CES Part 2: Honda/Sony Afeela, BMW i Vision Dee and more | Autoblog Podcast #763

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor James Riswick and Associate Editor Byron Hurd. This week, they pick up from last week and dig deeper into some of the reveals and news coming from this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) including the Ram 1500 Revolution, the Afeela EV collaboration from Sony and Honda, Peugeot Inception, BMW i Vision Dee and VW ID.7, among other highlights and musings from the show.

They also discuss the cars they've been driving, including the BMW iX, Mercedes EQS SUV, two-door Bronco Badlands, Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition and Toyota RAV4 Wilderness Edition.

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

Video transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We have a great show for you this week. We're going to talk about all things CES, from the electric Ram to the BMW i Vision Dee. What a name. It changes colors.

There's plenty of other cool things going on. Then we'll talk about some of the cars we've been driving. And with that, I will bring in my two co-hosts for today-- senior editor for all things West Coast, that's why we made them go to Vegas, James Riswick; and, of course, our associate editor, Byron Hurd.

Gentlemen, did either of you guys wake up on a roof, like, at a hotel with a Tiger in a cage in your room? Anything like that?

BYRON HURD: No.

JAMES RISWICK: Yes.

GREG MIGLIORE: Good. That's--

JAMES RISWICK: No, but I did end up on a-- I tell you I ended up on the BMW after their shindig at The Palms they had a little-- they had a little cocktail party up on the roof of The Palms.

GREG MIGLIORE: Very nice.

JAMES RISWICK: And it was a little chilly in Vegas. It was like 45 degrees and everybody's in their light sport coats freezing their butts off. And me, the former Oregonian, is just lovely and toasty in the very warm jacket that I brought as I checked the weather.

GREG MIGLIORE: Be prepared. It's the Pacific North West.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. Be prepared. Yeah, absolutely.

GREG MIGLIORE: The Ram Revolution was one of the biggest stories. It is our top vote-getter for editor's picks. Those are going to be on the site by the time you're listening to this. They will have been up for a few days so check it out. That was the top vote-getter.

A lot of interesting things from the Peugeot concept-- I can't believe I'm saying that-- the BMW, the Volkswagen. What stood out to you guys?

BYRON HURD: Well, I mean, it's hard to really downplay the Ram. I mean, you got to figure this was something they really wanted to show somewhere else, and CES just ended up being it because Ram's is usually-- any Stellantis brand really kind of feel like is the last one to want to make it a tech thing.

And you really expect it to be more about the cars. Especially with the truck debut because that feels like something that they'd either show the home team here in Detroit or maybe in Chicago, which is kind of traditionally a truck show. But because it was EV, because-- maybe because they had Miss Jackson there from Peugeot, maybe it was more about tech this time. It's about the global audience.

But, I mean, that thing blew, I think, everybody away. I mean, that was a ballroom intro with easily thousands of people in attendance. And it was just an absolute scrum trying to get anywhere near that truck. So that's-- people say game changer. It's a little cliche. But for Stellantis especially, which is a very conservative automaker, it's a big deal.

GREG MIGLIORE: James, what was your favorite, I guess? Was it the Ram?

JAMES RISWICK: Well, I didn't see the Ram. I was gone by the time-- I was in my car driving back by the time that was installed or shown. But I ironically talked to Ralph Scheel, the designer, about it. So I had seen the photos and then I talked to the design interest. So my interview with him is up on "Autoblog."

And just talking about how fundamentally different it is. There are different ways that each of these EVs, EV trucks, have been created. The F-150 Lightning is an F-150 that's an electric. Very, kind of, I don't want to call it simple, but it's a traditional F-150. And that is one way to skin that cat.

And then but this one is on its own new, dedicated platform. It is definitely a new Ram truck. And because of that, it allows for the sort of reimagining of the vehicle structure and layout, much as we've seen with every other electric vehicle. So this is about four inches longer according to the Ram press release, but it's all in the cab.

And, you know, [INAUDIBLE] pulled out the old-school Chrysler term of cab-forward. Much like your Concords and your Eagle Visions of days gone by, this is the cab-forward pickup. And it adds even more space to the crew cab of a Ram. So much that the second row is not only just to put in Dikembe Mutombo in the back seat, the seats slide forward and there are jump seats built into the midgate that flipped down. Kind of like your old Ford Ranger except on the back instead of the side.

Those would be really-- we only kind of saw them. Byron, did you get to see them?

BYRON HURD: I, honestly, don't even know. Like, there was such a crowd around that truck that I was barely able to even get the photos I did. I don't know that they had all of that even fully in there. I couldn't get my head into the back seat enough to actually tell you.

But, I mean, it's a cool concept. I've sat in an original Ford Ranger jump seat before. That's not an experience I'm in a hurry to repeat, but this looks like a far more palatable execution.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. Well, the interesting thing is there's two seats in the front, there are two seats because there's captain's chairs in the second row, and then two jump seats. So it's a six-passenger truck.

There have been six passenger trucks for, well, currently You can get a six-passenger truck with the bench seat. Ram already sells one. So if you're going to be doing a two-two-two seating arrangement, that seems a bit silly. But if it's seven, I guess, I don't know how useful it is but it's something in the midgate is neat.

Also, with that sliding seat means that the midgate can go down, but you still have a back seat, which I don't think is the case with the Avalanche or the Silverado EV, I'm guessing. I-- just throwing that out there as a question. But I'm thinking I'm correct. Or the Hummer SUT-- throw that out there.

But, obviously, this is-- and the other thing is it is quite the styling difference for Ram. Because even the current one, which got rid of the Dodge crosshair grille and adapted its own, well, actually several variations of the Ram written across the grille grille, this is even further. This is something totally new. And it's even further. It doesn't have as much of the fender dropdown that's kind of been evolving since the mid '90s, the modern Ram.

So it is, you know, for Ram itself, it's a very big departure, and apparently that's what customers wanted. They wanted something that's still look tough, that's still would frighten and confuse people as you come up aggressively in their rear view mirror, but they still wanted it to look a bit futuristic and to showcase that, yeah, we have the latest and greatest thing.

BYRON HURD: Yeah. And I think if you look at it, too, like, it is a new thing but I see a few elements of the late '90s Dodge Ram and Dodge Dakota in it, especially in like the flaring of the front and rear fenders. It's got kind of that, like, that '90s, like, let's bring the edges out and kind of bring the cab down and make it look like it's really low and wide. Which, with the extra four inches in it, I think kind of helps a little bit.

But, in a way, it makes it look a lot less like the other trucks because so many of the gas trucks out there just have that upright nose, the upright cab, the screw you, I'm a semi truck, get out of my way kind of look to them. And this is kind of that low and wide, like, I'm really seeing, especially those just massive flared bedsides from the Dakotas of the later 90s in it, and I think it looks pretty cool.

JAMES RISWICK: And the roof is lower. He didn't indicate just how much lower, but if it looks lower it's because it is. And also the rake on the windshield is quite a bit more. That's obviously for aerodynamics.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, it looks it.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. And then it does have a bit of the-- I don't know, whatever the opposite of rake is at the back. It's not just an abrupt 90-degree angle. And they were playing around with how much they should do that-- make it a little more-- they don't want to, again, annoy people or put them off, much like the Avalanche back in the day with the buttresses and the old Honda Ridgeline.

I mean, the Ridgeline itself-- you look at the first and second generation and those differences is what I'm talking about here. I know Hyundai had a lot of discussion about how much they should do that with the Santa Cruz, but that's a totally different thing than the Ram.

But he said, yeah, we were a little-- we were a little on the fence. We might have gone too far, he said. But when we do that, that's kind of where we want to be. We want to push the envelope a bit. So.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think it's a good looking truck. I like the kind of Dakota vibe I'm seeing. And I wasn't there, just from the pictures, I think it's a departure and I think that can be a good thing. You know, you look at the segment-- different car makers are doing it different ways.

I think this is very on brand for Ram and, you know, I think this also is-- I think Ram actually is in some ways tailor made to really like get into the electric truck segment and make a splash. Because what is Ram and Dodge and Stellantis really good at? Bold design. Being kind of brash. Putting out a bunch of huge numbers. I mean, stop me if I'm wrong, but that's the recipe for the Hellcat is just this is an electric vehicle.

So I think they're very good at the formula. We'll see if they can execute. I'm pretty optimistic about this one. I think it could be the best. Who knows? I mean, but it certainly could be. Any one of them could be the best, but I think they've offered up a lot, so.

I can't believe I'm saying this let's segue to the other Stellantis review from-- reveal from-- Peugeot. Covering a Peugeot reveal is always interesting experience. I covered the Onyx reveal in Paris a couple, 10 years ago or so. And this is like a French car company in Paris, and I couldn't get, like, a press pack. And we actually kind of had the same sort of experience where we're trying to figure out what exactly this thing was. We had pictures. That finally they kicked out a press release.

So, yeah, it was a little different. Let's put it that way. But, I mean, what do you guys think? I mean, I've never seen a Peugeot do anything in this country, let alone show a concept car.

BYRON HURD: I mean, I now literally watched one roll across the stage, which seemed to relieve everybody who was there. With a brand new concept like that, you never really know whether it's going to work when you bring it onstage. So, I mean, yeah, I mean, we were-- we knew. We'd seen it teased but we didn't really know anything about it. And the teasers were really vague as teasers tend to be.

So, like, sitting there waiting for the Ram to come on stage and they're like, OK, Peugeot, here we go. And I'm like what? What? What's this? And that was the reaction of most of the people who were there. And honestly impressed. Like the only thing that's really super weird about it is this crazy not-a-steering-wheel thing that it has.

It's a-- they describe the name of this gadget and I apologize I don't have it in front of me-- but it's like a box that you stick your thumbs in and you kind of twirl your thumbs around in it and that's how you drive. They didn't really-- they didn't go into the details of it, but they did make a big deal about this new control interface.

So it's not a yoke and it's not a wheel. And it doesn't move but it drives like a video game. That's the way Miss Jackson described it so that's all I've got. It's-- but it's wild. You look at it, they're like little indentations on the side and you can see it's kind of, like, those, like, recessed volume controls you occasionally see on things. Like, not automotive things but other electronics.

JAMES RISWICK: It looks like you drop red Solo cups into it.

BYRON HURD: Basically, yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: It's looks like a tiny beer pong table.

BYRON HURD: It's exactly what it looks like. Yeah. But the idea is you kind of stick your thumbs into those little indentations so those are like how you, like, set the throttle, how you do it. So basically it's like those crazy touch-sensitive Honda volume controls on the old steering wheels that we really hate, but it controls everything. So what's not to hate, honestly, about that?

But everything wrapped around that looks fantastic. I mean, this thing looks really cool. It's a good looking car. It doesn't just look like another boxy SUV crossover thing. It's got a really cool-- I think it looks like an old Audi rally car. And, I mean--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

BYRON HURD: --who doesn't love an old Audi rally car? So.

JAMES RISWICK: Is that is that a zoetrope on top, beyond the beer pong table in that? Because it looks like a zoetrope. I can't-- if it's not obvious, I did not see this car until, like, right now. I'm looking it up right now. I, yeah, it's wild, man. That's-- that's some-- if you want your concept cars to be absolutely wacky pants and like no way in hell that you're ever going to drive this thing, this thing is your inception.

This makes probably less sense than the movie "Inception." Yeah. That's fun. Delightfully French.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's the first time I've ever seen Mopar insiders cover a Peugeot, which I guess technically they can. I mean, that's the way you can grow your traffic, right? Is add a whole different continent of car company. All right. Well--

JAMES RISWICK: Strange bedfellows.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Well, that's Stellantis in general, right?

JAMES RISWICK: I mean, that's what they should have called the company.

GREG MIGLIORE: It should be their tagline.

JAMES RISWICK: You know, yeah. Just translate it into French.

GREG MIGLIORE: Mm-hmm. I mean, what does Stellantis mean anyway?

JAMES RISWICK: It actually means that. It actually means strange bedfellows in Latin.

GREG MIGLIORE: Mm. Stellantis-- the noted Latin word Stellantis. Got it. All right. Sony and Honda-- speaking of strange bedfellows-- that is kind of a random combo. The car looked pretty good. Our Slack conversations really, we were all over like from Porsche to Lucid.

I mean, I think it's really interesting that Honda is literally willing to basically work with anybody. They have a thing with General Motors going on, the Next Gen prologue is going to be, like, basically part of Ultium, a variant of it. And, I, mean, this is just a further extension of that strategy. This is intriguing to me just because any car with some sort of Sony connection, we haven't seen, like, partnerships like this and like 70 or 80 years. You know?

I can't think of like pre all the software being put into cars. Maybe like if like a refrigerator, which I guess American Motors and Kelvinator were somewhat related to really take a deep cut. But it's a pretty Frankenstein style of business. So, I don't know.

BYRON HURD: I think maybe what's really, like-- oh, sorry. I jumped over a little. But just the thing that if you ask Honda about this car, they look at you blankly. Like Honda as the entity we know it has no involvement with this thing. Like, nothing.

So and everyone looks at it goes, oh, well, Honda is the one teaching them how to build this car. Meanwhile, the people at Honda Autos just look at you blankly like mm-mm. Nope. We--

GREG MIGLIORE: No, I actually reached out to Honda and they were like, yeah, we got nothing for you. Sorry. You can email Sony about press. And if you hear something, let us know. So I'm like, all right. But I imagine you have thoughts, James.

JAMES RISWICK: Well, don't drive Afeela if you're taking an AMO inhibitor, if you're pregnant or plan to become pregnant, react poorly to bleeding, or die due to driving Afeela. The weird thing is like you have the Sony car, and there's a lot of like brand equity in Sony and a lot of brand equity in Honda. Like, these are like electronic and automotive giants that in this country have, like, a huge amount of like trust and like they make above-average products.

Like Sony, to this day, sells more expensive televisions than Samsungs. And, like, and but neither of those names are on the car. It's Afeela. So, yeah, it's weird. That I don't know if it's like hedging their bets that if this goes horribly wrong, they haven't put Sony on like this Edsel.

Like, if that's what they're worried about, but it does seem that like, OK , you're going to the effort to make a car. Fine. Who have you decided to work with? Honda? Great idea. What are you going to call it? Not Sony, not Honda. It's just-- what? If it was the Sony Afeela-- whatever. It's Sony Vaio. Sony Trinitron. I'm clearly very up to date on my technology if I'm wheeling out the Sony Trinitron. But either-- and Vaio. Probably had, what, they have probably been sold a computer called a Vaio in 15 years.

But either way-- or they still do. And either way, I'm completely out of the loop but it does seem like a strange marketing decision even though the car looks neat. It's kind of-- it's a little more-- it's kind of in that Infinity J30 vibe. Kind of like or the Ioniq 6, a little less weird. But it's cool.

BYRON HURD: I think you have a very good point in that, like, Sony is a juggernaut. Like, it really is. I mean, this is-- we should really probably be treating this with about the same level of gravitas as the supposed Apple car. But the problem is Sony isn't treating it that way either.

So, like, this should, you know, this should be like an all-time NFL all-star team walking onto the field and getting announced and being up against a high school team. And yet they're just over there like playing ping pong. They're not actually there to play football. It doesn't make any sense at all. What is this thing?

When is it going to, like-- way too much has gone into this. It looks too much like a car for them not to build it. So why aren't we talking about when they're going to build it? We should be-- I don't know. Maybe we're used to GM and things being announced seven years before we're going to see them, but, like, this is the opposite of that in the strangest way.

Like, nobody-- this is giving everybody a weird vibe. None of us can really put a finger on it and it-- I don't-- I'm lost. I really don't know what to expect from this car.

GREG MIGLIORE: It tends to make me a little more skeptical about it because, yes, it does look good. We don't know a ton about it. I mean, you are passing on two of the most credible brands in the economy, you know, to make up a name, which even existing car companies struggle when they try to create new brands or even models. So, plus Afeela I don't think is a great name.

You know, I think a lot of people would be interested in the Sony car. I don't frankly-- or another Honda EV, you know? It's like it could be either or. If it was both, I think it'd be even better. But that to me makes me think that maybe this is one of those joint projects that I don't know. I-- like I said-- it looks cool, but it strikes me as, like, there's maybe too many cooks in the kitchen, or not enough cooks in the kitchen. But something doesn't totally smell right here. So.

JAMES RISWICK: Again, it's just weird because the concept makes sense.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: Like, you know, there's brand equity in Sony. And, like, theoretically, oh, well, OK, you buy it online through Sony, but then you service it at Honda, right? Like, let's just say that's the thing. Great! That's huge, right? Like look how successful Tesla has been. Well, it started at nothing compared to what that pedestal would be. So, yeah. Weird. Well, it's something to watch, and, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Two things to watch here-- the VW ID had some pretty wild livery, and then the BMW i Vision Dee. Another great name, but it still has BMW so at least we get what it is. You actually saw the BMW. You were there, James. You rolled--

JAMES RISWICK: I saw both.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, you saw both.

JAMES RISWICK: Yes. Those happened in the earlier part of CES so that would be my-- that would be my town here. The VW, don't really have any technical schematic or specifications about it, but you can imagine what it would be based on ID4. So it's the same platform. It's a long wheelbase hatchback sedan. And it's kind of Passat-ish in size, or at least an interior space. I'm guessing it's not as long as the boat that the Passat ended up being at the end.

And that's about all I can say. It was under heavy camouflage in terms of its proportions. It looked fine. Looked like it'll be nice. Looks-- I think that the tail end looks a little bit like a Jetta, like that. So, you know, it honestly got lost. It was the first thing I saw, and I think of, well, first thing a lot of people saw but then it got-- if you're not going to show the thing and then there's a Ram Revolution which will be very close.

It's very close. you look at the thing and it's not like it's that fanciful. You can see how close to production it is. And then you have the talking BMW, the VW is going to be lost. So let's talk about the talking, color-changing BMW named Dee. And it's Dee is an acronym for digital [MUMBLES].

But it's Dee. It's like they pick the name because she talks. Now, she talks like Kitt from "Knight Rider" talked. And, by the way, Kitt was there at the presentation along with Herbie the Lovebug. But he doesn't talk so let's drop him for the rest of the conversation.

But Kitt was a car that a guy recorded voices for on a television screen, and then they hit a light bar and that's how that worked. And that's how Dee works as well. It was a lady's voice who sounded-- it was kind of a cross between-- it was kind of like the movie "Her" with Scarlett Johansson. And someone is doing the voice of this thing, quite obviously talking to an actor on stage.

And also Arnold Schwarzenegger in the video. And then later Arnold came out and he did a thing. So I got to see Arnold Schwarzenegger for the second time at an auto show. This time he wasn't governor at the time, so this is years apart. It's a multifaceted Arnold experience for me.

But the car is very cool because the [? tarking ?] bit was part of the shtick of the presentation, and it was talking about the melding of your digital and your car worlds in the future, and I've gone cross-eyed. But the coolest thing here is when you strip away all that nonsense, some key takeaways here.

Key takeaways are the BMW Neue Klasse is coming in 2025. And this is like the future. And in three years, BMW is going to turn over their entire lineup. That's according to their chief designer, Adrian van Hooydonk. And they are going to be pared down in terms of their design, a more reductive design language. According to him you've already seen it a bit in the 7 Series, and even in the iX.

Now you could see those humongous grilles and go, what the hell are you talking about reductive design? But it's elsewhere in the design that they're dialing back. And even those grilles might be walked back a bit depending on the vehicle because this Dee thing is extreme. It's a very small, tidy, little sedan and it's really cool.

And, for some reason, when the BMW grille goes extremely big but more horizontal, it's just not as offensive. And it's not really a grille. Those are LED panels that move and, like, apparently make facial gestures to indicate what she's feeling. I did not pick up on that, honestly. They seem to be moving kind of randomly.

But what is changing is the color. It's this e-ink. Like last year they showed a car with this it could be white, it could be black, it could change its color, kind of like an original Kindle. But this is now full color and it can be blue, and it could be pink, it could be orange, it can be checkerboard of blue and pink and orange and whatever you want.

Now, at first blush, this is silly, right? You see the photos and it looks like a bag of Skittles threw up and that's a bit silly. But if you think about it, you're going to the dealership. And you're like, hmm, I don't know if I want the green one or the blue one. Meanwhile, my wife would rather just have the black one and we don't know what to get.

With this-- doesn't matter. You just get this car and you could drive-- it could be black driving the kid to school, it could be blue for the night. Your wife could pick something. You can put a white stripe down the middle of it. It doesn't matter. They did like a Herbie the Lovebug livery while it was just sitting there and it was like super cool. And I think we can all agree that would be very, very cool.

Is this expensive to do on a car? Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We asked that of someone a BMW and he just laughed and was like, yeah, of course it is. So don't count on seeing this anytime soon. But for something CES and a concept car, that's a technology, right? that isn't like some fanciful, crazy doors that are logistically silly, right? That is something that we could see in the future, and how neat would that be.

And the other thing I will say with Dee is that it does have the full windshield head-up display, which will be on a BMW in 2025. So your passenger could look at it while driving and throw up because they're looking at a screen while drive.

GREG MIGLIORE: This is the most, I think, fitting, like, reveal for CES, I think. I think you've got like the Ram, you've got the Volkswagen, you've got some other stuff that either doesn't make sense or it's just too weird. This I think actually is how you're supposed to play CES if you're a car company. It's the intersection of technology and the auto industry, and you get everybody talking about it. So I think from that sense was very well-played.

And, I mean, the concept thing was really cool, too. Got us talking about it, too.

BYRON HURD: What BMW one-upped Volkswagen, because they had the Aero B and now ID7 there and it's like electroluminescent paint, which now is just like that's cute. Look what BMW did the same day? And that's not good.

I do have one piece of really important information about that VW, though. It will have illuminated temperature controls on the inside.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah.

BYRON HURD: They actually broke that out. We got to preview that car in Los Angeles. That was part of my trip out there in November. But they made a point during our briefing. They're like here's the interior. Here's the outside. Look, it lights up. They turned off the lights and then they went-- and, and the ventilation controls inside will illuminate at night, which is one of the dumbest things about the current cars in that they don't. The ID4-based interior that we get at the GTI and everything else.

So that will change in the future. All you have to do is buy an electric car.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. What a show. What an experience. All right. So there's like a half a dozen other things we could talk about. Perhaps it makes the best sense here is what else stood out to you guys? The Mercedes thing? You know, I don't know. Like, I said, there was a lot going on. VinFast. Volvo. Did you have a good drink? Good steak dinner? You tell me. I open the floor up.

JAMES RISWICK: Well, there's a two-story Caterpillar dump truck. That was pretty cool.

GREG MIGLIORE: That would win. Yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: They put some sort of like-- was there like a-- I looked up and like there was like people standing in the dump truck. It looked like there was some sort of, like, event, like kind of VIP area up there.

BYRON HURD: Oh, I didn't even look. No, I mean, I assumed it was just to show off all the autonomous stuff.

JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. There's some neat boats. I found myself drawn to boats. Because like, OK, so this was my first time at CES and I only went into the car hall. But the thing of the car hall unlike, an auto show, there's just a lot of booths with, like, giant name of car company you've never seen before. And then like they're talking about some vehicle system that I can't comprehend because really I'm not the person. I'm not the audience for this. They're are talking to the other luminaries, the engineers, or software people, or whoever else is there. Not me.

But then there's like-- so, therefore, like, it's hard to beside once you get past the cars you're like, OK, well, well there's a giant Caterpillar dump truck. And, oh, there's a really cool boat. There's some boat. Hyundai-- it was like HD Hyundai.

Now Hyundai is a car brand but it's also just a gigantic industrial conglomerate in South Korea of which Hyundai is part of. And they have something called HD Hyundai, and they had this fanciful submarine there that had panels that moved up and down and did something and was powered by hydrogen or dilithium crystals or something. And that was neat.

There's, yeah-- yeah they had like this small yacht with electric Mercury Motors and Brunswick, which is also a giant industrial conglomerate that is very involved in boats. I thought they just made bowling pins and bowling equipment because it's the same damn company who's very involved in boating now. What?

So, yeah I think you just-- actually, you just to walk around going, what? What am I looking at?

BYRON HURD: Yeah. We did see some fairly interesting stuff. Bridgestone had the moon tire there that is on Nissan's moon buggy, so we got to see that. We got to see a couple other little things because there was a kind of an interesting take on the electric mobility van that was set up for people with disabilities. So it would be accessible for wheelchairs and things like that, which is really clever because it solves like two or three problems in one.

And just a couple of just interesting little modular chassis and things like that. Like, things that could be just about anything as long as you can stick it on top of a skateboard with some batteries underneath it and four wheels.

So, I mean, and to James' point, so go from the convention center, which has a hall entirely dedicated to automotive which is already the size of some entire auto shows, and then you have so much. I had to-- it took me an hour to go from there to Ram. And from there, so all the consumer tech and all the other stuff that. Like, you could probably draw lines between half the things in that hall and the things we just left.

But it's a massive show. Just wrapping your head around it is very difficult to do, especially just given the geographical scale and variability of it, so. That was a heck of a trip.

JAMES RISWICK: Well, there's two-- and there's two main convention centers, and then there's stuff at like the Mandalay Bay and like other hotels. But then like adjacent to the two convention centers is like a giant parking lot. And within them, they kind of build Frankfurt style auto shows like buildings. So Google built a building in the parking lot, a temporary structure in the building, in the parking lot.

And it is very sizable, and there's nothing about it that looks temporary.

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: I mean, Volkswagen built a smaller one, but it was more like a like an auto show stand but outside. And BMW had one outside. I did not get to go to it, unfortunately. But, yeah, the Google one was under construction. Very weird. Very weird, too. They have all this stuff. Like, I showed up the day earlier than like the press preview was supposed to start and to see the Volkswagen. And I just like walked in. I had my credential, just a parking lot. Anybody could have just walked in, all under construction.

I could just strolled right into the Google thing that was under construction. I didn't, but, like, very, very odd. Like the lack of security for that element, it was very odd. But, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Really makes you think just, like, what's-- like, just how crazy it's been for auto shows the last few years, too. You know, like, the last two years CES has either been basically canceled or virtual. And it's like, how do some of these companies, not just car companies but Google, you know, how do you pull the plug on your plans to erect an enormous shrine to yourself like mid-December?

I got to believe they have the materials and stuff like that lined up. I think in some ways the press stuff is easy. Like, anybody can do a press conference over Zoom or Livestream. So, we'll see. I mean, I will this-- this seemed like a positive sign for just car shows. Because like CES sort of showed that the model of revealing stuff is still there if you want it to be. It doesn't seem like all car companies want it to be, but ironically CES seems like one of the better car shows in the last year or two. Let's put it that way.

BYRON HURD: Certainly felt the most like one of the old-school shows of any that I've been to since things have started to open back up. It was even more so than LA. It was just-- it felt very much like the normal kind of cadence and hustle and bustle that you would expect from one of those larger shows. It was-- and I'll have to give the Vegas folks credit. They, as best they can in any way, really do know how to keep the wheels turning there.

The effort they put into making sure people can shuttle in between venues. They can't control the traffic-- well, they can actually. They try. But the ability is questionable at times, but just the effort they put into making sure people can actually move around the city during the show is quite impressive, especially given how poorly it's set up for typical transit options. So.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Sounds good. Well, let's-- speaking of moving, let's talk about some of the cars we've been driving. James, you've been in the iX, the BMW that is charging and awaiting departure. Why don't we start there. What did you think of that?

JAMES RISWICK: It just departed.

GREG MIGLIORE: It just departed.

JAMES RISWICK: Well, it's what I drove to Vegas.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool.

JAMES RISWICK: So I drove the BMW iX to Vegas. So it has a range of-- it is the iX X Drive 50. This would be the base model, but it has 516 horsepower and 564 pound feet of torque, so 0 to 64.4 seconds, and 315 miles of range. Those are some exceptional EV specs.

Unfortunately, the car was not fully charged when I got it because somebody had to drive it to my house and then I took it immediately to Vegas. So I did need to stop. I think I have a general, typical Electrify America experience where the first one I went to in Victorville was eight chargers there. Six of them were full and two were not working.

So I had to move on to the next one, which was in 30 miles beyond in a Walmart parking lot. It was an interesting one. Two of the chargers were right there in the front, kind of like adjacent to the disabled parking spots, and then there was like six more in the back. So I was like, hell, I'm just grabbing the first one I see right there at front door.

And it was 150 charger. There's 350s in the back, but like I ain't moving, right? We're just going to take that. And I got to Vegas no problem. Then I charged in Vegas. And then, on the way home, I went to the third charger between LA and Vegas. It's in the, quote, town of Baker, which you've ever driven between LA and Vegas, it's famous for a giant thermometer and a mad Greek. And now probably a glimpse of what the future of vehicle charging is.

So there is a Tesla Supercharger station adjacent to an Electrify America station. It is the largest of both I have ever seen. There are 12 Electrify America stations underneath a solar panel array. 12 is a lot for air stations. Usually it's like six or eight. And there was multiple 350s. None of them were running very well. I topped out. Even though 350 is possible, kilowatts, it maxed out at like 80. So that wasn't great.

But it could be. I'm not entirely sure, but it could be because there are spots for 40 Teslas next door. 40 Tesla Supercharger stations right next to it, and a majority of them were full. But this was, like, a very sizable facility, and it was a glimpse of what we can expect in the future. And, yeah.

But, otherwise-- now, the car. Wonderful to drive. Just an absolutely brilliant ride on this iX. It is very masterful how just comfortable and still communicative it is. Shockingly quiet. It is like the Mercedes EQS is a tomb, and this, like, rivals it. It is just-- I was driving in quite a lot of wind in the desert, and it was just a vault or a tomb, either way. Pick your metaphor.

It's really surprising. Also, I kind of like the driving position. The interior is really cool. I was a big fan of the BMW i3. I thought that was really neat, and this feels like an absolute evolution of that car, both in not just in size but it does-- they do feel like like they've carried their lowercase i brand forward to be cohesive.

However, I don't like using the infotainment system. I very much hate it. This is common with the i4 and also like the 3 series now. They've turned over so much into the infotainment system. There's no more buttons for the HVAC system. It's now docked to the bottom of the screen. OK. You don't use it that much, but what I wanted, when I drove through some sort of stinky area that you inevitably do when driving through deserted places in California, I couldn't find it.

I had to go click, click, click. I used-- any time you say to a software person or car person, I couldn't find this in the touch screen. Well, they go, oh, well we, have the wonderful voice commands that you can use. Cool. I did that. I was like, hey, BMW, turn on recirculation. I might as well just said, hey, BMW, [SPEAKING GIBBERISH].

Like, no. Did not work. I tried many different things, and I finally click, click, click, click, and now the car stinks. So this was a failure. Just put the stupid re-circ button on the screen. Thank you very much. But then there's stuff like changing the distance of the-- distance to the car ahead and adaptive cruise control.

Every car has it as a little button on the wheel, that you change it and it goes up and down. This thing does not have that. You have to go into a menu in the touch screen. And what you do is you go, OK, so, let's hope-- say you have to press the Home button what brings you into the screen with many different tiles. Now you have to press the Home button that's like this app-looking menu button. OK. Now you have to press that.

Now you're sent to a screen with like imagine your laptop filled with icons. Your entire laptop screen is filled with icons. Now you have to select the one that you know that the driver assist menu is in. OK. So vehicle settings. Driving assist. Go over to the right, and now you change that distance as opposed to button on the wheel. What the hell are you doing, BMW? That's insane.

Furthermore, there's no resume button on the wheel. There's no resume on cruise control. Like, every car ever has that, right? No. This is on top. No, this is on top of the fact that all of the adaptive cruise control just kept going off and on. The car, this specific car, was a bit broken, and it wasn't functioning. At least they have the option to default to regular cruise control and that worked like a gem.

But then there's just like radio interface things you don't want to be able to waste my your time, me bitching about. But they ruined it. It is worse. I would rather drive-- I would rather-- my 10-year-old BMW X5 is easier to use than this nonsense. It's-- oye. And it's in all of-- it's going to be an all of their cars. And it's really frustrating when you get into something.

And it's not just, like, oh, well this is new and/or I'm used to driving a 10-year-old car. No, I'm usually driving all these cars. And it's like you have such a hard time doing basic things like resume cruise control and recirculation of air, and it's not like I don't know where it is. Even if I know where they are, I have to go click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click while driving.

Or, yeah, your voice commands that are also great. Well, I used one this morning to turn on the heated seat instead of going climate menu, or and then finding it on the screen and then click, click, click. That's what they have to do. Still quick. Still slower than pressing a button. Let's do the BMW.

Hey, BMW, turn on the driver heated seat. Turning on the driver heated seat. And then it turns it on. Like-- like, that's not quicker. That's not good. That's-- no. No. [GROWLS]

GREG MIGLIORE: It does-- so you liked it is what you're saying. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I feel like--

JAMES RISWICK: It's brilliant to drive. It's such a shame because it's such a great-- and it's like the packaging, it looks wild. I had the red one with the kind of gold-ish accents. My neighbor commented, absolutely accurately, that it looks like Iron Man's car.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JAMES RISWICK: And it's like the interior is red and really pretty, and the package, like the back seat is enormous. The trunks could be bigger, but they chose to prioritize the back seat. And, yeah, but I don't want to use it. I would much-- I had the EQS SUV the previous week. And that has-- does not have the hyperscreen which I think is better for it. If you have to-- if you're choosing between an ex and Yeah the hyperscreen looks neat. But I found it-- it's a very unnecessary.

Virtually the same interface works better with their smaller screen. And that is-- that's a lot, right? There's a lot in that Mercedes new-fangled thing, but it is more intuitive than the BMW nonsense.

BYRON HURD: Well.

JAMES RISWICK: Which they still have buttons, too, by the way.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know, one thing, one quick observation about the iX. I do tend to agree with you that this does remind me a little bit of like the natural evolution of i3. They seem to have-- I drove the car briefly a couple of months ago. I feel like they've captured that, like, the ethos of that kind of quirky but very forward looking.

But the i3 had some quirks. There are things about it we didn't like and I think a lot of times you'll see-- it sounds like this is the case and your experience of the iX-- is they overthink one part of it. It's like everything has to be from the future, or everything has to be brand new and then we're going to roll it out. And it's like they may have been better served just using something more of a natural evolution of what they had, I guess. Let's put it that way. So.

But tell us about this EQS, which it sounds like you liked a bit better unless, of course, the infotainment tripped you up.

JAMES RISWICK: Well, no. So it's the EQS SUV. What is it? Well, it's an EQS. That's an SUV. I did like the-- I do like the sedan better. But I think that's just because I like, a hatchback sedan more than an SUV.

But it drives very similarly. It does feel a bit more bulky, I suppose. But just like the regular EQS, it's a cloud. Like, you just, the regular mode, driving mode, in that is, you know, you do have some nice little float there that you might want to actually press sport to iron it out. It has the-- it is a real trip with it's-- it too has the extreme four wheel steering. So it goes by 10 degrees, which-- I have I live outside a cul-de-sac-- and it's shocking how tight that turning radius is. Like, greater-- I think it probably tighter than our Kia Niro.

It's just hilarious how this gigantic vehicle just turns on a dime. And, by the way, the Ram Revolution-- 15 degrees of wheel, of rear wheel steering, which that is like turn on a dime. And that's going to be incredible. I mean, that's a bigger vehicle than the EQS SUV, but, like, it's almost like a parlor trick. Like, hey, look what I can do. It's really cool.

But the EQS SUV is very lovely. I would not get the white interior, the carpets. It's raining here in California. I don't think they're going to look very good for very long. That's-- white seats are a bad idea if you wear blue jeans. That's bad enough. But white carpets-- what are you thinking? It's not a good idea.

BYRON HURD: Now I actually drove the EQS sedan with a very similar white interior. It was in October-- leafy, muddy day. We put my son's, like, kind of razor scooter thing for kids in the back, and it got a little muddy. I'm not going to lie. I was very nervous about this. But we're able to clean it up pretty easily.

That was one of the surprise elements of this sort of day trip we did. This was last fall, actually. And I was stunned we were able to get it cleaned. I just assumed. I was like, wow. I think we just-- the interior of this six-figure, luxury, electric thing looks like a quagmire, a bog, or a nature center, or at least much of it was in there, and we got through it.

But I agree with you. I don't think I'd want to repeat that trick. Let me put it that way. I think I'd go with the darker color to try to save the rigorous cleaning I had to do. So.

JAMES RISWICK: I did-- so I did have the car on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. And they have these-- Mercedes has, we've reported it before-- but I got the, as I had the car on the actual day of something they have graphical goodies. And so there's little-- it was New Year's Day-- so there's like little like black or white and gold, silver, and gold confetti and the Home button, and then little confetti over the phone thing on the main screen.

And if you go into the home screen they have like little fireworks like graphics on the top. I know Halloween there was like little Jack O lanterns everywhere. And, yeah. So on notable days, they have graphical goodies, quote, and I guess it's like a quick, little, over-the-year update.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. So.

JAMES RISWICK: I kind of wish I would have had it, like, a week before or like for two weeks, because then I'm curious to see if there would have been, like, a menorah for eight days, and then that disappears and it gets replaced by a Christmas tree or-- so, , like yeah. It would have been-- it's kind of a neat little thing.

It's like it doesn't get-- it doesn't get in the way, right? It's just like a nice-- and you can turn it off if you want to. But it's fun. It's not a farting car, so it's not like a Tesla.

GREG MIGLIORE: There you go.

JAMES RISWICK: So it's not as forward as that, but.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Well, we're going to close things out with two vehicles that are probably not all that much alike. We've got the RAV4 Adventure and the two-door Bronco Badlands. I think the RAV4 Adventure, mainly because Byron hasn't talked in a little bit, I'm going to throw it over to him. Tell me what you did with your adventuring in this RAV4. Did you go to the Badlands?

BYRON HURD: I did not. I went to the airport. It was the car I used to drive to the airport for CES. But I did actually get to put some decent miles on it. And I'll say that, as a RAV4 it, for the most part, seems to be about right. But this particular one, I don't know what happened to it.

I don't know if one of the other magazines like drove it up Pikes Peak to prove how off road this adventure model is but, like, the doors don't close right. The tailgate doesn't close right. The seals don't feel like they're set correctly. Like, it kind of feels squeaky and rattly, like someone's decided a little more aggressively to prove out its nameplate a bit.

But I will say that for the normal hybrid duties that you expect from a RAV4, it performed them adequately. I got up about 32 point some-odd miles per gallon average driving around town here, which isn't bad for a little compact SUV. Anything over 30, you're doing pretty well, especially considering this isn't a prime. Like, it's just a regular hybrid.

So, not bad. Plenty comfortable. Did-- one complaint I had about it beside all the weirdness of this particular car, it does take a little longer to warm up than I'd like. Especially it really hasn't even been that particularly cold here in Detroit the last couple of weeks. It's been seasonably warm for like late fall, really. Honestly. Like, we've been hitting 50 more often than not it seems like. And even in the weather we've been having lately, it did struggle a little bit to get itself warmed up which was something I noticed in the Highlander Hybrid I drove a couple of years back, too. So it seems like that's a Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive thing or whatever they're calling their hybrid powertrain these days.

But, yeah, it certainly looks the part. It's got the knobby-looking tires, kind of like the Mazda 650 I had just before it. And both of them are kind of the same way. Like they're really not that off-roady but they look the part, and they have nice numb tires to make you feel like you're doing something aggressive even when you're not.

So it's the best you can do for the street when the street is not what you want to project to everybody else.

GREG MIGLIORE: Sounds a little bit like the X-line for the Telluride and some of the Hyundai and Kia sort of off-road appearances, if you will. I would assume the two-door Bronco Badlands has much more than appearances sake there, James. Much more. But tell me.

JAMES RISWICK: Sure. The Adventure does have the torque-vectoring all wheel drive system, so it does have that in its favor. But the-- so I had the Bronco Badlands two-door, manual transmission. Super, super, super cool. I don't think they'll sell many of these, but it's super cool and thank you for making it.

I had it two weeks after the Bronco Raptor and I like the two-door Bronco Badlands with the seven manual transmission better. Why did I like it? Well, it has less power, which is kind of the Raptor's thing. I didn't think the Raptor was like crazy, insane powerful. it wasn't like TRX, like, what are you doing?

Also, I think it's easier to enjoy the Bronco, the two-door Bronco with the manual, on a daily basis. , Like the Raptor, you'd have to like-- if I lived in Arizona right and I could just drive off the road at some point and just haul ass through the desert at 75 miles per hour, cool. Great. I can't do that. Like, and most people cannot do that. So, therefore, you just have this inconveniently wide, very powerful Raptor.

With the two door it's the kind of like a two door Wrangler. Like the dynamics are so weird that it just feels just involving. Like it's just vaguely agricultural. It's fun. Like, it's just like no matter what you're doing, that car is going to be fun. I did, in fact, I went off roading in it-- I managed to find a great photo location, drove it up this giant, rutted, mucky surface and it was the easy cheese. I didn't have to use the crawler gear, but it was there if I had wanted to. Kind of kick myself for not trying it, honestly.

But I had more fun in the two door with at least with the manual. I think the four door with the manual I would also like it better than the Bronco Raptor. But the two door is super cool. There's just so much character to it that I think that's the far more endearing one to me. I think the Raptor kind of just says, I have a lot of money to spend on a Bronco. And the Bronco two door with the manual says I want the cool one, I don't really care as much about what you think. I don't think you've really even need to get the Badlands either, so. It was a fun one.

GREG MIGLIORE: Tough to beat the two-door Bronco. I will say that. I think it's the most like throwback looking of the body styles you could get. And like with the Jeep Wrangler, I don't think more power is necessarily what most people want for these things. Give it adequate propulsion, to use the buzz words, but make it interesting. Make it do what you need to do when it's muddy and rocky.

You know, I don't know. I feel like they're over delivering, to your point there James. Hey, thanks for offering these things, but you know my cup of tea would be more to enjoy the off-road gear and have some fun on that sense then let's just see how much power we can stuff under the hood. So it goes.

All right, guys. Well, good show. Thanks for being here, everybody. Thanks for listening. That's five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoy the show, send us your Spend My Moneys. That's podcast@Autoblog. Be safe out there and we'll see you next week.

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