Real Wheels Live (March 4)

Mar 04, 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.

Like me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Download the Carlist app and list your car for free on and it goes to Facebook and Twitter instantly

Good Morning Warren and friends, 

2016 Lexus RC-F 

An accident waiting to happen 

When I drive a luxury sports car my biggest fear is getting a speeding ticket. The power is intoxicating. I watch my rearview mirror for cops, and think of excuses of why I was going so fast that the officer might let me off with a warning. That was not my biggest fear in the RC-F.

Twice, twice in one day two guys almost ran into the car in front of them because they were oogling the car I was driving. One of the guys actually went out of his lane. 

Let's chat about cars. 

I recently wrote a pamphlet saying that the automobile industry is changing rapidly. Access to transportation will become as important as ownership. Old notions of badge prestige are giving way to actual reputation for VALUE. Old notions of performance make little sense in an increasingly regulated world. And now BMW is announcing that it will concentrate as much on self-driving cars as it does on "ulyimate driving machiness." Let's talk.

Looks like a heavy focus on supercars there, any cars we plebes might be able to afford that really impressed you all?

The ones that come to the New York auto show in 2 weeks

My daughter is getting ready to start grad school and she needs a new car. I am going to give her my 2013 Chevrolet Equinox and get a replacement. I am considering another Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tuscon or Kia Sportage. I have ruled out the Honda CRV because the dealers want to add outrageous markups and I'm not going to play that game, and the Nissan Rouge because the seats don't fit me well. How would you rank these four.

The Equinox, in good condition, is all she needs. You think those Honda dealers are greedy? Check out the grad school's bursar's office.

My mom's 1992 Mazda Mx-3 hatchback has finally reached the end of its lifespan due to body deterioration (Shoutout to Michelle Singletary!). My dad is not ready yet to be a one car household so for peace of mind mom is looking to buy a late model small used car mostly for running errands and going to church. I'm thinking a 2014 Mazda 3 sedan, I love, my Mazda 3 hatchback, mom's car needs to be a good fit for a petite driver and not too hard to get in and out of for two senior drivers.

Check out a used Toyota Corolla and be happy.

Will the Audi Q2 come to USA and if so when?

I don't know and Audi, at the moment dealing with parent VW's heavy losses, isn't saying.

I have a 2009 Honda CR-V which was just added to the Takata airbag recall. We had been on the verge of passing the car (which has been a great car for us) on to our daughter but then thought we should wait till the airbag was replaced. Unfortunately, it looks like this will be several months at least. We don’t live in a humid area which is supposed to be a significant part of the problem and the thought has occurred to me that perhaps, even with the airbag issue, the CR-V might well be safer overall than the 2004 Hyundai Elantra our daughter is currently driving. The Honda is five years newer, probably has some safety features the Elantra lacks and is also a larger car. What are your thoughts on this?

I will never - and no one should - advise you to drive a car when there is a recall on the car. Sorry.

Is Honda allowing you to rent a car while you wait?

Here is Honda's John Mendel talking about the recall at the washington auto show

and here is the page to look to for FAQ

I would still give her the car after the recall, I agree it is a great car

No. Don't buy. You have the cash. Go for a comparable lease deal on new Panamera.

I'm considering a test drive of a 2013 Certified Used Porsche Panamera AWD with 21,250 miles. The ad says "Porsche Certified Pre-Owned means you get the reassurance of up to a 6yr/100,000 mile Warranty." Not sure what "up to" signifies, but say it's only a 5-year, 80,000 mile warranty. Would you recommend this car? I pay cash, keep my cars at least six years, drive under 10k miles a year. Thanks for your thoughts and insights!

It means that after six years, or 100,000 miles the bills are yours

CPO cars carry the manufacturer's warranty and that is very appealing. If it is 5 years old and 80,000 miles you've got either one more year or 20,000 miles left on the warranty.In your case only one more year.

If you're certain the car is solid - have it checked - and love the car buy it.

What do you think of Bugatti's new Chiron and how will it stack up against the old Veyron? also do you think that Tesla will be able to pull off an electric car for less than $35k

It is all very funny--an expensive ceremony of death for a car world that is fast fading and certainly is irrelevant to most of us, which is why it is fading.

I was looking at the Cascada on the Buick website and I noticed that they don't have any bright colors, like red or yellow. My perception is that this also seems to be a trend with other makes. Are we becoming a nation of bland automobiles? Maybe this is an indication that automobiles are becoming just transportation for more folks and that we are soon going prefer (and deserve?) autonomous cars.


no, silver, white and black have always been the top 3 colors we Americans buy. Some of it has to do with resell value, but nothing to do with autonomous vehicles.

What would a Trump Presidency mean for the car industry?

Not a damned thing. He doubtless will usher in trade wars and recession, none of which would be helpful. Think Trump University and stay the hell away from the idea of Donald Trump as president of these United States.

I saw some pictures of a VW CUV convertible concept. Have you heard anything about it? Is it likely to make it to production?

You're talking about the T-breeze concept at the geneva auto show.

Concept so far

Where can we read it?

Contact the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association

What is your view of the trend among Washington area car dealers of charging a "processing fee" on the purchase of a new car? This fee, which ranges up to $600 is imposed at closing on the car. This appears to be a junk fee that car dealers have concocted in order to extract more money out of customers without any commensurate value or services being rendered. The dealers' thin excuse is that the "processing fee is for paperwork, like filing out forms, etc. This is a simple function that used to be done at no additional cost to the consumer, but now dealers want to extract this exorbitant "fee" which bears no relationship to the actual cost of processing the sale. Your thoughts, please.

as if the car isn't expensive enough, right? and the fact that it is a variable fee, each dealer can charge what they want?

In some states there is a law that allows a certain amount.

Unfortunately, unless you're willing to walk at the time of signing for the new car you are stuck paying for it.

Sorry, Warren. In talking with many people, of different ages, genders and interests, the only people I know who are interested at all in a self driving car are those for whom the other option is no longer driving due to age, vision, etc., or those who might use that feature after a night on the town. IMHO, the independence and self-control of driving is too rewarding and enjoyable to give up.

I talk to many people across-the-board, too. They want it. They just want it to fit neatly, safely into their daily lives.

Warren and Lou Ann, you both seem to keep your own cars a long time and, I assume, take good care of them. Manufacturers and mechanics have varied recommendations for oil change intervals. That said, how often do you actually change the oil in your cars? Thanks. SpokaneMan

Grandma Doddy - my 1993 Lexus LS400 - has been garaged her whole life. She is a golden delight with 86,000 on her. I can still set the bar on some of the cars I drive today with her. One of the first cars to have heated seats.

I think the book says every 3,000 miles, but since we drive her so infequently we do it more often, maybe every 6 months. We also change the air filter when we change the oil.

I understand the new Sportage is due at dealerships in the coming weeks. Either of your driven one?

Yes, and hereby am asking to spend more time with it. It is an excellent vehicle.

I would think that a vehicle delivering me to my destination in style, while I read and sip a cocktail, would in fact BE the Ultimate Driving Machine!

So do millions of others worldwide. So does BMW.

It is.

another one in agreement. your state could do something about it. others have

We had an accident in our subaru. Nearly totaled it. Turned out the insurance company did not have to pay for (more expensive) OEM parts for the repair, except for a few special parts. Car seems fine now. Should we be concerned at all about the use of aftermarket parts?

If you are it might be up to you to buy the actual OEM parts. Depending on what the contract/warranty says the car company may not have to install OEM parts.

Warren, You missed the point of my question. My daughter is getting the 2013 Equinox, I am looking for recommendations on a replacement for ME. Another Equinox, Escape, Sportage or Tuscon. Thanks

Easy, another Equinox.  It is one of the best underrated crossovers available. And go to the same dealer as a valued return customer who really needs a real discount.

I can't wait to have one!

They are getting better and better.

Can the Hybrid Highlander be used as a tow vehicle for small trailers? The Toyota web site is not clear on this.

No, not for anything heavy, heavy, say 5,000 lbs. Best to get a traditional Highlander or 4Runner.

Love my 2010 G37 sedan, love it, was at the dealer (Annapolis) getting service and poking around the new Q70 (formerly M37) and Q50 (formerly my G37). Quite attractive but when I looked into them later (Consumer Reports, the mags, Edmunds) they had lost their once highly reviewed luster ... how does a car company make that mistake with all the consumer research and experience they have? I was seriously thinking about moving up to the Q70 thinking I'd love it as much as my G37 but no longer ...

The G37 is such a love of a car, they got it right.

Sometimes car companies over reach, listen to the people they think will buy a car if they do this or that and it doesn't happen.

If the BMW is driving itself, then it is the Ultimate Limousine.

Who cares what it is called as long as it works like a BMW?

Good morning, My spouse has advanced Multiple Sclerosis and requires assistance to get around, but is not (yet) confined to a wheelchair. Getting in and out of a vehicle is difficult, so I have begun researching options and it seems that the only factory-installed, power-assist seat as an option comes with the Toyota Sienna minivan, and that seat is in the 2nd row, not on the front passenger side. Is there an alternative for a factory-installed front-passenger seat that would make getting in and out of the car less painful? Many thanks from Belle View, Virginia

My prayers for you and your spouse. I have people in my family with MS, too. We rely on GM products for special mobility needs...and Honda, but mostly GM. Contact GM's special mobility department and keep loving and smiling and praying. It works.

Interested in Warren's oil change habits too, thanks.

Nothing genius. I follow the manual's instructions.

When I was 20, I would have been aghast at the idea, but I also drove a stick shift. Today, I am in my 50's, with cancer, diabetes and heart disease. I am trying to live a normal life, which entails going to work every day. It would be nice to have the car take over for me. It can adjust the steering (Lane Keep assist), and has adaptive cruise control. It seems the sensors are good enough, but the software isn't. And, my car is not a 80K car, it is a 30K subaru.

Subaru has some great technoloyg like eyesight.

Most people in the know are saying 2025. You're only in your 50s. hang in there, you'll see it happen.

My Mom had diabetes. It's a hard disease. I have to watch my sugar intake because it runs in the family (I  use to calculate my sugar intake - you would be surprised at the foods that have the most sugar)

Get well, stay well. We need you

....makes more and more sense the older we get. We ant to keep moving safely, with little concern for exhaust notes and 0-to-60 mph times, increasingly sill stuff in regulated environments. We just want to move--safely!

For recommendations on all preventive maintenance, including the oil change schedule, see the Maintenance section of Pat Goss' web site. Goss appears on MPT's Motor Week and used to host a live chat on

great idea. thanks a pain in the rear every morning and evening in forty minutes of stop and go traffic. Not to mention the thrill of having to watch out for lane jumpers. I used to have a commuter rail & subway commute during which I could read, zone, whatever. Sign me up.

The purpose of self-driving isn't just self-driving. When it truly arrives, as it will, it will work in tandem with vehicles "talking" to one another, automatically avoiding accidents and traffic jams.

Thank you for very much for responding, the GM program looks promising. May all your loved ones stay safe by your side.

Thank you. My prayers for your family and all families dealing with MS. Good luck!

GM has some great young people coming up in the ranks as well as a solid core of people in power. People who believe in the product first.

Thank you for the sweet sentiment. Same back to you.

Hey there. I've had a VW Beetle since '02 and it's not the easiest car for moving a little person in and out of. Plus, it's getting old. I really like my beetle is small and I can grab those smaller parking space when someone parks like an idiot. But, I need a car with good crash stats for that little person (and me!) and I'd love some sort of AWD, 4WD for MN winters. What comes to mind?

Check out small things Subaru, Ford, and Toyota.

Thank you all for joining us today. Please return next week. Thank you, Gene, Lou Ann and Ria. On a personal note: Please honor the promises of America, which are freedom of religion and speech, equal opportunity for all, and unspoken at its foundation--LOVE. Think before you vote.

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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: