Real Wheels Live: The Frankfurt auto show, cars for teens and more

Sep 18, 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,

Scene from the Frankfurt auto show

(The new Ferrari 488 Spider at the 2015 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show during a press day on Sept. 16. Photo by Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images )

Warren and I were in Frankfurt, Germany, for the 66th Frankfurt International Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) motor show. I am sure Warren will be writing about the show from his view.

The descriptive words from the motor show were connectivity, mobility, and disruptive technology. I talked to John Batchelor on his radio show about this and more.

You can also see pictures and videos from the show on my Facebook page.


Lots to talk about from the show, but ask us what you want to know and we'll chat with you about the show and cars.


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Hi guys. Enjoy your chats. What is up with the upcoming Buick droptop? Why is it a ragtop and not a hardtop? Also, when is the new Lacrosse coming and what do you know about it? Thanks!

The Buick LaCrosse is supposed to come out in 2016. 

Why ragtop? Probably because it harkens back to the good ole' days - I would have done a hard top retractable. If I buy a convertible it would be one I didn't have to touch - except one button, up and down. 

Were you there when the BMW chairman collapsed?

Warren and I were in Frankfurt but we were at the Continental AG event. We heard about it though, certainly everyone was concerned. 

These CEOs are amazing. I'm writing a story about Ludwig Willisch write now. He's the CEO and President of BMW North America. I was at an event and he was going to be home at 11:30 (his wife Irene always waits up for him) and back up the next day after 5 hours of sleep. He would be in meetings all day and then off to dinner with the CEO that collapsed in Frankfurt (this was before the show) and then over to Mexico to open a dealership. 

These guys live on 5 hours of sleep a day, eat different food everyday, have events everyday to go to. 

I live 1/10 of their schedule and don't know how they do it. 

My wife has a 6 year old Hyundai Santa Fe. We love it, except for the gas mileage. It has AWD, side airbags, and stability control. It doesn't have some of the newer safety features though, like the radar cruise control, blind spot warning, and backup camera. I know I can get an aftermarket backup camera, but I might have to sacrifice the top-end stereo system to do that. As far as I can tell, the blind spot warning and cruise control can't be retrofitted. Do you think it would be worthwhile to trade this one in to get these new features, or is the marginal value not worth the upgrade?

Totally worth it. As we get older we can't move our necks as well as we used to. We can't see to the right and left as well. These safety features give us the ability to stay out of accidents longer. 

Look at the Honda CR-V or, if you want something a little smaller, the HR-V. If you use the right hand blinker a picture will come up in the nav system of what is happening live. And backup camera is standard on all Hondas. 


I've been a bit out of the loop for a couple of weeks, but hope that the issue of problems with push button start has come to an end?! I have one of those, and for the first few weeks, I tended to just get out of the car, as I had the key fob/chain in my hand and out I went. Some time later I'd realize the car was running! It's one of those things that brings home the need to keep one's mind on what's going on, not jumping ahead to what's next. Don't blame technology for your distraction, lack of attention to what you are doing in the moment. Please.

People have died leaving their car running in the garage that is directly connected to the house with venting. 

I have driven cars that turn off if you open the door and couldn't figure out why a car company would do something like that till I heard of this happening. 

Thanks for the reminder. slow down, take a minute. The live you save maybe your own

Hey there - While shopping for a crossover a few weeks ago, I asked you when the Buick Enclave would get a significant redesign. I find its technology and interior antiquated against the competition, but I love the exterior style and its dimensions. Anyway, I was about to seal a deal last week on a Ford Explorer (and I felt like I was settling for the less-attractive stepsister), when I read on a blog that GM is introducing next summer, an all-new Enclave/Traverse/Acadia, that the Acadia will be smaller, and that Cadillac will get a version. Can you confirm? A new Enclave is worth waiting for. Thanks.

I love the Enclave and would tell you to definitely wait for it, but make sure it has a push button start. Honda Pilot just changed over from the key in the steering column and the Traverse still had it. 

No reason to keep that technology. 

I have heard that Cadillac XT5 will get another SUV but am not sure when, I believe it will be 2017. 

At the Frankfurt show, please ask Honda when they will sell the Accord station wagon (estate car in British speak) in the US. I drove one in Scotland last week and loved it. Would love to buy one.

I will be with Honda in the beginning of October and can ask, but I haven't heard anything about an Accord station wagon. The new Accord sedans are sweet, though 

GM just agreed to pay 900-thousand dollars to forestall a Federal trial on its long-running ignition defect that so far has led to 124 deaths. No individuals are being charged even though a number of GM employees admitted to investigators they knew about the defect but did nothing. I think every new GM car should have etched on its windshield this warning, "If a fatal defect appears, we'll let you know in four or five years. Meanwhile, you're on your own."

I am so disappointed in the way this was handled. 

need to buy my new licensed daughter a car. I want a good safe reliable used car under 15k and she wants VW beetle - thoughts?

The Volkswagen Beetle is a good little car, but it starts at $20-ish. You might get it a little lower or you could buy a 2012-2013 loaded. The new one gets 41 mpg on the highway and is a great little driving machine. 

Here are a couple of cars that are a little lower in price and are 2015 models. Once again, you might get a good deal on one or have to buy only 1 year lower 


 2016 Scion iM ($18,460) 32 mpg combined:


2016 Honda Fit ($15,790) 35 mpg combined


2015 Toyota Yaris ($14,845) 32 mpg combined


2015 Toyota Prius c ($19,540) 50 mpg combined


2015 Mazda 3 5-Door ($18,945 ) 32 mpg combined


2015 Ford Focus ($18,960) 35 mpg combined

With 124 dead and 275 injured in accidents related to GM's ignition switches, GM has agreed to pay the government $900 million in fines. I was talking to my dealer warranty manager the other day about this and he pulled out a heavy key chain with what appeared to be 30 keys! Seems no ignition switch could tolerate that weight forever. Personally, I prefer an ignition key to a push button starter. If I just cut back sharply to two or three on the number of keys on my ignition key chain, am I safe?

I interviewed the product manager for the GMC Canyon / Chevy Colorado - both vehicles come in only key in the steering column. I asked him if it was okay to put other keys on the ring and he said he wouldn't recommend it.

I love what GM has done with many of their products, but I won't recommend a car that has that caveat on it. And that saddens me greatly. 

Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5?

Why are you looking at those two? When I think of Mazda I think of design and drivability. 

When I think of Escape I think of functionality and reliability. Mazda gets a little better mpg because it's a 2.0 and the Escape is a 2.5. Escape has more horsepower and torque. On those small cars torque is queen  and the torque comes on a little faster in a mazda than the ford. 

They're about $1,.000 difference but that is negotiable and option specific. 

Me? Mazda

How would you expect this vehicle to handle heavy snow and occasional use on good dirt roads?

I believe the CX-3 has an optional all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive normally. 

Great little car, great design. It's the last car Derek Jenkins designed for Mazda (we haven't heard officially but there's speculation he's going to google or apple) 

The tire pressure indicator came on Sunday morning. It is a new car with less than 3000 miles. Since I had experienced the light several times in my last car, I figured I would need to play the game of find out which tire was having a problem. Then, I noticed the display said LR 25 (or something to that effect). It was my left rear tire and it was down about 10 pounds from the recommended 35psi. It is about time the cars have a way to communicate the information they know beyond a glowing indicator light.

I was just talking to Continental's board member (the tire company) Nikolai and they hav researched the tire pressure monitoring systems so much. It's good to see. and they're creating a rubber out of dandelions as a secondary source. 

Remember, if you are lucky, you entire life no other part of the car will ever touch the road except your tires. 

Have you folks been able to see or test drive the new Jag XE? Thanks

Not yet, but Ian Callum is one of my favorite car designers. His brother Moray is the head designer for Ford so you can see some of his design starting to come out in Fords. Both great guys and fun to be with at the same time. 

The Focus RS seems poised to eat the Golf R's lunch with 50+ more horsepower for not a lot more money. I guess VW is at least bringing a manual next year. Frankfurt was where Mazda was rumored to show a MazdaSpeed 3, but I have seen nothing about it. Do you guys know anything? I could afford to step up to this level of hatch vs. the ST/GTI/3, but Michelle Singletary would not be happy with me. At the moment I'm in danger of a slip and fall due to all the drool the RS is generating.

Michelle only wants you to be happy and able to sleep at night, not worrying about money you shouldn't have spent. If you are going to get this car I think you will keep it long enough to make Michelle quite happy. 

The  Mazda Koeru concept was shown at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show and there is rumor - no matter what Mazda says - that it will be the next new production crossover. 

And, BTW, I would step up to the ST. 

How tied to the Federal Reserve rates are auto loan rates? So, as the Fed starts bumping up rates, how will that affect car buyers?

They will go up, depending on your FICO credit score it will be much higher or slightly higher. 

Pay off your debts, know your FICO score before you go in. There are car dealers that have taken advantage of people that didn't know their FICO score. 

don't be one of them. 

*For the original poster* I have a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid. It has a push button start. If you leave the car with it running, the car will beep several times. If you try to lock it and it is running, you will get a long, steady beep. Our 2009 Venza has similar beeps. Toyota has these alerts for their push button start vehicles. Great stuff!

Toyota has always been conscientious that way. I remember the Prius doing that. 

Thanks for the reminder. 

A few objective and subjective comments. Like LouAnn said the ragtop harkens back - it has a "look" that the hard top doesn't The ragtop weighs less and takes less room, and doesn't rob trunk space. I think my Z3 has a bigger trunk than the Z4 and even the Infinity G37 Convertible with the top down Hardtop provides better life and protection from the elements, perhaps quieter. In my opinion, many convertibles are challenged to provide the smooth lines that the corresponding coup might, and the ragtop at least gives the impression of fun, making the difference worth it. Many hardtops have very compromised lines and ho-him appearance.

You are right, I am more of a girl of convenience. I do love the Mazda Miata ragtop 


Great conversations today Folks, thanks for joining in. 

Our producer, Michelle, is always a joy to work with. Warren will be back next Friday and I will be as well. Please join us. 

And remember 

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly. 

much love, 


What does Apple Car play allow me to do, and do I need it in my next car?

It allows you to use your iPhone through the nav system. 

Depends on how much you like your iPhone versus the system in your car. 

I love my iPhone but I use google maps/waze when driving so it wouldn't be that big of a help because Apple doesn't allow google/android apps

Seems a bit extreme to declare all key-start cars unsafe seeing as one of the issues was overloaded key rings. At some point it becomes impossible to protect people from themselves. And, has you noted, push-button start has its own issues.

But the cars I know that use push button have built in reminders - even stopping the car if you open the door. 

I didn't say to not use any key in the steering column, just the company that tells you not to put keys on your keyring and put it in the steering column. If you don't mind carrying your key all by itself and all the others on a different keyring than you have solved the issue. 

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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