Real Wheels Live (March 25)

Mar 25, 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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Good Morning Warren and Friends,

If you want to see anything from the New York auto show you will have to go to - there were just so many cars to link to, so I'm highlighting a couple of articles that didn't show up in the major blogs. 

I do want to point out a couple of articles; Truecar just came out with a pre-owned value award. For everyone that still buys a car and is concerned with resale value these awards could be interesting. 

Forbes came out with the America's best employers to work for in 2016.  I widdled it down to the automakers and auto suppliers. Can you guess the number one American auto manufacturer to work for in America? It's not an automobile manufacturer....

Some of you have asked how to find out if your car has a recall notice. If you're a member of Liberty Mutual insurance, you can sign up to get a recall notice on any car insured by LMI. 

How many of you lease your cars instead of buying? Leasing is now 28% of car sales. It begs the question, Is auto leasing the new car sharing? 

Let's chat about cars. 

Hi Warren and Lou Ann! Just wondering if either of you has the new Jaguar F-PACE (the sport ute) on your list to drive soon? I've reserved one, sight unseen, and look forward to your thoughts on this gorgeous vehicle!

Good Friday to you my speed demon :)

I love anything Ian Callum designs, and the F-Pace is no exception.

I don't have it picked out specifically - I just tell the folks that deliver cars to give me whatever is in the line-up, I need to drive them all so that I can know what they feel like, and how they drive.

My favorite would be to drive it with Ian.

I'm seeing a lot of Nissan vehicles on the road these days. What is your opinion on their quality? I love the Versa, but everyone tells me it's not safe. Is the Rogue AWD a decent buy?

Nissan Versa isn't my favorite car, but not because it's unsafe. It's just in stiff competition with cars like the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta.

The same applies to the Rogue, stiff competition. You can get a well equipped Subaru Forester 2.5i premium all-wheel drive as a competitor. The Forester is well known for its all-wheel drive capabilities and has a great resale value.

My daughter will need a car for college next year - seniors can't live in the dorms and there is no rental housing within walking distance and no real bus service. I am trying to budget how much I need to spend for a safe and reliable used car that as a parent I can feel that my daughter will consistently get where she is going without breaking down, including during the 350 mile drive from home to school and back. Also would appreciate any suggestions for the best way to get said car. I assume that I will pay more than I would on Craig's list but is CarMax a reliable company that would give me reason to sleep better at night. I would prefer to buy something new but I can't afford the cost of a new car.

You've given me no idea what your budget is. Is it $100 a month or $300 a month?

Carmax is reliable and you don't have to worry about going to someone's house that you don't know. A certified pre-owned car is good and the monthly payments can be a lot less than a new car and still have a warranty.

Hi Warren and Lou Ann Was wondering if you have seen the Toyota C-HR which will be hitting the US next spring? Somewhat like a Juke but is a Toyota, regular gas, and a little bigger. Thanks.

I haven't heard when the Toyota - not Scion - competitor to the Nissan Juke will be hitting the Streets of, well, San Francisco :). It was a concept when shown, but we're pretty sure it's on its way over to America.

Are there any offered in the US?

The Porsche 918 convertible - that sells for less than a million bucks?

Let's see - the Fisker Karma convertible didn't make it.

You have the smart fortwo electric convertible

That's all I can think of. I'd stick with a MINI cooper convertible or the BMW or audi convertible.

Here's question about driving more than the car industry itself. My wife and I are having a "discussion:" I drive a manual, and I often shift from 3rd to 4th without bothering using the clutch. At a certain speed & engine RPM, the gears are already synchronized and I slowly take it out of third and ease it into forth (without gear grinding, etc). My wife is horrified by this practice and insists that it is damaging the car. Is it?

depends on the year of the car. In the older cars I would agree with you, but the newer cars are not set up that way.

Aren't lease costs affected by the resale value of the vehicle involved? I thought that a car with a higher resale value would usually have a lower lease cost than a car of the same initial price and a lower resale value. Thanks

I am concerned that the more leasing that goes on the lower the resale value.

When you lease you don't own the car so you're not reselling it, the dealer is. If they want to move the car off the lot they can sell if for less. Does that affect your resale value of a car the same year?

It all depends on how fast the dealer wants to get rid of the car and how many cars are coming off lease at the same time.

Would be a good alternative to Carmax?

Carlist is a great place to list your used car for free, especially if you use the app - you can scan the VIN, upload pictures and it goes to facebook twitter and google+ automatically. (carlist's not yours - so they don't need your passwords etc)

But those are still private parties and don't offer financing for the most part.

Carmax is local

As cars improve, their longevity increases. The last time we bought a new car, we were considerably more affluent -- and we bought two very good cars during that time. Both have been paid-for for years, which has meant that even as this current depression lingers, the one thing we haven't had to worry about is losing our wheels. Yes, maintenance can add up, but not anywhere near the point that getting something new evens it out. Had we leased back then, we would have been in a difficult spot once we turned in the cars.

I'm the same way - I buy everything I own so that I don't have payments - I own my house, my car, my airplane, the hangar it sits in. I have no credit card debt. I have my own chickens, for the organic eggs. I have a 500 sq foot veggie garden because tri-colored carrots and yellow pear shaped tomatoes are too expensive to buy when you're on a budget.

It takes owning something out right to know the feeling of not paying for it. It feels so good.

The rest of the world has small efficient diesel-powered pickups. Ram has a full-sized one that gets 29mpg highway. Do you think we'll see small diesel pickups here in your lifetimes, maybe once gas/diesel get back to $4/gallon? Or are we addicted forever to huge gas pickups? I know the mfrs won't sell what people won't buy. Will people here clamor for 50mpg small pickups? SpokaneMan

Good Morning Spokane Man (because it is morning still for us :)

Diesel was on a roll, but the Volkswagen dieselgate was all EPA/CARB needed to put the brakes on anything diesel coming into California. the regulations are so tough that I doubt you will see many new diesels coming to the United States.

In fact, VW group is talking about nothing but electric cars and gasoline cars these days. So, no.

I have read that this new VW is to be introduced in New York. Have you heard anything about it? Is it mechanically similar to the similarly named Audi model? Thank you.

The Alltrack is essentially a Golf SportWagen that will compete with the subaru. The Audi Allroad is a different engine and more luxury.

Any early thoughts on this new hybrid? It seems kind of intriguing.

It is intriguing. I like most things that Hyundai does. I think they need to be careful. Volkswagen made the mistake of going too far from it's DNA heritage and I am concerned that Hyundai is reaching. But I am interested in how the Ioniq will drive and the mpg numbers.

Have you had a chance to check out the Genesis concept? What do you think? And how much will actually make into the production version? It seems like a pretty concept-forward design that would be difficult to carry into production. But, if Hyundai is serious about positioning Genesis as its luxury brand, they need to be bold.

I absolutely agree with you, but the Genesis wasn't as bold as the Lincoln concept with the gullwing doors.

Do you have any more information on the 2017 Impreza, beyond what is on I am particularly interested in the 5-door.Thank you. Thank you.

They've written a book (practically) on every nook and cranny.

We ended up with a used 2008 Honda Odyssey. Odyssey's and Pilot's are the only models with three anchors for car seats in the third row. US models have one placed squarely in the middle of the 3rd row so the the row can't accommodate car seat + booster seat. Granted families with 4 kids in boosters/car seats aren't a huge market but growing up in Detroit and working for a MI Congressman for five years...seems like a easy engineering fix/poor oversight and unnecessary lost market share for US makers.

Should have waited for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. There are latch anchors for up to five rear seating positions in the Pacifica.

The issue is not my budget, the issue is about how much do you have to spend to get a car that you can trust to be safe. I'm sure i can get a car for a $1,000 but unless I was the luckiest person on earth it will likely break down, have problems, need repairs. I am trying to know how much to spend to get a reliable car I can trust with my daughters life. For $20,000 I'm sure its no problem same for $15,000 - a $5,000 used car I'm not sure what to expect. Could I expect a year of no major repairs and no major problems? What about at $8,000, $10,000. My budget is somewhat flexible the question is how much do I have to save? I'm not going to send my daughter to school with a car where over a year or two she has a 50/50 chance of breaking down at night or in the middle of nowhere. If it means no vacation or no more eating out then that's what it means. If I can have piece of mind at $7,500 then I can save less. Thanks, suggestions for specific cars would be appreciated

I would lease a car for her. It would be a couple hundred a month and would carry a full warranty from the car manufacturer. I would look for a car that has the most safety features as standard, something like a Honda.

Yep -- and yesterday, I was stopped at a light driving my paid-for car out of Naples. On one side was a sleek sedan with RR on the hubcaps (are they even hubcaps at that point?) and on the other side a really nice-looking Equus. Sigh. I guess the rich will always be with us, and we just have to look out for them.

It depends on your definition of rich. I might actually have a higher net worth than the person driving the RR.

Might work for you until an air conditioning compressor goes and cost a couple grand to replace or the dashboard fails and must be replaced at the cost of $3k. I refuse to keep any vehicles made after 2000 for more than 120,000 miles because of the cost of parts. An alternator isnt a $120 part any more and neither is a fuel pump. If your transmission goes or you have issues with the differentials on a 10+ year old car the cost of repair may not be warranted based on what the vehicle is worth. Clifton, VA

That's probably why leasing is becoming so popular.

Is he having computer problems AGAIN?

It's good friday - he had to go to church early to pray for me.

Get a reliable used car; my 2003 Camry was hit in a parking lot 2 years and totaled; I took the settlement money, added $1,000 and bought a 2004 Camry. It's been a great vehicle.

Advice from a college kid - thanks

I don't know that much about cars, and I've always wondered what the advantage of a dual-exhaust system?

It's all about the bass

If you're going to get dual get a Gibson - exhaust or guitar

Speaking of Fits and Fiestas--those the two cars I'm considering after getting my money's worth out of my old car. Are there are any major drawbacks to either?

The fit has more configurable space and more sandard safety.

I would get the Fiesta ST if I was buying it.

Clifton's right about vehicle worth -- but it still might be worth doing to avoid the ongoing expenses of a new car. I don't care what my car is worth to KBB, I care that it gets me where I'm going.

me too. There have been no major costs to my cars and mu husband fixes most issues

I've thought about it, but the due at signing costs seem to offset the lower monthly payment, which also usually is set at 12,500 miles per year and goes up if you want/need a higher mileage.

but you have a brand new car with all the safety and a warranty. it's a trade off - chat with me next week.

Check Consumer Reports car issue. They list reliable used cars by price range.

I don't think it's just about the price for this person. They are looking for what else to think about and just starting the search.

If anyone else has thoughts put them in the comments or come back next week.


Thanks everyone for coming to the chat today. Have a Good/Great Friday and a wonderful Easter.

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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