The Best and Worst GM cars
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: All right, I'm going to run through that one more time. So we're going to be discussing, not disgusting, GM.
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, I don't know.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: It might be-- it might be disgusting. [CHUCKLES] All right.
- Whoa, that's good.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Welcome, everyone, to this unfiltered and only somewhat edited discussion. I am Autoblog Senior Producer Chris McGraw. And today, I am joined by the driver of brown diesel BMW SUVs, West Coast Editor James Riswick, as well as Mr. Blackwing himself, Associate Editor Byron Hurd.
Today, we're going to be discussing the best and worst of GM vehicles, cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. But before we do, make sure to hit that Subscribe button down below for more automotive content from Autoblog. We've got something for everyone-- reviews, reveals, podcast, gaming, almost everything. But for now, let's talk GM.
General Motors, the company best known for its cars like the GTO, Camaro, Corvette, and Suburban, has also made some questionable decisions throughout the years. But to start things off, let's talk about current vehicles. So guys, what are your best and worst of each category of vehicle that GM currently makes?
BYRON HURD: Yeah, well, I feel like I'm kind of being set up here. But anyway, so for-- [LAUGHS] for best car, I'm going to say the C8 Corvette for just, like, wow factor. Like, it's a killer automobile. It's hard to go wrong with that.
Going down the line, for truck, I'm going to go with the Colorado ZR2. It's kind of dark horse, you know? It's-- it's old, it's about to be replaced. But you know, there's stuff going on there.
For SUV, Buick Enclave, which I feel like is going to get really weird for--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Wow.
BYRON HURD: --everybody, yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Wow.
BYRON HURD: And then for EV, Hummer EV. It barely exists, but it doesn't catch fire yet. So I feel like that's a real upside, you know, in the grand scheme of things.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Man, I have to be honest with you, I did not expect a Buick to come this early in the conversation.
BYRON HURD: [LAUGHS] Coming in hot. Coming in hot. So yeah, you want to take issue with any of those? Or you want to propose alternatives first?
JAMES RISWICK: Well, I mean, I'm kind of surprised, as my first choice here is-- and I wasn't expecting to be able to use it because you would go first, but it's your actual car. You haven't picked your own car.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, I was wondering about that.
JAMES RISWICK: No, no, but--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Cadillac CT4. And I haven't even driven the Blackwing, which is what you own. And by the way, calling him Mr. Blackwing makes him sound like a superhero, so that's cool.
BYRON HURD: I'm all right with it. If I'd known, going in, that's where we were going to head with that, I would have worn a different, like, color scheme here and kind of owned it a little better. But yeah, no, I mean, the Corvette is just-- it's so amazing.
Like, it was such a paradigm shift for GM, and one that literally everybody saw coming for how many decades? But then it finally happened, and it really worked. So yeah, it's really hard to discount how amazing that car is.
And yet it's not the one I bought. But I mean, there's a difference between something being good and something being good for me. So like--
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, you're probably right, as I'm kind of picking the CT4 because I really liked it. But it is a sensational car to drive-- and again, not just the Blackwing, but the lesser version.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I mean, certainly not going to argue with you.
JAMES RISWICK: In terms of, like, sports sedans, I think it's the one I choose. I think it's more fun to drive than the BMW 3 Series. I think it looks great. Sadly, they no longer sell it in green. But yeah, no, I love the CT4. It is a-- and I'm not just kissing your ass here, it's-- it's a great car. I think it's the best thing that they currently make.
I mean, the Corvette is great, don't get me wrong. I'd say-- and especially for the money-- and you no longer have to say that, the Corvette is so good now.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: But I just-- for the money, though, would I rather have a Cayman? Probably? But eh-- I think either of those are just fantastic.
In terms of other segments, the truck thing is tough. Because the heavy duty ones, the Chevies, are hideous.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, they are butt-ugly.
JAMES RISWICK: But we all know that the trucks are about to-- are going to be redesigned in terms of their interiors, which was the number one reason they were not competitive for the segment. But we haven't seen them yet in person, so I don't know. I guess whatever the future-- the Silverado High Country with the new interior, let's go with that.
SUVs-- you know, the Tahoe and the Yukon, they are so much better now. And you have that diesel engine in them. And they now get best-in-class fuel economy while still having just as much or more torque, I don't entirely remember.
And by the way, if we say anything that's factually incorrect here, we're doing our best. We're not real historians. And there's only so many windows I can have up on my computer at any given time.
BYRON HURD: This is facts.
JAMES RISWICK: But yeah, it's-- it's extremely competitive. I think it's the best thing in the class now. So I'm going to have to go with the Chevy [INAUDIBLE].
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: I know, I just got out of a Yukon AT4. And I drove that, like, to the Vale and back. And man, that interior is so, so much better than anything that I've personally seen from GM in a long time that I was very impressed with that, yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, and it has the new Android Automotive tech interface for '22. But the old one was actually fine. But it does have that new thing.
And then EVs, I'm going to go with the one that catches fire, or could-- the Bolt. Because the Hummer is so far away. It's going to come out in stages. So yeah, it will be the first edition. But the ones that are cheaper will be so far away, it's like they don't really exist.
So I'm going to say the Bolt because-- maybe not just like right in this moment, but it was so beyond everything else. Like, the amount of range you got from that car just massively leapfrogged anything that was remotely similar in price.
And although the body style, they completely whiffed on in terms of something that people would actually want to buy, it still counts for a lot. Because that is a very impressive vehicle. And it deserves a lot more attention than it gets because the body style hurt it. But from a technical standpoint, it's a great achievement, even if the battery supplier really let them down.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, and honestly, like, I think if they'd gone Bolt EUV first and just offered either front- or all-wheel drive in what was already basically a more realistic crossover, then they probably wouldn't have had the sales struggles that they had with it. At the same time, like-- yeah, it is really good. I genuinely loved it. I just-- it's hard to call it best under the circumstances at the moment, considering they can't even sell them. So that's not a great look.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Well, enough with the best. Let's talk worst.
I would love to hear-- yeah, let's flip it around. Let's talk worst of their current vehicles. I know, like, worst-looking, for me, is the heavy duty Chevy pickups. But what do you guys think, worst of the GM lineup right now?
BYRON HURD: So I'm going to get yelled at for this one, too. Worst car, I went with the Camaro.
Which-- I know, I know, that poor Camaro. Worst truck, I went with the Canyon, which is kind of funny because, you know, right across the street from the Colorado. But you know, that's fine. SUV-- this is a narrow, narrow-- I went Trax because-- whatever we call these things.
And then I mean, EV Bolts, both of the Bolts, because they do catch fire. Like, I'm just trying to be consistent here. Like, I'm-- [LAUGHING] like, you know, it's not like there's a large pool to choose from when it comes to EV--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Right, right.
BYRON HURD: I mean, if the Hummer doesn't exist, then it can't be the worst one either, right? So you know, like-- you could say EV1, I guess. But that's certainly not current.
JAMES RISWICK: Well, cars-- I mean, what, do they have the Malibu? Like, that's-- they don't make that anymore, so I guess you're stuck with the Camaro. And that has had issues for a very long time. It just doesn't connect with people.
They had-- someone at GM thought the Flowtie front end was a good idea. And that got-- they walked that back quickly. It's just not as good as-- it's too-- very high, muscular throw. It's just not-- it doesn't have wide enough appeal, I think, ultimately, even though from a driving perspective, it's the best in the segment. It is fantastic.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: But perhaps they focused a little too much on that. My overall worst is the Chevy Equinox, although-- because the Chevy Express is-- is a van that's been made since the mid-'90s, and objectively is the worst. I'm going to say the Equinox because it doesn't approach the class leader in any way. Interior space, average, but well below the segment leaders. Interior quality and design, below average. Power, fuel economy, below average. Driving experience, deadly dull, like the Blazer.
And then there's just the way it looks. It's just-- yeah, it's been kind of tweaked for '22. But it's just this amorphous blob of a thing. It was Chevy's design language at the time. But I mean, we're talking about, like, the Bolt and the Malibu. And it did not translate to this amorphous blob of an SUV. And it's just a sad-looking car, especially compared to everything that it competes with, which is like CR-Vs and RAV4s, for goodness' sake, yet it's just kind of sad and blobby.
And again, they have the Blazer. They have the Trailblazer. So they've definitely course corrected since then, so that's a good thing, they can-- which they're better to drive, too. So there's finally a little more brand cohesion there for Chevrolet.
And here's the other thing-- compact SUVs are the most important segment-- outsized, full size trucks. So they don't really have-- I'm sure plenty of people buy them because they have a Chevy dealer in their town. But it's just not a competitive product at the moment.
But I will say, the fact that I think this is the worst thing they sell at the moment-ish is very telling. Because the past, where there would have been a lot more to choose from-- the bar is so much higher than it had been in, say, the 2000s. And that's ultimately a good thing.
And yeah, trucks-- you know, the current Silverado. They need to redo the interior. And oh, they did, so great.
And then the EV-- yeah, the thing that could catch on fire due to the battery, that's not great.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: So wait a minute, your best EV and your worst EV are the same thing?
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, they only sell one, dude.
What do you want from me?
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Well, I mean, we could talk upcoming, I guess, if we need more than--
JAMES RISWICK: The best is the EUV. The worst is the EV.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Ah.
JAMES RISWICK: There you go.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: OK.
BYRON HURD: There you go.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: OK. All right, I'm with you now. I'm with you now.
BYRON HURD: That works.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, honestly, and I agree with you on Equinox. Because honestly, I was going back and forth between the two. Like, I was trying to think of, like, where they have egregiously bad SUVs, and they really don't.
Honestly, what did it for me for Trax was just the styling is just so unbelievably dorky. I am-- I apologize to anyone watching, listening to, reading a transcript of anything we're saying right now, if you own a Trax, I'm sorry. I really am.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, I think the Trax is appealing to people who want the lowest lease payment of all time.
BYRON HURD: Yes.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: I think that's probably where that ends. All right, well, it's safe to say we've probably driven more cars than the average person. Do you guys have, like, favorite and least favorite GM cars that you've driven to date? I can go first on this one.
My favorite GM car that I've driven to date, I think, is going to be the CTS-V Wagon. Before I started my job here, I was working for a film production company who actually was hired to do the V Academy video out at Spring Mountain. So I spent, like, a week just driving V Wagons around getting cool shots with really expensive cameras. So that was the best for me.
And then I think the worst for me, probably my college ex-girlfriend's Buick Skylark. But that might have-- you know, it might not just be the car, but the memories that come along with that. But how do you guys feel? What's your favorite that you've driven to date?
JAMES RISWICK: Well, I guess I'm like Byron, I believe. Almost the entirety of my GM driving experience has been, like, in a professional capacity, like, driven cars-- so since, like, 2006. And so within that time frame-- I'm going to keep it to there.
And I was tempted by the Pontiac G8. That was a really cool car. It had a lot of-- it was from Australia, so it had a lot of, like, Wacky Pants interior stuff, which made it kind of interesting and charming, yet also bad. But it was-- it looked fantastic. It was fantastic to drive, too. C7 Vette-- again, you mentioned it, the CTS-- or actually, no, the last CTS-V, that thing was great.
But I'm going to say the original Chevy Volt is the best that I've driven because of just how significant it was, not unlike the Bolt, but how much of a technical achievement it was. It was a plug-in hybrid. They called it any number of marketing things, but that's what it was. It was a plug-in hybrid way ahead of everything else.
And it was such a solid concept. It was revolutionary not just for GM, but for the entire industry. And yeah, it only had two back seats, and the ones that were there were cramped. And the aero dam on the front, like, scraped on everything, everything-- molehill, everything. It scraped on everything.
And yeah, it wasn't as cool as the concept car. But it was a terrific city car. I drove it-- back in the old days, we had one. It was a long-termer. And I drove it constantly in LA traffic. And it was fantastic.
It had one-pedal driving. It was pretty quick with that electric motor. It had that low center of gravity, that the battery ran down the center of the car in, like, a T fashion. So you had it literally low and in the center of the car-- really grounded. It was surprisingly fun to drive.
Really kind of cool interior controls-- touch capacitive, which were eh, but at the time, pretty neat. It had the white kind of iMac center console.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh, man, yes.
JAMES RISWICK: And I drove it a lot. I loved that car. And because it was a plug-in hybrid, you could actually take it on a road trip. It was pretty comfortable, and decent trunk space.
It's a really cool car. I think it does-- I hope it gets remembered for being-- maybe it didn't end up being a big seller, or maybe it wasn't as important in the long run. But at the time, it was a big deal. And I think it was a pretty big achievement, and GM at its best.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, living in Detroit at the time, I saw those things everywhere. I now realize that my little tri-county Detroit area was not representative of how the United States buys vehicles--
JAMES RISWICK: No.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: --now that I live out of state and people are, you know, not hating me for driving Subarus and Toyotas, but--
JAMES RISWICK: A lot more Pontiac G6s per capita--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh.
JAMES RISWICK: --than otherwise.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: At least two of my best friends.
BYRON HURD: And lots of Aztek derivatives.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh, yes, yeah, yeah. Did you ever drive the Cadillac version? I can't remember what the Cadillac version of the Volt is called.
JAMES RISWICK: ELR? I did, I did.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: What did you think of that one?
JAMES RISWICK: Well, interesting because that thing was actually really good, too. Like, it was mechanically, the same thing. It had this lovely interior. It looked pretty cool.
But the price was hilarious.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: It was announced, and we all laughed. Like, I'm not-- this is-- we laughed because it was so outrageously, insanely expensive that we thought they were kidding.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, and that was the one that actually, Cadillac offered a-- I don't know if they called it a performance package, but like a sport package for that one that actually had, like, a sport-tuned suspension and stuff, too, if I remember right. I think it was maybe later in life, near when they canceled it. But I think that happened.
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I don't-- I mean, I liked it. But as a consumer product, it was nonsense because of the price. It might as well have just been priced, like, dollar sign, gajillion jillion. Like, it didn't matter. It was so stupid.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Right, right.
JAMES RISWICK: Don't buy.
BYRON HURD: Oh, so yeah, they actually retuned the powertrain, too. So it wasn't just that it handled better, but it actually got more punch, which did reduce its total range.
JAMES RISWICK: How long was that on the market?
BYRON HURD: Not very long.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, like, a few years, right?
JAMES RISWICK: It could have been three months, it could have been eight years.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: But we just stopped paying attention to it because it didn't matter.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah. All right, Byron, what do you got for your favorite?
BYRON HURD: So this is another-- just throwing another wrench this time. Of the ones I've actually driven, I'm actually going to go with the CT5-V Blackwing. And again, this is getting weird because I have driven the C8. And obviously, I've driven the CT5-V, too. And the CT5-V Blackwing, the supercharged V8 in that thing, there is such a sense of occasion with that car.
And honestly, the only reason-- well, OK, there are two reasons why I chose the CT4-V over the CT5-V. First of all, it's cheaper. I'm openly acknowledging that it is about-- you're talking about a $20,000 to $25,000 difference once you actually load them up and start playing around with stuff.
Also, I come from basically having two big V8 American cars almost in a row over the past few years. And so I was just ready for small again. But the CT5-V Blackwing is not really that big. It's not really that heavy. It's only, like, 200 pounds more than the CT4-V, and sounds amazing-- everything about it is just so much.
But it's just-- it's impressive. It's a show. But like, where would I ever use it? I mean, it's not like the 4 is so underpowered that-- it's not like a Miata.
But at the same time, what makes the 5 so much better than the 4 doesn't make it any better for what I'm going to do with it. Like, I'm going to track it. I'm going to autocross it. But the V8 doesn't necessarily make it any better at either of those things. It just makes it more fun the rest of the time when it's making noise. And I've done the V8 noise thing, so I'm moving on.
But I just still-- like, I appreciate it for what it is. It is one of the most impressive products GM's ever put together, and certainly top three for the ones I've driven of theirs all-time, with the C8 and the 4 being the others that I would throw in there.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: How about worst?
BYRON HURD: [CHUCKLES] So OK, a couple of years back, when the pandemic started, I decided I was going to go stay with my parents in New Mexico for a couple of months. And I did a one-way rental. So I rented a then newish-- it was a 2020, I believe, Chevy Malibu from Enterprise. And while it was an incredibly competent car, it was still an Enterprise rental car in the middle of the pandemic, which meant it had-- I don't even remember how many miles were on it.
I don't think I've driven a rental car that's ever had more than about 7,500 miles on it before in my life. This one had well in excess of 10,000. It had had, by rental standards, one of the longest lives of a car you would find for rent in the domestic fleets from a real rental company-- not just Jack's down the road, but a national chain.
It smelled. It made me sick driving it. Like, I actually had-- my sinuses were getting inflamed by whatever was traveling through the vents and the HVAC in that car. It was terrible.
But it got me there. Mechanically, everything about it was great. But, like, it just reminded me how poorly those cars wear when they're not taken care of.
Because that's-- any car is going to suffer from neglect, right? But not all cars are equally hard-wearing. And I'll tell you, a 2020 Chevy Malibu is not a hard-wearing vehicle.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Jeez.
JAMES RISWICK: So your worst was not just a general year, make, model. It was literally a car.
BYRON HURD: That one, that particular car.
JAMES RISWICK: So there was a VIN number--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: --associated with your story.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: The license plate was-- yeah.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that one actually-- it did legitimately have some problems with it, though. The electrical system just quit on me at one point when I was cruising through a small town in New Mexico-- you know, 30 mile an hour speed limit. It wasn't a big deal.
But literally, just everything in the car just turned off. The engine was still running. But the transmission stopped responding to anything. So I just had to ease it off the side of the road, shut it off, turn it back on. And yeah, you know, like any good router, it was back and ready to roll. But that was an interesting experience.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, I mean, shoot, just driving from-- where were you at, Ohio at that point, down to New Mexico?
BYRON HURD: I was in Detroit at that point, so yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh, OK, Detroit to New Mexico. That in and of itself would be an interesting experience. I don't think I'd want to do it in a Malibu.
BYRON HURD: It could have been worse, but--
JAMES RISWICK: If we're going with, like, specific cars, there was a long-term Saturn Aura that spent almost two months in the shop for various maladies. That was a piece of junk. But yeah, I have a deep well of turd sandwiches over the years, entirely from the 2000s. That was not a good era.
There was a Pontiac Solstice Coupe-- oh, not good. The Cadillac XLR-- who's ever getting in that? And just everything was kind of rickety and, like, really oddly confining, and uncomfortably claustrophobic inside.
The Buick LaCrosse, the first one, was such a nondescript, ugly, uncompetitive parts bin special. The Chevy Cobalt XFE--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: [LAUGHTER] Jeez.
JAMES RISWICK: But ultimately, I am going with the Hummer H2 SUT, the truck.
BYRON HURD: Oh, yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Now, yes, it was appallingly fuel inefficient. How inefficient? We don't know. It was a heavy duty truck, so they didn't actually have to report fuel economy.
Yes, it was offensively enormous, and clogged parking lots and your view of the mountains, et cetera. But it was-- here's the other thing-- it was not good. It was just objectively not a very good or useful vehicle.
It was the size of a house on the outside. But inside, it wasn't big at all. Like, I sat in the backseat of one, and I was like this in the backseat. It had no space to speak of, the truck.
I'm talking about the SUT. Because the regular one was also all of what I'm saying, but the truck, in particular-- the bed on that was wider than it was long. Think about that for a sec.
It wasn't even three feet long. And yeah, it had the Avalanche midgate thing, but I mean, really? So it was, as a truck, kind of useless.
It was also slow. Like, we're talking about 0 to 60 in the 10s. even though it had all of the V8 engine in it. It was just ponderous to drive everywhere.
I think at the time, our test driver did, like, a slalom in it. And he almost went as fast backwards as forwards, because he did try that. The visibility-- terrible visibility.
Interior quality, because it was a 2000s GM product, was not good for the money, or period. So yeah, it could have gotten 50 miles per gallon, and it still would have been just bad. You know, kind of pee on that.
And I will say I never drove an Aztek. I definitely sat in one at a dealership. But I don't think it was as bad as any of those.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, I never got even anywhere near to an Aztek at all, ever. I think the worst I've been in in the 2000s was a Rendezvous. But we could go on and on.
So the three of us, we're children of the '80s, though I don't really recall any of it because I was only four and a half months old when 1990 came around. That being said, 1980s GM cars kind of played a fairly big role in my life early on. I called my parents, actually, like an hour ago.
And they couldn't tell me for certain, but there were one of three cars that I was brought home from the hospital in as a newborn in 1989. It was either a 1988 Chevy Corsica, metallic gray with red striping-- that red striping, I'm sure, made it look so great-- or a 1985 red and gray Pontiac Grand Am, which I think was the first year after they brought it back, or it was a 1985 red and white Chevy Maxi van. I don't remember the Grand Am at all from my childhood, though I do have some memory of the van and the Corsica. What are your guys' first experiences, GM car? I know-- yeah, this will be interesting.
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, well, yeah, I was brought home from the hospital in an '83-- no, '81 Buick LeSabre. So that's--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: OK.
JAMES RISWICK: --that's a big, big, black Malaise-era sedan. And then short-lived, but at the time, my dad had an '83 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, which was a neat car at the time, a car that my mom would later get. But those were the last two GM cars they would own. [LAUGHS]
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, same here. Yeah, those three were the last three GM cars my parents owned as well.
JAMES RISWICK: I don't think they were particularly bad, but dad went to Jeep for a couple of-- for two-- for four years, and then never went back again to that, either. But my family had them all into the-- all throughout the '80s, with the exception of a couple of aunts and uncles who had Ford Tempos-- oops. So yeah, early on--
And actually, it was funny because I got to drive a Buick Grand National maybe 10 years ago. And that was, like, a cool car. But I thought it was cool because it was like stepping back in time to my childhood.
Because like, really, the interior of the Regal was basically the same as all those cars I grew up with. And I knew how to use the radio with the little four chiclet buttons that if you press more than one, it was a different radio preset entirely. So yeah, from this era, I would say I was quite familiar with mundane cars.
You said '85 Grand Am, so--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yes.
JAMES RISWICK: --in 1980-- after '80, '85, my grandmother asks me, what kind of car should I get, James? And I go, you should get a red Pontiac Grand Am. And she bought a red Pontiac Grand Am. Bam.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Wow.
JAMES RISWICK: I've been dispensing automotive advice since I was three years old.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: [LAUGHTER] OK. How about you, Byron?
BYRON HURD: So my family was all-- they had a bunch of imports, honestly. Like, my parents had Toyota Tercels, VW Rabbits. I think the first exposure I had to GM on any real basis was my best friend growing up back in Maryland. His parents had an old custom Cruiser with the rear-facing seats in the tailgate and everything.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
BYRON HURD: Oh my god-- big old wagon. It was cream with the woody treatment. It was, like, stereotypical-- oh my god. And that was great because we're six, seven years old.
So this actually would have been in the '90s, but it was an '80s vehicle. And they're taking us to the pool in the community and stuff like that. So we loved it because they would just throw us in the back with the towels and be like, don't get anything wet. And we flipped down the thing, and put the towels out on it, and just kind of--
And then occasionally, they would forget that they hadn't put the seats in the back. And they'd just be like, eh, we're not going that far. You'll be fine. So-- [LAUGHTER] but yeah, that was really it.
It wasn't until I actually started doing this that I got to get out and actually experience more GM vehicles. Because just nobody was around when I was younger, really, had 'em.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Do you guys have, like, favorites and least favorites from the '80s and the '90s?
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, yeah. So I kind of wanted to pick the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Coupe from, like, '88. Because that thing was-- I don't think-- that was, like, pretty cool. It had the blackout B and C pillars on it, which was kind of a thing for GM at the time. But it actually got a little better-looking in the '90s. And it also got more powerful because it only had, like, 130 horsepower, so let's move that aside.
So I'm going to go with-- because I'm-- forgive my Canadian pronunciation here, but the Camaro IROC "Zed." Because I think that's cool. I know it has, like, the whiff of mullet about it. But I don't care.
I've always-- I still think that looks pretty distinctive. And yeah, I mean, if you look, it actually had some muscle to it for the time. If you look at how much power it actually has, it's like a Subaru Forester today. But--
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: You know, I think that thing's cool. I'd drive that. I don't know if-- if either of you watched "The Americans." But like, that car--
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: --it wasn't the IROC-Z, but it was, like, the other-- like, an earlier Camaro with Phillip, the Russian spy, who likes-- he wants to buy an American car. And that was a cool thing that he wanted. And I totally get it. It was very cool.
I like that thing. I think it deserves a comeback in terms-- I think we should retro the '80s. Like, that thing-- make Camaro different. The next one should reference that one.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, I'm here for that. Go back to IROC over Z28. That'll be fun. This is another weird one, but I guess that's just where I'm rolling today. So I'm actually going to go for best of the '80s being the Fiero.
And I know it's not-- it's another one that's not objectively good, right?
It's not objectively good. But it's a nice relic of when GM tried. And that sounds terrible now because they're obviously-- like, things have changed, in the last decade, especially.
But when you look at the '80s, like, they were coming off malaise. And they were just finally like, you know-- which is going to tie into my least favorite car from GM from the '80s. But you have this-- like, the sense that they're trying things.
And I think that was when GM was still investing in, like, aerospace companies and all the other crazy crap the domestics were doing in the '80s, where they were like, yeah, we're diversifying. We're doing new things. It certainly hasn't been repeated in any way in modern automotive manufacturing, right? We're not getting into technology or software or anything weird like that-- why would we?
But like, they were doing weird things with the cars back then. And the Fiero was kind of the last where, like, they're going to throw it to the wall and see if it sticks. And then by the time it got killed off, it actually was halfway decent. And the next generation of it could have been good. I mean, we could have gotten to, like, a mid-engined GM sports car that was worth a damn way before we actually did, two years ago.
So hey, it-- most people know Fiero because it was a junker on "How I Met Your Mother." But like, for a lot of us, it was just like, hey, they did something. They tried, they really did.
And then for another 10 years, it was just, well, let's start throwing SS badges on stuff and see if it works. So you know, I like to kind of recognize that that little bit of effort actually went into doing something different.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: So what was your worst, then? You said there's a tie-in there.
BYRON HURD: I'm going to go with the front wheel drive Cadillac Fleetwood, the downsized Fleetwood-- the, like, post-malaise leftover Fleetwood, the "oh my god, we can't keep doing this, but it's already paid for, so let's keep selling them until no one buys them anymore" Fleetwood.
JAMES RISWICK: That was the first Cadillac I ever went in. My aunt Lorna had one. She loved that thing-- silver.
After the black LeSabre that my family sold to them, she got that. Gosh, that was the first Cadillac I had been in.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Is that your worst one too, James, or--
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. There's a far deeper--
BYRON HURD: Is it the Fiero?
JAMES RISWICK: --far, far deeper turd iceberg from Cadillac to sample from in the '80s. And that would be the Cimarron. I mean, that is--
BYRON HURD: See--
JAMES RISWICK: --the correct answer.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Mm.
JAMES RISWICK: It is--
BYRON HURD: --I thought it was too easy. [LAUGHTER]
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, but sometimes the easy answer is the correct one. Yeah, let's take an '80s Cavalier and [INAUDIBLE] Well, of course it was the '80s. Because there's-- what other decade-- they couldn't easily pull the '90s Cavalier in 1980-something.
But anyway, it was-- unacceptable. It was unacceptable at the time. It was unacceptable thereafter-- just an embarrassing vehicle.
You still see them up until a while ago, for someone's grandmother who bought one because that was what she could afford. And it was-- they'll show up in Palm Springs Used Car Sales. And they're just, like, immaculate. But--
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: --just, just embarrassing.
BYRON HURD: There have to be at least a few of those still around here, too. I haven't seen any of them, surprisingly, since I moved here--
JAMES RISWICK: I mean, really, more often than not, the worst of GM is badge engineering at it's worst. And you know, this is an era of that, too. Like, is that a Buick? Is it an Oldsmobile? I don't know.
Like, talking about those wagons you were talking about, they were indistinguishable.
BYRON HURD: Yes.
JAMES RISWICK: But like, really? They're going to pull Cadillac into this now? OK. Yeah, did not-- I mean, it hurt Cadillac for a long time.
I mean, but then you also have-- like, that same IROC-Z Camaro that a couple of years earlier was introduced as a-- that same generation Camaro Sport Coupe, which had the 90-horsepower Iron Duke four cylinder, which-- yeah, 90 horsepower. This is not like the four cylinder turbo of Camaro today. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, that's a rather sad moment. What I actually-- I found the-- apparently 12% of owners of the '82 Camaro chose the Iron Duke, versus 51%, which got the V8, so thank God.
And then also Oldsmobile diesels. That set back diesel in this country for forever, until Volkswagen really finished it off.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, right?
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, I was going to say, diesel has not made a comeback in this country, so yeah. What about the '90s? I don't have any-- all my experience with GM cars was, like, '80s, and then now since I've started driving them for work. I don't have any experience in 1990s GMs.
JAMES RISWICK: I think the '90s were a great era for GM, especially in terms of design. Like--
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: --if you look at the cars, it's hard to see how they in any way competed with like, a Camry, or Accords, like, those things, just because they were always a different size, and they were just going for different stuff. So it was kind of-- I would have hated to do a comparison test then because it would have-- or maybe it would have been interesting? I don't know.
But I'm going to say for the best was the Oldsmobile Aurora. Because yes, I do have a model of this thing.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Wow.
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, from the Indy 500. I lived in Indianapolis at that time. My father owned this car. It was pretty much because I begged and pleaded him to get one because I thought it was the coolest damn thing.
It was new. It was different. It was futuristic. And it was an attempt, albeit ultimately a fleeting one, to actually make Oldsmobile unique and coherent. Because if you look at what they were selling just two years before, it is like, just the pulling off the shelf, badge engineering stuff. They were all over the place. And this kind of signaled that it was going to be new.
I mean, it didn't even have Oldsmobile written on the car except for the radio faceplate. But besides having, like, the ultimate melting soap, super '90s look to it, I still think it looks neat. Maybe I'm just so a child of the '90s that I'm just indoctrinated, but I still think it looks great.
The interior was really cool. Like, it wrapped around the driver to an absurd degree. The passenger control for the-- the passenger had their own temperature control in the door because everything was just moved over away from them. It's not quite like the C8 Corvette, but it was kind of close.
Just a lot of really cool, unique things in that car that weren't, like, spread around. It was most related to the Buick Riviera at the time, which was also kind of neat. But it wasn't in any way like [INAUDIBLE].
4.0-liter, Northstar V8. It had a lot of power. Front wheel drive, so, eh. But yeah, it's comfortable.
I sat in the backseat a lot in that car, going on family vacations down to Florida. And my dad, I think to this day, says it's his favorite car he's ever had. And it looked great--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Wow.
JAMES RISWICK: It looked great in purple, which he had. It was like the color of wine-- beautiful. They had two purple colors. They had a purple one, and then, like, a burgundy. And he had the burgundy-- gorgeous. Gold package, too.
And on that car, there was--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh, man.
JAMES RISWICK: --there was only the badge, and the word Aurora on the back.
BYRON HURD: Right.
JAMES RISWICK: So it wasn't like a Lexus. It was actually kind of complementary. So yeah, that's the best 'cause I have the model.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: What's the worst?
JAMES RISWICK: Ooh, this is hard. Now, I actually asked for some feedback from some friends who had owned them. And there was a lot of recommendations for Cavalier, the first Lumina, the Corsica, the Beretta. But all of that was based on them, like, falling apart and being terrible thereafter.
So I was like, eh. I mean, I didn't have that personal experience. I think you kind of have to-- we're automotive journalists. We only have to worry about what it's like new. And thereafter, thereon--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Right.
JAMES RISWICK: [INAUDIBLE] you know? So I'm going to go with the Oldsmobile Ciera. Because it actually was made in '95 and '96, the first years of the Aurora. They were selling this at the same time as that thing, which dated back to 1982. I already said I was taken home from the hospital in the Ciera. I was born in '83. So yeah, there was like a pretty major refresh in, like, '89, but effectively, it was the same car.
Look at the interior of the thing. It is the same as the '80s. So they were selling a car that was old at the beginning of the '90s into the middle of the decade. So like, you can say it was, like-- I'm not sure you can really say it wasn't competitive. Because nothing that-- no one sold anything remotely similar to this thing by that time.
Because they also had the Cutlass Supreme as a mid-size sedan. And I guess the Olds Achieva was a compact? Clearly, people were buying them because they just kept trotting them out.
And maybe they were actually better made than the Corsicas and the other things that all-- [INAUDIBLE] and the Lumina, and that's why they could keep making them. Also, the Buick Century-- same car. So I think just for the lack of-- them continuing to trot out a fossil for so long is why that was the worst of the '90s.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: All right, Byron, best, worst of the '90s for you.
BYRON HURD: All right, so best is tough. And honestly, like James said, there are really a lot of good choices in that. And I actually wrote down three different ones. So I'm going to go ahead and commit to the C4 Corvette because it's-- I mean, it's a super cool and underappreciated Corvette.
By that point, the C4 Corvette wasn't a complete joke anymore. Like, it was really only a joke because it was way underpowered when it was first introduced in the '80s. And then by the mid '90s, when it was kind of phasing out, it actually had gotten pretty good.
Then we got this cool Lotus-engineered overhead cam V8, like, super awesome car. They're actually still reasonably affordable, too. Like, as far as collectible Corvettes go, you can still get one-- at least, you could before the pandemic. You could get them for less than 20 grand, which is thoroughly reasonable for what's going to be a highly collectible car one day.
Now, they're probably more than that. But still, I mean, it's a really interesting Corvette until-- well, we'll see what happens over the next couple of years. But the idea of overhead cam V8s and Corvettes is just-- never really panned out all that well. And of course, it spawned a very successful kind of sub-brand for Corvette, which-- it had some staying power. Pretty cool car.
The others that I put down were the GMC Cyclone, which just barely made the cut because it was a '91. And I mean, now that fast trucks are all big, heavy, fast trucks, it's kind of nice to look back-- with the exception of like, Ranger, Raptor-- it's cool to look back at truly compact, fun, sporty trucks. And then of course, Typhoon after that. So I mean, those are pretty cool.
But I also just-- I wanted to recognize Firebird, kind of in the same way that you wanted to recognize IROC. Like, the Trans Ams, they're near the end, like, when that generation of that body was on its way out. Up until around, like, the turn of the century, man, we got some wild, wild-looking Firebirds.
And they were-- I mean, I had friends who've built them and love them. And they're, you know, F-body reliability--
JAMES RISWICK: So you're talking about not the one that was crap in the '80s, the one that was in the '90s?
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Whatever the-- is that fourth gen? Yeah--
BYRON HURD: Yeah, that should be fourth gen F-body, yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, the ones with, like, the four nostrils on the front?
BYRON HURD: Absolutely, yes.
JAMES RISWICK: [INAUDIBLE]
BYRON HURD: Yeah. Yeah, I think that was maybe, like, '99, 2000, 2001, if I remembering right. But yes, oh, man, they're wild-looking. You don't see too many of them left today. They're-- they're crazy.
Again, this was just-- like you said, there are so many different choices. Because I mean, C6 Corvette was introduced in the '90s. You know, there were so many-- like, you have a lot of options.
Like, they weren't necessarily doing anything particularly innovative in some of these spaces by this point. Like, it was just like, well, we know how to make a solid axle pony car go real freaking fast in a straight line. And let's make it look crazy doing it, you know?
There was nothing groundbreaking about it. But they were cool. And they were '90s cool-- that over the top, overly plasticky-- can't say words-- just like a desktop PC painted green and flying down the highway-- just as much plastic as you can load on it. Like, that was 1998 in a nutshell.
JAMES RISWICK: I think that that fourth gen Camaro, when that came out-- I still think that looks pretty good. Like, when it had the teeny, tiny-- the headlights that looked like it couldn't have been any more powerful than your common household flashlight, they were so small. And then they ruined it. They put, like, a big old, like, Chrysler Concorde, like, lower plastic grille on the front. It had the big, blobby headlights, maybe because the old ones weren't good. But either way, it kind of ruined it. I never thought that thing looked good again.
And again, you've got to-- I never hear a lot of good things about that car, dynamically. But in terms of like, them going for something that was completely different, and kind of outlandish, and-- good for them. Because those cars were absolutely that. They did sell a lot of them, but for them being kind of out there, that's kind of cool.
I mean, compared to, like, the Mustang at the time, consider how both today's Camaro and Mustang kind of are both retro, kind of of the same era. But those two were-- of the '90s, the Mustang and the Camaro were completely different in appearance and overall vibe. And again, that would have been a fun comparison test.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, well, and even since-- I mean, at the time, both of them were live axle cars. But you figure that, like, the Mustang was still the more track-oriented, dynamic car. Like, it was supposed to be the handler of the two, really.
Because you look at-- it wasn't until they started messing around with, like, Terminator, like, supercharged Cobras and stuff like that, that they were actually taking down GM in a straight line, even though both of them were V8-based. So you have to figure that-- you know, the Mustang's the one that got an IRS engineered for it for the Cobra. Like, their thing was let's go around road courses.
And GM was like, fine. We'll take straight lines. And it worked for 'em because small block V8, can't go wrong. And Ford had to come back with supercharging to get them. So that was kind of golden age for going fast in a straight line.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: What's your least favorite of the '90s? And then I'm going to hit you guys with some questions that you aren't as prepared for.
BYRON HURD: Well, I wanted to bash on the Malibu again. But then I realized that that super, super bland late '90s Malibu wouldn't have been possible without the intervening vehicle, which is the Chevy Celebrity. And the Chevy Celebrity was so uninteresting to anybody after its decade and a half, or however long it ran, that they just didn't bother.
They were like, oh, let's just do Malibu again because that hasn't worked. [LAUGHTER] Because there was a Malibu, and then there wasn't a Malibu. And then we got Celebrity. And then they killed Celebrity because it didn't go anywhere. And then we got Lumina. And then we got Malibu back. So that's, like, three revisions ago, essentially, if you look at Celebrity.
JAMES RISWICK: Celebrity-- so Celebrity ended in '90s. So that was-- eh, I think you're on the border here.
BYRON HURD: Well, I mean, it is what you got. Because I mean, do we want to say it's all of them collectively? The Celebrity, the Lumina, and the Malibu were all terrible? Because realistically--
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, actually, the Celebrity, speaking of, it's the Cutlass Ciera. It's the same damn thing--
--we expect the same car.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Man, so many were just-- like, just rebadging after rebadging. So now we're going to talk about vans a little bit. I just threw you guys three Duravans. They're concept sketches that-- I'm going to give this guy some credit-- @WB.artist20 made. So we're talking about if they made the A Team van today, that's what this first one is.
The other two-- one, we have a Chevy Astro concept. And the third one is an Escalade--
It's basically an Escalade-based Caddy van. And so my question to you is, if you could bring back and see one of these brought to production-- because it wasn't really a Caddy van like that-- if you could see one of these brought to production, the GMC Vandura, aka the A Team van, the Chevy Astro van, or the Cadillac Escalade-inspired Caddy van, which one would you choose?
JAMES RISWICK: I mean, the Cadillac is-- oh, look at the front door. Oh, no.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah--
JAMES RISWICK: Where does the engine go?
BYRON HURD: Where do your-- where do your legs go to get out? I mean, that's worse than a-- like, that's Sprinter or Transit van levels of awkward egress. Like, you'd have to turn your entire body sideways, and then step out with your left leg, and then follow it with your right, kind of slide down.
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, no. It's also kind of Japanese-looking, like one of those, like, HiAce Japanese market vans. Actually, they'd probably love it in Japan for that very reason.
BYRON HURD: I think I actually like the-- the nose of the Cadillac, I think, might actually be my favorite of the three. It's just everything behind it that gets really scary.
JAMES RISWICK: It's no more ridiculous than the Escalade. I mean, it's the same-- it's the--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: It's the same as the Escalade, yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: But-- yeah.
BYRON HURD: I mean, I guess if they're electric, then it doesn't matter where we stick the nose, except for how you get in and out of the vehicle. That is a challenge with some of these.
JAMES RISWICK: One is probably the most, like, coherent, "looks kind of realistic" of them all. The Chevy, personally, I would have gone with the HD front end on that, to really bring it home.
JAMES RISWICK: I think because-- just for the humor, I would want to see the Cadillac. But I think the GMC is probably the one that I could see most working. And honestly, maybe like the Sienna Woodland, which is like the outdoorsy version of the Toyota Sienna without actually really offering much of an improvement at all-- maybe if they did sell something like that, maybe that could be-- people would like that more than an Acadia.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: All right, now, in honor of the Hummer, which we've mentioned a couple times, the H2 and the EV, which existing or past GM car would you want to see, buy, or drive as an EV the most?
JAMES RISWICK: Ooh. Oh, so you're talking about like a retro mod?
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: It could be a retro mod. It could be something they make now, but just in EV form. Like, which would you want to drive the most?
JAMES RISWICK: Oh, like late '60s, Olds Toronado. Or actually, any of those, those three related cars-- late '60s Olds Toronado, Buick Riviera, and Cadillac Eldorado. Those are some of my favorite cars of all time. They are, like, very cool from their design. And they're gigantic, so I'm sure they could fit in lots of batteries in them. But that would be my choice. Because I'm all about EV retro mods of giant, old personal luxury coupes.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: OK. Byron?
BYRON HURD: I'm going to cheat. I'm going to say the Cadillac Sixteen, which was never actually built. And the entire point of it was that it had a V16. So this would literally defeat the purpose. But if we're going to call it, I don't know, the Cadillac 48 because it has a 48-volt electrical system or some crap like that, just imagine how much battery you could fit in the front of that car if you wanted to. And it might not weigh that much more than the engine they stuck in there.
And I mean, again, for the same reasons-- I mean, all that wheelbase, it would be the ultimate huge EV luxury coupe. And I think it would-- I mean, it needs some work to look modern, but it wouldn't take that much.
JAMES RISWICK: El Mirage, too-- ooh. That would be-- I just popped that photo in there. I mean--
JAMES RISWICK: --that car is spectacular. Like, could you imagine if they sold that as an EV? Like, they're not going to sell that many of them. But you could sell it for 150 grand or something.
But that's a cool car. Like, people would like to be seen in that. That's a halo car that could both really establish Cadillac as a thing, which is what we always said all along, with that beautiful thing, with that beautiful car. But then make it an EV somehow. That's probably completely unrealistic from a packaging perspective, but-- you know.
BYRON HURD: [WHISTLES]
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: All right. Finally, if you could bring back any GM brand, but one of the current ones has to go, would you do it? And if you would, which one would you revive, and which one would you kill off?
JAMES RISWICK: Oldsmobile. I'd just bring back Oldsmobile. I've mentioned it enough here.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah, you have mentioned Oldsmobile. I didn't think we'd talk so much Oldsmobile today. I'm kind of surprised at that--
JAMES RISWICK: It's surprisingly charming through the years. We've had some-- like, a lot of our editors have owned them, grew up with them. John Snyder's grandfather was like--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: He, like, ran it, right? Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, so we're basically Oldsmo-blog here.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I'd bring back Oldsmobile. And we don't need-- well-- actually, I think the least coherent brand is Chevrolet, honestly. But I'd probably got rid of Buick.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: They don't need another premium-adjacent luxury thing. Focus on Cadillac.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: I would be surprised if you two chose anything other than Buick to get rid of, honestly.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah.
BYRON HURD: I mean--
JAMES RISWICK: Well, actually, you could get rid of GMC, too. Because if they sell the same thing, apart from the Acadia and apart from-- yeah, the Terrain is [INAUDIBLE]. The Acadia is one of the most distinctive vehicles. Yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: All right, Byron, what would you bring back, and what would you get rid of?
BYRON HURD: I'd bring back Pontiac and kill Buick, yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: OK.
BYRON HURD: I feel like I was burning-- like, everything was kind of leading to that question, really, if you look at some of the things I'd already chosen here. Yeah, that was kind of inevitable.
JAMES RISWICK: Pontiac was-- such a shame because there was, like-- we all like the idea of Pontiac. We kind of got what the brand should be. And I think that was kind of distilled in that G8, even though they took it from Australia.
But the reality was, like, ribbed plastic body cladding, and the Pontiac G3. And just, like, they couldn't help themselves about actually creating a coherent brand where like, yeah, we're going to be the performance-oriented but not luxury brand. OK, that's a thing. We've kind of seen-- there are those that exist. Like, we all wanted it to be Mazda with like, a hell yeah, American vibe, basically.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: But they just never-- they could never drive it home and actually [AUDIO OUT]
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: All right, for the last segment, if you will, you each are going to give each other three GM vehicles. And you each get to pick one that you have to drive till the end of your days, till the DMV takes away your driver's license, which I don't think they actually ever do that, based on the fact that my 92-year-old grandpa still has his.
So James, give Byron three. And then Byron will return fire.
JAMES RISWICK: OK, your choices are-- don't worry, these are great vehicles-- the Buick Rendezvous--
BYRON HURD: Oh, man.
JAMES RISWICK: --the Saturn Ion Sedan, and-- now, I could have had multiple choices here. But ultimately, I'm going with the Chevrolet Uplander.
--that you have to drive for the rest of your life.
BYRON HURD: Oh-- this is--
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh.
BYRON HURD: [LAUGHTER] I mean, I'm trying to remember how bad the Uplander-- it was really bad. It was really bad.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: I just had to google that one, too. Yeah, I was like, [SIGHS]
JAMES RISWICK: That's just-- yeah. Two of these are mechanically related, too.
BYRON HURD: You know what? Oh, no, this is terrible. I'm--
This is mean. All right, I'm going with the Ion, believe it or not. I'm actually going to go-- you know what? Because I think that is the least of these three evils, really.
Like, I-- [GROANS] I mean, it is a relatively modern vehicle. I mean, I drive-- I daily a 2003 Matrix. Like, my standards are low.
But I-- I could live with that. I could live with-- I don't-- I couldn't do the Rendezvous, I couldn't. And I-- I couldn't do the Uplander. I--
I love minivans. I genuinely love minivans. I think, as a person who doesn't have any children, I think everyone with children should have a minivan so that you're not letting your kids bang their doors into my car. Anyway, the-- I couldn't sentence myself to it. I couldn't. I'd rather have the Ion.
It might-- I mean, you could probably, uh, find some performance shocks and springs for it, and make it less horrible.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: The only thing that can make this less horrible is the fact that you now get to give the same question to James, and see the pain on-- I can see the pain on your face right now when you're talking about trying to find performance springs for an Ion.
BYRON HURD: OK, I've got a theme. James and I are both sci-fi fans. So I'm going with an outer space theme here.
We're going to go with three Pontiacs that all had sun in their name, [LAUGHTER] or something that means something related to a sun. So your choices are a Pontiac Solstice Coupe, NA, so that you don't fit in it-- that's important to me. You can't take that top off. Actually, I think they did have, like, a targa top, right? So technically, you could. But your head would be-- it'd be great.
A 2001-- I'm giving you a 2001, which is probably, like, the ideal year for it-- Pontiac Sunfire, or just any Pontiac Sunbird. Now, the thing to--
The Sunbird, I think, almost feels like I'm being too generous--
JAMES RISWICK: That may be.
BYRON HURD: --just because it's interesting.
JAMES RISWICK: --it might be.
BYRON HURD: But it would have to-- this is the car you have to count on every day. I don't know if you have children or a child, so like, you know, remember. [LAUGHTER]
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, so-- yeah, it's hard. Because I mean, the one in, like, the late '80s, that Sunbird, actually, for a compact car, looked pretty good. But I mean, I am also judging it by looks. And I mean, I can only-- I drove the Chevy Cavalier. It was-- well, as the driver's ed vehicle. And that was atrocious.
So I mean, the Sunfire, same thing. So I mean-- but that was the successor to the Sunbird. So I guess it was better? So--
BYRON HURD: Well--
JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. And yeah, that Solstice, man, like, I don't think I left the parking lot in that because I didn't fit in it. The seats were so unbelievably uncomfortable. Like-- and then there was just a lot of nonsense in that car.
Like, the window switches were here. I think it might have been a cup holder, but I could have been wrong. And then the-- the trunk was, like, this big. It's just a--
BYRON HURD: I think they borrowed-- I want to say that the NC Miata might have also had power window switches that were on the console back there, too. And I think GM might have cribbed that from Mazda.
JAMES RISWICK: And if-- see, look at this. Like, right here on your head. Look how low that goes. I think that the-- the visibility was just atrocious on that. And I have to drive that every day?
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: [SIGHS]
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oof.
JAMES RISWICK: Oh. But any Pontiac Sunbird--
BYRON HURD: You can have your choice of Pontiac Sunbird.
JAMES RISWICK: OK, well, here-- here, I think I-- OK, I think I found one that works here. This looks like-- from 1977.
Here, there was a '76 that that lovely lady in yellow is wearing. And then the '77, which the woman with the big collar-- and that has sporty wheels. And it has a red stripe on it. I'll go with that. You-- you had a Trojan horse in your selection that you were not aware of. So--
BYRON HURD: I mean, yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: --I'm going to drive that as it looks there.
BYRON HURD: As it looks, OK.
JAMES RISWICK: Because I don't-- yeah, because--
BYRON HURD: OK.
JAMES RISWICK: --that survived till now.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: 45 years old, yeah. Yikes.
BYRON HURD: I mean, you might get three years out of it before you're rebuilding the thing. So it might as well start fresh. That's only fair.
JAMES RISWICK: I mean, I'm sure we could google as to what the hell this is. But that looks pretty cool. I'll take that. Oh, Formula-- '77 Pontiac Sunbird Formula. Oh, yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: There you go.
JAMES RISWICK: There you go. That sounds-- that sounds great. I'm going to drive that until the end of time. Good God, there was a Sunbird Safari Wagon.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Oh my God, we're going to have another hour of James looking up Sunbirds because of this question.
JAMES RISWICK: But it was like-- it was, like, a Pinto-style wagon, like the two-door, like the Illinois Nazis drive in "The Blues Brothers." Oh, that's terrible.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, I'm just-- but again, just consider-- what's underneath in most of these cases.
JAMES RISWICK: In the '77, the Formula hatchback, the body style was--
BYRON HURD: I mean, that's a Skylark.
JAMES RISWICK: This thing I'm reading here, it was noted for having resemblance to the Ferrari 365 GTC/4.
BYRON HURD: Resemblance, sure, yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: There you go. It had a--
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: [INAUDIBLE] standard engine, the Iron Duke.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
JAMES RISWICK: You know? Hey, maybe it was crap in a Camaro, but in a Sunbird? Think it had a handling package-- T/A steering wheel there. Yeah, this is great.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Some people say I have a resemblance to Chris Hemsworth, so--
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: --there you go.
BYRON HURD: I get that, too.
CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yeah. All right, well, with that, we'll leave you there. Remember, if you like this content and would like to see more, if any of you are still with us after seven hours of Sunbird talk, hit that Subscribe button below and check out autoblog.com for reviews, and news, and all other things automotive.