Real Wheels Live (Sept. 2)

Sep 02, 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,

August is done! August is an interesting month; it's the end of Summer, the time everyone starts buckling down again and getting serious. Many people take vacations during August, which is why auto sales are traditionally off a bit.

Do we have chatters in Florida? If so, is everyone okay from the Hurricane? Are my peeps in DC feeling it? What are you doing differently? Does everyone have their emergency kits in their trunks?

This week I drove the new Jaguar F-Pace and the Toyota Prius Two Eco.

I love any design by Ian Callum, and the F-Pace continues that tradition. The interior is neatly appointed, especially when it is lit up at nighttime. The 35t R-Sport starts at $55,300, the one I drove was $62,295 which included climate/heated seats. I got around 20mpg; EPA estimate is 18 city/23 highway/20 combined.

My beloved little Toyota Prius isn't getting the love it deserves; sales are down 26% this year. That is surprising to me because I love this vehicle. Out the door, it is $25,760 and the EPA estimated fuel economy is 58 city/ 53 highway/ 56 combined. I got around 55 mpg. Just a great car, but cars aren't selling well right now, only SUVs and trucks. When the price of gas goes back up....

Let's chat about cars

Hi guys, now that CFA has dropped the Dodge Dart, what is on the horizon for the brand in the next year or two? Anything exciting?

It's a good question - the Chrysler group segregated out trucks and cars, Dodge got the cars, Ram got the trucks, Chrysler got the cars. Jeep are SUVs

While FCA is up 3% the car industry is down.

Alfa Romeo        –61.9%
Chrysler        –22.3%
Dodge        5.1%
Fiat        –21.4%
Jeep        11.9%
Ram        1.6%

Should a dealer service manager know what brand of airbags are in their vehicles? A few days ago a truck carrying a load of Takata airbag inflaters from Moses Lake, WA to Mexico for incorporation into airbags blew up near Eagle Pass, TX pulverizing at least one resident (nothing left but teeth). The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. I asked my service manager what brand of airbags are in my vehicles sold by his dealership and he said he didn't know except for the Takata unit on the passenger side had been recalled. I know that Daicel, TRW, AutoLiv also make airbag inflaters but I don't know which vehicles they are in. Shouldn't my service manager be able to tell me which airbag brand is in my vehicles?

The service manager SHOULD KNOW who supplies the air bags in the cars, trucks his dealership sells. That is especially true in the much publicized case of Takata, which is supposed to have remedied its problem.

Another dilemma for us; selecting another car. It's time to replace our 2005 Toyota Sienna XLE with an SUV. The Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 are just too small. Have been looking at the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Kia Sorento and Mazda CX9. Our criteria is a comfortable ride and quiet car for long trips. Need some expert advice.

Why are you getting rid of your minivan? I love the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, but everyone I talk to would rather have an SUV than a minivan. It makes me sad.

Those are four really great choices. I would probably go with the Honda Pilot or the Kia Sorento. I love the drive of the CX9, but don't remember it being as comfortable and quiet as the Pilot.

I would spec out each vehicle with all the options you want and see which ones are in your price range as well. Options on some cars can push that price up.

Let me know what you get.

Looking for a safe and reliable used vehicle for my college student who is away from home. Need good cargo room. Looking at AWD/4WD for driving in SW Virginia (mountains and snow). Price should be $15,000 or less. Suggestions?

I am thinking a used Hyundai Sportage, something of that nature. We are talking only about SAFE TRANSPORTATION here at a $15,000 price tag.

Within the last month or so, I read an article online about "disappearing" new car features (manual windows, cd players, no air conditioning, etc.). The title was something like "how long will it be before no new cars have cd players" or something similar and wondered why manufacturers were still producing new models with some of these no longer popular features (& who was buying them). Embedded in the article was a pdf listing the number & names of new models that still had each of these features. For the life of me, I cannot remember who published the article and no amount of Googling can locate it. Do you or any of your readers remember?

Many older people have CDs, millennials do not.

I gave a quick look to see if I could find a pdf but couldn't so I'm putting it out there for our chatters to see if they can.

How do those two sedans compare? Thank you.

Hi, Lou Ann -- thanks for asking. The good news is: the storm made landfall in what is pretty much the least populated stretch of coastline, so damages are minimal and people seem to be okay. The bad news is: much of the Florida State campus is without power this morning, which means that the electronic locks separating the Criminoles football team from society may have shut down.

Good to hear about minimal damage and great to hear about most people being okay.

Tallahasse will figure something out. They always do.

stay warm, stay dry, stay safe


Any idea if VW is planning to bring the Golf convertible to the US? We rented one on a recent trip. Aside from being a little underpowered on the Autobahn, which probably could be said of anything short of a 911, we really liked the car. Would probably even trade our A5 convertible in for one if we could get a manual. thanks,

You want a convertible manual from Volkswagen. On a good note, if any car company would make it and bring it here, it would be VW.

I haven't heard of one coming to the US, but I will ask.

I guess that making the front end of a car low to the ground is better for the aerodynamics and fuel economy, but I don't like hearing the sound of my car rubbing against the ground when pulling out of certain parking lots that have a slope or the road a large hump. I have also pulled up a little to far towards the curb in some parking spaces. Am I doing something wrong? I don't want to scrape the paint or pull off the bumper.

It is one of the hazards of a car with low ground clearance. It scares me to drive some of those cars because they're usually expensive as well.

You might want to take another look, unless you need off-road capability. I rented a Sienna a few months ago for a business trip and was very impressed with the comfort (and the way it felt like 60 when I caught myself doing 90 on Alligator Alley). Good highway cruiser, unless there's a lot of bad road. I did 500 miles that day both at speed and in traffic, and it was better than I expected.

That's the way I'm thinking as well; minivans are getting a bad rap because of the soccer mom nomenclature, but I'm telling you, they are great vehicles.

Minivans are great stage-of-life vehicles. Can be used for soccer-mimism and empty nestism.

I hate not having a CD player in my Chevy Trax. It wasn't an option, but I have lived on Audio Books on CD for my daily commute for years. I get the books from the local library, and while they do have some books available for download, the majority are on CD.

I bluetooth my iphone to the car and listen to the John Batchelor radio show through podcast. I'm not a fan of talk shows with people calling in, I like to listen to the experts. Most of my trips are not long, so audio books is a little too much.

Thanks for the tip

You got that right. When I drive The Last Lincoln I'll Ever Own, I actually had to have the front plastic thingy (technical term) re-attached because parking lot barriers (or whatever those things are that keep you from going through to the next lane) kept dragging it off the two bolts.

It's reality versus theory on some cars. (love the technical terms)

Are there any striking differences between these models? Do you have an idea of the Out-the-door prices being paid by buyers? Do you recommend I wait for 2017 model or I should get the 2016 now. Thanks for your help.

There will be some new colors, different trim levels. I think it starts around $52K

BMW X5 and Acura MDX will be the main competitors

Happy Labor Day to all. Please drive safely.

(1) The sound quality of the uncompressed audio files in a CD is superior to that of MP3 files and of most iTune files. (2) Many of us have Android phones and don't want to bother with loading and managing iTunes interfaces. (3) Many of us have phones that do not have the storage capacity to handle many uncompressed raw audio files. (4) Many of us have a library of several hundred CDs and don't feel like it's worth our time to transfer them to another storage medium. (5) Even streaming services with numerous channels don't always fit the bill. I'm often muttering "20 Sirius/XM channels, and nothing worth listening to." (6) Get off my lawn!

I agree with all 5 of those reasons, not the 6th :) Especially number one. It's the reason people hang onto their albums; the live feel is there.

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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