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2023 Ram Rebel, Range Rover and Civic vs. Integra | Autoblog Podcast #753

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor (Reviews + West Coast) James Riswick for a jam-packed episode. They start off talking SUVs and trucks. James spent some time off-roading the 2023 Ram Rebel and the brand new 2023 Land Rover Range Rover. From there, they pivot to a discussion of the new Honda CR-V. Next up is the all-electric Cadillac Lyriq, followed by a brief discussion of the merits and drawbacks of the Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring vs. the new Acura Integra. We have our favorites; do you? After that, they spend a listener's money; this week's is a repeat customer from 2017.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: Podcast@Autoblog.com.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[CAR ENGINE REVVING]

GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We've got a great show for you this week. Plenty of cars that we've been driving. Everything from the RAM Rebel to the Range Rover-- the original one, let's put it that way. We've also tested the Honda CR-V, the Cadillac LYRIQ, the Acura Integra, and the Honda Civic hatch in Sport Touring trim. We will spend your money. And, with that, I'll bring in Senior Editor for all things up and down the west coast, as well as our reviews, James Riswick. Welcome back.

JAMES RISWICK: Thank you. Thank you.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. A lot of cars to drive, here. I think it makes sense to start off with the RAM Rebel. You drove that primarily off-road. Initial impressions?

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I really did drive a very rock-strewn trail, here in California, just outside of Big Bear, which is about two hours east of Los Angeles and the mountains. And so, what the Rebel is-- there's the Ram Power Wagon, which is the ultimate off-roading truck.

Basically, what the Rebel is, is it subtracts some of the Power Wagon's hardware because a big part of the Power Wagon is its insane articulation off-road. And that's made possible by softer springs, a disconnecting front sway bar. It also has a front locker on it. Those are not on the Rebel. By having firmer springs, in particular, that allows it to have substantially more towing capacity. So it's about 16,000 versus only about 10,000 for the Power Wagon, which is more like a 1500-level towing capacity.

So it's more of a heavy duty truck than a Rock Crawler. That said, it's still a pretty significant rock crawler in its own right. I was crawling rocks in it. But it's also a colossal truck. So you are limited by the trails you can go on. It's perfect for desert trails because you're not really meandering around trees as much because there aren't that many giant trees. So that's what the Rebel was.

How much more capable was it in this terrain than a Tremor? I don't know. I didn't have one there. To be perfectly honest, I'm not a big off-roadist. So it's a pretty significant truck. One thing I will say, though, is, because of those firmer springs and the lack of a disconnecting sway bar, it is not it's probably not as comfortable as a Power Wagon. And also, I have the Ram 1500 out there. And the difference in ride quality between a 2500 and a 1500 Limited is just staggeringly different.

The Ram 1500 is more like that Range Rover, honestly, than it is its 2500 Rebel sibling.

GREG MIGLIORE: I am more of a Power Wagon person than a Ram Rebel. I just like the meat and potatoes elements-- the authenticity of what the Power Wagon is. But you bring up the Range Rover, which I believe you drove to this--

JAMES RISWICK: Yes.

GREG MIGLIORE: --test drive. That's a pretty comfy way to get acclimated for a day of testing with your fellow auto journalists.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. I knew I had to drive three hours out to where this event was. And Pioneertown did not know it existed. It is as described. It's an old western town an hour north of Palm Springs. So I was like, ah, I need to drive the Range Rover. Let's get it that week. That'll be nice. And it was nice. That car is just gorgeous, especially after you've been rattled and shaken and jostled and had your head smashed repeatedly against the B pillar because I sit so far back in the truck, off-road.

It was pretty nice to get into the Range Rover after that and have the massaging seats and, just, everything. That car's just butter. Everything's just smooth, like a knife through butter. Steering and throttle and brakes and the suspension and everything is just [SIGHS]. Ah, new Range Rover. Very, very nice.

GREG MIGLIORE: I liked it, too. I ended up doing the first drive of it earlier this year. Mine had the copper paint, if you will-- the bronze-colored paint. I think we drove similar vehicles, right? Because you had a first edition, as well, right?

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. I had the gold one, though. We both had the first editions. And then, we each had the signature designs of them. I think there's a white version, as well, for a signature design. But that was like what the design or the colors and materials team put together as their ultimate vision of what it is. We talk about styling a lot in cars and making it interchangable with design.

You have the design. But then, styling is, really, what colors and the trims. And, in the fashion world, styling would be like, oh, what purse you put with that dress, not what does the dress look like, if that makes any sense. So, in terms of styling of this Range Rover, it is just impeccable. You have this gold matte paint on mine. It photographed beautifully, and it looks-- for a gold car, which could be pretty crass and tasteless, it just drips with class. It looks really great. And the interior is beautiful. Lovely.

They really just had thoughtful, really well-done materials in that car. Mix of black and white, creamy leather. And then, you have this pinkish oak trim in it that's just beautiful. Yeah. Really, really well done. I actually did an article last year about the color and materials designer at Land Rover that highlights her process, how she got into it, and just that world in general.

It's something we don't really think about that often, but it does really come into play and make a big difference in these cars.

GREG MIGLIORE: The interior quality of the new Range Rover is definitely-- it's spot on. They made it look expensive and premium without being, I would say, almost ornamental, which some companies can struggle with. So I like that. I also got to work an Oasis song reference into the headline. I compared the color to champagne, which-- I haven't had any champagne in a while. But, yeah, I think that could describe how this looks a little bit. Maybe I need to do some more first-class flying, where they give you little flutes of champagne or something when you get on the plan. I don't know.

But handsome vehicle. Handsome vehicle, for sure. And that twin-turbo V8 is, obviously, great. Pretty strong. It's a BMW engine, if I recall.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, it is. But it doesn't sound or feel like a BMW engine. I'd say it sounds like a Jaguar. It's cheesy to say that a Jaguar engine purrs, but it does. It's like this rumbling purring, like the old, supercharged V8s of Jags. And it sounds like that. They've really done a lovely job. This is like the Toyota Supra thing. Oh, no. It has a BMW engine. Cool. How is that possibly a problem?

Also, it's ironic or interesting because the modern Range Rover started as a BMW. So the "turn of the century" Range Rover that reinvented the entire Range Rover brand and itself, as an iconic design that everything thereafter was built upon, that was done in the BMW era. And that SUV had a BMW V8 in it. And even its electrical architecture was related to a BMW 5 Series. All the Range Rovers that came after-- and even Land Rovers-- were not related to it because of that, because they got sold to Ford during its development.

So a little trivia there for you, folks.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think BMW owes Land Rover here, considering they-- they actually probably deserve a little more credit for their management of Land Rover than, perhaps, Ford does. Neither one of them were particularly good stewards of the brand in the long run, but, hey.

JAMES RISWICK: So I have a second-generation BMW X5, and I always thought that thing, it drives like a Range Rover, I think. And then, I've never driven the original X5. But if there's any sort of similarity-- Range Rover rubbed off on BMW a bit. At least, in that era for their SUVs. And even a BMW X7 today, the way it drives-- specifically with that air suspension-- feels more like a modern Range Rover and drives more like it than some classic BMW feel.

The Range Rover has the tailgate. It has the split, little tailgate that flips down. And then, you have to do the liftgate. Well, the X5 has the exact same thing. Same era. I refuse to believe that's a coincidence. I think someone had the same idea and put them on both. And they've both had them ever since.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Well, while we're talking about SUVs, let's step down a little bit to a more mainstream vehicle-- the Honda CR-V. I drove the hybrid. Which one did you drive?

JAMES RISWICK: I guess I drove both. But I specifically drove the hybrid more. I was on the first drive, so I just briefly drove the turbo. Night and day. Turbo's fine. The turbo is actually a really strong engine, in terms of both power and fuel efficiency. But it has that CVT. And any time you say, but it has that CVT, we're always going to end up with, and, as such, it's not very appealing.

But a key difference for this new hybrid-- it's a little more powerful than it was before. But the big difference is drivability for this generation. How do I explain this without completely going into the weeds? So Honda's hybrid system is different than Toyota's and different than Hyundai and Kia's in that the electric motor primarily drives the wheels. The only time the gas engine is connected to the wheels is in a constant cruise on the highway. That's the only time.

So when you accelerate from a stop, you're just going it's only the electric motor powering it. The gas engine is simply sending power to that motor, as well as the battery is. So, because of this, the standard Honda motor-- if you really gunned it, the engine would just [HUMS LOUDLY] drone because it's not really a CVT. But it sounds like one because most efficient way for gas and acceleration is just to rev the engine, to put as much power into that electric motor as you can.

But [HUMS LOUDLY] no one likes listening to that. I don't like listening to myself doing that. So what they've done with this is they're artificially pausing the engine to make it seem like it's shifting gears. So it's bizarre in that, at first blush, it feels totally normal because, now, it's going [HUMS PERIODICALLY]

As the engineers said, it's what humans have come to expect for 100 years. So now feels and sounds normal. But then, it's a little weird in that the car doesn't lose any momentum. So when you drive in an automatic transmission, there's just that slight loss of momentum that you feel. Well, this car doesn't have that because the engine is not actually attached to the wheels. It's uninterrupted acceleration. Meanwhile, you hear that the, quote, "gear change"-- that the engine just briefly pauses.

As the engineers said, it just loses a tiny fraction of efficiency and acceleration. But it just feels and sounds better. And then, on the Sport Touring, they have a little bit of engine enhancement noise that comes over the speakers. I don't think it's that much. But, by pausing the engine in that way, it regains some of that lovely Honda zing that you get when a Honda engine revs.

A Honda Civic with a manual and one with the CVT-- they sound and feel like completely different engines, even though they're the exact same ones. And you get that. It's a weird thing where this hybrid suddenly sounds cool, and it sounds a lot better than the CVT-equipped Turbo one. And it also goes to the fact that you can only get the hybrid now as the Sport and Sport Touring. The EX and EX-L are exclusive to the gas one. So you can't get a Sport with a turbo, and then, vise versa.

It really is the sportier choice. And it also can get, probably, 40 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive, or 37 with all-wheel drive, which, for a compact SUV, is exceptional. It's what they all get, honestly. But still. So it drives better, it performs better and it gets way better fuel economy. Why are we getting anything else? Honda's expecting to sell 50/50 of the hybrid. And, apparently, is able to. Unlike Kia, who can't quite keep up with demand for its, also, very desirable hybrid powertrain.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think it's a big step forward, too, as far as the interior and the exterior design. I think Honda has gotten a little boring with the CR-V. I've always liked how it, looks especially among some of its, perhaps, even more boring competitors. But I thought they really found a sweet spot, in the mid-teens here, if you will. It got a little dated, but I like this one. I think the interior has-- it's a cliche to say it's sporty. But they have a very nice setup, as far as the use of the trim, the venting, the infotainment, that sort of thing.

So I only drove it for about, probably, 20 minutes, 25 minutes. But that immediately struck me as, hey, they've definitely freshened the place up. They've done some remodeling, as you would expect. And I think that's important, in this segment. You've got to really have a good interior that-- it doesn't have to be amazing, but it can't be offensive or even feel cheap. And I thought it felt pretty good.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. I would say that, like, the CR-V interior has always been pretty van-like. Going back to the absolute beginning, it was always very open. It had, like, the open floor in between seats, up until, I think, the most recent generation. And it looked van-like. And, as such, it always kind of had this very family appliance feel to it. And I don't want to drive a family appliance. I need a family appliance, but I don't want to, like, have it feel like I'm driving the car version of my kid's stroller or the card seat.

Actually, my kid's stroller looks far cooler than the last Honda CR-V, which was kind of blobby. And even when not comparing it to a Thule stroller, it does not look good. Especially when you line it up to the new one. The new one's a little longer, but it sure looks, to me, like it's just because they made the hood longer, which, generally, evens out the proportions of it. It's just more squared off, more athletic. I think it's more in keeping with, like, the '90s kind of Honda aesthetic. And it really works for me.

As you said, the interior looks fantastic. Between that and what Mazda is doing, you do not need to have some blah utilitarian cabin anymore. Actually, the Nissan Rogue is also really nice. Actually, it's hard to think of one that isn't at this point. So well done, everybody.

GREG MIGLIORE: Bravo. Although, I will say this. The stroller comparison-- strollers have gotten so bougie lately that-- I mean, sometimes, it's tough for the auto industry to keep up. We had a City Mini GT that had an amazing off-road suspension. We still have it. We just don't use it anymore. But I'm telling you what. You need to go through the park? That stroller had you covered. Let me put it that way.

JAMES RISWICK: Oh, yeah. You see all the ones with, like, the little-- that you spent 100 bucks more to buy the one with a little bit of brown leather on the wrap-- on the handle. [SCOFFS] Hard eye roll. Meanwhile, you try to fold the thing, and it's gigantic and, like, isn't really well-engineered. But, hey, it has some brown leather on it.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny, though. That also applies to the car business, right? You spend a little extra money to get a little bit of brown leather on the door handles or something.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, no kidding.

GREG MIGLIORE: I digress. Speaking of design, the Cadillac LYRIQ is all about design. I drove that, again, probably for about half an hour. It was a fairly short drive. I was very impressed with it. I drove it, like, basically the day after the Cadillac CELESTIQ was revealed. So it was cool to feel the, like, parallels between the two. They were designed about the same time, actually. And, you know, the big difference is, the LYRIQ is a mainstream crossover, aimed at premium buyers. They're going to try and sell a bunch of them. It's what keeps Cadillac's bottom line going, whereas the CELESTIQ is a $300,000 Rolls-Royce fighter, if you will, that's, like, 18 feet long.

Most people probably won't be able to afford the CELESTIQ. But, for about 60 grand, you could get into a LYRIQ. And I think you get a lot of the aura, if you will, of where Cadillac is going with its design. So, inside and out, I liked it. You know, it definitely captures some of that design language that Cadillac's going for. I think they've had some of that momentum with, like, the CT4 or the CT5. This turns it up even more. It's almost like where Cadillac was, like, 10 years ago, when the CTS was just so, like, hard-edged, if you will.

But this I think is classier than some of that, too, you know? I mean, check out the pictures. The grille, I really like that you know. It's also an LED light show inside and out, because that's Cadillac's move, basically. Drove pretty well. I mean, it's a cliche. It has a little bit of that car vibe, but it's not too-- it's obviously not super sporty, like the CT4 would be, but it also doesn't feel like some dowdy SUV that you're trundling through the roads in and feeling kind of sad that this is what you have to drive. It's fun to drive.

I think it could be a fairly sporty station wagon if given a different stance and given a different sort of suspension calibration. It's electric, of course. this is another Ultium product. But, yeah, this is one of the more promising Cadillacs I've driven in a while. I think Cadillac has actually rolled out some pretty good products they haven't always sold quite where Cadillac thinks they should, or they've been fairly niche. They rolled out the CT4 and the CT5 right at the time when everybody is going crossovers for everything. So it's tricky to pivot that way, but I think the LYRIQ being an electric crossover starts to solve some of that.

So I don't know. It sounds like it's on your list of things to get into, James.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. I think, you know, I credit Cadillac for trying to finally go their own way and not try to-- for, just, the better part of, like, 20 years now, they've been trying to beat BMW. So this just seems like a so much more authentic-- we're going to be Cadillac. This is the future. And I think electrification is allowing them to do that so that they can get at the forefront, as opposed to constantly trying to catch up.

I would say that the CELESTIQ might be, like, a couple of steps shockingly far. It's so upstream that you wonder what you're going to accomplish. Like, it would be one thing to have something S-class money, but so few people can buy a $300,000 car that so few people will see them on the road that you, therefore-- it's hard to see it having much trickle-down brand equity to it.

I live in the Greater Los Angeles area. There be money here. I see a lot more S-classes around and cars that cost about 100,000 to 150,000. Then, I do Rolls-Royces, of which, I don't see very many. I'm pivoting from LYRIQ for a second, but I don't-- I have a hard time seeing how CELESTIQ will really help them, unless there's something coming just behind it that's a little more attainable. I don't doubt that they can make a very lovely $300,000 car. I just don't know how it can really be that beneficial for them.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. So that is the Cadillac LYRIQ and a little bit of the Cadillac CELESTIQ. Let's shift gears over to the-- we can take these in any order-- Acura Integra, which I believe we've both driven, and you drove-- let's see-- the Civic Hatch Sport Touring, which is sort of an Integra, only dressed a little bit differently.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: You say you'd rather have that than the Integra, so defend your position. We'll do that first.

JAMES RISWICK: So I had the Integra and cool car. I mean, it's kind of a re-bodied Civic SI. A little more refined. It has the adaptive dampers on it. More equipment. You get it with leather upholstery, power seats. And it was legitimately fun to drive, just as you would expect a front-wheel drive, like a fun, nicer Honda Civic would be. And I enjoyed driving it quite a bit.

But then, I got this Civic Hatchback Sport Touring with a six-speed manual transmission, and I would rather have it than the Integra. For starters, it's, like, $8,000 less, and you're sacrificing about 30 horsepower. OK. But you don't have to put premium gas into it. It's still that turbo engine, so it's feels really quick. And, when you have that manual transmission, you can get the most out of it. That manual is an absolute joy, in both Integra and in the Civic.

And because it's the Sport Touring, it's loaded. Like, I'm sitting in a wonderful eight-way power seat. Very comfortable. The entire interior is leather, unlike the Integra. Because the Integra A-Spec has-- up front, it is like the suede-ish cloth. And then, the back seat is pleather. It's leatherette. They're different upholsteries. And, in red, it all just looks very cheap. Even in black, it would still be pleather in the back, suede in the front. I do not get that. That just seems so cheap to me, whereas the Civic-- same upholstery everywhere. All-black interior. Classy.

I think that the Civic kind of looks better on the outside. And it definitely looks better inside because it has that-- they both have the Honda mesh venting. But the Civic goes all the way across and looks super cool. And the Integra's is broken up by this blah, painted black or gray plastic. I don't see a world where-- nothing about the Integra interior is more luxurious than-- the Civic Hatchet has a few more features-- specifically, memory seats.

But it has the same tech interface. And it would be-- I don't really-- 30 horsepower. 30 horsepower seems to be-- and those adaptive dampers. But the Civic Hatch Sport Touring still handles very well. It's a blast to drive. It's still very comfortable. For eight grand? Yeah, not a chance. And they're both hatchbacks, by the way. And, yes, I'd buy that civic. In fact, I love that Civic so much-- if I needed to go out and buy a car right now, I'd go buy that car. It was such a joy. Such a joyful, little car. I loved it very much.

GREG MIGLIORE: Wow. Strong words there. All right. We'll spend your money, I guess, on this show, too, a little bit. All right. So I don't disagree with your argument. I think there's also-- that's kind of like the age-old argument, too. It's the Civic bumps up against the Integra, depending on the trim. The Civic SI is also-- if you want the exact same engine, same horsepower, you could do it, as far as bumping up against the Integra, as well. I haven't driven this specific Civic, so I don't really have a great comparison.

I can tell you, I think-- and I'd be curious to hear what you think-- it's tough to bring back a name like the Integra. And I thought they did that about as well as they could. It wasn't the old Integra by any stretch, but it still felt like a credible product that, as an enthusiast, you could get excited about. So I give them credit for that. I generally like A-Spec trims. Although, sometimes, they almost like-- they need to get over themselves a little bit. Just don't worry as much about being sporty or basic, and be sure to be nice, if you will.

So I think that can be a pitfall. And it's tough, when you have a, like, mainstream brand like Honda, and then, your premium brand is Acura. But you're, really, a premium brand. You're not competing with BMW or anybody else, either. You're, really, more of one or two cuts up versus going all the way up the food chain. So I will say this-- I do like the purity of a Civic Sport, if you will.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. The other thing is, versus-- so we'll bring in the Civic SI here. So, OK, that also has the engine. But part of the Integra's appeal is its extra refinement over that Civic SI. And the Civic XI, I think it's a little tacky. This is a car that you can get in orange and electric blue, yet the interior is always red. Sorry. No. Those don't-- no. That doesn't really go.

And then, speaking of mismatched backseat and front seats, yeah, the Civic SI's front seats are red with some mesh-like material. The back seat's just plain Jane black cloth. Same deal. And you're like, I don't get why this-- I guess they could say, oh, we're trying to be design-y. But when the upholstery quality is so different, it just reeks of bean counting. And this, again, Civic Hatch doesn't have that. It is a classier car than the Civic SI, and I'd rather have that and save a bunch of money and, yeah, sacrifice some horsepower and still have a lot of fun and still enjoy, like, a well-rounded car.

But I think it's better than both of them, while we're at it.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. We definitely have a strong defense of the Honda position, here. All right. Cool. So that is our drive section. We have a rather lengthy "Spend my Money," so we might as well get into it. It's a repeat customer, first of all. So thank you for writing back, Hayden in Minnesota. He wrote back in March 2017. A different time, a different place. Let's put it that way.

So I'll kind of sum this up here. First of all, thanks for keeping the podcast going. Hey, thanks for listening. He's been listening for over five years and appreciates staying up to date. Let's see. He was featured back in March of '17, like we said. At that time, he was selling a 2000 Toyota Celica, and he ended up getting a 2008 Civic SI. There you go, James. A Civic SI

JAMES RISWICK: It's a cool car.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go. Great car. He sold it in 2020. Probably made a little bit of-- maybe didn't make a ton of money, but 2020, 2021, not a bad time to sell a car. Still isn't. It's a little rougher time to buy a car, though. Convinced he needed a larger vehicle, so what did he get? A 2011 FJ Cruiser.

JAMES RISWICK: That's an even cooler car. I love that thing.

GREG MIGLIORE: I like the FJ Cruiser. That was a fun one--

JAMES RISWICK: I love--

GREG MIGLIORE: --I think.

JAMES RISWICK: --that thing. For a while there, that was, like, the coolest thing-- the most fun car that Toyota sold, even to drive. Wasn't even close. Yeah. Go on.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think, with the onset of electric vehicles, I think an electric FJ Cruiser would be--

JAMES RISWICK: Oh, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: --very spot on. I think that's a good time for it. All right. So let's see. Where were we? It's up to almost $200,000 on the clock. Extremely reliable-- of course it was-- but it also drinks gas and has a terrible on-road characteristic driving manner.

JAMES RISWICK: Fair. Fair.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, of course it does. Can you imagine, like, an 11-year-old off-roader that was designed to be rough and tough back then? It's probably like driving a brand new Toyota 4Runner. Hey-o. All right. I continue on. Budget for a new vehicle is $12,000. Oh. I should mention, he has a 1988 Toyota Supra with a Lexus V8 swap--

JAMES RISWICK: Sure.

GREG MIGLIORE: --that they use for weekend drives. It's a great letter, right?

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, that's great.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Now, somehow, he manages to drive this around northern Minnesota and has to get to work before the roads are plowed. So, again, he's looking for a daily driver. All-wheel drive is preferred. He'll probably get by with front-wheel drive if it's the right car. I will say this. If you live in northern Minnesota, I think you're entitled to get an all-wheel drive. A lot of times, we tell people, no, no, no. Just get snow tires. It's fine. I don't know.

When you live that far north, you can get all-wheel drive if you want. You don't have to really explain that. Hatchbacks and wagons are the preferred style. Definitely don't want a crossover. This is a daily driver. We prefer it to be an automatic, as he has the Supra with the manual. Realize, the perfect car is probably an older Outback or Forester, but he's generally opposed to Subarus, as there are so many of them in Minnesota.

JAMES RISWICK: Also fair.

GREG MIGLIORE: If you think it's the right car, he might consider it. So here's the short list-- Volvo V50 all-wheel drive, Lexus IS 250 slash 350 with all-wheel drive, Lexus CT 200h--

JAMES RISWICK: [GROANS]

GREG MIGLIORE: That's an interesting one. Mazda 3, Toyota Matrix, or the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart slash Ralliart Sportback. As you can tell, he's got an affinity for the weird and abnormal cars. He definitely is in the things that you don't see every day. His current favorite and the leader of the clubhouse is the Lancer Ralliart, which is interesting. And that is about it. That's the letter. He's going to be at SEMA on Friday and is just curious if anybody has any tips on how to get the most out of SEMA in one day.

I've been to SEMA bunch of times. We could get to that one. But let's start off with the spending his money. What do you think, James?

JAMES RISWICK: OK. Well, the Lexus is bleh. No, as I said, the CT 200h, that-- no. No, no, no, no, no. The Matrix? You can talk to Byron about that because he owns a Matrix.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. That's true.

JAMES RISWICK: The Lancer Ralliart-- that's interesting. I remember that--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a deep cut.

JAMES RISWICK: --Lancer. I didn't drive that version. That's a wacky pants car. So if you want that, that's fine. I can't say I love that Lancer. I guess it was better than every Mitsubishi that'd come after it. The Volvo V50, that's a cool car. That's a very cool car. That interior is one of the coolest interiors of the last 20 years. That outside still looks great. It's very enjoyable to drive. If you can find one of them them with a manual, that's a lovely car. It was the same platform as the Mazda 3, as well as the second-generation Ford Focus, which we did not get.

So I always said that that car drove like a Mazda 3 with everything wrapped in marshmallow, which I kind of considered a good thing. So if you can get one of those, cool. And also, the Mazda 3 on there, that's good. I'm not a fan of the big, happy, smiley one. So my off-the-wall suggestion here-- and I'm not saying this outside. Theoretically, I'm directing you specifically to a car located in Middleton, Wisconsin, which I'm guessing is decently close to you.

It's a 2010 Saab 9-3X

GREG MIGLIORE: Wow. OK.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. So it's all-wheel drive. You'd be fine. It's with front-wheel drive. It's a Saab Sweden. You don't need it. But all-wheel drive, that's cool. The Saab 3X was kind of like the Saab answer to the Audi allroad slash Volvo Cross Country. And it's gray and it's definitely weird because it's a Saab. And yeah, that was a very-- that's an interesting car. Lots of space inside. All-wheel drive. There are, in fact, Saab service and parts centers in the greater Minneapolis area, at least.

There's a lovely place in Saint Paul. They'll take care of you they. And they still do make Saab parts out there, and I'm sure you can get a good service place if you're concerned about buying a car they don't sell them anymore. That was a solid car. Oh, by the way, asking price is $12,205 from a private seller. So, yeah, Saab 9-3X. That's a neat car.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK. Wow. That is definitely a deep cut. You're talking about a deep cut on of question that is filled with a lot of B-sided elements here. But that'll work. So I will do-- I'll go a couple of different ways here. One is Volvo V50. It's all-wheel drive. It's a Volvo. It's a wagon. I think you're going to like that. I realize you're trying to play with about $12,000, so you're not going to go get a brand-new vehicle. But you're still at that point.

The V50 hasn't been around for a while, so you're still getting, probably, a fairly-- elderly, maybe, isn't quite the right word, but an older vehicle. And if you're OK with that-- sounds like you might be-- go for it. I think that could be a fun car, for sure. I actually, also, like the Lancer Ralliart or the Ralliart Sportback. That's kind of strange, but it just-- they were in the fleets, like, 10 years ago, if you will. I remember driving them at Autoweek. They were fun cars. That's kind of fun, you know?

There's actually an interesting piece, here, on "Car and Driver" about the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart, which, if you Google it, you can find it. It's from 2011. Looks like they had a long-termer with it and rolled up 40,000 miles, so that's kind of cool. I actually worked with both the author and the photographer. Well, actually, I didn't work with the author. I drove the Rubicon Trail with him. It's a small world. So, you know, those are two you can look at, if you're interested. As far as, like, if you want me to sort of confirm that the Ralliart could be fun, I think it could be fun. I also like the Volvo V50.

And then, I will play the Subaru card. I think that's kind of the responsible choice here-- getting as much Outback or Forester as you can for $12 grand. I mean, that's a pretty smart move, you know? You're going to be able to plow through all sorts of snowfall on the way to try to get the Minnesota Wild into the playoffs or something, try to go see those games. That'll serve you well, so I think that's a very, again, responsible choice.

If you want to go a little different, try the Mitsubishi or the Volvo.

JAMES RISWICK: I have a related one. I don't know if they might be a little too expensive, but it's not like you can even-- I looked up V50s just now. They're a little rare in that neck of the woods. The related Volvo C30-- that hatchback thing. That was a cool car.

GREG MIGLIORE: That was fun.

JAMES RISWICK: Front-wheel drive, but related to the V50. That was a neat car with that all-glass hatchback.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: Look for one of those.

GREG MIGLIORE: I vividly remember driving one of those to go to a-- I forget what it was. It was, like, a wedding, rehearsal dinner, planning for my own wedding. And I remember driving it. I was like, this is pretty cool. And the caterer was like, hey, man. What is that car you're showing up in? That's pretty wild. Yeah. So, Hayden, let us know how it works out. Stay in touch. Glad you're still listening to the podcast after all these years. SEMA's a fun show. I covered it every year for about-- jeez, I want to say '08 until, probably, '16, almost every year. And there are three different outlets I covered it for.

Press days are pretty fun because they're a little-- like, there's fewer people there. If I recall-- at least, the way it used to be-- the press day was still kind of a public setting. If you're going to go on the Friday of the week of SEMA, everything will still be there. My suggestion would be to check out any of the OEMs that have stands because those are usually pretty cool. You'll see a lot of our coverage, if you will, of those already, on "Autoblog." So you can kind of do that, as a spotter's guide.

It's also good to check out just all the different tuners, whether it's the crazy stuff, or whether you can see like if Chip Foose or people like that are there. Those are always good to check out. You know, you go into some of the other places, I think there's less to see. Like, if you get into like the Tire Hall or the Wheels or, like, some of just the aftermarket parts-- if you're looking for those things, cool. Check them out. This is a great place to do it.

But if you just want to see some of the more high-profile stuff-- some of the domestics have actually pulled back from SEMA, but it still sounds like there's going to be stuff going on there this year. So it's always a fun show to go to, I think. Stellantis-- they weren't even Stellantis at that point, I guess; it was still Chrysler-- they used to end the press day by heading out press kits and turning their press stand into a bar. So it was pretty nice, complete with beer on tap. They'd hand you the latest, craziest thing on whatever Mopar thing they showed or whatever Jeep and a draft beer.

It's tough to beat that for a press conference. So that's a show. I've been asking everybody what their fall drinks are. James, is there a beverage you are concocting? I don't know. NyQuil? A little raspy.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. If you haven't noticed, I've felt better, folks. No, my bar is still not constructed yet. I have moved to California, but I am not yet living in my house. So I just, mostly, drink whatever is left over from my sister in law's wedding three years ago that has landed up above the fridge at my in-laws house. So I'm just working on the dregs of a bottle of Jim Beam at this point that I might drink, sometimes, while watching TV. It's not great.

My bar game has gone down significantly. And all of the beer that I smuggled-- not really smuggled. You could totally, completely come down with-- there's no problem bringing alcohol across state lines. But it's fun to say you smuggle it.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go.

JAMES RISWICK: When I moved from Oregon, I brought, like, a lot of beer with me that I know I wouldn't be able to buy here. So even that's in storage, waiting for its rightful home in the beer fridge. Funny you should ask.

GREG MIGLIORE: Right. Well, this has been a little bit of a deep cut show. That is a deep cut, right there. Usually, I get people talking about whatever brewery they've been breezing into, and getting a new flavor or something for fall.

JAMES RISWICK: I've gotten nowhere. [LAUGHS]

GREG MIGLIORE: The dregs of a bottle of Jim Beam. All right. Good luck with that. I have been drinking gin and tonics with some Griffin Claw gin. If you are in the metro area, Metro Detroit area, you probably like the brewery, Griffin Claw. We, actually, used to do video shoots there, so I always like to make it my business to grab a bottle of gin from there when I need some.

So if you like gin or you like this podcast, please give us five stars on Apple Podcast, Spotify, wherever you get the show. Send us your "Spend my Moneys." That's podcast@autoblog.com. Be safe out there, and we will see you next week.

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