Volvo S90 Recharge, Lexus RX 350 and spring beer picks | Autoblog Podcast #679

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski. They start off discussing the Volvo S90 Recharge and wonder out loud why the brand's plug-in technology isn't also offered with a wagon body style. They then discuss the Lexus RX350 and why it's likely an ideal premium crossover for a large percentage of buyers.

From there, Greg and Jeremy cover some recent news items, including the current state of BMW's coupes and rumors that Toyota's next Land Cruiser will lose its V8 engine in favor of a turbocharged V6. Then it's time to go over some of our current favorite spring beers before turning to the mailbag and spending some listener's money.

Video Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to "The Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me on the phones from mid-Ohio-- not the Mid-Ohio Racetrack, but the middle of Ohio-- is Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski. What's going on, man?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You know what? I'm enjoying the day. It's actually gorgeous out here in mid-Ohio. And we're actually not far from the Mid-Ohio Racetrack. I see signs for it all the time, but I haven't actually visited since I moved back to Ohio. I've been on the track a couple of times for various events. But yeah, I think it's about an hour away from where I live. It's a wonderful track if you ever get a chance.

GREG MIGLIORE: I would love to see an Indy car race there. I've had a couple opportunities but never actually taken advantage of them. Just never quite made it down. Such is life, I guess.

We have a great show for you today. We're going to talk about the Volvo S90 Recharge. That's what I drove all of last week. Jeremy has some thoughts on the Lexus RX, why it is a very ideal suited luxury SUV for almost anyone. He's going to take you through that. So that's the reviews and features section, if you will.

A couple of other things-- we have some new subjects. The 2 series was previewed in some official spy shots earlier this week. And then we're seeing rumors that the Land Cruiser, at least the one that goes on sale overseas, is going to get a downsized engine. We're going to riff on the Land Cruiser. We'll go through a couple of other feature items here, spring beers, that sort of thing. I like how Jeremy put on the run sheet, I have a few. I don't know if you meant that you had a few or a couple of ideas, but we'll get to that. I had a very unconventional spring beer last night. I was preparing for this podcast, seriously. And what I wanted to drink wasn't chilled. Forgot to do it.

So anyways, we have a mailbag and Spend My Money. So just right off the top, send us your Spend My Moneys. Send us your questions. Send us your takes on the show or what's going on in the car business. This podcast at, we want to know what you think. But I'm going to dive right into the Volvo S90. I spent a fair amount of time on it.

I didn't charge it. It comes with a portable charger, which is good, but you only get 21 miles out of it. And I basically drained it, and then the very strong TA powertrain, as they call it. Just didn't quite have a chance to charge it. I should have. I freely admit that. But I didn't. But I really like the whole portable charge setup, especially when you're in-- you're testing a car. You can just plug in the charger in your garage, and away you go.

21 miles is, I think, pretty usable. It'll get you almost wherever you want to go in a short stint. It's not something you could-- even for a long commute that's going to work, but it's fine for just like, hey, I want to be charged to go to the grocery store, go to restaurants or things like that, that sort of thing. Plenty of low-end torque. It's a quick car. It's basically Volvo's flagship sedan at this point. The S90 is, I think, beautiful inside and out.

They've kept it updated. If you look at even just some of the lighting features, they've really kept them in keeping with some of the things Mercedes and Audi and BMW have done. But what I like about Volvo-- not just like the hybrid here, the plug-in hybrid execution, which I think is good-- but it's a timeless design inside and out. They really-- I would say they won me over, if you will, as far as just keeping this car contemporary. But still, it looks good. People looked at it. It was great. So yeah, I enjoyed it. Have you driven an S90 in a while, Jeremy?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: No, I haven't. And I was actually just looking at Volvo's lineup. So if I'm seeing this correctly, they don't do a recharge of the wagon version, the-- what's it called? The V90 Cross-Country or the V90 wagon, which they do have. But as far as the plug-in hybrid version, it's sedan only. Is that correct?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's how I understand it. And the plug-in hybrid does give you 400 horsepower-- that's pretty good-- total system output.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. My commentary on that is it's always frustrating to me when-- and it totally makes sense for them to do this, for them to offer their big sellers in the most diverse versions. But how difficult would it be for them to drop that plug-in hybrid into-- powertrain into the wagon? If they're going to offer it in the sedan, I would think that that would mean that the powertrain is already certified. I wouldn't expect that they'd have to redo crash testing or anything else like that. I guess just convincing dealerships to put in orders for them-- because from what I've heard, it's next to impossible to find a regular Volvo wagon-- not a Cross Country, but a regular Volvo wagon on a dealership lot anyway. But in that case, they may as well offer a V90 Cross Country in the plug-in hybrid, being that that's one of the more popular vehicles.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's true. There's parts of Volvo's strategy that I don't quite get, why they're doing things a certain way. I believe the V90 wagon, just the wagon, is special order, right?


GREG MIGLIORE: So I guess I can't argue with that. If you want it, you can get it. You've got to special order it. That's fine. But I think it would make sense to maybe proliferate this hybrid tech across a few more of the 90s, especially because to me, the sedan is-- I get that they maybe want to really make this flagship, almost like their version of the S class. But this is just good technology. That's where the industry is going. You might as well use [INAUDIBLE] more often.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I didn't look up sales numbers, but I would bet that the Cross Country probably outsells the regular S90.

GREG MIGLIORE: I would think so too.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It's kind of curious that they don't put the recharge in. Maybe they're constrained on how many they can actually produce. That would be a viable reason for them to start with one. But yeah, that would be the killer app to me-- for them to offer the V90 wagon-- but if not the V90 wagon, at least the Cross Country-- with that recharge. Can you think of how smart that vehicle would be? It's not nearly as inefficient because it sits lower to the ground. It's more aerodynamic than a crossover or an SUV.

But it's got all the luggage space in the world. It's got 400 horsepower, all-wheel drive. And now you plug in and benefit from the efficiency improvements of the powertrain. And you're going to get a-- most people will get a tax rebate as well because of the size of the battery pack. So yeah, not to go on a tangent-- that sounds perfect to me. I wish Volvo would operate that way. But I've driven the plug-in hybrid powertrain and other vehicles. I've not driven an S90 recharge yet. It's very intriguing. I love the idea of adding electric motors, getting that instant boost of torque. I bet that car feels pretty darn quick, right?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Large sedans, I think, can either feel just like limousines or hearses, or they can actually feel surprisingly quick. This one, I think, falls into the latter. It's plenty of power. Like I said, 400 total system horsepower is pretty good.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. I'm a little curious about the long-term reliability of Volvo's twin-charge engine lineup.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. There's a lot going on there. It's very implicated.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Supercharged and turbo-charged, and in this case, also buoyed by electric motors. So there is a lot going on is a really nice way of putting that.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's interesting, your discussion about why don't they use this power train and the wagons. They do do it in the XC90, though, which is obviously, by far, the volume model. And that's probably, of all of these, the vehicle I've spent the most time in, actually. I drove the S90 as much as I needed to get a good flair for it. I love driving it. It's a beautiful car that's fun to drive. But I spent a lot of time in previous tests in the XC90 with the TA hybrid.

So you can see how it works. I remember there's like a little bit of a wonky-- something goes on with the transmission was something that stuck with me in the XC90 hybrid where it was kind of like-- it's kind of weird. There's so much going on there with all the twin charges. There's literally-- everywhere you go through the rev band, there's a part of the engine that's trying to do something. And that's maybe overkill a little bit. I don't know.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Imagine the amount of tuning that would have to go into getting the electronics just right-- and not even just the, but shift points. The systems have really got to be talking to each other. And it almost makes you think things will be so much more simple for the engineers once everything is fully electric. They're still-- not to take away from the engineering-- required to make a proper electric car. But at least you're not dealing with these disparate sources of [? mode of ?] power going to all the different wheels through different transmissions and sets of gears and planetary gear sets and all that. Even the most common hybrid in the world, the Prius-- even that sometimes has a little bit of funkiness going on-- you're driving down the highway, and you give it a little bit of gas. And you think you're going to get a boost from the electric motor, but the battery power is not quite there, so the engine revs up instead.

It's mostly seamless, but the words that you used-- a lot going on in these hybrid drive trains. The other word you used that I wholeheartedly agree with is timeless. Looking past the power train and the uniqueness of it, Volvo's designs, both inside and out, really are timeless. And they have been for two decades now. We put together these used car spotlights. So I've been looking at a lot of used car ads.

And a 15-year-old X60 or XC60 is still an extremely good-looking car. They've been slowly refining this basic shape and style that they've got going on right now. And each generation is just a little bit more smoothed out or a little bit more muscular than the ones before. And they're doing a lot with the Thor's Hammer headlights. And it's not that they're not improving, but even the ones that are previous generation at this point, you still see that car drive down the road, and it looks like it could have rolled off the showroom floor. It's timeless. Timeless is-- in automotive terms, it's a couple of generations. But good on Volvo for hitting that really cool stylistic trend.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I agree with that. And I think too that if you look at some of the things that Mercedes and Audi in particular are doing, their cars are getting really busy. I like how simple and clean Volvo's sedans and crossovers are. The lines are in the right places. And then you do the headlights, and you get the interiors right with the nice materials. Crystal shifters-- hey, that's cool. So that works for me. It's definitely-- in a way, it's almost like what Audi used to be. Audi used to be this way, and then they've really, in the last-- probably five, six, seven years-- started to bust out the extra crayons and pencils for their designers. And personally, I prefer this look.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah, I prefer the Volvo look. I remember the first time, as a journalist, I had an Audi A7, the first-generation Audi A7 dropped off. And I remember walking around the car inside and out, opening up the doors, looking at it from all the angles, and thinking, this is just an absolutely beautiful vehicle. And I still see that car drive by in the road, and I don't think that they've actually improved on it in subsequent generations and iterations and refreshes and whatnot. That original A7m to me, is Audi's styling high mark.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. It's funny how things like that stay with you and resonate-- that timeless element, I guess, if you will. Cool.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So here's a segue to the Lexus RX.


JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Lexus does not do this timeless styling thing. They are really-- they're on the forefront of the avant-garde, new-wave styling. I think Audi maybe started the trend by putting big grills on their cars before anyone else really started doing it, but I don't think anyone-- I mean, OK, not anymore. BMW takes the cake in controversial styling now. But for a long time, I think it was Lexus with their spindle grill. It works on some vehicles, but the bigger the vehicle gets, the less it works, I think.

You look at an LC, and that spindle, especially in the metal finish, just works. It's beautiful. I think it works on the UX, the NX, and the RX. But you get bigger than that-- you get to a GX, you get to the LX, the big old Land Cruiser, the Lexus Land Cruiser-- and it starts to look like a caricature where you're just like, it's getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I see it, and I always think the "Predator" movie. It's got those funky sideways mandibles. But I digress. I started talking about the Lexus RX.

And here's the genesis of this thought. We have been-- if you look at Autoblog Daily, you'll see that we've started adding best lists to our content coverage. We've got best SUVs of all different shapes and sizes. And one of the more recent ones we did is the best premium crossovers and SUVs. And the way we come up with these lists is-- a little look behind the scenes-- we create a list of all of them electronically. And all of the editors, people who drive these cars day in and day out, we go in, and we mark which ones we think should be nominated. And then from that list, we whittle it down to our absolute favorites.

And I noticed that the last go round of premium crossovers and SUVs, I was the only person to put a check mark next to the Lexus RX. And I was a little surprised by that. I guess surprised isn't the word, but it made me start thinking of an in defense of the Lexus RX thought. So I'm just going to muse about this for a little bit on the podcast. The RX, I think, is almost the perfect premium vehicle, premium branded vehicle, for more buyers than probably anything else. All the checkmarks that people say that they're looking for when they buy a vehicle are met-- the reliability, resale value, premium nameplate. The performance is there. it's Got plenty of power. And it's super quiet. It rides extremely well.

The only demerit that we as journalists and enthusiasts tend to give the Lexus RX is that it's not sporty even when you add the F Sport package to it, which makes it look sporty. It doesn't really do much for the actual driving dynamics of the car. And you see them everywhere. They're very, very popular. And I think there's a natural tendency to overlook the most popular one and say, OK, well, we already know that that one's extremely popular. What else should you take a look at?

And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Being a little bit contrarian can be really interesting and add spice to life. And if you really love your cars, you don't really want to see yourself coming and going all the time, necessarily. So I get why an enthusiast, someone who just looks forward to their morning commute, might overlook it. For everyone else-- which, let's be fair, is the vast majority of people-- it's pretty much ideal. And I think that that works both as a brand-new vehicle for people who are shopping with zero miles, the first owner, and I think it also makes a lot of sense in the lightly used market too.

For instance, if you've been watching car pricing lately, you'll see that even something like Ford Edge or Nissan Murano or something like that, you add the nice leather interior, the really nice trim, the wheels that you want, all that kind of stuff. And they get really expensive. Mid to high 40s is pretty common for even a non-premium-branded crossover today, a personal crossover. I think a lot of buyers who are looking for something like that would really do well to look at a lightly used, two to three-year-old version of the current Lexus RX.

It is a more premium product. It is the most solidly screwed-together thing that you're going to drive. And I think the trustworthiness of Lexus and parent company Toyota's powertrains-- you're not going to have a problem if the thing's got 35,000 miles on it. The likelihood of you having a major repair in your ownership time is extremely low, probably even lower than if you put that brand-new Nissan Murano in your driveway instead. So yeah, basically, that's a long-winded way of saying let's not overlook the Lexus RX. It's popular for a reason. And I think it deserves more praise than it gets.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well said. I would say there's two things about Lexus SUVs that stand out for me. One is their styling. And I do think-- we've thrown around the phrase "timeless styling" on this podcast a few different ways now. Is it timeless? Probably not. But does it look good? I think it does. I think the risk-taking has paid off. And it's definitely a look that, if you don't like it, don't get it. And to your point, they sell so many of them. As car journalists, we like to say, oh, it's polarizing. Well, if it is, a lot of people sure seem to buy them and like them.


GREG MIGLIORE: In a design vacuum, it's more aggressive than many different brands-- like Volvo, for example. To be honest, though, look at the field. Look at Genesis. Look at BMW, which we're going to talk about here in a second. Who isn't going aggressive? Who isn't taking risks? And many Lexus SUVs, from the UX, which I believe you can get as a hybrid, to the GX to even the RX-- they're OK to drive, but the steering-- I feel like Lexus does a little bit more with its steering because they've tried to make their cars with a 5-liter naturally aspirated V8. They do want to have that sporting aura. And I think they at least try to transfer some of that over to some of the SUVs. And even if that means there's maybe a little bit of artificial tuning and such, sure, whatever. Fine. I don't care. I like it. I think it looks good.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I think it's pretty likable. And just backing this up, I have suggested both routes to friends of mine in recent years. I have a friend who bought a brand-new RX350. Absolutely loves it. Best car they've ever owned, according to them. And I've got another set of friends-- some of our very best friends were shopping for a new vehicle, and I recommended the slightly used RX instead of the new, more mainstream car. And they're ex-Ford Edge-- well, they are current Ford Edge owners, but a very old one that they bought years and years ago. It's got 150,000 miles on it now. But I suggested that they take a look at the RX350 among other options. I gave them other options. And the R is what they ended up with. And again, they absolutely love the thing. I just think it's a really, really attractive option for a huge segment of the buying population.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting too because some people-- once they reach a certain age or state, they don't really want to buy used cars anymore. They'd rather lease. I can understand that line of thinking. But a lightly used-- especially if it's still CPO, two or three-year-old used car-- a Lexus, which is a quality vehicle-- is, in many ways, better than stepping down a segment. Get the Lexus RX. You may keep it for 7, 8, 9, 10 years. That's a great buy for you if you think about the long game. And you're driving a nicer car.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: You're driving a nicer car, and you left $10,000, maybe even $15,000 off the initial purchase price. And it still feels like a new vehicle at that point and one that you're probably going to enjoy living with for several years more than if you would have bought a less expensive, brand-new option.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well said. Well said. Any other Lexus RX thoughts?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: No. That concludes my defense of the Lexus RX. I think a lot of people who are going to be listening to this podcast are definitely going to agree that the RX is great. Again, the genesis of this thought process started just because I think it's overlooked by enthusiasts, and I think that's fine. The Porsche Macan and several other vehicles, they really are good driver's vehicles. And there's any number of options that might be a little bit more fun on a twisty road, but that is just not-- that's not a huge buying motivation for a lot of people.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, for sure. I think overlooked by enthusiasts-- that's a segment we could explore further on the podcast and maybe on the site.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That's an interesting one, yeah. I like it.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know what's not overlooked by enthusiasts? BMW coupes, like the 2 series.


GREG MIGLIORE: A lot going on there. We had a teaser post this week. It was this week went up, one of those official spy photos. They released the camo car, blah, blah, blah. But good thing so far. We're hearing all-wheel drive, straight 6, 382 horsepower. Pretty good-looking shots, even in the car camo, if you will. I think we'll probably also, again, have-- naturally, rear-wheel drive will be part of it as well. This is like-- everybody likes to talk about two-door BMWs, and then what comes up immediately is the 2002. What's the real successor to it?

And for a while, kicking the 2 Series was a bit of a sport among automotive journalists. We were like, this ain't it. This isn't really the successor. People were waxing poetic about the 1 Series M, which was literally one or two model years of existence back in '11, '12, '13, somewhere in there. They were all bright orange. But this sounds like something you could sign me up for. I think this is the right direction. I feel like BMW is getting a lot of that like the foundational elements correct here.

And I actually-- I'll just throw it out there-- I think the grill, the large grill, looks good on the smaller cars. I would assume this thing's going to get a big grill, although it's funny. The camo shots cover it up in a way that looks pretty good. So this is a car I'm excited to drive. I pay a lot of attention to BMW two-doors. I like the 4 Series. I'm probably in a smaller group there. A lot of people don't like it. They think it's not what a BMW coupe should be, that it's too big, or just the dynamics aren't where they should be. But I like that car. So I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about this one.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Something like a 4 Series is-- it's an excellent car. You might not like the styling, which I can understand. But get behind the wheel and drive it. It's pretty much superior to anything else that you're going to compare it with. So I don't think you're off base with that.

The 2 is an interesting one. Now, if you're listening to this, you should bear in mind that there's a fork in BMW's 2 Series range. They've got a front-wheel-drive-based platform on some versions of the 2, like the-- what is it-- the Gran Coupe?


JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So that's not what Greg's talking about here. He's talking about what will be known as the 230i and M240i. Don't know what the 230i is going to be powered by, probably a turbo-charged 2-liter 4-cylinder. The 240i is-- excuse me-- M240i is the really interesting one here. That's the turbo-charged 3-liter inline 6. They have already said it's going to be 382 horsepower, which is 47 horsepower more than the current M240.

And even that one-- I've driven it-- it feels very powerful. So this is going to be even better. And it is going to be xDrive all-wheel drive, but BMW does a better job than most making their all-wheel drive vehicles still feel like rear-wheel drive. They started that with the M5. And I took the-- it's not the refresh one now, but a few years back, I took that M5 all-wheel drive on a racetrack in Portugal. And I can tell you, it very much has the dynamics of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. So I expect the same out of this new M240i, and I expect it to be just an excellent driver's car. The M2 is also excellent. We don't know exactly what's going to happen with that, but I suspect that if they're redoing the 230i and M240i, that they will also do the same with the M2. And I look forward to finding out what the deal with that's going to be.

GREG MIGLIORE: Which track in Portugal did you take the M5 on?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Gosh. It was Portimao if I'm remembering correctly. I don't think it was-- what's the other one?


JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Oh, yeah. Circuit de Algarve. I'd have to look it up again. But I'll tell you, it was a great experience.

GREG MIGLIORE: I took, I think, an E63 on Portimao. It was probably winter of '16, fall of '16, somewhere in there. Man, that was pretty awesome. It was a great track.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Portugal is a great country. I love visiting Portugal. And anytime it includes a little bit of racetrack, can't be mad about that.

GREG MIGLIORE: I remember as I entered the final curve, rain started coming down. I was like, nice-- right as I was completing my last lap. I may be mixing some of these trips up because there was another trip with an Audi TTRS in that same time frame. But I believe that was actually in Spain. But I remember there was a professional race car guy behind me on the Mercedes trip, I think. And I remember thinking, I got to stay ahead of this guy. And they staggered it out so even a professional would have a tough time running you down, just for safety's sake. But I was still like-- I mean, let's be real. There is that much of a gap between me and a guy who races ALMS or IMSA, whatever it was at the time. But yeah, great memories.

Let's do a hard fade over to the Land Cruiser. I heard some rumors that the new one will go on sale globally, but, we still don't know when exactly it's going to return here. I'm not actually sure they've even confirmed it's going to return here. It's technically not gone yet. They're selling down the current gen. They sold-- let's see-- almost 1,900 of them-- I just threw that in the run sheet here-- through Q1. So they're still selling them. If you want one, you can probably still get one or get a used one from the last five years. It's not that different, really, even farther back than that.

We don't know if this means they're going to look at downsizing the engine when it comes back. It's a 3.5-liter V6, I believe, twin turbo. I don't know. This is a chance to riff on the Land Cruiser. I would probably prefer to get it in a V8 just because Land Cruiser. That said, I think a good parallel is the Navigator, the Lincoln Navigator. They took away that ancient V8 that was in there, the old Ford F150 truck engine, and put the EcoBoost V6, and that was way better. It was more powerful. It was a better driving experience. So tradition aside, it's probably the right move.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Land Cruiser is a funny one, though. Looking back at Land Cruiser history, every time there is a major redesign, there's an uproar from fans of the current version. Everyone thinks back to the old 4.5-liter inline 6 as being-- at least here in the United States-- I mean, if you look at Australia and South America and other places, the Land Cruiser legacy is very storied and set in stone. Here in the States, we don't quite have the outback conditions that people buy a Land Cruiser because they're like, I need this thing to be dead reliable, and if it isn't, I might die out somewhere. We don't really have that kind of thing so much in the United States. There's some deserts out there. But you're never too far from a cell signal. I'll put it that way.

So here in the States, I think that the 4.5-liter inline 6, that generation-- that's not the 100 series. Was that the 80 series, maybe? I can't even remember anymore. Too much stuff floating around in my head. But yeah, that inline 6, that was known around the world as a bulletproof engine, as bulletproof as engines can be.

And then they replaced it with a 4.7-liter V8. I think that one-- that is the 100 series. And that, here in the United States, just absolutely cemented, rock solid, the Land Cruiser as basically the most durable thing that you can buy. That engine is just absolutely without peer when it comes to reliability. I do think that they are maybe timing belts that need to replaced every 100,000 miles, something like that. But past that, those things just don't die.

And when they switched over to the 5.7-liter, which is borrowed from the Toyota Tundra range, there was, again, an uproar. And the 5.7 has also proven to be great. It doesn't quite have the reputation that the older 4.7 had or even the 4.5 inline 6. But again, it's top shelf, extremely reliable, excellent power [? plant. ?] So I think before we raise our pitchforks, we should recognize that Toyota knows what they're doing. And they do not want to mess up the legacy of the Land Cruiser either. So if they do go with a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, like rumors seem to indicate that they will, let's give it some time and see if this new power plant is going to live up to the reputation of past Land Cruisers.

And I am, however, going to add a caveat. I think one of the reasons why the 5.7 maybe isn't quite as-- it doesn't quite have the reputation of the old 4.7-- is because to keep up with modern expectations and emissions requirements and everything else, they've got to keep adding technology to these things-- variable valve timing and camshafts that shift their positioning and more electronic processing power than your first PC probably had. And every time they add complexity like that, it's another potential breaking point. Adding turbochargers-- turbochargers at this point are a known quantity, not something that is going to break all the time. But it does add heat, and there's a lot of electric components that are under there.

So I get where people are going to be concerned about it, and I share those concerns. But Toyota is pretty trustworthy when it comes to not messing up the Land Cruiser and not letting down those die-hard fans. So I guess I'm not too worried about it. And for people whose lives do depend on the vehicle not breaking down, they still sell old versions of the Land Cruiser in Australia and several other countries. They're not here in the United States. But like I said earlier, we don't really need that level of reliability.

GREG MIGLIORE: I guess for my own part here, I think there is a big opportunity in this large premium-- really, it's like almost like a luxury-- SUV segment from mainstream manufacturers, whether it's the Suburban and the Tahoe to large SUVs like the Expedition, the Explorer, things like that, a little bit of GMC thrown in there. But there's a spot for them. You can make a ton of money off of them. I think there is a segment of people that would rather have a Suburban than an Escalade. They would rather have a Land Cruiser than a Lexus or a BMW 7 or down the line. They want these rough-and-tough vehicles.

Frankly, that's why you're seeing like the Grand Wagoneer and things like that. Even the Grand Cherokee is getting a three-row item. So there is, like I said, a lot of opportunity. I like this current generation. I think the Land Cruiser is the right look. It's obvious what it is, and that to me is prestigious in and of itself. Get inside one, and you're like, oh, my goodness. The steering is a little all over the place. Let me put it this way. It's the one car that makes driving a Wrangler or a 4Runner seem modern and relatively easy. Drive a Land Cruiser, and that's a bit of a workout. But I think it's a great thing.

So it'll be interesting to see what the modern application is when they bring it back here. Maybe it'll be all electric. I don't know. Now I'm just spitballing.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I do think that-- again, rumors indicate-- because here in the States, there's a Lexus version as well. There was the LX450. That was the inline 6. There was the LX470, which was the 4.7 V8. And there's the LX570, which is currently on sale now. And they've always shared powertrains. But the more recent rumors suggest that Lexus and Toyota may go different directions with this. The Toyota may get the twin-turbo 6. And Lexus, the LX, which is much more likely to continue sales in America-- it's very popular and extremely profitable-- that still might get the V8. So we'll see. Maybe there will be an option for American buyers if things go their way.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny when we talk about these-- the term "iconic" does apply to definitely Toyota, maybe even the Lexus version. Literally, we're waiting-- in a few minutes, we're going to hear about this electric F150. There's news about how the Hummer weighs 9,000 pounds, all these pivots to electricity. Every day it's like, what's the big Tesla story? But we're still sitting here talking about how this large Lexus SUV is going to get a big old V8, probably.

I do think there's an interesting near-term strategy for automakers. And I mean very near-term, like, 5 years. Afterwards, I think you're going to have to be like, what do we do with this? We got to do a more dramatic shift with some of these existing internal combustion engines in how are we going to compete in these spaces. Is our large, full-size off-road SUV going to be electric? Maybe. Maybe not. My guess is vehicles like this are going to-- it is a sea change. It's like, are you going to use the Land Cruiser name and make it all electric and make it the special electric Land Cruiser, or is it going to be the other way, and in seven, eight years, the Land Cruiser is electric? I can see the technology catching up to the nameplate. So we'll see.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. It's interesting too because-- it's an interesting time to be a follower of the automotive industry because Ford is going to show off-- the day that we're recording this, it's Tuesday-- Ford is going to show off the new Lightning electric pickup. And by the time you're listening to this, maybe the debut has already happened. But what's not going to be mentioned when they show off the shiny, brand-new electric pickup truck is that they also sell versions of their F Series truck with 5-liter V8s. And another F Series has such a big V8 engine that they refer to it as Godzilla.

So let's not overlook the fact that for every million F150s powered by gasoline that Ford is going to sell here in the United States over the next several years, for every million of those that are not getting great gas mileage, they're probably going to sell a dozen of these electric Lightnings. Those numbers are maybe off by a little bit, but the ratio is going to be drastic. And the bigger these vehicles get-- Greg mentioned the 9,000-something-pound Hummer EV-- we were doing some math earlier in our communication internally. And someone mentioned-- and I didn't check this number, but someone mentioned that the battery pack for the Hummer EV is going to be 213 kilowatt hours.


JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That is just a massive battery pack. I feel like if you were to drop that battery pack in the middle of my block, we could probably run the entire block's energy needs for a week with that battery pack. That's the equivalent of something like four or five Nissan Leafs. And not to go too crazy into the weeds on these discussions, but with these new off-road-oriented electric vehicles that are coming out, I'm super excited for them. But over the coming years, I think the mining of lithium and recycling of these battery packs and what are you doing at the end of their life cycle-- do you use them to power solar generation systems? Do you try to break them down and reuse the materials?

That's going to be a very interesting story to watch, and especially if they start adding-- Toyota's been putting hybrids on everything, but they put them on something popular like a Land Cruiser that's sold worldwide. And the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the battery pack. So is it going to be 10 times the size of the pack in the Prius? Who knows what's going to happen? Like I said when I started this little soliloquy, it's a very interesting time to be monitoring the automotive segment.

GREG MIGLIORE: I wonder if-- the Hummer is one of General Motors-- it's not the first, but it's among the early really large electric SUVs, and by extension, SUVs and trucks they're working on. Part of me wonders if-- having the Hummer first, it's OK to make it weigh 9,000 pounds. You couldn't make the Bolt EUV weigh that much. But it's like, well, hey, we have all these batteries. We don't have all the range. It'll be OK if it weighs this much first, and then we'll figure out ways to maybe streamline things. And it should be mentioned, I believe this is the most expensive and capable version of the GMC Hummer that weighs that much. The ones that have shorter range aren't going to be quite this heavy.

But we should probably transition to a heavy topic. What are you drinking these days? We haven't done a beer podcast in a while. And we didn't want to let spring go by without at least doing a little bit of a spring beer segment because we're about three or four weeks away from summer. So what's your spring beers?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: OK. So I've got a can. Don't worry. It's empty.

GREG MIGLIORE: I'm not judging. It's work-from-home Tuesday.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: This is a Rogue, so a very large brewery that everybody knows, and anybody can get near them. It's a honey Kolsch, excellent Kolsch-style ale brewed with wild flower honey. 5% ABV. I don't know if you drink a lot of Kolsches, Greg, but they tend to have a little bit of a wheatiness to them, almost a little bit of a pepperyness too that I think is really refreshing. Low ABV, only 5%, and 26 IBUs, so not overly hoppy. Add just a touch of honey, and you get a little bit of sweetness that turns it into an excellent spring beer. So that is my spring beer pick of the podcast.

GREG MIGLIORE: Nice. Nice Looks pretty tasty. I will give you two or three. I like to start out spring with a Guinness just because it's still usually pretty cold out, a heavy beer. It's good. March-- St. Patrick's Day, obviously, just the right beer, especially if you're having a cookout, you're grilling, and it's a little chilly out. You don't mind having a little bit of a heavier beer. It pours nice into a glass. And especially, like I said, if it's snowing out, even, which is not uncommon here, your beer stays cold. So that's more like my March beer.

And then I like to transition into-- an Oberon in April, I think, is good. That's a Bell's beer which I think is-- it's a little light-- well, it's not lighter. It's a little more orangey, fruitier.


GREG MIGLIORE: Wheaty, yeah. Good one. Or I like to do Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, which is a bit of a stronger IPA, but it's a good one. You only need a couple of those. They oftentimes come in larger cans, almost like pint cans. It's a pretty good beer. That's a good mid-spring beer. And then honestly, this time when it's the third part of spring-- you're closing on summer. It's hot. You're probably cutting the grass. I'm willing to go straight up Blue Light, Rolling Rock, you name it-- lawn mower beer-- because it's usually pretty hot out.

And last night, I did flip the script. I was grilling chicken, and I made a tactical error. I was looking forward to like a Monday Heineken-- maybe not my normal spring beer, but whatever. It's beer. It's fine. I forgot to chill them. So I'm going through the fridge. And at this point, the grill is lit. The chicken is on. I'm getting close to needing to flip the chicken. All I have is-- guess what? Guinness. All right. Whatever. It wasn't blisteringly hot. It was pretty good.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: So your beer emergency was solved by a cold can of Guinness.

GREG MIGLIORE: It was a bottle, actually.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Cold bottle of Guinness.

GREG MIGLIORE: Poured it into a pint glass, and it was actually quite good. I had no regrets. I was like, hey, this is fun.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. Going into winter, I go pretty heavy into dark beers. Coming out of winter when it's still cold, but there's some good weather coming up on the horizon, I switch to nut browns. I drink an amber every once in a while. But since you came out with so many more than I did, I'll mention one more. My Polish heritage-- anyone who sees the site, looks at my last name, immediately knows that I'm Polish-- there's some good Polish beers out there. I've got one in my fridge right now-- Zywiec, Z-Y-W-I-E-Z-K or something like that. I don't remember exactly how. But I see them around in specialty beer shops. I've never not been able to find them. And the one that I get is-- I believe it's a porter, but it's very strong. And it comes in a big bottle. So it's-- pop it open and share it with a friend. I think it's, like, 9%, something like that. But it's excellent. And I feel like I'm reconnecting with some ancestry there every time I pop one open.

GREG MIGLIORE: I am a big fan of amber ales. For me, that's like going into the winter months where the days are short. Maybe you want to have a heavier beer. The amber ale is a perfect September, October, November kind of beer. I'll literally go from like autumn ales to amber ales to get even-- you go from red to the darker-hued beers, and they taste really good. It's great. As the leaves change, have a tailgate. That's really my favorite time of the year for beer, to be honest.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. All times of the year are pretty good for beer. Going into summer, there's a big mix of people with what they like in their IPAs. I like all IPAs.

GREG MIGLIORE: Are you a session IPA guy?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: I love session IPAs. If you know you're cracking one open, and you're going to have three more, a session IPA like Founders All Day, something like that, makes a lot of sense. If you're going to the river or the beach or something like that, yeah, a session IPA is great for that. I've gotten into hazy IPAs and New England IPAs lately. And I know there's a lot of people who don't like them because they're non-traditional. And to that I say, whatever. Don't drink them then. But I welcome them. I think they're great. I drink a lot of Haze Jude, which is from Platform here in Ohio.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, yeah. I've heard of that one.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It's excellent, yeah. I think they're based out of Cleveland, but they've got a tasting room here in the Columbus area. And every store, every grocery store sells it here, and it's excellent. Brew Dog is also very good. They've got a couple of hazy beers, but they also have a grapefruit IPA called Elvis Juice. And it's real good. I'm a big fan.

GREG MIGLIORE: I don't know about that grape juice beer. I'm not sure I've had one.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Grapefruit IPA. Grapefruit IPA.

GREG MIGLIORE: I'm more of an M-43 when it comes to the New England IPAs. Those are good.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That is excellent. They have something-- Tweed, something or other? Same brewery. I think that's the double.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I generally don't do the doubles.


GREG MIGLIORE: It's a bit much. That's your beer spring session. We'll probably be back, maybe even in a month, for a summer session. But it's good to talk beer, watches, other things on the podcast sometimes. So let's go to the mailbag. Let's see here. We've got a letter first, somebody writing in. We're going to riff on this. This is Mark from Lafayette, Indiana, who listens every week.

He caught that we mentioned the Lincoln LS and the Blackwood a few episodes back. And he mentions that the truck, of course, was only for sale in the United States for one reason-- or one year. And for some reason, Mexico got it for a second year. I actually didn't know that. It's interesting. He mentions that the bed was carpeted. Do you remember that, Jeremy? The bed was carpeted.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: In which truck now?

GREG MIGLIORE: In the Lincoln Blackwood.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. It was kind of-- well, was it carpet? I think it was stainless-- or maybe it's stainless on the sides, and the carpet is on the bottom. That's possible.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah so that was a thing. He also reminisces that the LS came with a V6 and that a V8 is an option. That's right. If you find the V6, apparently it had a five-speed Manual that's something I don't remember. The V8 was a 3.9 V8 from Jaguar, which was the same one that was in the Thunderbird. I do remember this.

Some of those cars were actually better than you might remember. There was like a minute there in the 2000s when some of the Lincolns and the Fords, that rear-wheel drive platform that they both dabbled in-- they had some decent executions. That Thunderbird was not bad. I don't mean the retro Thunderbird. I mean that actual last Thunderbird they sold for a while. That was an OK car. That could be an underappreciated electric car. It was basically a Chevy Monte Carlo competitor, I guess. I don't know.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: That's the luxury coupe, right?

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. The Thunderbird was rear-wheel drive, right? That was-- yeah, give me that.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. There could be a return of that segment. We'll see. I just looked up Blackwood info. We've got a computer sitting in front of us, so we may as well get the right info here. The sides of the bed were stainless, and their little locking compartments. And the bottom was carpeted. I'm seeing some pictures where there's these stainless steel running strips that go over the carpet, and I'm seeing some without them. So maybe that was some sort of premium option package or something. But yeah, there was definitely carpeting in the bottom of the bed in a lot of these Blackwoods I'm seeing.

GREG MIGLIORE: Thank you for writing, Mark. That's kind of a fun-- we appreciate the riff just on a segment we had here. So let's spend some money.


GREG MIGLIORE: All right. This is Wayne from Portland, Oregon, looking to replace his wife's 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. In late March, they were rear-ended by a reckless driver. Totaled the Jeep. Oh, no. So her Jeep was actually-- get this-- set up with a camping setup. There was a roof rack, tent storage in back. It was lifted. It was near perfect. So condolences. We're sorry to hear that. They did get a good settlement check from the insurance, and that's a tough decision. They want another camping-type vehicle. Initial thought is another Wrangler, but there's some scar tissue from losing the Wrangler. So they're wondering if-- they just basically say that's out.

OK. I would honestly probably say get another Wrangler, to be honest, given the set up. But they're looking to do something else. Criteria are manual transmission, four-wheel drive with low range, fun or unique color-- her old Wrangler was purple-- and enough room for camping gear. The upper price limit is 50 grand. They have a short list which they didn't share, and that's OK. Making us do some work here. So they're looking for basically a cool off-roader, 50 grand. What do you think?

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: All right. So the Wrangler is the obvious choice. it meets all of their criteria except that they literally said the wounds are too fresh, so that's out. I don't know if that also means that a Gladiator is out, but a Gladiator would also fit all the requirements quite nicely and maybe even add a little bit of extra utility for all your camping gear with a truck bed. So obviously, the gladiator is an excellent option if the Wrangler is out.

If you're willing to have a little bit of fun with it and make it a build, I've got two other options in order of difficulty, slash, outlandishness. First option-- start with the Ford Ranger. It's an excellent platform to meet your requirements. Manual-- well, not a manual, so maybe it doesn't quite meet that requirement. But all the other ones-- four-wheel drive with low-- it's got a ton of payload, which is the big problem with a lot of trucks like the Tacoma. They just don't have a lot of room for modifications. Big wheels, tires, that kind of thing doesn't apply to the Ranger.

If you don't like the idea of a Ranger and want something completely closed, you're going to have a really hard time with the manual transmission requirement. You can get an older 4Runner, but they haven't had manuals in them for a while now. Here's where I go way off the beaten path and say you could get a Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro.

GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, wow. That's wild. OK.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: It's way off the beaten path here. But with your $50,000 upper price limit, you could get a pretty cool one. They are extremely capable. They will travel off-road scenarios that you would not expect. Very capable four-wheel drive system, manual transmission, definitely enough room for camping gear. Meets your price range. If you don't like the color, you can always paint it. So that's my off-my-rocker recommendation, VW Syncro. But really, if you're not willing to get a Wrangler, your best bet is probably a Gladiator.

GREG MIGLIORE: I wouldn't disagree with that. I think it's worth noting the Gladiator is a very credible mid-sized truck. It's not just a Gladiator with a bed, which, I think, is why they call it a Gladiator, not the Scrambler or any other names they could have gone with. I like the Gladiator. I'm more of a Wrangler guy myself. That's how I break down the segment.

So yeah, I think that's a great choice. I was spec'ing out Broncos right here, which I think is just a very obvious thing here. It would appear to fit everything they want. You could get a manual with the seven-speed manual. I would assume there's plenty of colors on the Bronco, camping gear. Upper price limit is 50 grand. Well, the Bronco-- the big Bronco actually starts reasonably low in the-- well, let me see what this one is that I've speced out here. Where is it? Where is it? It's well under 50 grand. Let me put it that way. Depending on the trim you get, you can get all the way up-- even the base, which I almost can't believe is $28,500.

So I would steer you towards a Bronco, to be honest, just because if you want an off-roader, and you want to say, well, what's the closest thing to a Wrangler that's not a Wrangler, well, it's a Bronco, the new one. They're not on sale yet, but you can certainly get on there in build and price and probably get pretty close to what you're looking for. Again, if you're looking for sort of like a Wrangler, well, then Gladiator. And I do like the 4Runner option. I don't know how hard the manual transmission criteria is. If it's not, then maybe find a lightly used one or even a new one, and away you go.

The 4Runner is one of my favorite vehicles on the market. It really is. I think you get a little bit more vehicle around you than you do in the Wrangler. It just, in general, drives just so jauncey. I wouldn't say no. If you came to me and you were like, I'm thinking Gladiator, I would say, yes, get the Gladiator. If you're saying I like the 4Runner, I would say, well, here's some of the compromises. If that's what you like, I like it too. Be aware of these. Still get it. It's almost a little bit like when the doctor tells you, well, you can do this, or you cannot do it. It's up to you.

And you're like, well, great. What do I do? That's how I would probably put this. You've got a lot of good choices. And since you've got a bit of a budget here from the insurance company, you can give it a go.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Yeah. If the manual transmission isn't an absolute necessity-- I've seen some amazing Camper, slash, Overlander build-outs of the previous-generation Lexus GX, the one that ended in 2009. It's the Land Cruiser Prado in a lot of the world, and it has got that same 4.7-liter V8 that we were talking about earlier that is the pinnacle of vehicular reliability and durability. So that's a great choice if you're willing to bend that manual transmission rule. But you know what? I'm just going to stick with my guns and say you really have to get a VW van again with the Syncro. I can think of nothing else that is going to satiate your desire to have a really cool camping rig with some uniqueness-- your manual transmission, your durable, heavy-duty four-wheel drive system. So don't buy it, but definitely buy it.

GREG MIGLIORE: I would say Bronco, and I would probably say number two would be 4Runner. That's the way I would look at it. I suppose maybe you can find an old Land Cruiser just to try and complete the circle of this podcast, like a lightly used one that maybe was in the $70,000 range that's got some miles. I don't know. We're going too far afield here. Bronco and then 4Runner.

That's all the time we have, Jeremy. It's not that close to happy hour, but hey, go have a beer if you want. I am going to have some more coffee. Send your questions about anything-- mailbag, Spend My Money, whatever's on your mind-- He's Jeremy. I'm Greg. We'll see you next week.