Real Wheels Live (Feb. 5)

Feb 05, 2016

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,

There were a couple unanswered questions from last week, and I told you I would get back to you. 

1. From the PR  people at Mazda - "nothing to say about a MAZDASPEED-branded vehicle at this time"

2. From the Hyundai group concerning its company using used parts instead of new, "We follow the same practice as other OEM’s  Products like audio, transmissions and engines, along with a few others, are remanufactured. We actually have a smaller line of remanufactured parts than almost every other manufacturer. Any replacement part, whether new or remanufactured, has the original new car warranty.  Remember the 10/100 is powertrain. The 5/60 covers the other components with exceptions such as tires and batteries, etc."

3. From Honda on whether a honda civic hatchback is coming to the United States - "Yep! Later this year" 

I am driving a Scion tc manual transmission this week, probably the last Scion I will drive badged as a Scion. Fortunately, the FR-S is going to go into the Toyota line-up. It is my favorite Scion. 

Which make of vehicle is your favorite? Which model in that line-up is your favorite? You guys/gals always ask us that question, tell us yours. 

Thanks for all the kind thank yous for the free tickets to the Washington Auto show. We hope to do it again next year and - once again - we hope to be there. 

As always you can answer here or email me at lou at drivingthenation dot com.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and download this.

You can list your car for free on, and it'll go here and here instantly.

Let's chat about cars 

I don't know why someone wrote last week that Mercedes was skipping the car show. MB was there, same spot as the year before, with lots of models and reps. I personally sat in several. Enjoyed the show this year.

Good Morning

After the chat ended I was looking at the show and saw Mercedes as well. I'm glad to know that because DC/Virginia is one of the wealthier areas and I would hate to think they would miss out on that opportunity. 

Thanks for reminding me 

My 20 years-old Volvo is going to retire soon. If it can hold out, I'm waiting for the Tesla 3 but I also like the new Volvo XC90 or a smaller Volvo. An EV would be great because I drive mainly in the city. Which would you choose? Thanks!

Wow. I have rewritten this answer three times. I love the Volvo XC 90 and there is a plug-in hybrid version coming out. It won north american truck of the year and women's world car of the year, that's how terrific it is. Plus you don't get range anxiety. And you can throw everything you want in the vehicle and still feel comfortable driving 1,000 miles. 

But you are talking in town only. It sounds like the Tesla 3 would be better for you. It would have at least 300 mile charge (remember you eat up more energy in extreme weather - winter and hot summers - and if you take long hilly trips) and that would be plenty for the city driving you say you do. 

I'm sure you have the ability to plug-in but you can also get a portable EV charger from Bosch that allows you to plug-in at a friend's house (if they have 240). 

I'd go with the Tesla 3 for you

Honda seems to be rolling out the airbag recalls very slowly. I'm worried that our Honda Civic may have a Takata airbag and they haven't told us yet. Is there a way to find out whether it does?

Honda's John Mendel was the keynote speaker at the Washington auto show press days and I can tell you his biggest concern right now is that bloody airbag recall. 

Car companies can't build all the parts to a car themselves. They have to rely on good reputable suppliers to give them good parts to build the best car they can. Takata did not do that and Honda is doing everything they can to rectify that problem. 

Here is the presentation from the auto show.

and here is a link to the Honda recall program. 


Aside from technical electronics like lane change warnings, automatic braking, airbags etc, what mainstream 4DR sedans for sale have more actual STRENGTH in their structures to help protect their drivers during a collision? Thank you.

All of the car companies are changing the way they build cars to create a better structure for car crashes. It's part of why they are all getting 5-star rating from NHTSA. Instead of making the car out of one type of steel they look at where the crashes happen and create cabins around that area. Some car companies are using carbon fiber in strategic areas - BMW owns a carbon fiber company - some are using aluminum. 

All of the body frames are looked at more carefully than ever before 

what is your experience with leasing? I saw audi had nice deal on one of its newer models but doesn't that require a good bit down? Just wondered.

It's interesting - I heard that more people are leasing because the deals are so good and they only lease till the warranty is up. 

If you only own your car for a few years I think that is a good idea. If you, like me, own it till it drops dead on the side of the road, buy it. 

Hi, y'all. My dealership has asked me to come in for a "6,000-mile interval service." Is this a real thing? And what's an interval? It's my first new car, and I've been warned that dealers can oversell, so I don't know if this is needed or covered. Thanks for your help.

My dealer handbook tells me when I am supposed to bring my car in for servicing. What does your handbook say? 

I'm putting this out there for any service people that might know. Watch the rest of the chat. 

Did your time at the Cascada introduction give you any clue as to whether it will pass the Stretch test and accommodate adults of above average stature? Thank you.

My poor Stretch hasn't been driving much these days, he got the flu and it is taking forever! for him to get rid of that lingering cough. 

I drove the Cascada and I can tell you from driving the Corvette with him that he would like the Cascada convertible as well. He would fit nicely into the car. My driving partner was a tall, large man that didn't seem to have a problem fitting into it. 


What do you think about the addition of Matt LeBlanc?

He's cute, likes cars, was on Top Gear. 

The question is, will that save Top Gear or did the show run its course? 

What do you think about Tesla cancelling the order of a rude customer?

I haven't heard of it, but it sounds like something Elon Musk and/or Donald Trump would do. 

I was thinking about getting a set of winter tires, probably to go on in Dec and come off in March. Any idea if it makes more sense to get a full set of wheels, which presumably are easier to change, or just to get the tires and use the same rims? Thanks,

If the new set of tires fit the OEM rims I don't see a reason to get new rims.

I've never heard of it - what say my chatters? Do any of you change the rims? 

Hi Lou Ann, any idea what's going on with Chrysler? Since the head of the company said he's killing off the Dart (good idea) and the 200(which I really like), I'm confused. There's been no major update to the Chrysler 200 in years, and the Dodge Challenger has fallen far behind competitors Camaro and Mustang in terms of sales and performance.

Sergio Marchionne is a very pragmatic guy. I think of him as the Italian Bob Lutz. He speaks his mind, he tells the truth, whether you like it or not. He has an emotional sentimental side for his employees but he answers to the stockholders and the people that pay the bills. 

Cars are down. All cars really, because of the falling gasoline prices. Happens every time gasoline falls, people buy big honking suv, cuvs and trucks. 

If you're not selling them, don't make them. 

I'm not sure what will happen with Chrysler group. Jeep is their halo group. Marchionne wants to merge with someone and I think that is smart, but who? He's tried General Motors and was rebuffed. 

Would it be a good idea to merge with a Chinese consortium? maybe 

Thanks for the info, but it doesn't quite answer my question. Does the recall cover ALL Honda vehicles with Takata airbags? If not, how would I find out whether my Honda has that kind of airbag?

You did not click on the link I gave you - you can enter your VIN number in the box and it will tell you if your car is affected

Trying to hold out for a Chevy Bolt, but is there another hatchback that is good on fuel I should be dreaming of instead or in addition? Thanks!

I would go with the Toyota Prius V plug-in hybrid - you can only use electric or you can get 50 mpg 

Cheaper and you arent risking damaging the tires winter and 3 season by only having the tires and switching them over. You can always buy used rims. Advantage to separate rims with winter tires is you can do the change over and not have to go to your tire guy who may charge. Shout out to Radial Tire in Solver Spring, MD always cheaper than Tire Rack and if you buy the tires there will always rotate your winter tires on for free. Yeah I make the drive from Clifton to SS to have them put them on. Clifton, VA

I was going to say a service person or Clifton...

Thanks Clifton :) 

Since more and more automakers are using LEDs for lighting front and rear please make sure before you buy that they are heated in you live anywhere from DC area north. LEDs do not generate enough heat to melt snow and ice. Adding a heater to lights increases the cost significantly. Just look at aftermarket LED headlights for a Jeep Wrangler. Clifton, VA

With another storm looming on your horizon that is a good point. 

Thank you Clifton 

Anyone have any experience with the Honda Accord hybrid. I have both an Accord and a Civic hybrid and love both. I was thinking of moving from the Civic to the Accord hybrid. Good idea?

The new Accord is good whether it is hybrid or not. It has a suite of safety that is new to Honda and you know Honda is always known for safety

The proposed VW emissions fixes seem very complicated. If instead VW only decided to fix the emissions problem by only deactivating the offending software, what would happen to the performance of the car? Would it get terrible gas mileage or have sluggish acceleration? Both? Thanks for these chats.

The offending software allows it to meet the emissions regulation. If you don't have that software, It wouldn't meet the emissions regulations. You wouldn't have been able to sell any of those cars in California, or the United States - or Europe. Volkswagen wouldn't have the market share they have. 

If they incorporated the software that allows the emissions to be met is the question I think you are asking. mpg and acceleration would change, but so (from what I understand) would the durability of the engine, which also has a standard that has to be met.

When is the next generation Enclave being introduced?

They announced it at the Detroit auto show. I think it was 2017. I was lost in looking at the Buick Avista concept when they announced it, but that is what I remember. 

Favorite makes: generally Nissan. I've owned Nissans, from the 310, Stanza, and Maxima to my current 350Z, on and off for 35 years. They nearly always had the right car, from that first small hatchback to my current mid-life crisis car, when I was looking. Very reliable and comfortable cars.

I just drove the new Nissan Sentra and you are right. 38 mpg, starting under $17,000 and it is a nice drive. I would opt for the Nissan Nasa seats because I think they are some of the best in the industry (Volvo has good seats as well)

Get wheels for your winter tires if you can. Every time tires are removed/remounted some damage can be done to the wheels (not supposed to, but it's reality). And when its time to change (twice a year), its much easier and less expensive to do it, or you could actually do it yourself.

You reminded me of a piece I did with Bosch about rim knicking when tires are changed. you are right! It's a big deal, especially if you have ultra- performance tires/rims.

Have you , or anyone, ever given thought to test driving cars after they have 70-110k on the odometers? I've often though it would be a better metric, for the consumer, then the current way of testing brand new autos.

I'm not even sure Consumer reports does that. NAIDA should do it, they're the used car dealer association. 

Is no Bob Lutz. I have met Bob Lutz and enjoy his columns in R&T. Sergio is con man and Charlatan!!! He is a 21st century poor imitation of PT Barnum. He has destroyed Chrysler and Dodge and is working on doing the same to Jeep and Ram. He must terminated with extreme prejudice and there are a million or so Jeep owners who would it in a heart beat. Clifton, VA

I have met both of them many times. Bob Lutz is iconic and lovable (did you see he is working with Henrik Fisker on VLF) 

But as for forthrightness Sergio speaks his mind, like Bob Lutz.

My son lives in snow country, he used to have the tires changed on his rims every snow season. A few years ago, he got new snow tires on their own rims and just changes them himself. He says that it saves time and money over having to go somewhere to have the tires mounted and remounted every year. His wife's car has rims that are fancy looking, but seem to accumulate lots of snow and ice, so snow tires mounted on plain steel rims work better for her in winter.

I am putting up all the tire information anyone is providing. There is another storm coming your way. 

Be prepared! 

I would get separate wheels. Most tires today have a lower profile. That's not something you want in a winter tire.

Another response

Why are sales such a disaster. I read one report saying that Jaguar sells fewer cars total than Porsche is selling of its Macan model alone. I think of Jaguar as a much higher volume seller than Porsche, although obviously Porsche has expanded a lot recently. The Jag lineup to me is quite impressive -- the XJ is great, and the sports car is really nice as well. I hope the new SUV can help save them although the blue at the auto show did not show it off to its best advantage.

I have never thought of Jaguar as selling more cars than Porsche. 

Porsche is part of a huge group - Volkswagen AG. They can pull from more areas and get parts for a lot less money. They can collaborate with VW and make a SUV on the same platform. 

Jaguar is a stand alone Indian company (owned by TATA) that is a lot more exclusive. 

Have his computer problems been fixed?

The virus is gone, it still has a cough 

Is a hybrid pick-up truck in the future? Seems to me that the electric motors would provide the torque necessary for a loaded pick-up to get up to speed and to help the truck negotiate inclines, while a small petroleum-fueled engine would be used for cruising at steady speed. Given that hybrid cars and CUVs have been available for about a decade, what are the factors preventing the production of hybrid pick-ups?

Chevy used to have a mild hybrid pickup. It cost about $1,000 and got about 2 mpg more per gallon. It doesn't sound like much, but when you sell 750,000 units it would make a huge difference. 

There are rumblings, but I haven't seen real visuals of one recently. 

I'm starting to get into the market for a new car to replace my MINI Coupe. I drove the new Clubman last weekend and liked it a lot but add a couple of options and the price goes north of $30K very fast which seems insane to me. I am leaning heavily towards to new Civic but think it's too big. I like being able to squeeze my MINI into little spots, but do sometimes need a bit more room. So I plan to check out the new Civic Coupe once it's released. I understand there's a hatchback version due later in the year. But the "small" (although ever-growing size-wise) car segment seems to have a ton of choices. There's the new Elantra (and the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq), the new Cruze, the new Prius, Mazda3, and on and on. How does one choose. I went to the auto show and was a little overwhelmed by the options. I don't mind spending mid-20s and I like the higher end things like LED headlights and want the latest safety advances and tech stuff like Android Auto. And I like that these new cars are getting ever-better fuel economy. That helps eliminate some of the older models which haven't been redesigned for a couple of years that frankly do surprisingly poorly in that area. Should I just get a Civic and be done with it?

It sound alike it, but you don't have to make it sound so bad. The Civic has everything you want and you can opt for all the things that you want that don't come standard and still get it for under $30,000. not bad when the average car costs over $30,000 

I am found of hatchbacks as well and would look at the new Prius, especially the Prius plug-in or Prius V. 

My conversations with Honda owners, w/ CVT, makes me ask, What is your opinion of CVT's. I.E., Reliability, longevity and adverse effects from towing. I hear that Jeep will discontinue the transmission next year. I'm wondering if that is a harbinger for other car companies? I'm considering buying Honda's CRV w/ CVT. Thank you!

Jeep's CVT was not good, and I'm not a fan of 9-speed either, which, I think, borders on being a CVT. 

Nissan has the best CVT and Honda's would probably be next. 

Daughter and son in law in Pittsburgh are about to pop #3 out of the oven and are looking to trade their beloved Murano for something with a tad more room, and of course I'm steering them toward Sienna and Odyssey or maybe even a used Pilot. They have to go used, probably $12,000 - 18,000 or so, and I've looked at all the sites but would like the take of two experts I admire ... yes you! Thanks ...

I always like the Odyssey. The new Murano will be bigger and have more safety options, but that would put you over your $18,000 mark. 

I don't know how much the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan is going to be - I drive it next month. How much time do we have before you make your decision? 

Congrats on the new baby. 

if you want to email me at lou at driving the nation dot com I can help you narrow it down. 

Thanks for coming by everyone. 

I will take the questions that didn't get answered and talk about them next week. 

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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