THE DRIVE with Alan Taylor | Episode #315

The new year is rapidly approaching and that means that the 2018 models are hitting the roads. We begin the hour with automotive journalist, BJ Killeen, who reviews the Chevrolet Equinox and joins in on Alan’s excitement about the not-so-far-off arrival of his Dodge Demon. Next, we chat with Benjamin Hunting, who after some exciting test drives overseas, reviews the BMW M5 and Volvo XC40. Benjamin also explains some issues that arise for autonomous vehicles in bad weather conditions.  Changing lanes, we catch up with Steven Cole Smith about the latest news from NASCAR, the Chevrolet Truck Centennial Celebration, and his test drive of the 2018 Kia Stinger. We end the show with George Kennedy, JR. III who shares his drive experience with the 2018 VW GTI and his thoughts on the best winter vehicles. Tune in now for some end of the year automotive news.

  • [00:00:00] Something Powerful This Way Comes
  • [00:06:02] Chevrolet Equinox Has Lost Weight
  • [00:12:30] BMW M5 Shows its Colors on the Track
  • [00:19:53] Volvo XC40 Meets Us in the Middle
  • [00:28:35] Automotive Journalists Stay Authentic
  • [00:35:55] Issues Arise for Future of Autonomous
  • [00:45:15] Chevrolet Truck Centennial Celebration
  • [00:48:50] Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Prized Laguna
  • [00:54:47] NASCAR Loses Danika Patrick
  • [01:02:09] All-Wheel Drive Owns Winter Driving
  • [01:11:08] Terrain Management Systems a Must
  • [01:18:10] Volkswagen GTI is a Real Sweetheart

Discover more about segments and guests below…

[00:00:00] Something Powerful This Way Comes

In April 2017, Dodge unveiled a super machine that sent chills down the spines of journalists everywhere. Eight months later, Alan has received a message from the President of Dodge, Tim Kuniskis, that his Demon is almost ready; Alan shares his excitement with BJ Killeen. Dodge will be limiting production to 3,000 in the U.S. and 300 in Canada, so Alan is excited to announce that he has a low serial number. Could Alan be the first to get a speeding ticket in the Demon?

[00:06:02] Chevrolet Equinox Has Lost Weight

The Chevrolet Equinox has come back lighter – 400 pounds lighter, to be exact. Automotive journalist, BJ Killeen, reviews her most recent test drive of this roomie SUV with front-wheel drive, premier 2.0 turbocharged engine which packed a solid 250-HP punch. The reduced weight improves performance and fuel economy. There is even a completely new line up of turbocharged engines, with a diesel option coming soon. The design is stunning and rear seat monitors provide a handy reminder for drivers to check the back seat before exiting the vehicle. BJ’s complaints with this ride were small, including a non-adjustable seatbelt and a slightly confusing infotainment system. You can climb into the Equinox for as little as $23,580 or step up to $41,000 for the top trim package. Learn more about this family ride now.

[00:12:30] BMW M5 Shows its Colors on the Track

Benjamin Hunting, host of the Unnamed Automotive Podcast, shares his drive experience of the beautiful, new BMW M5. He discusses BMW’s confusing naming sequence and explains that this ride is a bit more powerful than the similarly named BMW M550i. Benjamin elaborates that while there is a $30,000 price grab between the M5 and M550i, the 0-60 speed difference is only about ½ a second. The M5 pushes 600-HP and has an on/off option for the all-wheel drive. Programmable buttons give you the opportunity to tune the driving style of the M performance as well, making it really shine on the track. Explore which BMW you’d like to climb into.

[00:19:53] Volvo XC40 Meets Us in the Middle

Volvo is vying for a position in the compact crossover segment with their latest XC40. Benjamin Hunting, host of the Unnamed Automotive Podcast, shares his drive experience with this new utility hatchback. The 248-HP turbocharged XC40 rides taller, giving it more than adequate ground clearance. The all-wheel XC40  has a base price just under $40,000 and will be offered in a less expensive, 2-wheel drive model. The XC40 also comes standard with almost every safety feature you can imagine, remaining true to Volvo’s dedication to be one of the safest on the road. Are you in the market for a luxury compact SUV?

[00:28:35] Automotive Journalists Stay Authentic

Part of what makes the Unnamed Automotive Podcast so great is that the hosts Benjamin Hunting and Sami Haj-Assaad are passionate about cars, and have a cheeky sense of humor. Alan chats with Benjamin about the importance of staying authentic in the automotive hobby. Fans of THE DRIVE with Alan Taylor and the Unnamed Automotive Podcast tune in because these guys deliver substance and give their honest opinions of the vehicles they review. Benjamin shares that as serious journalists, they are not in the business to be the cheerleaders of the industry, but to deliver a well-rounded perspective for consumers who are on the search for their dream ride. Get the real story from these true gearheads.

[00:35:55] Issues Arise for Future of Autonomous

As autonomous cars proliferate roadways, there are still some hiccups that need to be sorted out. We chat with host of the Unnamed Automotive Podcast, Benjamin Hunting, who discusses some of the problems he sees with autonomous technology as it stands today. Benjamin is from Canada, and one thing that Canadians can expect is bad weather during the winter. Autonomous cars are instructed by exterior sensors; once the ice and snow block those sensors, the car will not function as designed. Benjamin spoke to an engineer last year at CES who stated that if the sensors fail and the communications fail, the car’s best choice will be to pull over and wait for outside assistance. Is autonomous technology on thin ice?

[00:45:15] Chevrolet’s 100th Anniversary of their Truck

Automotive journalist Steve Cole Smith got to attend an event at the Texas Motor Speedway which honored the 100th year of the Chevrolet Truck. There was talk of a big surprise, and Chevy delivered by helicoptering in a bright red, 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Z71. Alan and Steve theorized a price of $65,000 for the new truck, which seems to be completely engineered out of steel. Based on the sound of the engine note, Steven speculates that this truck will have a 6.2L V8. What could this classic truck company be up to now?

[00:48:50] Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Prized Laguna

To entice journalists and enthusiasts to attend the Chevrolet Truck Centennial Celebration, Chevy started the rumor that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would make an appearance. Steven Cole Smith, automotive journalist for, confirms that the rumors were true! Dale talked with the crowd for about an hour, and showed off a replica of his favorite vehicle, a ’88 Chevrolet S10 pickup, and he reveals his most prized automotive possession, a  blue,’76 Laguna.  Steven also shares that he got to explore the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe that sported a police package, 6.2L engine, and Brembo brakes. Listen for more.

[00:54:47] NASCAR Loses Danika Patrick

Steven Cole Smith tells us about some big changes happening in NASCAR this year, as we say goodbye to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  and race queen, Danica Patrick. She said goodbyes at the Homestead track in November; it was murmured among fans that Danica was leaving the scene to start a family. While those rumors were quieted by a possible break-up between her and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Steven still thinks she’s ready to step out of the limelight. Shifting gears, Steven is on the board for the North American Car of the Year award and reviews the 2018 Kia Stinger, which is in the running alongside the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Get up to speed with Steven Cole Smith now.

[01:02:09] All-Wheel Drive Owns Winter Driving

When it comes to bad weather driving, all-wheel drive (AWD) is a must have and it is important to know the difference between the available options. George Kennedy, Jr. III, automotive journalist for the Boston Globe, explains what we need for safe winter trips; an ideal winter vehicle has all-weather tires, great ground clearance, and of course, AWD. George tells us that AWD systems are not created equally; it’s wise to look for a winter ride with a symmetrical AWD system, as front wheel bias can hide overall ride quality. Hear tips on keeping safe on the roads this winter.

[01:11:08] Terrain Management Systems a Must

In the realm of winter driving, one of the newest and most useful components is terrain management. George Kennedy, Jr. III, automotive journalist for the Boston Globe, tells us that many of the current SUVs and crossovers have various presets that are easy-to-use and less distracting when driving. Traction control also helps keep your wheels from pushing too much power to tires that are stuck. George lists a few vehicles that get his vote for harsh driving conditions such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Renegade, Volvo XC90, Subaru Forester, and more. Is your ride winter worthy?

[01:18:10] Volkswagen GTI is a Real Sweetheart

Volkswagen’s newest GTI is a commuter car with the ability to ramp it up a notch when the need for speed arises. George Kennedy, Jr. III, automotive journalist for the Boston Globe, explains that the GTI is similar to the Golf but with a more powerful engine, stiffer springs, and tighter steering. You can jump into this sweet ride for $25,000, and if spending extra dough is no problem, then you can upgrade to the leather interior. George tells us that this car is all the best things about a daily driver, but can easily be transformed into a comfortable sports car. Ready for a fun little car?

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Episode Credits:

  • Program Host: Alan Taylor
  • Producer: Dave Milligan
  • Production Assistant: Joanne Bolden
  • Audio Engineer: Dave Milligan
  • Copy Editor: Jess Baumgardner

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This episode was produced by Entertainment Right Now (ERN). If you found value in this episode, and you’d like to hear more, leave us a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a beat. Your feedback helps us to reach more enthusiasts around the world! If you have a question you’d like us to answer, please leave a comment below or e-mail us at

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