Real Wheels Live (Aug. 5)

Aug 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.

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Good Morning Warren and Friends,

My 92-year old neighbor, Barbara had a party on July 23rd to say thank you to everyone for being her friend. On July 30th she left us. I can see her sitting next to her beloved husband, Louie, in heaven, him watching Nascar, her watching the old westerns.

I drove two very different vehicles this week, a Jeep Grand Cherokee Eco Diesel and a Mazda mazda3 manual transmission, and a really fun electric bike.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel starts at $52,000, and I got 27.9 mpg mainly because I spent so much time on the highway, but with how backed up traffic was I'm still surprised I got that.

The 2016 Mazda Mazda3 5-ddor grand touring 6-speed manual transmission was a delight to drive. I like Mazda's, but I also liked driving the manual. I got 23.9 mpg on a car that has an EPA estimate of 26 city/35 highway/29 combined.

The electric bike is a Gocycle. I've just started driving around on the electric bicycle, but I love it so far. There are a lot of hills around here, so I'm building up my stamina.

Here's a thought for you - -

There's an app that keeps track of your college kid's alternative transportation skateboarding etc. to school. The more alternative biking skateboarding done, the more points they get. The points can be used for buying stuff from the groups on the app.

Right now students are getting drinks and fish tacos for free, but why stop there?

The one thing the Universities need to do is sell these ZEV emission reductions to the car companies. Tesla Motors was paid $130 million last year by car companies for ZEV credits.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Universities could substantiate their claims of ZEV credits and apply for ZEV credits from the alternative means of transportation that students are using? Wouldn’t you love to see kids going to school from ZEV credit scholarships? What if your college told you if you didn’t buy your teenager a car they would reduce college admission fees?

Let's chat about cars

I'm a very practical person. I don't need power or luxury, I need good gas mileage, reliability, and a comfortable ride to get me and my dog from Point A to Point B. I've been driving Honda Accords for years. I love the reliability, but I just wish they were more interesting, not so "sedate". The color options are so boring! I've been thinking about a CR-V for my next vehicle (upon retirement), but I see so many of them, and they're looking rather bland. When I see a Nissan Juke, it's rare, and it catches my eye because it has a funky look to it. Is it anywhere near as reliable as a Honda? Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Go with the Juke if you want funk. Go with the CR-V if you want something that works well all the time.

My spouse likes the funkiness of the Kia Soul but I'm worried about its crash-worthiness because it's a very small car. I know you can buy a panoply of crash avoidance technology but how would this vehicle hold up in an unavoidable crash? AND have you actually driven it?

I've driven it in all iterations. Get the available advanced safety technology. Wear seat belts. No crash is unavoidable.

Hey guys, we now need a three row crossover. Trying to narrow this down because we don't have a lot of time before we have to get one. From looks only, we like the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Which out of those do you like best and why? Also, which is the best value for our dollar? Thanks.

did you look at the Nissan Armada? The Chevy Tahoe? the Chrysler Pacifica?

Value for the money would probably be the Hyundai Santa Fe, but I like all the above and would love to hear your thought on them as well.

Remember, stow and go seats in the minivan.

Honda Pilot I like for all the safety suite


I wanted to thank you both for your work and for helping us novices think about cars in the right way. For the first time in my life, I am in the market for a new car and do not have to buy it immediately, so I get to read your work, do other research and take test drives. I'm looking at four downsizing models, for me: the Honda CR-V (own an Odyssey now), the Toyota RAV4 (bought the daughter a used Corolla last year; so far so good), the Subaru Forester (wife drove a Subaru recently and liked it), and the Ford Escape (had one while overseas). Are there any other models I have no connection to that I could consider? Also, the Forester and Escape 2017 models are out now, but the Honda and Toyota lines are not. When are those expected, and is there any reason to wait if I choose one of those options? Safety options and their availability on non-top-of-the-line models would sway me.

We love what we do--literally, which is why we do it. Add the Chevrolet Equinox to your list along with the Jeep Renegade. But I recommend the Honda CR-V. Why? Because honda actually developed that small cuv concept.

Hi guys, have either of you driven Caddy's CT6? I saw one on the road last weekend. I liked the front end but the rear part of the profile looked a little grandpa-like to me. Was wondering how it drove and handled.

Coming soon to my driveway.

It's amazing how far Hyundai has come in the last several years. Do you think the new Genesis brand will be respected in the way Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW are? Would you say Hyundai (with Genesis now) has more brand cache than anything from Detroit?


What is the range/speed of the Gocycle. I suppose if you just pedal, the range is unlimited, but if it is going to be practical for a daily commute, it would likely need to provide a faster ride with less energy than a standard bike.

I don't know. Will find out.

Lou Ann here:

I think the charge is 15-20 miles. I haven't run the power out yet as I'm waiting for new tires. Remember, you will go further than that because you can't help but pedal and get regenerative braking.

You can wait till you need the battery and then hold down the button to use it.

I am also downloading the app and configuring that with the bike this week.

Any issue with me possibly buying a VW Passat with a gas engine? I like the car, it's made in Tennessee, and the gas engine doesn't have any of the offending software. But it still would be giving money to a company that did some awful things. Have they been punished enough yet that I can buy a Passat in good conscience? Thanks for your insight.

This reminds me of the movie Rainman with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Cruise had to get his autistic relative to Los Angeles but Hoffman wouldn't fly on an airline that had crashes. Hoffman told Cruise Quantas - Quantas had the lowest crash ratio. You have to see the movie you'll see why I'm laughing.

What VW did was egregious. Point blank. But other companies have deceived intentionally as well. Some have deceived unintentionally - buy the car you want.

The VW Passat is a good vehicle with lots of back passenger room.

The car industry is moving from manufacturing for private individual ownership to production to serve. Maven, GM's car-sharing enterprise, is going gang-busters. That is the future of the car industry.

No, we did not look at a Tahoe because of the gas mileage. We would not be caught dead in a minivan. Ever.

Ok - then we go back to your choices. I can't say what I think of the Nissan Armada because I am embargoed till august 8th, but look at that vehicle as well.

I would say the Hyundai Santa Fe after that then the Honda Pilot

I have a lot of hobby stuff to haul--kayaks, drums, other odd things--so need something that can do that easily while also being a pretty reliable daily commute vehicle. Anything to suggest? Can be used, and doesn't need to be immediately purchased, so I have time to research.

Rent a Suburban.

I have been thinking of SUV/crossover, too. I am intrigued by the new Mazda CX-9. Maybe a bit pricey right now, but very attractive to the eyes, for comfort and utility.

Try it as a renter, first. See if you actually like it.

How do these models compare? Is there a better choice for someone who wants a hatchback/small wagon that is fun to drive? Thanks,

Is Etron all -electric? The mind gets crowded. I've driven and much like the Allroad.

Lou Ann--so sorry about the loss of your friend. It sounds like she went out surrounded by friends and family and after a long life, but I know you'll still miss her. In more mundane news, I'm looking at a very-low-mileage 2015 Honda Fit. How do I determine the NADA value (which my bank wants) and what constitutes a good deal? How do you like Fits? I want reliable, safe, good gas mileage, and a hatchback. Thank you!

I like the HOnda Fit for its configurability. The Honda CR-V is made on the same platform. The only other car in the group I really like is the Ford Fiesta ST but it doesn't have the ability fit as much stuff.

I like Mazda's, but I also liked driving the manual. I got 23.9 mpg on a car that has an EPA estimate of 26 city/35 highway/29 combined. Zoom. Zoom.

I think they stopped that marketing of the zoom zoom which is unfortunate

I had one as an extended rental earlier this year. It's not a bad little car, but I found my back and hamstrings hurting after a couple of hours of driving. YMMV, but I'd recommend renting one for a few days of normal use to see if you experience that as well. (Enterprise has a bunch of them if you ask them to find you one.)

That's a good point - if you can rent a car for a couple days it is always recommended. That way you get real world driving and a bit more time to access the car.

Thanks for the reminder

Mr/Ms Hauling Vehicle should look at the small cargo vans now offered by Nissan, Dodge, Ford and Benz.

Good suggestion. I like Nissan's NV200. I also like Ford's Transit Connect.

Lou Ann, Mazda began using the Zoom-Zoom theme just before 2000. An advertising campaign that retains the same theme for more than 15 years should go into the Advertising Age Hall of Fame.

I agree, but why give it up? Everytime I hear the term zoom-zoom I think Mazda. If someone else wants to pick it up in a couple years they can and it will appeal to a whole new generation. I would have kept the words in there somehow.

This is an example that illustrates the obvious truth that there is often more emotion than reason involved in automobile purchases. Even an automotive contrarian like me replaced his last minivan with something that was more fun to drive after most of the kids left home. Do you see anything coming along that will appeal to emotions (rather than reason) and replace our current national preference for SUVs/CUVs for solo commuting, running errands, etc.

a rise in the price of gasoline or new harsher regulations. those are the only two that have ever made a difference

Plug-in hybrid, I believe.

Sounds like it. Check range on electric/gas. If all-electric is 4o miles and you actually drive 30 or less daily, you conceivably can go months without a gasoline station.

Nothing wrong with Zoom-Zoom. But I really miss the Kia Hamsters!

I've heard that from other people. I don't think that has the lasting power zoom zoom does, but they were cute

If you need to haul your bulky toys mostly on weekends, Warren's advice to rent a large vehicle is worth considering. A former colleague of mine and his wife did this twice a month for years and saved a great deal over buying a "hauler." He lived in a big city and was usually able to find good weekend special rates.

The automobile industry is moving toward service, versus ownership. Renting simply makes sense. Buying incurs garage fees, insurance. You don't need all of that for temporary hauling needs.

A chatter asked about the Genesis - I just got a video for the G90 and the website


If you would like even more information about Genesis and G90 please visit

They're still around...just busy on their wheel, trying to get that Soul over a speed bump.


Any thoughts on it? Looks like a nice facelift but not much else? Thanks!

The Fusion has always been a good car. I don't expect les for the new one.

Another opinion: we're in the habit of renting a cheap car whenever we have to go 100 miles or more. It's allowed us to keep two older cars without the expense of buying something new for a short commute.

I used to do that when I lived in San Francisco. I would rent a car to go on a long trip instead of owning a vehicle.

Now I take my electric gocycle to the gym and back.

Alternative transportation is the way to think.

Stretch flies his airplane to the bay area every monday and home on fridays. no way he drives in that traffic.

Thank you all for joining us today. Please return next week. Thanks, as always, to Gene, Lou Ann, Ria and Michelle. 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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