Driving the BMW M3 CS and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and Toyota reveals a new Camry | Autoblog Podcast #807

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. They kick the discussion off by talking about what they've been driving as of late, including a track test of the 2024 BMW M3 CS and then road drives of the Mazda CX-90, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce and BMW 750e xDrive. After wrapping up the drive section, the pair move on to some early reveals that happened at the L.A. Auto Show. The new Toyota Camry, Toyota Crown Signia, Hyundai Santa Fe XRT and Hyundai Ioniq 5 N are all discussed.

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Video Transcript



GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the Autoblog Podcast. I'm Greg Migliore. We have an awesome show for you this week. We're going to talk about time on track with the BMW M3 CS, a little bit of time on the road as well, the Mazda CX-90, that's a very nice three row crossover, with a straight 6, gives a different vibe. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and the 7 Series plug-in hybrid, we'll fly over some news in LA, that's the new Camry, the Crown Signia, and some stuff out of Hyundai.

That's a big show for us this week. It is the week of the LA Auto Show. So some of these things we're going to touch on, we'll come back next week and hit on those, maybe a little bit of a deeper dive and some of the other things that have shaken out. Please send us your Spend My Moneys that's With that, let's bring in road test editor Zac Palmer. How are you?

ZAC PALMER: I am doing swell. I'm pretty pumped to talk about some of these BMWs here. How are you doing?

GREG MIGLIORE: I'm doing good. It is super sunny all of a sudden. We're like a week out from Thanksgiving. It's that time of year, if you will.

ZAC PALMER: It is. I think-- well, most of my leaves have fallen at this point. The yard is looking pretty messed up. So that is classic Michigan fall right there.

GREG MIGLIORE: My leaves have fallen. But they have not been raked up. Some of them have-- but I try to do it in sort of two different batches, one kind of early to mid fall. And then that kind of right around Thanksgiving, you got to do it, because it's getting embarrassing, rake those leaves. And we've reached that point. So maybe even today. It's just the days are so short now that it's tough. You're done with work, and then it's dark out.

ZAC PALMER: Very true. It's the classic Michigan Midwest winter already, it feels like.


ZAC PALMER: We're edging in on it.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's cold. All right, so let's talk about the M3 CS. This is the competition sport. We both drove it here in Michigan. But you got to drive it on the track, at BMW Test Fest. So I'm very curious what you think. What was it like on the track?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, man, this-- this was honestly a bit of a dream to drive on track. I drove it on road, just like you did a few weeks to about a month ago. So I was already expecting it to be extremely, extremely good on the track. You could very much tell from driving it on the road that this is a vehicle that you need to have on track to really fully understand the full capabilities of it.

So one of the things that makes it so great and special on track is the fact that the CS is all wheel drive, unlike the M4 CSL. I know that a lot of people will probably be making comparisons between that CSL and the CS. BMW all wheel drive systems in their M3 and M4 are fantastic.

They're very performance driven. They are very heavily rear biased. But they do a spectacular job on track of, A, making your life easier by not having 540 horsepower directly to the rear wheels, and B, just flat out making you faster around the track.

The track that we were on was the BMW Performance Center down in Spartanburg, South Carolina. So it was pretty much a tailor-made track for BMWs. BMW actually uses that track to teach people at the Performance Center and whatnot. Various number of turns. It's sort of like a training track. So you got wide sweepers, really, really tight hairpins, any corner that you could imagine, and a bunch of elevation change too.

It's somewhat of a challenging track, technically. But this M3 CS, honestly, made it look a bit like child's play. To say that I was having fun would be a bit of an understatement. The amount of power I mean, obviously, BMW rates this thing around like 540 horsepower. It feels like more than that.

I mean, it also has the eight speed automatic. When you're full throttle on the straight, maybe with any amount of like small steering lock as you're going around a bend and it slams third to fourth gear, the amount of torque that this have, that this thing has, will literally light the rear tires up and cause you to skip sideways. It's a seriously, seriously powerful machine. And the way that it just keeps grabbing gear after gear, super, super fast gear changes. You better know that you're getting into something very fast.

And then the grip levels too, so this thing has the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup two R's on it. So that's even more extreme than just the regular Cup 2's. The R's are basically almost an R compound, track ready tire. Not great for the road. You don't want to be driving this thing around in too much water or anything like that, especially not cold weather.

But it was a nice balmy 80 degrees out there. And yeah, the amount of grip that this thing has around corners. We had several other cars out there on track too, the M2 and the I5 M60. And the way that the M3 CS would be able to go through corners versus those other cars was almost otherworldly. In that you just felt like you had an unlimited amount of grip.

And that just is sort of compounded by the fact that you have the all wheel drive system that will yank you out of the corner as soon as you're there. And the rear biasness, you can throw it into that MDM mode, which sort of relaxes stability and traction control. Get a nice flip of the rear on every tight corner exit, helping you go just steer with the throttle.

I was honestly just laughing to myself after like a lap or two at how fun and just how super capable it was around the track. I know that I mentioned to you earlier in the week that there's only like one car that I've had more fun on track in my career doing this. And we all drive a lot of cars on track. And that was the NSX Type S. But this M3 CS, if I was looking for like a car, I owned a garage or something at some fancy track, something Thermal Club or M1 here in Michigan, I would highly consider putting this thing into my garage. It is that fun and that good around the track. And that's really where this thing belongs. So yeah, top marks.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting, driving it around just the suburbs here, I thought it was a reasonable daily driver. But I just kept thinking you have so many tools at your disposal like the M Sport diff. Even the Alcantara grip steering wheel, the huge Brembo brakes, which are bronze, I believe, they're all really where to take this car to its natural habitat, which is the track.

Can you have a hell of a lot of fun driving around the suburbs? Sure you can. But to really make the most out of this car, and if you're going to spend $132,600 and some change, you want to have access to a track. You want to be like a thermal, or M1, or Monticello member.

You want to you have that type of access to really enjoy a car like this. Because it's pretty righteous just rolling around town with that-- the inline 6 with the BMW twinpower, it's awesome. But just the experience you had really sounds like you were able to get the most out of it.

ZAC PALMER: You can. And but to your point on the street, it's actually kind of a sweetheart to drive around on the street too. It wasn't you know like it's going to bite your head off or anything like that. The CSL is definitely more extreme, stiffer, the transmission shifts a little, just harsher. And it's a lot noisier on the inside because they take even more sound deadening out. There's no rear seats in that car.

The CS, though, you can drive it hundreds of miles to whatever track you want to. The suspension is soft enough that you're not going to hate yourself by the time you get there. You can bring a buddy in the back seat. I mean, and it's all wheel drive, so if you really wanted to, you could drive it through winter and throw some winter tires on it. it is--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a little low to the ground. But you know--

ZAC PALMER: Maybe a little low to the ground. Maybe light winter. If there's more than 4 inches on the ground, maybe maybe. Leave it at home. But yeah, it's really a fantastic do it all sports car and track car, honestly, too because this thing was very clearly dialed in on the racetrack.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, no, I mean, like you said, I took it to a doctor or dentist appointment. I took it golfing. You can live with it and have a lot of fun. So it can be sort of, in some ways, the best of both worlds. By the time this drops, I have a five thoughts on the M3 CS coming up with some pictures from you. By the way, kudos to that, those pictures look great of the car we had here in Michigan.

And then we'll have a track test from you, Zac, listeners, coming later probably in the month or in early December or something. So you kind of get to see it on road and track from both of our vantage points. I actually-- it's not often that this kind of lines up this way. I guess it was a bit serendipitous.

We also had the MC20, the Maserati supercar the same week. And I drove them back to back. And there were multiple ways, including, I'd like to hear what you think, the engine. Where I actually thought the BMW was slightly ahead. Both were great cars. And of course, the Maserati was more powerful. And it's-- the engine is literally mounted behind your ears in the Maserati.

But I don't know. I found the BMW 6 to be a little more characterful to just-- I thought it sounded a little better. And I don't know-- in some ways, it felt like-- and this is-- we talked about this last week. I loved the Maserati MC20. I thought it was awesome.

But there were just some elements about the M3 that I thought it was a better version of itself in fulfilling its mission than the MC20. It just-- it was kind of an interesting scenario for me to drive them back to back. I literally dropped the Maserati off for you and Amer, our video producer, at a park and then drove the M3 home. So I guess the point I'm trying to make is especially if you're looking for like a track sort of weapon, you don't have to spend 200 or 300. You can spend 132, which I also kind of wrote this, it's the cost of entry.

If you want something that's going to have this much stuff on it, you kind of got to pay for it outside of a few very notable bargains, like the Corvette Stingray comes to mind. Yeah, I don't know. I mean, you drove them back to back too. How would you frame that up? That was a pretty good week in the Autoblog fleet?

ZAC PALMER: It wasn't bad, no.

GREG MIGLIORE: It wasn't terrible. Didn't suck, right? It was OK.

ZAC PALMER: Oh man, no, that's-- it's a really interesting question because I mean, obviously, driving the back to back, I was thinking in the same way. I think that I definitely like the sound of the MC20'S better. However, at times, it really almost felt like the BMW engine was a little stronger throughout the rev range.

Maserati feels really good with that low hit of torque down low. And then it really keeps going to 8,000. But BMW, I mean, at this point, I'm fairly certain even BMW folks have alluded to the fact that their engines are severely underrated from power. So while they say it makes 543 horsepower--

GREG MIGLIORE: I don't know about that.

ZAC PALMER: It feels like there's a good amount more horsepower than what that is. And that just made the M3 CS feel so stinking fast. But I mean, man, on a track, it would really be interesting because the CS is very single minded being good on a track, whereas, MC20 is sort of your everyday supercar.

I mean, it can go on the track. But it's not like McLaren LT, or Ferrari Pista, or something along those lines. If you're more of a hardcore track rat, I honestly might go M3 CS over the MC20 if you're just looking for a track car. I don't know if that's a hot take or not. But man, I really, really love that M3.

GREG MIGLIORE: I don't think it's a hot take because we're not-- however this sounds, we're not dissing the MC20. The MC20 was awesome. It's sort of like the same way. I would-- I would definitely take the M3 CS over the Acura NSX. I didn't drive the Type S on a track. I only drove the regular NSX is what I'm trying to say, too.

There's that. But I mean, to me, there are certain super sharpest tip of the sword sedans or coupes that I think are even a little bit better because of the way they are so equipped than some supercars. I don't know-- I would take this over some McLarens, I would say, too, actually. But I also would take the Maserati over some McLarens too. I also really liked what it did.

ZAC PALMER: Same. I think that-- I mean just within the M3, M4 realm too, I think that this M3 CS is my new favorite variant of them all. Expensive, but extremely good.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, well, let's move on. We have-- let's see-- we have the-- I don't know how we fade to this, the Mazda CX-90. We got a lot of different cars. So we're just going to kind of bounce around here, I guess.

ZAC PALMER: CX-90 is still fun to drive, I mean, amongst three row SUVs, at least I hope so. I'm excited to hear about it.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I was surprised by two things. Well, one thing surprised me. And it was one of two things that really stood out. One, it's the steering. I wouldn't say it's a cliche to say that, oh, it's like the Mazda DNA is injected into the CX-90. But it really drove and felt like it was heavy. It was real like Mazda steering.

And then the question I asked myself was do I really like this? Because when I drive a three row crossover, I don't want it to be a lot of work beyond the fact that you're driving something the size of the Queen Mary. It's not supposed to be that engaging. And it was even fairly well, kind of tightly sprung. You could feel that in the suspension, if you will.

The chassis was very dialed in. I liked it, inevitably. I did. I put about, jeez, how many miles? I put about 100 miles on it. It's up for crossover utility of the year. So there's that. And that's why it was in my driveway, which is great. I took it out to Ann Arbor from the northern suburbs all the way out to Ann Arbor, went skating, I think we talked about this earlier, on campus at the University of Michigan. So it was kind of a fun day.

Very family, three row crossover type of thing, we had to put the ice skates in the back. So it was functional and all that. But it did kind of have me thinking, like as I was on-- let's see, I think I was on M-14, I got-- this isn't like necessarily a one-hander, drink your coffee. It's like you want to be a little dialed in, relatively speaking.

It's still-- to act like this is a Miata, a Jeep Wrangler, an MC20, it was a challenging thing to drive is not what I'm saying here. But relatively speaking to say like a Chevy Traverse, a GMC Acadia, a Honda Pilot, the list goes on, there's a little bit more going on there, a Subaru Ascent, et cetera. And obviously, that's what they're going for.

The second element I thought that really stood out is the design. I thought it was one of the better looking vehicles in the segment. I think it's kind of cool that they have on the front quarter panel, they have a badge that says, I think it says inline 6, which is cool. You don't get that too much, frankly, in any car, let alone a badge that signifies that.

I really liked the straight 6 as well. It's a really solid power plant. I'd like to see Mazda do it-- use it in more vehicles. It's ironic as we're seeing know maybe that's starting to the tail end of ICE, you internal combustion engines, Mazda's got a really good one. I would like to see this one used, even more widely. So there's that.

Thought it had a lot of good-- it's 3.3 liters. It's a turbo. It's 280 horsepower and 332 pounds feet of torque. Hooked up to an 8 speed automatic, so those are the basics. And I feel like it really had a nice sort of sweet spot. As low as like 2,500 in the band, right through 6,000. So a lot to like about that motor.

And again, it's unexpected. How many large three row crossovers are just making do with an inline 4, or a turbo 4, or something, or just off-the-shelf V6, nothing wrong with that. But this had a lot of character to it from the design to the engine to the chassis. Inside was pretty nice. It had kind of like a light, that-- I don't know-- IKEA kind of vibe, with the light wood, I would assume it's fake wood, trim, that sort of thing, very comfortable. Good seats.

But overall, I liked it a lot. I really did. I think it's a different take. I think Mazda is being true to itself. They're not just trying to make another three row crossover. They're trying to make like Mazda's three row crossover. And to kind of put a fine point on this, that's not going to be for everybody, though.

Some people are going to say, give me the Honda. That's more what I'm used to, more comfortable. I don't want to have to think this much while I'm driving, that type of thing. Or they might-- I like the styling, not everybody will. So I'll be interested when you get behind the wheel, to hear your take on this thing.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I mean, it sounds like, I don't know, a next generation CX-90 done a lot better. Just having a rear biased all wheel drive system, the inline 6, a lot of times with these three row crossovers, I mean, everything is about how big is it, what's the trunk space? What's the rear seat space?

And Mazda is like, well, we actually really care what the engine sounds like, and what the steering feel is when you're going fast through a corner, which is all the beautiful stuff that we love. But also to your point, how many buyers actually really do care about that? I mean, if you like cars and you need a three row SUV, it sounds like the Mazda is still hands down the way to go.

GREG MIGLIORE: This one, I thought was a decent value too. Mine came in at just under $55,000. And this is with the turbo premium plus trim. Artisan red premium was the color, which looked great. And white Nappa leather inside.


GREG MIGLIORE: Very classy, worth every penny, I think. So yeah, so let's move on over to the 7 Series plug-in. We'll throw that in here. And you spent some time on that. Did you drive this on the track? I assume this was at Test Fest.

ZAC PALMER: Oh man, I did drive it, but not on the track. No BMW didn't have any 7 series out on the track this go around. But no, this was first try in the 7 Series plug-in hybrid. Prior to this, I'd driven the fully electric I7. So I had high expectations because I loved that car.

And my high expectations were met, honestly. So I think that this new 7 Series plug-in hybrid has a really, really valid proposition for a lot of people just being a giant luxury sedan. One thing that a lot of people like to do with these cars is drive them long distances. So the fact that in addition to an electric motor, a big battery that gets you about 34 miles of all electric range, you also have an inline 6 engine, not only an inline 6, but a BMW inline 6. We all know how much we love those engines.

So even when you are out of electric range, you have this beautiful, nice silky sounding very powerful inline 6 engine to motor you along. BMW says 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds. Very much feels that way. this thing is quick, just about as quick as the I7, honestly, which makes it both fun to drive. And when you're driving it in all electric mode, the electric motor has enough power to actually get you up to speed quickly.

The only small little bone to pick that I have with driving it in electric mode is that the electric motor is integrated with the transmission. So you do feel the shifts. Now, do you feel the shifts less than maybe you feel like when we had our long-term 330E? Yes, it's certainly a lot more imperceptible now. It's a lot smoother, which is to be expected with a 7 Series. But it is not that smooth, uninterrupted flow of power that you get with the electric I7.

Everything else about this thing is basically practically exactly the same as a normal 7 Series or the I7. You can get the theater screen. You can get sweet, sweet interiors. The one that I had was this sort of maroon, and cream, and black combo on the inside, which was just flat out beautiful. That combined with a matte gray exterior finish was, man, BMW can make the 7 Series really stand out and look pretty when they want to.

But no, I think that this one really makes a solid argument for being the 7 Series to buy if you know you're going to be doing a lot of long distance trips and maybe your commute is only-- well, I guess under 30 miles, you can get a lot of fully electric driving out of this. And then go and take your big trip from say Michigan to Boston or New York City all the way up to Maine or something like that.

And the trunk isn't that compromised either. BMW did a pretty good job of integrating that battery back there such that it's not-- I mean, you still have all the luggage space in the world. One thing we're getting with a lot of newer generation plug-in hybrids is just better platform management. And that's the case here.

And I guess I should also mention, man, this thing handles well, just like every 7 Series seems to. I had it on the same road as the new five series, even an M4. This thing holds its own. It is fun to drive. It's more fun to drive than an S-class, more fun to drive than a Genesis G90. BMW makes their giant sedans fun. And the plug-in hybrid is no exception. So yeah, love this thing.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I would agree with your statement about how they make their larger sedans a lot of fun to drive. I've had a great time in the 5 Series over multiple generations. The 7 Series, I did the launch of the last generation at Monticello in New York. And it was really good on the track. I mean, was it some of the other track demons we've discussed? Of course not.

But for what it is and how it was set up, you can definitely have some fun with that. They design the hell out of these cars so that they're very capable of doing almost anything you want them to do, which I think is cool. And there's something else I think I'm curious what you think.

In the last couple of years, we've seen Mercedes sedans especially, like the S-class and then the electric version, divert from each other as far as styling. So you've sort of got the electrics and then you've got the traditional cars. And then the traditional cars have gotten ever more opulent. They're very-- everything about them, when people ask me, if you were to rate a luxury car, what's the best one? And inevitably, I almost always will pick whatever size Mercedes segment they're searching for.

Because when I sort of like metrically add it up, I feel like Mercedes are among the most-- they are-- they win on points. Like in figure skating or something, they win the technical score. However, I would argue, at this point, BMW, especially on the larger side of these things, is winning now more on the soul. Their cars are more soulful.

It seems like their customers are liking it too. Because when you go for like-- and I know you drove the plug-in, but say you wanted the I7, it still looks like a BMW. Whereas, Mercedes is doing a very different tactic with its design. And of course, you've got this nice middle ground here with the plug-in 7 Series as well.

So I don't know-- I mean, I've long also felt that I have had more emotion for BMWs. I think maybe that's why the M3 CS resonated pretty deeply with me, really felt like the highest evolution, which it is, of the 3 Series and the M3 right now. Yeah, I don't know, I mean, it's just to me, it feels like BMW has kind of pulled ahead a little bit of Mercedes, just in that intangible, their cars have soul. Did you get that? Do you think I'm totally crazy? What do you think?

ZAC PALMER: Honestly, yeah, I agree 100%. BMWs for-- I don't know, a few, maybe even like three to five years at this point, I've honestly preferred them to the Mercedes equivalent. And I'm definitely preferring their EVs to the Mercedes equivalent at this point too. I think the interiors are nicer. They're slightly nicer quality. I like the tech in them better. It's just easier to use, more intuitive.

I think their cars are generally more fun to drive than the Mercedes equivalent. It's not like they're giving up anything in the ride department either. You're still getting a super luxurious experience. And obviously, design is very subjective. But I'm-- I mean, I think that us two are probably the two on staff here at Autoblog that like BMWs designs, pretty much most of them that they come out with.

Yeah, I really think that we're on the same wavelength here. And that if I'm choosing between a 7 Series and an S-class, I'm going to take the 7 Series. If I'm choosing between the new C-class and a 3 Series, marked me down for the 3 Series. And it just sort of goes all the way up and down the line.

The one places where I might give Mercedes an edge is you when we're looking at the ultra luxe category, so like a Maybach say versus an Alpina, I'm going to probably take the Maybach over the Alpina, or just whatever the highest luxury BMW is. I would still-- I still think the Mercedes does that verging on Bentley to Rolls level luxury, just all out luxury better than BMW does. But that's like the only area where I'm-- I mean, it's sort of 1 A, 1 BMW to Mercedes. But I tend to like BMW more than Mercedes these days.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, I would agree with you too though on the Maybach, sort of winning at that very high end. Because they-- Mercedes does an excellent job of just-- like I said, winning on points, loading the cars up, stem to stern with everything in the most elegant, at times, decadent fashion. Whereas, BMW will counter with Alpina in some areas.

And I don't think that's even exactly what Alpina is trying to be. They're not that chocolate cake luxury if you will. They try to weave in a little more motorsports. They admittedly try to bring a different take to the car, which some people might not even. You just want the standard issue BMW version. So yeah.

All right, so let's move on to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. This is what I drove for a better part of last week. And honestly, a lot of comparisons to the CX-90. I kept kind of asking myself do I want the Giulia as a crossover? Because to me, that's exactly what this sort of felt like.

Do I want these specific type of very Alfa Romeo Italian looks? Answer is yes on that front. Do I want that kind of steering really dialed in suspension? Again, this is a little bit harsher, a little bit more work to drive. Again, I wasn't quite sure about that. I don't know if I'm getting old and I just want these cushy crossovers or I want just a Yukon battle tank one. There's nothing else in between.

But that was kind of a-- it was definitely a question I kept asking myself. But the driving dynamics are great as far as that, even to the point of, like I said, being a little bit harsh. And if you're going to buy this car, I think it does start with the design. You've got those headlights. You've got like the signature, even the badges with the snake on them and the cross, those big wheels, the headlights kind of pop.

It's definitely something that looks different than a Mercedes, or a BMW, or an Audi, or a Lexus. You buy this car because you want an Alfa Romeo. And you need a crossover, basically. This one came in, it started at 58. I thought that was actually a pretty good deal. You get a luxury crossover.

Is it huge? No. But is it still pretty reasonably equipped? Nice crossover. It definitely affects the feel of a luxury demeanor. So you get a lot you in that sense. 2 liter inline 4, I thought it was fine, just a little bit underwhelming. The shifts were, at times, could be a little bit uneven.

So it goes, I guess. It's not like I was tracking it, like the earlier theme of this podcast. And the way I kind of like landed here is this is-- much like the Mazda, this is the right car for you if you love Alfa Romeo and you're thinking of maybe saying, do I want the Giulia? Maybe you also kind look at the Tonale a little bit. But you land on this one because you still get a lot of that Alfa Romeo DNA, again, you're like, I need a crossover.

And say you-- this is how you want to spend your money, it will stand out as opposed to like the more generic GLC's GLEs, X3, X5, which can be very ubiquitous. So this gives you that kind of character. And people are like, oh, m that an Alfa? That's kind of cool. So I definitely like that.

Cliched, something went weird with the infotainment. I was like, you got to be kidding me. Literally it just didn't turn on for a minute. I'm like OK, cool. And then it had another weird kind of gremlin thing that I thought was just like, you got to be kidding me? But nothing that lingered or caused any true mechanical issues.

But I was just like, this is such a cliche. I'm driving an Alfa and a couple of weird things happen? It's just like when you're driving a Jaguar. And you're almost like very attuned to it. So yeah, that's the Alfa.

ZAC PALMER: The Alfa quirks and features. Yeah, I mean, I really like the Stelvio. I mean, I mostly like driving the Stelvio just because it feels like the most pure driver's car of all of the compact SUVs that way. I am interested to try out the Tonale to see-- I mean, honestly, they're very similar sizes, and even similar prices when you're looking at some trim levels.

So Alfa definitely has a bit of a conundrum on their hands just with two very similar sized crossovers. But it's going to be hard to beat that Stelvio. I mean, it's on that very single minded platform, rear wheel drive based. And I know you mentioned that engine. It is-- I wouldn't necessarily call it a great engine.

It is powerful. But it's not necessarily the best of sounds, and a little growly, and just want something a little more with-- with a little more Italian flair. But Yeah, man, I do-- I do really like that Stelvio. And I'm glad they're still like making small updates and small iterations on it for however much longer it is with us. I know that whatever comes after it will be electric, Alfa has said as much. So enjoy your last few years with it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, no that's true. And I mean, to your point about the platform, I mean, it is more dynamic, more dialed in than, say, the Hornet/Tonale. There's no comparison as far as the handling and you actual sporty character of it. So I mean, that alone might make you say, hey, I prefer that, which is no surprise given what each platform is used for, I suppose.

All right, so if you're listening to this, the LA Auto Show is already wrapped up, actually. Press days are Thursday. We're recording this right during the week. So we will come back probably next week with a little bit more from the show. But we wanted to highlight a couple of key reveals right now that we know a fair bit about. And so let's just get right into it.

The Camry, that's a big deal. Hybrid, all wheel drive, some key features that a lot of people will want. I think it's-- Toyota is still obviously going heavy into sedans. Our news editor Joel stocksdale had the story. He's out there-- he's actually driving the Toyota Tacoma. So we'll have more on that coming up, which I think you'll be very interested in. But yeah, I mean, styling is pretty evolutionary. They kept that huge grille, tweaked the headlights. And I think it's interesting to go fully hybrid. That's a different take.

ZAC PALMER: It feels very much like a heavy refresh, more than a total redesign, new front end, new rear end, new screens inside. And then, I mean, I think that just as notable as is what they added is what isn't there now. There's no V6. So just like Honda dropped that very nice 2 liter turbo in the Accord for their new generation, Toyota dropped their powerful engine.

So I mean, you go from the most powerful Camry having over 300 horsepower to now it has 232 horsepower. Obviously, from an enthusiast standpoint, that's a little sad. And then possibly even more sad from an enthusiast standpoint, at least at launch, there's no TRD version of the Camry, which maybe you forgot about that car. I wouldn't necessarily blame you if you did.

But Toyota has been making that Camry TRD since they launched it a few years ago. I mean, you've been able to get a Camry with 300 horsepower, a wing, big brakes, stiff suspension, and like what else is out there that is sort of like that? So that being gone, at least for the 2025 model year, is definitely a little sad for me.

And I mean, I think that there's still a possibility for them to do something out there. But they've really just right now, the XSE with a slightly stiffer suspension than the XLE, and LE, other trims is still out there. But it's certainly no Camry TRD.

But I mean what they do have out there, I think, is probably smart of them to do just to go all hybrid with the regular ones. I mean, this is probably like one of the most popular Uber cars out there, not to call the Camry out for that. But great fuel economy is key. And I mean, as we're looking at hybrid, I don't know about you, but the new front end certainly reminds me of the Prius as I'm looking at it here.

The front LEDs, the horizontal grille slats, the way the hood sort of bends down into the bumper, it really reminds me of the Prius design, which not necessarily saying that's a bad thing. I like the way the Prius looks. So to see its face applied across the board here to Camry, not necessarily complaining about it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I agree completely. When I looked at it, my first thought was larger Prius, which is a good thing. TRD is-- I got to believe the take rate was fairly low on those. I have good memories of driving that car. It was fun. And I remember it was in the fleet, this is going back, right at the start of COVID, as in spring of 2020.

I remember that kind of came through. And there wasn't much to do, so yeah, let's drive this TRD Camry all over. And so it kind of got seared into my memory. It had a bright red interior. It was pretty low to the ground, really big interior. I remember my kid was wandering around it, basically. Which, I mean, that's the Camry. But kind of a niche play. Let's put it that way. Don't think too many people will miss it.

Yeah, I mean, I think it's definitely a situation where they want to continue to invest in sedans. Toyota, right down from Akio Toyoda all the way down have been very bullish on hybrids. So pretty much an as expected strategy here, I guess.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's like the same as like a RAV4 Hybrid and whatnot, sort of powertrain. And I think that one item to note as well, just sort of finding separation between this and the Crown just because this and the Crown are very similar sizes, honestly, however, the Crown is a good bit more expensive.

I feel like it's going to be a little confusing for folks on a lot. I mean, just because it's like two mid-size sedans, both of them hybrids. The Crown's a hybrid too. The one thing that the Crown really does have going for it is that you can get that hybrid max powertrain, with 340 horsepower, which is pretty sweet.

But I just have a feeling that there's going to be some overlap and maybe a little bit of confusion now that the Camry is fully hybrid and just-- I mean, maybe it's just a design thing. Do you want this semi-half looking lifted Crown with two tone paint? Or do you want the more sedate and just simpler Camry?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's interesting too because the way they kind of are positioning the Crown itself, which is a little bit of a tweener as far as a body style for what it could be, I believe, I may be wrong on this, it was up for utility vehicle of the year in the North American Car Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards. It was so much easier when it was just North American Car of the Year.

So that's a bit of a tweener, intentionally so, trying to hit that part of the market that maybe wants something that's pretty drivable but also thinks they want a crossover, which is what everybody thinks they want, I guess. So I mean, we'll see. I mean, I think if they could probably-- the thing is they have the Camry, which has such a strong name.

I think it's crazy not to continue to invest in it. But then you have the Crown, which you could argue is more of the moment, especially something like the Crown Signia. That's not insignia, that's Signia, if you will. That's another one that doesn't quite roll off the tongue, if you will.

Yeah, it's a two row hybrid. It definitely looks more like crossovery than the Crown itself does. Let's put it that way. I think it looks pretty good, to be honest. I think this one-- I dare say this is probably what the people want the most of the three vehicles we've just touched on here. So how do you feel about this?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I 100% agree. I mean, bring a nice SUV hybrid to the forefront here. There's no doubt that people will want this more than a Camry or a Crown, just the normal Crown. This is the Crown Signia. The Signia is the SUV. Let's make it easy to remember that way.

But no, I mean, this is cool. This is, once again, a hybrid only. My sort of biggest disappointment is just it just doesn't have the hybrid max powertrain that you can get in the regular Crown sedan, which is a little confusing. Just I presume, all right, if you're going to call it the Crown, we're going to have a similar powertrain as the other Crown. But that is not the case here.

Regardless of that, though, this is definitely a Toyota that reaches toward the Lexus side of things. So you can look at this or maybe like a Lexus NX. Or if you're looking a little bigger, maybe a Lexus RX. But this is still a two row. So certainly a lot more luxurious than a RAV4 if you're looking at RAV4 Hybrid.

It's a neat looking thing. It's not blowing me away in any particular fashion. But crossover hungry markets, Toyota brings another hybrid crossover as a slightly larger alternative to RAV4, a slightly smaller than Highlander. Probably not a bad idea, just keep on pumping them out.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's interesting to see how thin Toyota is slicing the onion at this point with the other crossovers you mentioned. We'll see. It reminds me a little bit, this is a little-- I don't know-- side note, when Buick brought back the Regal wagon variants. And we were all kind of like, well, these are cool, they're crossover like.

And of course, the Crown Signia is more crossover than the Regals, which were like cars and station wagons. But it's sort of the same idea. OK, they're trying to also go after this market when you have GMC that makes all these other crossovers and Buick that makes all these other crossovers. So maybe it'll be-- I would assume this thing's going to sell, though. It definitely looks-- it looks the part. It's well equipped. Yeah, I'll be intrigued to drive it.

ZAC PALMER: My question is if they're going to offer the same two tone paint options as the Crown sedan. I mean, those are cool. You can get like black and gold, red and black. I mean, there's some really neat options out there that you can get on the Crown sedan. And on a car that we're probably going to see more of, it would just be neat to see that customization option for folks.

If that's-- I mean, if that's really going to be one of the ways that Toyota differentiates the Crown line, I would love to see more of that. I mean, I'm not going to say it looks like a Maybach. But I mean, what other cars offer the two tone paint options? You're looking at like a Mercedes Maybach, BMW 7 Series. It's not-- it's not a lot. It's just a neat little thing that Toyota is doing.

GREG MIGLIORE: You're really dropping the Maybach references in this podcast, like.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, not by meaning to. I didn't prepare for that. I'm just, for whatever reason, Mercedes Maybach, we'll just keep talking about it.

GREG MIGLIORE: How about we keep talking about the Hyundai news for LA as well. I know you wrote this one up and you're read into it. So let's close out the news segment in the LA segment with this.

ZAC PALMER: Yes, indeed, Hyundai has some smaller news items for us. They're not totally new cars like Toyota has. But there's a new trim for the Santa Fe, which is the XRT trim. So that adds a few little off road niceties. If you guys are familiar with what XRT means for Hyundai, it basically means it's a ruggedized version of whatever it is. So they have Santa Cruz, Tucson, and-- well, pretty much all of their crossovers at this point now, including the Santa Fe, have an XRT trim.

So what this one is they throw some 30-inch all terrain tires on there, some off road looking wheels. It gives it an inch and a half greater ground clearance, and a whole lot of appearance extras too that make it look a good bit more rugged than just a regular Santa Fe. And honestly, it looks pretty cool, I think, on this new Santa Fe just because the new one is very boxy and off road looking.

So it, I think, just sort of fits right in with the theme of what Hyundai is doing with that vehicle. It's obviously no Bronco, no Land Rover, Defender, or anything like that. But just the fact that, all right, say you're going to buy the Santa Fe you might tow something to a trail or something like that, you need to get back there. Boom, you've got all wheel drive. And you got some all terrain tires that if it rained the night previously or something like that, you're not going to get bogged down on whatever muddy ruts you might find yourself in. So small capability, not a lot of capability. But still nice for somebody that might frequent national parks, or state parks, and whatnot.

The other bit of news from Hyundai was the US reveal of the Ioniq 5N. Similar to the Santa Fe, pretty short on news. We saw this at Goodwood earlier in the year where Hyundai practically revealed everything about it. But Hyundai did finalize some specs for us. I mean, it's still mind boggling, 641 horsepower, 0 to 60 in 3.25 seconds, which round up to 3.3.

Yeah, man, that's a fast, fast Hyundai, isn't it? Top speed of 162 miles per hour. Hyundai, the one thing that we're sort of missing from this news is range. This is obviously-- this is not the EV6 GT. But we're looking at similar power numbers and whatnot to that vehicle. And range was the one hit that that car took. It's down to about 212 miles of range. And the Ioniq 5, I presume, will take a similar hit. So expect the range number to come in a little lower than the normal Ioniqs, which are in the 250 to 300 mile range.

And the last thing that they have for us is just an actual release date. So I mean, we can expect to see these things in March next year. So that's super cool to see that the Ioniq 5N is-- it's a thing. It's happening. And it's happening next spring. And yeah, that's pretty much it for Hyundai at the LA Auto Show.

So Santa Fe and Ioniq 5N, two really cool looking cars with a small amount of news attached to them. So if you're in LA for the public days, I would definitely get down to go check these things out. I haven't even seen the Ioniq 5N in person. But having looked at all of the photos, the details, man, this is a sweet looking car. I have a feeling they're going to have a lot of hand-raisers for it once ordering comes around.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, definitely, definitely for the enthusiast crowd. Those specs you listed off, I think a lot of people can get on board with that.

ZAC PALMER: Without a doubt. Without a doubt.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool, we haven't done too many beer segments, if you will, lately. So I don't know if you have any recommendations. I had a Guinness. I feel like it's that time of year, drinks sort of like the-- I wouldn't call it a heavy beer. I feel like a Guinness is kind of velvety and light on its feet, as the ads say with Joe Montana, believe it or not, the old 49ers quarterback. So I had one of those the other day. And I thought it was really, really solid.

It's November, I don't know, it felt right. Watched a little bit of football, had a Guinness. I was watching Michigan State play Ohio State. So I definitely wanted something heavier than a Bud Light.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, you needed something for that one.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, the Guinness was, got to bring in something a little bit with some more gravitas. But what's in your fridge these days?

ZAC PALMER: Oh man, I've actually been on the gin and tonic grind as of late. So I got this Empress gin, which is this-- it's a pretty cool gin, actually. I mean, unlike most gins that are pretty much clear, this one is a purpley indigo I would say.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, it's really good. And it's extra cool when you mix it with a gin and tonic too because it's a color shifting gin. So if you're into taking a cool video or something or a photo while you're pouring your gin and tonic. This is definitely one of them. And on top of that, it tastes really good.

And it's, man, it's not-- it's not super expensive either. It's only about $40 for a bottle of it, which is just solid. Not the cheapest gin out there, also not the most expensive. But it makes really great gin and tonics and I think that it looks pretty neat while you're pouring them too.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I like a good gin and tonic when I was traveling more, I thought they were great airport drinks. Get in, take the edge off, maybe have one when you're-- before or after takeoff, kind of relax. But they're not too-- you're not going to really wake up with a headache especially with what sounds like the kind of gin you're quaffing. Good auto show drinks too.

I remember being at the New York Auto Show. And this wasn't that long ago, it's not like I'm remembering 1962 because I wasn't around then. But somebody was serving gin. And I was like, yeah, have some appetizers, gin and tonic, kind of wait for-- wait out the final minutes of the press day and then go back to your dinner with the executives or whatever reveal was going on that night. So good call, well rounded. I like it. Gin and tonic, you can drink it in the summer, or drink it in the fall. It's good times.

ZAC PALMER: It's always tasty.

GREG MIGLIORE: There we go. That's all the time we have this week. If you enjoy the show, please like and subscribe us and give us five star ratings wherever you get your podcasts. That includes Apple Podcasts, Spotify. We're basically everywhere. Again, spend your money, we'd like to do that. That's Have another gin and tonic or a Guinness. Be safe out there, of course. We'll see you next week.