Real Wheels Live.

Oct 17, 2014

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond will discuss the auto industry. Plus, they'll give purchase advice to readers.

Good Morning Warren and friends


Ebola and Amazon and how you can help by shopping


Do you shop on Amazon? If so, you can help get the word out to people in third world countries about Ebola.


Many of the people in Liberia and Sierra Leone and other countries that are fighting Ebola are beyond poor, they live without electricity, they are illiterate. 


It does no good to hand them a piece of paper to read, they can't read. They could watch a video if they had electricity, but they don't have electricity. 


But if you are a member of Amazon you can go into Amazon into and type in Polder and then click on Select. A confirmation will come up saying Now when you shop at, your purchases will support Polder Inc.


One Mobile Projector per Trainer (OMPT) is a group that can train aid workers in the affected areas to make simple videos that will show people what they can do to stay healthy, what they need to do if they are ill, and what to do if they know someone that is ill.  The projector works off a battery that can be recharged in a car through the ashtray lighter.


Anyone who purchases through Amazon will NOT be charged more for what they buy, but Amazon will give .05% of that purchase to OMPT to help them finance this venture.


Martha, I drove the S60 this week, not the V60. Sight lines were great, the $900 blind spot information system package helped a lot, so did the platinum package ($3,750) adapttive cruise control with queue assist, collision warning with full auto brakes, pedestrian detection with auto brake and lane keeping aid. The base was $39,900, total was $46,525. I got 26.9 mpg. Volvo is known for safety so they know how to do that. Their start/stop, which will give you better fuel economy wasn't as smooth as others, but they will work it out. 


Let's chat cars 



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Do either of you have any information on the new versions of the Mini Convertible and the VW Golf/Jetta wagon? Looking for 1) a 4 seat convertible that is short and thus easy to park and 2) as large a good driving wagon as possible. In both cases, a true manual transmission is an absolute prerequisite and I think the Mini and VW are, respectively, the only cars that really meet the criteria. Thanks.

You have the MINI roadster

VW Beetle convertible 

Fiat 500C Abarth 

Vw golf cabrio

BMW 1-series convertible 

I would go with the VW Golf  or MINI. Both have great driving characteristics. Historically MINI has had problems with reliability and how much it cost to fix problems (Warren had a MINI and complained about the cost) 

you can also go to motoring and see what they say about the mini you are thinking of buying 

My son, 23, is considering buying a used 2013 Fusion SE, 4 cyl, turbo. I'm a little concerned about the reliability based on CR, Edmunds, etc. Should I be? If so, what would be some alternative suggestions for something in the $14-18K range that would be reliable and have some style/fun to drive?

I don't think so. The Ford SE has had a generally good run. Everybody--Nissan, Toyota, among them--is rrunning into problems with recalls. The new electronis appears to be a major part of the problem. Pressure is on suppliers to step up quality controls.

I was surprised to learn from a report on Mitsubishi by Associated Press auto journalist Ann Job that Mitsubishi has lengthy warranties similar to Kia and Hundai. Jobs also wrote that Mitsubishi vehicles are well equipped and have relatively low prices. We have a Mitsubishi dealership nearby. What do you know about Mitsubishi products? Any advice about them pro or con?

Mitsubishi has struggled with their brand image. They have not put enough new products out in the market with enough consistency for people to look at them unless the price is right. 

Price and fuel economy are important, as is the warranty, but the Mitsubishi still feels old when you drive it. 

Dear Warren and Lou Ann: A cautionary tale. Three years ago, I purchased a 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T which has performed well. Due to the high mileage I put on, I decided to purchase an extended warranty through Hyundai. The dealer gave me brochures outlining the Hyundai policy and other forms indicated it was from Hyundai. The actual contract listed an insurance company, but the dealership assured me that that was the company that Hyundai used for its policies. I have not had any problems with the car, but started getting suspicious when I received call from Hyundai that I should purchase an extended warranty when my standard warranty expired. I contacted Hyundai USA and sent all the paperwork. They concluded that the dealer had given me a warranty with another insurer, not Hyundai. Because the dealer is a representative of Hyundai and had given me information the warranty was from Hyundai, I told Hyundai USA that the least they could do is assume the remaining part of the contract (and offer another 20K coverage to compensate for the deceit of their dealership). Hyundai USA said they would not do anything. I have not needed to use the warranty but feel cheated by the bait and switch and am disappointed in Hyundai USA that they won't step up to try to make things right. This is a warning to your readers, but would appreciate any advice, too. Thank you.

You have a right to feel cheated. But it's not Hyundai's fault. Car dealers are independent business people. The dealer seems to have misled you. You can take legal action against the independent business person. Hyundai should take a close look at that dealer's customer satisfaction rating and act accordingly. Here's betting that you were not the only victim of that dealership's scam.

Hi Warren and Lou Ann, I'm thinking of buying a new Mazda3 hatchback. They come in five trims with two types of engine. I'm not in need of zoom-zoom, so question 1: can I stick with the "i" edition with the 155 hp engine, or is the "s" edition with the 184 hp engine a better car? Question 2: the i comes in a base trim called "sport," a "touring" trim for $1,100 more that adds blind spot detection, keyless entry, a rearview camera (all of which I care about) and a bunch of cosmetics about which I don't care, and a "Grand Touring" trim for $3,100 more to get more cosmetics and a navigation system. Of those three trims, which is the best value? Thanks.

I would go with the iSport.

I'm a little confused about the steering-wheel-mounted paddles I've read about on some electric cars that control regenerative breaking. Is it correct that this is the practical equivalent of downshifting a traditional manual transmission to slow the car? In practice, does this work well on electrics?

Both processes control the weight of the vehicle, they slow the vehicle, so yes. 


I have been toying with the ideal to buy a Panamera. I have owned a few Mercedes and BMW's. I am hearing the maintence for a Porsche is through the roof. Is there anything I can look at that would help me figure out the cost of ownership for something like this. (I am looking at a used one)

The Panamera would not be my first choice as a family sedan, which is what it is. I would consider Mercedes-Benz first.

Have any of you used Apple's car play. Are there any retrofit options out there?

Apple Car Pay, Apple Pay. Not me not yet. I'm taking a wait-see attitude with that one.

Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: Missed last week's chat. Someone asked whether Audi will bring the A3 hatch back to North America. The answer: yes, next summer, with a diesel engine. The announcement was made at the NY auto show in April. Separately, not sure I like the idea of a $60K Kia. So far its sales have been less than stellar, dropping each month since its second month (in March): 260, 227, 224, 132, 102, 56. Sales in Canada, 21 -- total. Glad Kia is aiming higher, though. At least it's better than Cadillac's move in the other direction in the '80s. Who can forget the Cimarron, a glorified Cavalier? Garey, Ottawa

Good Morning Garey 

Part of the reason the K900 might not be doing as well is because the Kia car dealers have to pay to sell the car. They own the franchise, but Kia decided they wanted the car dealers to pay them another $50,000 to be able to sell that car. 

Does that make sense to you? 

I know this isn't precisely a car/auto issue, but you know everyone, so you are my last resort. AAA improperly charged my elderly father for a membership renewal, admits it, and refuses to refund the money. Last year about this time we called them about this, and they refunded the membership, but say we didn't properly "Cancel" the membership... I have written to them, the mid-Atlantic office as well as the national one, several times, and they refuse to refund even though his record says to not renew. Now they want our power of attorney documents to 'prove' I have "permission" to advocate for him (he has early stage Alzheimers and can't talk well on the phone) - which I refused to send. That seemed more like an attempt at intimidation than anything else. It isn't a lot of money, but it's the principle of it all now. Thanks

AAA is being ridiculous. Get the Power of Attorney. Send it. That should make it clear that you legally are acting on your father's behalf. Come on, AAA. Get real.

With one newly minted driver and one in the wings, we are looking to buy a third family car. Drove the 2015 Hyundai Sonata and Subaru Legacy 2.5i with same salesman, who played down the Legacy, plus VW Golf elsewhere. Legacy interior not as nice as Sonata, but Sonata's brakes were choppy and I found myself flooring the accelerator 2-3 times in a 15 min. test drive on/off Rte 270. Our main concern is safety. Subaru "Eyesight" sounds nice but doesn't include blind spot detection. What's up with all these miniscule side mirrors? Anything else we should try? When we were leaving VW, we noticed the Jetta, and wondered why we didn't look at that...Daughter didn't much like the looks and feel of Golf. She grew up in Toyota Sienna & Lexus RX, so I guess Japanese cars feel like home...Thanks!

If Japanese cars feel like home then buy one of them. All Honda fits have a back up camera as standard. Fits are so configurable and easy to drive. 

Toyota Camry is a poor man's lexus, great vehicle. 

Go with what you know. Throw all those out and start with Honda and Toyota 

Just read your article on the VW CC. 7 months ago I purchaszed the Passat because of potential gas and the additional room.this is my first VW coming from an infinity G. My only complaint so far is the radio (Amm fm, salite, backup camera, and a mapping system). When I start the car it takes about 2 minute for the radio to come on. In July the the system froze ( would not turn on) and I returned it to VW. After 7 days they decided to replaced the entire system. Yesterday, the radio froze again and this time they rebooted the system and it started playing. Without providing more details - is there a defect with the VW radio system. They use the Fender sound system (quality system) but it apairs to be a problem with the electronics. Any insite, information. Is this radios system defected.

It is a supplier problem, which won't make you feel any better. But it should help to know that VW is on top of it. So is Fender, which has a reputation to protect.

Toyotas never die--a blessing and a curse. I thought I'd downsize long ago, after the big dog passed, the kid finished lacrosse & got his own car, and I moved to a townhouse. But I keep filling the cargo space & popping it in 4WD in snow & on gravel but feel guilty about greenhouse gases when I run around in it empty. What are some recent models, slightly smaller & a bit more sophisticated (but not pricey), that I should consider?

The new Honda CR-v immediately comes to mind.

Warren this would be a 2nd car and it is only me and the lovely bride at home.

Intellichoice and Consumer Reports would help figure the cost. 

I think Warren thought you wanted to know if he liked the idea of you buying the Panamera but upon reading your first post you are ready to buy it. 

I like the Panamera, nice car and especially if you are getting it used at a great price. 

Have fun. 

Save money. Make the lady happy. Buy her a fully loaded M-B CLA for much less than a Panamera, new or used.

Down here in The Wang, I saw a Chrysler 200 ragtop the other day. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a "Florida Ragtop" where they put a vinyl roof on a Lesabre. That's a nice-driving car, but lease, don't buy.

Okay. Thanks. What's "The Wang?"

Oops, I thought that was a reference to Apple's new smart phone pay system. Sorry. CarPlay is a standard developed by Apple Inc. to allow devices running the iOS operating system to function with built-in display units of automobile dashboards. not apple pay.... .

Here are a couple of videos I've done about Apple's carplay 


Apple's carplay making a play for all car manufacturers | Driving the ...


Mar 11, 2014 ... What is carplay? How does it work? For some quick answers we went to the Apple website and to other car companies for some in-depth ... manufacturers/



Gumpert in the red Apollo S at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show ...


Mar 11, 2014 ... Automotive executives talk about Russia and Ukraine on Driving the Nation · Apple's carplay making a play for all car manufacturers ... geneva-motor-show/

Lou Ann and I are happy to have served you today. Please return next week. Thanks to Angela Wong, Ria Manglapus and Michelle Dawson. Happy birthday, Lola. Eat lunch.

And join us same time next week. You can start submitting questions now.

In This Chat
Warren Brown
Warren Brown has covered the cars industry for The Washington Post since 1982.

On Wheels Archive

Real Wheels Live Q&A Archive
Lou Ann Hammond
Lou Ann Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website Recently Lou Ann has developed an automotive and energy issues related website,, that covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry.
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