We talk about our final test results on the 2019 BMW X5. We answer audience questions, including one about electric vehicle range in cold weather. And we talk about the trend of bringing back old vehicle names, and what ones we would bring back if we had our choice– next, on “Talking Cars.” Hi, and welcome to “Talking Cars.” I’m Jennifer Stockburger. I’m Mike Quincy. And I’m John Linkov. So we are back at the track, Post Detroit Auto Show, and ready to set into kind of our normal routine. We’re going to start with news, and it actually is news that’s kind of an expansion of the Detroit Auto Show. And it’s this trend of resurrecting old car names into newer models. And we’re not talking about ones that have continued– Corollas and Cherokees– but ones that died off for a while and now they’ve brought back. For better or for worse. So Ranger, Bronco, Supra– there was a bunch of them from Detroit– Blazer, Passport, Gladiator. John, why do you think this is a trend, a strategy to bring these back? Oh, goodness. They’re running out of names. They don’t want to do alphanumeric– Ford QX962B75. Well, it didn’t work well for Lincoln. I mean, they changed all those things. Back and forth, right. I mean, some of it’s nostalgia. These are names with a lot of equity– capital, if you will. So they’re going to attract people to them. They’re going to get a nostalgia sake– oh, I remember my Supra and such. Now is it attracting who they want to? Is it attracting people who are about to retire or people even in their 50s versus the younger buyer who doesn’t care about what the Bronco was and only remembers OJ was driven around in a Bronco? That’s where they might remember the Bronco. If even that– I, mean they might even be too young for that. It’s funny, because we talk about getting younger, and Consumer Reports is no different. We all need to get younger. However, still the vast majority of wealth in this country is controlled by baby boomers. So these kinds of names are going right to the heart of that market. Yeah. And I will say I do think there’s– you talk about nostalgia– there is this general trend back towards simplifying. I think of the tiny houses and living off the grid and definitely even– I have a 19-year-old nephew who took all of my albums– Journey and The Clash– The vinyl. Yes, the vinyl, to play them on his turntable. Not Apple iTunes or– Spotify. Spotify or Pandora or anything, but albums on a turntable. And I do think there is– they do know these names from some story we told them maybe or something. I do think there’s some younger audience coolness to some of those names. But they might be disappointed once they get into it. You’re talking before the Jeep Cherokee. That was a loved model– that squared-off Jeep. And it really was– It ran for a long time. Start of the SUV craze, or at least kept SUVs– made an imprint right on the market. For me, I don’t care if they call it the Ford Brick. I don’t care if it’s the Toyota Brick if the car is not a good vehicle, if it’s not enjoyable, if it’s not well-constructed or thought out. And that’s like the Jeep Cherokee– doesn’t really perform well in our ratings. Not a fuel efficient vehicle, it’s a little compromised in size. It’s just not a good vehicle. So losing equity in that name if you don’t build back a good vehicle. Yes. I think it does get people in them. But it almost seems like Hollywood. I mean, Hollywood can’t come up with a lot of original ideas for movies so they keep rebooting all the old ones. And some of the names that were resurrected like the Volkswagen Beetle, the PT Cruise, the Dodge Dart– they didn’t work out so well. They weren’t a success, to John’s point. Exactly what John said. They rocketed up with initial sales— oh, my gosh, nostalgia. And then they plummeted in sales once people drove them for awhile. Because they weren’t a good car. So here’s kind of a fun game– if you could resurrect any old name, old car, what would it be? Well, you know, I gave this about two seconds of thought. It didn’t take me long. The car that I would love to see back from the dead is the Saab 900 Turbo SPG. Yeah, I know, why? I don’t know. Saab was early into turbo-charging, they were early into 16-valve heads. They had front-wheel drive. They were doing stuff that a lot of other companies hadn’t done. I just love them. They’re weird, they’re quirky, they’re different. And, honestly, they were last sold in 1991– the SPG model. And it is totally my Saab story. Oh, my goodness. Good one. You set him up for it. That was good. I did. I teed it up and he just took it. You? Anything you’d bring back? So I’d bring you back the original Toyota Celica all-track turbo. In that I think that the market doesn’t have a lot of that. They haven’t an Impreza WRX, but there’s nothing that’s all-wheel drive in the affordable stage. And I owned a front-wheel drive Celica GT. I liked that car. And it’s kind of– that was the attainable car as a teenager, early 20s. Yes, I had a five-foot poster of a Lamborghini Coupe. As all did. I had a giant picture of the [INAUDIBLE].. That was one of the things I looked, like, oh, that would be great, great. But that era– that’s what I could drive and get into and own. That was real. I look back fondly with that. And for all the faults of turbo-chargers in that era, I think that there’s a hole in the market for that type of vehicle. And what’s interesting about that choice is I know you’re a big fan of Audi. And in some ways, that was kind of a less expensive– The everyman’s. Audi Quattro. I mean, when the first Quattro came out in the US, sure it was five-cylinder, and turbo-charging and all-wheel drive, and the all-track had a lot of that going on as well. And I owned an Audi Quattro later in life. And the Toyota was probably be far more reliable and less impact on my pocket as my ’83 turbo Quattro coupe was– Quattro, yes. So mine was very– again, we’ll go back to practical and my own nostalgia. But I’ve said before how much I loved like the Ford Flex, right? So I think that’s a great family car, tons of room. I’m very wagon nostalgic. So what if they had put panels on that and called it the Country Squire? I drove that LTD wagon all through the end of high school, college. I’m a wagon fan. Again, I would probably want like the Flex all-wheel drive on it. But if they’d called that Flex the Country Squire, who knows– The fake wood. Might have done better. Just continued to talk about the Jeep Grand Wagoneer or Wagoneer coming back. We all remember the pantwood panels on the side and nostalgia. Who ever thought we’d be nostalgic for fake wood? Me. So cool. All right, well, we’ve got to get out of the past into the present. It was kind of fun, I’ll admit. I enjoyed our little back-up to our old days. All right, so from the track, we have just kind of finished testing of the 2019 BMW X5– so obviously an important car for BMW. We all have had– I just had one chance to get in it, but I certainly have impressions. John, thoughts on the X5? Look, it’s $70,000. You expect it to be a really good vehicle and it delivers. It delivers in the comfort, it delivers in the performance. What’s interesting is BMW has kind of gotten a good balance with it. It was a very rough, sporty, autobahn-ready model for previous generations. And this has, again, a great balance between ride comfort, performance– it’s not a Porsche Cayenne off the block from the start, but it rides a heck of a lot better. Yeah, they’re quiet. It’s incredibly quiet. I mean, you drive down the road at 70 miles an hour in that vehicle, and you lower the window and you realize how quiet it is and how much wind noise and road noise it’s keeping out– highly impressive vehicle. Yeah, now just to clarify, I didn’t say– ours was the three-liter turbo six, eight-speed automatic. So I just wanted to throw that in there. Your impressions? I was all ready to not like it, because kind of what John said about it being so expensive. And we’ve pinged a lot of recent BMW’s controls for being way too complicated. And it’s almost like you– when we’re checking out cars at night to drive home, that goes through my head. OK, how difficult is it going to be if I take this car to adjust the seats, to adjust the radio, to adjust the climate control? And sometimes we’ll get a BMW– or our last-tested Lexus LS and just say, I don’t have the patience for this. I’m tired, I want to go home, forget about it. I don’t want to repeat everything that John said, but I think he’s 100% right. I like this car way more than I thought I was going to, because it’s so quiet and comfortable. The controls are not ideal, but they’re kind of as we talked about, the best of the lousy systems. You know what I mean? Right. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’d say that– They did not frustrate me. I well put that out there. And that sounds like a pretty low bar, but it’s a real bar. I was not frustrated by them. There was a lot of redundancy, you could operate them different ways. I think the company is evolving with their controls. I think their first iDrive drove us crazy. It was a pioneer. I mean, no one was used to something like that either. Right. And now this one is a lot better. So a couple of things struck me. One was, like you say, the big stuff. I was surprised when I was taking notes that it was turbocharged. There was no turbo lag– we have talked about turbo lag. No hesitation. This turbo spinning up before it can do its job and that hesitation off the line. It had none of that. It was super, shifts were great. One thing that struck me when I was in it in two aspects was the visibility. It is pretty good. I mean, it’s relative, because many of those sloping SUVs are so poor, particularly to the rear. This was pretty good. I was like, whoa. I was very impressed. The proof is it’s always being signed out. Yes, right. I booked it a month ago for a trip I was supposed to take to Portland, Maine– which, with all the snowstorms, ended up cutting it back to Boston. Incredibly easy to drive, super comfortable. BMW owners, of which I’m not, will find the iDrive a very short learning curve. People new to the vehicle will see it a bit steep and then it’ll drop off and become familiar– like you said, a lot of redundant controls. The screen is huge and the Apple CarPlay integration is fantastic. Wireless. Takes a little getting used to, but you could charge the phone, but you can connect to Carplay. Waze is like– I think it’s about this big. So it’s easy. But with the redundant controls, you can scroll your radio stations or your XM stations or whatever music you’re running from Spotify, for example, without disturbing that screen. And a lot of other ones you have to go on the screen, change it, change it, go back to Waze. No, it’s really well done. It’s really well done. Well, one other thing– the optional– we bought a premium package on ours, which drove the price up a little bit. But it had this amazing– integrated visibility– heads-up display. It was so good, because it showed navigation. When you’re changing audio, it showed that. But in the heads-up display, you didn’t have to do this type of thing. You could just look kind of through it. Really well done. I thought the heads-up display was clear. Turns were just right there. I thought it was great. And the seat heaters heat the armrest in the center. That’s a good point. And the wheel. I did use the wheel in this cold. We have logbooks that we keep for all the cars. And one of the comments that I loved about that were elbow rests– a feature I didn’t know that I wanted until I tried it. Until you had it, yep. And I think one other thing– and you mentioned it– this balance that BMW found between sporty is the ability to select those drive modes. You can make it a little firmer steering a little more weight if you’re on the sporty side. I sit in the comfort side– so where it’s a little less maybe steering feel, better ride, et cetera. So there’s a lot for that money that you can tailor. So ratings will be out soon. So we’re all done with the BMW. Maybe this car lives up to the hype. Yeah, this car really could live up to the hype. I’m interested in seeing what people– what owners say about it, because that’s been kind of a trend. the 5 Series, the 3 Series, the balancing– but does it mean the ultimate driving machine? Their slogan for decades. Does that mean they’re no longer really that vehicle? Are they more of the ultimate comfort driving machine, where the balances at with what their true fans are going to think. Maybe they don’t care about that. They just want new people to the brand. Or have they managed to get both somewhere in the middle? So, again, great vehicle. We’re going to move on to some questions. We’re super psyched because we have four, but four video questions. We love them. We especially like to see you guys, so keep them coming either by video or email at [email protected] Let’s see the first one– Ravi from Ontario. Hello, “Talking Cars.” Love your show. Would you consider testing electric vehicles at three different temperature points? For example– at zero degrees Celsius, 20 degrees Celsius and, say, 30 or 35 degrees Celsius? So based on the weather in Ravi’s video, it’s pretty clear why he’s concerned about battery life in the cold. It’s pretty snowy where he is. So I think each of us has our stories about decreased battery life in cold weather. Mike, anything to add for Ravi? Well, it kind of goes to our testing and how we’ve seen drop-offs. And we have a number of Tesla’s here at the track as well as a Nissan LEAF. And we’re in the process of kind of measuring just when the electric vehicle sits how much do you lose just when it’s sitting there? So we’re going to have that information out soon. And it also kind of it goes in lockstep with what we found when we first started testing hybrids– just a regular gas-electric hybrid, they’re seeing a drop-off in fuel economy in the colder months as well. John, we’ve had some really cold weather here recently. So any– I know you’ve had it one particular occasion. I had it a number of years ago with the first Nissan LEAF. We got it, took it home, because I had– there was a certain amount of range. It was one of those things where I live close enough, I could drive it home and back. Gabe usually takes a lot of the cars early, but with that range and even when we first delivered it, it was much shorter than he could drive. And got home and seemed like I head 38, 40 miles. And then put it in my garage, got up the next day and it’s cold and it’s wet. And I had to turn on the lights because it was dark and run the windshield wipers and the heater. And I started realizing on my ride, I can’t run the heater. Oh, my gosh. Again, early, first generation Nissan LEAF. Totally understand– newer technology at the time. But, yeah, I had a roll off the highway to a stop and it had a little turtle icon. And I think the turtle was upside down at that point. I had to get picked up with one of our trailers about four miles from work. Didn’t quite make it. So, yes, not just range anxiety, range failure. But it’s kind of the limitations of electric vehicles, you don’t normally think when you– say you get into your five-year-old Corolla and it’s cold out, you start up the engine, you get the heat going. You don’t even think twice about it. But with an EV, well, that’s what you think about. Heat and cold– extremes of either. Yeah, so to your point, we’re attempting to quantify some of that, compare some of that. It’s really kind of tough, because when you’re doing comparative testing in anything we do– you look at our test procedures, we have limits on wind and temperature. It’s really hard to get consistency. I mean, literally we were at zero degrees here yesterday. We will be 50 degrees here tomorrow. So we kind of battled that, but we are attempting, Ravi, to make some quantification of what the losses are. But if you are an EV owner, be aware that those ranges will be affected by the cold– to John’s story. I’m interested to know what people see. Give yourself the buffer– charge it a little longer, plug it in even when you might not think if the temperatures are low. So, yeah. Be interesting to see. Our second question is from Mike in Chicago. Hey, “Talking Cars,” Mike here from Chicago, Illinois. On my 2017 Honda Ridgeline, the oil percentage is still showing 70%. It’s been almost a year. The owners’ manual says, yeah, if it doesn’t go all the way down to 20, just wait a year and do it yearly. Is that going to be OK? It just seems like a long time. Thanks, I love the show. So, yeah. This idea of letting the car monitor oil life rather than saying, you know, every 3,000, or 5,000, or 7,500. Any advice for Mike? From Mike. From Mike to Mike. And Monticello isn’t even here. He’s not even here. One of the things I was wondering when we were looking at this question was how many miles on your truck? How often is it driven? Is this a daily driver? Is this just a weekend driver? Because that’s going to affect how much you’re working the engine, how much it’s coming up the temperatures. Is it being worked hard? Is it being worked light? But generally, the idea is– I talked to Big John, our chief mechanic here at the track. And he says the operative words when it comes to the onboard monitors and what’s in your owner’s manual is whichever comes first. So within a certain amount of mileage or time– whichever comes first. So that, in essence, is the answer to the question. Right and we did– and Mike didn’t give a mileage, so it’s hard. But if his manual says yearly, then stick with that, Mike. So, yeah. But at 70%, you must be driving it very nicely or not too far. And a good truck, by the way. And a good truck. Right, right. Next is Noah and he’s got some questions about a first car. Hi, “Talking Cars,” I\’m a big fan of your show. I’m 14 and in a few years will be getting my license. I’d like to get a new car around that time, but don’t know what I would choose. My budget would be $5,000 and I would love a sedan, but it would be OK with hatchback or SUV. Also, I’m going to be six foot around that time, so I’d like one with good headroom. Thanks for answering my question. So, Noah– of course, this is kind of near and dear to my heart. I’ve been through this. I also have a 14-year-old son and he looks every day at which car will be his. His aspirations are a bit higher than yours, Noah, but he would love some giant– How much are you guys spending on him? I don’t know, apparently a lot. The Lamborghini poster. So outside of model, Noah threw out like a $5k. And that’s a very typical– $5,000 is about what the normal teenager– and maybe even a stretch for some– of what they can afford in a used car. And my advice is, don’t buy too soon. And I say that because at $5,000, we are just starting to see cars– used cars– where you can get one with electronic stability control. And that, we think, is a huge benefit for young drivers like Noah. It was mandated– has to be on all new cars 2012 and later. Like I say, there’s models that are just starting to eek into that $5,000 range with it. If you wait a couple more years, Noah, until you’re 16, maybe– just maybe you’ll start to see that price point include automatic emergency braking and some of the other safety we love. Our tagline is, buy as much safety as you can afford. So, in going through our use list, vehicles that might fit that bill in either– either now or in a couple of years, Honda Fit. Noah, you said you were six-foot– you’re thinking you were going to be six-foot tall, that’s deceptively roomy. I actually picked vehicles where our headroom measurements gave four or five inches above our 5\’9″ tester, so hopefully he’ll fit. Mazda 3, Tucson, Toyota Corolla, and Accord and Camry– they’re going to be in there. And the ones I picked have years of good reliability. I was going to say– to make this list, they need to be reliable, do well in our testing, and all that stuff. Right. So any others you thought might be good ones to look at? I actually took a peek at your notes before we started. And those really were the ones to pick. I find it interesting that as automotive safety evolves, we began by saying years ago, make sure you get your car with anti-lock brakes. And then it’s, make sure you get a used car with stability control. And now we’re getting to forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Which, just as a side note, it means that cars are getting so much better than they used to be. And these are the kinds of things that you need to look for as a used car buyer. And the trickle-down. It’s coming quicker and quicker. I think the Hyundai Tucson is a great option in that it’s not the level, in people’s minds in the appreciation of a Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord. So you might get a really good deal on a Tucson. Right a newer Tucson. On a newer– yeah, you might get a newer year than you think– than the Hondas and the Toyotas. Yeah, you can get an older Honda or Toyota, but you might get a newer Tucson for the same money. So, Noah, we love that you’re already thinking about this. Keep your tally for a couple years. Look for safety and enjoy. That’ll be exciting to hear. I like that he can see in the future how tall he is. So if he has some lottery numbers or maybe Super Bowl picks. Maybe the doctor told him, we hope. There we go. So one last question we have– Sean from Pensacola. Hey, “Talking Cars,” I hope you\’re having a good morning. Longtime listener, love the show. I currently drive a 2009 Toyota Highlander– six-cylinder– love the car, but it is getting kind of long in the tooth– what with 185,421 miles. Love the car, but it’s time for me to replace it. I’d like to either get a hybrid Highlander– 2012 model or newer– or a little more money, a hybrid Volvo XC-90. I don’t know what the reliability is on the Volvo, but I know Toyota– Highlander in particular– has a stellar reliability. So, Sean is looking to replace his venerable Highlander. His question drew some very clear emotions– particularly from you, John. Advice for Sean? So, look, I would stay away from the Volvo XC-90 hybrid. In our reliable survey data, we’ve seen a lot of troubles, particularly with the electronics or the touch screen and stuff like that. I actually have a friend who bought a first year, or maybe a second year, XC-90 non-hybrid. And it was in the shop so often, he was given a Land Rover to drive as the service vehicle so to speak, and it was more reliable. And he had it for a longer time. That’s hysterical. From the Volvo dealer? That’s not the Land Rover reputation. I mean, the Highlander itself was a great vehicle. If it served you well, stick with it. And stay with the regular one, in my opinion, because the V6, with the eight-speed automatic, gets really good fuel economy. I wouldn’t even move up to a hybrid, because you’re going to be spending a lot of money for that hybrid. And then a couple miles per gallon difference in fuel economy, you’re going to take a long time to pay that difference off. Yeah, unless he has a short commute, the hybrid might show some benefits, but I agree with you. Yeah, well, the stop and go– the hybrid benefits. If that’s how Sean drives. Sometimes people buy and drive hybrids not necessarily to save money, but just to be kinder to the environment. But I love this story because it reminded me of something happened with my neighbor many years ago. He had a Lexus GS, and he just had it in his mind that he– the point of his life, he’s like, I want a Mercedes Benz S-Class. I can get a great used one, and what do you think? And I said, well, you know, Jason, you’re trading probably one of the most reliable vehicles in Consumer Reports Survey for one of the least reliable vehicles in Consumer Reports Survey. But he had this bee in his his bonnet. He got the S-Class and, probably in a month, absolutely regretted it. Yeah. And we’ve said before, if you love it, do it. But at least you’ll be housed with the information to know what your risks are. And this is a big jump from the Highlander to the– in terms of reliability. You know, and a lot of times we say, look, if you have that S-Class, if you have that Volvo or something else that’s expensive to repair and repair-prone, then spend the money for the extended warranty. Now we don’t recommend getting a Highlander and getting the extended warranty. You take that couple grand, bank it. And when you have a repair, you have money for it. But it’s going to– the other bank is bankrupt and there’s potential of these other expensive vehicles to bankrupt you in keeping them on the road. Like my old Quattro. Yeah, not to mention the inconvenience of having to do it. Well that’s all we’ve got. It’s all about giving you the information to make your choice. As always, keep the questions coming. We love them. [email protected] If you want any more information about the items we talked about today, see the show notes, and we’ll see you next time. All right, so Sean’s looking to replace his. Gimme just a beat. [BEATBOXES] Oh, sorry. Wiki wiki wiki wiki.
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