BMW M850i Convertible, VW Tiguan and Easter Jeep Safari concepts | Autoblog Podcast #669

In this week's Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski. This week, they've been driving the BMW M850i xDrive Convertible and VW Tiguan. In the news, Peugeot isn't coming to the U.S. after all, Harley-Davidson has a CPO program, Jeep teased some Easter Safari concepts and Kia's got a big fire problem. Finally, they help a listener choose a replacement for a Nissan 350Z in the "Spend My Money" segment.

Video Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me today is consumer editor Jeremy Korzeniewski. How you doing, man?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Not doing too bad. Thanks for asking. It's nearly 60 degrees outside, and still March. Hard to complain.

GREG MIGLIORE: This has been a very nice March. It seems like we are getting spring a little bit early, so that's nice. It's technically winter, I think, for another two weeks, which means I think we will get some snow.

This is the curse. We put the snow tires on our long-term TLX. I don't think it's snowed since. So a little bit of irony there, but so it goes.

But we have a great show for you today. We're gonna talk about-- Jeremy's been driving the BMW M80i. This is the xDrive convertible.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: M850.

GREG MIGLIORE: 850i.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

GREG MIGLIORE: Excuse me.

It's one of the know pretty interesting things here-- an all-wheel drive convertible. There's a lot going on there, so that's cool. Let's see. I've spent a little bit of time in the Volkswagen Tiguan. Very nice crossover.

Then we'll run through some news. Lot of news items going on this week. We have a feature, a used-car spotlight, and finally, we'll spend some money.

Let's jump right into the BMW. What did you do with this BMW?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I cruised around a bit. We haven't had a chance to talk about it, but I actually had it prior to any snowfall, so I didn't have to worry about snow tires or slippery traction or anything. But it is an all-wheel drive vehicle, anyway.

So, if you're not super up on our modern BMWs, the 8 Series was reintroduced, I think, for the 2019 model year. The 2020 and '21-- no major upgrades, updates. They did introduce a Gran Coupe version, which is BMW speak for a four-door sedan, but with a more coupe-like, fastback, sleek body style.

The one that I had was the convertible top-up. Super quiet, serene, luxurious driving experience. Top-down-- still luxurious, but feels a little bit sportier, like you're in a smaller car than you're in. The interior is tight, as you'd expect from a sporting coupe or convertible, but yeah, it was a great car.

It's really difficult to come up with anything negative to say about the M850. It's quick. It is fast, and by that I mean it accelerates quickly, and it has a very high top speed, not that you really use any of that kind of thing in typical driving.

But it's also extremely luxurious, and, being a modern BMW, it's got all kinds of drive modes. So, if you're in the mood for a grand touring car, it fits that bill nicely. That's the niche that it sits in, is a grand tourer.

It's sportier when you ratchet through the drive modes. Things like the suspension, throttle response, transmission tuning can get pretty aggressive. And the twin-turbo V8-- I've got specs pulled up here. Just one second while I grab 'em. The 850 is the twin-turbo-charged V8, which is what I had. It's 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's awesome. That's pretty good.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That's a lot. Does 0 to 60 in three and a half seconds, it says. So, no shortage of power, no shortage of speed.

But it also can be very serene to drive. You put everything in comfort mode and just sit back and chill. It's a lovely car. It's a great car to cruise around in.

Of course, it is expensive. Let's see. Got pricing pulled up here. The 850 xDrive convertible starts at 122,395. This being a German premium vehicle, the options add up extremely quickly, and you're probably looking at $100,000, $145,000 with just a few decent options. You go crazy and just add everything, and you're well over 150 grand, which is a lot of money.

If you want to save a little bit, you can get the 840i, which is also coupe or convertible. And that one is a turbo-charged inline-six, and the coupe starts a little less than 90, and the convertible starts a little less than 100. So, my only real issue with the BMW 8 Series is it's an extremely luxurious and sporty German coupe or convertible. That means it's going up against the elephant in the German premium sports coupe or convertible room, and that is the Porsche 911.

A lot of people probably wouldn't cross-shop those vehicles, necessarily. The BMW is more of a grand tourer, where the 911 is a more traditional sports car. But if you were to offer me the keys to either one of them and tell me to take the car and go out and have fun, I'm taking the 911 keys.

And the 911's not a traditional grand tourer, like the 8 Series is. But there's nothing wrong with taking a 911 out for a leisurely drive, and the 911 starts around $100,000 also. And if you're looking at 140, 150-- you have to know what you want. And I have looked at sales numbers on the 8 Series, and they're not great. And I think that's the reflection of the fact that these things are really expensive, and there's some great competition out there.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think that's a good take. I tend to like this style of car, if you will. I didn't drive this one. But I also feel like if you're gonna spend that kind of money for this level of sportiness, as well as the balance of practicality-- what you're gonna drive, what you're gonna use it for, what's gonna be the most fun-- I'm with you. 911 all the way.

It's not even really close. To me, this car is very compelling in its own right, but probably wouldn't be how I would spend my money in this segment, if you will. I think it's pretty good-looking, too.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Oh, it's beautiful. And that's the thing about BMW right now. There's a crazy-wide styling gap in their lineup. They've got everything from just super sleek, beautiful-looking cars, like the 8 Series that we're talking about, and I would say the Z4 is also beautiful. Just a sleek, well-designed, all the way around-- doesn't have a bad angle.

And then you get the 4 Series, with the crazy grille, and the M3 and M4, which are just way out there with this in-your-face snout. And everybody has their own opinion, but most of the opinions I see are negative on that. So it's just funny that you can walk into one automaker's showroom and see such restrained, classically pretty cars next to way-out-there complete unrestraint in the styling department.

But, getting back to the A series, it's very pretty.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Oh, one other thing. The one that I had-- you can do some really fun things with BMW's paint and color trim options. Today is March 9 that we're recording this. Something like a week ago, we got hold of BMW's online customizer for their special paints and interiors and just had an absolute blast with it.

My test M850 xDrive had a pretty interesting interior. It was an orangey shade of brown, like a malt brown, coupled with cream. It was definitely striking. I don't think that it's a color palette that I would choose myself, but I think it's awesome that BMW gives their buyers so much leeway to configure vehicles the way that they want them. It's absolutely great in a sea of bland paint colors and 10 shades of gray that BMW gives such cool shades both outside and inside the car.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool.

Yeah, and I agree. I think there are some very creative palette options at BMW right now. They're taking some risks with their design, as I think some of the cars with the grilles indicate. So I think, aesthetically, they're doing some very, like I said, interesting things.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: "Interesting" is a nice way to put it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Diplomatic.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Diplomatic, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: It can be diplomatic, yeah.

Well, I guess I can diplomatically talk about this Tiguan I drove last week. It was nice. It was fine. I will admit, I drove it literally two miles. I just want to touch on, more, the idea of the Tiguan versus any sort of real, serious review here.

But I spent the week in the ID4. Check out the review. I put that up. We're recording this on a Tuesday. Just went out this morning, so check that out.

I had another Volkswagen at the same time, but I didn't, obviously, get to drive it nearly as much. But it did remind me that the Tiguan is a very, I think, competitive vehicle in this segment. It's interesting. It's different. I think it espouses some of the really good parts of Volkswagen.

That's almost like thinking person's premium vehicle, but it's not really a premium vehicle, if you will. But you can get some nice things on it, but it's almost academic, if you will. I don't know.

In some ways, I think-- and I did write this in my ID4 review-- when Volkswagen's right, they are this wonky, semi-sophisticated brand that's also totally mainstream. You obviously benchmark VW against Chevy, Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, everybody. But not everybody has a Volkswagen.

So I think there is a little bit of an air of [? "Oh, ?] interesting. Why did you buy that [? Volkswagen" ?] sort of feel. I got that from this crossover. It stood out. That's for sure. It was a little wilder than I normally see from Volkswagen.

I had the 2.0 SE R-line black with all-wheel drive. 4Motion is what I'm struggling with. 2-liter engine, inline-four. Pretty torquey-- 221 pound-feet of torque.

Excellent visibility. That's one thing that I gotta give VW credit for that you don't see. It's been a while since I've been through some of Ford's lineups, but I remember the Escape and some of the other vehicles had blockier A pillars than you might think in some of these smaller crossovers.

You can really see out of this thing well. It reminded me, almost, of old-school Forester or vehicles like that. Very much a greenhouse effect. Pretty nice. Nice interior.

I said this on the podcast last week when we were talking about the Buick Envision. You don't have to win in every segment, but you definitely have to be there, if you want to be an automaker with some, obviously, credibility and volume and critical mass. And Volkswagen's there. They're doing a good job, I think.

Again, like I said, I didn't drive this very much. I got takeout. But I liked it. Again, it's an interesting drive experience. It handles well. The steering is pretty good-- a big steering wheel that's light. But it's the right feel for this segment of crossover.

So that's my mini review of the Tiguan.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So, first of all, I want to say that-- we were talking about styling a little bit ago-- I really like VW's current styling. They're kicking out handsome cars right now. I actually like their crossover design right now.

The Tiguan, the Atlas prospered in the Atlas-- they're all broad-shouldered, and they've got the wide-grille, big, blocky, chunky lights. And I think it's really attractive. Muted, but it's not gonna age poorly, I feel like. In 10 years, you're gonna look at the 2021 Tiguan and still say, yeah, that's a good-looking car. It's an attractive car.

You said you had the SE R-line Black, correct?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yep. That means it had just painted wheels, if you will, and some trim. Things like that. Nothing too wild, but kind of cool. A little bit different than just the normal base-trim Tiguan.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So, I think, if I'm understanding VW's model hierarchy correctly, the R-Line Black did not have the digital cockpit, the fully digital--

GREG MIGLIORE: No.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That, I think, stands out for the [? gifts ?] like Volkswagen, something. That feels like trickle-down technology from Audi, because the premium brands have been doing these digital cockpits for a while now. It started with Audi, and now it's moved down the line, if you stepped up one trim level in the Tiguan to the SEL from the SE R-line Black.

But yeah, if you step up to the SEL, you lose the blacked-out wheels and grille for slightly more traditional, but you get some more bits. It's just about a $2,000 increase. You get the bigger touchscreen, navigation, remote start, and the VW digital cockpit, which I think is worth the $2,000 increase. That digital cockpit is, to me, a game changer. Just elevates the interior, the cockpit, and how you feel about your car to a point where it's worth spending the money to get.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny you say that, because when I actually got into it, it was dark. It was late. I was going to get some food. I was actually refreshed just to have those very familiar tachometer, speedometer. I like the Volkswagen layout traditional. It's the same one that you've probably been in in all sorts of Volkswagens for the last five years, at least.

I agree with you. It's definitely an upscale play. It's more sophisticated. It's more interesting.

I don't know if they use the same architecture, as some of the Audi vehicles do, to power the back end of it, but it's smart for Volkswagen to do that. Now, I do think some of the VW models have started to really get close to Audi-- maybe closer than Audi might even want them to get-- as far as just how nice they can look and premium they can feel.

But I don't know. This had the base dash, and I liked it, to be perfectly honest.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: No, there's something refreshing about seeing gauges these days. And I think part of that is because a lot of car companies are going digital just for the sake of going digital, and they're basically replicating gauges with LCD screens. And that I don't get.

The VW digital cockpit-- and I don't know for sure that it's the same as the Audi one, but it's got a similar look and feel. And it allows you to do things like put the entire navigation screen directly in front of the driver. There's a lot of other cool little things that you can do with it, but I don't know.

It's really techie to me, and I agree with you that it's refreshing to just see traditional round gauges in an era where they're going away. But for me, personally, I really like, at least, Volkswagen's implementation of the digital dash.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. I think we can leave it there. That is the Tiguan, the Tiger Iguana.

I always forget how to pronounce the name of this car, too. You hear it all sorts of different ways. But I totally forgot. It's like what? A combination of tiger and iguana?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That's right. Tiger an iguana. Does that mean you say tie-guan, or-- no, I don't think so.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I guess, theoretically, it would be tie-guan, but it could be tee-guan. I don't know. We've said it all sorts of different ways, probably in this podcast.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I think that's a sign that it's not a great name.

GREG MIGLIORE: For sure.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Even people who work in the automotive industry and see it written and spelled out and even type it out over and over and over again-- there's still questions on how you actually, properly say it.

GREG MIGLIORE: I actually think if they called it the Tiger-Iguana. Can you imagine that? I'd want to drive that car. It's time to take the Tiger-Iguana to go get some takeout.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I think you should be in marketing.

GREG MIGLIORE: There we go.

Let's run through some news here. No Peugeot for the US. We saw that earlier this week. We'll just run through some of these. What do you think? Good? Bad? Don't care?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I think it's fine. On one hand is a car guy-- getting some new vehicles in the United States is always intriguing and sounds like, hey, yeah, that'd be fun. But Stellantis, né FCA, already has a lot of brands that they're trying to figure out what to do with.

The last time that I was on the podcast, a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Chrysler, and what are they gonna do with Chrysler? And when you're already wondering how you're gonna deal with the brands that you currently have, maybe it's not the best idea to bring in another one. You can spread the resources that it would take to certify those different vehicles and give the love to some of your other brands, like rebuilding Chrysler and firming up Alfa Romeo's lineup. That's probably a better use of their resources.

GREG MIGLIORE: Agreed. Same. I think Peugeot could offer something interesting to American consumers. I'm a big fan of micro brands. I like watches, so my Instagram feed is filled with random watch company you never heard of that is charging all this money, and they like made up their own history that isn't true, but it looks cool.

So I feel like there could be some appetite for Peugeot. Maybe you want a French car. It's different. Maybe you sell one of them. I could see that.

But relaunch Peugeot in the United States? No way, man. Makes no sense. Two, three, four cars? Absolutely not. One? Maybe. I could have gotten on board with that, 'cause I'm always a fan of more choice is better, when it comes to the car market. But yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It's like before they brought Alfa Romeo back with a sedan and then crossover. They really launched it back in the states with a very special 8C, and it was very limited. And it was like, if you're going to relaunch a brand in the United States, you can build up some enthusiast equity by making something really pretty and really cool and really exclusive.

Capture some headlines and just sell 'em out of whatever dealerships that you've already got in your-- I don't know. Were they Ferrari dealerships? Is that where people were buying 8Cs from, probably?

GREG MIGLIORE: Think so, yeah.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: We mentioned dealerships. The other piece of this puzzle is, where are they gonna sell Peugeot if they did decide to bring it? They've had a hard enough time really saturating Fiat and Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Putting enough franchises out there that it doesn't feel like too big of a trek for people who don't live in a big metro city to add those vehicles on their shopping lists-- it wouldn't be any easier with Peugeot.

So, all around, they've been talking about bringing it back. It's not like we as industry analysts have been telling them that you need to bring Peugeot back to the United States. They were talking about it. And I think they have arrived in the correct decision to just let it lie.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think, from a Peugeot decision, maybe you would like to at least take a small-scale crack at the US and see what you could do. But wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

On the other hand, from a Stellantis decision, again, no way. You gotta figure out who you are and what you're gonna be and where you're gonna be. Relaunching this French brand that, frankly, no one has any equity in here wouldn't be a good bet. It's like throwing a 70-yard pass on first down just for no reason. I wouldn't do that.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And what equity they do have, I think, is at least--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's not good.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It's not great. More people remember Peugeot poorly in the United States than remember them favorably.

GREG MIGLIORE: So it's like having your kicker try to throw a 70-yard pass on first down.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: How far can we push this analogy? Yeah, that's probably far enough.

GREG MIGLIORE: How about Harley as a CPO program? You're a motorcycle guy. Could get them younger consumers, maybe? I don't know. What do you think?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, this is an interesting one. If a motorcycle company is going to launch a certified preowned program, Harley-Davidson is the one that immediately springs to mind. They have tried unsuccessfully over the years to introduce lighter, smaller, cheaper bikes, which is the antithesis to what Harley-Davidson stands for.

The traditional Harley-Davidson is a big, thumping, twin-cylinder engine, a lot of chrome, laid-back riding position. They've tried over and over and over to launch sportier motorcycles and smaller, lightweight, entry-level motorcycles, and each one-- they've never had a sales success.

So, abandoning that idea and bringing in lightly used-- what is it? Less than 25,000 miles, I think, is what the-- and let's be honest. A lot of people buy Harleys and just put a couple thousand miles on 'em in a year, just cruising around their local downtown or back streets or whatever. And there's nothing wrong with that, but that means there's a steady supply of relatively recent, low-mile examples available that Harley can take in on trade-in or pick up and refurbish and get it re-warrantied and back into their showrooms.

So I don't really see a downside to it. I'm curious to see how it plays out in the vehicles that they decide to go with. We're just assuming that they're going to extend further into the entry-level market space, but it's also possible they get a hold of some of their high-end bikes again, and then a salesperson could position in their dealership that you could get this entry-level, brand-new softail, or, for the same price, you could get this two-year-old, decked-out model with the Springer fork and with the cut-down fender and with the wider wheels, or the better leather saddle, or whatever.

And I don't think there's anything wrong with that play, either. I think it's likely that Harley-Davidson management is thinking exactly what we're thinking, and they can get some younger, entry-level riders in by offering them lower-priced, entry-level sportsters and softails and Dynas, or whatever. But it's all gonna be up to the dealerships to see how they play with it.

It wouldn't surprise me if they just tried to upsell some of the people coming into some of their more expensive, higher-profit-margin bikes. But yeah, I'm interested to see how it plays out.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think Harley is at an interesting point in their history. With transportation at this inflection point, motorcycles, I think, are the next logical frontier that's gonna be impacted by changing consumer behaviors. In some ways, I think the pandemic could have helped the motorcycle business, because maybe there's less commuting, but there's more joyriding, and that's where motorcycles could come in.

It could make them more accessible. It might just be more of-- you are getting out there more a ploy, if you will, to get people in, then upsell. We'll see. Harley is an old company. We don't really get into their business model too much on the podcast or on the site, but it caught my attention. I agree with your take.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: The thing that we didn't mention is that Harley-Davidson sales are down big-- 40% since 2014, and 60% since 2008. In 2008, they sold 206,000 motorcycles, and they're not gonna recover that kind of sales volume. And every time they branch down into a lower market segment to get younger riders, they cut their profit margins.

And if you've ever walked into a big Harley-Davidson showroom, you know that those things are expensive to run. They've got 50 bikes in the showroom floor. It's a lot of overhead, so they need profit margins to maintain that business model. And I think they're gonna find more profit margin reconditioning and reselling certified preowned motorcycles with some level of warranty at a premium versus what you just find in your local cycle trader or local classifieds.

So, if it helps them boost their profit levels, I don't see a downside to it. I think that's just a smart move.

GREG MIGLIORE: They certainly do have the corner on motorcycles with attitude, with gravitas. You certainly know one when you see it on the road. So I think they're doing a good job of trying to get new people thinking of them, which I think you have to do in this era, if you will, with everybody rethinking how they're approaching their fun rides and how they're actually using transportation from a practical perspective.

But what do you think of this Jeep, Easter Jeep Safari? I've never been to the Easter Jeep Safari. Have you, actually, in your long journalism career?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I've been twice. It's such a cool, fun event. There's nothing like seeing Jeeps in their natural habitat, actually being used by people who want to off-road 'em. We're used to seeing Grand Cherokees and Cherokees and Renegades and Wranglers in our parking lots and driving around our suburban neighborhoods with the tops down and all that kind of stuff.

But people want to buy Jeeps because of the off-road capability. And even if they're never gonna use it, they want to know that it's capable of doing it. And so, events like the Easter Jeep Safari are really important to Jeep to maintain that image, that unstoppable, off-road image.

And that's why they keep going. That's why they have a factory-backed operation that goes there every year, and that's why they keep making these cool concepts-- for a couple of reasons. One, to back up the image, as I was just saying. But also, two, to develop their own aftermarket product catalog.

Jeep makes a huge number of bits and pieces that you can add on to its vehicles to make them unique, to make 'em stand out from the Jeep that's parked in your neighbor's driveway, and also to make them more capable. And they develop those parts, introduce concepty versions of them-- really far, outgoing concepts-- for the Easter Jeep Safari, like the ones that they use today. And they end up turning those into bits and pieces and parts that you can buy and replicate similar ideas on your own Jeeps.

GREG MIGLIORE: I've never been to the Easter Jeep Safari. This one-- again, we mentioned we think it's gonna be part of the 4xe electric Jeep system that they're gonna roll out. I think it'd be really cool.

It's been a weird year already. I think seeing some more Jeep Safari concepts is just a good thing. They usually do a really good job with 'em, so this is just the first one. I'm sure we'll talk about more of these.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And remember, Jeep has already said on their Way Forward website that they are going to take a electric vehicle, electric Wrangler, to the Easter Jeep Safari. So it's possible that the Magneto is based on the 4xe, like a variant of the 4xe. It's also possible that Magneto is their fully electric one that, a couple of podcasts ago, we talked about. We talked about how they're basically taking a Wrangler, ripping out the gasoline guts, and filling it up with batteries and motors. That could be this, too.

And let's be honest. They're not gonna just bring one vehicle. They bring four, five, six different concepts. So we'll see which one Magneto is. Is it a 4xe-based vehicle or Wrangler? Is it the fully electric Wrangler?

It wouldn't surprise me if they had a 4xe and a fully electric one on display that they're showing off and running on the trails down there.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. Sounds good. I know you're a Jeep guy. Can't wait to see what they do next.

Hyundai Kia engine fire recalls. This is a big one. This is a lot of cars, and it, to me, dents the image that we've seen them build up in recent years, overcoming some of these quality issues that dogged them in the past. Why don't you take us through it?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Just this morning of the day of recording, a new recall was announced. This one is right around 380,000 vehicles in the United States. It is 2017 through 2001 Sportages and 2017 to 2019 Cadenzas that are not equipped with smart cruise control. So, apparently, vehicles equipped with smart cruise control have a different electrical junction box, or something, that isn't affected by this-- at least that they're saying yet.

So, first of all, if you happen to have one of those Sportages-- you're much more likely to have a Sportage than a Cadenza. But if you've got a Sportage or a Cadenza that's covered by this, PSA-- don't park it in a garage. Kia's specifically saying, due to the risk of fire, park the vehicle outdoors, which is a scary thought if you have this car.

Like, OK, there's a possibility I'm not just gonna lose my car in this fire, if it does catch on fire, but I could burn my garage down, or even my house, or my neighbors', or something. That's kind of a big deal. So they're saying to park 'em outside.

But that's just the latest round. We ran the article today, and I'm just gonna read this sentence. "Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have affected more than 6 million vehicles since 2015, according to documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration." 6 million vehicles that have a problem where either the engine completely fails or can catch on fire. That is not a small thing.

And remember, too, that Hyundai Kia was fined-- was it last year? I think last year, for moving too slowly on getting their recalls announced and moving. So it's not a good look to have vehicles with engines that are completely dying, which is the kind of thing that leaves you stranded, or could potentially catch on fire.

And also, we're not here suggesting that each one of these is a ticking time bomb that's going to go up in flames. That's not the case. In this latest one of 380,000, I think that they're saying, of those vehicles, they actually don't even know of any that have caught fire. But as of 2019, according to NHTSA, there had been complaints of more than 3,100 total fires, 103 injuries, and one death.

So it's not a small thing. This has been an ongoing problem, and it's all the way up into the 2021 model year in the Sportage.

So, basically, they've worked so hard to make gains in quality and customer perception, and they've done a really good job. JD Powers had them ranked really highly, sometimes even at the very top. Kia has been at the very top in owner's satisfaction in several different surveys. Magazines like "Consumer Reports" recommend a lot of Hyundai and Kia models, and now Genesis models, too, which is Hyundai's premium brand. But that kind of perception is gonna take a hit if they cannot get this resolved.

GREG MIGLIORE: I agree with you. This is a sticky one. Just the sheer scale of it-- I was surprised, when I was actually digging into it, just how many vehicles are affected.

But yeah, check that story out on our site for all the details. If you own one of these vehicles, definitely check it out, and get it fixed.

How 'bout we talk about a used-car spotlight, if you will? This is the Infiniti G35. We're trying to feature, if you will, on the site-- highlight old used cars, ones that we find interesting. Do check this out.

Jeremy had a nice history of the G35, which I remember. Back when I was really cutting my teeth in this business, I remember driving a little bit later of a version of this car, actually-- probably around '08 or '09. But it was very competitive back in the day.

It was interesting. This was a time when I think Infiniti actually was really aggressive in trying some things. They would later, I think, get even riskier, with some of those big V8s and the really aggressive styling that they had there for a while-- maybe the early 2010s. But you highlighted the G35 as we look in the rearview mirror. How come?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, first of all, the average price of a new car in the United States has crested $40,000. That is a huge amount of money. And there's a lot of people listening to this that love cars and either can't afford to spend $40,000 on a new one or can afford to spend $40,000 on a new one, have one, but also need a second car.

You might have a minivan or a crossover for daily driving duties, but you might need two cars. You might have two people that are commuting to work, or what have you. So there's a lot. In the United States, 17 million new cars are sold every year, so there's a huge supply of used vehicles that are still good options for people.

And so, we're going through our site and picking out various vehicles that, over the years-- over the last, say, 20 years-- have made a positive impression and can still make a good option for a car buyer. And the first one that we went with, published today was the 2005 and 2006 Infiniti G35.

This is at the tail end of the first generation of the G. We picked it out because it was extremely solid entry. It was shocking how competitive it was, considering this was Infiniti's-- which is, for all intents and purposes, Nissan. It was their first stab at a BMW 3 Series competitor, and they really hit the nail on the head with it.

It was fully competitive with BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz. Maybe wasn't quite as refined in some ways, but in other ways superior. It had more power. It was a little bit quicker. And it's got a stellar reliability history, too. The VQ engine is one of the best of V6s that has been sold in the United States in the last couple of decades.

So, when you put all those things together, considering that you can get a very nice one for less than $10,000, you've got yourself the makings of a fun little car, either for your second vehicle or if you're just not in a position to be spending a huge amount of money, of your paycheck on a brand-new vehicle. Well, there are some fun used cars, so you don't have to feel like driving is a penalty when there's good used vehicles out for the taking.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a really good point. If you're willing to do a little bit of research-- and I encourage you to check out our listings on Autoblog. We've got plenty of used-car ones. You could dive back a few years and get something that, like I said, is interesting.

This is definitely a vehicle, definitely a car that was fun when it was new. It still is holding up pretty well. It's a little old, but that means you can get a good deal on it. It could be a car you drive for a few more years, have some fun with it.

My memory of this is the manual transmission was quite good in this era. It was, in some ways, ahead of its time. It was very responsive. I really liked it. Thinking back, the steering in these cars was very good.

It's interesting, 'cause when you think, what's an enthusiast or an interesting car-- or maybe your commute's not even that far. You could daily drive this thing.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Totally, totally.

GREG MIGLIORE: A lot of times, I think, people think used cars, they think either real penalty boxes, things they're just gonna use, or maybe you're trying to only go a few years back and get, essentially, a new car. It's a '17 or '18 model year.

But you could go back a little bit into the catalog, if you will, and get some really cool stuff, interesting stuff that maybe the demand isn't even super high for, and you can have some fun with it. This, to me, would be a very enjoyable car to drive, especially with the stick shift, and I think you'll be able to find one that's probably in better shape than a Miata that's beat on for 17 years of that vintage. That's a car that would have some miles on it.

A car like this? Maybe not so much.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It's a good point to consider, too. If you're listening to this, you're probably an automotive enthusiast. And traditionally, when it comes time to buy a used vehicle, you set your budget, and you start hitting the dealership lots near you.

And there's nothing wrong with that. You go see what's there, and if you find just what you're looking for, then great. But we live in different times now, and I don't know how many classified listings are on Autoblog, but it's thousands. It's tens of thousands.

And our classifieds are really good, too. You narrow it down by how far you're willing to drive, and if you're only willing to look in a 20- or 50-mile radius of your zip code, OK. But if you expand that a little bit, in the modern day and age, with the internet, you could do a 200-mile radius if you're willing to spend a day getting just the right car, and you'll find a lot more that's available than you would in more traditional means of scanning classifieds, Facebook Marketplace, or whatever.

So if your idea of getting a used car sounds more like "OK, let me pick the car that I want and then find it," that's what this is for, as opposed to, "I need to get a used car. I've got this much to spend. Let me see what I can get."

There's the "I need it. I'm gonna fill a need." Or there's, then, "I want this, and I'm gonna look for it." This is more for the person who identifies what they want and is willing to go find it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Should we spend some money, since we're talking about used-car listings?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Let's spend some money.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right.

This week's letter comes from Jacob, writing to us from-- looks like Ohio, so not too far from you there, Jeremy. Great letter, if you will. I'm gonna try to condense it. So, basically looking for-- well, I'll go through it here.

Current vehicle is a 2004 350Z, 2012 Chevy Silverado, and a 1969 Chevy Camaro project car. 350Z coupe has a manual transmission. Camaro's about 50% done. 50% of it is in storage bins. Got a small-block V8 and a four-speed manual. That's awesome.

350Z is the summer daily driver. Silverado is what's probably being used right now in the winter and, obviously, for hauling anything smaller or larger than a few bags. Basically, he's owned the 350Z for 14 years now. Loves it, but looking for a change. Wants to upgrade to a more modern vehicle, similar driving excitement.

Says the ride character can be a little harsh, especially on the potholed, filled rural roads of Northeast Ohio, probably similar to Southeast Michigan. Open to rear- or all-wheel-drive suggestions. Typically, purchased vehicles that are around two years old have less than 25,000 miles on them. Budget is about 30 grand, but finding the right car is more important than the price.

He has test-driven the Stinger, Mustang GT, Alfa Romeo Giulia, MX5 Miata, of course, and the 4 Series Gran Coupe. He said the Mustang GT was his favorite, which makes sense. He's also eyeing the Mustang Bullitt but has not been able to find one close enough to drive or in that price range.

It's a great letter, Jacob. Thanks for writing. I hope I did it justice. I tried to get through the highlights.

So yeah, how should we spend his money? Should we wait for the Mustang Bullitt or go for one of these? Or something of the dance card here? What do you think, Jeremy?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Well, first of all, Jacob, you sound like a really cool guy. I like your taste in cars. '69 Camaro. Nothing wrong with that. I've had plenty of cars in my own garage that have been in various states of being built, so I feel you on half of it being in boxes and bags and ziplocked.

So keep going with that. That sounds great. You're gonna enjoy that Camaro.

The 350Z is a lot of fun. We actually talked about the G35 just a little bit ago. The G35 that we talked about, the Infiniti, is actually built on the same FM platform that the 350Z that you drive is built on.

Obviously, it's shortened-- two-door, no back seat-- in the 350Z. But the basic guts, including the VQ 3-and-1/2-liter V6, are very closely related. And it's a great car.

It is harsh. I actually looked at a 350Z just like the one that you drive when they were brand-new, and I ended up getting a Mazda RX8. It was a little bit more practical. It was a daily driver with the suicide doors in the back seat.

I would not recommend you get an RX8, even though it was the right choice for me at the time. We're looking at a used vehicle, and it sounds like you've moved up a class, and you're not wanting to get something with 100,000 miles on it that could potentially leave you stranded. So, not making that recommendation.

But I'm real happy to see this letter. I got my wheels turning a little bit. If I was looking at around $30,000 for a fun, sporty car-- I just happened to like them-- I would first look at a Dodge Challenger.

I did a little bit of internet sleuthing, and I found if you extend your budget to maybe 35, you could actually get a Challenger 392 Scat Pack Shaker, which is just a really fun car. I love the 392 Hemi. It's a rumbler, a tire spinner, just an absolute blast to drive, and I love the Shaker hood. When you get into it with your foot, you're gonna see the shaker hood rumbling like the old Trans Ams. Such a cool car.

If that's not quite sporty enough for you, that's too muscly, I really like the BMW M240i. You said you drove a 4 Series Gran Coupe. The M240i, to me, is a little bit harder-edged and a little bit closer in idea to the 350Z, but a little bit more practical, a little roomier, and whatnot.

You're almost, almost into Cadillac ATSV range, but not quite. You're almost into Jaguar F-Type S range, with the V8. A few years older than you were looking at, but if you extend your budget a little bit, those are potential options, too. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Mustang Bullitt. And if that's the one that just pegs everything for you, it's an excellent choice.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I would agree with that. I don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard to tell, for me, what Bullitt prices are gonna do. If you want the car now, find the best Mustang GT you can get and roll with it. Be mindful that that car is gonna be a little harsh on the Midwest roads, especially this time of year.

I'm always intrigued by the Alfa Romeo Giulia. I think it's an interesting car. It's compelling. It's fun to drive. It handles brilliantly. It's a great-looking car.

That one, to me, is just a very visceral option. To me, that's hot or cold. You're either gonna drive it and be like, this is what I want, or you're gonna be like, I don't know. And that answers your question there.

392? I feel like I actually recommended a charger 392 in last week's podcast. Get one a couple years old. I think that actually would fit your price range, because, even new, they're 43.

So, used, a couple years old, you're paying for the big, rumbly V8? That sounds good. Probably get down to the low 30s for that. I would go Charger over Challenger. Again, I always do go back to the Mustang GT as being among the best here.

The Stinger is actually an interesting choice, too. I will say this. Yes, it's sporty. Yes, it's powerful. Yes, it looks good. But it is still a sedan, so you might want to maybe stick with a Mustang.

Or, if you're thinking of four-doors, the Giulia is a sedan, but it's a very sporty sedan, in my opinion, even more so than the Stinger. So I think I'd probably land on a Mustang GT, or I would hold out for the Bullitt. If that's the right blend of the suspension tuning, and it gets you the Mustang, that could be the option you go with.

Or, again, a 392 Charger. Those things, I do think, would probably cushion the bumps of Northeast Ohio a lot better than some of these other options.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. I would go Charger, too, myself, because I personally would rather have the four doors, and it's still a really fun car on a back road. If you're replacing a 350Z, which is a real sports car, I wonder if the Charger would just be a little bit too big and not quite as tossable as what you're used to.

I don't know. Test-drive one and see. They're everywhere, so you shouldn't have a problem test-driving one. The Challenger is a little bit more tossable than a Charger, but still not like a 350Z is.

And if the Bullitt is the one that you've really got your heart set on, and you're gonna keep the car for 5, 10 years-- I don't know-- if you can afford it, I don't see the downside, really, except the added money. But you did say in your email that finding the right car is more important than hitting that $30,000 price.

So if it's the right car, you feel like you've already found it-- but if you're looking for other suggestions and options, the Charger or Challenger. And like I said earlier, the M240i falls into your price range, too. It's a fun little BMW. It's very sporty, and it's got that great turbo-charged inline six that feels way more powerful than it's rated at. So I wouldn't overlook that one.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a good choice, too.

Jacob, I think we've actually, probably, maybe muddied the waters a little bit. But we do both agree that if the Mustang Bullitt is what you want, it's probably worth holding out for. But a few other things on there, depending on how concerned you are about the driving characteristics of it is. Maybe I'm overindexing on the roads are tough and you want something that might be a little more compliant, because, again, a Mustang GT can be a pretty harsh car, but it's also an awesome car for enthusiasts.

I guess, if you have a 350Z, you know what you're getting into in this area, anyway.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, those are pretty crash-bang over bumps and potholes. It was one of the reasons why I got the RX8 instead of the Z back in 2005.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's saying something, when you're like, ah, the RX8. That's the car I want to be a little more comfortable here.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, it's true. The Z is stiff. It's stiff.

GREG MIGLIORE: 'Tis.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You get great handling out of it, but man, it bangs over bumps.

GREG MIGLIORE: Maybe a 370Z. That's another option. Just go a little newer here. I'm sure they're available in reasonable amounts on the used-car market. Could be something to consider, too.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, and the Infiniti Q60 I think even the Red Sport 400 would probably fall into or close to your price range. I don't know. I don't think of that vehicle as feeling as sporty as it should or feeling as fast and powerful as it should, but it's still a really nice car that you could look at.

But talk about muddying the waters. The one thing that Greg and I are both saying and agreeing with is, if you liked the Mustang GT, and you really like the Bullitt because of the shocks, it almost sounds like you've come to the right decision already.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good.

Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the "Autoblog Podcast" has now achieved two million downloads. That's a pretty big deal. Pretty exciting. We actually think it happened last week.

It's a cumulative thing, so I know a single show puts it over, but last week's show, I guess, technically did put it over. We probably would have kept getting more downloads. But it's a huge milestone. The show goes all the way back to 2005, as far as we know.

Jeremy, you're the longest-serving Autoblog employee, so glad we could have you on here as we mark this milestone. I think that's cool. And it's a big number. You've been on the show a lot.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: And happy to be here. Yeah, I've been on the show a lot. I feel like if I had a kazoo and one of those party bangers to throw the confetti everywhere, this would be the appropriate time for it. But I don't have them, so everybody, if you're listening, just pretend. Congratulations to all the "Autoblog Podcast."

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GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds good. All right, we'll leave it there. Two million and counting.

Send us your Spend My [? Moneys. ?] That's podcast@autoblog.com. He's Jeremy. I'm Greg. We'll see you next week.