Real Wheels Live.

Nov 21, 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

What a great auto show in Los Angeles this week. 


For any of you that are into performance, racing, and muscle cars I got to see the unveil of the new Shelby GT350 and to meet Henry Ford III and Aaron Shelby. 


Are you considering purchasing a Lincoln? Lincoln just came out with a bespoke customization for members that sign up for Lincoln Black Label. I think it costs an extra $5,300. 


Audi has Exclusive, BMW has individual, Mercedes-Benz has Designo for customization of an already unique car. Lincoln has introduced a new level of refinement in four exquisitely tailored design themes and a membership to an exclusive that goes beyond the anuual detailing of a car to culinary sensations.


We saw a lot of fuel cell vehicles, new hybrid/plug-in concepts, but the one that blew my mind was the Porsche 918 Spyder. A plug-in hybrid that is 900 horsepower and cost $845,000 and is completely sold out. What does it say that Tesla and Porsche can sell out of their hybrids? 


Then, of course, it is Los Angeles so we have to have all of the exotics and beautiful cars. My favorite is the Maserati Alfieri. It's easy to love a Maserati, right? So, my most amazing, wow that's different for that car company was the Infiniti Q80. Beautiful car and I hope it is the design of the future. It is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with plug-in hybrid technology that delivers 550hp that is supposed to get over 40mpg.


I love the car color, grey matte finish on the Bentley GTV8S. It costs an extra $35,000 but it really makes the car pop. 


If we bring the vehicles down to earth there was a World Premiere Mazda cx3 new subcompact suv - highly contented 

chevy trax and honda hrv. 


The funniest part of the day? I'm interviewing Derek Jenkins the head designer for Mazda and I introduced him as Derek Jeter. I didn't catch it, Derek did. We had a good laugh. 

Let's chat cars 

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Good Morning Warren - What are your thoughts on the new Durango compared to the Acadia or other models? The drive is nice and the price point appears to be much better than Acadia with similar options. Any others worth considering? Thanks!

I prefer the Acadia, Enclave, Traverse--that group. Because I am a bit of a wuss, more concerned about hauling family and dog than anything else. The Durango, all things Dodge, in fact, seem more muscular than I need or want. The Durango revised will sell well nonetheless.

Lou Ann here:

There are quite a few 3rd row seats out there. Ford Explorer Toyota Highlander  (hybrid), Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Santa Fe , GMC Yukon, Chevy Suburban, Dodge Durango, Nissan Rogue, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Mazda CX-9, Ford Flex, Nissan Pathfinder (hybrid), GMC Acadia, Dodge Journey, Toyota 4runner, Nissan Armada, Subaru Tribeca and Mitsubishi Outlander, Range Rover. 

I would also look at the Ford Flex and the Hyundai Santa Fe long wheel base

Have you learned any more details about the new Miata?

I saw the new Miata in person Wednesday and it was beautiful. More than that I don't know other than what we have already said.

Warren and Lou Ann, two weeks ago, I bought a new Honda from a local dealership. After having driven it for a couple weeks, I've noticed a variety of "little" problems. An "one touch" automatic window that works improperly; an oil light that stays on for at least 45 minutes after starting the car; a rear seatbelt that refuses to lock. I don't even have the tags yet for this car. What are my rights -- or what should be my expectation -- from the dealer in terms of fixing these things promptly, providing me with temporary replacement vehicle, providing me with a whole new car of the same specifications, or taking the car back for a refund?

Take the car back to the dealership with the list of problems. Most dealers will fix, rather than article. Does the dealership have a loaner policy? Check.

Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: Saturday is the 35th anniversary of my only accident, a slow-speed head-on collision in my dad's '66 Plymouth Valliant. I was 19 and had had my license only 6 months. Driver's ed wasn't mandatory then, so I was a pretty green driver. I was lucky, though, as neither I nor the other driver was injured seriously. Fast-forward to today where I read at WaPo about a 16-year-old falling asleep at the wheel and crashing, killing his parents and three siblings, while driving to Disney World. What is a 16-year-old boy doing behind the wheel at night? Not sure about Texas laws, but Ontario has graduated licensing now, meaning new, inexperienced drivers can't drive on major highways or expressways. Also, why wasn't everyone wearing seatbelts? Six people were ejected. Seatbelts save lives. So many lives affected by too many poor decisions. Garey, Ottawa

Good Morning Garey

I, too, had my accident around 19 years old. We all learn, fortunately there were no fatalities. 

There are, of course, a myriad of reasons why the 16-year-old was driving and a really good reason why he shouldn't have been. 

I don't know all the answers but the biggest question is how do you live after this tupe of accident? 

Hi Warren, I bought my 2005 Kia Spectra new and it's been very good to me over the years as a commuter car but it's time to replace it. I am thinking of getting a hybrid for the HOV lane benefits. I'm looking primarily at price, safety/comfort for a family of 4, and reliability. Do you have any recommendations? Also, is it worth trying to get a deal on a 2014 model as opposed to going for a 2015? How long do the 2014s usually last? Thanks.

Be sure to check that those hybrid lane benefits are still in place before you by a hybrid specifically for that reason. Some lawmakers are getting smart, realizing that those "benefits" make no sense inasmuch as hybrids operate more efficiently in urban stop-go traffic. How far do you drive daily? If 40 miles or less, it might make more sense to get something like the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Warren - Two beautiful grandkids, 4 and 2. My daughter is expecting her third child in May. They are looking for a New vehicle, preferably a car that can take 3 car seats at the back. What are the cars that can take 3 child car seats at the Back? Toyota Avalon? or only the Ford Taurus and the Chevy Impala? Recommendations are welcome. In case no car can take 3 child car seats, can you recommend an SUV has that feature (3 car seats in one Back Row)? Thanks. JV - Virginia

I'm thinking minivan which young parents, for reasons of style, may not want to consider. But minivans in this case make much more sense. Kids beget strollers and other stuff. You need more storage space. Consider the Toyota Sienna.

Last week LouAnn said "We were talking about Tesla and how people are not buying hybrids because the price of gasoline is so cheap. I made the point that, in fact, not only are people not buying hybrids from car companies but the car companies are having to buy zero emission vehicle credits from Tesla to meet the ZEV credit requirements in California." I currently drive a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid that I love. I am trying to buy a 2015 Highlander Hybrid. Since I will be paying almost $50,000 (without trade-in) for the car with the options and color that I want, I was told I had to order it from the factory (now made in the US) and that it would be 4-6 weeks. No problem as my current car is in excellent shape - will be staying in the family. I placed the order on Oct. 30th Today I was told again that the dealership did not get any Highlander Hybrids in the current 2 week allocation and they would have to wait for the next cycle to see if the order could be filled. Supposedly another customer is in the same situation. Any idea WHAT is going on? How can any car company say they cannot sell hybrids if those of us that have placed orders and made deposits cannot get one?

I will find out. email me at lou at with washingtonpost in the subject line. 

California is where they want to sell hybrids, phev, fuel cells. You have to sell a certain percentage of zero emission vehicles in order to sell at all in California. 

That doesn't explain why you're being told you can have one and it's not getting there. 

email me

The quest for alternative propulsion  continues. Mirai hydrogen car fits that quest. And the H-Tron--hydrogen hybrid seems at least worth a look.

Any reactions to this recent article?:

California has to have a certain amount of ZEV vehicles, Toyota is incorporating fuel cells, so is Honda. 

At one point California State promised the car companies they would have a hydrogen highway and car companies started producing them. 

California has not kept its promise. 

Have been reading in your chats about the need for snow tires. My question is where are you supposed to store them when not in use, especially if you live in an apartment/condo/townhouse with no garage? Are people storing 4 or 8 winter tires in their spare bedroom? Not everyone lives in a mcmansion.

It is tougher if you don't have much room but safer to use the right tires. 

Good Luck.


Good evening. Since you've been short on audience-submitted questions, I wonder if you'd like to take another crack at mine from 10/31. I think a lot of parents would benefit from your considered advice. Thank you both. I agree about learning to drive a stick, by the way. SpokaneMan "Teenage drivers Good morning Warren and Lou Ann. If you had a 16-year old eager to learn to drive....... 1) what rules or "contract" would you make about the driving privilege 2) what would you make sure they know about car maintenance and emergencies? I doubt many young drivers know how to change a flat tire or check oil, for example. Thanks! SpokaneMan" October 31, 2014 10:55 AM A. Lou Ann Hammond : I would make them learn how to drive a manual/stick shift. You never know if they are going to be at a party and the driver is drunk and has a stick shift and no one else can drive the car. You can get a lot of information - and a list of accredited driving schools - at

They would learn how to drive on an automatic. Technological progress makes many automatics safer and more fuel-efficient than manuals. But first. I'd make sure they understood that driving is a privilege, not a right; that when they are behind the wheel, they have their lives and the lives of others in hand; that means no stupid stuff--drinking, clowning, acting a damned fool when the vehicle is in motion.

Which current non-super-sized three-row SUV do you think is most likely to last to 200,000 miles with the least amount of problems?

Any of them that are cared for properly.

This is a follow-up question re price of e-Golf and Lou Ann mentioned asking the dealer. As I live in KC we apparently aren't in the priority area for where the e-Golfs will first be delivered. For this reason, the dealer he hasn't any info yet. Could you please inquire w VW to see what that $299 entails (down payment, etc) and how someone like me in KC can get a hold of a car that seemingly will only be leased on the coasts. Thanks!

We'll post this. Meanwhile, go to the VW US Web site.

I have just emailed Volkswagen and am waiting for an answer. If it comes I will post it here. 

This is a really basic question, but we just bought a Honda CR-V and my husband seems to think that we should get snow tires for it (we live in PA). Is this necessary these days? I thought many cars were outfitted for sale with tires that were good in all weather. (We bought this car used.)

Yes. I'd get snow tires in Pa.

Alas, a hybrid Porsche is ever so slightly higher than my budget. Did you see any new hybrid vehicles in the $50K and under range? Thanks much.

only concepts but I loved that infiniti q80 hybrid and hope it comes to production 

I currently haul my corgi (with his very short legs) around in a Honda Fit because with the magic seats up, the dog can get into and out of the car on his own. While this makes the dog happy, I'm finding that the Fit is a bit smaller than I want. I also miss having AWD. Any suggestions for a replacement for the Fit that's a little larger but still low enough for my height-challenged dog?

A Fit based vehicle, just Intro'd in LA, has gotten a bit larger. Lou Ann has the skinny on that one. Lou Ann?

I'll probably be in the market next spring for a new car. My current car is 15 years old and the last trip revealed three or four issues, each of which would set me back close to four figures to fix. I'm thinking of a little city runner. I'm drawn to the Honda Fit or Fiat 500. Any thoughts?

Check out the new 500X and the new Fit Crossover equivalent.

I would go with Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta or Ford C-max hybrid/plug-in hybrid. 

So Lou Ann and Warren when does the NeW Discovery LR 4 replacement or new Defender make it to the US. Not interested in a Discovery Sport. Thank God the worst dealership group on the planet Lindsay doesn't have a Land Rover franchise. Clifton VA

This can't really be Clifton. Clifton loves Jeeps and would go somewhere else to buy a Jeep before giving up on them. 

Nice for going to the mall but then have no off road capability when compared to a Range Rover Sport which is fast and go down Pikes Peak off road as fast it goes up it on road. Now the new M2 is interesting especially since with a few mods and software reprogramming you can get 500hp

so. that looks good in commercials but there are very few people that will drive from Los Angeles to Pikes Peak to go off-roading. and that is where most of the cars will be sold. 

I've always wondered about those new reports showing that white is the most popular car color. How can that be, because I've never been in a parking lot where I've seen more than two or three white cars. Advertisers never show white cars in their ads, either. What have you see in terms of color at the auto shows?

Based on national/global surveys, which tend to go beyond where you park.

a lot of red cars in mazda but white in audi. There were more colors this time but the number one car sold is white. 

For the new Accord owner with problems Google lemon laws for the state you reside in. Generally the dealer and car maker have 3 attempts to fix it. If they can't manufacturer buys it back. Nice to see Honda is as bad Jeep and Fiat Clifton, VA

Thanks. But the problems described don't yet seem to rise to lemon level.

Might need some help getting in but then I know PWCs that can jump up into CRVs and Foresters. Take a look at the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport. And get your PWCs herding instinct tested please CLifton, VA

or you can get a dog ramp and put it in the back. the dog can walk right up 

Thanks for the ideas. The Fiat 500X and the Honda HR-V (what they'll be calling the crossover) look like great candidates. I'll give the C-Max a shot, though it's bumping up against the top of my price range.

look at mpg - the hybrid gets 40 mpg - I just drove it 8 hours from sacramento to la and it got 39.8 


Hiya Warren and Lou Ann. Are any car makers introducing camper vans in the U.S.? They seem to have tapped a good market in Europe (witness VW California van) and elsewhere, but none are offered here. Do you have any info on this? Thanks as always! You two are a great team.

Camper vans? Dodge and VW, I think. Not much info at this writing.

Seriously looking at new LR4 replacement the Discovery in 2016/2017 or new Defender. I have collies they would prefer a SUV from the home islands. Plus with Sergio "The Magnificent" running things Jeep is only going to get worse. There are no even below average Jeep dealers in the DC area. they are all gawd awful. Clifton, VA

the chrysler group has had 55 months of consecutive in the US. someone still likes them

Boy, would I love to have one. now that they've been available for a little while, what sort of reports are out there on how they're wearing?

everyone I know that actually owns one loves them. 

i'm honestly stunned that Clifton, of all people, would be considering a Range Rover. Surely he's heard of their dismal reliability record? (If not, check out Doug DeMuro's series on about the wonders of a CarMax warranty on one.)

I think he's upset at the dealer more than the manufacturer. 

Thanks everyone for chatting today. 

Have a great Thanksgiving. We will be off next week but if you send in questions we will get them. 

And remember 

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly. 

much love, Lou 

Slow day. Getting on the road. Eat Lunch!

We're taking a break from Real Wheels Live next week, so there won't be a Thanksgiving show. Happy Thanksgiving!

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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