What it's like being at the Indy 500 and testing both the Civic Type R and Si | Autoblog Podcast # 783

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. They kick off the show by talking through what it was like being at the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. After that, the two discuss some big news out of Ford and Tesla. Ford's EVs will soon gain access to the Tesla Supercharger network, and in even bigger news, Ford says it intends to build EVs with Tesla's charge port connector starting in 2025. They also discuss their drive experiences with the 2023 Honda Civic Si, Civic Type R, 2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce, Honda electric go karts and a ride-along in Honda's CR-V Hybrid Racer. The podcast wraps up with the editors doing a Spend My Money segment.

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

Video transcript


GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast I'm Greg Migliore. We have an awesome show for you this week. A lot to get to. Road Test editor Zac Palmer went to the Indy 500, and he got to drive some things on the track. I've been driving the electric Nissan ARIYA, their all-electric, of course. But I got to drive the e-4ORCE which is kind of cool.

Also, we're going to spend your money. This is a good one, somebody is going to buy their dream car for $60,000. We're going to help them out. So with that, let's get right into it. Zac, you're just back from Indy, what's going on, man?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Man, this is my first Indy 500. I cannot tell you how psyched I was to be able to go there. You know me well enough that I'm like a Formula 1 guy through and through. But Indy, Indy is a special place. It's called the greatest spectacle in racing for a reason. And having attended my first one I think that I am likely to agree with that statement. It is otherworldly.

I'd say like the most impactful thing for me was when we got to do the grid walk before the race and whatnot. And I got to go down there, be at track level, and walk to the front of the grid and just stare at that first corner. And you know, you see it on TV and whatnot. And you know, it looks like a tight corner. It looks like you're really hanging a left there. But to see it in person and to know that they're like heading into this corner at 220, 230 miles per hour is just mind-bending because it is a left turn. Like you're not-- it's not an oval.

Sure, maybe it looks like an oval from above and whatnot but this is a hard left turn just barreling into, inches away from each other, side-by-side, three wide, whatever into this corner. And to just see that you gain so much more respect for what these drivers are doing. And then, of course, you actually see them go do it minutes afterwards and whatnot.

I thought it was a really great race. I don't know if you watched it but it was a lot of fun being there. There was certainly a lot of controversy just right at the end with like three red flags right in a row. Like the race was just generally like for the first 120 laps or so it was a little dreary and whatnot. Like there wasn't much happening. You know, that was sort of to be expected.

Honda had-- so I was there with Honda. And Honda had a couple of their drivers roll in to their booth to just sort of chat about the race beforehand. And what they were sort of expecting was everybody to be pretty tactical with their moves at the first half of the race and everybody be pretty conservative because Indy 500 is a long race, it's 500 miles. So a big key to actually winning it is to just get through it because the Speedway is so dangerous and it's so easy to crash. You have to be just inch perfect. So people were pretty conservative.

And then as you start going later and later, they'll really pull their punching bags and you know, get their fists out and start going at it. You could really tell that that was happening down to the last like 30, 40 laps because of those red flags.

And I know there's definitely been some discourse online about that-- the final red flag creating like a sort of one-lap shootout to the finish. You can tell that you know, it's hectic, and it can get dangerous, you know. There have been a lot of really scary crashes at Indy and to you know, to send everybody out there with one lap to just absolutely duel it out.

It was wild to see. I mean, to watch both Ericsson and Newgarden, obviously, Newgarden ended up winning the race but to watch them weave back and forth like all across the track through that whole final lap was just, it was mesmerizing and it was scary, and it was wild.

At one point, they were both like aiming down pit lane 220 miles per hour plus just trying to break each other's toe. And I was out there in the grandstands watching them roll down to the finish line you know, just less than a car length apart. It was a lot to take in. It really, really was. It's unlike anything that I've seen.

I've been to F1 races and a bunch of Indy-- like actual road course races but watching those cars go around that track was something special. And I know that I'm definitely going to be back.

And if you do go like the people watching is also otherworldly. Like the crowd there, 320,000 people, which is more than any other sporting event in the world for any one-day event. It's crazy.

Like you can't see the whole track wherever you sit at no matter how high you sit, you seem to not be able to see everything. But what you can see from one side to the other, just packed full of people. Like every seat taken.

I think it sort of speaks a little bit to the resurgence of motorsports in the US. I mean, the Indy 500 has always been popular, but it has really taken on you know, a new level of mass popularity I feel as more people are getting into F1, more people get into Indy, more people just interested in racing. So that was super great to see too.

And I'll just sort of wrap it up like there was that one super scary moment. I don't know if you saw that tire fly off the car.

GREG MIGLIORE: That was crazy, man. 350 feet or yards, however far it flew. That was crazy.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, so like I was there and I was in the grandstands. And so you can't really see the TV really well. So like I was just like blown away by oh my God, this car is upside down blah, blah, blah. And then I like roll back down into the-- like our actual like general watching area, where I have some TV screens to see it.

And like everybody is just like face solemn like oh my God, what just happened? I was like OK, yeah, like he's safe whatever. But then I saw the replay and I saw the tire fly off and go flying over top of the grandstands.

And yeah, that was a really scary moment because it was for like a few minutes we were like oh my god, did that hit somebody? You know, if it did hit somebody, you know, there's a good chance that that could have killed someone. Could have been really, really bad.

And I've just never, ever seen a tire go flying off into the stands like that in modern motorsports. So I have a feeling that that's something that other people are going to be looking at as the months and years go on, like how do we avoid a situation like that?

Thankfully, it hit a Chevy Cruze. It totaled the Cruze sounds like. The IndyCar president looks like gave the owner of the Cruze a ride home from the event and she got to kiss the bricks. So it had a pretty happy ending to it but man, that was scary. Overall, great, great weekend, though. I highly recommend it. If you haven't been to the 500, get to one because it's a special event to see.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's one of the great venues in all of sports. I would compare it perhaps almost to a baseball stadium, Fenway Park, which I was fortunate to get to seven, eight years ago. So much with the history but also just the aesthetics, that double-decked grandstand. They're both built around the same time, 1910 somewhere in there. And you just, you feel the history dripping from every corner of the place.

And you know, the fans are right on top of the track in certain parts of it. And to me, that is so cool. It's like you, I got to do that kind of prerace walk the last time I went, which was I think it was actually 2016 or '17, somewhere in there. Probably '16, no '17. I don't know.

But I mean, you're just, you're down there, it's so like-- and it's also a little bit calmer at that point too because usually when they let you know, the race-- the drivers obviously, but like celebrities, press, whoever happens to be there do it. It's kind of a cerebral time. So yeah, I mean, it's just, it's really a magical place.

And you know, I got to do like sort of ride-along hot laps in a Chevy SS with one of the Chevy like engineering drivers I think. And just like going through that corner that you mentioned, you know, it was really early in the morning. It was just such a dramatic moment, you know.

And of course, I had eaten a bunch of like I think St. Elmo's steak or something the night before and shrimp. So it's a great way to not feel great. But yeah, it's a really cool place.

And you know, the tire incident like you said, that's wild. I haven't seen anything in sports-- motorsports like that since like I think they said it was either the '80s or the '90s is the last time something like this happened. Either way, it's been a long time or a really long time. And Roger Penske said the tires are all allegedly tethered to the car But I mean, clearly, literally something went sideways, went wrong but kind of weird.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. I mean sure, I guess you can tether them to the car, but it is I'm not sure if we're capable of making tethers that are going to hold a tire on when it gets absolutely smacked going like 200 miles an hour. I mean, maybe we are, maybe something had been weakened from the crash itself and that was why. But yeah, that was a wild moment.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I wonder if in a way, it's-- I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often. You know, given just the like the laws of physics if you will, so.

All right, so that's the Indy 500. You know, if you've already-- you know, you probably at this point know that Newgarden won. And you know most of the details of the tire, and some of the surrounding things.

If you want to dive back into it we have a really nice piece written by one of our freelancers, Kirby Arnold. He was actually a sportswriter for a long time with "The Seattle Times." He was one of managing editor Greg Rasa's colleagues. He did a great story on the daily drivers of IndyCar racers. So check it out. People drive all sorts of different things as you would imagine. It's timeless, you know, it isn't really related to the 500 at this point. But I would refer you back to the site if you want to just kind of check out a pretty cool feature. Came out really well.

One of our top traffic stories of the week. Which I think tells you something because IndyCar and Formula 1 as much as we like it, still tends to be pretty niche on the internet, growing but somewhat niche. It never breaks through like the Tesla, you know, Florida man, Ferrari, Ford Bronco, like you all know the hits. If you will, of traffic, internet traffic. But last week it did. So it was good to see.

ZAC PALMER: It's heartening to hear, honestly. I love it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. So speaking of Tesla, in a very odd-- this is one of the more bizarre things I've watched. I think you are already on your way to Indy at this point, there was a Twitter Spaces, live spaces whatever they call it, and about half an hour we'll say before it happened, Jim Farley, the Ford CEO tweets out, hey, I'm doing a Twitter Spaces with none other than Elon Musk, who one day earlier had basically broke the internet or maybe the internet broke it, I don't know, with the presidential announcement of Ron DeSantis. So the fact that the Ford CEO is doing this a day later was a little surreal.

I think they had a more scaled-back approach. It was just like audio-only. They did take some questions from like a Tesla investor, that type of thing. But the crux of it is Ford customers get access to Tesla superchargers. Which is I think, it's good for Ford customers you know, and it's a revenue stream for Tesla. So theoretically, it's a win-win. I do kind of wonder-- and it's a win-win I think for the electric vehicle just like game, industry, such as it is because more people get more access to better good, top-quality chargers.

I don't totally think Tesla had to do this but it's interesting that they're willing to kind of be like you know, frenemies with Ford. And it was-- you know, Jim Farley hosts a podcast on Spotify. It's pretty good actually every now and then. Well, it's good but he doesn't host it all the time or it doesn't happen all the time let's put it that way.

So there was a bit of a rapport between them. And you know, it feels kind of like a win for Ford, and kind of like an OK thing for Tesla. You know, how do you feel about this?

ZAC PALMER: Man, the craziest part of this news was the fact that Ford is going to start like using the Tesla charge port in 2025 they said.

GREG MIGLIORE: An adapter before then.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, you can get an adapter before then but like there will be Ford vehicles just manufactured with the Tesla actual charger port. Which I feel like you know, that's the thing that OEMs have resisted probably for a long, long time at this point because we're like all right, you know, we're going to go do CCS, this is going to be another thing. And we've built out a massive charging infrastructure with CCS in mind.

Is that charging infrastructure very good? In my experience and most of our experiences, no. It's rather unreliable and troublesome. So this is maybe sort of an admission from Ford that this was maybe a bit of a mistake and we're going to go you know, use the charging network that is actually super-reliable and everywhere and seamless to use.

So I mean, it's really tough to dissect this and actually come to a conclusion because it's going to you know, it's going to happen in two years. The US government is paying like untold sums of money to get like CCS charging up and going for all other EVs other than Tesla.

Like where is this actually going to shake out four to five years from now? Like will we be happy that Fords have the Tesla connector? Will we be like a little upset that it doesn't have both options or that it doesn't have CCS?

I feel like it just raises a lot of questions and we're not really going to know the answers to them for another couple few years here. But Ford is the first one to you know, sort of jump the shark here, and just all right, hey, we got the Tesla charging network here, we're going to go for it. We're going to do it because they're going to have to engineer it into their cars. And there's sort of no going back once they start down that path.

So I am-- I was shocked just like you would hear the news that they were even doing this Twitter Spaces. And then even more shocked at the news itself that came out of it. So yeah, wild times for Ford EVs. I guess I'll be curious-- in the immediate future I'll be curious to see if other EV makers decide to go the same way.

I don't know if they're chatting with the US government about that like, hey, guys, we're spending billions of dollars to build out this EV charging network for these cars that we're no longer making, that no longer fit these chargers. But there will be adapters, and you'll be able to ultimately make it work. It's just a lot of very early days' time of EVs. A lot of things happening.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I agree with you, it's confusing. And the nuance, the adapter is interesting, in some ways, the cars right now that you can get the adapter for and they didn't exactly spell out how this will work, like to your point, there's a lot of questions. Does this mean my like 2023 Mach E or Lightning I can charge at like a CCS and a supercharger? Just I pull the adapter off and on? I don't know what the adapter physically is going to look like either, how that module will work. Will it be like the dealer installs it and then that's it? Or is it like something you kind of put in? I wouldn't think so, right? Because it's like an electrical socket.

ZAC PALMER: No. So like what Teslas do right now actually like they can charge at like an Electrify America or like an EVO. Tesla sells an adapter that you can connect and then charge there. I don't know about the actual charge speed and what they're able to accomplish on those ones but--

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a great question too.

ZAC PALMER: You can do it. I mean, I've seen Model Ys, Model 3s chilling at Electrify Americas charging away. I don't know why they would do it because it's very expensive and unreliable versus a lot of superchargers but you can do it if you need to, in a pinch. And I suspect that that's what will happen in the future with Fords too. Like you will be able to do it, the question is whether you'll want to do it or not, so.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a great question too because ultimately, I think for most people to you know, for the process of speeding EV adoption with mainstream consumers is they don't want to have to think about it.

You know, I-- you know, we could get to this in a minute here but I had the ARIYA e-4ORCE, that's Nissan's crossover EV, like 200 plus, 220, 230, 240 miles of range. Beautiful crossover. And I went to a ChargePoint this weekend trying to charge up. And just one of the chargers just wouldn't work. And I'm just like well, this sucks.

You know, it did-- it got the message of-- let's see what's the message awaiting EV. And if you've ever used one of those places maybe you've gotten that once or twice. And like the forums, Reddit, et cetera, seemed to think it was basically a bad handshake between the car and the charger. Which you know, it sounds like that's more on the charger than it is on the car. That's what most users seem to think so.

I mean, that was frustrating. And I mean, to me, if you're adding different kinds of chargers like that's different adapters, could be a good thing, might not. You know because then you're going to be at the point well, like OK, I'm here. I've got the adapter. Oh crud, it doesn't charge well. Or it doesn't work. You know, you're definitely bringing in a lot of layers there. And if you install a charger at your home you're good, that eliminates a lot of the challenges.

You know, I mean, I-- so I went on Memorial Day, I went over to my brother's place, other side of town. We ended up taking the family GMC Acadia because the night before I went to charge the ARIYA and again, it wouldn't work. Didn't have time to like mess around, so just kind of limped home driving slowly.

And then the next morning, I went to charge it, and I still didn't get that much because it was funny, the fleet called me. They're like, hey, we're coming for the car. I'm like, I'm at ChargePoint. They're like, OK, it's all good.

But if you do-- like if you're going to be an EV owner, you've really got to be ready to plan ahead, roll with unexpected problems. And it's probably better if you get something at home too, like you know, a Level 2 charger. Just because then you never have to worry about getting too low. And that's not like-- I think that's just a pretty accurate assessment of what's going on. I think a lot of people right now are coming at this from both sides really, really hot.

And you know, I've been driving a lot of EVs lately and that's kind of the conclusion I've come to is you know, I don't have a charger at home, so it's tricky when I rely on the grid, which I like doing. I really like going to these different places, trying things out. It's like a mini Cars and Coffee.

I was hanging out with this guy with a Polestar 2 you know? And I saw some lady in an Audi, I forget what it was, one of the e-tron crossover things. It's a fun experience but a lot of challenges. And you know, we'll see how this works out for Ford and Tesla.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, it's a great illustration of why EVs are good for people that have a Level 2 charger with a home place they can park it at. And why it's a big struggle for people still that might live in an apartment or live in some sort of condo situation you know, where they can't plug in overnight and constantly have it.

Because I too just like you had your night blown up, your day like that you were going to take this car. Like I've spent an hour and a half trundling from one charger to another across town trying to get one of them to work because I don't have a Level 2 charger at home. If I did, I'd just plug that thing up and it'd be good to go by morning. But it's really like EVs, you know they make sense for some people's lifestyles now but not necessarily for everybody else's.

To sort of bring this back to Ford, like one of the last questions that I had for him here is like one of the biggest advantages I feel with the Tesla Supercharger system is how like baked in and sort of closed off the ecosystem is. And that like you can set a waypoint in your nav and it will navigate you to all of the Tesla Superchargers to have x amount percentage of charge left you know, by the time you get there.

Ford's kind of done their own thing, they've tried to do some navigational stuff through their navigation with like Electrify America and EVgos and whatnot. But are they going to be able to tie in to the Tesla Supercharger network and offer that same experience, or is it going to be a little clunky?

That's a question I feel like we still need to answer because sure, the fact that the chargers are there is great and all, but you needed to be able to make it seamless for a customer like a Tesla is seamless for somebody to road trip and to do this without having to download apps and think five steps ahead because that's the reality right now. So yeah, we'll see I guess, three or four years from now.

GREG MIGLIORE: one thing that I thought was interesting, and this is where Jim Farley's like podcast hosting expertise came in, he just literally asked Elon Musk where the hell the Roadster is. I was like wow.

ZAC PALMER: Good on him. I love it.

GREG MIGLIORE: Four-seam fastball, way to go Jim. Like Tesla doesn't have a PR department or not much of one and he doesn't really take a lot of questions from mainstream journalists. But hey, Ford's main man throws a hard one at you. And he answered, he said, I think the design will be locked in this year, and then next year allegedly it'll be out. Which I'm excited about the Roadster. I always liked it. It was a Lotus, so what's not to like, it's an electric Lotus, what's wrong with that, right? So I'll be interested to see what their take is on that, so.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I think we're coming up on like five or six years since it was revealed.

GREG MIGLIORE: Right, right. I don't know, flip a coin, what gets here first, the Cybertruck or the Roadster?

ZAC PALMER: Maybe neither. I don't know.

GREG MIGLIORE: Neither. The Semi maybe? All right, so let's move on. This is a good segue just over to the ARIYA, which I enjoyed immensely. I drove it last fall at North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year testing. And it was one of many different sort of crossover SUV electric things there that I will admit it kind of got lost in the shuffle a little bit. It had been out for a little bit. It did not have the sizzle of the Kia EV6, which did win crossover of the year. I think deservedly so too. Or even the Cadillac LYRIQ.

It was, I don't know. But this one, second stint in it, spent a lot of time in it and I really, really liked it. Outside of that charging hiccup, which wasn't the car's fault. That was the charging, that was the grid's fault. But you know, it's I would recommend this as an option for somebody who's looking for like a mainstream crossover you know, that's electric.

It has an interesting design but it's not too futuristic. It's almost kind of like a I don't know, like a-- like it's very curvy let's put it that way. And it's got nice proportions. And it has a nice interior. And it's fairly priced. This one is $62,770, which sounds like a lot for a Nissan crossover but again this is electric and it's platinum and this is the e-4ORCE, I don't know if there's a special way to pronounce it but.

ZAC PALMER: That is it.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's loaded.

ZAC PALMER: That's how you do it, e-4ORCE.

GREG MIGLIORE: e-4ORCE. So you know, that's-- it's all-wheel drive and it's fun to drive. And it's great visibility. It feels sporty-ish, sportier than, say, the I think the Volkswagen ID.4. And I think you know, Ford is really trying to get a lot of electric-- new electric buyers by going with like Mustang and Lightning but that's also to somewhat like-- I mean, Lightning sells a ton or F-150 sells a ton of volume. But Mustang even though it's a crossover, it's not going to be for everybody, you know?

And I think you get things like the ID.4, the ARIYA, you know, things coming out like the Polestar 3, which is more expensive. You know, this is where you start to really hit a huge part of the market of people who just want like a crossover that's electric. And I was really impressed with it. I put a ton of stuff in it, a lot of groceries, a lot of golf clubs because I played 27 holes of golf the other weekend, 18 one day, and 9 the next so that's.

ZAC PALMER: Hell yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it was awesome. It was fun. Back was feeling a little tired. But yeah, I really like this car. And it came in a color called Passion Red TriCoat. Which you know, it sounds superficial but the car I drove at NACTOY was like not that exciting for whatever reason. Maybe it was red but it didn't stick out in my head. But driving a loaded-up one in Passion Red, it gets your attention, which like I said, that could be superficial but hey, you have my attention now. And then I really dug into it and was dialed into the different things that I liked and didn't like.

Interior I didn't love, like you could adjust the center console, cool, whatever. Fun party trick. Infotainment nah, not great. It was fine. It had a very nice kind of like haptic touch thing going across the like this kind of wood like panel that bisected the dash. But you know, it was good know. It did have like you mentioned earlier, certain EVs will tell you like what's on the grid, what's nearby. So it was very helpful in that sense, even though I kind of know where most of the chargers are in my neighborhood. But I liked it a lot. It was a good refresher for me. Have you driven the ARIYA yet?

ZAC PALMER: I have not.

GREG MIGLIORE: The ARIYA. I don't know if I'm saying this right.

ZAC PALMER: ARIYA, I have a feeling that a lot of people that go to buy it are they're not going to know how to pronounce it. It's going to be said a million different ways. I think that Nissan, I've heard some Nissan people say ARIYA before.


ZAC PALMER: So I'm pretty sure that that's the way to pronounce it but it'll probably be pronounced that way approximately 10% to 15% of the time so.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, it's like the Chevy Traverse. Like a bunch of Michigan-based journalists were calling it the Chevy Traverse for a long time. Whoops.

ZAC PALMER: It's the Traverse City edition Traverse. No, but I have not driven the ARIYA. The closest to driving one is probably about three or four years ago, Nissan did a prototype of their e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system in a Nissan Leaf, where they threw what they were saying was--


ZAC PALMER: Yeah, exactly like they're like all right, so this is our all-wheel-drive-- it's our electric all-wheel-drive system that we're going to put in all of our upcoming EVs called e-4ORCE. Had true like torque vectoring on the rear axle, which this ARIYA has.

And it was actually really fun to drive, which was exactly what you were saying, is it was actually more fun than the ID.4. Which has received praise for being fun and interesting to drive. So it sounds like this ARIYA, you know, it's not like you know, this boring, it's not like a Rogue or like a Nissan Murano. You're not-- it's not as boring and ho-hum as some of Nissan's gasoline-powered crossovers are, which speaks to the price being a little higher, you're getting a higher quality car with a higher quality driving experience. So I like everything that I'm hearing from you. It looks normal, it feels a little normal but still fun.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, especially if you're willing to like you know, spend a little bit more for like the e-4ORCE which I think is worth it, especially maybe it makes it more fun to drive. And also if you live somewhere cold, all-wheel-drive is a great thing,

Platinum Edition is solid because you get a lot, like all the LED stuff, all the like the ProPILOT Assist, all the extra things you might want or need or don't want but are there. It's a really loaded-up vehicle. And I think it's interesting how mainstream automakers are starting to really load up in the-- like they're making premium things, like Chevy, Nissan, et cetera, that happen to just be mainstream brands. And they're $60,000 and you get all this stuff on them you know, so.

ZAC PALMER: That sort of speaks to a trend that I've heard multiple automakers say, in that a lot of wealthy people don't necessarily want to like show off with a BMW or Mercedes-Benz badge but they still want all the nice stuff. So here's your $62,000 Nissan crossover that has all that nice stuff, but doesn't have an Infinity badge on it. There you go.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny to-- like I come at that-- that's a really interesting question too because I've heard similar like thoughts from people who are like well, hey, you know, doing pretty well but I still want to get a Honda or something or a Subaru.

And like when I think of like why I would want a BMW it would be for like the dynamics. Maybe some of the maybe not certain models but some of them have a more classic styling. You know, like I like the proportions. That's why I would come at it. You know, I think-- and that's why I would choose a BMW over say most Infinitys or like things like that. Because like I don't care if it's a luxury brand but I do care that this is what I would argue the BMW brand stands for and why I might be interested in driving that car because of how it feels, you know.

Like I wouldn't just be like oh, give me this Infinity that I may or may not like because technically it's a luxury brand. Who the hell cares, you know? And I have that argument every time with myself really when I drive a Tahoe or a suburban. And I'm like you get everything you need here. What do you need a Yukon for, you know? But you know, and to me, the Escalade is something different entirely because it's like its own brand, you know?

But we've gotten really far off-topic. Let's go back to a mainstream brand, Honda Civic Si. Is this the car you drove to Indy?

ZAC PALMER: It sure is. Yeah, I drove.

GREG MIGLIORE: OK, that's a nice road trip car.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I drove it from Detroit to Indy. You know, I sort of came away with the conclusion of for the money, it is really tough to beat this as an everyday, do anything and everything car for someone who likes interesting cars, is a driving enthusiast.

So I was sort of suspect of the Si when the new one came out honestly because they deleted a few really key things that the previous one had. Like they got rid of the adaptive suspension they got rid of the heated seats, just some minor luxury things that-- oh, and it also lost a little bit of horsepower, which was weird going from one generation to the next to lose power. You know, and a lot of that was to make room for the Acura Integra because all the features that they deleted from the Si, they added to the Integra. So I was a little down about the Si honestly.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a questionable move I would argue too for your base.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But no, I got in this Si, I ended up really, really liking it. I wasn't mad about the power. It was plenty spunky. I had it on some good roads, I took a few detours on the way back to enjoy some interesting driving with it. And it's a lot of fun.

I actually think I like driving it more than the Acura Integra. Just the base suspension tune is really, really great. It's a little stiff on the highway. You have to have some tolerance but on a nice road, it is just where you want it to be. The transmission is just dreamy. Like outside of a Civic Type R, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a better transmission in any car at almost any price point as far as manuals go.

I like the engine a lot. It's hard to make these tiny little four-cylinder engines that are turbocharged like actually engaging and fun to drive but the Si's is cool. It's got VTEC for the exhaust valves, and it actually pulls really hard all the way to the top of the RPM range. You get a sort of rush in like the last 700 to 1,000 RPM, like right to redline. Which you know, as somebody who has older Hondas and loves that thing that's really cool to me.

And it's got a nice little tone, a nice sound to it. It's not loud by any means but you know that it's obviously tuned to appeal to an enthusiast's ear. And I mean, and for that road trip, it also has all the things that you might want. It's got a great Bose sound system. You know, it's not as good as like the ELS system in an Acura but it's still pretty good.

Honda gives you all of the driver assistance stuff. So I was just adaptive cruise control and lane centering the whole way down and up. And all you have to do is keep some pressure on the steering wheel and it tracks the curves beautifully. Honda's come a long way in their driver assistance systems over time. This is one huge improvement from the previous Si to this new one. It's just so much more tractable on the daily.

And yeah, overall, it's just like a really, really pleasant, nice car. For the price, you know, you're looking right around $30,000. That is really nice for what you get. You get so many niceties in there. And it's fun. When you really want to push it and go like the car will do it. And the brakes hold up.

The one that I had summer tires on it, grip for days. It's there, it's there right out of the box so. And yeah, I would if you're looking at that $30,000 price range, I don't think that there's anything that I would recommend more than an Si. Who cares that it has five horsepower less, it rules. It's a lot of fun.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, I mean, it's still 200 horsepower and you're talking about you know, that's a lot for I think it's a 1.5-liter engine. I mean, that's just a lot you know. And again I've always thought with the Si in particular revs are your friend, just rev that engine and have fun with the clutch. And you know, and you won't miss those five extra horsepower I wouldn't think. But it's a great value too, starts at just under 30 to your point.

So I mean, this is the kind of car where like you're maybe just out of college, looking for something that's kind of fun to drive, you know, maybe take out like maybe a smallish loan, you know, just like as you're trying to get on your feet. I mean, this is the kind of car that you know, like enthusiasts can get into it. Maybe you take like one or two of the options you know and try to have some fun with it there.

Or maybe you're not out of college, you just want to spend 30 grand and have a fun car with a good transmission and peppy engine. And I think this is really, it's very ubiquitous for enthusiasts of all stripes.

ZAC PALMER: And it's super utilitarian too. Backseat is huge. I put people in the back seat in the week that I had it. I loaded up the trunk with a suitcase and camera bag. So much space back there. And that again, speaks to its ability to be like a do-it-all car right out of college. Or if you only have room for one car and you're on a budget, want something fun, you can do anything and everything with this car. And it's so utilitarian and you can still have fun with all your friends when you want to go driving, so yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: All right, now you did get to do something a bit saucier, Type R on-track, were you the one behind the wheel or was this a ride-along or?

ZAC PALMER: I was behind the wheel, yeah.

GREG MIGLIORE: And was this the Brickyard or the road course or?

ZAC PALMER: Not the-- no, so we got-- this was also down at Indy, we got shipped down to Putnam Park Road course, which is about 45 minutes outside of Indianapolis. It's this little sort of countryside racetrack that they had man, they probably had like 10 Type Rs there for us journalists to try out.

Honda was really featuring and talking up their LogR system, which is their track telemetry system that they have on the cars, which is really cool actually. You get a lot of racing overlays and analysis of all the data on track and whatnot. But I mean, obviously, I was just super-excited to be able to track a Civic Type R, which is really cool.

I had some experience on the street prior to this but this is like a Civic-filled weekend go from the Si to the Type R on a track no less. Honda had them on the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which are the optional tires you can get. You can buy them from the dealer. It's the tire that Honda set the Nürburgring front-wheel-drive lap record on. And I can confirm that they pretty much seem to never run out of grip. You have to-- the limits are so, so high on this thing.

The best way that I could describe it is it sort of feels like what a Porsche GT car would be like but having done to a Civic is what this thing feels like on track. Which is super cool. And yeah, I mean, so on the street, I had driven it in mostly Comfort mode and Sport Damper but when you get out on the track I tried out the Plus R mode, and that is exactly where it's at home at. Like you can actually use that Plus R with a super stiff suspension, feel that LSD yank you through corners.

It doesn't feel compromised as a front-wheel-drive car. So yeah, I got about 10 to 12 laps out there on the road course. Had a great big ball of fun. And it was a lovely day. I did that and some other things that I'm about to tell you about here.

GREG MIGLIORE: Do tell. Let's not save that ceremony. Do tell, you got a hybrid racer ride-along that's hard to say, with some electric go-karts.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, so the CR-V hybrid racer. If you guys missed that story beforehand you should definitely go check it out. There are a lot of technical specs to go through here but in a nutshell, this is basically a CR-V hybrid body from sort of the front fascia, the rear fascia a little bit, the roof, part of the doors but Honda did a crazy thing and they put an IndyCar engine in it. Not only an IndyCar engine but a sort of like a prototype testbed IndyCar engine for when Indy is eventually going to hybrid vehicles.

So it has the 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that we use right now in all the Honda Indy cars but that is then mated up with an electrified portion, the Skeleton supercapacitor. And obviously, an electric motor and it combines for 800 horsepower. So 800 horsepower in a Honda CR-V is pretty much as crazy as you would expect it to be.


ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So we got to ride along on the same track that we were driving the Type Rs at. I got to ride two laps with this thing. It is fast. It is fast, fast, obviously. It weighs about nothing. It uses a chromoly frame from Indy. It uses NSX GT3 suspension in combination with an actual IndyCar suspension. Massive tires.

The only bad thing I could say about it is that it hurt my ears when I was in it. The engine is-- so like you're sitting in this thing and that IndyCar engine is like just chilling right behind you. It is mid-engine. And what it basically does is it creates this reverb chamber in there that is like unbelievably loud and sort of like it just tickles your ears to the point where it's like oh wow, this feels like hearing damage. And I was wearing ear protection too.

So this is a serious, serious race car. And Honda is actually going to be racing this thing around at a number of different tracks throughout the IndyCar season. So if you go to IndyCar races you might be able to see it at a few of them. It is quite the hilarious machine to see it in person, and then to ride in it is a lot to handle so.

GREG MIGLIORE: I wonder, do you think they'll have it at the Detroit Grand Prix this weekend where we both will be?

ZAC PALMER: That is a good question. I would have to go do some research on that. They said that it was going to go out to like I think like seven or eight races throughout the year. It would be cool if they had it in Michigan for the Streets of Detroit.

I don't know, they had it down in Indy. They didn't race it at the Speedway but they just had it out for us to ride in at this Putnam Park Road course. So we'll see, they could easily ship it up. You know, they were loading it up onto a trailer as we were leaving. So I should have just told them to like hey, go ahead and take this to Detroit. Let's watch it tear up the streets.

GREG MIGLIORE: 300 miles away, you know?

ZAC PALMER: It's right there. So and then the last thing that I did there also over at Putnam but on a separate location, Honda had these little electric go-karts. Now if you haven't heard of them before I wouldn't blame you. It's not like many people would write news stories or a lot of coverage about some new electric go-karts that Honda made but Honda set up a little autocross course for us to race them around.

They're called the eGX Racing Kart Concept. So they're not production yet, these are basically concept electric go-karts that go really, really fast. They're super, super fun. They have a top speed of 45 miles per hour. There are two battery packs that are like super modular. Like you can literally just open this flap up on either side and just slide the battery pack out like it's nothing.

So if you're like a go-kart racer, you could bring like a number of battery packs to the track. Like as soon as these two run out, you just pop two in and go. It literally takes like 15 seconds to swap them out. And yeah, it uses a chromoly body. Like I said, 45 mile per hour top speed.

And it is so much fun to drive. If you've driven like a lot of electric or gas go-karts before at like various serious like public karting venues, this was so much better than any of them that I've ever driven. The steering, the throttle response, the braking, the actual handling of like the chassis itself. This felt like a professional go-kart.

And I think that some of that comes from the fact that I have not driven like a real serious like $5,000 go-kart before and that's sort of what this is. Like this is a very expensive go-kart. But it feels its price. It is a really, really fun thing to wheel about.

And I was just chatting with other journalists there and whatnot and you know, we were just thinking about at the end of the day and like all right, like what was the most fun thing that you did there? And sure, the Type R on the track was a lot of fun. So was riding in that CR-V hybrid but most of us actually liked driving the go-karts more than anything else. And--

GREG MIGLIORE: I can see that.

ZAC PALMER: I was of the same mind. We were sort of racing each other. So you have that whole like oh like, what journalist is faster than another thing going on? You know, it's not that serious though. It's all in good fun so.

And that's really what these go-karts are about. And I really hope that Honda makes them and sends them out to all these random karting venues and we can have like good karts to race with because these electric things, they get up and go. The handling is so good. I would jump at the opportunity to drive one again.

GREG MIGLIORE: It sounds good. You're really selling it. I can't wait to. This sounds awesome.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Man, if Honda throws out the opportunity to drive these karts again say yes.


ZAC PALMER: Absolutely say yes.

GREG MIGLIORE: Well, we'll see. That's pretty awesome. All right. so let's spend some money maybe an electric go-kart. Probably not.

ZAC PALMER: Probably not.

GREG MIGLIORE: So Wayne writes, here it is. For my 60th birthday, I'm going to buy my dream car. I have $60,000 to spend. Here's the list, 2017 to '18 Camaro ZL1, '17 to '18 Mustang GT350, the F82/83 M4 convertible, C6 Corvette Grand Sport, used Hellcat Challenger, or the C7 Z06, or BMW i8 where he'd be willing to go up to about 65 for those.

Preference is kind of for an open-top car. So it could be a targa, convertible, even a sunroof would qualify. Current weekend car is a 2005 Z4. Thanks, I enjoy the podcast. Signed Wayne in Maryland.

So this is a tough one. He-- Wayne offers up like two or three different things that I strongly feel I could-- would be on my shortlist, frankly. I'll kick it over to you. What do you think?

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, this is a tough one. Being able to play with $60,000 is a nice thing because--

GREG MIGLIORE: It's a sweet spot for this.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, this list has so many good options on it. Me personally, I would go get a GT350 but it doesn't have a sunroof. You can't get it in a convertible. So you'd have to give that up. And the fact that you have a Z4 right now means you probably like having a convertible. You like being able to drive around open roof, open top. I get that. I recently bought a Boxster myself because that's exactly what I love. Like that's what I wanted.

So if that is more overpowering than the allure of a flat plane crank V8 and an awesome manual transmission, and all the beautiful things that a GT350 comes with, I would go with the Camaro ZL1, and I'd go get the convertible. Because that too will be an insanely good performance car. And you'll have so much fun.

It'll actually probably handle just as good as the 350 if not better because the Camaro chassis is so, so good. But if you can get one of those, get the convertible. You can have so much power with a great chassis and still keep your open roof concept. I think you're going to love that. So 350, if you want to get rid of that convertible, ZL1 if you feel like you really want it and need it. Both are great options. You can't go wrong.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. No that's half of where I landed. My first choice would be the GT350. I think that's a special car with a special engine. And I happen to think that generation of Mustang is really pitch-perfect as far as design.

You know, I think they were-- the car just kept getting sharper and more ripped as the 2010s rolled on. And I think that was like a really good time for it. I even like that look a little better than how I like the current car and the new generation if you will, that's going to launch. So that would be my first choice.

My second choice would be I'm thinking the M4 convertible. I just like I said earlier, what would attract me to a BMW would be all of the things it could do and the sporty ethos, the athletic heritage, that spirit of competition that BMW brings. And all that history that goes back 100 years. So that's what would draw me to a BMW like this one. So those would be my first two.

And you know, the Corvettes are interesting. I drove the C6 Corvette Grand Sport, that was fun. That was cool. I think I would tend to take that over a C7 Z06, or even an i8 just because to me, the C6 is something you're going to be able to drive a little bit more, and a little bit more comfortably. So I think that's where I would slot that as my third one.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah. I really like the idea of the M4 honestly, that would probably be my third choice. You already got a Z4, you like BMWs, you know, maybe you want to stick in the family. That M4 is a lot of fun so.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. It's a big car too. You know, I think you might-- you know, you might like that if you will, as far as getting something that's a little more practical versus the Z4 which is more of like you know, that's a true fun weekend roadster convertible type of thing. Maybe you drive it every day. But as far as just like getting something that has a lot of gravitas, you know, I don't think you would go wrong with that, so yeah.

All right, well, it's officially summer. Memorial Day is in the rearview mirror. It's hot as hell here in Michigan. I don't know when the official summer starts, I think it's later in June but I'm calling it summer. What are you drinking there, Zac, when you're watching IndyCar from the comfort of your couch?

ZAC PALMER: Man, it was an Oberon and a Leinenkugel weekend is what it was. Yeah, just like you said, it feels like summer. And I can't think of a more summer combo than a nice crisp Oberon, honestly.

GREG MIGLIORE: That sounds good.

ZAC PALMER: And they're shipping it again, so gotta get it.

GREG MIGLIORE: They are. That's a good one. That's a good one. I have-- I've actually been drinking a bit of Heineken. I think just the F1 marketing is getting to me. I mean, you know, you're watching Monaco and every turn is like Heineken, Heineken, you know, low alcohol, Heineken zero alcohol, Heineken original. I think I really could go for a Heineken. So I don't know, that's what I've been kind of drinking. But it's hot this is the time of the year when you kind of like some of these you know, the beers that are a little more maybe citrusy, maybe a little bit even lighter.

There's actually a Bell's what is it, it's the IPA, the Two Hearted but I think it's called Light Hearted. That's like 3.5% that I haven't tried but I saw it the other day at the store and I think I need to pick up a sixer of that, see what that's all about. I think I might really like that.

ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I saw they have a whole line of Hearted beers now it's like Double Hearted, a Light Hearted the original Two Heart. So I got to try the lineup.

GREG MIGLIORE: Exactly. And I mean, they were the-- like the Bell family I believe Bell's family sort of sold out controlling interest to I forget who they sold it out to but I think what you're seeing is a lot of money from the new owners get poured into it. And that's like what companies do, you buy in and you really like invest in the strengths in the way that perhaps like the founders may not have.

And I think if you to tell me there's more kinds of Bell's beer, well, that sounds good to me. You know, as a Michigander I was a little sad to see the family-owned company kind of step back. But I think they're still involved. And yeah, it's on the list. I may have to get a sixer of that next time I grill.

I got to clean up my grill too. That's another-- other things have been getting ahead of that on the chore list. That's got to go to the front so.

ZAC PALMER: I got to buy a grill.

GREG MIGLIORE: You got to buy a grill? OK. Are you going to go gas or electric?

ZAC PALMER: Probably gas, honestly, keep it. I'll go buy something used for cheap I think will be the option.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that's a good move too I think. I love-- I have an in-ground gas grill, which is awesome. But it's a little high maintenance. You know, like charcoal grills, you dump them. And if you ever need to buy a grate, I mean, that's like a once-a-lifetime thing for the most part.

Gas grills you got to scrape them all the time. It's like the gunk gets into the like the piezo ports and the like the like the fire holes if you will. It's a problem. So that's going to be maybe I'll do that tonight because I'd like to make some skewers or something maybe towards the end of the week so.

ZAC PALMER: I love it. Maybe our next spend my money should be on grills.

GREG MIGLIORE: It could, yeah.

ZAC PALMER: You know your way around a grill it sounds like.

GREG MIGLIORE: At times. I fake it. That's what I would say is you know but I have a charcoal one too in the garage, which I'd love to use but it's just way far in the back and it's like so much easier just to turn a knob and the grill fires up, the gas grill fires up so.

All right, if you have a recommendation for a grill let us know, maybe one that's a reasonable price, something a lot of different people might be able to get into.


If you want us to spend your money, that's podcast@autoblog.com. Be safe out there, and we'll see you next week.