Real Wheels Live (Jan. 27)

Jan 27, 2017

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.

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Good Morning Warren and Friends,

It's been one wet week in Northern California! Yes, we need it, but we're not used to it, and certainly not this much all at once.

Stretch, and I drove to Palo Alto, CA for a BMW event (when you see me in my videos, Stretch is the videographer). We went to BMW's tech center in Silicon Valley (Silly Valley as we call it). We drove the Mazda 6 Grand Touring down in the pouring rain. Total MSRP $34,530 and we got 35 mpg. The car was smooth, steady and solid.

We drove from Palo Alto up to the wine country. So many roads were closed, potholes from too much water all at once. It's going to take a bit of time to repair all those potholes and get the roads open.

The BMW 5-Series was a delicious car to drive. All of you know I love my luxury and BMW took care of me. The one car I would buy is the 530e plug-in hybrid. It starts at a paltry $200 more than the 530i. Why would you even buy the 530i? You could charge at home for the first 15 driving miles every day. Help keep the air clean, get low-end torque, and give BMW the props for creating a clean high performance sedan.

We also had the Ford Raptor for a week. That is one mean machine! Just the lettering of Ford on the fascia is menacing. I got 12 miles per gallon, a little less than I had wished for in a Ford pickup.

It's been two weeks since we talked, I got to drive the Volvo XC 60 T6 AWD inscription. Another delightful SUV that didn't have the jarring drive of an SUV. The 4WD was $53,000 out the door, and I got 20.4 mpg.

If you have been watching Driving the Nation Facebook, you know that we have been at the Winter Fancy Food Show. I'll have the articles up soon about foods to eat in your car. Till then,

Let's chat about cars

I am a female baby boomer, and when my kids were young, I wouldn't be caught dead driving a minivan (I had a Toyota 4Runner). Now my kids are in their 30's, and I bought a Honda Odyssey. I specifically chose one whose 2nd row has three separate seats, to make easier to remove and reinstall them. My kids are borrowing the minivan frequently to haul furniture for themselves and their friends, and also to go camping. I can put a full 4'x8' sheet of plywood in the back. Oh, and I occasionally transport people in it, too.

Absolutely agree! The Honda Odyssey was the first van to have a vacuum cleaner in it. I love minivans and can't wait to see the new Honda Odyssey later this year.

Warren, your statement, "The forced-air technology in the all-wheel-drive T6 Inscription uses twin turbochargers.", is not quite accurate. The correct term is "twin-chargers" as the T6 employs both a supercharger (crankshaft-driven) for low-end grunt and a turbocharger (exhaust gas-driven) for high-rpm power. The T6 engine is one of the reasons the Volvo T6 beat the Mercedes-Benz E300 and Cadillac CT6, all with 2.0 liter I4 engines, in a recent car magazine comparison test.

I have a 2017 Volvo XC 60 T5 AWD Inscription monrooney (what we call an invoice in the business) it says they have a super and turbo charged direct inject engine

So I consulted Stretch, my homebuilt airplane guy, "turbo is off the exhaust and supercharger is ramming air"

which is why there would be a super and turbo charger - which is twin chargers, not twin turbochargers.

Thank you for the correction - beautiful machine

Sound great until you realize you can't speed in them and the local and state govts will be able to deny you access to roads like I66, 395, I95 and beltway when they are extremely congested. Also with everyone driving the speed limit in their autonomous vehicles roads will be even more congested. We love our cars because it means freedom. We can go anywhere we want at anytime we want. Autonomous vehicle and code red pollution day and you will be staying home. Ban them now they are an affront to everything this country stands for. Clifton, VA

oh Clifton

According to Continental 1.2 million people die every year in cars, 30 million or so are hurt. That is like 7 wide body airplanes dropping out of the sky everyday. Would you fly knowing that?

I was just talking to BMW about this - Autonomous vehicles will have an on-off button. Many companies, Nissan, in particular, will have lights on the outside - blue seems to be the color right now - that will tell you when they are in autonomous mode or not.

There are plenty of open roads in our country, but there are roads that are congested and will benefit from autonomous driving.

Pollution is a completely different thing - if the EPA deregulates California's standards you will see massive pollution. BMW 5-Series just came out with a plug-in hybrid that is only $200 more than a gasoline version. Why would you even buy that? Buy a plug-in that keeps you from spending so much on gasoline.

Stop sending your kids to war over oil.

So, how do you feel the Mazda 6 stacks up against the other mid size cars (Camry, Accord, Fusion, etc.) Also, with respect to the new BMW 5 series, I will be sorely disappointed if it is not available to see and touch at the DC Auto Show.

We loved the Mazda and the instrument panel is logical and doesn't distract. The symergy of the transmission makes it easy to drive.

I haven't driven the Fusion in awhile, but did enjoy the hybrid when we drove it.

The Accord has standard safety that makes it an easy car to recommend.

It is a hot, highly competitive market segment.

In your opinion, is a Porsche Cayman worth the money?

I can't evaluate because I've never driven it.

I hate writing that sentence, but I have to be honest :(

Is some crank posing as Clifton? Does he seriously think that self driving vehicles driving in a predicable manner, i.e., no distractions from phones, radios, no sudden lane shifts, no tailgating. As for the speed limit, once self driving vehicles become the majority, the speed limits could probably go up because the machines will be much less likely to get into accidents than humans.

I agree with you, but there are people that don't want that to happen. It's too much of a change for them.

There are still hurdles before we get to completely autonomous cars, but what is the fun of bumper to bumper commuting (I don't even call it driving)

Wouldn't you rather be doing this in a car?

The Auto Show in Washington begins tomorrow. Will you be giving free tickets as you did last year? What cars do you recommend I examine at the show? Thank you.

The Washington Post had tickets they were giving away. I know because it was how many likes you could get on twitter and one guy was clever enough to tag me on his tweet and I liked and retweeted it for him.


I just heard from my girl Rebecca from BMW - Here is her response about the 5-Series at the DC auto show

"We are showing the BMW 530i xDrive model at the DC Auto Show."

Yeah! Now think of that exact same car as a plug-in hybrid that only costs $200 more.

I'm succumbing to my pedantic side. Sorry. They are both "ramming air". They're both essentially pumps. The turbocharger is driven off a turbine in the exhaust stream. The supercharger is driven off the engine itself. Superchargers are less efficient than turbos, but they're always there. They don't suffer from "turbo lag".

physics- air - fuel

I'm glad we are agreeing that movement of air is a boost for fuel economy.

I rented a Mazda 6 with only 120 miles on the odometer. Took it on a road trip for one week. Drives very sporty and has nice features and comfortable ride, but LOTS of annoying road noise. That's a deal breaker for me.

Was the noise from the tires? More and more car companies are putting tires on the cars that give them better fuel economy at the expense of my poor eardrums.

If it was the tires you can buy new tires. I know that is not what you want to do, but there are other cars that don't have that sporty feel and comfortable features.

A few weeks ago you said you'd check with people in the dealership industry about whether it's possible to negotiate over arbitration clauses in sales contracts. Did you hear back from them?

My contacts are in the manufacturing side, the actual manufacturers, not the dealers.

What they told me is that dealers have the authority and they didn't. Sounds like some dealerships use it, other maybe not?

I know Lou Ann is not going and I have sent an email to Warren. If anybody going to Auto Show can see the new Toyota C-HR and report back I would appreciate. The C-HR will compete against the HRV and CX-3 and will be available in late Spring. Thanks.

If someone can help our fellow chatter, Kevin, out I'd appreciate it.

If you're going to the show and you can look at the C-HR, tell him what you think; what you like about it and don't like about it.

Report back next week if you can. If you want to send me pictures of it at lou at I will send them to him.


I'm liking the upcoming Chevy Traverse, but we might want something a little fancier. Is the new Buick Enclave coming soon? Will it have a head-up display as an option?

Good question

I know the Acadia has the Heads up display (HUD) and other GM products, but I don't remember the Enclave having the HUD.

I like the Enclave and can't wait to drive the new one. I will take note.

I'm going to respectfully agree with Clifton on this one. As for the poster who thinks that speed limits will go UP.... Color me doubtful, despite the happy talk from AV fanboys. First, with autonomous vehicles, the # of overall vehicles on the road are likely to increase. More cars = more congestion. Second, *somebody* is going have to "own" the liability from accidents. If the vehicles are autonomous, it likely will be a large organization, such as the government (that sets speed limits), the vehicle manufacturer, the software provider, etc. Whoever "owns" that liability is not going to want to increase their risk by allowing the vehicles to go faster. If anything, they'll slow them down. Just my own POV based upon 20+ years practicing law.

You're a lawyer? We've had a thread about arbitration and dealerships - do you know if there is room to negotiate the arbitration of a car in the agreement you sign when you buy a car? See the thread above yours.

The auto supplier, Continental, told us that right now car manufacturer's are thinking they will own the liability.

The difference is not speed, but continuity of speed. You probably only average 45 miles per hour on a daily commute, but being able to go 65 occasionally makes you feel like you're making up time when you've been poking along at 15 mph. If you could always go 45 mph the ride time would be the same.

There would also be less traffic accidents which would get you to your destination faster.

Thanks for the input. If you can help us with the other question that would be great.

No doubt this is coming. But clearly some caution is warranted. I read the DOT document and it seems to cover many issues comprehensively, but we are still in the early stages. I work in the aviation industry and from that would note two, maybe three issues that need to be recognized. One, circumstances will almost certainly require occasional driver intervention and it will need to be immediate and correct. Not easy for someone used to letting the car do everything- It's human nature. Vigilance will lapse. Two, most of the capability relies on GPS navigation for fairly tight tolerance of control. Normally OK, but in some places, like downtown amidst high-rise buildings, the GPS solution will degrade significantly. three, lawyer will have a field day dealing with liability, insurance etc. when an accident occurs - who is at fault - the driver, the manufacturer and how do you prove it? Guess who has the least resources to fight this battle.

The aviation industry - the group that designed auto pilot.

The difference is that there are no stop signs in the sky :)

One, circumstances will almost certainly require occasional driver intervention and it will need to be immediate and correct.

We just talked about this at the BMW tech center in Palo Alto, CA - you can listen to the discussion on the videos in my review

The other two are still being worked out. Continental is just bringing out 3d flash lidar - I will get those videos up this week so come back next week and you can see them.

Lawyers - litigation - see above.

Oh, I met a former pilot Greg Anders, flew on Bud Anderson's wing once. Owns fire corn popcorn business now.

You pilots!

Lou Ann - I had to laugh a bit. I doubt seriously that the average commuter in the DC area averages 45 mph! Not to mention L.A. and other major traffic jam cities. Or maybe you have actual stats, and I'll stand corrected. :-) Having said that, I think it only supports your statement about continuity of speed. Hard to imagine AV wouldn't have a serious benefit during rush hours here in DC. Interesting discussion today. Thanks, as always!!

You are right, I just used 45mph as an exmple. I think I was averaging 25 mph in San Francisco last week - at best!

Being able to zoom along at 45 mph will be like being on a train.

That's how i think of it - a chauffeur driven train

A lively discussion today. Thank you for all the questions and the follow-ups.

If you're going to auto show this week come back and tell me the one car you liked the most, the one you would buy and the one you liked the least.

And remember

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly

much love,


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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