

So these are the highest possible Silverado Sierras you can get. Now, this also, these are both the first time I've been in the Chevy trucks with the new interior. Before, the interiors were quite-- GM didn't really try very hard. And they were not good at all, especially in these fancy-pants trucks, where you have like F-150 King Ranch, and Platinum, and Limited, and the-- basically every RAM 1500.

And GM didn't just utterly whiffed, like no effort. As much effort as they put in elsewhere in a truck, there's none in the interior. And you could really tell in like the Denali and in the High Country, where there was just a little bit of quote, "wood" or even not even wood, just kind of weird, plastic, trim, slap to the door, slap to the side of the center console, good enough, goodbye.

And this time, they have seriously stepped it up. I am sitting in the Silverado High Country. And to start, the leather in here is blue. It's lovely. I really like that automakers are putting color into leather interiors and making things interesting. It has opened pore, what I assume is wood. If this isn't wood, it's very impressive simulation.

There's some lovely kind of bronze cross stitching in the seats, with some like black cord piping. And then, you know, you have more of that wood on the dash. And then you have this gigantic widescreen, touchscreen. Let me see exactly how big it is. It is 13.4 inches. That's awfully big. It runs the Google Automotive-- sorry, the Android Automotive operating system.

I'm not so sure it's better than like a KIA system or another really good automaker sourced OS, but it's still really good. It's easy enough to use. Really beautiful digital gauges as opposed to very rudimentary plain, could-be-in in any GM truck gauges. A really improved switchgear. Basically, it's better. It's way better. You know, the column shifter, gone.

It has an electronic monostable shifter. I think it'll be just like foreign, alien, witchcraft to a lot of, you know, folks who've been in a GM truck forever with the column shifter. But if you've been in a lot of other cars, totally normal. So this is the interior that this track always should have had because it's now like totally compact. I think it's better than the F-150. It looks better. And I think it's more functional.

Compared to-- this is also notable because, please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I'm absolutely correct here. This is the first time the Sierra and the Silverado have had different interiors. There is a couple of asterisks on that because the lower level Sierras have the same interior design as the Silverado.

But the Sierra Denali, Denali Ultimate and AT4X have a different design. Is it better than this one? I don't think so, but it's different and that's great. Even though the key elements of the giant screen-- the key functional points are kind of the same, but the looks different. And hey, points for effort because none was presented last time they did this truck.

And then when you talk about-- so the Denali, you know, it has wood trim in it. And it seems very nice. Again, much better than it was before. But the Denali Ultimate speaks to its name by really stepping things up as beautiful, even like nicer wood trim in it. The leather inside is a very specific-- auburn, orangey kind of-- it has a specific ridiculous marketing name. But either way, it's on every Denali Ultimate.

Has this very interesting baseball style cross stitch on the doors. And then there's some lovely seat piping. And then, embossed or engraved everywhere is this topographical map of Denali itself. Well I'm sure if it's the mountain or the National Park, but either way it's someplace in the National Park of-- there's a topographical map. It's on the doors. It's on the wood. It's on the seats in the front and in the back. It's on that rubber cell phone tray I mentioned earlier it's everywhere.

Now, when I say it's everywhere, it could seem like, oh, kind of tacky, like laying it on. But there's so-- the interior is so big. It just kind of-- it's actually quite classy. It's subdued. It's a nice little bit of detail. And in general, I think that interior has-- it's a bit more classy than, you know, the King Ranches.

And it's not quite as cowboyish. Now, folks like the cowboy aesthetic. There's a reason it exists. But in this case, I think there's more broad appeal for Denali Ultimate. It really is a lovely interior and so is the Silverado. So mission accomplished, GM, well done.

The other thing is I drove-- the Sierra had the Duramax diesel engine. And the Silverado had the 6.2-liter V8. The 6.2 in the Silverado is a $2,500 option. The Duramax in the Denali is a $1,500 credit. They give you money back. And you should take it. The Duramax is shockingly great.

I got the car. And I turned it on and I did not realize I was driving the diesel. I could tell by the power delivery rather than the sound. And usually the sound is-- you absolutely notice immediately. It's shockingly quiet inside. It's shockingly quiet outside. And it gets much better fuel economy comparable, torque to the 6.2-liter. And you get it cheaper. So yeah, big, big points up for the Duramax. 6.2 is fine, but I mean, get the diesel, man. It's great.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting.

JAMES RISWICK: I think that, yeah, wraps it up.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's well said. And it's interesting, the last time I drove a Duramax, I didn't realize-- it was in it immediately. It was actually in the Escalade. And you catch on pretty quick, right? But I think it could be the right engine for a lot of people. You know, you get great miles on the highway. It's a torquey experience. I've driven it in, I believe, the Suburban and the Escalade. I think I've missed the Yukon, but it's a good engine. I mean, it's the right engine for some people.

And I agree with you too. It's long overdue that they started differentiating the interiors. I mean, it's just-- everything that they want Sierra to be, for it to be sort of that highest evolution, it can't just be a Chevy. It's got to be something different. Yeah, I mean, what have you done with these trucks? Have you hold any mulch? Have you, you know, what have you been doing with them?

JAMES RISWICK: That's a nice thing. So I'm in the process of moving right now. So yeah, the Sierra was filled with 18 bags of mulch, you know, in the staging process. And the Silverado has been used to transport boxes from my garage to a storage unit. So I've actually been using the darn things. So which is, you know, and you start to appreciate them more.

One of the things I find-- and you're right, with the differentiation between the Sierra and-- the Denali was-- so much of it spoke to just-- it looked different on the outside. Like it didn't really translate inside to actually being a more luxurious truck. And that's been the case forever, really. Now it is. Now it is. Now it's like, appropriately, a luxury truck. But the other thing is the Silverado really is too.

And you know, driving them around, I would swear that the Sierra rode better. The Silverado was really, a bit harsh and crashing over like bumps around town here, slower speeds. And I don't remember the Sierra doing that. That said, I look at the specs.

And the Silverado can now have the adaptive dampers that come standard on the Denali. And they both had 22-inch wheels. So I'm kind of thinking I'm nuts because, in theory, they should kind of be the same mechanically, but maybe I'm wrong. You do have to check more option boxes though, in the Silverado, to get it up to, mechanically, the Sierra Denali level.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting when you look at these two trucks, it's sort of why General Motors has never, not recently done any sort of true-like Cadillac truck. They don't need to because you can option up the GMC and Chevy models and make them quite luxurious. Speak.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, legitimately too, not just like, oh, look at this giant list of luxury equipment. And hey, we-- look the dash of the Silverado High Country is bronze, and has some bronze trim instead of silver trim, whoo. Now, they tried this time.

GREG MIGLIORE: So speaking of Cadillac, what did you do with the hot rod Escalade? This is actually a press trip, I want to say, in Scottsdale preluxurious.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I'm not sure if what needed the greater carbon offset, the flight there or the drive of the Escalade-V? Basically, all highway driving and we did not get 15 miles per gallon. Yeah, they didn't announce the fuel economy. I'm sure it's going to be like 13 combined. And yeah, everybody says like people don't care about fuel economy when they drive a giant SUV like that.

Yeah, yeah, OK. I mean to a certain extent though. But I'm not comparing it to like a Highlander Hybrid here. I'll make-- a Navigator gets 19 miles per gallon. Do you know how much like the thousands of dollars per year that you'd save? And judging by, you know, the wealthiest general distaste for paying too much than they need to on taxes, I mean, gas price, really? It's going to be different in that way? Whatever.

Nevertheless, the Escalade-V has a crazy powerful engine. It's even greater in some respects than the very similar engine in the CT5-V Blackwing. It goes very fast. It's squats at the rear like a speedboat when you gun it. It's kind of comical.

And it is loud. When we went up to the press cars at the beginning of the drive, someone turned on the car and the exhaust was literally startling. It is very loud. Which means, my first thing when I heard that was, well, what if you need to like go to the airport at like 5:00 in the morning. And you don't want to wake up everybody in the house and possibly your neighbor, although you may not care about your neighbor, what do you do?

There should be like a more obvious, like, stealth mode. Well, there is literally a stealth mode. It's called that, but you need to have the foresight to engage it before you turn on the car. So either the night before or you need to like go to accessory mode. Go click, click, click into the touchscreen, and then press, then slide over to stealth mode, then turn on the car so you don't wake up the baby.

This was feedback I gave to Cadillac is they should have just a button for like stealth mode or like the little binocular exhaust button they have in a lot of German cars with loud exhausts. So that was my feedback the Cadillac. Otherwise, that's a giant Escalade. And we drove the giant R1. We drove the ESV with the Escalade-V. And it's something. A lot of people are going to buy them. And they're fast.

But I think I'd get the diesel one instead for all the points I mentioned earlier because it doesn't sound or really behave like a diesel. It's a pretty great, pretty great deal. And yeah, not my cup of tea, in case, it's not obvious. But a lot of people seem to love it given the responses to our my videos and such on the drive. But yeah, I'd get a Navigator instead, or the Duramax, and the Escalade and save a lot of money, like a lot. It's like 50 grand more. It's ridiculous.

GREG MIGLIORE: To me, this speaks to almost like the status level for certain vehicles, as you want to say, you have everything you could possibly get. And that includes the engine. You know, you don't need the kind of raw performance in a truck, which is what the Escalade really is, that kind of just raw, like sporty, like V performance. But you know, I'm interested to drive it, see what it feels like.

JAMES RISWICK: I will say, I will give them credit for-- I was talking to one of the designer-- the designer for it. And he really-- I have often-- Cadillac's past efforts, especially the V models, I would say I question their taste level in terms of the styling and the upgrades to it.

This recent generation of Cadillac has been very, very tasteful, kind of going back to kind of evoking the more of the 1960s Bill Mitchell era, very cool. And they wanted a sleeper look for this car. They did not want to-- they didn't want boy racer interior. They didn't want to just slather it with carbon fiber bits.

Yes, it has the four exhausts. Yes, it has badges. And yes, you know, it has a different-- some grillets in the front, slightly sportier front fascia. But that's basically describing, you know, like old AMG's and M5s. They were sleeper cars. And they were cool.

When you know what it is, it's cool. And most people wouldn't. And that's also kind of cool. So there's a cool level on this thing that I absolutely grant them because they did that very well. And you know, like sport, maximum Escalade could have really gone wrong into deep, into tacky land, but this absolutely isn't. Aesthetically speaking, I think it's very good.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think some of the slightly lower key Cadillac designs, especially for the SUVs. But I mean the car is the CT-4, the CT-5. I've been a fan of their appearances. You see a few of them on the roads around here, obviously. But I agree with you, It's kind of 1960s. You think back to like the Coupe DeVille and cars like that, like after that famous '57, '59 Cadillac crazy fins thing.

It seems like Cadillac and some automakers go through those phases, where they get really like over the top. And then things come back. And sometimes, especially with Cadillac, I think less can be more. So Volkswagen Jetta, '90s do a hard fade over to that. Take you back to the early aughts and some other things. But it's kind of cool--

JAMES RISWICK: Early aughts and late '90s too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Late 90s, yeah, when something resonates like that.

JAMES RISWICK: So I had to tell this. So my first car back in the late 1999 was a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta VR-6. It was Silver Arrow. And I loved it. It was like a great friend to me. And you know, I got it in Indianapolis. And I drove it across the country to go to college in Southern California, to Pepperdine University in Malibu.

And you know, I drove it across the country. I drove it to Toronto for a couple of summers. That's where I'm originally from. So it's just like-- it's like, it was just woven. And it was kind of like this, you know, like loyal dog kind of thing to me in my, you know, formative years, let's say. And I still to this day regret selling it. You know, in an alternate universe, I'm sitting in-- it's parked right in front of me here in Portland.

So I'm moving back to Southern California. In fact, I'm moving not too far away from where I went to college, not in Malibu. Autoblog doesn't pay that well, but, you know, kind of close to it. And I'm going back, was going to go do something related to the house search. But primarily, I was in town to go drive the new Volkswagen Arteon.

And for logistical purposes, it's not unheard of for a car company to leave a car at an airport for us to go to the event. It's easier than-- just logistically, it's normal for car companies to leave their cars at airports. It's just a normal thing. Anyway, so I didn't really pay much attention to the car that I was going to get.

And I figured, you know, obviously it's going to be Volkswagen, I get it. It's a Silver Jetta, Silver Jetta. So I'm like returning home. And there is like the beacon of like, really, the past sitting right there. This one, obviously, 22 years later is quite different. It's three generations on. It's a lot bigger.

It now has a tiny four cylinder turbo engine rather than a big hilariously, thirsty by modern standards, small angle V6. This one had a manual. Mine didn't. I couldn't get a manual at the time. I also didn't know how to drive one. But still more importantly, couldn't get one. And it was just a nice trip down memory lane.

And it's nice to be able you know, the two cars, ultimately, are nothing similar. But there's just a little bit of that shared DNA you pick out. It's not like-- it's not like hanging out with an old friend, it's more like hanging out with their son, I'd imagine. Where you just like, it's familiar. And there's just like those little glimpses that like take you back.

And that's kind of the nice thing about cars is because they're almost like-- they're almost like living bits of history. And this is kind of a different scenario of that, but they kind of let you relive history. It's probably why old dudes like old cars so much. But yeah, so it's just one of those nice little trips down memory lane.

And the new Jetta, it's-- base model too. This was like the base S manual, like nothing on it. This thing was cheaper than my Jetta, from 1999. It was 3 grand cheaper, which, I mean, yes, this was the base model. And mine was almost, close not quite loaded, but you know, I had lots of equipment on it, but still it's 22 years.

And importantly, the Jetta has gone from kind of a premium alternative to like a Honda Civic kind of like operating. It's almost like what like the Integra is now, or it's one of those, kind of like that, like kind of luxury adjacent it could be, but definitely a more premium entry in the compact segment.

Now, it's more like budget oriented. And going for maximum value in terms of they lowered the price a lot. And they've made it enormous. So its market segment, I think, primarily, is the biggest difference after all these years. Still, it was an enjoyable experience.

GREG MIGLIORE: Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It sort of takes us back. It makes us remember things in some ways, perhaps better than we might have-- they might have been the first time. But that's cool. It's been a while since I've had a press car that, you know, did that for me. So that's cool.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, well, I guess the other thing is, far more than like-- you know, I've had like a BMW, the latest Z4. And you know, that one-- that just-- the same feelings do not evoke that. Maybe it's because I still have the Z3.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go.

JAMES RISWICK: Or like even like I owned a TSX. And it's not the same like driving a TLX now. But it's that emotional connection you had that with that, you know, that one car of old that even though like the car can be totally-- and you know what? I think Integra.

Let's talk about Integra for a second because that's basically-- that's very similar, right? That car is like a vastly improved, better Acura ILX. That's really what that is. It's just a redone. It's a core. It's a Civic based, you know, better ILX.

But they called it Integra. And therefore, folks who owned Integras, car enthusiasts got really excited about it. It's all in the name. And that really it's the power-- I don't know if it's a power marketing, it's a power of nostalgia as you said. But it's definitely a related phenomenon.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, you saw that with the return of the charger, people really got into it. It had four doors, you know. I think people were so starved for that muscle car feel in the turn of the century that they called something that was the replacement for the Dodge Intrepid, in some ways. And people lapped it up.

But yeah, I mean, I can't wait to drive the Integra. Road test editor, Zac Palmer has sort of cautioned me. He's like, you're going to like it, probably. But he's like, you know, it's a modern Acura. You know, it's maybe not necessarily get your hopes up, but like also take the marketing with a grain of salt. So yeah.

Car that did not really stir my emotions but I liked was the BMW X3 M40i, $64,000. So I thought it was actually a fairly decent deal, all things considered. It was all black on the outside, kind of a gray, and brown interior. And it has that beautiful bi-turbo inline-six So in that sense, it was plenty of fun to drive. This is my second straight week of driving turbocharged inline-six German engines because I had the AMG, the E-class with that as well last week, two weeks ago.

So very functional, handled well. I think the steering was solid, if you will. It gave me at least a taste, perhaps, to your point, a taste of that BMW-like steering that I wanted to feel even though I was driving just a relatively small to midsize crossover, put some miles on it. That's always fun when you can actually, really, take somewhat of a normal loan and really stretch it out.

But yeah, it's a solid entry in the class. I mean, I wouldn't say it's the best. I wouldn't say it's the worst. It fits exactly all of the things that a BMW buyer in that class, who wants the bigger engine is going to go for. So it's fun.

JAMES RISWICK: And I guarantee you enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the X3M Competition. I hate that thing. I-- I don't-- no bueno. Did not like that. Every everybody who I've heard comment, who drove that car, all commented the ride is terrible. It will beat you up.

And they're all right. It is absolutely terrible. It will beat you up. And you drive this car, and you go, who is this for? Because you know, oh, wow. It's really high performance. And we made it at all incredible so you could drive on a track. Really? Who is this person who's driving a BMW X3 on a track?

And then furthermore, yeah, cool. So I want the maximum, like I want the coolest, small BMW Crossover I can get because I like cool cars, blah, blah, blah. OK, that's fine. And even if you never intended to drive on track, but now you're going to drive this car around that's going to like beat you up, and annoy your wife and children that you're buying this car that's going to beat them up. And it's just-- who is this for? And who is actually going to be-- I don't get it.

GREG MIGLIORE: When you say X3 Competition, you start to lose me. I'm like, what do you need all that for?

JAMES RISWICK: Right, Competition-- right, it's in the name, Competition. What are you competing in? Like BMW-- what? Like buy a buy a real car for the track, or buy a more comfortable car, like a better, more appropriate car for the daily drive. It's such a spork, and not even a very good spork. Yeah, tries to do two things at once and doesn't do them well at all.

GREG MIGLIORE: Ironically, sporks are not highly useful. Taco Bell used to hand them out all the time. And I don't-- outside of their messy nachos, there weren't many applications for it. You might be better off either with a fork, or a spoon, or a Honda HR-V like what you just drove.

JAMES RISWICK: Yes, oh, that's a segue. Yeah, so the HR-V-- this is like one of the-- it's always really interesting when a car changes-- goes from generation to generation. And it is like totally different, not just like the evolution method. It is like sea change thing.

So the old HR-V was very much based on the Honda Fit. You could tell, just the same engine. And well, hold on, don't quote me to that. Maybe it wasn't the same engine. Either way, it was not much of an engine. But the floor plan was the same. So the gas tank under the front seats, that means the back seat and the cargo floor can be super low and fold into the floor very flatly.

This provided it with an amazing amount of interior space relative its footprint. Well, the new car, no longer based on the Fit. It's not even the same vehicle as the vehicle that it replaces-- sorry, never mind. Let's not go down to what sold in Europe, then it really gets confusing. So it's no longer based on the Fit.

It is instead-- a lot-- I even say in the video. It's based on the Civic. It's not-- there's a lot of Civic bits. You can really see it in the interior. But there's also a lot of current generation CR-V in its suspension. And it's as quiet as the current CR-V. And so it's kind of a mixture of both.

And the end result is that it is a far more, kind of solid, sophisticated isn't the best word, but let's go with it. It just feels like a more substantial car, definitely moving up a quasi segment, if you will. It's no longer a subcompact SUV. It's kind of in that mid compact area that we call the segment with like the KIA Seltos, VW Taos, Bronco Sport, kind of in that range. Well, it's still smaller than a CR-V, but it's bigger than it was before.

And because of it no longer having that Honda Fit interior packaging, it's a lot bigger on the outside, but the interior isn't really that much bigger. It sure, it feels bigger especially in the back seat. It's a totally different packaging scenario.

So there's more space between the rows, which will be good if you have like a rear facing child seat or just a general feel of spaciousness. But because the seat's lower, you don't necessarily have as much legroom. Like imagine the difference between sitting on, I don't know, a stool and then like a kitchen chair. That's kind of what the difference is between them.

So you can sit-- in the old Fit, you can sit closer to the front seats and yet still have enough room because your higher off the ground. Cargo space, like on paper is the same, but I think the old one might be more useful. And to drive it, yeah, it does feel larger. It's quieter.

The ride is better. The handling is more composed because it's an independent rear suspension now instead of a torsion beam. It has more power, but we're starting at a low bar. And it didn't really clear it by much. It is still very slow. It has absolutely no low end power at all.

I mean, I drove it at some elevation. And I thought, OK, well, this is kind of an unfair test for it. But then I got it back to close to sea level. and it still was-- nothing happens when you get in the engine. And it has a CVT. It now simulates gears as many CVT do. It has a sport mode, and a low gear which is more-- it's better suited for going downhill to ensure some engine braking as opposed to any semblance of sportiness.

I found that I could have used paddle shifters a bit when I was really pushing it, but that's so not what this car is for. And Honda, basically, said as much, they were just looking for, like they talked to focus groups. They found that, no. Current owners and those in the market did not want more power. They want it to be sufficient. They didn't want to pay for more than they wanted. So Honda gave them the base Civic engine, didn't even want to offer the turbo as an option.

The reason-- what part-- an additional reason for not offering it, they said that the turbo Civic trim levels, because the engine is tied to trim levels, the turbo Civics are purchased by-- majority of those buyers are men, whereas about 70% of this segment of the HR-V segments buyers are women.

And so I think there was something going on there when they're reading the demographics about who buys what engine. So therefore, if not a lot of men are going to buy the HR-V, therefore we're not going to put in the engine that the men want. I guess that's what they were saying. I don't know.

So that's why the HR-V is slow. And there's no option to make it better. And when-- and it's like-- and again, this is not slow for like the entire automotive segment. I'm not comparing it to the Escalade-V. I'm comparing it to like a KIA Seltos or like the Subaru Crosstrek, widely considered painfully slow. So slow that Subaru's focus groups determine that, yeah, you know, actually, people do want more power.

And we're just going to give them a bit more power. And people are going to be happy. And that is exactly what happened. The base Crosstrek has more torque than the HR-V. So yeah. So very low bar. And they kind of just kept the bar there for this generation.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting. You mentioned this in your dispatch last week. It's a bigger car, but you don't get much more space, somewhat oddly. And it sounds like you sit kind of weirdly in it. I mean--

JAMES RISWICK: Oh, no, sorry. I shouldn't say, sit weirdly. The seat's a little low. But again, it's more that the old car was weird. This one is more conventional, like you sit in the interior. And it does have like a good size back seat for the segment.

The back-- the front seats are much better. Without the gas tank being underneath and without being kind of based on a Japanese market subcompact car, there's a lot more seat adjustability, which is indicative of a car meant for the American market.

And I'm tall. So I can actually fit comfortably in the HR-V, whereas in the old HR-V and the Fit, not even remotely close to fitting comfortably in those cars. So basically, the car is more conventional now. And for the segment, it is totally competitive and strong in terms of space in many regards. It mostly speaks to the old car being kind of weird.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, that's a natural evolution, I think, or a needed evolution. I remember, you know, we would often say, why would you get this over the Fit? Now, your average consumer would say, well, this feels more like a "Crossover Air" quotes, whereas the Fit, whatever, that's just a small car. Then enthusiasts say, well, I like driving a small car. You could get a manual transmission. This thing's great.

But I mean, they really did need to make this more competitive And we did a compact Crossover comparison a few years ago at this point. And we didn't like it. It did not fare well. And frankly, the field at that time was OK. It's gotten much stronger. But this is definitely-- a little bit of-- it's a better version of itself. Let's put it that way.

JAMES RISWICK: I think, and it's also interesting because the HR-V was one of those first subcompact SUVs. Like at the time, like it came out, I think just after the Renegade and 500X twins. And like the term subcompact SUV wasn't a thing. Like we just kind of figured, well, if these are smaller than compact SUVs like a CR-V, therefore, I guess they're subcompacts.

And then like the KIA Soul, which had been on sale forever as like this weird Scion XB hatchbacky thing, all of a sudden, well, wait. It's just like these things. I guess it's a subcompact SUV too. But then as we go on in years, in the last couple of years, we've seen them get just a little bigger, like noticeably bigger.

And that's why we had to come up with this idea of subcompact, because like a Seltos is bigger than a Soul, and bigger than a Hyundai Venue, Hyundai even has a smaller size, and a Hyundai Kona. So like you can see that there are defined subsegments. And you couldn't just call them the same thing.

So clearly, Honda sees that that's where the market's going, that these little things are less appealing than the slightly bigger ones. Also one would assume the bigger ones are more expensive. You know, higher profit margin perhaps. And you know, there's just going to be even fewer, and fewer, and fewer cheaper cars out there for folks. And yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Something that assuredly won't be cheap or inexpensive is the Cadillac Lyriq. John is on location testing this one out. He'll give us more of a full review in an upcoming episode, but let's hear what it's like on site with the Cadillac Lyriq. Over to you, John.

JOHN BELTZ SNYDER: Thanks, Greg. I'm here in Park City, Utah. And I've just finished up my first driving stint in the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq. I've been waiting to get behind the wheel of this car for over two years. I first saw this car alongside the Cadillac Celestiq at GM's EV day back in 2020, just before the pandemic became a thing.

I was really impressed with the Lyric then. And I'm glad to see the similarities to that show car in the production model. Just a little background, this is Cadillac's first ever electric vehicle. And it's the second GM product after the GMC Hummer EV to use GM's new Ultium electric powertrain.

That's a modular battery system that can scale for whatever size vehicle or whatever role GM needs it to play, in this case, it's a midsize crossover. As such, the Lyriq's pack is about half the size of the Hummer's. That one is essentially two Lyriq packs stacked on top of one another.

In the Lyriq's case, the battery has a capacity just a little over 100 kilowatt hours, which in the rear wheel drive version, that gives it a driving range of 312 miles on a charge. And that's the version I'm driving today. The all wheel drive version will use the same battery, have another motor. So we'll have more power, but less range.

Speaking of which, the other major component of the Ultium platform is its electric motors. The rear drive Lyriq uses just one-- providing 340 horsepower and 325 pound feet of torque. So even this less powerful variant is still quite potent. I can't really tell you how that on-paper performance translates to driving feel. You'll have to wait until the June 28 embargo on driving impressions.

But I can tell you about some of the other impressions the Lyriq left on me, for instance, it's absolutely gorgeous interior. The first thing you notice getting inside is the 33-inch curved LED display stretching across the dash. It serves as both an infotainment screen on the right side, an instrument panel on the left in front of the driver.

It's powered by Google's Android Automotive operating system, which you're familiar with from the Polestar 2. But this has a look and feel all its own, still has sort of that seamless and quick user experience, Android users already know and love. It's a touchscreen, but you can also control some menu functions from a rotary dial and hard buttons on the center console. That rotary dial could easily confused for a shifter.

The interior is lovely. It's quite spacious and comfortable. The one I'm driving has synthetic seating material, sort of a full faux leather, which is super soft. And the seats are incredibly comfortable. And they give you a massage, which is always nice. But Cadillac will also offer a Napa leather version if you want the real thing.

But the thing that struck me the most about the Lyriq is the craftsmanship and the attention to detail. The designers were allowed to basically start from scratch. So pretty much everything you see and touch is unique to the Lyriq. And nothing is from some GM parts bin. That makes this interior very unique.

There are nice little details like jeweled metal for the switchgear. And that pattern is repeated in places like the infotainment dial, around the rim of the cupholders, and even inside the little lights in the ceiling above the rear passengers. It's really impressive.

But there are also some interesting details like dual polishes on the metal, like one side of a piece of trim will be smooth and shiny, while the surface facing you will have a brushed look to it. They're also tiny pieces of metal and like a hematite color. There's an insert smaller than a tic tac on the bottom of the steering wheel. And a thin ring around a knob here and there and the same finish.

It's the sort of detail you might not even notice until you've lived with the car for a while. But luckily, I've got Lyriq interior design manager, Tristan Murphy on hand at this trip to answer questions and point things out like that to me along with some Easter eggs, neat stuff.

Everything in this car looks and feels high quality and thought through. There's nothing haphazard about the Lyriq. They even manage to make the sounds of the switchgear sort of match each other around the car. Something they actually thought about was the clicking sound of the vent knob and the seat adjustment. They wanted to all be sort of coherent, really, really cool stuff.

There's a big storage bin below the floating center console that's lined with what looks like leather, blue leather, beautiful. There's another bin that slides out from the center stack, also lined a blue leather that honestly looks like a drawer from my wife's jewelry cabinet. That blue, that same blue is repeated in piping down the center of the seatbacks. It's a nice little touch.

In the cargo area, I love this detail. There's underfloor storage with a big deep bin. And there's also a spot specifically designed to stash the cargo cover, as well as a spot for the mobile charging cable. That cable, by the way, is dual level. So it has attachments for 120 volt and 240 volt outlets.

So if you don't want to, you don't even need to buy a separate charging station for level two charging, if you've got a NEMA plug-in your garage. The cable is limited to 7.7 kilowatts, so about 17 to 19 miles of range per hour charging. While with a proper level two station, you can get up to 37 or 52 miles per hour of charging depending on which onboard charger your Lyriq has. It's a little confusing, but don't let it bother you.

Anyway, oh, the Lyriq also has Super Cruise. But I won't be able to try that out as it's not activated yet. That will come later in the year with an over-the-air update. Anyway, we've talked about excellent Super Cruise is, the hands free highway driving system that won the Autoblog Tech of the year a couple of years ago.

And I don't expect the Lyriq to be any different. The Lyriq also has a number of drive modes like tour, sport, and snow, and ice, as well as a customizable mode where you can mix and match individual settings for steering, braking, acceleration, and even the acceleration sound that's piped in through the speakers. I'll be sure to play more with those tomorrow and tell everyone about the review.

So yeah, June 28, you can read all about the actual Lyriq drive experience. Until then, I'll be posting photos to Twitter including, the Autoblog Green account. And I'll get some videos for YouTube. By the time you're hearing this, I should have a-walk-around video up on the Autoblog YouTube channel. Anyway Thanks for tuning in. I've got an even bigger day of driving ahead of me tomorrow. From Park City, Utah, in the launch of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, I'm John Snyder. Back to you, Greg.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, thanks, John. Safe travels back. James, should we spend some money?

JAMES RISWICK: Sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: Let's do it. That's podcast@autoblog.com, if you Spend My Money, please send them in. Summertime is a great time to spend money. Sometimes we have less car news. So this is a really good opportunity for you to kind of take control of the podcast. And if you have questions, we also like to do mailbags. So send them in. Again, that's podcast@autoblog.com.

Dan in Colorado writes, he's looking for a good used car for under $20,000, something that gets good gas mileage and has all wheel drive. What do you recommend? James let's start with you.

JAMES RISWICK: I think we should-- aren't we just talking about which Subaru you recommend?

GREG MIGLIORE: It's tricky. It's tricky because I was going to go with a Mazda, but no all wheel drive there. So yeah, I mean, it's Colorado. So I guess, you have to have all wheel drive, maybe.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, yeah. Well, yes, he's Colorado. OK, so elevation. So the Crosstrek is not turbocharged. So that's not great. But if you try and find a turbo one, the gas mileage probably won't be all great because if it's older, then that means it has the four speed auto. So yeah, I think I'm still thinking, find a Crosstrek. That's because they're kind of cool. I like them.

I guess, I mean, if you wanted, you can get a WR-X. I mean, it depends on what your definition of good gas mileage is, you know. If it's like Prius, then, no. I'm sorry. You're screwed. But if it's better than a lot of things, you could-- WR-X would be fun. It is all wheel drive. It might be beaten up to under 20. So maybe that was a terrible suggestion on my part. Yeah, you could find a turbo Forester. That would be-- that'd be kind of neat.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that was an interesting version of the Forester, thinking back. I would go with like a 14, 15 Outback, caveat being what's good gas mileage. That's probably not going to be great for you. But you can find one under 20. If you do want better gas mileage there, Dan, I think Crosstrek is probably your best bet to go down that road as far as the all wheel drive.

If you can get past the all wheel drive thing, check out a Mazda 3. Maybe you'll lightly use one. That would be a lot of fun to drive. If you need like snow tires or something, maybe that would help you out some of the Colorado snow and terrain. But those would be the sort of three I would throw at you.

JAMES RISWICK: Oh I would say can get a-- there's actually one right around the corner from me. And I drove one back in the day, Outback with a manual.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's interesting.

JAMES RISWICK: No, two generations ago Outback. So the first generation that got big, right? You could get that with a manual. And it was oddly fun. It had like big balloony tires. And it was kind of enjoyable. I was mildly amused. And I'm sure that would be-- it would definitely be under 20 grand today. That'd be fun. Find one of those. That's my recommendation.

GREG MIGLIORE: Here's another thing too, depending on what sort of silhouette you're tied to, the Ford Escape, you can find like a 2019 Escape, maybe 2017 Escape with all wheel drive. That would get in like, you know, you're talking about somewhat respectable fuel economy.

Dan doesn't really specify here if it's a car per se or just anything. I mean, an Escape like a 2018, '19 Escape, that's basically a car. You know, you're not that far off the ground. You could get some all wheel drive on that. So that's one to look at.

JAMES RISWICK: My parents' owned one of those. They owned that generation. It would be older. It's whenever the first or second model year of that generation was. And that's a fun-- that's a fun car. I still to this day enjoy driving it. And I think the interior is nicer than the current car. And I kind of like it better than the current one in many respects.

Now, I will say it is known for not being particularly reliable. I had a friend who I recommended to. And after like seven years, its transmission imploded. And that was all she wrote for that sucker. But yeah, I would at least warn about that because it ain't a Honda CR-V. Well, actually, you know what? The CR-V had transmission problems too. It's not a Toyota RAV-4.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go. There you go. Yeah, if you're willing, you're kind of like a small, compact, subcompact, whatever kind of Crossover, you could get all wheel drive on some of those.

JAMES RISWICK: Kona.

GREG MIGLIORE: Kona could be a good one, yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: The Kona. You could definitely get a used one under 20. That thing's a hoot. That's actually a surprisingly fun little car. And you can get like a like a cool engine on that too. With all wheel drive? Yeah, that would be something to consider.

GREG MIGLIORE: The Kona actually finished, I believe, second in our compact crossover in 2019 comparison. It's funny, at the time, you mentioned sub versus compact. We called it compact, but the market was even moving at that time when we label those vehicles as such. And now you see like the CR-V, the Escape, the Equinox, it just seems like things that were one thing. They've gotten larger and morphed, if you will, into other segments.

Here's one that I am not recommending, but you could get a 2015 Chrysler 200S with all wheel drive. Don't do that, but I just happened to come across that when I was searching. Forgot the 200 all wheel drive, I did not know that, or if I did, I've forgotten it. So cool.

Well, Dan, thanks for writing. If you enjoy the podcast, that's five stars on Apple Podcasts. We're available on Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. Again, send us your Spend My Money's, podcast@autoblog.com. Be safe out there. We'll see you next week.

[MUSIC PLAYING]