2024 Dodge Charger, the Apple Car and the 5 worst car brands | Autoblog Podcast #822

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by News Editor Joel Stocksdale. They lead off with the 2024 Dodge Charger reveal, followed by various EV startup news including the reported death of the Apple Car; rumors of a tie-up between Fisker and Nissan; and when we'll finally see the Tesla Roadster. That's followed by rumors of sporty EVs from VW group possibly including an Audi TT and the five worst car brands according to Consumer Reports. Road Test Editor Zac Palmer pops in to discuss Formula 1 at Bahrain, and Migliore and Stocksdale wrap up the podcast with the cars they've been driving: the Toyota Prius, Kia EV9 and Infiniti QX50.

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Video Transcript



GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We've got an awesome show because we have a brand new 2024 Dodge Charger. It's electric. And the worst kept secret perhaps in the car business, it also has a gasoline engine. That's the Hurricane straight-six.

We're going to talk about some other things like the Apple Car is dead. And perhaps could Apple look to Rivian for some synergies or partnership? That's a rumor that we've been looking at.

Lots of other kind of news and notes from the car business, including the Tesla Roadster and maybe some rumors about a VW Scirocco. We'll talk about the F1 season opener in Bahrain and then look ahead to this weekend's race in Saudi Arabia.

We've been driving the Prius all-wheel drive. News editor Joel Stocksdale took the Kia EV9 to Chicago and had a great drive to the Windy city. And I've been in the Infinity QX50. Of course, we are going to talk things Charger, though, right off the top because that's the big story.

And with that, I will bring in our news editor Joel Stocksdale. You saw this thing. It's pretty cool.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I really like it a lot. And most of the people that were at the background are with me seem to like it too. The reception that I've seen kind of online has been a little bit more mixed than I was expecting, to be honest. I've been seeing some people calling it a bit bland. But I don't know. I really like it.

I think it really channels a lot of the good points of the-- that'd be second-generation Charger, the, like, 6970 model. Just kind of long, lean, low. And it is quite long, looking at the specs. The two-door coupe version is longer than the current Charger sedan. And it's wider than the current Charger wide-body. So it's a big car.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, and I think that could really add to the-- you know, in some ways the throwback element to this. Like, this is-- it's a very, you know, car with gravitas. Let's put it that way. I'm with you, I like how it looks. I'm excited. I don't think when people-- more people see the car in real life, they're going to be perhaps as disappointed as some of the press pictures show.

When I was looking at especially like the sedan, that looks a lot like the natural evolution of the current Charger, which I think is a good thing. But I think some people also were really expecting that, like, '68, '69 Charger, like almost carbon copy of it. And I don't think they ever were going to do that.

So I think it's throwback enough to really make you think you're driving a Dodge Charger. But it's a modern look for a modern time. So yeah, I'm excited about it. Obviously, I can't wait to drive it. I think the Hurricane 6 is going to be sneaky good in some of the-- you know, some of these versions.

Why don't you give a really quick elevator pitch of what-- how it breaks down? So people know what they're getting here.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so for the first year, it will only be available as an electric and as a coupe.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And all of the electric versions are called Charger Daytona, whereas the gas-powered ones will be called Charger Six Pack, which is a throwback to the six-barrel carburated Chargers and Challengers of the '60s and '70s. Of course, in this case, it's referring to the fact that it will have six cylinders because it will only be available with the Hurricane twin-turbo 3-liter straight-six.

The electric versions, to start with, will be offered in RT and Scat Pack models, with the RT being the entry level version and the Scat Pack being the higher performance one. But both of them will technically have the same electric motors-- one front, one rear-- just different states of tune.

The RT generally will be making 456 horsepower and 404 pound-feet of torque. And the Scat Pack will be making 4-- 590 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. That's a little bit different for the first year. Because for the first year, they're kind of pumping up both of the two cars for the first kind of introduction model year.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: So the RT will actually be making 496 horsepower. And the Scat Hack will be making 670 horsepower. And next year is when the six pack will launch. It's also when the four-door sedan will launch.

And then sometime after both of those have released, we will be getting the SRT Banshee, which will be the like Hellcat of the group. We don't have really any details on that, except for the fact that it will be getting an 800-volt architecture battery pack. And that one will also have the two-speed transmission for the motors, whereas the broad selection of Charger Daytona electrics will be 400-volt battery architecture with single-speed transaxles.

And all the electrics will get a 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack with the RT getting a fairly impressive 317 miles of range and the Scat Pack getting about 260. They support DC fast charging. Oh, and for reference, the RT will have a 0 to 60 time of 4.7 seconds. And the Scat Pack will have one of 3.3 seconds. Scat Pack is also going to be able to do 11 second quarter mile times.

GREG MIGLIORE: Wow, OK. I think, you know, one of the big takeaways here for me is that they are essentially saying it's going to be electric for basically a year. And then if you want to get into the six cylinder, that will be there for you. So to me, it sort of reinforces the shift they made when they showed the Daytona concept. I guess it was '22, '23. It's '22.

And they said, hey, it's the end of the road for these Hemi V8s. It's the end of the road, sort of, for the Charger and Challenger, as you know it. We're going electric. But they never-- didn't say they wouldn't have a, you know, ICE powertrain at some point.

But they really were making that pivot to, you know, let their core buyers know, hey, it's going to be electric, and to perhaps attract some new buyers too, which I think there is some potential for that here. I think a lot of people will look at this-- I mean, the Dodge Charger has tremendous name recognition.

I think everybody when you hear those two words think muscle car. When you find out you could get one as an EV, that sort of redefines what it is in a way that, I think, is more-- has a broader appeal than, say, the Hummer. The Hummer, which was, you know, reborn as a-- an EV after its first life as a military vehicle then gas-guzzling civilian vehicle, I don't think that pivot has ever gotten it beyond sort of this, like, very niche luxury item because they're so expensive and so huge. Whereas this, based on the pricing and the segment, it's going to be much more widespread consumer product. And I think that's good.

But I think they also to really reposition this car, I think they were smart to go electric first. And I think you said that Tim Kuniskis, the CEO, had said, hey, we want to let our buyers sit with this, kind of marinate, get their brains around it. And, you know, you can still get your ICE-powered Charger. It's going to take, you know, a little while longer if that's what you want to do.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, he was saying that the concept was meant to look pretty much like the production one as part of that kind of plant. And, like, to announce the fact that it's going electric fairly early on before, it launches to kind of let people sort of get used to the idea.

And I mean, I still kind of think that people would have gotten used to it pretty quickly if they'd launched it even just a tad sooner. But even if it doesn't, then there's the backup of the six cylinder, which I also agree with you, I think the six cylinder will actually probably be a pretty sweet ride. The base six pack will make 420 horsepower. And the high-output one will be 550 horsepower, both of which are higher than like the 5.7 and 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that you can get in the Challenger right now.

So-- and the thing is that engine-- well, we'll see. It might be a little bit lighter than the V8, which might actually make it-- which might actually might help the kind of front end handling.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Yeah, that's a good point. I mean, when you think about the way the outgoing generation handled, these were old-school, heavy V8s in the front of the car. And of course, you could get rear wheel drive on them, which, you know, hey, I own an '06 Dodge Charger. I-- they could be a lot to handle. It's definitely an old-school dynamic, which can be a lot of fun. But there-- I think we can both agree, there's room for improvement when it came to refining the handling of Chargers and Challengers, so.

And it's-- to me, too, though, like, the variety is really impressive going with two- and four-door, EV and ICE. I mean, it's really the world is your oyster. However you want to-- whatever you want the Charger to be as an enthusiast, it's there for you at this point.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, as long as-- as long as you don't have to have a V8.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's true. That's a good point. What do you think about the Challenger? We-- nice little news piece there where we're like, well, where the hell is the Challenger? Kuniskis, again, didn't really say anything that would lead us to understand what would happen.

So here's something that I've not reported out at all. And I don't think this will happen. But let me throw this at you. You tell me how crazy I am. What if the Challenger just returned with somewhat retro styling maybe a little bit smaller? They use it on that same-- is it the STLA platform? And then they just make that the only V8 you could get.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Mhm, that'd be interesting. The--

GREG MIGLIORE: There's a problem with it that I know. But go ahead.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, it might be what I'm about to point out that I just don't know how much longer Chrysler is going to have V8s at all.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: Because it's been-- I mean, it's being phased out of the Ram. You can only get that with the Pentastar V6 or the Hurricane turbo 6. And it's been dropped from Challenger and Charger which have been discontinued. The older one, I mean. You're not going to be able to get Wrangler 392 either.

I think Durango might be the only thing that's-- you can still get a V8 in it because the wagoneers have gone straight-six only also. So I just don't know the Chrysler is just-- I don't think they're going to have a V8.

GREG MIGLIORE: That was my thought too. I believe there's some-- like, long-term, they need-- the engines are as efficient as they need to be, to be even, like, sold. There's going to be some challenges there. And of course, they're heavy as hell too. In a modern vehicle, it's not probably the right dynamic. But I don't know.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: But I think-- I mean, I feel like that's kind of the only niche, though, that would be left for the Challenger would be to go smaller than Charger. Not that that would be particularly difficult. Because as we just mentioned, the new Charger is huge.

The only thing, I guess, I kind of wonder and worry about is that the-- kind of the performance coupe segment is quite niche. And I feel like the Charger coupe will probably satisfy more or less--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --existing Challenger-- like, existing Challenger customers or, like, Challenger intenders because-- I mean, the current Challenger is effectively just a Charger coupe. They're not that worried about it necessarily being small and light and kind of sporty. They like the fact that it's a big, brawny muscle car of-- like, of old.

Plus, the-- there's a whole lot more competition for buyers in sort of the sportier segment because you've got-- at least for a little bit longer, you've got Mustang and Camaro. And then you also have competition from outside the US. You've got like Toyota Supra, Nissan Z, in some ways, even like GR Corolla Civic type R all kind of competing in that $30,000, $40,000 performance space.

So I could see it being a tricky spot to sort of engineer a whole other model that's different size and different layout and stuff. But I may also be kind of overestimating how difficult or expensive that would be. The STLA platforms are designed to be very modular and very scalable. And clearly, they're very flexible to be able to run both gas and electric powertrains.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I mean, it's-- I-- the only thing I think-- the more I think about this-- again, if-- it can't be like a V8 sort of special. The more I think about this is it seems like the Challenger is probably done for a while. It's just the two-door Charger is the Challenger as it always has been in its modern form.

I don't think there's like-- you know, when they did run concurrently back in, you know, 50 years ago, the car market was different. And right now you don't need two similarly styled heritage coupes competing with each other. You know, I think a two-door Charger is going to be a very compelling offering in a space where there's not a lot of EV coupes.

So I think they're going to be that unique proposition. And I also think anybody who wants a new Challenger is just going to be like, OK, maybe I wish there still was a Challenger. But I'm OK with getting a Charger. You know, I don't think there's many people that are going to get super fired up about, you know, when that's your option.

So yeah, I-- just the more I look at it, the more I don't know what they do with the Challenger nameplate. And I've asked-- I've had interviews with the head of Stellantis design over the years, Ralph Gilles. He's always a good interview at a car show. And I've asked him at least once. I remember saying, hey, what do you do with the Challenger after this?

Because there really only was one true, like, iconic generation from like '70 to, say, '74. And then you went out and made a carbon copy of it in the 2000s. You didn't really change it. And what do you do after that? Because you can either keep up the retro look-- which you certainly could do.

You know, look at the Porsche 911. It's just-- they slowly changed it over years-- or do something completely different. And he never really, frankly, gave me an answer to that because, obviously, at the time, they didn't know. And this was at least 15 years ago. And they've had the same car since then.

So it's clear there's no real answers publicly facing, anyway, for what you do with the Challenger, which, it's a great nameplate. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of it, like, as we live. But in the next near term, I don't see a path forward for it beyond that sort of high-output V8 special, which, again, I think if they could find a way to make the V8 work for a few years, maybe, you know?

But you can't just drop an even more powerful like Hurricane six in there and then do something different without cannibalizing the Charger. So I don't know, man. We'll see.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And something I will say, even though I feel like a business case might be tricky for like a smaller Challenger to kind of fit in somewhere, I think it'd be super cool if they gave it a shot because I love the idea of having kind of smaller, sportier American cars. In a lot of ways, I've kind of wished that there was something that slotted underneath like Mustang and Camaro.

Because I feel like in those cars, the turbo four-cylinder versions of those, I think, are way, way underrated as, like, affordable performance vehicles. And I kind of wish that there was somewhere that those powertrains could shine that weren't in the body and chassis of something where everybody is like, well, why didn't you get the V8 one because the V8 one is better? It's like, well, the four cylinder is lighter. And it's cheaper. And, like, don't have the extra $10,000 to buy the V8.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: But also, I know that part of the reason that Mustang and Camaro can exist is-- and can have, like, those other powertrains is because they can sell the, kind of, smaller engine ones to the people that just want the look and don't really care necessarily about having maximum performance or aren't as hung up about the sound.

Whereas, like, if Ford brought out something that was not Mustang but was still, like, rear-drive coupe and small, that's a whole new thing that they have to get-- they have to build brand awareness and convince people that are buying, like, little imports and things to give this new thing a chance. And it's a lot of work and effort and money and time. And that's not necessarily something that automakers have a whole lot of.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, then, you end up with the Ford Probe, which--


GREG MIGLIORE: --you know, might not be the-- which, actually, was in so many ways a better car than people remember it. Or maybe the-- some of the fans do remember how good it was. But for all of the business things that you laid out, it was very untenable for more than just a few years. I thought it was fun. I really did. I never drove one, but I rode in a couple of them. And that was cool, so.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And that was also-- and that came out in a time when people still bought coupes too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yes. That's the other thing here is there was a time when people still bought coupes. I don't think you need two of them like this in your lineup. So we'll see. I mean, then, there's always, like, when's the Viper going to come back too, you know? Which, again--

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, that's a whole other--

GREG MIGLIORE: --totally different thing.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: --thing. Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Totally different ball of wax. But assuming you can-- if you can't do a V8, you probably can't do a V10. So I mean, what in the name of Bob Lutz happens there? You just make this like electric hypercar, which, actually, that's probably the answer to the question. I don't know.

But on my list of things for Stellantis, I would actually put the Viper ahead of the Challenger because that would be something truly different than just a high-powered two-door Charger. It would truly be this like road legal race car that you could make it crazy electric and do all sorts of crazy things with it.

So yeah, I mean, I think we've hit the Charger pretty hard. Any other thoughts on this?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I don't know. I guess while we're kind of speculating on stuff that would be nice to see come out of Dodge, it would be nice to kind of see-- I don't know-- sort of a small, midsized sedan or hatchback of some sort. I mean, I know that the Hornet is there. But kind of feel like they could also use a little something else in there too, maybe something-- or maybe what I want is like a Hornet SRT or something. I don't know.

GREG MIGLIORE: That sounds fun.


GREG MIGLIORE: It's definitely a situation where, you know, they have some room in their lineups, just given how sort of like small, you know, the Dodge and Chrysler brands are. So we'll see how they tackle things in the coming year. And yeah, that's the Dodge Charger.

Let us know what you think. Get in the comments. Hit us up on Twitter and Facebook. We'd love to hear your reaction. I mean, it's new Dodge Charger. That doesn't happen all the time. It's a pretty big deal. Yeah.

So all right, let's move along. Some other news. This tends to veer a little more into, like, the techier side of things. But the Apple Car is officially dead. Bloomberg was among the first to report this.

I've seen some scuttlebutt that-- and this is specifically in a newsletter written by-- some of you guys might know who Reilly Brennan is. He used to work for actually "Aol Autos," a predecessor of "Autoblog." But he does a newsletter, I believe, out of Stanford. And he was speculating that maybe a Rivian tie-up might be something that Apple might look at.

So I don't know. I don't know if Tim Cook is in the market to go buy Rivian. It seems like that could be a little far fetched. But if they did want to get into the car space, I think Rivian is definitely an opportunity that a lot of OEMs, both car OEMs and other tech companies, might look at because they have compelling products.

We're going to see the R2S this week. So check that out. That should be on the site as you're listening to this podcast. And they do hit that, like, right blend of kind of like outdoorsy but electric trucks and SUVs. So I don't know. I mean, to unpack all of that, were you surprised? I wasn't surprised that Project Titan is gone as Apple called it.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, I forget which podcast was on that we were talking about this kind of stuff. And I was saying that I don't think Apple actually really wants to get into this business, I mean, if they fully-- if they fully understand what it takes because yeah, they're sitting on a monumental pile of money. But also, they didn't get to that monumental pile of money by making cars.

It's just-- it's a difficult, expensive business to get into. It's one that does not have big profit margins. It's one with loads and loads of regulation. It-- I mean, this just isn't a space that, really, I think that many tech companies actually want to if they fully understand what goes into it.

And I-- and I'm not surprised that Apple would be a company that would kind of-- that would be able to sort of understand sunk cost fallacy. Like, I mean, they've been working on-- there have been rumors about Apple working on a car for years and years at this point. And that is a lot of money to sink into it.

But also if there's going to be a company that's going to be like, you know, this just is not-- we could keep putting money into this, but we don't think it's ever really going to pay off. Like, they seem like a company that can be like, OK, we're going to bail on this because we really don't think it's going to make sense for us.

I think what would make far more sense for them is working on more of kind of of the software development side. And we've seen a little bit of that with kind of more expanded Apple CarPlay functionality being planned where it can be more integral to the car's system. It can display your instruments and things. And I know that there's some collaboration with like Porsche and Aston Martin in that regard.

So I mean, I wouldn't be surprised-- and I could totally see Rivian kind of getting on board with, like, hey, Apple, can you kind of work with us on some of this stuff? especially with how Android is-- or how Google and Android is getting into the vehicle software business, providing sort of the bones for automakers to build their infotainment systems on.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it-- to be clear, we're just kind of speculating on speculation here about Rivian and Apple. But I think the path you laid out could be a really strong selling point for, you know, an individual OEM, like, say, it was Rivian or even Honda or General Motors. And it's like your infotainment is powered by Apple, you know, in a different version of Apple CarPlay is a consumer that could be, again, a very strong selling point. If you get in and your Apple products just work seamlessly and the car itself has the-- you know, outward appearance of like an Apple product in the cabin, that sounds pretty good to me as an iPhone user.

So I could see where you could get some momentum there. I-- to your point, there's no way they want to buy a car company. And I think what they were trying to do was overly ambitious. You know, it's like-- it's sort of the-- you know, we see these very, again, aggressive maneuvers in the business world.

And car-- there's a reason that for a long time, we had, like, the same eight or nine car companies over the course of the 20th century and nobody else showed up with any sort of staying power. And now electrification has brought on this new age of start-ups and, you know, sort of mid-term growth for some of these companies as they mature.

But I mean, again, there's a reason that, you know, AT&T or General Electric or Target didn't just decide to start making cars at some point in, like, you know, 1996. It's really hard to do. And frankly, outside of the fact that Apple is, obviously, a brilliant company, there's no real expertise that they actually have in the car side of it, which, you know, that's something that I think they probably found out as you look at this, so.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, because, sure, they probably have expertise on the computer systems, batteries, things like that, a lot of the electrical things. But I mean, they would be needing to build up an entire workforce of engineers on, like, structural and safety handle-- I mean, just all the other things that actually make a car a car and not just another piece of consumer electronics.

GREG MIGLIORE: Ask Tesla how hard that is, right? So.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And Tesla is, like, still one of the few that has achieved any kind of level of success. And it took a while.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Because I mean, like, Rivian and Lucid both have really cool and great products. But I mean, they still face an uphill battle in becoming really profitable and sustainable and such, just because, I mean, cars are expensive to build. And I mean, you have to do solid volume even if you are selling like luxury vehicles to be able to recoup those costs.

Yeah, it's just-- it's complex and expensive and has unique knowledge bases. It's difficult. It's not-- and, like, I-- and I think I said this last time. Like, Apple probably could do it if they really, really committed. And because they have just an obscene pile of cash, they could probably do it without going under.

But I don't think that's their-- I don't think that's their kind of business. I don't think Apple shareholders would be too happy either with, like, burning monumental amounts of money on a business that might not be that profitable either.

GREG MIGLIORE: Right. Well, another company that's sort of learned that the hard way is Fisker. And Reuters is reporting that they might do a tie-up with Nissan, which could be a win-win for both sides. It could be a lose-lose for both sides too.

Nissan would get access to the platform that underpins the Fisker Alaska, which is a truck. Definitely a win-win for Nissan if Fisker gets to basically stay alive is a thing. So we'll see how this plays out. I actually think-- we've seen, like, Mercedes had a bit of a tie-up with Tesla in Tesla's early days. Mercedes and other examples had a tie-up with Aston Martin. Lower scales like, you know, low percentages of stock ownership, not full on partnerships, but some of these models can work.

So I think we'll see. Fisker has rolled out some pretty cool-looking, you know, products that may or may not ever happen. They've had some issues with some of the ones they have launched. This is the second iteration of Fisker. The original one was a Tesla rival, which went under in the mid-teens.

So, you know, they've definitely been an example of how challenging it is to be a, you know, EV start-up. And, you know, I-- sometimes I think when I look at these-- like, the established OEMs, it's like, why do you want to even really like sort of tie up with these start-ups? Do that-- like, you really think Nissan with all the money you have, you couldn't do this better if you put all of your resources into it than Fisker has done?

But maybe you want that kind of off-the-shelf solution. I don't know. Fisker's products have been cool. Maybe Nissan can get access to it and do it better. I don't know. It's kind of-- it's another kind of weird one.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, well-- and you kind of-- I agree with you, I just don't-- I just don't know that Fisker actually has anything that would be that beneficial to Nissan. I mean, sure, it seems like they have an electric pickup truck thing that might be roughly turnkey but also-- I mean, maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

I mean, Fisker has only just launched their first production vehicle. And they've got another one. They've got the pair that's planned. I mean, they've shown a couple of things that are not in production yet-- slated for production but not there yet.

And in a lot of ways, Nissan is actually probably in a better spot for EVs than any of the other Japanese automakers because they have a lot of years of experience. They've been building the Leaf for more than a decade now. And the Ariya has launched on its latest platform, which is significantly more up to date and competitive than the Leaf was. And it's a better overall kind of EV package than the Toyota BZ4X, I mean, from our experience. Like, it charges better. Seems to have better performance in general.

And so it's-- and, you know, Nissan has experience building trucks and things. I feel like there's no reason they couldn't adapt their platform for the Aria into some kind of little pickup of some sort. It seems completely reasonable, you know, if they feel like they see enough of a market there.

And surely, that couldn't be that much more difficult or expensive than, like, acquiring or-- a significant portion of Fisker. I don't know. It seems like-- it doesn't seem like the wisest move. It seems like it would be-- I feel like money would be better spent kind of invested in their own company at that point.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's-- I don't see a total, like, percentage, if you will, as how much they would own, nor do I think they-- and again, to your point, I don't think you want it-- like, OK, so you get the pickup truck. You build it in maybe Tennessee, let's say.

You get a Nissan version of it. Fisker gets to have the Alaska become a thing. Because right now, it doesn't seem like they have any real plan on how or where to actually build it. You know, again, Fisker gets to stay alive to fight another day.

But, you know, I-- it's a little tricky there because, OK, you're Fisker. You had this kind of unique electric pickup truck that ostensibly you could use to carve a niche in the market against a company like Nissan. But now Nissan has your truck, OK?

So what does that get you? Some early adopter that might be interested in something called a Fisker Alaska. Maybe. I don't know. And then you've got the fact that, you know, on the other hand, you're probably losing a good share of your independence. Maybe that's a good thing because, again, you're still alive, whether you're independent or not. I don't know.

We didn't really see a percentage of how much Nissan would get. We know Nissan's pretty comfortable as shown by their alliance with Renault as far as having sort of these, like, joint ownership situations. They're probably more comfortable than most OEMs are. But then on the other hand, you're Nissan. You really want to run Fisker? I would say, hell, no. So yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Kind of like what-- kind of like what James Riswick was saying last time on the podcast about with Honda Prologue being kind of GM stuff underneath. I mean, if Nissan builds its own thing, it's like, well, you know, they're standing by it. It's their own Nissan stuff where it's like, if it was a rebadged Alaska, well-- I mean, Fisker doesn't have really much of a reputation necessarily either way, whereas Nissan has some kind of decent reputation behind it.

I don't know. It-- I just don't really see much benefit for Nissan in trying to do much with Fisker. And I mean, I don't know. We've-- Fisker has already gone through one car company that didn't quite work out. Granted, you can still get-- you can still get a vehicle based on that old Fisker Karma because the company that came out of it, Karma Automotive, still sells-- they sold plug-in version-- a plug-in hybrid version of that for a while that was significantly updated. I drove one. And it was actually really nice.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And they just announced the full electric version of that still basically kind of the same car.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's definitely shown some staying power, far longer than the company itself, which is kind of cool. It's a beautiful car. It really was. Henrik Fisker knows how to design a car. There's no doubt about that, so. He even did some work originally on the Tesla Model S, which, you know, in a preview of the controversy we would see to come with all things Tesla, they sued each other because Elon Musk was like-- one of them said the other Stole their design.

And then Elon Musk kind of said, well, no, we did something-- you did do some work on the Model S. But we didn't end up really using it. This is our own thing. And, you know, it was this kind of weird little legal wrangle. But man, I guess it really was going to portend some of the drama that would come with Tesla.

But talking Tesla, let's run through a couple things here to close out the news section. Roadsters back next year, allegedly. Elon Musk, speaking of him, tweeted it out. He said it's going to be something you've never seen. It's barely even a car. Who knows what that means?

The pictures that we've been at least running make it look kind of like a Tesla Porsche. It seems like a pretty good thing to me. So I'm kind of cautiously optimistic about this one as an enthusiast.

I think the Roadster started it all for Tesla. It was a Lotus. Talk about partnerships. They had one with a company that knows how to design and engineer a pretty good chassis. Let's put it that way, for sure.

So I don't know. I think it would be a good time for Tesla to roll out the Roadster. I think a simple, fun to drive electric coupe would be a really good move for them. I think you've got the Cybertruck, which is all sorts of drama. I think you've got Elon Musk, who's all sorts of drama. I think the product lineups growing a little long in the tooth. I think just roll out a cool car. And that would be a really good elixir for Tesla.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I don't think it's going to be simple, though, because you know that Elon has been surely bugging engineers at all hours of the day, all days of the week to do ridiculous things to it. And I mean, I believe it's out when I see it. Cybertruck did. It has made it to production. That kind of surprised me a little bit. I was definitely a skeptic.

So Roadster totally can-- I mean, it can be a thing. But, like, Roadster was announced-- Roadster was announced and shown before Cybertruck. And I mean, we haven't-- as far as I know, we haven't even seen test mules running around. And we were seeing test mule Cybertrucks for a while before that came out. Like, we haven't-- I haven't seen anything of a Roadster prototype running around.

So I'll believe it when I see it. And I doubt that it will be any kind of just good and simple car. It's going to have all kinds of things that I'm sure will have like Tesla fans all excited and probably very stale kind of meme and internet joke, in-joke type stuff buried somewhere in the car. I don't know.

You can probably-- you can probably tell by the tone of my voice I'm talking about this that I'm also still a skeptic on this thing. But hey, it can happen. I mean, Cybertruck happened. So this can happen. I just--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well-- and actually, one thing I will say, it's not going to actually hit production next year. It's going to be a while still, I think, because when it comes to Musk and Tesla having any kind of-- like, saying anything about when something will be available, it's never on time. It's always late. Always late. Even like-- I've even seen like media from, like, sort of more positive Tesla fans talking about Elon time. Like, it's-- they're never on time.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know, I will-- so I'll give you-- I'll meet you halfway on that. You're 100% right on Elon time. But he made-- he tweeted this out in February. I bet we'll see this car in the next year because it's-- well, it's early March. That gives him like roughly what? 19 months, 22 months to show the thing.

So I bet you he shows it in the next year. And then maybe they build, like, five of them sort of like with the Cybertruck. But-- and by that, I mean they build, like, five of them on, like, December 31st, 2025. So maybe, you know? That's about playing as fast and loose with the definition of the next year and production as you possibly can. But I-- you know, maybe you could do that.

So I mean, he doesn't follow the rules of the SEC. I don't think this tweet is going to really handcuff him at all. So maybe an Audi TT electric could be more to your liking. We saw a report out of that. Audi is being much more cautious. They said-- this is the opposite of Elon time-- reportedly, in the next 5 to 10 years. So I guess to translate that, they might do one sometime in our lifetime.

And if you look at what Volkswagen Group is doing, we've also seen things of perhaps an electric Scirocco, which, I think, is a really cool possibility that would-- I think that would fit in really well with Volkswagen's approach to doing electric but also having this kind of throwback executions. I think that would be great, actually.

And to really just throw things into the soup, the Scirocco, perhaps, could pair up with like an electric Porsche based on sort of similar underpinnings. So that's a lot of electric sports cars from the Volkswagen Group, perhaps not as related as we'd like to splice them. I bet you two of the three of the-- I bet you, one out of the three of these happens. I'll go with that. And I think it's going to be the Porsche. Yeah.


GREG MIGLIORE: Let me qualify that in the next few years.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, Porsche has already confirmed, like, the next Boxster is electric.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And I think we've even seen like spy shots of those out testing. So I mean--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --that's definitely a thing that's going to happen. I think an electric TT would be superb. I think it would be just a fantastic match and-- for a couple of reasons. I-- for one, Audi has been doing a fair bit of electrified stuff and has a couple of electric cars on the market.

I feel like none of them have really particularly, like, grabbed attention and stood out. The e-tron GT that's based on the Taycan, I think looks great. And because it's basically a Taycan, if I-- I haven't gotten to drive one yet. But as far as I know, it drives superb.

I know that when-- now this is much more of a commentary on the driver as opposed to the car necessarily. But when I drove an Audi R8 at Laguna Seca last year, the lead follow laps-- the lead car was an Audi e-tron GT. Granted, it was being driven by a multi-Le Mans 24 hours champion.

So of course, I'm not going to be able to keep up no matter what he's driving. But still kind of a testament to the fact that that thing is quick. But I think it lives a little bit in the shadow of the Taycan that it's based on because the Porsche gets kind of the headlines and stuff.

And Audi's electric SUVs have just not, like, super stood out. I mean, they've-- they just kind of look like other Audis. Nothing super special. So I think to have something that would be kind of an accessible halo vehicle like a TT and have it electric, I think, would be great.

And the TT has always been a super striking-looking car that kind of showcases what Audi can really do when they have an opportunity to kind of be a bit bold. And I think that would be a great way for them to highlight their electric vehicles, their styling to have something that really kind of grabs attention.

And also because the TT has never been like a-- like, it's always been a little bit more style forward as opposed to necessarily performance forward. And I think that can work to their advantage with electric power. Because being electric, you're fighting with lots of weight. And that's a really tricky thing.

And so with the TT, I mean, you don't necessarily have the super, super high driving dynamic and performance bar that, like, the electric Boxster is going to have to hold up to. And I like-- this kind of sounds like it's a dig at the TT. I really don't mean it that way because I think that there is a place for a cool-looking coupe that is maybe not ultimate performance but is still lots of fun and solid performance.

I think this could be a really good little niche vehicle to showcase Audi's electrification and to kind of get them some attention, get some showroom traffic. And also without necessarily having a super, super high performance bar, it could potentially also be a little bit more affordable to develop because, again, you're not necessarily having to go, like, super high tech, super advanced materials and things.

GREG MIGLIORE: Very well said. I think that's the perfect way to state the mission of the TT. I mean, I-- driving the TT has always been, I think, a very memorable experience. And to your point, having at it a more accessible price point than things like the R8 that populate or have populated Audi's portfolio, I think that's great.

It gives the TT a real business case and a reason to exist, which, you know, unlike some of these other potential electric coupes like Challenger or something, they don't have that clear business case, where, like what you said, and what I believe, I think it would really be good for Audi and good for enthusiasts.

I mean, the design is always, I think, been so designed forward. It seems like they've been able to take risks with the TT that they haven't some of their other cars. I mean, I could literally off the top of my head think of three or four times I drove a TT and found it memorable.

Once in Spain on a track, it was the five-cylinder turbo. I mean, of course, that was memorable. But also I remember like 10 years ago, at least just driving one home and writing this long flowery driver's notes package on it, just because it was so much fun. I drove one up North to a Tech of the Year.

I mean, to me, it's a car that really stayed with me. So I think a lot of people also have that kind of experience. And I hope they do it quicker than 5 to 10 years as our headline states. I hope they-- you know, let's not be on Elon time with that one, so.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And as for VW Scirocco, that, I think, would be a little bit hard to do because one of the advantages that the Audi-- like, if it was kind of an Audi thing is that Audi can charge kind of higher prices that can kind of cover the development and cost of electric powertrains. Volkswagen doesn't have that luxury, which has been proven multiple times with, like, Phaethon and with Arteon, which kind of has Audi prices and Audi styling. But it's got a VW badge.

And I think Scirocco would kind of fall into that potential problem, especially the other thing is, yeah, there are car enthusiasts that, like, remember Scirocco and Corrado fondly and think they're cool. But a lot of people probably don't even remember that any of those existed.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's a good point.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And kind of the performance of VW fan base is all about GTI--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --and like Jetta GLI. So really, I think for VW, it would make much more sense to just do an electric GTI, you know, like the id2 GTI concept that they showed in Munich last year, which looks totally cool. And when I saw it, didn't seem all that small and, I think, should be sold in the US where people still buy GTIs and Golf Rs even if the regular golf isn't sold here because people like that car a lot and are willing to pay a little bit of a premium, not Audi premium, but a little bit of a premium for it.

I'm trying to say here, if anybody from VW is listening, give us the id2 GTI, please, and thank you because--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --I think it would genuinely work. And that would make much more sense than, I think, an electric Scirocco.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, well, what do you think of the-- we'll segue over here to the-- one of the latest consumer reports studies with the five worst car brands. Basically, what we did was we kind of curated the ones at the bottom of their most recent list. And in-- well, I will say this particular order, number 30 is Rivian, 31 GMC, 32 Jaguar, 33 Land Rover, 34 is Jeep. We also had VW Maserati, Alfa, and Mercedes were near the bottom of this list.

So this is coming off of their, like, most recommended cars for 2024, all of that sort of related content. So what do you make of this list?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so I was a little bit surprised to see GMC and Jeep on there--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --in part because, well, GMC, so much of their lineup was just other GM products.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And so it seems a little bit odd that they would be far down there. I sort of wonder if some of the problems may be related to the Hummer being a very new and very tech-focused vehicle that has a lot of things that could potentially go wrong, especially being a completely new clean sheet vehicle that hasn't had a lot of time to have like bugs and stuff worked out.

So I kind of wonder if that may be what helped-- what brought GMC down. As for Jeep, I don't know. I mean, because a lot--

GREG MIGLIORE: There's a head-scratcher.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Because a lot of the vehicles have been around quite a while. And, you know, usually with that comes sort of improved reliability because little issues that might not have been found when the car was initially developed and first launched have had a chance to be kind of ironed out. So not quite sure what's going on there.

You know, cliches come about for a reason, which is kind of my lead in to Jaguar and Land Rover, which I kind of feel bad about because I mean, I like a lot of their vehicles. But apparently they're still struggling a little bit on that quality front.

I still think it's really funny that years ago, we had a diesel Jaguar XE long termer. And that thing was completely problem free. And that never gave us any trouble. Not-- nothing that wasn't brought on by some outside force that would have caused a problem for any car that it had been-- that thing was actually quite dependable. But that may have been a fluke. I don't know.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. One thing that stands out here real quick is Rivian does have kind of a weird infotainment system. Some of the controls are kind of weird. So sometimes stuff like that can sort of knock you on these lists.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, and Rivian also, they're still really new to the car business. And their vehicles are very new. And so again, it's kind of like there just hasn't been the time there to kind of iron out all the wrinkles necessarily.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. All right. So now let's segue over to some impressions from Bahrain from the season opener-- the season opener of Formula One. OK, let's make a pit stop into the world of F1 where it's super chill. There's nothing going on there with road test editor Zac Palmer. He and Jeremy Korzeniewski are perhaps our two biggest F1 fans here.

So we're going to try to make this an occasional segment around F1 news and notes and what's going on in that world. And of course, with the season opener in Bahrain, I mean, it's a great time to really kick things off. So I watched the race. I was even making some notes during it I. Thought it was actually a fairly decent race. It was entertaining. What were some of your impressions?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, you know, I thought it was quite entertaining if you sort of just ignored Max out there in first, sort of like how we had to do for the past year and a half here. But no, like, the fight for second, third, fourth-- like, most of the top 10, it was fairly competitive.

And honestly, some of the biggest controversies from the race were even further down the field. I thought that the little team maneuvering with Racing Bulls with Yuki Tsunoda and Danny Ric was quite the move at the end. I know-- I mean, just watching Yuki Tsunoda really go after Danny Ricciardo in one of the corners on the cool down lap in anger afterwards, that was one of the biggest story lines for me, honestly.

Because I was really actually looking at Racing Bulls to be pretty competitive this year because, apparently, just racing the Red Bull RB19 from last year is what a lot of people have sort of surmised from looking at their car. But they didn't even make the top 10. But they're still, like, super, super mad at each other, fighting over 12th and 13th and 14th.

So I don't know. Just like you said, it was a pretty entertaining race. And I mean, it's like every first F1 weekend, I think. Like, you're like-- there's that anticipation like, who's going to be where? Who's going to be where? In the end, I think it was a lot like last year, honestly. You got the Red Bulls, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren in sort of that order, so. But I think there's the opportunity for a lot of change as the year goes on.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, I think, you know, early on the Ferraris passing each other in some of the early laps, that was made for an interesting sort of start. And I think you saw little moments like that throughout the race that kept me interested. It almost reminded me a little bit of sort of a good IndyCar race, where you saw, it's a little less of like a parade, you know, lap, it seems like, as we sometimes saw last season during a lot of F1 races.

Max looks equally dominant. 22 seconds, I think, was the margin of victory, something like that, which-- I mean, I think it was last year he won by like 10 seconds. Just going back and look at some stuff. So I mean, is it possible he's even getting faster? I mean, that car is just-- I think it's pretty obvious, unless something bizarre happens, which we might want to talk about here a little bit with Red Bull. They're just going to run away with it.

So-- and even that, though, the car, the drivers, they're-- that's not going to change. But I mean, you know, kind of a side note here, what the hell is going on with Christian Horner? Just looking at all the drama and then, you know, it-- that manifesto that got sent around to the teams and some members of the press right beforehand. I mean, crazy stuff.

You know, he's been in charged there for 20 years. And sometimes it seems like he's like iconic figures. They're not exactly who we thought we are. But we don't-- you know, obviously, I don't have any insight into what's going on here. But it's getting kind of weird.

Jim Farley, who's the CEO of Ford-- and they have this engine deal that's about to come to fruition. And I mean, even-- like, he put out a statement, which is super kind of weird just to the world of, like, the car business as we know it. I don't know, man. So that's going to be, I think, a subplot, for sure.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, it's a super, super weird time at Red Bull right now. You've got so many big forces at play kind of really battling against each other almost. Like, you got Christian Horner who is saying almost nothing publicly, it seems like. I have not seen many statements at all from him other than, well, everything's OK.

And then you got Jos Verstappen going back there like saying, hey, Max could just go to Mercedes. Like-- and it's like, what? Where did that come from? And then, you know, you're looking at the-- you know, can Max escape his contract? And there's some clause in there that if Helmut Marko leaves, then it's like, OK, well, Max can ditch whenever he feels like it.

And then Max is saying things like, well, you know, I've already accomplished more than I could have ever achieved. And, you know, so I don't necessarily need to stay, which is wild to hear. You normally-- I feel like I never hear an F1 driver say, well, that's enough world championships for me, actually. I can just go do whatever I want and have fun at another team.

And yeah just all of the rumor mill back and forth, like, it's getting to the point where like, all right, you read something new. And it's like, do I actually believe this? Should I believe this? Like, where's this information coming from? Who is the one leaking it?

I just feel like they're all sort of backstabbing each other at this point. I mean, one of the weirdest ones that I saw-- I want to say it was like yesterday or two days ago-- was that, apparently, Christian Horner was trying to manufacture like a buyout of the F1 team to try and own the team itself. And then, of course, if he owns a team, well, then he can sort of stay on as the leader and team principal.

But man, yeah, it is a wild, wild world down there. And I don't really know where the end of it lies because I feel like we're still at the beginning. I don't know if F1 is going to launch any inquiries. They've been hesitant to do so so far.

But yeah, it is-- they might be the fastest car on the grid and winning races. But things do not seem well in the Red Bull garage right now at all.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No, it's going to be-- I think that could be a season-long drama. And I mean, you even go back and look at some of the things where the-- he was apparently-- this is more scuttlebutt.

But one report I read was he was going to step down. And then he was like, oh, no, I'm not doing that. And he, like, lawyered up, I think. And Red Bull backed down. They said he was going to step away for health reasons, which probably nobody would have believed--


GREG MIGLIORE: --given the way it's all played out. But it sounded like it would have been slightly less inflammatory than the way this is played out. So on the other hand, he wouldn't be the Red Bull principal anymore.

So my sense is he's just like-- F1 is always kind of a dumpster fire when it comes to drama. It sounds like he just thinks he could weather it in a couple of years. You know, no one will remember this if Red Bull keeps winning. And, you know, he may or may not be right on that front. We'll see.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I mean, he's been super pivotal to their success so far. I mean, he has been through them for all of the world championships. You go back to the start of Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel. And then they had a sort of a downtime. And now they're right back at the top with Max.

So I don't really know what it would mean to lose him, how-- I mean, obviously, he's important because he has been like the figure that has stuck by them-- him and Adrian Newey for the most part. But yeah, just-- I don't know. I just-- what I do know is that I'm guessing we're going to be talking about this for a little while longer, subsequent podcasts.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

ZAC PALMER: Whatever new is coming up.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, when you look at, just to your point, how instrumental he has been to their success-- you know, I read somewhere that they are either tied or just moved ahead of Williams, who's been racing a lot longer for Grand--


GREG MIGLIORE: --Prix victories. So that's kind of stunning. You know, they've really been just this shooting star for the last 20 years. But it's hard to say, so.

But overall, I kind of-- I thought it was a good event to go back to the race a little bit like sort of like the Saturday night, you know, viewing. It was cool, I thought, you know? And I think a night race to kick things off.

It was a little bit different than the usual is Americans sort of brunch with Formula One we would do. But, you know, the night race was a good spectacle. It was good for TV. The circuit, I think, is-- the 50-- it's 57 laps. I think they have a nice layout there, it seems to be. It's loopy. There's a lot of Esses to be a little, you know, just very colloquial about it. But it-- it's a good circuit.

It's a good way to kick off the Formula One season too. I think some sports don't necessarily get into their opener as well as they could. And I think this is a good venue for Formula One too. It got me into it.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, you know, the one key thing, I guess, about that track for me is that there is passing. So like--


ZAC PALMER: --if-- you know, if the opportunity presents itself, like, people can make moves. And they didn't necessarily just make moves on the straights and under DRS. There were some other sneaky spots that some of the drivers were able to make work. And, you know, it's, obviously, not like a NASCAR race or something like that, where you've got overtaking every other lap.

But, you know, they-- I pretty much stayed entertained throughout, you know, seeing backmarkers, midfielders actually fighting it out. The one man-- to talk about, like a low light, Alpine.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, man, their designers quit, right? Like--

ZAC PALMER: That-- yeah, that feels like another massive drama point from this first race-- massive attrition from that team. All of the people pretty much in charge of that car, like, after they saw how slow it was and how bad it was just quit, which is, man, that is-- that was not a good sign.

Alpine, they actually had, like, a huge feature in "Drive to Survive" for this most recent season and, you know, that they fired Otmar Szafnauer halfway through the season last year, which is sort of unheard of for a technical director to fire them partway through-- but they have slid so far backwards.

Like, they were a team that was consistently getting top 10s last year, the season before. Like, they had Fernando Alonso. Things were looking good. And now, like, they are last, last. Like, they were way off the pace in qualifying. And it was not much better in the race.

The only reason that they, I think, didn't finish dead last was problems from Bottas and also problems from Logan Sargent. But I think that they had, by and large, the slowest car for pace on the grid, which-- that is-- that's another huge backslide.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, makes you wonder when you think about, like, you know, F1's response to the Andretti Cadillac team. Like, really-- you don't think they could have maybe edged out Alpine next year for some of this? Like, I don't know. More drama. But--

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I mean, Alpine's even slower than Haas right now, which is an accomplishment as far as I'm concerned because Haas was saying preseason-- they're like, well, we think we're pretty much going to be last was what-- if you read between the lines, what they were saying. And Alpine has outlasted them, so to speak.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know, that's always interesting-- when teams that, like, you know, in any sport, you know they've basically given up. And then they somehow are better than teams that ostensibly are trying harder. It's kind of--


GREG MIGLIORE: --a weird dynamic. So looking ahead, by the time this podcast drops, we will have already seen qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that is running this weekend on the Jeddah Street Circuit. Different course. I think we'll see less passing likely. There's a lot of long straightaways. And then, you know, kind of-- it's tighter corners, if you will.

It's not quite as conducive to some of the things we might have seen this past weekend. But let's assume Max is going to hold serve. Ferrari did look pretty good this weekend. So I think, you know, they're probably going to be right in there for the rest of the season. Looking forward to this race. It's-- you know, it's-- we have a good calendar coming up here with F1.

Like I said, they have a good start to the season. Because then, there's a week off. Then they go to Melbourne, which I think is always a cool race; and then Suzuka, which is-- I actually had the privilege of driving on that course about 10, 15 years ago very slowly. It was part of a Honda trip. And I think I was driving a right-hand drive, like, car or something. So that-- a lot of cool venues coming up. And pretty excited. Any thoughts about this weekend here?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I mean, I'm excited that it's like another Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon race.


ZAC PALMER: So if you're setting your DVR, don't forget it is a Saturday race--


ZAC PALMER: --not a Sunday race, just like last weekend. No, I'm excited for that. But honestly, even more excited for the ones that follow. Like you said there, like, the Japanese Grand Prix has been right at the end of the season here as of late. And the fact that it's moving up is actually pretty cool. Because, like the past couple times we've run it, championship has already been decided. Felt like some of the stakes were a little lower. But now we're getting it right at the start.

So I don't know. And like you said, fantastic track, probably one of my dream tracks to ever go to and see. Yeah. No, it's going to be a really cool start. And it looks like the Chinese Grand Prix is actually going to happen this year, which is also-- I don't know-- just somewhat of an intriguing side note because it's been canceled for the past three years due to COVID.

So the-- I guess F1 is going to be back in China so as long as they don't cancel it at the last second. I don't see them doing that this year. But hey, we're-- it's-- I feel like it's been forever since I've seen that race. I don't even remember what it's like. So--


ZAC PALMER: --I'm excited to see that one too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's going to be cool. You go-- then you go straight from there to Miami, where, hopefully, maybe we'll have an "Autoblog" staffer. We're working on that. So we'll see.

ZAC PALMER: We'll see.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's going to be a good start to the season. All right. So that's all we have for Formula One. So thanks, again, Zac. Let's talk about what we've been driving. Back to you here, Joel. You've been in the Prius all-wheel drive, which is definitely an interesting car, the Prius and Prius Prime one, North American Car of the Year most recently.

That was, you know, I think a car that kind of has captured that zeitgeist right now as we transition to more electric vehicles. But a lot of people like hybrids and plug-ins. And the Prius really is a vehicle that's of the moment. So what did you do with this Prius all-wheel drive? I should reiterate.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I didn't really do anything too crazy with it. Mostly just kind of running around town, a little bit of Interstate driving. And this was the first time I'd finally gotten into the new Prius. And I've been-- and like, looking at the specs, I've been extremely interested because I mean, it's styled cool. It makes around 200 horsepower now, which is, like, you know, actual power.

And from everything I've heard, it handles a lot better. And it's all true. It's-- I actually quite like it. This is the first time I've driven a Prius and was like, I really quite liked this. It's, I think, pretty safe to say the best Prius yet.

It's got surprisingly kind of firm and sporty suspension. It has some actual get up and go. Again, it looks cool. Surprisingly, the seating position is lower than our long-term Subaru WRX. It was kind of funny hopping out of our WRX into the Prius. I was like, oh, wow, I kind of had to drop down into this thing a little bit. That's-- and that's a bizarre thing to say about a Prius.

GREG MIGLIORE: Really has that sporting-- sporty sort of driving feel position. You know, you really get into it. And you feel low to the ground. And the way the steering wheel is set up and the visibility, it's unexpected. Let's put it that way.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, and, you know, it's a stiff chassis. Like, there are some things that I would maybe change if I was going to make it sportier. But all in all, it was pretty nice. I do still have complaints about the powertrain.

I really, really would like to see Toyota work on their engine refinement. The Prius is still really loud and coarse when that engine is really getting pushed. And to fully access the, like, roughly 200 horsepower, you do have to have that gas engine going.

And it's funny. That engine makes the car feel slower than it is. There were times that I was getting on an on-ramp. I just hear that engine wind up. And it's like, oh, boy, that's really struggling. But-- it's really struggling. But then I look at the speedometer. And it's like, oh, wow, I'm already up to speed. So I was actually going quicker than I thought. It's kind of a weird thing.

And much as I love the styling, there are a couple of downsides. One of them being that you do kind of get some blind spots forward because of those really long pillars. And the cargo area is-- it's still plenty usable. But it is a bit shallow to kind of accommodate the roofline and kind of the relatively high floor. So cargo space isn't quite as good as I'd like it to be.

But on the whole, it's far and away like the best Prius ever. And it's something that, like-- is something that would be enjoyable and appealing for somebody-- anybody that isn't just seeking absolute maximum fuel economy, which I think was kind of the case for the Prius previously was like, the only people that are going to really enjoy this are the people that just want sheer efficiency at, like, all cost. Whereas now, it's also actually an enjoyable car that's efficient.

GREG MIGLIORE: I agree. I drove one fairly recently the last few months. The hatch is cavernous. You could put a ton of stuff back there for a car of this size. I think it looks good, like really good, not just Prius good. But it's, I think, objectively, a very attractive car.

It-- again, I agree with you on that seating position. Unexpected sort of surprise and delight. I still have some issues with Toyota's infotainment setup. That's not totally unique to the Prius, though. I liked it. I think it's a really good Prius, perhaps, like you said, the best ever.

Let's talk about the EV9, which actually was the SUV of the Year from NACTOY. And it is another one I drove right around that same time as I think back to my car loans of late fall, early winter. I really liked it.

I actually voted for it for SUV of the Year since we're talking about that, I thought just the range is so impressive. The design is something different. I think they could have easily done an electric telluride and probably had a home on their hands, but they went different.

And I think that was inspired with some of the elements that they were able to execute. But you drove to Chicago and won. And I think we're all kind of curious how the charging would go. And how did it go? How was your trip?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, as the headline suggests on the main story, it went flawlessly. It was--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --really easy. I-- when I first got the car, I had to run my dog down to kind of south side of Toledo to drop him off with my parents. And so before I headed out to Chicago, needed to charge it up the night before. And I took it over to my local Meijer that has some EVgo chargers.

And it worked exactly the way it needed to. I pulled it in. I plugged it in. I swiped my credit card. And it started charging. I went inside. I did some grocery shopping, came back out, and it was pretty much up to where it needed to be.

I was like, awesome, this is exactly how it's supposed to go. And for the trip, I had, I mean, a little bit of anxiety because, you know, it's been a while since I've done a long drive in an EV. And this wasn't a Tesla.

But also at the same time, I was also kind of feeling-- so, like, I knew I needed to do just a little bit of planning. But I was also thinking along the lines of like, I kind of want to try and do this with as little thought and planning as possible because I want to see-- because I mean, I feel like that's how things are with a gas vehicle where, I mean, yeah, you're kind of planning where you're going to go. But you're not planning based on necessarily where you're going to, like, refuel and things. That is all pretty much just-- you know, you'll do it when you need to do it.

We're not quite there yet on EVs. So what I did, I popped open PlugShare to find kind of where I would find a station somewhere along the way to recharge. Because the drive to Chicago for me is about 290 miles, which is about 20 miles more than the estimated range for the EV9 long range all-wheel drive.

So I knew I'd have to recharge somewhere. And I found-- and what's nice with PlugShare is that you can filter by charging speeds and networks and things. So-- and since I didn't have a Tesla adapter with me, ruled that out and also was looking just for like DC fast charging stations and found an Electrify America in Michigan City, Indiana.

Was like, OK, I'll just-- because that was pretty much right on my route. So I figured I'll just route to that. And that's what I did. I just punched that into my Apple Maps. I didn't worry about like the car trying to set up a route for me or anything.

And I just kind of trusted that it was going to work because I mean, that's how it is with a gas car. Like, you-- you're not thinking-- you're not trying to come up with backup locations for getting gasoline. It's like, you just--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: They work. I don't necessarily recommend this to most EV people because this was an exception. But again, I got to Michigan City. And I had less than 10% left on the battery.

So I was cutting it kind of close. And I get there. And it looks like all the chargers are working. And I pull in. I plug in. I swipe my card. And it starts going. And again, I just went into Meijer. I got a couple of groceries and things to bring with me to my hotel in Chicago when I got there. Because that's something you can do when you're driving a car instead of flying.

And yeah, it was super easy. When I got to my hotel in Chicago, they did not have any level 2 chargers in the parking garage, which was a little bit disappointing. But there were 120-volt outlets, just household outlets. And because the EV9 comes with the household charger, I just plug that in. And I wasn't going-- and I wasn't needing to drive anywhere while I was in Chicago. So I just left it plugged in for a day or two. And it was more or less charged up.

So then I was able to leave with a full charge without having to stop somewhere. And that left me with my final stop at a Ohio turnpike service area. And again, same experience as the last two places where plug in, swipe card, go.

So I didn't have to fumble with any apps which is one of my biggest bugbears. It's like, again, going back to the gasoline analogy, I don't have to sign up for apps with Shell, Marathon, Mobile, BP, et cetera to use their gas pumps. I have a card that lets-- I have one card that universally lets me buy stuff anywhere. Like, that's how it should be.

And before anybody brings up the, like, plug and charge thing, yes, that can be kind of nice. But it still requires you initially to, like, sign up your car to that network and things. And so it's like, you're still having to go through these apps, especially if it's kind of your first time through. And it's like, again, I should just be able to plug in and swipe and be done. We've had this figured out with gas pumps-- with gas pumps. It's like, this just works. Don't have to make it any more complicated.

And I also kind of bring this up because there have been a lot of times that I've come to electric chargers where the credit card reader just isn't working. So I have to use an app. And that's really annoying to me. And that's like an extra bonus step where I get out, find out that the reader doesn't work.

And so I've got-- so that's like a couple of minutes of my time that I could have been charging or doing something else wasted. So-- and that's why I kind of bring that up.

GREG MIGLIORE: I completely agree with you on that. Just side note there. It's almost like they try to overthink-- make something-- they made it more complicated than they should have. They shouldn't-- you should be able to drive and swipe and plug in.


GREG MIGLIORE: That's how it should be. And if you want to have the app like maybe you live in an area where there's a certain brand of chargers is more prevalent than the others, a certain network, sure, get on the app. But it should be exactly as easy as getting gas if you want it to be.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And what take away from this, first off, was that it's great to see that I was able to do this without really any hassle. Like, it is possible. And I totally admit that it is a little bit of a fluke in a lot of ways because there are still charging problems all over the place. But we are getting there. And it is possible. And like, it's a feature that I think is going to be good.

And one of the other things that I took away from this was that every time that I had to stop, I-- charging did take probably like 30 minutes to 45 minutes. And yeah, that's a lot longer than filling up a gas vehicle. But each time, it didn't feel very long.

And I realized that a big part of that was that I didn't have to be, like, by the car the whole time. I could go and do other things that I would probably do when I'm stopping at a gas station. Like, I can go in and use the bathroom. I can get snacks. And all of that kind takes up time. But now you're doing all of that while the vehicle is also refueling.

If you're at a gas station, you're spending like 5 to 10 minutes gassing it up. And you have to be there because you cannot leave a gas pump unattended. That's not safe at all. So that's like 5 to 10 minutes of the gas pump and then 5 to 10 minutes going inside, like, using the bathroom and then 5 to 10 minutes getting a snack. And that all adds up to probably, you know, 15 minutes to half an hour.

So, like, an extra 15 minutes overall charging your vehicle, not that big a deal. And even, like, if I didn't have to go in and get a snack or something, I could also just take a nap or something, which on, like, a long road trip is something that I often do in my gas vehicles. And the EV9 has the great feature where when you're parked, it's got, like, the full reclined seat with the pop-out leg rests. So you can actually get really comfy in it.

So I kind of feel like we're actually quite close to having useful EV networks where, like, it's really not that big a deal to drive an EV that far of a distance or even necessarily with, like, massive, massive range. Because the EV9, it's 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which is large, but not like the 200 kilowatt hours in, like, a Hummer EV or some of the other big packs and some of the German luxury cars with huge range.

I think we're closer than we might kind of think. We do need more locations. And I think even more importantly, we need better dependability--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: --because that's the real key thing, where it's like, I was cutting it close in Michigan city. Like, If those chargers weren't working, I was going to have a problem because I didn't leave much in reserve to go to another place.

But I mean, like, if we can get dependability nailed first and then just kind of add to-- like, add more locations, I think we're actually a lot closer than we think.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think that's a good point. I think your trip really illustrates that. I think you did a lot of planning. But I think you also got a little lucky, you know, too with just things working. And I think that's-- unfortunately, I think you got to really have the luck element, to your point, the reliability. That needs to be as little as possible for people to feel comfortable with EVs, so.

Actually, Kia just announced today another round of discounts on the EV9. So it's a great opportunity to buy one. We seem to be in a little bit of a valley for EV prices with all sorts of companies offering discounts. Some of it's related to the changing tax rules. But also some of them are just offering price cuts. So EV9 is a great SUV if you're looking to go electric.

So I guess we'll close things out with my time in the Infiniti QX50. This is the autograph version, all-wheel drive. Mine came in at just under 62 grand and had the turbocharged VC. It's a four-cylinder, 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque with all-season tires and all-wheel drive.

So it was a great thing to run around in here in the, I'd say, late winter, early spring as we get into it. I had a fair amount of likes and dislikes. One, like, just as I break it down, likes, I like the styling. I don't think everybody will.

To me, Infiniti is kind of in this era of, like, where do they fit? You know, do you want this? Do you want a Genesis? Do you want maybe pay a little bit more and get like a Mercedes? It's sort of becomes this thing where it's a good-looking vehicle. But I still think Infiniti suffers from a lack of brand recognition, you know, what is it? Is it speakers? Is it, you know, like a hedge fund?

People don't really necessarily know what it is. It's definitely a vague idea of a car company, which, what 30, 40 years on, I think, is still a challenge. I think it's certain parts of the United States have probably a stronger recognition, not as much in the Midwest, but perhaps more so on the coasts. That's kind of be speculating.

But again, you know, I drove it around. People would look at it. Like, that's a nice crossover. But I mean, it doesn't give you that same sort of vibe as pulling up with four rings on your car, you know, or the BMW roundel or Mercedes star.

So yeah, that's a tricky thing. Like, you like how it looks, but you're not really getting that kind of like necessarily prestige that you might expect for a $62,000 compact crossover. Very nice interior, though, you know, very attractive in there. Good place to spend time.

I like the VC-Turbo engine. We actually tested it as part of our Tech of the Year back when they launched it. This is probably seven-ish years ago, somewhere in there. I think it's a really creative approach to engineering. And, you know, it's a spunky turbo, all those kind of cliched ways you can describe a turbo 4. But I thought it was pretty fun to drive in that sense.

Infiniti has kind of had, you know different-- they've paid attention to steering. They were really getting it to by wire steering for a while, which didn't necessarily go great. Side note, I tested one of those with Sebastian Vettel on a track somewhere in Kentucky when they were really trying to show off the merits of the steering prowess.

Decent chassis, tuning, nothing really to stand out. But I just-- to kind of bring this together, if you love Infinitis and you love how this thing looks, sure, go for it. They start, I think, in the low to mid-40s. So you don't have to get the autograph with all the stuff on it like we did.

But when I look at the field, there's just so many other things, you know, including like the X3 or the GLC, you know, for starters, that I think I would say, you probably want to look there first. And if you're just looking for a cool-looking compact crossover, you don't necessarily have to step up to a prestige brand or aspiring challenger prestige brand.

In fact, you might be better off just looking at it like a-- you know, a Volvo, which is prestige but isn't necessarily trying to be. You know, I'm really splintering the marketing budgets here. Or just stick with a Ford or a Honda or something. So I don't know. Have you driven any Infinities lately?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Not lately. But I've driven both the QX50 and the coupe-like QX55.


JOEL STOCKSDALE: And fantastic interiors especially, like, at the high end. Like, really nice materials. Like, really cool colors and just looks and feels really nice. And from the outside, it's a handsome vehicle. I think the coupe actually looks quite good.

But driving wise, I just-- just very bland I think at best is kind of how I would describe it, if not a little bit kind of-- I don't know. A little bit soft and uninspired at worst. I don't know. I've-- I haven't been a huge fan of-- I mean, in some ways, it can be a decent deal if you get kind of like a more affordable one. And it's got good space. But I don't know how much-- how important that is in this particular segment where, you know, things are kind of expensive. And I mean--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I'd agree with you on that. I think you summed it up very well.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And, like, the VC-Turbo's really cool technology. But it's also being applied in a way that's not particularly exciting or interesting. And actually, to be totally honest, I think the three-cylinder version of it that's in the Rogue, my recollection was that that was actually a little bit more refined than the four cylinder in the QX55 and QX50. So yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: You don't get as-- you don't get as good a fuel economy as you might think either. It's like--


GREG MIGLIORE: --22 city and 28 highway, which-- it's not great.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And it's not necessarily something that you couldn't get with something that didn't have the fancy variable compression system. So yeah, it's a little bit odd. It's something that I kind of feel like should be a lot better. And it has the added problem of being in a very crowded segment that's very competitive.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I agree with that. And that's where I come-- where I landed is it's very nice. But there's just so many other things that are either better values or, you know, arguably more prestigious. You can get a lot of different things for 62 grand. And you probably should.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. And even like different powertrains, like, you can get plug-in hybrid-- like, good plug-in hybrids from like Lincoln and Volvo. And you can get more performance from a lot of the Germans. You can maybe get a better deal on, like, high end-- like, on a high-end Honda or like a Mazda or something. Like, it--


JOEL STOCKSDALE: It's in a tough spot.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Cool. Well, I think we hit it pretty hard this week. Good long podcast. Thanks for hanging out this week, Joel. Thank you all for listening. If you have any questions for the mailbag or you want to get into our Spend My Money section, it's

If you enjoy the show, please give us five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get the show. It helps us get the word out. Shout-out to Eric Meyer, our longtime producer. Be safe out there. And we'll see you next week.