We Asked Top Gear’s Rutledge Wood Why Mazda Miata Owners Are So Defensive And What The Future Of Car Technology Might Look Like

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Rutledge Wood

Rutledge Wood is the ultimate dude’s dude. A NASCAR reporter for NBC Sports and host of Top Gear America, Rutledge Wood is a geasemonkey with serious opinions about cars and the people who drive them.  With the help of our friends at Philips Sonicare, we recently hit Rutledge up to talk about smug car owners, what the future may bring to the driving experience, and and how cool the technology in the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro is — it can clean your entire mouth in just sixty seconds, taking your oral care routine from zero to sixty.

How do you feel about car people who park like morons just because their car is nice? Like the guy with the nice car who purposely takes up two spots at the grocery store?

Rutledge Wood: Ha-ha! This is one of my pet peeves for sure. I know that people who have nice cars want to protect them – and I love that — but you can’t park like an idiot and think no one is going to care. If you are worried about your car, park it way far out in a parking lot and walk a little further. Don’t be that guy… no one likes that guy.

I was just listening to your podcast with Joe Rogan where you talk about certain types of cars where the people who love them turn you off from the car itself. Like the Fox Body Mustang or the BMW M3. You deal with quite a few proud car trolls, but what’s the most smug type of car owner? 

There are lots of proud car owners, and I honestly dig that pride, even if some of the owners have gotten mad at me or Tanner or Adam for things we’ve said on Top Gear. I think there are exceptions to every rule, but I find that Miata owners are always battling everyone who says Miata’s are girl’s cars (they are, but who cares…they’re really fun cars to drive), and lots of dudes who own Mustangs are total DUDES (…imagine blaring Nickelback everywhere they go while rocking a gold chain and jean shorts). But, to each his own!

You have obviously seen some crazy custom detailing over the years. What’s the most tricked out, ridiculous ride you’ve ever come across? Anything that would make Xzibit from “Pimp My Ride” jealous? 

I’ve seen some crazy things in my day for sure. I once saw vertical doors on a bone stock Mitsubishi Eclipse… the hubcaps were still on the car, but they were very proud of that $400 door kit. I’ve also seen $3,000 cars with $15,000 worth of modifications done to them.  I went to high school with a guy named Tim who had one of the craziest cars I’ve ever seen — a total custom everything Honda Civic that had Lexus headlights and tail lights, custom fiberglass interior, engine swap, you name it. I think he had close to $40,000 all in…. and he never drove it!

Let’s say you’re just regular old guy who doesn’t know anything about cars. You just drive them from point A to point B. What’s the key to not feeling like you’re being nickel and dimed when you take your car to the shop for maintenance or a repair? 

Honestly, the internet provides so much help these days, anyone can do a little research and find out what they need to before they go. Here’s the honest truth: businesses are in business to make money, not friends.  So if you’re going to get your car serviced somewhere, if they’re in the business to make money, they’re going to tell you that everything from your air filter to your windshield wipers need to be replaced.

But don’t forget – you’re in the driver’s seat. Ask the right questions, like “is this something you suggest I do, or is this something that HAS to be done?” Nine times out of 10, you’ll get the honest truth. If you’re not sure, grab that smart phone and look it up. Cars, just like everything else mechanical in our lives, need to be maintained, but there are plenty of places that prey on those who don’t know anything about cars and don’t have the time to call a friend and ask.

Take the time, call a friend…because I’d bet good money your car doesn’t need that fuel injector system cleaner right now.

What do you think is the most exciting technological advancement in the automobile industry over the last couple years? 

Seeing how far companies are coming with electric cars is fascinating to watch, but I really want to get a good look at Toyota’s new hydrogen fuel cell powered car, called the Mirai. Alternative fuels can’t be overlooked for where cars are going in the future. I just still want to be driving… I’m not a fan of self-driving cars.

Why not?

I think there’s a huge chunk of the population who will love self-driving cars and I think they should have them, because my mind tells me that they’re the ones driving below the speed limit in the fast lane; they’re the ones who you know shouldn’t have a license. For someone like me who loves the act of driving in itself, it’s terrible. Plus I love driving classic cars because of the feel and the connection you have with the road. Autonomous cars are like a vacuum that suck all the fun out of driving for me.

What do you hope cars can do 50 years from now?  

I hope that we are in a Back to the Future: 2 stage where cars fly. That would be amazing. I fly way too much for work now, so I jump at any chance I can get for a good road trip, but if I could fly over or around traffic, especially in a flying Delorean — that would be the coolest thing ever!

You’re working with Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro. Can you explain some of the technology?

Basically, Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro is for folks like me who don’t like or use regular string floss. It uses something called Triple Burst Technology, which is bursts of air mixed with a little bit of water or mouth rinse to remove plaque from between teeth. It’s a small device, it’s rechargeable, and it’s really easy to use.

Flossing sucks. How is Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro a helpful alternative?

Honestly, it makes flossing quick, easy, and painless.  I always hate when my dentist asks me if I’ve been flossing and then I try to indirectly lie about it by changing the subject… but they always know…I don’t have to do that anymore! If you’re not already flossing, this is definitely the tool for you – it’s as effective as string floss for gum health and only takes 60 seconds to clean your entire mouth. Talk about zero to sixty!

My Top Gear co-host Adam Ferrara actually turned me onto it and I love it. I travel with it and it just makes my life easier.