Real Wheels Live: Multi-day test drives, the Avalon hybrid, and more

Aug 14, 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.

Are you ever so groggy in the morning, coffee in hand, stumbling out of the door that all your looking for is your blue car?

That's what happened this week.

This week I drove a blue Honda Accord 4 DR EX-L and a blue Volkswagen CC 2.T R-Line.
The 2015 Honda Accord EX-L with NAVI

(The 2015 Honda Accord EX-L. Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Hammond)

The 2015 Honda Accord EX-L with NAVI

  • EPA MPG: 27 city, 36 highway I got about 31 mpg
  • MSRP: From $30,195 the one I drove was out the door at $30,985.
  • Horsepower: 185 horsepower
  • Engine: 2.4L 4-cylinder
  • Warranty: 3 yr/36,000 miles basic, 5 yr/60,000 miles powertrain

The 2015 Volkswagen CC R-Line Manual Sedan

(The 2015 Volkswagen CC R-Line sedan. Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Hammond)

The 2015 Volkswagen CC R-Line Manual Sedan

  • MSRP: $34,275 mine out the door was $35,140
  • EPA MPG: 21 city / 32 highway I got 27 mpg
  • Horsepower: 200 horsepower
  • Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
  • Curb Weight: 3,358 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 yr/36,000 miles basic, 5 yr/50,000 miles powertrain


The 2015 Volkswagen CC is a sleeper in that class and one I would recommend. I love the TSI engine and the drivability of the car. The exterior is reminiscent of its sister the Audi A7.

The Honda - any Honda - has so many safety features that other car companies don't have. The 2016 Honda Accord will include a suite of sensing technology. I will check if Honda has done anything in 2016, but the sound of the trunk shutting was metal on metal. ouch

If you're going to buy Honda, I would look at the 4D 2.4 L4 EX-L Continuously Variable Transmission w/ Navi & Honda Sensing PZEV for MSRP of $30,570 or the 4D 3.5 V6 Touring 6-Speed Automatic Transmission PZEV MSRP of $34,580.

Also look at VW Touareg

Hi Lou Ann and Warren, Love these chats. I'm trying to find a luxury SUV but not a big one -- honing in on Lexus 350, Acura RDX and Porche Macan. Anything else I should look at? Thanks.

Good Morning 

We love these chats as well. Thanks for joining us. 

I would pick the Lexus 350, Porsche Macan or the Audi Q5. I love the Lexus 350 and my girlfriend, Mary Helen, won't drive anything but a Lexus. 

I am looking at reliability and resale. All three have good brand names and I enjoy driving. 

You could also look at the BMW and Mercedes. 

 

Lou Ann & Warren, Before we sign the papers on any new vehicle, we'd like to test drive it for a couple of days to get a better picture of what we like and don't like about the vehicle. In particular, we'd like to test out the driver's seat for several hours each. We both have back issues, and we don't need to buy a car that leaves us hobbling after a couple of hours behind the wheel. I know that Buick has advertised a weekend test drive option. Do other manufacturers do this? Or is it something that the dealer would decide on? Any tips on how to persuade a dealer to let us have a vehicle for a day or two? We'd gladly pay a nominal fee (<= $150) to be able to do so.

Ford, I think. But, frankly, I would make that a condition of sale. You might have to pay something for the privilege. But that is the route I would take.

I was interested in buying a new Subaru Legacy but now I am not so sure because of reported excessive oil consumption issue with Subarus. Do you think it's a serious issue? Honda Accord is my second safe option.

I don't think that is a major issue, certainly not one that can't be fixed. But the Honda Accord is a good second choice.

I am driving the Honda Accord 2015 right now. I would wait for the 2016 to come out. You get more safety, more infotainment and it's not any more money. Check the trunk though - the 2015 shuts metal on metal and I don't like that sound 

If you're going to buy Honda, I would look at the 4D 2.4 L4 EX-L Continuously Variable Transmission w/ Navi & Honda Sensing PZEV for MSRP of $30,570

 

or the 4D 3.5 V6 Touring 6-Speed Automatic Transmission PZEV MSRP of $34,580

You both have endorsed getting a rear camera and blind spot monitoring on a new vehicle. Have you encountered any option [cough-cough Ford Sync cough-cough] that you wish the vehicle did not have?

nOPE. i LOVE ALL OF THAT ADvanced electronic safety stuff. It works!

Warren and Lou Ann Your thoughts on the choice between 2015 Edge versus 2015 Highlander ? What do you think of the long term reliability of the Edge ? Thanks Jim O'C

From the question you seem to think the Toyota Highlander is a lot more reliable than the Ford Edge. 

The Highlander has a 2.7 engine, the edge a 2.0 - but the Edge gets better mpg (it takes premium though) but has a better horsepower and torque rating. 

When you look at that big of a vehicle I think you might be towing -  would you? It's something to consider. 

Me? I would also consider the Ford Flex. 

I've done this several times: just rent one of what you're looking for (assuming it's a mass-market vehicle) -- you can usually specify class-level when you reserve, then when you pick up you can choose the one you're considering.

That is a good idea. Thanks,

I assume the Honda Accord does not come with all wheel drive so customers would have to move up to Acura to get that feature. Which all-wheel Acura would you recommend. Thanks

At one time Acura contemplated switching to all-wheel drive (probably to compete with Subaru) but I'm not sure they did. 

Super Handling-All Wheel Drive or SH-AWD is Acura's all-wheel drive and has been lauded as a great system. 

I know the RL has it and the TL but the TL and others may not have the robust version the RL does. 

Lou Ann, Did your test Honda have the CVT or standard automatic transmission? If CVT, how would you characterize its responsiveness?

The 2015 Honda Accord had the CVT with sport mode. 

It's a CVT but doesn't hunt for a gear like the 9-speed transmission I just drove in the Jeep Renegade. 

If you put it in sport mode you're going to get a peppier ride, but it's not going to compare to the 2015 Volkswagen CC with the TSI engine. 

Did the Accord you drove have the CVT. If so, how well did it work?

It's a CVT but doesn't hunt for a gear like the 9-speed transmission I just drove in the Jeep Renegade. 

If you put it in sport mode you're going to get a peppier ride, but it's not going to compare to the 2015 Volkswagen CC with the TSI engine. 

I'm patiently waiting for a manual VW Golf R... are they showing up in VW showrooms anytime soon?

I don't think so, not in US market. I will know for sure in September at Frankfurt show. But manuals aren't in high demand stateside.

Hi Lou Ann and Warren! Do you know of anything that would influence a choice between the 2015 and 2016 models? Thanks :-)

I don't as of now. You might also want to look at the difference between an Avalon and an Avalon hybrid sedan. The price should be about $3,000 difference but the Avalon  will give you 21/31 mpg while the hybrid will give EPA 40 city/39 highway mpg 

You usually get better low-end torque in a hybrid as well. 

Except for looks is there any real "driving experience" difference between the BMW 3 and 4? Thanks

No.

I would delete a built-in navigation system. I prefer using a portable GPS or smartphone. Are there any advantages to built-in systems?

Not that I know of. The only system I would use would be Audis because they use google maps, but even google maps isn't as good as the WAZE app. 

We've considered the rental option, but the problem is that it's difficult, if not impossible, to rent a make/model with the trim level we want. For example, rental fleets are full of cars with CVTs. We do not want a car with a CVT. Even more important to us, a rental vehicle generally does not come with the upgraded seating we would want to test.

That's true. But it does give you an idea. Still, I'd badger the dealer for a long, more realistic test drive. Buick is on to something here.

Thank all of you fr coming today. Please return next week. Thank you Michelle, Lou Ann and Ria. Eat lunch. Enjoy the weekend.

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 Carlist.com. Recently Lou Ann has developed an automotive and energy issues related website, Drivingthenation.com, that covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry.
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