Real Wheels Live (Feb. 24)

Feb 24, 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,

What a great time I had off-roading in the Jeep Compass in San Antonio, TX this week.

Here's the skinny:

2017 Jeep Compass Models
Sport 4X2 – $20,995
Sport 4X4 – $22,495
Latitude 4X2 – $24,295
Latitude 4X4 – $24,295
Trailhawk: $28,595
Limited 4X4 – $28,995
Add $1,095 for shipping and handling

By the way, if you need a hotel in San Antonio check out Hotel Emma? Great place!

I also finished the Hyundai Ioniq review - a plug-in hybrid four-door sedan that is affordable to Millenials.

2017 Ioniq Hybrid
Blue $22,200
SEL $23,950
plus tech package $24,950
Limited $27,500
plus ultimate package $30,500

2017 Ioniq Electric – 124-mile driving range
Electric $29,500
Limited $32,500
Ultimate Pkg $36,000
– Ioniq Electric will receive the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit and $2,500 California Clean Vehicle Rebate

I drove the Kia Niro at home. Great hatchback. The starting MSRP is $22,890. The EPA estimated fuel economy is 52 city / 49 highway. I got 42.2 mpg.

Happy Birthday in heaven Holly. You are cancer-free.

Let's chat about cars

Hi Warren and Lou Ann, As Land Rover LR3 driver I look forward to your comments on the new Discovery 5. Will you have an opportunity to drive and review it? If so, will that review include using if off-road? Thanks!

I would love to think so, but we serve at the pleasure of the manufacturer's PR team. If we don't get invited to go off-roading with them  I wouldn't go by myself. I just did the off-road course on the Jeep drive and had a blast.

Looking at the VW website, I noticed that the GTI is listed as requiring regular gas, but producing more horsepower on premium fuel. Is there a list available that lists cars require regular, but produce more horsepower on premium? Thanks.

That is a common occurrence, usually posted as ]the need premium dor "better[perrformance."or

Are there car companies you feel are underperforming in terms of cars that people want to buy? That includes not only design but incorporating technology. Can you differentiate between not having the capability to compete or having the capability and not fully utilizing it. And which brand(s) do you feel are least likely to be around in 5 years? Thanks, enjoy the chat!

This is a great question.Are car companies fighting bringing out their technology that will give them the 54.5 mpg? yes. Why? They have the technology. Is it more expensive. Yes. Will it cut into their profits? Yes. But would it mean that we didn't use as much foreign oil/gasoline? yes.

Any company that does this is at peril. People are on heightened alert to CEOs making short-term profits at the expense of clean air and less war. Millenials and Seniors are uniting in the fight. Look for long-term due diligence from companies that people want to invest in, even if that is just buying a car from them. Millenials will buy their cars from companies they feel have an investment in their world.

The  Chrysler Group is probably the slowest, just bringing out their first plug-in minivan. The question will be how long before they put that phev in more vehicles.

Tesla is most at peril at not being here in 15 years, but that doesn't mean they won't be on Mars :)

Have either of you driven this one? Does it look as good in real life as it does in photos?

Not ye. You, Ria?

Good Morning, Lou Ann-- We previously had a '04 Forester that we traded for a '16 Mazda6 when it became clear the maintenance on the Forester would cost more than the Forester was worth (262,000 miles) We want to get another Forester, but not until it is introduced utilizing the new Subaru Global Platform. Do you have any info as to whether this will be in the 2018 model year or the 2019 model year? Thanks!! Read your column every week!! Dn

Mazda is the most tight-lipped of any group I know about future product. The global platform would be hybird, phev, ev just like Hyundai and Kia have just introduced in their Ioniq and Niro respectively. I can't confirm it, but I would expect it in 2018

Looking for late Spring purchase of FWD vehicle Honda HRV local dealer Mazda CX-3 out of town dealer, no local one available Toyota Corolla IM local dealer Toyota up coming release of CH-R (in HRV category) Thanks.

Go to the nearest Honda dealer. Honestly. Good deals available on HR-V models.

Mr. Brown, Can you give us any indication of the useful life of a Continuously Variable Transmission? Also, are they cheaper to manufacture than an automatic transmission? I think they are a scam, as in; a money maker for the manufacturer. You can’t buy a higher-end Honda Civic except with a CVT. I like to get your slant on cars, even if I am not particularly interested in the car of the week.

They are not a scam, and will last as long as any other transmission. with usually better fuel economy.

I own a 2009 Prius with 83,000 miles which is paid for. It is running fine with no maintenance issues. How long should I keep it before buying a new one?



Are you concerned because of the battery? Toyota has done studies on the lifetime of the NIMH battery and they have had very few failures. A new replacement would be around $2,500 plus labor. What vehicle are you going to get that is going to cost less?

Unless you want to buy a newer hybrid/phev/ev I would keep that car till it dies completely.

Lou Ann - greetings from Key West. I arrived in Miami earlier today and was given a new (1200 miles) Chrysler Pacifica to drive - and I immediately thought of you and how much you like this vehicle. As a (relatively) young guy of 43, I must admit I was annoyed I didn't get the convertible I originally wanted but I have to say the Pacifica is a darn nice vehicle. I can see why you praise it often. I'm certainly not Chrysler's target audience, but I always said I'd *drive* a minivan. I stand corrected.


I am the same - I'm not a minivan target audience - I have no children, I don't even have a dog, but I love that van. Get a couple teenagers, put them in the 3rd row, stow the 2nd row and let them watch Stranger Things on the monitors. You won't hear a peep from them :)

Thanks for the note - have a great time in Key West, I love  the ocean breeze.

Warren and Lou Ann, long-time reader/lurker here! I love the he chat and have a question of my own. I'm trying to decide on a midsize sedan to replace my aging Forester. I like the Ford Fusion Hybrid, but the IIHS rates the headlights (even the LEDs on the higher trim levels) as "poor." And I was not thrilled with them when I drove the car at night. The salesperson seemed unaware of the poor rating, and it seems as if most car reviewers don't mention headlights, even though most of them appear to be pretty bad in IIHS testing. This feels like a potential deal breaker to me, but I'm wondering if I'm overthinking. Sometimes I think I'm the only person who is concerned about this! In fact, in last week's chat, Warren, you stated that "I do know that LEDs are much better on dark nights"--but IIHS found that many LEDs performed worse than halogens. I'm so confused! I do think the automakers are slowly coming to realize that this is an important issue, but until then, what's a befuddled car buyer to do? I did drive a Camry hybrid in the top trim, which has "acceptable" headlights. I liked how it drove but not the stripped-down interior or the stereo. My heart wants the Fusion, but my head needs help deciding how critical this headlight issue really is.

I don't like halogens, period. Too dim. Especially on cloudy,dark nights. Don't Hybrid Fusion, either. I much prefer the new Fusion V-6 Sport --a lovely driver's car.

We have been on the hunt for a used Honda Pilot for our growing needs. Test drove a few SUVs but this seems well reviewed, comfortable and reliable. Coincidentally, my brother, who lives in IL, is looking to sell his (2013, 52k miles, touring package) so he and his family can upgrade, and would sell it to us for a great price. Normally I don't like to mix family and business, but it's a steal and I know how much he babies his cars. Now we're trying to figure out the logistics of how to do that. Checked both IL and VA DMV sites for info. Getting the title and a bill of sale is easy, and we'll of course talk to our insurance. We'd fly up for a family birthday then drive the Pilot home, then knock out the state inspections. Am I missing anything, or will we be under major risk during that drive home? Since it's a private seller (I've only purchased from dealerships before), would we be taking out a personal loan or an auto loan? Will probably use our current bank. Or do we take over his loan, or should we get our own to pay him and he'll pay his own loan? Thanks!

As long as you have the clean pink slip you should be okay. Talk to your bank or credit union. They do give loans on used vehicles, but depending on the finance charges is the way you will go.

Don't forget to pack fun foods

I had a 2012 VW Jetta TDI and it was a smooth, good looking vehicle that got GREAT fuel mileage. VW just bought it back as part of their reconciliation for defrauding the public. Is it possible that diesel engines in cars will one day be available again with a solution for nitrogen pollution or did VW kill it? I am not keen on electric power -- too many points of failure.

I think VW killed it--for the time being. Too bad.

Which would you recommend for someone who wants good handling and reliability? Thank you.

The Audi Q5. Your maintenance will determine reliability.

Hello We are looking to replace my wife's 16 year old Honda Civic (55,000 miles !) Sat in the new Countryman at the Washington Auto Show and were impressed. HAve either of you driven one ? Thoughts ? Thanks

yes I like the countryman and if you are tall there is plenty of headroom.

Check the reliability and maintenance costs. I know Warren had issues with his MINI but that was an older version

Hi! My husband and I have resisted becoming a two care household, but the time has come for us to add a second car. We have a Mazda CX-5, which I love. We are looking for a second car that is under 25k. Part of the motivation for the second car is a new baby, and so we'd like it to be heavy on the safety features. Good gas millage is a plus because my husband has a longer commute. With the CX-5, I saw it and knew I wanted one. I can't seem to find anything similar calling my name this time and with a baby, we don't have tons of time to go to dealership to dealership and look. Help us narrow it down? Thanks!!

Get the new Mazda6, heavy on the advanced electronic say items. It will cost about $5,000 more but will be worth it. Congrats on the new baby.

Consumer Reports has recently been criticizing the reliability of many VW models. What has your experience been?

No problems. ButI only drive them for about two weeks.

I am considering buying a camry or accord hybrid. Are hybrids a good value? do they have good records of service repairs.

Of course it depends on the car how the service records stack up, but for hybrids in general yes.

It looks like you're looking for a sedan. You can also check out the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid, or wait for the plug-in hybrid. The Ioniq is a sedan. It will not be here till later. The hybrid is out now.

2017 Ioniq Hybrid
Blue $22,200
SEL $23,950
plus tech package $24,950
Limited $27,500
plus ultimate package $30,500

As far as the Camry is concerned I would wait for the new model on that as well.

How did they drive/handle? Were they fun to drive? Thank you.

Too fun! Too much low-end torque, thankfully the Ioniq had great brakes as well.

Of course Hyundai and Kia are owned by the same group. The Ioniq is a four-door sedan, the Niro a hatchback, so you have your choice. The pricing is what is amazing to me. I know the Ioniq doesn't have the drive range of the Chevy Bolt but it's less expensive and has a nicer interior.

I'm just really impressed with the car companies that are bringing out global platforms to meet fuel economies instead of whinning about it.


Dear Lou Ann and Warren: Up until now, reasonably priced electric cars were limited to 100 miles range or so. The only electric with more than 200 miles range was the Tesla until the Chevy Bolt came out. Even the new Ioniq only has 124 miles range where the Bolt has 238. What is the secret? What did GM do that the others didn't or couldn't to get the range so high and still keep the price reasonable?

GM has been concentrating on curing "range anxiety,'  as evidenced by its work on the more affordable, and reliable, Bolt. Keep in mind that most of todays electric cars are meand to service roundtrips, all-electric , of about 100 miles trouble-free

Lou Ann, It's Owen from Seattle. Is there anyway you could put me in touch with the Honda Civic with 55K on the dial? I'm looking for a daily driver. Thanks. Owen


What would make you think I could do that? And why would you want a Honda Civic with 55,000 miles on it?

Can you tell us a little more about it? Would you expect it too be reliable? Thanks

Yes. I absolutely love that one and would be happy to take it on a long drive.

I just bought a new 2017 Honda Accord EX-L, and I am overwhelmed with all the technical bells and whistles. I'm not the most tech-savvy person, I don't even have music on my android phone. Any advice for learning how to use this stuff?

youtube. I read where a woman built an entire house from watching youtube help videos.

It's how Stretch and I learn how to do things we don't know.

Just go to youtube type in what you want to learn and it will come up.

Good morning -- it strikes me that all-electric cars (Soul EV, Bolt, Spark EV, eGolf) are likely far more reliable than their internal-combustion or hybrid brethren. No fluids to speak of, for instance, and far fewer moving parts. Has the data borne this out? It seems that never worrying about timing belts or oil changes or transmission fluid can really help make up the higher initial cost of an electric car.

INTERESTING POINT. Just know what you are buying and how you will actualy use it.

Thanks for all of the love and good times. We miss you.--Warren and Lou Ann

All headlights on all vehicles in the USA are gawd awful compared to their EU and UK counterparts. Here in the USA we get half the light output compared to EU and UK headlights because of antiquated NHTSA regs that haven't been updated in 6 decades. A good euro Halogen is better most HIDs and LEDS sold in the US. Also consider replacement cost if a stone or something cracks the lens cover. I had a set of Euro halogens on my old 3 series Warren. Aftermarket round headlights that no current headlight for sale in the US market can touch. EU headlights also have a bette cut off. Might be time for US headlights regs to join the 2000's Clifton VA


My 8 year old son loves cars and I have taken him the Washington Auto Show for the past three years. This year was pretty disappointing in size and fun things to do. Where is the best/biggest auto show? Maybe we'll take a road trip next year. Thanks!

For fun things to do either Los Angeles auto show because he can ride in all the green cars, and then go to Disneyland, or Detroit because they have a massive jeep offroading event for the kids and they have simulated car games as well. New York has some as well - that auto show is in April.

I would suggest reading the owner's manual. That's what it's for.

meeh. youtube.

I am in the market to replace my aging Lexus sedan and am looking for something friendly to 2 young kids (safe, easy to get in and out of, roomy) with good cargo space, but that's also somewhat fun to drive and gets reasonable gas mileage (for a good suburban commute). I'd prefer something Japanese , low maintenance, and under $45k. Sadly, that means the new Volvo is out. NO mimivans. Stick with Lexus? Outback? Go the popular Highlander/Pilot/Pathfinder route? What's your favorite mom-mobile these days?

So, no Honda Odyssey? Ok, fine!

I would go with the Pilot, or the Nissan Rogue. I can't remember why I like the Rogue better than the Pathfinder...


I did that once, many years ago (live in VA, bought in PA). As long as you have the VIN, DMV will give you a "transit" tag for you to legally drive the vehicle back home until you can register it. Check your state's DMV web site for more details. And yes, make sure the car is covered under your insurance before starting your travels.

Thanks. That works. Did something similar last year upstate NY to VA.

Lou Ann. I think Owen meant if he and "2017 ini Countryman" both e-mailed you privately, you could e-mail the contact information to each other, since Owen is interested in buying "2017 ini Countryman"'s used Honda.

OH -I so didn't get that. Thanks

Yes if you both want to email me privately it is lou at

I could be the Yenta of cars :)

Thanks for the heads-up

Thank all of you for joining us today. Please return next week. Some f us have beautiful weather today. Enjoy it. Thanks, Gene, Lou Ann and Lady Ria. Happy remembrance,


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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