In this week's Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by News Editor Joel Stocksdale and Associate Editor Byron Hurd. It's a packed show this week, and the three dive straight into the week's truck loads of news, starting with the unveiling of the Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing variants, followed by the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor and the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder and Frontier. Next, they move on to what they've been driving. For Byron, that means more trucks. Lots and lots of trucks. Joel recently spent some time behind the wheel of a Bronco Sport, and the three discuss its merits as both an off- and on-road crossover. From this, they segue into a "Spend My Money" featuring Senior Producer Chris McGraw's neighbor, who acquired an older Forest Service Bronco and wants tips on what to do with it.

Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to "The Autoblog" podcast, I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me today is news editor Joel Stocksdale and associate editor Byron Hurd. Got a great show for you today-- a lot of reveals. And we've been driving some pretty cool stuff.

The show this week is going to have some interesting things from Cadillac. It's the CT4 and the CT5 Black Wings-- they're finally here. And this is finally what we expected for the, like, true replacement to the original Vs. We've also got the F-150 Raptor. There's a new Raptor-- that's a pretty big deal. And of course, finally, a new Nissan Frontier and Pathfinder.

Speaking of trucks, Byron has been driving an F-150, and a Nissan Titan, and a Toyota Tundra-- both of those sort of in off-road trims. So we'll keep talking pickups, basically, throughout the whole show, which is cool. And then we'll wrap up the driving segment with the Bronco Sport, which is kind of cool. Joel had some time in that-- can't wait to hear more about that. I haven't driven one, so, again, excited to hear Joel's thoughts.

We will spend your money. It's a Bronco special edition one. You'll want to stick around for that. I'll tease that out. But, guys, how we doing?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, not too bad.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, Byron, you have, what, seven trucks parked outside your house?

BYRON HURD: So many trucks. So many trucks. But it's all right, it's good perspective, right?

GREG MIGLIORE: Indeed. So let's talk about the Cadillac Black Wings. I think this is very exciting news for them. When I was going over your story, in fact, Joel, I was thinking to myself, ah, it all makes sense. When we saw the V cars, what was it, almost two years ago actually-- over a year ago at least-- and they were kind of like, well, so this is a Cadillac V series. It has 100 less horsepower and all the crazy carbon fiber bits and intense, like, you know, basically, really, sinister and, like, fast, like, things that we thought of with the V-series weren't really there.

They were just kind of like diet V-series. But they said more things were coming. And we're like, OK, well, that's great. Show us. Well, they finally have. And I think these cars look great-- very powerful, very capable. But why don't you take us through it a little bit there, Joel?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. So in a lot of ways, the new CT4V Black Wing and CT5V Black Wing are kind of like updated versions of the ATSV and the CTSV. They actually use engines that are kind of derived from those cars. The CT4V Black Wing has a twin turbo charged 3.6-liter V6, making 472 horsepower. And CT5V Black Wing makes 668 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8.

And it's important to note that that is the push rod V8 that was used on the old CTSV, not the twin turbo smaller displacement double overhead cam Black Wing V8 that was used in the CT6V that didn't have the Black Wing name, because all that makes sense. But I can grouse about naming conventions and engine choices all I want. But they seem like they're going to be pretty cool cars.

They're going to be rear-wheel drive only. They're available with a manual transmission. And that's kind of a big deal on the CT5V Black Wing, because the old CTSV was automatic only. So it's cool that will finally be able to get the big Cadillac with the big engine with a six-speed manual. Both of them are also available with the new 10-speed automatic, which is basically like what you would get in a Camaro ZL1. And it's a nice automatic transmission. So even if you go automatic, it should still be a fun car.

GREG MIGLIORE: I like both of these cars. I am super psyched about this. The manual transmission is almost like, in some ways, too good to be true. You know, General Motors-- hey, we're going to go all electric in, like, 14 years, but until then, we're going to do these things. So I mean, obviously, with production plans being what they are, this was well in the cadence years before that announcement was planned. But it's cool.

I think-- I always thought the old V-series cars were a little bit over the top. And I liked that about them-- I really did. But I think the new CT4, the new CT5 really have a classic look about them. I think these designs are really going to hold up for a long time. And then when you add the Black Wing treatment to them with all this power, well, it's sort of like you're having your cake and eating it too.

I feel like the old-- like, the old V-series, they weren't for everybody. You know, they were a little bit much, I mean, even if you wanted, like, an AMG or an M car, which is what these things legitimately competed with performance wise, you might still say to yourself, jeez, Cadillac's design is a lot. It's really decadent, it's edgy, pick your adjective, pick your superlative. It was a lot is maybe the best way to put it. Now it's like, it's a really tasteful car, I think-- both of them. So super stoked about these. Any thoughts on the Cadillacs, Byron?

BYRON HURD: I drove the CT4V non-Black Wing last summer. And I was really impressed by that car. I mean, considering that it's still just a 2.7-liter four-cylinder, it was still plenty punchy. And you know that's the same engine they use in a pickup truck, and they managed to make it feel like it fit in a Cadillac. And the chassis was fantastic. The adapter suspension's great. It's a very satisfied small car to drive. And I don't see any reason why it won't be made better by more power and a manual gearbox.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think this is an area right now where you can see Cadillac can win too, especially if you want, like, American luxury and performance, which can be a very cool thing. You can see how, like, with some versions of the Camaro, with some of the things Dodge is doing, some of the Mustang, obviously-- there is, like, an appetite for this stuff.

And I remember I interviewed Mark Reuss one time, who is-- he's now the president of GM. At the time, he was the head product guy. And he was like, American luxury, American, like, just, like, cars, it doesn't have to be the syrupy retro thing. It can be just, like, go out there and be the best, and you buy it because this car is awesome. And I think that's a very, like, just neutral way of looking at it.

Like, don't try to trade on what happened in, like, the '50s, just make the best car in 2021. So I really do think there's an appetite for this. Lincoln is not trying to do anything at all like this. Chrysler is the only other nominal American luxury brand, and they're not going down this road either. So I think right now they have a feel to themselves, and I think it's a smart move for Cadillac.

You know, in 2035, the electric CT4 Black Wings I'm sure will be also very capable. But yeah, pretty cool cars. Speaking of, I'd say, holes in the ozone layer, how about the Raptor? You know, until we go all electric, we're really going to use a lot of gasoline here. And I say that tongue in cheek, but it's kind of true, actually. But this is a very cool new version of the Raptor.

It looks amazing, I think. They didn't do a ton to make it a big departure from what we would expect it to be, but it's still very updated. You have been basically eating, sleeping, and breathing all things Raptor, Byron. How do you feel about it?

BYRON HURD: Encouraged. I think Ford's taking a smart approach to this by going with what's effectively going to be a two-truck strategy, because they're going to have the Raptor filling the role that the Raptor has filled since it was introduced. And then they'll have this new Raptor R, which we don't know the details of yet, but we're pretty safely assuming that it's going to take the fight to the Ram TRX in a very convincing way.

Ford's keeping everything about power output under wraps, even for the base Raptor. We kind of assume it'll be close to 500 horsepower from the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, but it's pure speculation at this point just kind of based off of where their power trains have evolved from just in the 2021 refresh of the overall F-150 model. And so we're expecting that to be just Raptor all over again.

The factory 35 and 37-inch tire options are nice. That's a trump card for Ford, because no one else is offering 37s. And whatever they end up doing with the Raptor R, I mean, they said it's going to be a V8, so we have to assume it's the 5.2-liter supercharged unit out of the GT-500, which is one heck of a motor. So that shouldn't be a problem for them.

And I honestly think that they could literally just throw that into the Raptor and be perfectly fine. They really don't have to do a whole lot else with it, but I have a feeling they will anyway, because why not really try to stick it to FCA? Especially because the truck is probably going to weigh 700 or 800 pounds less than the TRX once Ford's done with it. And that's a lot to work with.

You could make a really nasty performance difference with just the weight reduction alone. So it's going to be a fascinating couple of years for performance trucks. You're right, we're going to burn through some gasoline in very, very carefree fashion until everything starts to shift. And honestly, there's always the possibility that Ford decides hybridized this in some way.

They say it's going to be a V8. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a supercharged V8. We could be off-base on that. They have the power boost. They have those high output electric Motors from the Mustang Mach E. I mean, we can't completely rule that out just based on what we've been told. We know it's a V8, but we don't know how it's going to be configured. We're just assuming at this point.

GREG MIGLIORE: Makes sense. Obviously, a huge reveal for Ford. I think just the, like, super truck wars, I think, are really heating up, to kind of use a cliche. But it's really a situation where there is a market for this. I think truck enthusiasts and performance enthusiasts are showing an increasing willingness to spend money. Like, you know, if you want something that's really high powered, high performance, has that sort of cachet, if you will, to really, like, say, hey-- maybe you want-- like, consider a Hellcat, but you like to drive a truck, I mean, this is where you get like the best of all worlds.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I'd all say-- I would also say that, like, pickup truck buyers have money in general. I mean--

BYRON HURD: Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: You see people rolling around in King Ranch and Denali pickup trucks all over the place, spending $70,000, $80,000 on a truck, and I mean, I can see how a lot of buyers would walk into a showroom, it's like, well, I could have that King Ranch with all the leather and stuff, or I could have the closest thing I can get to a trophy truck to go cruise around in. I mean, it's sort of an off-road supercar, but it also does the job of hauling around the family, towing the boat, going to Lowe's or Home Depot-- kind of all in one for, like, the same price as, like, the luxury one, but it's, like, super cool.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, trucks are luxury goods right now. It's that simple. And I think the reason people are so, like, not willing to, perhaps, buy, like, a pure luxury truck-- like, every now and then, we'll hear a rumor about, like, a Lincoln truck coming back, or, like, you know, Mercedes was briefly, it seemed like, considering bringing the-- I think was called the X-class, if I'm remembering right here-- is just, you don't want a luxury truck. You want the best Ford F-150 you can get. And in this case, performance wise, you're talking about Raptor. So it makes sense-- they're luxury goods.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well yeah, because you don't-- because, like, a luxury nameplate, then you're, like, one of those elitists that goes and eats fancy dinners that come in small portions and things. Like, you still want to have the appearance of being kind of rugged and kind of man of the people. Like, I think that's where, like, the GMC Denali has really worked well, because it still has, like, a trucky rugged nameplate, but also kind of says that it's a little fancy.

GREG MIGLIORE: You know where the Denali has fallen short, I think, is it's almost too over the top. It does still look rugged, but sometimes I'm like-- I'll just look at that and I'm like, man, what's going on here? There's too much going on. But that's my own subjective opinion, if you will. I'm excited about the Raptor. I really am. Any other thoughts, gents?

How about we keep talking pickup trucks since that's the theme of the podcast? Even in our transitions, we're talking about pickup trucks-- a new Frontier. Wow that's funny-- a new Frontier-- it's about time. To go back again to the looks department-- it actually, I think, looks vaguely like a Canyon or maybe like a Tacoma in some ways. I see all of that kind of vibe in there.

But I guess I can't actually say all new. Check out this piece by road test editor Zac Palmer about why they actually did continue with the existing platform. You really got to read in there. It's heavily, heavily modified. So the other thing, too, is, like, what really is an all new versus not at all new? I mean, almost any car or truck, they don't completely reinvent the wheel, even when they say they are.

So there's that. That's kind of an interesting little subplot. But otherwise, you know, brand new truck-- just at first glance, I think there's a ton of potential here. This could make them very competitive in a segment that they never went away from. Nissan just kind of let the existing Frontier be out there sort of as a value proposition. It was-- they let it get old and dated, but it was never expensive, and they never made any bones about it.

I think this new one remedies almost all of the questions and things that we were concerned about-- modern infotainment, modern interior. It's definitely going to like, crash test and do things well that the existing one, the current one that had been around since, like, '05, I want to say, really didn't do any more. You currently were buying almost, like, a used truck, if you will.

And then if you really kind of dig into it, there's going to be, like, one model year-- I think you actually randomly drove this, Joel-- of the old Frontier with a new powertrain in it. So it's like, talk about weird product strategies, but they're doing that. Overall, I think this is a very solid truck. I think once we get into it, we're going to see it's competitive with the current Ranger, I think, which is itself a little bit of an older truck, because it is the truck that modified, but it's a truck that's been on sale overseas for a while. So initial indications, I think this thing's going to be very good.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, and there are some interesting things about the way Nissan is approaching the Frontier this time around. Like the Ranger, it's going to just one engine option that you can only get it with the 3.8-liter V6 and the nine-speed automatic. They've dropped the four-cylinder from the lineup, which I think is probably a fairly smart move just because I don't know that there are really that many people that are really putting up the money to buy kind of the stripped out basic four-cylinder two-wheel drive trucks anymore.

And especially, like, having looked at specifications for all the little trucks today, those four-cylinder models don't even get very good fuel economy. They have not a lot of power. They don't come with a lot of features. And they're not that much cheaper. So I think that's actually probably a fairly smart move on Nissan's part to just kind of give up the, like, stripped out pickup truck market and just focus on people that want to buy the V6 model.

And I don't know that it'll necessarily even be that expensive. The Ford Ranger with its turbo four-cylinder, it's basically a V6 equivalent, it's got still a competitive base price with the cheap four-cylinder ones out there. Like you said, it does have the old platform that's been significantly modified. And I wanted to touch on that, because the times that I've driven, like, the old truck, it drove are actually really pretty well. Like, it actually has pretty good handling and ride quality.

So I'm not actually that bothered they're kind of carrying over an updated version of that frame and stuff. And it sounds like they did a lot of things that'll make it a lot better. It's got stiffer sway bars, it's got better body bushings. So it should be quieter. It should handle better. It's got a quicker steering rack.

This is stuff that I got out of Zac's chassis article. So I think it's actually going to be pretty good. And the V6 and nine-speed that I've already experienced are really good. They're really smooth and give good power. So I'm really excited to drive this thing.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I think this is-- again, the segment until about 2014 was just left for dead. I mean, people weren't into it. And then General Motors got back in with the Canyon and the Colorado, sold a ton of trucks, sort of re-invigorated everything. And it's good to see Nissan is remaining in it, if you will, and remaining-- and I think getting increasingly competitive.

I mean, right now, we did a mid-sized truck comparison a while ago now-- it's been over almost two years, actually. I would love to do another one, frankly, just to try out some of the new things that are getting into it. The Tacoma had a little bit of a refresh. The Ranger won, but it won barely. Gladiator was very competitive. We liked the Colorado.

Really the only thing we didn't like about it at the time was its interior was quite dated. So I mean, there's a lot going on in this segment. And I think it's a segment for consumers who obviously don't need the largest truck in the world, like a Raptor, or an F-150 in normal guise. And it's lucrative too. And these are very big, capable trucks.

And I think the Frontier, I'm hesitant to rank it right now. But I'm very encouraged by what I see. So we should probably talk Pathfinder it's not a truck, so I guess we're allowed to talk about it on the podcast because we did talk Cadillac. So I digress. But still, it's a three-row crossover.

I think it's a lot, I think, tougher looking, if you will, just looking at it. Powertrain I believe is about the same. In fact, it is the same as I read Zac's story here-- but big improvements inside. And this is, again, a segment that Nissan had kind of fallen behind in. So I think they did what they had to do to get the Pathfinder back where it needed to be. Really, you have to have a competitive, like, medium to large-size crossover. You have to. And they're back where they need to be there.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, the Pathfinder, it definitely looks better inside and out. I like that it's been given much crisper lines, looks a little bit more rugged. And I'm looking at the powertrain stuff, and it's getting rid of the CVT, but it's got an interesting choice for automatic transmission. They're going with the ZF nine-speed automatic, which I'm not that big of a fan of.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a weird gearbox. To get really, like-- I don't know if we want to turn this into the gearbox podcast, but most eight-speeds have driven I like and most 10-speeds I've driven I've enjoyed. There's not that many 10-speeds. There's something about the nine-gear setup I've often found to be a little wonky. So I'd agree with you on that, Joel. That's a good, salient point.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I mean, like, a nine-speed can be good.

GREG MIGLIORE: Can be good.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: The Frontier, its nine-speed is actually quite good. It's also used in the Titan. But this particular ZF nine-speed gearbox, it's used also by Honda and by Jeep. Those are the two that I know of offhand. And I haven't really enjoyed them in either of those vehicles. It just seems kind of slow and doesn't pick its gears all that well.

So I don't know, hopefully Nissan can tune it so that it's more pleasant. Because so far, I feel like Honda and Jeep, neither of them have really nailed it quite yet. So I hope it's all right.

BYRON HURD: I think there are some physical constraints with the gearbox too, as I recall. I was having this discussion with somebody a couple of years back talking about specifically the Honda applications. Because it's a front-wheel drive gearbox, right, so it has to be really compact to fit under the hood. And it has something to do with their output shaft configurations. There are certain shifts-- and I can't remember which ones they are-- whether it's, like, 6 to 7, or 5 to 6, and, like, 2 to 3 or something like that-- where it has to leap over a couple different shafts in order to get to the gears it wants.

So those engagements are always going to be a little slower. And they tried to get the box to smooth out so that all the shifts felt like they take about the same amount of time. And they just can't really do that because of those extra little jogs it has to do for those particular shifts. And that's what makes it feel so awkward. Because they happen at speeds where you don't expect clunkiness. Like, on the highway, I mean, like, driving manual gearboxes, a 5-6 shift on a manual gearbox is usually the smoothest shift you ever make, because you just ease it in. It's overdrive to overdrive, you don't even think about it.

But this has to do a couple of little extra leaps in order for that to happen. So it's just really awkward when you go from merging aggressively to it trying to smooth out those last few shifts to get up into top gear, and it just having that extra hesitation that doesn't feel like it needs to be there. And it's present in every single one of these applications.

I think Honda's probably had the most trouble with it just because it's in more cars than people care about, if that makes sense. Because people forget about the Cherokee. Like, it exists, but who really talks about it? So I think Honda and Acura get a lot more grief for their applications of this box than others do. But yeah, it's definitely got its issues. But I will say the CVT that was in the Pathfinder was one of my least favorite CVTs-- and even made it to that V6.

Usually a large displacement torquing engine with a CVT works pretty well, and it just never did in the Pathfinder or the Infiniti equivalent, which I can't ever remember the QX designations off the top of my head-- 60, I want to say?

GREG MIGLIORE: The Infiniti Pathfinder. Yeah--

BYRON HURD: Whichever one that is. Whichever one is the Infiniti Pathfinder, that's the one. So yeah, so I'm happy to see that. And I do think it looks a lot better. So it looks like all upside. The gearbox may not be perfect, but it's going to have to be better than what was there before.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: That's interesting to hear, because I've driven, like, the Murano and the Maxima with basically the same V6 and CVT, and actually I thought the CVT actually worked pretty well on those. But those are also a little bit smaller than the Pathfinder.

BYRON HURD: And I think that's the trick. Because the first time I ever drove that combination was a Maxima-- and this is years ago back when they first introduced them. And I actually liked it in the Maxima. The second iteration of Maxima with that CVT, I didn't like it quite as much. It felt like it was a little more parasitic, just robbing a little bit more power than it did previously.

But yeah, like I said, usually big engine CVT isn't too big of a deal-- I mean, especially, like, the hybrid planetary gearboxes you see from Lexus and stuff like that. They handle the power just fine and don't feel as whiny or as likely to just produce noise instead of power, which is kind of the feeling you get out of a CVT sometimes. So I'm encouraged by this, at the very least.

GREG MIGLIORE: Guys, it's been, like, four or five minutes, we haven't talked about a truck. So I think we need the segue to Byron's fleet of pickups that he's been managing for the last few weeks here. Let's start with the F-150. Which trim was this? Because you always have to dig into just how expensive your F-150 is-- and what did you do with it?

BYRON HURD: So this was a platinum EcoBoost with the 3.5-liter ecoboost.

GREG MIGLIORE: Got it.

BYRON HURD: And it had just about every one of the new features that Ford's offering on the 2021 models. So it had the pro-power outboard, generator system. It had the interior work surface, which is the fold down center console. And it had the max recline seats. They're all pretty cool.

I did a little video that's going to go live before you should listen to this podcast so you can check that out. I'll demo all the features in there for you. It's a very nice truck. It's very pleasant. The Platinum has the adaptive steering, so it drives like a car. I mean, there's a slight exaggeration there, but I mean, it really-- it feels really good.

I mean, the only time you remember you're in a pickup truck is when, you know, you've got some steering dialed in, you go over a bump, and you feel that live axle jiggle in the rear. You know, like, there's that distinct trucky, leaf-spring feeling you get sometimes. But all in, it was really impressive.

The features all worked, which is wonderful. Sync 4 seems nice. It's got more USB ports than a computer. It's just a very nice truck. And I actually really just only used it for mostly, like, daily driving type activities-- going over to Dearborn Heights a couple of times to visit my girlfriend-- just, you know, normal daily use. And I was impressed. It's really nice.

This is the third or fourth F-150 I've driven, I think, since the 2021 changeover, but the most time I actually got to spend with one. So being able to live with it for a couple of days and actually drive it around, it's really impressive. I think Ford's hit a complete home run with the 2021 lineup. I don't know that there's anybody who can look at that, and need a pickup truck, and not find one somewhere within that portfolio that fits their needs.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, the power train choices are very compelling. I think they've done a lot as far as making the truck, I think, a little more visceral too. For a while, I always sort of said things like, well, if you really want-- a lot of times, we'll say, like, the Ram is the best, because it's interior, and it's, like, raw styling, and of course, you get the Hemi. And it tended to win out, and then it would be like, well, OK, then there's, like, the Chevy amd the Ford in between, and there's, like, the GMC over here, and then farther back it's like, you know, you're talking Titan, and Tundra, and all those things.

Granted, the sales volume is always forward number one, no question. But I feel like there's enough things now about the F-150-- obviously, we talked about the Raptor earlier in the show-- that make it this emotional thing, that make it more competitive with the Ram. Like, it's not just the logical choice. It can be the truck you really, really want.

They've done a lot of subtle tweaks to make it, I think, look a little jazzier, which is cool. And you know, again, just-- and some of it's some of the improvements to, like, Ford's infotainment system, and just some of their, like, trailer towing technologies have gotten better. And they've migrated into the F-150 as well. And that's just sort of, you know, raised the overall product. So it's in a great spot.

Speaking of trucks, you had not just one more, you had two more. But tell me about the Titan. It's been a long time since I've driven a Titan-- so what's going on there?

BYRON HURD: It'd been a while since I'd driven one too. And I was actually pleasantly surprised after driving the Pro-4X around for a couple of days. The interior in that is not up to Ford or Ram standards. In fact, I think even with the 2021 F-150 redesign, the Ram still has a nicer cabin overall-- especially the back seat. The back seat features, like the fancy console you can get and all that kind of stuff, Ford can't touch that.

So if the Ford interior is a 7.5 or an 8, the Ram is a 9 or 10. And then there's everybody else. But the Nissan really impressed me, honestly. Like, that engine's still great. That big 5.6-liter is a fantastic V8. It sounds good, it feels good, it's very responsive. It's everything you expect from a classic, naturally aspirated V8 in a pickup truck.

And the Pro-4X wasn't as bouncy or uncomfortable as I thought it might be. So that worked out too. It was a little-- it was fitted with a bunch of, like, factory accessories and stuff like that, so the look was a little over the top for me. It's just a little too in-your-face for what is, honestly, kind of a middling pickup truck. But I was pleasantly surprised by everything, especially the interior, which I'll just go ahead and do the transition for you.

The Tundra that I've got this week, which I've only barely driven-- I will say the interior in that is just sad. I mean, we slice these things so thinly now within a segment-- like, oh, you know, this is the great interior, and this is a not so great interior. But I mean, if the average person sat in it, they'd be like, well, they both seem pretty OK to me. No.

If you got into that Pro-4X and then that TRD Pro back to back, you would ask how old the Toyota was, because there's just no way it could possibly be competitive. And that's next to the Nissan, which nobody trumpet's. You know, like, no one gets excited about the Titan anymore. And I was far more impressed by it than I have been by the Toyota.

And, granted, my experience driving the Toyota has been much shorter because I've only had it for a couple of days-- but in terms of that initial, like, first blush, first impression, the Titan's way more impressive. And that shocked me a little bit. Because in my mind, the Tundra is certainly not the first pickup I would pick. But without even walking into a showroom, I would tell myself I want one over the Titan-- there's just no question there. But now that I've actually driven them back to back, give or take, yeah, I don't know. The Tundra is not impressing me so far.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's interesting. I have the same breakdown, if you will. Like, if you said, hey, which of these trucks would you pick? Well, in the case of those two, I would say, neither. And then I'd name three or four of the other trucks we've mentioned earlier in the show. But at first glance, I would have easily picked Tundra over Titan.

I generally have liked the Tundra. A lot of times I've driven it, it's-- to go back to, like, the emotional and the visceral experience, it's a fun truck. You know, I mean-- but yeah, I mean, the last time I drove one, it was this army green Tundra-- I want to say it was about a year ago now. And the interior was very-- you called it sad. I'll call it historic, I guess, let me put it that way. It was a venerable interior, let me put it that way. This is--

BYRON HURD: Very diplomatic of you

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah this isn't the army green one is it?

BYRON HURD: No, it's the color that replaced the army green. Because that was a one or two-year thing for the TRD and TRD Pros.

GREG MIGLIORE: Got it.

BYRON HURD: All up and down the lineup-- so, like, the 4Runner and Sequoia, I think, were also offered with that. And so for this year, they've switched over. It's this kind of, like, icy blue looking color.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's cool.

BYRON HURD: Which I can't name off the top my head, but we did, like, five news stories about it over the past six months, because every time they did one of those models and a change over, they announced that it was getting that new color. It does look pretty sharp. Especially against the snow, I think it really stands out. Because I mean, you know, just on, like, a bright, sunny summer day, it's just going to kind of look like a pale blue.

But in this setting, it pops. It's a little brighter, it's a little more eye-catching. So I think it looks great, especially with the dark wheels and all that. Like, you know, it's a TRD Pro. It looks the part. It's just, you open the door, man, and then, woo.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I feel like what you guys have said about, like, the Tundra, I kind of feel like applies to a lot of Toyota's truck range. They're all just getting old and are not that competitive anymore. And they're kind of cruising on resale value, and reliability reputation, and just kind of the fact that people like Toyota trucks.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, the Tacoma just kind of sells itself at this point.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Even though--

GREG MIGLIORE: Same with the 4Runner.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, even though none of those I would necessarily-- I mean, maybe 4Runner just because there's, like, nobody competing in that segment really anymore. But I feel like both Tacoma, and Tundra, and Sequoia, you've got much better options out there.

BYRON HURD: Yeah, I agree.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. Now, we've talked a lot about, I would say, venerable vehicles, if you will. Let's talk about one of the newest things out there-- that's the Bronco Sport. Very exciting, something that I think we've all been, you know, pretty fired up about. This is the baby Bronco, if you will. Joel what have you been doing with the Bronco Sport? What trim is it? That's always a good question.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so the one that I've got is basically the top of the line that you can still get. The first edition would have been a little bit nicer, but that's all sold out. The Badlands is the next-- like, that's the top-rung vehicle. It gets the fancy torque-vectoring rear axle, which can also be locked for better off-road traction.

You can lock up the center diff also so that you're always going torque to both ends of the car. It's got the various terrain modes. And it comes with, like, the nicest interior and the nice features and things. And also it gets-- it's the only trim that you can get with the turbo-charged two-liter four-cylinder, which makes close to 250-horsepower.

And basically, I've just kind of driven it around town for now. I don't really have any plans to go to an off-road park, because I'm not entirely sure which ones are open to the public at this point in time. I don't know if any of them are, actually. But yeah, I've just been mainly driving it around town.

GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. So I haven't driven either the Bronco Sports or the Bronco yet. I hope to change that, actually, in short order. But to me, the Bronco Sport in some ways got a little bit overshadowed by just the retro, the just everything that goes along with the return of a Bronco. But I'm optimistic about the Bronco Sport. I think they're going to sell a ton of them.

It competes in a segment that is red hot. And it's very capable in its own right. You know, you mentioned that you want to cruise around looking for an off-road park-- I think this vehicle will be very capable off-road. And part of it is it's a very-- like, it's not small, but it's one of those vehicles that fits well on the trail. Like, you don't need to get to the trailhead and think, oh boy, am I going to lose a mirror? What's going to happen here?

And by no means is the Bronco itself all that big, but it's larger than a Bronco Sport. So to me, this is, like-- it reminds me a little bit of how the Jeep Cherokee is surprisingly really good off-road in some situations. Like, a Trailhawk, Grand Cherokee-- and Grand Cherokee, I guess-- but specifically, thinking of the Cherokee Trailhawk, it's really good off-road. And I feel like that's where the Bronco Sport can step in and really deliver for a lot of people. So I don't know.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, and something that I've been impressed so far is that I'm actually rather liking it on-road. The engine is really peppy. Like, this thing will scoot. It's genuinely impressive. I mean, I don't think it's that far removed from, like, the old focus ST engine. It's got a really fat and potent mid-range. So it'll pick up and go any time you want.

And actually, the fancy rear axle that I think is mainly there for off-road prowess is actually proving to be pretty nice on pavement. This thing is actually-- this actually handles pretty well. It feels relatively neutral, at least in this setup. And, like, you can feel the back wheels giving it some push. It's actually kind of fun on pavement.

There is a fair bit of body roll. And the suspension itself is a little bit on the stiff side, which is kind of to be expected for an off-road-oriented vehicle. But it's kind of fun. I also really like the driving position. When you sit inside it, it really kind of reminds me of, like, the old, like, compact crossovers, the old-- like, the late-'90s CRVs, and RAV4s, and Foresters.

You've got that really upright window. You've got low windowsills. You've got, like, just the straight out hood. It kind of feels like just a little boxy thing. And it's-- you know, it's kind of fun. Like, it feels like an itty bitty Jeep, almost more so than some of the itty bitty Jeeps. Yeah, really kind of my only complaints are it's got an eight-speed automatic, and it works pretty well in automatic mode. It's completely useless-- or it's completely useless in manual mode.

If you want to try and shift it yourself, you're going to be waiting a long time between shifts. It just-- I think it's only there for if you're driving down a steep hill and you want some engine braking. That's really the only reason I can see for the existence of any kind of manual mode on this thing. Yeah. And I should note that this is the two-liter four-cylinder with the fancy driveline.

Most Bronco Sports come with a 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder and a more conventional all-wheel drive system. So these impressions are more specific to this top-end one. For more info on the way the regular ones drive, you should check out Zac's first drive from when he took out the Bronco a while back-- Bronco Sport.

GREG MIGLIORE: Curious-- would you take maybe a more entry level Bronco, or would you load up a Bronco Sport if you were spending money?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I've been-- boy, I've been going over that my head. And I think I would have to go with just a regular Bronco. Because the thing is is that the base prices aren't all that different. And there's a lot more about the bigger Bronco that appeals to me for that money than, like, a base Bronco Sport. Like, I could have a big Bronco with a manual transmission, a more powerful four-cylinder, more inherent off-road capability for a lot less money. Because I'm kind of thinking I would almost have to go with the Badlands for the engine and for the rear axle. And that would end up costing a lot more than just a basic, base trim Bronco.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I would basically-- I probably wouldn't do it exactly that, but I would have the same just thought process there. I like the big Bronco, and I think I'd be very OK with one in basic trim, frankly. I kind of like it with, like, steely wheels and stuff like that. So you know, for comparable pricing, I would probably do that and then still have a Bronco-- like, you know, you get all the, like, the cool points, if you will.

Nobody knows what kind of infotainment and, like, the other stuff that you really get into it that starts adding to it just from curb appeal. So I don't know-- baby Bronco or larger Bronco there, Byron.

BYRON HURD: I'm going with the real deal. I mean, I'm a Wrangler owner, so even going to a regular Bronco would be a right quality upgrade from what I'm used to. The Bronco Sport's appealing. I mean, it's the best way to skin a Ford Escape, but I don't know that I would feel fulfilled driving that, personally.

And it's kind of annoying to me that there's no ST or RS version of the Escape, knowing now that they have this fancy free rear diff that they could play with and stuff. Like, it seems like they could make a really fun on-road SUV with this, and they just declined to do so in the United States because reasons. So yeah, big Bronco for me.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, since we're talking Bronco, let's spend some money. This is a question that comes from-- it actually comes through our senior producer, Chris McGraw. Check out all his videos and articles on our site. His neighbor writes in-- so I'm going to go have to read this here.

He has one of the original Forest Service Broncos-- very cool. Bought it a while back for an absurdly low price. It's originally from outside the Bay Area-- thinks it's originally from Yosemite. That's pretty wild. It was purchased by a friend who worked at Salsa Bikes when they based their new paint color on it. And then he said he bought it from said friend. So that's the back story.

It's been driven quite a bit, and now this old school Forest Service Bronco needs a bit of love. The question is, how should he rebuild it? Should he keep it stock? Should he do an EV conversion? What if he doesn't want to sort of completely ruin the value of it? Condition-wise, other than needing an engine rebuild, its super clean.

Thanks to the dry climate, there's barely any rust. And the interior, it's a bit worn, but it's still actually in pretty good shape for a vehicle of that age. What would you do if this was your Bronco? So, Joel, I'm going to start with you, because you actually wrote a story from last fall about Ford is donating a couple of Broncos to the Forest Service sort of, obviously, for practical purposes, but also as a bit of a tip of the cap to these old Forest Service Broncos that were used, you know, back in the '70s and the '80s. And I'm sure they're probably still used today, actually-- these things will run forever. But what would you do, Joel?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so I guess I'll start with maybe the more key question here-- the one that's probably most relevant to the owner about not ruining the value of it. And honestly, probably keeping it stock, keeping it running well, so probably, like, an engine rebuild and just kind of leave it at that. I mean, these are going to hold their value pretty well at this point.

I don't know if they're super valuable yet. But I mean, keeping it stock is a surefire way of keeping the value on it. And also, I mean, if you're going to modify it or anything, it really comes down to, like, what do you like the looks of? And what are you going to do with it? If you're mostly just, like, driving around town and, like, going through snow sometimes, don't do anything to it. Like, you don't need to.

It does everything you're going to need it to. I guess if you're going to go off-roading, like, bigger tires and things. But probably for the main owner-- I mean, unless there's like something that he wants to do with it in particular, just rebuild the engine and leave it at that. I do like the idea of an EV conversion.

And I think this GM electric connecting cruise system that's coming up soon that's basically a Chevy Bolt motor, a battery pack, and a GM 4L60 automatic transmission would be pretty great. Because GM already did kind of a proof of concept powertrain swap into a K5 Blazer, which is just Chevy's competitor to the big Bronco. So I think that would actually be really cool.

Probably be a lot of money, and I don't know that that would actually increase the value. Maybe it would, I don't know. It would depend on who you were able to sell it to. I think that'd be super cool, but would also cost a lot of money and take some time. I guess if I had, like, lots of money and it was my truck, that might be the way I would go eventually. Yeah, I think that would do.

Otherwise, I would probably just kind of keep it as is-- rebuild the engine, I don't know, maybe do, like, a light lift and some tires, and wheels, and maybe, like, some lights and a brush guard. What about you guys?

GREG MIGLIORE: Go ahead, Byron. I'm curious your take on this.

BYRON HURD: I think I'm going to be in the either restore or maintain category on this one. I mean, it's one of those cars where if you decide you want to flip it right now, there's some value there, but not a ton. And if you want to drive it, then do what it takes to make it drivable and drive it. I mean, do what's going to make you happy with this thing. That's the real key.

I don't know that it's the kind of car you want to park money in, so to speak. You know, like, I'm not one to really go with-- unless you already know that something has the potential to hit a certain value that you intend to cash in on, I don't really see the point. So yeah, I'm going to rebuild the engine, maybe even hotrod it a little bit, have a little fun with it-- like Joel said, throw a lift at it if you actually want to make it look good, make it more capable.

I just-- I don't know-- I mean, it's an iconic and an important car. But I don't know that it's necessarily headed to the moon value-wise. So I think it's a pretty safe canvas to play with if that's what you want to do. And maybe if you're more concerned with the value of it, don't put any money in it. Go ahead and just sit on it the way it is-- store it somewhere. Sell it in a few years if it does appreciate a little bit. Otherwise, maybe just unload it and find something you want to have more fun with.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I mean, I think-- I would-- my thoughts are pretty similar to what you guys have said. EV is always cool. And, frankly, because, like, these generations of Broncos aren't super valuable, it's a pretty good canvas to try some things if that's what you want to do. I've been looking around-- just because it's a Forest Service Bronco doesn't mean it's super valuable. These were work trucks, essentially, back in the day. So there's not a-- you know, there's not necessarily a huge, like, premium there.

What I would do, actually, though, is, you know, I would do some research, and I would restore it within, like, reason, if you will, to, like, its original condition. Like, if you can match up the paint, maybe get somebody to do a little bit of interior work, and, yeah, rebuild the engine. That's what I would do.

I would say, think about what you're going to do with this car too. Because, again, it's not probably ever going to be like a real showroom piece. So I would still make sure you keep it so it's, like, in that, like, daily driving category, if you will. Like, you don't want to do something so that you're afraid to take it off-road or take it on the trails, which, to me, this is the kind of vehicle you run into the ground.

I would love to have one of these Broncos, frankly. I always like the big boxy Broncos. They're not nearly as iconic as, like, the first gen. But I've always thought they were cool. And frankly, there's not-- outside of the aforementioned 4Runner, there's not a lot of big, like, midsize rough and tough off-roaders out there that you can buy these days. So if you want one, you kind of have to go used-- granted, this is quite used.

So yeah, that's what I would do. I would probably maybe spend a little bit of time, have fun with it, try to find some of the original paint colors, and match that up, and do some light interior work. And then, you know, rebuilding the engine can mean a lot of things. I don't quite know how bad, you know, what he means here as far as that. But I would do enough so it runs so it's enjoyable.

That's what I would say is make it so it's, like, reliable. Maybe do some stuff to make it a little more capable, because I don't recall these things being super powerful. But you know, get the looks right, and then maybe do some things to make it a little more comfortable under the hood, and go from there. Again, check out Joel's story, though, from last fall.

These, like-- they're mint green Broncos. They're actually-- it's part of a partnership with, like, the outdoor retailer called Filson. They're around-- I think they're based in Seattle, but they're around. I think there's actually a store in downtown Detroit too with some of their stuff. So yeah, check out that story, and that'll kind of give you a broader context, too, about just the history and the pedigree of this vehicle.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I think one thing we can all agree on is definitely don't change the color, because that color is awesome.

GREG MIGLIORE: I mean, literally, that's-- like, Byron's doing a thumbs up, that is, like, half of the restoration right here, is try to get your hands on that original paint code, and do everything else around it. You know, and if that takes half your budget, like, so be it. I mean, because-- otherwise, it's just an old Bronco essentially.

But if you can get that paint right, and then it does-- like, it's a legitimate Forest Service Bronco. You know, who knows? Broncos-- like, just the wave of Bronco nostalgia in the last year has driven prices up. Again, this generation, who knows? But I don't know, that's what I would do-- try and make it, like, stock and original and go from there.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: But I'll also echo a little bit of what Greg said earlier that I wouldn't fret too much about, like, trying to make this, like, an investment Bronco. And in general, I feel like that's kind of a bad way to look at cars anyway. Vast, vast majority of cars are bad investment, because you're going to spend so much money on maintaining them and storing them. Just do what makes you feel happy. Don't worry too much about trying to, like, make money on it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, that's just a great metaphor for life. And that's all the time we have this week on "The Autoblog Podcast." Thanks for joining me this week, guys. That was the perfect close there, Joel. We'll see you all next week. Be safe out there.

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