Real Wheels Live (March 11)

Mar 11, 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.

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Last week I drove the Lexus RC-F, this week I drove the Lexus NX200t F-Sport. The RC-F is a luxury sports car, around $75,000. The NX200t F-Sport is an SUV out the door at $44,000. 

I see why it is so hard to decide what to buy. Most the time when you ask us which car you should purchase the vehicle is in the same segment. If I had to choose between the RC-F coupe or the SUV, it would be a tough decision.  The beauty and drivability of the sports coupe versus the functionality of an SUV. 

I definitely need two cars :) 

Next week I will be driving the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. If you're interested in a minivan, tell me what you want to know. I'll bring back the info. Below is what I know so far;

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica has five models:

Chrysler Pacifica LX starting $28,595

Chrysler Pacifica Touring $30,495

Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L $34,495 

Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus $37,895 

Chrysler Pacifica Limited $42,495 

add $995 for destination and handling

The minivan uses a redesigned 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel economy is 18 city, 28 highway and 22 combined. 

Later this year the Pacifica will incorporate a start-stop system for better fuel economy. After that, a hybrid version of the minivan will show up on the Chrysler car dealer lots. 

The other competing minivans are the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. 

Have either of you had the opportunity to see or drive the new Audi A4? If so, what are your thoughts. Thanks

I am such a fan of Audi in general, especially the Audi A7. I have driven the A4 and enjoyed it as well. And it comes in all-wheel drive!

For decades I have been under the impression there is a disconnect between VW's German management and its U.S. management. My feeling about German business leaders is that they feel greatly superior to their hired hands in the U.S. and even have a cavalier attitude toward U.S. customers (you WILL like our product!) What's the likelihood VW will become much more responsive to U.S. customers? Does it find selling to Chinese, Brazilians etc is easier and more profitable? Are U.S. customers and VW's U.S. management treated as "second-class citizens" and a "nuisance" by VW's German HQ? ,

Ah, yes the Germans do feel superior. Not to worry. They will be more responsive to everybody. They have no choice.

How did it drive?

It had a little turbo lag, but other than that it was great. I would be interested in how both of these cars would feel if some of the weight was taken out - enough to compensate for a hybrid battery - and a hybrid was put in. I love the low-end torque you get from a hybrid and I think both the RC-F and 200 could benefit from it

Compare the Ford C Max and the hybrid version of the Ford Fusion

Two completely different vehicles. C-Max primarily for light cargo. Fusion for passengers.

Warren & Lou Ann Coming out of a 2012 Escape, I'll need a moderately priced new sedan or crossover with capability of loading a folded wheelchair in trunk or hatch. As an aging driver, I want optional safety gear. I've always been a Ford loyalist, but they're sure slow in adding lane warning, adaptive cruise control or auto-braking. Honda seems to be way ahead of them. Don't like the current Escape with the gas filler port on the right (wrong) side of the car. Would appreciate your recommendations. Thank you. James Johnson Chicago IL

It's about Time they caught up to the story.

I haven't read the article - I will do so.

So much of the time is spent commuting that I don't think most people would miss getting in their car at 6:00 am and not driving.There is a trade-off between driving and personal freedom and personal time that is making this technology desirable.


I'm helping my older mom shop for a car. Are the new safety features like the collision braking systems or collision warning systems worth the money? Is one manufacturers system better than the others? Just from reading about the systems, they sound like something that would be hard to test in a test drive, and there is a lot more variance with the different systems.

All of the new safety systems are worth the money. It is hard to say which is "better" because most, if not all, come from outside suppliers.

Do the automakers have any concerns their futures being significantly affected by which candidate wins the presidential election?

I'm sure. It is a global industry. Trump's shenanigans could start a trade war no one wants or needs.

They should. I haven't asked them, but they should. If you listen to Donald Trump he wants to build a wall and wants Mexico to pay for it. What he said was they would pay for it out of the trade deficit they have with us. the implication is that because of NAFTA Mexico has a lot more manufacturing in Mexico than they used to. That is correct. What - I think- the US didn't realize when they signed NAFTA is that Mexico  has a similar deal as NAFTA with South America (they call their NAFTA Mercusor) and Mexico can import into South America without the penalties that the US would. That makes Mexico very important in the manufacturing business.

For example: If Americans got the same wage as Mexicans the difference would be that Mexico could import a car to South America without paying an import fee up to 95% of the worth of the car.

Sorry its a CUV and not an SUV. Suitable for mall crawling but this Lexus would get stuck on a wet grass field

Doesn't matter. This CUV is designed for malls, not grass fields.

Because of the giant pictures.

Hi there, are you viewing this chat through Firefox? Please email me at if you prefer! Would like to get this fixed. - Gene


Have either of you had the opportunity to test the new Audi A4? Thank you

It is an absolutely beautiful and useful automobile. If I had the money, I'd buy one.

When will it be updated? It's been almost a year since version 2.0 was released

Stretch is the person in charge of the apps. They are working on an update right now, and an Android version should be available in a couple weeks.

Is there something you see that needs to be updated? email me lou at driving the nation dot com and I will send it to him

Please tell us it'll be more than just a rebadged Town & Country!

We'll see.--Warren

Why does it matter what side of the car the gas filler port is on?

Sides favor the chassis used.

So now Michael Horn (VW USA) knew about the diesel scandal a year(?) before it was announced. How can the VW group go on claiming they were "Shocked! Shocked! That there was cheating going on here!" and that only a small number of folks were involved?

There are differing stories on why Horn is no longer with VW. That is one of them. The other is he was too honest in his assessment of the situation when he came out and said, "we screwed up"

This saga has a long way to go before we know all the players and how it happened. It is just completely sad to me that it did happen.

A long time ago, I remember an old car ad series (Mercedes? BMW? Doesn't matter). The ad featured a picture of somebody posing proudly with their car, with the tagline, "Nobody poses for pictures with their toaster." (Or something like that.) As the steady march towards robo-cars progresses, it seems to me that cars will transform (metaphorically, at least) into toasters. What do you think?

Appliances, anyway. Keep in mind that toasters don't routinely kill or injure as many people as cars. It is necessary progress.

Would you support taxes on imported cars to boost American manufacturing?

No. It is a global industry. Other countries can impose taxes, too. That's another dumb Trump idea.

The "we screwed up" response was something I gave VW a lot of credit for. The walking back that has happened since has made me rethink that stance.

I was completely stunned when we said it. I was standing about 100 feet away from him.

The problem, as I see it, is that they haven't been able to find a fix. Even CARB has said they may have to give a pass to some of these cars because they might not be able to fix them.

It has to do with the generation of car, whether the car had an scr and urea onboard. It's not going to be easy

Are a way for the govt to control us. Driverless cars will allow the govt to tell us when we can drive, where we can and how long are trips will be. I never own a driverless car or be a passenger in one. I like to drive. I never use my phone while driving. Clifton, VA

Not so, Clifton. Driver-less cars and accompanying infrastructure is a way to save lives.

I don't have the app, I just noticed that it hadn't been updated recently and the only review gave it 2 stars out of 5 :-(

Try it, let me know.

the focus of the app is the integration of social media. You can list your car for free and it goes on facebook and twitter automatically. Look at and and you will see what I mean.


. It IS a GLOBAL industry.

. Cars and trucks with national badges made and sold everywhere, including the U.S.

. I am sure German and Japanese workers don't like the idea of their vehicles being made in the U.S.

. Auto parts supply is a global enterprise. Tax one country's parts. They will tax or block ours. It is how trade wars start.

Is he being too paranoid about driverless cars?


"I never use my phone while driving. Clifton, VA" This is something we can all do, right now, to increase safety on the roads. Best of all, it is free.


VW Dieselgate continues with no resolution. Will CARB blink? Seems like it. When can owners expect something? Fixes really do not seem to be working. Are we looking at compensation - buybacks? Or will EPA/CARB blink and customers get stuck with a low resale value vehicle? VW Owner - Germantown MD

CARB blink? I suppose you could put it that way. The reality is there might not be a fix for a majority of these cars. They are older and don't have the technology onboard to get a fix. Unless they are bought back I don't see a way to fix them. CARB has said the same in the last week (not the buyback part)

Does that mean CARB/EPA is making a backroom deal with Volkswagen? perhaps. You might see some new testing equipment, some new electric chargers and some electric vehicles being built in the United States. might perhaps. That would help the overhaul good of the country, which is what CARB and EPA are about.

Thank you all for joining us today. Please come back next week. Thanks Gene, Lou Ann, and Lady Ria. I will talk to Binta this afternoon, Ria. 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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