In this week's Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd. It's a review-packed episode this week, but it kicks off with a discussion of Volvo's plans to electrify by 2030 and move their EV sales online. From there, they get into Greg's time with VW's game-changing new ID.4 electric crossover. Byron then talks about his time with two very different new vehicles: the 2021 Buick Envision luxury crossover and the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line, which may or may not be a sport sedan. Finally, they tackle a fascinatingly complex twitter question: What is the best 'economy' muscle car?
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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me today on the phones is associate editor Byron Hurd. What's up, man?
BYRON HURD: Hey, how's it going? Feeling good about this weather, huh?
GREG MIGLIORE: Feeling great about this weather. It is a sunny spring day here in Michigan. Feels a bit just like, you know, optimism if you will. The air is a little soft. The sun is out. It will probably snow within 48 hours.
BYRON HURD: Right.
GREG MIGLIORE: But that's OK. It's technically still winter if you want to get really, you know, persnickety about it.
Anyways, we've got a great show for you today. I just got out of the Volkswagen ID.4. Byron, you drove the Sonata N Line, which is the latest Sonata or the latest Hyundai to get this treatment from Hyundai, which I think is a good thing. Buick Envision we'll round things out with, which, again, you spent some time in with that, Byron. And news item of the day is the Volvo C40. It's electric, and you can get it online. That's the only way you could get Volvo's electric cars online. So that's kind of a cool thing, I think. Finally, we'll spend some money.
So let's jump right in. The Volkswagen ID.4, this is-- I think-- you know, you tell me what you think here, Byron. I'd like to hear your thoughts. But after driving it, I feel like this might be the most important Volkswagen they've made in years. It's all electric. It's on the MEB platform, which is modular and electric. That's where you get the E in there. Obviously just when you drive a car you kind of just immerse yourself into that, all of it. But you tell me, am I crazy? Do you think this is, like, that important for them? Because I think it is.
BYRON HURD: I absolutely think it is. I mean, we've got the Ford Mustang Mach E, which is kind of Ford's take on getting into the volume segment with an electric crossover. But Volkswagen is taking it really a step further because it's less expensive, more accessible. It's supposed to be more of, you know, the people's EV, essentially, right, because that's Volkswagen's whole shtick.
So yeah, I think it-- Volkswagen had this struggle over the past, like, 10, 12 years where they didn't have any SUVs, didn't have any crossovers except at the really high end. Like you had, you know, the Touareg, which was too expensive for most people. And they finally got into the crossover and SUV game, and now it's the EV pivot. So this is just like a little bit of both of those weaknesses Volkswagen had that it's addressing in one package, and they really can't afford to get this wrong, in my opinion.
GREG MIGLIORE: I think they got it right, and I appreciate the sanity check there just because somebody you get out of a car and you're excited about it. But, I mean, honestly, that's how I am about anything. I mean, I would have gotten out of that Buick Envision and probably been maybe not this psyched, but I would have been like, hey, that was cool. Here's the new things about it. And then you kind of settle back down, let the boil come down, and you're like, oh, well, this, this, and this was wrong with it, or this is where it fell short of the competition.
At least that's how I am unless it's truly a mediocre product, which we do come across. But in this case, no. I think Volkswagen's really got something here. I think they have something on their hands.
The quote that they said during the presentation on Monday was "this is for the millions, not the millionaires." I've already seen this in a few stories out there. I think it's actually a good play for Volkswagen because they're taking, you know, a car that is very capable, 250 miles of electric range, 201 horsepower, 229 pound-feet of torque. It feels quick.
The one I drove is rear-wheel drive, which made it surprisingly fun. You can get all-wheel drive. That'll be coming later this year. And with some of the tax credits that are still available, you can get it for a pretty decent price.
I think it looks pretty good. It's subtle. At the same time, I have a Volkswagen Tiguan in the driveway as well. The ID.4 is a very quick turnaround. They're trying to get it into the hands of a lot of different journalists. So it's like boom. Get it one day. Drive it the next day. Boom, it's gone. Like literally I was-- you know, like I was telling you earlier, Byron, off camera here, I was like just wiping it down so the fleet guys could take it back. And, you know, it just-- it was such a whirlwind thing, but that's what makes it fun, you know?
And I was impressed with the steering. I did kind of a long loop yesterday afternoon because, again, that was about the time I had with the car.
BYRON HURD: Right.
GREG MIGLIORE: You know, a good long drive. Charged it a little bit in my garage. It comes with a level-one charger, so that works on, like, 120 outlets. Really is a reminder for me to get the holiday lights completely put away so I can keep charging these cars.
The Mach E that I had two weeks ago is actually what made me take down the extension cord that goes through-- like, actually this is kind of weird. I run the extension cord outside my garage, close the garage door at night, and then plug in the lights, and I have a lot of lights. So it's not the safest arrangement, but it's never caused me any problems in years.
Anyways, with the electric cars I don't close the garage because that seems, like, dangerous to use, like, OEM equipment and close the garage door on it. I digress. The Mach E made me clean up the garage. The ID.4 made me, like, rearrange things to get the level-one charger in there because of, like, my messiness, basically. So if I do life as an EV owner someday, it would require me, you know, organizing the garage a little bit more. But yeah, it's cool.
I mean, the one thing I think about this car-- I'm trying to find the right words for this. I'm about probably halfway into my review-- is it almost, in some ways, it's not as, like, saucy as the Mach E. I drove the Mach E, and I've written my first draft of that. I need to go back and kind of like look at it a little more like almost cynically because in my mind I was like this is like the car that will revolutionize Ford and the industry.
And with Volkswagen because it didn't have, like-- they didn't call this the electric Beetle. It's just the ID.4, whatever that is. It's Freudian in some ways. I just was-- I was like, OK, it's an electric Volkswagen, and you sort of take all that pressure off of it, but I think that's a good thing.
And I also think that Volkswagen has kind of like a wonky image, if you will. Like it's sort of luxurious. It's sort of, like, smart. It's also engineered. It's like-- you know, it's like your friend the engineer might drive one or the college professor might drive one, but they're also a pretty good deal. And in many cases, they almost are like diet Audis at this point, you know, because they're quite nice.
So all of that is to say my guess is most people knew I was driving the electric Mustang. My guess is most people thought I was just-- you know, who observed me driving thought I was driving just some Volkswagen crossover. I don't think that's a bad thing because with everybody saying we're going to be all electric in, like, anywhere from 9 to 15 years, depending on what car company you subscribe to, it really is-- we're going to get to a point where, like, so many things are going to be electric that you're not going to look to them for unique styling cues.
So, I mean, that's kind of a mini monologue on the ID.4. I don't know, anything you want to know about it? Jump in here.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, I mean, I've spent no time whatsoever with that car. I've seen it on, you know, like auto-show floors and stuff like that, but I haven't had a chance to even crawl in one and see what it's like.
I'm impressed by the simplicity of it, and I think you're right. I think that not having the baggage that Ford has with Mustang on this is a good move for Volkswagen, and I would like to see them do some enthusiast-friendly EVs. We're talking about, like, the ID Buzz. and stuff like that like. Those things are probably coming. We always say probably, especially here in the US, because Volkswagen's not had the best track record with bringing its more interesting things here, at least initially. So I'm hopeful.
Honestly, I just-- I'd love to know what it's like to actually throw that thing through some corners. Like, I know it's going to be heavier than, like, a Golf crossover like an Audi Q3 or whatever, but I just want to see, like, that interaction between the low center of gravity and the extra weight because, you know, it's kind of a give and take.
That's the same kind of complaint that we had about the Volvo S60 plug-in hybrid long-termer that we had in the fleet last year where it was a small car. It handled beautifully. But occasionally when you weren't really paying attention, the weight would sneak up on you. So that's what I'm most looking forward to when it comes to trying out some of these newer EVs.
GREG MIGLIORE: I'll say this. I was pleasantly surprised. And this is where I think Volkswagen, at least in sort of like the early adopter slash enthusiast crowd, is doing themselves favors here because my expectations-- with the Mustang I was thinking, how is this going to perform? I'm in a Mustang. And I know you've got to recalibrate your brain a little bit, but that's where my mindset was, and I think it's reasonable.
They call it the Mustang Mach E. Like, you're asking for it, good or bad. With this car, I didn't have those expectations, and I was actually on-- it was an offramp on I-75, but it was like a long offramp. I would almost characterize it as like a sweeper because I was moving-- like sort of merging into this other pretty big, like-- it's a road, but it's like the speed limit's like 65. So it's like one of those kind of things. It was pretty long. It was probably a quarter of a mile, maybe even half a mile.
And I just honestly kind of forgot where I was and didn't let off the throttle. I was just still going through the quarter pretty quick. And I was like, you might want to slow down, man. And then I was like, well, let's see where this goes. You know, nothing ridiculous, but, you know, I'm, like, gripping the steering wheel, kind of hunkering down as like, you know, you get that, like, dialed-in feel. Like, OK. This is good. All right.
You know, it's like rear-wheel drive. Steering is light. But again, it's pretty connected and, like, direct, if you will. And it's definitely like a tall-- taller type of crossover. They unapologetically say it's a crossover.
BYRON HURD: Right.
GREG MIGLIORE: But I'm with you. But I've driven some crossovers and pushed them and had a lot of fun. So, I mean, I would put this in that category. And that's where you really, I think-- you know, you do yourself some favors if you're Volkswagen because people driving this are going to be like, oh wow. This thing's kind of quick. It handles pretty well. You get the rear-wheel-drive model, and away we go.
So it's decent. It's good. It's better than you would expect through, like, the sweepers, if you will. Granted, this is the I-75 offramp, not Monticello, but it is what it is, you know? So, I mean, I was impressed.
You know, there were some little things, like the charger was kind of pulsating green last night, which I wouldn't have known if I hadn't gone out. I think I was taking out the trash and it was dark out. I was like, that's kind of neat, you know, kind of cool. Yeah. I mean, that's about it, I think.
I mean, I would say this is a really, really strong play for Volkswagen. I'd like to spend more time with it. I think if I were going to be an electric-vehicle owner, I would invest in a level two charger for my garage for the convenience, but also I qualify that.
In our old office-- I mean, you would remember this-- we had a level-two charger there. And, you know, we all lived somewhat close to the office, as one generally does when you have one. So, I mean, a car like this with that kind of range, I would be comfortable maybe kind of, you know, ham and egging with just, like, the charger that it comes with at home just to sort of keep it baseline charged, maybe get it up a little bit to, like, a higher level so you're not just sitting there maybe losing a mile or two overnight.
BYRON HURD: Right.
GREG MIGLIORE: But I could also see a situation where if your employer has a level-two charger and it's open, OK. You could make do. This thing has enough range, you know?
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
GREG MIGLIORE: So yeah, I don't know. I think that's about it.
I'll say this. The LED headlights look great. The front end is interesting. In the back, it gets a little more-- you know, it gets a little more boring. But again, they literally-- in the press presentation, they're comparing this thing to, like, the RAV4 and, you know, the Honda CRV. Like, there's no, like, pretension here, and I really like that. You know, to me it's like a good look to, like, approach a segment that way, you know?
And obviously they're like and this is how we match up against the Mach E and the Model Y and the Ioniq 5 and the Nissan ARIYA. The segment's getting pretty crowded, but I think Volkswagen has really brought it.
And I think-- you know, we're going to talk about this in a bit, but I mean, man. You know, this will be good in dealers, but I hope they have a strong, like, online presence to buy this car because that's where you get new people in.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. Well, that's-- looking at the kind of like the broader expectations game when it comes to EVs, you have-- you know for the longest time before Tesla-- you know, that can be like the BC of the EV world. So like BT, before Tesla, every EV was an experiment. It was an idea. They were overpriced. They weren't capable enough for really any normal drivers. Like it was really people who had a commute where they could deal with having, like, 50 miles of total range to work with, and that was never a problem, right? So it was a toy for people who wanted it, not an appliance for people who needed it.
And then Tesla comes along and makes EVs sexy. So now you've got-- OK, you've got that end of the spectrum where EVs are performance. EVs are luxury items. EVs are, you know, status symbols, especially for people who are more environmentally conscious.
And then with that kind of leading the way, those sort of like halo ideas about what an EV should be, in the wake of that you have the Bolt and the Leaf and the VW ID range and all these other ones that are now coming out where it's like, OK, these are supposed to be the EVs for normal people. Can normal people get their head around the idea that a, quote, unquote, average EV is not going to be as sexy as a Tesla?
And I don't necessarily mean lookswise because, frankly, I don't find most Tesla to be all that attractive. I think they look very generic, look like video-game cars. And that's not necessarily bad. I mean, it is what it is.
You look at some of these other cars that are coming up. Like, you know, Bolt is not exciting to look at, but it's not ugly. The Bolt EUV, their crossover version, is essentially going to be a direct competitor to ID.4, and I think the Bolt's a great little car. So I'm very excited to see how that formula evolves into a crossover because it's really not that much different.
And so it's-- the onus then goes on to the buyers to actually be OK with having an EV that really isn't all that much more exciting than whatever, they're driving now, probably, that still costs a premium, to a degree, and may not offer as much flexibility. So that's where you're really kind of dealing with that initial hump for owners. You know, like, if you can get them to buy in on that level without all the pomp and circumstance and live with the car long enough to, you know, figure out whether it actually works for their lifestyle, then we're kind of off to the races as an industry.
But it's going to be interesting to see when we finally kind of clear that hump because it's got to be within the next 5, 10 years if this is all going to work out the way people want it to. So interesting.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, so I would disagree with you at one point. I actually think most Teslas look pretty good. The Model Y and the Model X, not a big fan of those. The Model 3 and the Model S, I do like those when I see them running around. So maybe it's the cars versus the crossovers, for me anyway.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. I mean, the sedans are definitely the better-looking ones. And the Roadsters-- I mean, the first Roadster was not really even a Tesla design, so that doesn't really--
GREG MIGLIORE: Right.
BYRON HURD: --count for much of anything. And the second-gen one that they tease now-- I mean, it's been like, what, like four years at this point? That looked great and sounded like a great idea. But, you know, that's a toy in the strictest sense of the word, so it's not a priority for Tesla right now. But yeah. And, you know, the Cybertruck is probably not going to look anything like the concept Cybertruck once they actually get around to building one. Maybe that one will be a nice-- something we can all agree to love. But knowing Tesla's design direction so far, universally pleasing is just not something that they're really into. They want to be a little weird. That's fine. You know, everybody's got to have a thing.
GREG MIGLIORE: I think that's actually OK for them. You know, be Tesla and then let Volkswagen sort of just be Volkswagen because the kind of consumer that I think-- the electric-vehicle consumer is going to grow and change. It's going to go from, like, Tesla and then everybody else to, like, I think a critical mass of people are going to be like we're thinking electric now as the infrastructure becomes more common. In some ways, I feel this is a good time to get into it because if the whole world is electric, you're not going to get $7,500 off your taxes if just electric is the way to go. So do it now, you know?
In Michigan-- I just discovered this-- you get, I think, $500 in rebates if you install a level-two charger in your home. And, like, the one for the Mach E I think is $799, something like that. So, I mean, I don't know. You tell me. Level-two charger and you're really paying like $300? That sounds pretty good to me, actually.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. And related to that too, I've noticed just-- I very recently moved to Michigan compared to most of the people who work for "Autoblog." I've only been here a year. Just in the past maybe six months I feel like I've been getting a lot of promotional snail mail for solar-panel installation. So I'm wondering if there are going to be a lot of people who end up saying, OK, well, let's go ahead and just do it all. Let's do solar. Let's do the home battery, and let's do an electric charger all in one go because a lot of those are-- you know, there's curb appeal to that for your house, right?
And on top of that, you know, you get the advantage of being able to charge at home, having, you know, backup electricity. Which one thing I've learned being here for just a year, the power seems to go out somewhat frequently. So, like, you know, there are a lot of things that you can-- that you can bake into a project like that where, you know, you go-- you basically go electric with your home, and you build yourself some safety nets and have access to things you wouldn't otherwise. And if you decide you need to move, they'll help sell the house to the next guy.
GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. So tell me about this Hyundai Sonata. It sounds like you are the go-fast one. I don't think that's the right way to put it, but do tell.
BYRON HURD: It's certainly the most go-fast Sonata you can get. I've driven now the hybrid and the N Line. And so N Line-- for those who aren't familiar with it, N is Hyundai's performance brand now. So that, N as in Nancy verses like M as in Michael for BMW. That's the idea. It's supposed to be these are the ones that you buy if you're an enthusiast.
The N Line then is the natural evolution down from N in the same way that M Sport is the natural evolution down from M where you're getting the flavor of performance, but you're not buying into a full-blown performance car, right? N Line is that. I mean, it's the essence of that concept. It's sporty, but I wouldn't call it a sports sedan. It's quick enough, but I wouldn't call it fast. 290 horsepower is no joke. That's plenty of power.
But it's also, if you think about it-- we were kind of on, like, an upswing when it came to, like, V6 midsize-sedan horsepower there for a while. In like, the, early to mid 2000s it was, you know, the Nissan kicked it off with the 250-horsepower VQ V6, and then it just became an arms race. Everybody was offering more and more and more V6 power. And then V6s up and vanished because of the financial crisis, CAFE. All the things that came along and punished large engines basically eliminated the V6s from the midsize sedans, so now you have all these turbo fours.
And we're now kind of getting back to the point where we've kind of caught up to where we were in V6 power, and that's where the N Line sits. 290 horsepower. 311 pound-feet of torque I believe it is. I don't actually have that number in front of me, but I'm pretty sure that's right. Pulls like a freight train on the highway. This thing's got tons of torque, knows how to use it.
I drove a Genesis G80 just like a week or two ago, and that has the same engine, but it had all-wheel drive. It was a bigger, heavier car. Still feels great in the Sonata. Suspension was redone. It corners nicely. But it's definitely a ride-handling balance that still favors comfort. Like it's not-- it's not an over-the-top enthusiast car.
It's got some of the elements you would expect from it, especially considering it's still front-wheel drive. There's torque steer, still plenty of torque steer. You can get a one-tire fire going pretty well when you're playing around with a lot of throttle with steering dialed in. I had the right wheel on that car. Just like every time I knew exactly when it was going to chirp. It's predictable in that way.
But I was really shocked when I took it out to kind of our normal test loop out there, you know, once you get out west of Ann Arbor into kind of rural Michigan. It just comported itself so gracefully, even with this nasty snow melt, still kind of cold ground we're dealing with. The broken surfaces-- I mean, half the roads out there aren't even paved. I tried to stay on the ones that were, of course. But, I mean, they're in terrible shape this time of year from snow plows and just general potholing.
It's a very smooth ride-- not to the point where it's too soft to enjoy it but you don't have to think too hard about where you're putting the car over broken surfaces because it's not going to kick out on you because you hit a pothole wrong or anything like that. It's just that chassis tuning is fantastic.
I would not say that it's like a full-blown enthusiast option though, and it's mostly because it is so kind of soft around the edges. It's very pleasant. It's a great family car. It's definitely for that buyer who says I want a sedan, first and foremost. And I want it to be fun, but I don't want to give up any of the practicality or comfort. Boom, this is it. It's just as good as the larger-engine Honda Accord. It's got more horsepower, which is nice, though I don't know that it necessarily translates to any more performance. I mean, we're not talking about a huge difference. And especially with front-wheel drive, you've got diminishing returns with that. There's only so much power you can put down through the front wheels.
But it's every bit as good to drive as the Accord is. I haven't driven the turbo Mazda 6, so I can't really compare them. I would just, based on my experience with the regular Mazda 6 and all these different Sonatas, I would probably prefer the Mazda blind, you know, without having had the benefit of testing them back to back, but I've come up very impressed with the Sonata. It's just it's good in that way where it feels like even the things you say about it that are nitpicks still sound like praise. It's a very good car.
GREG MIGLIORE: I'm impressed with this new generation of the Sonata. It feels like they introduced this a little bit over a year ago. I think the last time I saw one in person was actually the 2020 Chicago Auto Show-- other than, of course, on the roads.
I feel like they've taken some risks with it, especially with the design, kind of going back to some of the things they did earlier in the last-- or the first part of the last decade, so 2010s, when they took-- again, they made this car more of a, you know, design statement. They gave it a little bit more power. And it just-- it was-- it felt like a car that was something that looked like it was aspirational, even though it wasn't. You know, a Hyundai Sonata is not an aspirational car. But it was a very nice car, and it was competitive for the people who were sedan shopping.
I would have no problems recommending somebody to take a look-- you know, a hard look at a Hyundai Sonata against any other sedan out there, and I haven't for some time. I think they lost their way a little bit with the previous gen, at least designwise. It got just too generic. So I think giving it this, like, treatment, if you will, makes a lot of sense.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, it does. And it seems like a smart business move for Hyundai too because you figure-- you look at cars like the VW Arteon, which is supposed to be, like, you know, enthusiast but still not fully-- you know, you're not talking about an Audi. It's still a Volkswagen-- front-wheel wheel based, all-wheel drive. It's supposed to be that, like, niche of a niche car for enthusiasts who still want a sedan and want as much kind of borderline luxury and performance as they can get out of it. But you look at that car, and it's creeping up to, you know, mid $40,000. Who's buying that?
Like, the appeal of this is that it's still accessible. it costs the exact same amount as a Limited, and it's equipped almost identically. There are a few exceptions like you don't get the heated ventilated seats in the front. They're still heated but not ventilated. You don't get a heated steering wheel, which everyone knows is my favorite feature in the world. And so there are a few equipment differences, but not enough that you feel like you're missing out on, like, the core things that make the Sonata good.
So it really feels like it hits that sweet spot, and it's kind of the same approach that other manufacturers have been taking lately where you don't necessarily have performance at the very top of your hierarchy. You just have it as an option. So, like, you can go with the cushiest one, or you can go with the sportiest one. Either one will cost you the same amount. It's just down to taste, and I think that's really good. I mean, it's a good way to give customers options without overwhelming them or overwhelming your own supply chain, which is the real reason why a lot of OEMs don't want to do that is because it just costs too much money to offer different variants.
So this is kind of a win-win for them. And it's not perfect. You know, my write-up on this is supposed to go live shortly. If it's not already live by the time you hear this, it will be soon. And so you can see some of the other things that I wanted to say about it because, you know, we only have limited time here, but it's definitely worth looking into if you're looking for that kind of car.
GREG MIGLIORE: How about the Buick Envision, the Essence trim? What was that like?
BYRON HURD: OK, so yeah, we're really--
GREG MIGLIORE: Hard fade.
BYRON HURD: --putting down one book and picking up a new one.
GREG MIGLIORE: Turning without signaling.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. Well, yeah. Suffice to say, a completely different car, and it's a very good one. I've been a fan of the Buick Enclave for a long time, and that's their three-row crossover.
The previous Envision was really a Chevy Equinox in a fancier suit, and it didn't really suit the mission Buick was looking at. And I'm-- they chose an interesting platform for the new Envision. They decided to go with the same one that's being used in the Cadillac XT4, which means it's built in China. So it's the second time in a row they've got Envision that was built in China. The first one was really only built there because they were targeting the Chinese market. So in order to get in good with them, that's where they decided to build it.
Now they've kind of shoehorn themselves into building it in China, which I think that's a point without much value to it. It is what it is. You're going to feel one way or another about it. It doesn't really have any impact on the quality of the car, in my opinion, and it is very good now. The design is night and day better than the first one. The overhangs on, like, that Equinox-based thing, it just didn't work at all. The car just looked frumpy.
I mean, there are other words like that that I'm not going to use on the podcast. It just didn't work. And the new one looks fantastic.
If you look at it from a distance, you would assume that it's a rear-wheel drive based car. It's not. It's still front-wheel drive. It still has that awkward, like, part-time all-wheel-drive system, twin clutch unit which, eh, performance in a Buick you don't really care about, so the fact that it's a twin-clutch rear differential doesn't really get you anything.
It's super comfortable. The interior looks vastly better than the old one did. It's as good as the Enclave inside in my opinion, which is praise for me because I think that's GM's best-packaged three-row crossover.
I think, honestly, there wasn't really anything wrong with the Envision's core offer. Like, you know, it's still a small SUV. It's still a turbocharged four cylinder. They dropped the naturally aspirated option at some point. It's gone. So there's one engine. You get it in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
What you're buying, though, is the package, and the package now is just so much better than it was before-- smooth ride, relatively quiet inside. Did have a little bit of wind noise here and there that I didn't really expect from Buick because they've got this whole, you know, quiet tuning thing that's kind of their brand now. But it is phenomenally better than the old one. I would-- if somebody told me they were shopping for it, I would not hesitate to tell them, yeah, that's a good pick.
It's typical GM equipment. So, you know, you're paying a lot to get fully loaded because you're adding package after package after package. But what you're getting is solid.
I really would like to drive one that has the adaptive dampers on it, which would mean an Avenir. I think you might be able to add them on an Essence with an additional package. I'm not 100% certain about that. But the one I drove, I mean, it was just comfort first, and that's what a Buick should be, right? It should be about quiet, comfortable, premium experience, not necessarily full-blown luxury. That's Cadillac.
But it does the things you expect a Buick to do very well, and you could not say that about the previous-gen Envision. So just by that, I mean, the bar has been raised significantly with this.
And I think it was already selling probably better than it should have with the last gen. Past couple of years it was-- I mean, it was their best-selling car, but also they eliminated most of their cars, so that's not saying much. It's worthy of being their volume offering now, so I was impressed. It's not an exciting car in terms of driving, but it's not supposed to be. So I think it's going to do very well for them.
GREG MIGLIORE: I think this is a great example of why you don't always have to be-- have the best thing in a certain segment. But if the segment is hot, you just have to be there and try to sort of take your share, and that's a very smart play for Buick.
I've been impressed with the Envision just from seeing them on the road. I'm, at this point, a spectator. I have not driven it. But I saw one the other day in the Volkswagen, actually, in the ID.4. I was like, oh, that thing looks really good. I was surprised just because, you know, I guess, like you, my expectations weren't quite, you know, very high for the Buick Envision. And I was like, oh, that's great, you know?
So I think it's a big step forward for them. It's the kind of thing that can buy them time too. Like it gives them sales volume. It keeps them-- it keeps people coming into showrooms. It keeps people buying Buicks, and right now that's what they need, you know, while they sort of get the other things right. So good-looking vehicle. Yeah.
How about we talk some news?
BYRON HURD: OK.
GREG MIGLIORE: Volvo C40. We just saw that last week. I like the nomenclature, first of all. C40, that's cool. I remember I had a lot of fun in the C30 back in the day back when that was a thing. I actually drove a C30 Polestar, which was just spectacular.
BYRON HURD: Nice.
GREG MIGLIORE: I remember putting all my softball gear in the back of it. This is back when Polestar had a very different meaning that it does now. Let's put it that way.
Anyways, I think this is a really good move for them. I think the car looks like a winner. I believe they said they're going to be all electric by 2030, which is a little sooner than, say, General Motors. But when you're the size of-- you know, it's very different as far as the two companies, their scale. Let's put it that way. You know, GM is probably still going to have quite a few gasoline and diesel cars in 2035. They're just going to be carbon neutral, and they have to be because they're, what, the third-largest car company in the world still. For Volvo, it's easier when you play in a, like-- just, you know, you're a smaller player. It's easier to maybe be a little more aggressive, and that's good.
And what's cool about this-- and if I'm reading this right, this is how all their EVs are going to be is you buy them online. So I think that's a very natural progression for where the marketplace is going. And I don't even mean like how people are like-- people shopping. I mean, the marketplace itself is going to be going this way. And I think, you know, I mean, frankly, I think we're behind in automotive retailing as far as, like, what consumers want. You know, if I can order, like, literally five, like, things of strawberry jelly for my toast just in three clicks on the Target app, like, car buying shouldn't be this hard, especially for these very forward-looking, progressive cars like all-electric Volvos. So I'm excited about this.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. I think it's the right move. And honestly-- I mean, we could do podcast after podcast on the dealer model and how it has gotten to where it is today and what it does and doesn't do for customers. The real advantage to it is the ability to walk into a showroom and, as long as you're not too picky, walk out with a car. So, you know, day in, day out, that's the real advantage that you get from it, and then there are no others. All the rest of it's usually bad news for consumers. I apologize to any dealers who are listening to this. That's how I feel.
The bottom line is online shopping for a car works. Tesla's proven that. It's desirable. Tesla has proven that. And there's-- I mean, especially when you start to deal with cars where there aren't really many options, that will help with delivery in a lot of ways because, you know, it'll simplify the supply lines, simplify the flow of inventory. And it's going to take some logistical changes to the way cars are sold and the way they're built, but it's certainly doable. The real obstacle is law because that's what protects dealerships right now, right?
GREG MIGLIORE: Franchise laws are definitely a-- maybe not set in stone, but they're one of the toughest laws in this country to change, I would say. Let's put it that way.
BYRON HURD: It's going to be very interesting to see how Volvo evolves from their current model to online sales, though, because, of course, right now they're still selling through dealers. And how are dealers going to help them make that change happen knowing that it is detrimental to their future? You know, it's going to be interesting to see if the support is there from the dealer network for Volvo's customers as that transition starts to happen.
I mean, we're talking about they've got nine years to figure this out, right? So it's going to be a progressive thing. I would imagine they'll start in the States that have been less hostile toward Tesla and Lordstown and Rivian and all these other companies that are trying to do more direct-to-consumer stuff. And if they can gain enough of a foothold there-- in fact, if they can convince more states to be more lenient, then theoretically they wouldn't even need nationwide direct sales in order for it to work because if you at least live close enough to a state where you can do it, then, you know, as long as you can get to some place where you can service it, which is the other half of the dealer equation, you're in good shape.
I mean, because even now a lot of these EVs are being launched in limited markets where you can get one if you live in Wyoming, but there's no one around to take care of you if something goes wrong. So it'll be interesting to see how that develops and, you know, whether Volvo is just going to have to abandon some of the more remote markets in order to make this push because-- I mean, they probably don't do incredibly well in a lot of them now anyway, so I don't know that they'd be giving up much, if anything. There might be some, you know, places where there isn't a Volvo dealership within a 500-mile radius.
So I don't know. Maybe this is the-- maybe this is a really good test-bed manufacturer for this sort of thing because they'd be one of the only ones to make this transition on a universal scale. And it'll be kind of a test case for everybody else in the industry to see whether it's feasible.
GREG MIGLIORE: I wonder how many dealers Volvo has. You know, like--
BYRON HURD: That's a good question.
GREG MIGLIORE: That's like if they have, like-- like General Motors would have hundreds if not thousands. I used to know, like, just like what the ballpark figures were off the top of my head. I don't anymore. But you know Volvo is definitely a-- you know, again, a smaller player in the US market. My guess is it's somewhere in the hundreds, you know? And I wouldn't think there's many standalone Volvo dealers at all.
Usually what you see is them in a like a showroom collection type thing where it's like a Volvo, maybe a Jaguar, or maybe it's Lincoln. You know, I'm naming off all these old Premier Automotive Group brands from back in the day when Ford owned them all, but usually they're part of sort of like a hodgepodge, you know, car-mall type of thing if you will.
BYRON HURD: Right. Yeah.
GREG MIGLIORE: So you know, we'll see.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, well that's true of the Volvo dealership that we were taking the S60 to when we had it last year because that was part of one of those larger dealer networks in Detroit, Michigan, on the north side of Detroit.
So I just pulled up an "Automotive News" article from 2018. They said Volvo has approximately 300 dealers in the United States.
GREG MIGLIORE: OK. That's interesting.
BYRON HURD: That's a decent foothold. I think that's about-- that's close to-- I think Mazda has about that amount, and we consider that Mazda's a much more mainstream-oriented brand in terms of pricing and customer reach. That says, I guess, a lot about Volvo if you think about it. Especially for a while there was a time where we weren't even sure that Volvo was going to make it in the US because it looked like things were grim, even just recently. We're talking like in the last five years or so. And then they hit a home run with a couple of their newer crossovers and never really looked back. They've had a-- they've had a great run the past few years.
So I think this is a good kind of momentum point for them to try to jump off into something this significant. And you look at companies like Genesis that didn't have any momentum, and they keep stumbling when it comes to these sorts of, you know, corporatewide measures that just don't seem to be working. Hopefully they're going to get that ironed out, but let's hope that things go a little more smoothly for Volvo as they try to make the transition.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think it's definitely going to be an interesting story. I think as we transition to different forms of propulsion, namely electric, you know, I think car companies are using it as an opportunity to rethink the sales model.
So, you know, I was just sort of parsing the language here in their press release, and, I mean, they're pretty bold. Like, we're going to be all electric, and we're only going to sell our electric cars online. So if right now your business is selling Volvo crossovers that run on internal combustion engines, you're probably thinking, OK, nine years. What is this going to mean for me? Are they going to buy me out? Am I going to be somehow like the showroom, you know, situation? What's the situation going to be? Is there some nuance here that maybe I'm not reading?
I mean, just putting on my, like, legal-eagle hat, the language is pretty clear if you're reading this literally. So it's like, you know, they're not leaving room to where, hey, we're going to have some gasoline-powered cars. We're going to sell those in person. It's like we're all electric, we're selling all of our electric cars online. So, I mean, I don't know. We'll see.
I do think I, frankly, would prefer to buy a car online. Just I don't have anything against dealerships, but I prefer the sort of online model. But I do think it would be interesting to see if they could sort of pivot to a new way of thinking.
BYRON HURD: Yeah. I 100% agree.
GREG MIGLIORE: All right, so it's time to spend some money. The question this week is actually pretty to the point, pretty succinct. A Twitter user writes, what is the most economy muscle car?
So we can take that a couple of different ways-- economic, economical, cheapest. You know, it's kind of an open-ended question, which actually is always fun. So we can kind of take it whichever way we like. I suppose the answer probably isn't Miata, but I think you could make the case that it is. It's maybe not a muscle car, though, so you really-- I guess it can't be Miata. But the floor is open. What do you think, Byron?
BYRON HURD: Yeah, this one's tricky. I mean, just the definition of economy is really is going to trip me up on this one.
I think the cheapest muscle cars probably aren't muscle cars in the traditional sense because they're really pickup trucks, right? You can get a Ram-- I don't know, are they still doing the classics on the 1500s? I don't remember whether they're still doing the last-gen ones. But if all you care about is getting the biggest engine and the cheapest car, a pickup truck is probably the way to go because you could get-- at least you could get Ram Tradesmen for $20,000 or so after incentives and stuff like that with the Hemi. So there's that.
I mean, you're going to spend a lot of money to fuel the thing, so it's not economical in that sense, but the barrier to entry is certainly low if you just want a big V8 that you can enjoy listening to and feel fast. They're not-- you know, they're not performance machines, but they certainly deliver those two core components of muscle-car ownership, right?
It's one of the things that made pickup trucks kind of popular with younger buyers was that, you know, you could get a big engine in a small-- relatively small truck. They're not small anymore-- and then go have fun with it.
So that's probably my first answer. I don't know if it's my best answer. But I don't know. What do you think?
GREG MIGLIORE: So I would do two things here. I feel like one of the best values is the 392 Scat Pack on the Mopars, so like, you know, just a Charger probably with that engine. I tend to like the Charger a little more than the Challenger version. But, I mean, I think that's a great value. You know, they're in the low $40,000s, low to mid $40,000s right now. If you can find a used one, maybe one coming off a lease, might be pretty reasonable actually. You know, you might be looking at something in the low $30,000s, maybe even mid to upper $20,000s, you know, depending on what kind of-- you know, Dodges, the residuals aren't particularly good in the grand scheme of things. So, I mean, that's not a bad play, you know?
I mean, to get super specific here, a couple-year-old 392, or just in general I think the 392 Charger specifically is a great value. It's still a very good sedan. It's interesting to drive. It's exciting. Yeah. I mean, to be very specific, I think that's what I would say.
In more of a general sense, I would say just like an entry-level Mustang is a great value. You know, I really-- you can't go wrong with just a relatively basic Mustang. Add a couple options to it. Maybe, you know, dial up to the performance pack or one of the other like performance-like packs. But just in more of an abstract sense, I do think an entry-level Mustang is just a tremendous value.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, and I would even extend that to the Camaro too. I think both of them with the--
GREG MIGLIORE: Sure.
BYRON HURD: --with the turbocharged engines. I have a hard time getting excited about any of the-- either the Challenger or the Charger with a V6 in it. I guess the all-wheel drive Challenger GT would be the most interesting of those, but I wouldn't call it muscular.
And I guess-- I mean, if we're getting too dialed in on the whole it needs to be a V8 thing, then yeah, but I don't know. It's a complex question for being so simple. [LAUGHS] This is one of those I feel like, you know, you throw this out at a bar and you had, you know, five people and 50 opinions, right? And you could probably close the place down on a discussion like this since there's so many different ways to interpret it.
So, yeah, I mean, I like your answer. I owned a 392 Challenger for several years. So I certainly approve of that. I would own one again too, you know, if the circumstances were right. So yeah, I guess it sounds like something with a Hemi in it is probably the best answer we have for this.
GREG MIGLIORE: To get even more specific-- it's interesting because I'm usually the vaguest guy in the world when it comes to Spend My Money. Like, I default to all these, like, nebulous, like, answers. But you could get a net price on a 392 Charger-- net price includes a bunch of different, like, incentives and things like that. You could walk out the door with a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 for $37,140 according to the Dodge website, which seems like a screaming deal to me given-- if you like, you know, a car's design and then you like what's under the hood and you're willing to maybe just say the interior is OK and, you know, just any other compromises if you will, but you can put a ton of stuff in a Charger.
I mean, I am a Charger owner, actually. It's a V6, and it's from '06, so I don't think it really even applies to this discussion. That's like comparing the dinosaurs to, you know, something walking around today. But again, it's a great value. But yeah.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, well, especially, you know, if you consider that's, what, almost $4,000 cheaper than the average car and certainly far more interesting than the average car, right? So that seems like a winner to me.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, sounds good. Let's leave it there. Send us your Spend My Moneys. We'd love to hear from you. If you have any other questions, things like that, we try to do a mailbag feature every couple weeks too. Please send those to us.
Byron, thanks for joining this week. Everybody, thanks for listening. Be safe out there. We'll see you next time.