Real Wheels Live (Sept. 30)

Sep 30, 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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Well, it had to happen; all that flying around I finally got sick and missed a day of driving Toyotas. I got to drive the fabulous new Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid and sit in the product reveal for the other Toyotas, but after that, I was in bed. The Prius info is embargoed till next week (but I loved it), but I have info about the other Toyotas.

But first, I drove the 2016 Lexus RC 200t and loved it! The little 2-door sports car hugged the road and was incredibly fun to drive. A turning radius of 34.2 ft made taking those tight curves so much fun.

I drove a major competitor of the rear-wheel drive Lexus; the 2017 Infiniti Q60. I can't compare the two of them because I drove the RC 200t which is around 244 horsepower. The Infiniti Q60 Red is 400 horsepower! Sa-weet. We tried it in every mode, and our favorite was standard sport dynamic. There is an eco mode, but it seemed like an oxymoron to put that in a sportscar.

The competitors for both the cars above would be Audi A5, BMW 4-Series, Nissan 370Z, Cadillac ATS, and perhaps a Porsche Boxster.

2017 Toyota 86
If you've driven the Scion FR-S and loved it, you will love this sportscar as well. Known in Japan, probably around the world actually, as HachiRoku (86). The AE86 was the global name for the Toyota Corolla GT-S that sold in the U.S. in the mid-1980s. The 2.0-liter aluminum boxer engine delivers 205 hp at 7,000 rpm and 156 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 6,400 rpm. (Automatic version: 200 hp at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. at 6,400 rpm.) EPA-estimated 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with the six-speed automatic transmission and 21 city/28 highway with the six-speed manual.

For all of you looking for a 3-row 7 or 8-passenger, there is the 2017 Toyota Highlander.
 2.7-liter  1,500 lb. towing capacity (LE 4-cylinder) 185 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 184 lb-ft. @4,200 rpm (LE only)
 3.5-liter (LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, and Limited) -  5,000 lb. towing capacity
 8AT 8-Speed Automatic Transmission Improve Performance and Efficiency. 
 EPA fuel economy: LE: 30/28/29 XLE, Limited, Limited Platinum: 29/27/28 
 It comes in either front-wheel-drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD - V6 only).

I'm hoping everyone else is healthy.

When Congress returns to "action" after the election, are there any pressing car/truck related bills that they are planning to address, e.g., emissions, safety, fuel economy mandates? Thanks.

You mean, after their summer vacation, and after the election campaign when they actually get back to running our country? :)

Sec Foxx is working on autonomous driving, trying to work with all the groups to standardize the legality and safety of autonomous vehicles.

California Air Resources Board had a two day event this week talking about emissions where many companies are now, and where they plan to be.They had General Motors, True Zero, Faraday Future and a host of other companies with some great slides and information.I was sick, so I was able to watch some of it - I put some of it on my Driving the Nation twitter page if you want to see some of the slides.

How would you rank in order of preference: the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, or Honda CR-V?

Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4, Mazda Cx-5.

As the owner of a 2011 Buick Lacrosse, I have to say I love the design of the car much more than the new iteration just released. My Lacrosse is sexy (but I hate the thick A-pillars). The 2017 Lacrosse looks like a traditional, old Buick from the seventies. What were the designers thinking? Have either of you driven it yet?

I haven't driven it, but I am in agreement with the thick pillars. I also don't like it when they add a piece of molding on the side of the car (so that your car doesn't get dinged) instead of actually sculpting the side of the car.


Have either of you driven these new offerings? Thanks

I've driven the Genesis G90 and love it. It is up for the North American Car of the Year and I think it is a good contender. Full of standard equipment and a true competitor to its segment and the segment above it.

How come Ford does not use the front end of its hugely popular F-150 for the Expedition? The Expedition has a face and body only Ford could love, which may explain why I never see them on the road. I do see lots of Chevy Suburbans, though.

you'll have to ask Ford.

It's so much fun to test drive vehicles a few hundred miles and wax enthusiastic about their road handling, interior ergonomics, and appearance. But it really takes extended user experience to objectively rate a vehicle. What are some you have found that stand the test of time based upon your own experiences?

The Chevrolet Cruze and many others.

Hi guys, the wife and I were looking at the 2017 Buick Enclave as a replacement for our minivan (nice van but we are done with that part of our lives). We liked the Enclave because among its competition, it has the most leg room in the third row, and we will use that third row often to transport adult family members and friends. What the wife and I could not get past about the Enclave was how dated the interior looked and that it lacked options like a smart key. And speaking of keys, you still have to use one to start the thing(no push-button ignition). We don't think the lack of these popular features justifies the hefty price, but the exterior of the Buick is beautiful. When will the redesigned Enclave be introduced? What do you know about it? Please don't recommend other models. We might be willing to keep the van until the new Enclave is here.

I have gone to the media website to get all the information I can for you

The Enclave is offered in three trim levels: Convenience (1SD), Leather (1SL) and Premium (1SN). All-wheel drive is available on Leather and Premium trims, and
all models are powered by a direct-injected 3.6L V-6 that delivers an EPA-estimated 24 mpg on the highway (FWD models).

It looks like - if you're going to wait - you might want to look at the Buick today announced the 2017 Enclave Sport Touring Edition – the latest addition to the brand’s design-focused Sport Touring Edition lineup and an expressive and athletic appearance for the popular Enclave mid-size luxury SUV. The Sport Touring is highlighted by a Satin Black Ice-toned grille and 20-inch chrome-clad wheels with Satin Black Ice accents.

If there is anything else you need to know keep asking

Both my Golf and a rental Chevy have the same quirk when I plug in my iPad. They both start playing the first song alphabetically on the device, currently Genesis's Abacab. The Chevy switched modes to the aux input and started playing. The VW just plays, and stays on the existing radio station. In my mind neither of these are the right answer. I can understand switching modes, but I don't like it because often I'm just plugging in to charge. But I can honestly say I've never wanted to start listening to the songs alphabetically. So why is that a good option? Are all manufacturers doing this? FWIW, Apple doesn't look particularly good either. Their CarPlay apparently only applies to iPhones, iPads need not apply.

Android? Beats me.

What are the most interesting revelations from the latest stop on the auto show circuit?

The amount of design and technology coming out. While electric cars are all the rage so is design. As much as people want all the technology and infotainment the one thing that makes the sell still is design

Everyone is taking autonomous driving seriously, as they should.

Will it be easier to see out to the rear and sides of the new 2018 Equinox? We have a 2011 and our only real complaint is rear visibility.

Yes. I think so.

Warren and Lou Ann, I am looking to replace a 93 (owned for 20 years) Subaru Legacy and leaning towards a newish Volvo XC 60 or Subaru (Forrester or Legacy). In terms of AWD and overall bang for my buck, is there a better choice? I my Legacy has been a great car and still runs well, but I am no longer a 1 day a week- errands only driver. I am driving from DC to VA beach 2-3 times a month and would like more airbags.

Both cars are excellent choice and have all the needed safety

It's not about how many airbags you have it is where they are positioned. If you are the only person in the car you need airbags around you. It is also important to have a good "cage" around you in case you flip, etc.

I would read

but Volvo and Subaru are known for their safety. You know the Subaru brand well and seem happy with it. I would stay with them.

Thanks for the ranking. Could you expand by giving an explanation for the order of preference?

The CR-V just seems to make the most sense in that segment. It knows what and why it is. The Rav4 tries to be everything. The CX-5 is a catch-up mobile.

Did Stretch get in the Prius? It looks larger than I would have thought and I'm wondering about headroom. Thx

Stretch didn't get in the Prius Prime, but there was a guy his height that did and he fit just fine.

There are people that have said they don't like the design, or the inside room, but I think the car is great. Most of the people who commute to work do so as one-person. The Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid that allows you to use electric first, then switch to gasoline. Most of the people that commute could do so on all electric, and some of you have charging stations at work.

This is the best solution to me as the Nation continues to ramp up its infrastructure for electric cars.

You've helped me out in my quest for a used modest hatchback, 2013 or newer, by answering some questions I've had. I thought I'd let you know how it went. It didn't. I narrowed my choices to a Honda Fit and an Elantra GT, with a Ford Focus and/or Fiesta in the running. I went the dealership route and I can tell you, the car sales experience is awful--not the pressure to buy, which wasn't nearly as bad as my last foray 15 year ago, but the disarray of the process. I would make appointments to look at a car, show up at the dealership, and they would have no idea why I was there. I'm a thorough researcher and at every dealership, even the ones branded Honda and Hyundai, I knew more about the car than the salesperson. When they found out I was pre-approved for financing at an interest rate they couldn't match or beat, they visibly lost interest. One dealership refused to honor the price they had quoted me over the phone or even drop the price $500. The car I was interested in is still on the lot, three months after I test drove it. I let my loan approval expire and took a break, since I'm not in car crisis. Now I'm thinking of starting in again but I'm not looking forward to it. (Just so you know, I'm a woman, shopping alone--don't know if that makes a difference.)

Choose a new dealership. Not all are that careless. You should not have run into those problems at a dealership that puts customer service first.

I bought mine new twelve years ago at Fitzgerald in Germantown (now Rockville also, I believe) and there was zero haggling; the price on their website was what I paid, using financing through my credit union. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if they had a car I wanted. They have a couple of used models in Rockville, if their online inventory is to be trusted.

Call them and ask, but nowadays dealers know to keep their websites uptodate.

You could also think Mazda 3 or a Honda Fit.

Since she is shopping for a used car, Warren has often recommended CarMax -- give them a shot.

And he recommends it, again.


Love it! Love it!

Buy it

So Lou Ann and Warren when do you all get to test drive one. New Disco was just introduced at the Paris Auto Show. 1000lbs lighter than the LR4 it replaces. This is not the Discovery Sport. and you need to test drive with the low range. Pricing data already up along with colors and options. Clifton, VA

In a month or so, maybe earlier. Probably earlier.

Gas and coal fired power plants are more responsible for our poor air quality than all the cars and trucks in the USA. EVs and plug in hybrids will just make the problem worse. Solar power and solar charging just takes too long.

I disagree.

Autonomous cars are real, as is autonomous driving. The industry is changing rapidly.

What kind of shape is VW's dealer network in post debacle? Any idea if they've lost many or is traffic/sales still sufficient to keep most dealers doing OK? Service departments still have sufficient business to keep their good mechanics? To me that's one of the biggest questions of whether to buy a VW now (and the new Golf wagon has my interest for sure). Thanks!

I haven't seen any stories of them buying out dealers. Cadillac is buying out some of their dealers.

I think Volkswagen is weathering the storm as well as it can. It is bringing out new product that isn't diesel and will go on.

Hi Warren- I'm nearing the end of the lease on my bmw 3 series, and it's looking like there will be about a 6k difference between residual value and retail, with residual being higher. Will dealers typically negotiate residual? Thanks!

Brief answer: No.

In your opinion, what's the best "sneaky fast" car out there- in other words, a car that looks slow but can really move. So far I've looked at a G8 and the Chevy SS, but both seem hard to come by used and in a manual transmission. I'd like to keep it around 30k. Thanks!

I'm asking my friend Andy who writes for Autobytel

We've just finished driving the Infiniti Q60 with 400 horsepower and he mentioned the Q50 that has the same engine. It's a sedan.


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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