Real Wheels Live

Oct 23, 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,

The Women's World Car of the Year awards results just came out and the Volvo XC 90 won.

(The Volvo XC 90. Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Hammond)

I drove the Scion iAChevy Malibu, and the Honda HRV
this week.

2016 Honda HR-V

(The Honda HRV. Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Hammond)

The Scion iA was around $17,000, the Honda HRV around $27,000 and the Chevy Malibu was around $35,000. All three are in the North American Car and Truck of the Year running.

The Honda HRV was my favorite for value and price. It's a new segment competing against the Mazda CX-3, both vehicles are great.


Let's chat about cars.


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I am considering a new Hyundai Sante Fe SE AWD with Premium Package. I have a 2007 Sante Fe Limited 2WD to trade in. Edmunds say my Sante Fe in excellent condition with the way it is configured and low mileage is worth $7,700. How hard should I bargain on this number based on trade-in information?

You can bargain. But the price you get actually depends on the extant market in your area. Best strategy, I think, is to say you are quite satisfied with your current vehicle and are unwilling to trade it as a loss. Consider Paul Ryan's take-it-or-leave-it strategy. It works.

Any idea how much longer I'm going to have to hold onto my 2015 diesel Golf? Am not happy driving a car that spews out so much more pollution than advertised, may end up being the last VW I ever buy.

You can sell your Golf now from everything I know. Once they have a fix for it the emissions will be fine, I'm just not sure if the mpg will be met or how the durability of the engine will rank. 

All of that will be taken into account as Volkswagen goes forward. 

Volkswagen has hurt its own reputation, and that is sad. They have some decent vehicles and some great technology coming out. 

It's even sadder because some of the best engineers - excluding this deceit - worked at Volkswagen. I've watched their careers and lives grow and it is not fun to watch their lives and their careers fall apart. 

Are determined by what the vehicle sells for at auction. Edmunds and the like are usually high. Go to Carmax and enter your info to sell them your car. This is what the approx value is for a trade. Its accurate. Clifton, VA

That only is partially true, and maybe not by much. Trade-in values are determined by extant market conditions--what is selling in your area, what isn't, and at what price.

Had to recall close to million vehicles in last 30 days. Issues are a lot more serious than beating an EPA test. Almost 500,000 Hyundais for engine failure. I take more pollution over an engine that may expire any day.

Everyone has recalled cars.

A deer (with antlers) ran into my sister's car, or vice versa. The hood was pushed up to the windshield; airbags not deployed. Sister is okay; car is totaled. She has to buy a car asap, and is again looking at a Toyota Corolla but would consider something else, especially if cheaper and equal quality. The current models of Yaris are all hatchback, which she hates. Safety locks and reliability are important; she drives about 30 miles to work every day very early in the morning. I will show her the article you just wrote--but do you have any other recommendations? She will pay cash, if that makes a difference, and doesn't want a used car, because given her age, this may very well be the last car she purchases. Thanks.

I was in an accident when I was a teenager and the one thing my Father said that sticks with me today is, Lou, I can always replace metal, I can't replace you. I am so glad your sister is okay. 

The Toyota Corolla is a good car, it has good ratings. She would be very familiar with it and it would have all the new bells and whistles. 

Look at the Honda Accord as well. If you are looking for safety Honda has a suite of technology for safety. When you put your blinker on to turn right the right side of your car shows up in the NAV. That is standard. The 2016 model comes with car play and android auto so if she has a smartphone she can hook it up to her car. 

Those are the two that stand out for the requirements you've expressed


I have a 2014 Cadillac SRX with AWD. 16K miles. I noticed last night there's a screw in one of my tires right where the tread ends and the sidewall begins. If it can't be repaired, do I need to replace just one tire or all 4 tires? Google is giving me conflicting answers.

Replace ALL FOUR.

Any recommendations for someone who has always had practical hum-drum cars her whole life, and now has finally retired, and wants something a little more fun, but is too set in who she is to go too wild, in price or style?

An Audi A3 or 4, the new Volvo XC90....or, seriously, a Cadillac.

and hello Borgward! VW and its dealers have always been arrogant. Only part of VW worth anything is the Porsche side of things. Audis are just overpriced Vdubs. Hopefully the marketplace will rule and VW will go under. VW has been screwing things up since the late 70's. They need to fail

Thanks for sharing your disputable opinion.

What are your thoughts?

When Consumer Reports did their own initial testing the Model S broke all records. It was only when CR asked people that have owned the car - about 1,400 of them - that the car went down in ranking. 

Just like the other cars, people own these cars and after awhile something breaks. In most the cases of something breaking on the Model S it was still under warranty. 

Tesla is a start-up. They are competing against companies that have been in business for over a hundred years and have billions of dollars to spend and have amortized billions of dollars in research and development. 

Tesla is besting some of those companies with their cars with new technology. 

I just traded in a 2 year old VW GTI. The thing on trade values is is that the dealer will make money in every aspect of the transaction: they will make money on the trade, on the financing, and the purchase. Otherwise, they would not remain in business. The trade is a place where they feel they have you over the barrel. So, they will often make more on the trade than anywhere else. Going to carmax first will save you from being lowballed. In my case, the dealer (VW & Subaru) did not really want another VW -- they are not selling. So, they undervalued the car. Once I had the quote from carmax, they matched it. And I no longer have the extremely fun (when it is running), but unreliable VW. Instead, I have a comfortable, roomy Subaru Legacy

Good to know that dealers will up the anty and match Carmax's quote. 

I'm glad you're happy with your new car. You've worked hard and you pay a lot for it, you should be happy. 

If you have and are willing to spend Tesla money (thinking Tesla S), you will be happy with the CR report. But the real story isn't that. The real story is  Tesla's rewriting of how we access automobiles. That's access versus ownership. Watch that space.

After looking around, test driving, and comparing prices, I purchased a 2015 Mazda 3. A long-time VW owner, I also considered a jetta (TDI) but ultimately, price won out. Loving my new zoomzoom and also happy about the approx. $5K savings. Thanks for the great info you both put out there!

You have much to love. Enjoy!

I just watched a new youtube by autoextermist. tell me what you think

Even with the recent reliability problems and range anxiety, would you agree that the Tesla S is the best electric car ever built for sale to the public?

Probably. It will be the vanguard of a revolution in vehicle access--sharing versus owning.

Another option for people who have insurance through USAA. They have a feature on their web site where you can upload the information on your car, including pictures. USAA will then forward to several dealers who will be competing for your vehicle. I have not tried it but plan on it next time I sell a car. Last time I traded a car I got about 40 percent less than KBB value.

you can also download and list your car for free on and it goes to and instantly 

Thank you all for joining us today. Please return next week. Thank you Michelle Williams, Lou Ann Hammond and Ria Manglapus. Eat lunch.

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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