Real Wheels Live: Cars for college kids, the Audi 3 and more

May 01, 2015

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond discussed what they're seeing in the auto industry. Plus, they gave purchase advice to readers.

Good Morning Warren and friends


Many of you have been wondering about the Honda HR-V. The embargo is lifted and here is my review. Yes, I like the vehicle a lot and I think it will do quite well in the market, especially when the starting MSRP is under $20,000.


I got to see the new 2016 Honda Pilot this week. I can't tell you the price or my driving impressions but I can tell you that you should wait to buy the new one. 


Here is a video with some of the safety features on it


Mini Cooper hardtop

(The 2015 MINI Cooper S hardtop. Photo by Lou Ann Hammond)

And this week I drove the 2015 MINI Cooper S hardtop 4 door that topped out at $35,900. That seems like a lot but the Volkswagen Golf R I had the previous week came in at $39,000. 


I know the price to fix anything on the MINI is high, but I loved this car. It is so responsive, so much fun to drive. She may be high maintenance, but she's worth it. 




Let's chat about cars 


Like me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

List your used car for free

I read an article about dismal sales figures for Caddy's CTS and more so, the ATS. Folks who said they considered the ATS were turned away because of its small back seat. Others said the CTS is overpriced and has a boring design. Thoughts?

Cadillac is going to have to do something more than invest in  "intangible quality."  The CTS and ATS are good cars, but their tangible demerits, lack of rear room, are real  . Cadillac should sop wassting time and money chasing intangible quality and start listening to consumers.

Mr. Brown, What has happened to your weekly auto reviews. I haven't seen them the past few weekends? Are the still running? Did you stop writing them? Thank you!

They now anchor the tabloid Automotive section.

I bought a BMW 3-series last year. Even though I like the car, lately I have been filled with buyer's remorse because I feel that if I had waited a few months I could have bought a GTI and gotten a similar experience to the BMW (with the versatility of a hatch) for about 10k less. I have been toying with the notion of a trade but I have noticed that there is not a lot of stock locally for these cars, at least the configuration I want: 4-door, gasoline, automatic. Is VW having trouble meeting the demand for these cars? Do you anticipate that this will be changing soon? (P.S., Warren, if I get a GTI I will take your advice and get snow tires).

That is odd considering VW has had lackluster sales. 

A new car dealer can exchange their car for the one you want with another dealer. 

You can also go online and see which dealer has the car you want and negotiate with them. 

We have a 2013 Nissan Altima SL (2.5L) and enjoy the car's features and terrific game mileage (we get about 24 city/40 hwy) and feel we got a lot of car and features for the money. We have had zero problems with this vehicle, but we only drive about 6,500 miles/year. I'm getting tired of driving our 2000 Odyssey and I'm looking at a new mid-sized or compact. I like both the Corolla and Mazda 3, but feel once I get all the tech features on either one, I may be better off with going mid-sized. If I did move up another Altima looks like a good option although I do like the Mazda 6. Reliability, gas mileage, tech gear/luxury are top priorities.

I think you are better off going mid-size. Odyssey-type crossovers seem a good idea for large families, but, more often than not, they amount to real-world functional overreach.

Story of my wife, I mean life. Stretch and I are lucky guys.

Works for Mary Anne, too. High maintenance and highly opinionated.

Audi 3 looks good, though small, have you driven it? What are competitors? I want a good, luxury car but mostly only one person will ride in it. Thanks

Yes, I love the A3. It fits nicely in the city. Also spirited highway performance. Best comparison, I think, is with the BMW 3-Series and M-B C-Class.

Recently had the same conundrum in replacing our XC70 (complete with 78 pound lab, although he prefers riding in the back seat). Came down to Audi Q5, Subaru, and another XC70. Decided we just didn't need the size/space of the Q5 plus I am not tall so getting in could be an issue at time. Subaru was a viable option but we were more interested in the larger engine, which was nowhere to be found for a test drive. Ended up with a good deal on another XC70. Yeah, kind of a boring decision but I love this car - both the old and new - and you cannot beat Volvo seats. This car just works for us, space in the back for hauling dogs, lumber, kid to college, and back seat room for 2. Could be better gas mileage (got the AWD T6, a really nice drive) but all of the midsize crossovers / SUV had similar numbers. Anyhow, thought I'd suggest you wife look at another XC70 fwiw.

It's too late, now, but did you take a look at the smaller XC60--vintage 1025.5--with the 3-liter, twin-turbo inline six? It makes more downsizing sense.

My spoiled college sophomore wants a new car. His mother is forcing my participation (don't ask, long story) but since they are insisting new, I put a cap of $10k on my share. So what's the best thing out there for someone who necessarily won't treat the car with TLC but will remain reliable for at least (hopefully) 3 more years at a cost of $20k? The Honda HR-V probably won't work, as they'll want it loaded and won't settle for base model.

Look at a Hyundai Elantra. Otherwise, the sophomore can walk. And add this rider:  Finish the undergrad 4 in 4 years, or  the now-soph pays the difference for an extended undergrad stay. And if he asks for graduate study funding, give it to him minus the cost of the car.

Two totally different driving experiences especially at on a race track at BMWCCA drivers school. A 3 series with nannies turned off and a manual trannie can be steered with the steering wheel, brake pedal and gas pedal. A GTI not so much. RWD is loads more fun than FWD on back roads. I have owned GTIs and 3 series and a 3 series is just more fun. A tuned track day 3 series is superior to a tuned track day GTI. RWD is always more fun the FWD or AWD. Go out and chase some apexes man! Clifton, VA

I know, Clifton. But most of us drive on regulated roads where most of us won't really discern those differences.

Not a fan of XC60. Doesn't fit me well (unfortunately being not tall is an issue with many vehicles) and back seat leg room isn't great imho. But they're selling boat loads of them. What's your wife considering at this point?

A remodeled basement. We just finished waterproofing for $16,000. Remodeling easily will be  another $30,000.

Thank you all for joining us today. Please return next week. Thank you, Michelle Williams, Lou Ann Hammond and Ria  Manglapus. To my Baltimore friends: Yes, I understand your angst. I grew up black in New Orleans, after all. But I've covered enough riots in this country to know that civic suicide--last week's Baltimore violence--is never a good idea for a better life. PEACE.

I find aftermarket Recaros superior to Volvo seats in every way. Especially at speed or just cruising to Lexington, KY. I am saving my OT money for a nice leather Recaro office chair. Clifton, VA

I don't.

The Toyota Corolla SE, with all the goodies is $19,000.00 Out the Door.

Take it.

Warren, as one who has survived the colleges years, I think your advice is spot on. Our deal was an undergraduate degree--in four years--without debt. After that, we told both girls, the responsibility of finance would be theirs. Proud to say they are both flourishing adults.

Way to go. We promised our girls a four-year-ride at the undergraduate school of their choice.  They went to Barnard. We just finished paying.

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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: