2024 NY Auto Show, the new Mercedes G and a possible Xterra revival | Autoblog Podcast #825

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd, who joins us fresh from the floor at the 2024 New York Auto Show. They start with an overview of the show and this year's big debuts, then pivot to other news for talk of the 2025 Mercedes G-Class unveiling. After that, they touch on the potential for a Toyota FJ Cruiser revival, which then leads them to an Autoblog scoop from Nissan: a new Xterra is apparently on the table. They wrap up news with an overview of this year's Easter Jeep Safari concepts. From that, it's on to what they've been driving. Greg has spent some time in the Genesis G70, while Byron shares his thoughts from his first few weeks behind the wheel of the Autoblog long-term Subaru WRX.

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Video Transcript





GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to "The Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We've got a great show for you this week. We're gonna talk about the latest new car news and reveals from the New York Auto Show. Some notable things going on there.

We'll talk about some other news, primarily involving off-roaders. Stick around. It's gonna be a good segment. We've been driving some new cars from Genesis and Subaru. That includes our long-term WRX. So with that, let's get into it, and we will spend your money. Can't forget that.

So I will bring in associate editor Byron Hurd. How are you?

BYRON HURD: Hey. Glad to be back from New York, but full of news from the show. So it'll be fun to talk about that.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good, so let's just jump right in. I would say by modern auto show standards, it was busy. It's not busy by, say, a few years ago, even, but there was stuff to talk about, our Editors Picks.

You know, there was, at least, maybe not a ton about what to actually vote for, but you had to make some decisions about how to rank them. So, you know, what stood out to you from the show? You were there for about 24 hours.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, yeah, I was. And honestly, I think the one thing that really stood out was that this was kind of a Hyundai, Kia, Genesis group kind of show. They really dominated all the headlines. And they kind of-- I mean, Joe Stocksdale, who was there for us even longer than I was-- he was there on a four-day extravaganza, learning all about these vehicles. So he's got several stories and several follow-ups to check out on that.

But they really-- I mean, they showed impressive stuff. The Tucson and the Santa Cruz interior upgrades are both significant. These weren't just a little, like, oh, let's upgrade some stocks and buttons and stuff like that. Like, they went all in, brand new interiors. And it's cool to see the Santa Cruz sticking around, even if we're not getting anything interesting like a hybrid or anything like that out of it. But it's better than nothing.

And then just looking at some of the other stuff, I mean, there were a lot of things at the show that weren't actually-- like, originally debuted at the show. There were things that were shown over the past few weeks that we're just now getting our hands on for the first time, namely, the Nissan Kicks and the Infiniti QX80, which were both revealed just within the past couple of weeks.

And the QX80 really-- I mean, that thing is very impressive in person. I wasn't super thrilled with, like, the two-tone paint job and stuff like that, looking at the pictures that we saw last week. And it was revealed, literally, across the street from the Javits Center in New York City, where they actually hold the show, they did the reveal at Hudson Yards.

So seeing all the pictures from that and everything, I'd kind of temper my expectations a bit. But seeing it in person, it really is an impressive SUV. The interior looks phenomenal. I mean, it's not just, you know, Pathfinder-type stuff with some better materials on it. Like, you know, remember, it's a Pilot underneath. It's a whole big thing.

So when you look at this thing, it's a substantial SUV. They designed it to be impressive. They're looking for that $100,000-plus price point on the top trim model with all the bells and whistles. So they're taking it very seriously, and it's evident that they've actually done that.

So, like, you when you look at this-- and again, like, that-- I'm sorry. I said Pilot earlier-- the Patrol underpinnings that make it a serious SUV, it's got credentials, and it's got the looks. So I think this might actually be the opportunity for that SUV to really kind of break through in a way that Infiniti's big SUVs haven't before.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think that's a great point. Just looking at my own personal ballot, this isn't the overall Editor's Picks winners. Probably, by the time you listen to this, we may not have those up, so just looking at my own sort of notebook here.

I had that at number two. I ranked that as the second most significant, air quote, "reveal." It was revealed. I mean, Hudson Yards-- I guess we got to count it, right? Just because it's not physically on the Javits Center floor. Right?

But I was really impressed with the pictures and the real presence that this has. I feel like Infiniti has lost its way a little bit in the last decade. I think they really had some mojo going when they were dropping those 5-liter V8s. And then what was that, the 3.7 V6? And some really attractive crossovers and fun-to-drive sedans.

And then they did always have these kind of-- like, they've always had a bigger sort of flagship SUV, but I don't know if it truly lived up to what it needed to be. I always would rank it well behind things like the Escalade and the Navigator and probably some other things, too.

But this gives me some reason for optimism for the Infiniti brand and, of course, the QX80. My gosh, I totally forgot that it was actually called the QX56. That really goes back, but I mean, maybe that speaks to the broader problem of just awareness. But I agree with you. This is a big deal reveal.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. And honestly, with this SUV, like, even the previous iterations of it, Infiniti's done a really good job of putting together a solid car with, I mean, really impressive interior materials and stuff like that. I think the styling on the interiors turned some people off, because it wasn't to everybody's tastes.

I personally liked it when it first debuted. I actually liked that on the last generation of the QX56 and then what we saw in the smaller sedans and coupes back then. Like, I thought it looked good. I thought it looked fresh, and the material quality was actually quite good. And they did depart pretty significantly from, shall we say, the Nissan durability and quality standards. So it wasn't like they were just gussied up Nissans. They were nice.

And you know, we had that huge powertrain shift that they made that they simultaneously did when they decided they were gonna go with the electric steering and all of that, or the steer-by-wire. And they just kind of-- like, they made way too many steps forward and kind of tripped over themselves a little bit. And you know, we ended up with something that just-- you know, it didn't really connect with us.

And even since they've kind of dialed back some of the electronic calibration tried to make it more about, like, you know, an actual interconnected experience, those sedans and coupes just never really came back around for us. Like, it never really got fully dialed in to the point where we were really excited about it. Even The red sports were just--

You know, I'd rather drive a Z. It's there. You know? It may not be the best performance coupe you can buy, but would still take one over one of the Infinitis. So, you know, that's kind of where we are. But seeing that--

And then, like, you know, I'm talking about, like, the difference between Infiniti and Nissan, looking at the new Kicks, which itself got a huge-- I mean, you know, a glow-up. Like, it went from just kind of just being a hatchback on stilts to now, it actually has an all-wheel drive option, which is great.

And on top of that, I mean, it grew by between 200 and 300 pounds, depending on the trim. Like, this was a substantial overhaul. So we're gonna get, probably, a much quieter cabin. There's more interior space because it got physically larger, although not as physically larger as the weight suggests. So a lot of that's coming from the availability of all-wheel drive, the platform changes they had to make to accommodate that, like, all that kind of stuff.

But when you look at it, like, it looks and feels a lot more substantial than it did before. And I think with the availability of all-wheel drive, it's gonna feel a lot more substantial than it did before. So those are both big and splashy in their own kind of way, even though they weren't actual show debuts.

GREG MIGLIORE: Kicks reminds me a little bit of, like, what Chevy did with the Trailblazer. You take your entry point to your lineup, your crossover lineup, and then take it from something that's really bare bones, paper plate, you know, just, you know, the basics, and make it something that just happens to be, you know, less expensive but still desirable. So I'm impressed with this one.

And the addition of all-wheel drive, especially in, like, you know, the northern, western, and northeastern parts of the country, I think that could make it very appealing. It'll start to show up on a lot of different types of consumers' shopping lists.


GREG MIGLIORE: So that's intriguing. I think we might as well shift things over, throw it around the horn over to the Hyundai Motor Co side of things, which is, like, half the show. I like the K4. I gave that a lot of points on my Editor's Picks ballot.

The hatch was a surprise. I tend to actually like the sedan a little bit better, just from a design perspective. We don't have a ton of info on this. But, you know, we expect it's gonna have, like, similar powertrain specs to the Forte, which it replaces. You saw it in person, I imagine. What did you think?

BYRON HURD: Yeah, I'm pretty much there with you. And unfortunately, we couldn't see the hatchback, because they didn't have a hatchback version there. They only had the sedan. And they also had the updated K5 there next to the K4 so we could look at that. And that just got some minor tweaks, comparatively.

But I mean, they've really brought the K4 in line with the styling that they introduced with the K5. So, I mean, you can tell they're siblings. In fact, like, when you're looking at them in the right lighting, you can barely tell them apart. They look practically identical.

So just some subtle little creases in, like, the sheet metal along the rear flanks and stuff like that really sets it apart. But you have to-- like, you have to catch it from the right angle to see it. So they're really going for it with that car, and it looks impressive.

I was kind of surprised by how large it looks, and it makes me wonder if they're moving it to kind of a place where theoretically, they could electrify it going forward. And they need a little more space in the platform to make that work. So it's definitely impressive-looking.

And I mean, between that and the refreshes we saw for Tucson and Santa Cruz over at Hyundai and then the Magma announcement from Genesis and everything that comes along with it, man, they really were everywhere at the show. I mean, they pretty much dominated the schedule.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think this shows the strength that auto shows can still have from a press perspective. If you're a car-maker and you want to spend some marketing money and have a significant presence, almost every auto show is wide open. I don't think anybody, any single OEM, has a corner on one single auto show. So if you want to spend some money in flex, you could do it.

Without Hyundai Motor Co., New York would have been a very, very quiet show. But they were happy to get in there. They got a lot of coverage. They showed a lot of interesting things. And I think the whole Magma side of things is--

I got to give them credit. I don't know if I really love the name, but it's not bad. Is it better than the Red line, maybe, for Infiniti? I don't know. I mean, it's fun. You know?

BYRON HURD: Agreed. And I love orange. So, like, seeing all the concepts in the Magma orange and everything looked really cool.


BYRON HURD: And they had them all there. They all had the Korean market interiors, so they still have the camera mirrors and the little displays for those inside and stuff like that. So they were kind of discouraging us from looking at the interior, since they're not what would be reflective of US market options.

And then the G80 is not even coming here at all. So, like, you know, you're looking at a fairly limited run of those.

And on top of that, like, it's gonna be interesting to kind of see how this Magma concept develops. Because right now, like, with the launch of them-- and they're doing, like, you know, the orange and the performance options and everything. It makes it look like they're gonna be, like, full-on performance models, which really isn't the case. It's more of them being kind of like an all boxes checked kind of thing, like, you want all the performance and you want all the luxury and you want some personalization.

And you know, so you want your vehicle to look a little different but do everything that that platform is capable of. That's kind of what you're getting with Magma. So don't expect them to be, like, track stars or anything like that. They're just not gonna be going out there and going, you know, toe-to-toe with M5s or anything with the G80. Like, it's just not on the table.

But it's interesting that they're taking this approach, because it's kind of, like, a weird mix of old-school AMG style performance with, kind of, like, the Buick Avenir and GMC Denali kind of thing, where it's just like, yeah, this is what you buy when you literally walk into the dealer and just say, give me the best version of that you possibly can.

So we'll see how it works. And I mean, they're looking at a fairly small take rate on it. I think they would love it if they got 10% to 15% take on some of the models, and that's including the ones that won't be sold here. And you know, they don't expect it to get any more wildly well-received than that. But if it does, they have the capacity to scale up. So if it does, you know, pop, off then they're in a position to sell, basically, to demand.

So it will never be a supply-limited type situation, which is, I think, kind of a key differentiator. Because in a lot of the luxury fields, you see, you know, the limited numbers being kind of a driver behind a lot of the stuff they do. So, you know, this is a little more along the lines of, you know, Audi Individual and all that kind of thing, but just not quite to the same extent, because they simply don't have the back catalog that the German manufacturers have to offer things like that.

So, you know, it's a weird position for them to be in but a kind of cool one, because in a way, they sort of get to invent their own heritage, something that, you know, they've tried-- some of these brands have tried to do more than once. And so, you know, interesting approach.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. The G80-- this one looks like a real, you know, Audubon kind of beater. That looks fun. Of the two that they showed, that's the one I would be really, really into.

It's tough to stand up a sub-performance brand, as we've seen with Cadillac's V series and then the Blackwings. Nothing wrong with the products, but they have struggled. And they've, you know, kind of gone back and forth with just how they market them.

I think to enthusiasts, it's never really been a problem, but I don't think it's truly, like, you know, crossed over into the broader public realm. So we'll see what Genesis can do here. I think product-wise, they look good, though. We'll see.

So staying with Hyundai, let's go over to Hyundai proper. New Tucson, new Santa Cruz. You touched on the Santa Cruz a little bit. I think the too long, don't read or listen is, they get updated inside and out and more knobs and buttons, which, frankly, I would give some votes for my ballot, two knobs and buttons, I think, if I could. Because the old Hyundai system was not the worst on the market, but it did--

You know, I think it was smart to add a few more just traditional interfaces to kind of clean that up a little bit and make them a little bit easier to use intuitively. So I think that'll be a good thing.

I like the kind of off-road-y type trim for the Santa Cruz. I think it's an overlooked vehicle. I think it really is. It;s something that the Maverick-- did eclipse it. You know? It did. It was more trucky. It had the Ford cachet behind it. It has a lot of things about it that feel like a Ford truck, whereas the Santa Cruz tended to feel like a Tucson with a bed, maybe, which I don't think that's a bad thing. I really don't.

I think the El Camino style can work. And for Hyundai, why not? So I like the truck. I think it's cool.

I always have found-- the last time I drove one, I thought the interior was kind of cheap. You know, the Maverick, at least, was clever and inexpensive. It didn't feel cheap, but you could tell it wasn't the most expensive, you know, XLT Lariat, King Ranch, you know, whatever. But it didn't feel cheap, whereas some of the Santa Cruzs I've driven have felt cheap.

So again, a much needed update for that. Add that off-road trim, and these are also volume plays for Hyundai, for sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. And I would really love to see more automakers kind of play in this space a little bit. Because I think, you know, when you see the success of the Maverick and the success of Santa Cruz-- and really, what holds it back is its cost. I mean, it costs way more than the Maverick does. So you're kind of-- you know, you're looking at a more premium customer who just, you know, wants that look more than you are with Maverick.

But I would love to see, like, Subaru get back into this. Like, it's not like they haven't done it before. Like, there's precedent there with Baja. So, you know, like, they literally could jump right back in if they wanted to. And especially with Toyota around, like, they could do something interesting with it. You've got hybrid access and things like that. So, you know, so many different things that could be done with this segment that haven't yet. So it would be nice to see some expansion there.

GREG MIGLIORE: Subaru, Chevy, Ram, just to name a few off the top of my head that I think could definitely make credible entries there.

Subaru, to your point-- really, a Baja would be perfect for their lineup. It would make a ton of sense. Chevy, actually, oddly, finds itself with a lot of small crossover-type vehicles. So maybe a truck would just cannibalize things, but we'll see.

But there's a lot of different brands that I think can and should get into this space. You know? Because we just drove the Maverick, both of us, like, two weeks ago. And I really liked it. It's definitely something I could live with.

You can stick it in your garage. You could use it for all-- not all, but a lot of the truck things. Anything you need a bed for, it's there for you. So I think it was smart for Hyundai to invest in this segment, and I'm glad they did a refresh.

I think cynically, some of us thought, ugh, how long is this thing gonna really last? Is this gonna be a trivia question? But it's had some staying power, so--

BYRON HURD: Yeah, 100%.

GREG MIGLIORE: Let's see. I think we've hit on everything. Genesis Neolun concept, kind of cool. Anything we leave out, as far as reveals here? It seems like we've hit a lot of them.

BYRON HURD: Nothing that's jumping off the page at me. I'm just looking at the list of, you know, the quote, unquote "press conferences" we had yesterday and looking-- you know, Acura and Honda essentially just showed us products that we'd already seen.

And Ford showed us the wrap on the Mustang, which was pretty much the biggest thing they're doing short, because they've got the 60th Anniversary Edition coming out and the big, separate launch for that on April 17 to coincide with the original Mustang launch at the World's Fair in New York rather than the New York Auto Show, because there wasn't a New York Auto Show back then, or at least not one that exists the way it exists now.

So you know, they kind of, like, teased that a little bit without actually showing us anything and then showed us a car with some pretty paint protective film on it. And that was pretty much it. So it was kind of hit or miss, in terms of press conferences there. Like, you could tell that a lot of it was pretty much just to, like, you know, make sure that there was glue to hold the schedule together and to bring in the media who don't get a chance to see the stuff that we get to see all the time.

So you know, there's still these venues existing for some journalists who are not in the positions we are, which is still valuable.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. All right. So let's segue over to some other news from this week. I think a good way to do that is to actually talk about the Xterra revival, which is newsy, but it was the news that came from news editor Joe Stockdale's interview with some Nissan executives. It's a legit scoop. You can find it first on Autoblog. Anybody else who has written about it is just reporting on us.

But you know, he kind put it out there that they could do it. If they do it, it has to be authentic. There's a number of things out there, you know, like, the patrol underpinnings are still kind of hanging out there. It could be, you know, a very useful platform.

I tend to think they should do this. I really do. I think off-road vehicles have never been more mainstream and popular. And off-road themed vehicles, I guess, is the better way to put it. People want to feel like they're driving something like that. It's how it makes them feel, even if they never go off-roading.

So I think Nissan should get back in the game, and it's not a stretch for them. Like, this isn't like, hey, we're gonna stand up this new entry. The Xterra is just sitting there. It's a good name. People would like it. I think they should do it. What do you think?

BYRON HURD: Yeah, I 100% agree. And, like, it's got some cultural value to it too, because, like, A.J.'s Xterra in "The Sopranos," the yellow-- like, the supercharged-- I want to say it was, like, a 2002, 2003 Xterra. Those, like, when was just, like, really starting to get into cars-- were everywhere, and I thought they were some of the coolest SUVs on the road. Like, you know, they weren't too big, weren't too small. They just looked bad-ass.

And I loved it in yellow. Like, it's just one of those things. It was, like, you know, not-- you should not be ashamed to look at this car. It's, like, right there. It's in your face. And I would love to see them come back with that attitude again. Because, I mean, again, like, this segment's exploding.

I mean, we got everyone who has either been there forever, like Jeep, or is coming back, like Ford and Toyota. So, you know, yeah, everyone jump in. Like, let's get in the pool and have some fun. Like, it's a fun segment.

You know, we're not talking about massive three row, 7,000-pound SUVs. We're talking about things that are a little more, you know, social, we'll say. And it's a perfect segment to play in, and I would love to see them back there.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, yeah. Me as well.

So let's move on to the G-Class. That's something that never left us. We have the reveal this week. They didn't do it in New York. They just kind of kicked it out. It seemed like it would have been a very good New York Auto Show reveal. Mercedes used to do quite extravagant New York reveals.

At one point-- I don't know if you were there for this one. This was 10 years ago or so. I feel like I keep saying 10 years ago on this podcast, but Jon Hamm was there. I believe he is the voice of Mercedes in some of their commercials. And this was still when "Mad Men" was on, and he did, like, the voiceover, and then he walked out on stage. And it was kind of cool. But that clearly-- they didn't do anything like this for the G-Class.

BYRON HURD: Now, I mean, this is one of those where, you know, it's G-Class. You're getting pretty much what you expect. And I mean, there's a lot more carryover here than I actually thought there would be. I mean, they're--


BYRON HURD: The powertrains are-- I mean, there's still a V8. Oh, no. I'm sorry. There's not. There's a an inline 6 replacing the V8. So I mean, that we knew about. Like, that had been announced ahead of time.

So, you know, the power output at the low end is the same. And then, you know, we're looking at, you know, G63, which, I mean, that does get the V8. So in the AMGs, you know, like, there's just-- it's a G-Class. It's extravagant. It's in your face. It's, I mean, the things I love about the Xterra, only five times more expensive. So [LAUGHS] what's not to love?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I agree. I would also say-- I don't want to say this is a little anticlimactic, but there was-- and the G-Class is always evolutionary. Even when it is, air quotes, "all new," it's not usually-- something is still there from 1979.

But you know, there's enough to keep it fresh, enough to keep it interesting. Design tweaks are very subtle, I would say, but it's cool.

Driving a G-Class is an event, so this is certainly one that I cannot wait to drive, hopefully this year.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. One of my favorite pictures to use for all of our work communications is a video shot of me in the cab of a G63 that I'm playing around in at Holly Oaks, up here in Michigan, and having a very good time doing a lot of things that they let you do at Holly Oaks. So I highly recommend Holly Oaks RV Park to anybody who lives in Oakland County. It is a lot of fun, and it is very inexpensive. So check that out.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a park pass, you know?


GREG MIGLIORE: You can do a lot of cool things with it. So--


GREG MIGLIORE: All right. So how about an FJ Cruiser revival? We're really kind of going with deep cut SUVs that didn't last forever, but they definitely had their day in the sun. This is one that-- I think it's pretty unclear if the US would get it. They could do it based on the Hilux chassis, which they use in international markets.

I think, you know, the old FJ Cruiser was certainly cool. I think it'd be an excellent used car right now, too. I mean, you could still get a somewhat recently new one. I mean, you know, run up a few more miles on it and keep it in good condition. It's classic-ish, classic-adjacent, maybe.

The one, I think, challenge Toyota faces is, unlike Nissan, which probably has some more open space in its lineup to accommodate another off-roader, Toyota has the Land Cruiser. It has all the off-road, tuned Lexus variants. And of course, we'll be getting a new 4Runner pretty soon.

At one point, the FJ Cruiser, the Land Cruiser, and the 4Funner were all in the same lineup. So Toyota has no problems doing this.

I think for me, the trick would be to find a very unique value proposition here. Is it electric? Is it more powerful? Is it the only V8, or V6, or whatever Toyota has? It's got to be something different beyond simply looking like a 1980s Land Cruiser. It's got to be something.

I hope they don't go too small. I know they've shown some concepts that make these, like, cruiser-type vehicles. That's not what I would do. But I do love the idea of, like, a larger two-door SUV. It reminds me of the old, big Broncos, the boxy ones.

You know, if you look at, say, you know, different ones out there, Defender is one. I think the only one that really takes a large SUV that is three rows but also offers it as small as a two-door variant-- so I think that's kind of cool.

You know, if you look at, like, the length of the wheelbase, it is a Defender 30. 130 four-door has a wheelbase of 119 inches, and it stretches all the way out to 212 inches. A two-door-- that's the Defender 90-- you can shrink that all the way down to 101.9 inches for the wheelbase.

So I mean, that's really taking that chassis in all different directions, and it also makes me think, you know, they could do that with, like, the Land Cruiser or something, or, you know, another off-the-shelf, you know, set of underpinnings that they may have. And frankly, I wish some other automakers would do things like that.

I give Defender a ton of credit for offering something that's truly aimed at luxury buyers, like, that need to haul people and stuff and dogs, but also making a much smaller enthusiast version, you know?

Jeep and Bronco do that, but they're already making a smaller vehicle as it is, whereas, you know, Land Rover-- I guess it is-- Defender, like, Sting or Share, they're one word now. You know, they could have a reason not to, but they do do it. So maybe that's the playbook for Toyota here. I don't know.

BYRON HURD: I like that idea of maybe even just doing, essentially, like, a Land Cruiser FJ, where it's essentially just like--


BYRON HURD: It's still essentially the Land Cruiser, but it's decontented, or it is on a shorter wheelbase and offered with two-doors. Or I think they could do kind of, like, what they do with the X cab package or extra cab package in the Tacoma, where you get a two-door in what is essentially a four-door cab. There are just no rear doors, so you still get the extra wheelbase and the extra room in the rear seat.

And given kind of the way the off-road space is moving away from short wheelbase and going toward putting bigger tires under a longer wheelbase and just being able to go over things instead of having to worry about where your overhangs are, that would actually probably be the more realistic outcome.

But I would love to see a short wheelbase two-door model, just because, I mean, I own a two-door JK Wrangler. Of course, I'd like to see a short wheelbase two-door version of the new Toyota platforms.

So I mean, yeah, this one's still, I mean, probably quite a ways out. But it would be cool to see something come here based on this.

GREG MIGLIORE: And that's where I think, like, some of the domestics, like, namely, Chevy, like, find a way to take, you know, the big truck platform. You know? And it's also used for the Tahoe. Shrink that up. Make something that's very authentic.

I think, you know, an actual, say-- I guess it's got to be called a K5, although I don't know if Kia might have something to say about that. It is, I think, allowed. They can't call it a Blazer, but have some fun with it.


GREG MIGLIORE: All right. So let's close things out with the Easter Jeep Safari. You wrote this one up last week. Much pared down compared with previous years. Still some cool stuff. Not quite as outlandish as previous years, as I said, though. Do you have a favorite?

BYRON HURD: I think for me, well, my favorite this year is definitely gonna be the Low Down, like, the wannabe race car Wrangler, which is a 392 base. And the whole idea was that it's not--

So it's called the Low Down because they didn't have to lift the body in order to fit the V8, because they cut around the frame. They cut the frame around, basically, to make it fit. Because the Wrangler 392, the actual Rubicon 392, sits higher or a little bit higher, mostly because they actually needed that room to fit the induction and exhaust systems for the 392 V8.

So way back in-- I want to say it was the mid-late 2000s, they did a concept that-- and the name of it escapes me right now. That was essentially the same thing. It was framed, cut, V8 stuffed in it, set at stock ride height. And this is a throwback to that. Plus, it gets cool, like, race car graphics and stuff like that.

You know, it's a very on-road concept for somebody that is very not. But at the same time, it still looks pretty cool. But I still have to call out the vacation era concept for-- I'm, like, 100% certain just being last year's luxe concept with a vinyl wrap on it. Because it is a very suspiciously similar setup with a hole in the roof for the roof tent you can climb through. And it's the same roof tent.

I mean, if you look at the pictures, it's the same roof tent. So anyway. And it's a very expensive roof tent, so I doubt they bought two. And so that's kind of where I landed on this year's Easter Jeep stuff.

GREG MIGLIORE: Have you ever slept on a rooftop tent?

BYRON HURD: I have not.

GREG MIGLIORE: I have not, either. And it kind of freaks me out a little bit, just, like, falling out of bed or something. It's like, you're kind of up there. I imagine there's some sort of guardrails and safety devices in place, but that kind of freaks me out a little bit. But I like that one.

I think the Vacationer would be nice with or without the tent, but use the kind of-- the white wheels. And even that paint-- I think that could be a cool special addition to dress up, you know, the Grand Wagoneer, which I think, at times, is-- I wouldn't say it's the least fun, but it's, you know, the expensive, luxurious, you know, business, you know, model in the Jeep lineup. So I kind of like that one.

I feel like if they could find a way to at least bring those wheels to production in a paint job like that, yeah, that'd be kind of cool.

And I also like the Willys Dispatcher from that sense. Mainly, I just like the wheels on both of them. That's what really brings me in. I wish more-- we have all these off-road SUVs we're talking about. You know, more are apparently on the way.

Wouldn't it be great to have some cooler, like, wheel options? I feel like the last five years or so, we've really kind of just plateaued with some of, like the wheel choices and all segments.

Retro is one way to go, but there's certainly other, you know, profiles, things you could do. But when you see concept vehicles like this, it makes you really think, man, I wish they would stretch their imagination a little bit more and put some of these things on sale.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. Well, the good news is, the Vacationer was one of the Jeep Performance Parts concepts. So they kind of break them out every year by, like, the design team concepts, where they actually, like, cut and build things versus the Performance Parts guys, where they're literally just bolting stuff from the Mopar catalogs onto their trucks.

This one is a bolt-on truck. So theoretically, you should be able to order those wheels from them. So they would be, like, dealer installed option, probably, if not an aftermarket fitment-type situation. But you should at least be able to order them in the right size with tires that'll fit and everything.

So whether all of these are actually production parts, I don't have that information in front of me. But it's possible that you may actually be able to order those wheels for a Wagoneer straight from Jeep.

GREG MIGLIORE: I like it. I like it. I think, you know, if I were a Jeep owner, I think I would look to kind of consider a way to, you know, make that happen, really add some sort of, just, you know, a little bit of a sense of history. But there's nothing practical stopping them from making it happen.



All right. So let's head over to what we've been road testing, review some cars here. I've got the Genesis G70 Sport Prestige. That's a little bit of a mouthful.

My kind of takeaway here is that the Sport Prestige is the one you want. It adds, well, sportiness and prestige. I think you get a decent value here. It's about $4,400 for some of these out-- $4,400.

And then you get the electronically controlled suspension. You get limited slip, stuff that I think you're gonna kind of want. There's a nice head-up display. Inside, you get some nice Nappa leather. There's a lot of leather inside this car, which I think is cool, along with things like microfiber suede, which are used on, you know, the headliner, the pillars. Just everything you see, feel, and touch in there feels very premium.

Then you get, you know, chassis tuning, which I think, you know, makes the G70 feel a little bit sportier. It corners pretty well. It has a bit of an athletic vibe.

I went through the different drive modes and, you know, they don't really change it that much. But I think in Sport Mode, you can definitely feel, you know, there's some weight to the steering.

The brakes, actually, are good. When you step on them, there's really good feedback. It's, again, like, a relatively tight chassis. And I liked how it looked. I think it's a sporty sedan with a-- trunk is big. It's got that kind of steep roofline in the back. It reminded me of a pretty good competitor with, say, the Cadillac CT4. It feels like it's got the same sort of ethos. And right now, I think that's a good thing.

I think it's a worthy competitor with some of the Germans. I think it's a good value. This one, I believe, was about 58 grand, which is, you know, up the option list a little bit, but it has quite a bit on it.

The Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic that I tested two weeks ago, I guess, at this point, came in at $54,000. Now, it's a little bit apples to oranges there, because the CLA is a segment down. But you know, G70 is a good value. It's fun to drive.

I think it just comes down to, you know, how do you feel about Genesis? I don't know. How do you feel about Genesis?

BYRON HURD: I feel pretty good about them. And honestly, when I was out at Gingerman with the Blackwing for that track cross event in the fall, I was being given some trouble by just an old-fashioned turbocharged manual Genesis G70. So they're wonderful little cars. That's a great platform. And certainly, if I wasn't in the Cadillac world, it would be one of the cars I would be considering as, like, a fun sports sedan.

It's a shame you can't get the manual with them anymore, but I mean, such is the world we live in. So yeah, I'm a big fan. I actually haven't driven that car in several years. The last one I drove wasn't a manual, but it was when they were still offering it, so it's been a while. But I'm a big fan.

GREG MIGLIORE: No manual, but you do get the 365-horsepower twin turbo V6. It's 3.3 liters. This was all-wheel drive, so it was a lot of fun to drive. It really was. Just driving that with the CLA 250, which is a turbo 4-- I think it's, like, 221 horsepower. Way different amount of horsepower.

But even trying to, like, recalibrate your brain, I mean, a twin turbo V6, a V6-- there is no replacement for displacement. You know? There is a big difference, and you can feel, you know, the delta between segments of sporty-ish sedans. So tell me about the wrecks.

BYRON HURD: I love this little car. I was just telling folks in the work chat, when I got back from the New York Auto Show on Wednesday night. As I was pulling into my driveway, I instinctively went for the key to shut the car off. Because in my mind, I was driving my 2008 Mazdaspeed3.

And, like, it was so weird that, like, back when I owned my Mazda, I just couldn't get my head around WRXs. Like, they looked great on paper. The all-wheel drive is nice. But every time I drove one, I was just completely turned off by them.

And now, it's reminding me so much of that old experience that it's actually making me, like, look at classified ads, because I want to see if I can find another Mazdaspeed3 to drive again, just to see if I'm-- like, if this is complete, like, weird muscle memory fabrication, or if this is actually that similar, because the chassis feels so good.

The only complaint I have about the WRX right now is that it's on snow-ish winter tires that are very squirmy, and the braking is a little-- eh. So it's not as fun or as engaging to drive right now, as it could be.

But we should be just a couple of weeks away from getting those tires swapped back over, so hopefully while it's still in my care, so I'll get a week or two with it on the summers, or all seasons, or whatever that it gets stock and get some time to play with it before I hand it off again, because I'm just really enjoying it.

I have some complaints. I'm pretty sure it does not have a heated steering wheel, even though it does have heated seats. And that's these days, kind of a-- eh.

The infotainment is what it is. That system is not super, super responsive. But for basic stuff, like, just, like, tuning satellite radio and things like that, it's pretty easy. And when you have to, like, enter direct-to-numbers and things like that, you usually get it on the first push.

So, you know, little things like that kind of come and go. But for the most part, I mean, it's just such a great little car to drive. And there's so little penalty for the performance you get from it, because it gets reasonably good gas mileage. And it just-- you know, it scoots everywhere. It's a car that just wants to be driven as hard as you feel like driving it.

It's perfectly happy to just putter around town like a regular Impreza. And then when you've got, you know, a lane that you got to make a quick merge or anything like that, you hit it and, you know, it gets you where you need to go. So it's a great little car. I don't have any real, major complaints.

GREG MIGLIORE: How do you feel it lives up to sort of the idea the WRX over the last two decades?

BYRON HURD: I mean, from the inside, you when you ignore the fact that it has the cladding on the outside and stuff like that, I mean, you wouldn't know the differences. It's just a little more refined, I think, than they've been before.

And that might turn some people off a little bit. But honestly, I think that was one of the car's biggest weaknesses before. It was just that it was, you know, so loud. And it was immediate and direct in all the ways that weren't necessarily desirable for a daily driver, and yet not as a mediator direct in others in ways that would make it worthwhile.

So it was kind of a mixed bag before, in my opinion. And I feel like this is the most coherent version of this car that we've seen.

And, like, honestly, at this point, even the cladding and everything is kind of growing on me. Because in my mind, I'm thinking, like, if I own one of these, I want to take it rally crossing and stuff like that.

And you know what? Having the cladding on the fenders, that'll actually help, because the paint won't get eaten up as quickly. So, like, I don't know. I'm sure I'm gonna sound like an apologist to people, but I mean, driving this thing really converts you. It really does. If you haven't given it a chance yet, you really need to.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think that's a good way to put it. I was excited to drive it. I think it's definitely one that-- you know, we used to have an STI at Autoblog, you know, when I first started here. And I feel like the WRX is the right car they need. You can get most of the enthusiast market with the Rex without going all the way up to the STI.

And I added, during winter, like, real winter, not sort of second fake winter here, where we said one day, it's sort of snowing and one day, it's, like, almost 70-- and it was really a champ in the snow. And it was a lot of fun, too. With those winter tires and work on the six-speed manual, it was-- it's a fun long-term-er. And I think we're really enjoying it.

It's been a minute since we've had a real enthusiast car like this in the long-term garage, and I'm glad we have one. This is, I think--

I haven't heard a lot of ill spoken about it beyond the usual legitimate criticisms where, you know, it's like a Jeep Wrangler. You know? It has some notable shortcomings. But if you're willing to live with those, you really can drive something that's quite a lot of fun.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. 100% agreed.

GREG MIGLIORE: Should we spend some money?

BYRON HURD: Let's do it.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. So let's see here. Pranav writes, "Love the podcast and figured I would send you my what should I buy inquiry so I can stop annoying my family and friends." Hey, that's what we're here for. "Family of three, toddler in a car seat, living in the city of Chicago. Current car and two prior cars have been VW Passats. Currently in a 2008 VR6, 145,000 miles."

That's interesting. I actually know a guy in a Passat. It might be a Jetta, actually, around that vintage with about that many of miles on the clock. He has two kids, though.

"It's been great. We have roof bars on the roof box, where extra cargo space is needed. So it's kind of good. It might be a good used car for somebody else. Like many Chicago households, our garage is off a one-way alley. So anything too large won't work. Looking for something under 195 inches long.

We have family and friends around the Midwest, so we end up doing some road trips about 300 miles but do not have a regular driving commute. Weekly driving is around town and fairly short distances or errands. Plenty of days of the year when we just don't drive. We expect to remain a one-car family for the future with me being the primary driver either solo or with the family.

What have we considered? The Volvo V60, considered pre-owned but would like to order new. The Volkswagen Tiguan." Let's see. "The Audi A6, the Volkswagen Arteon," and I think that's it. So, hey, thank you for listening. Thank you for writing. This is, I think, a pretty standard list here. A lot to work with. I will kick it over to you, Byron. What do you think here?

BYRON HURD: I honestly really love the V60 for this. I just drove the V60 Polestar Engineered a couple of months back and traded that off with Zac Palmer, and we both really liked it. You probably wouldn't be going for the Polestar model, which is perfectly fine. I mean, you don't get a whole lot that would benefit you in a daily driver anyway.

But I mean, certainly, for a wagon, like, it's the right size for what you're looking for here. And the plug-in powertrain is so much better than it was before. I mean, just even coming from our 2020-- I think it was-- S60, long-term, to the V60 Recharge, the difference is significant, like, just much more refined, much less of an experience when the gas engine cuts in, if you will.

And if you're really driving it as infrequently as you're saying, then if you have 110-volt electrical, standard three-prong grounded electrical plug in your garage, which you may or may not, given the urban garage situation in Chicago-- but if you do, you could charge it on that most of the time, and you would very rarely need to gas it up, unless you actually were using it on longer trips.

So I love that. I honestly did some research, like, looked into a couple other models, but I just kind of came right back to that. So that would be my pick.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I mean, just from a practical and enthusiast perspective, I think that would be the one I would say, too, because you will enjoy driving it. It's a fun, you know, wagon to drive. It's cool. There's nothing wrong with that.

I think I personally have considered, you know, the Volvo V60 at different points in, you know, my adult life. So I guess that's kind of the easy one.

To kind of go through the list, the Arteon doesn't do much for me. A6 is fine, but it's a fairly good-sized sedan. Tiguan is-- it basically sounds like-- I think he puts this pretty well.

"I don't love SUVs, but my sister got one. I thought it was a good option, so I would look at it." I think that's how a lot of us buy cars. Like, a friend or a sibling buys one. You're not gonna go wrong with a Tiguan. It would probably be good for some of those tight Chicago neighborhoods, where you need, like, an upright SUV and you can look around to see who's-- you know crosswalk. That wouldn't be a terrible thing.

So I would-- if you're not gonna do the Volvo, I would-- you know, the Tiguan is a safe pick. I guess let's put it that way.

And then a couple others are the-- and these are, like, the standard, you know, touchstones here. That's the Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester. Both are a bit longer than you're looking for. I think 175 inches was the cut line. The CR-V is about 182 inches, and the Forester is also-- it's almost 183 inches.

I don't know if 7 inches is gonna make that much of a difference. But in some of those parking garages, it does. Every inch counts. Believe me, when I went to Chicago and I had a Ram as my personal driver of the week, I was measuring it down to the inch and finally like, you know, I'm not gonna take this thing.

It'll probably fit, but I mean, you don't know how tall that garage door is and how they measured it in 1926, when they opened it. Good luck with that.

So if you're looking for, you know, two other very nice but also pretty safe picks and you do have some wiggle room, literally, you know, I would look at those two as well. But I'm thinking Volvo V60 as well.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. And if you're and if you're willing to look at, like, the compact crossover segment beyond the Tiguan and any of those, there's always the XC60 from Volvo, too.


BYRON HURD: Because then you could get, you know, the same-- actually, you get more powertrain options with the XC60 than you do with the V60. So that opens up your availability there a little bit.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go. Sounds good.

All right. That's all the time we have this week. Podcast at Get into the mailbag and send us your Spend My Moneys. If you enjoy the show-- and we hope you do-- please give us five-star ratings on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get the show. It helps us get the word out. It helps us connect with other car fans.

Shout-out to our producer, Erik Maier. Be safe out there. Thanks for hanging out this week, and we'll see everybody next week.