Real Wheels Live (Oct. 7)

Oct 07, 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,

I am dedicating this blog to Holly Reich and to anyone that has fought cancer. Holly fought cancer for twenty years, four times successfully. Each time I would ask her why she fought so hard and she would tell me that "because if I can help find a cure for cancer my suffering will have been worth it."

Oh, Holly, I loved talking to you, visiting you and your family, your husband Mike, son Dylan, and daughter Jenna. Stretch loved the videos you would send him of you and Dylan doing crazy things. You taught me so much about love and laughter.

Godspeed girl. Oh, what the hell, go whatever speed you want. :)

I will always miss you.  #cancersucks

How is everyone faring with Hurricane Matthew bearing down? Do you have an emergency kit in your house and your car? Not just for you, but if someone calls and needs your help, can you help them efficiently?

This week I drove a VW Jetta hybrid. I drove mainly highway and got 37 mpg for a sedan that starts at $31,000. IF you're driving a hybrid, which one do you own? Would you switch to a plug-in hybrid

Let's chat about cars

I have a 2010 Subaru Outback. Looking to replace the original factory tires before winter. Should I bring it to the dealership or go to and independent garage? Any recommendation on tire brand/model?

Depends on what discounts you can get. Consumer Reports did a study and found that Costco had the best price on many tires. If you can look online you can see what they recommend.


In heavy rain conditions, how much safer than standard vehicles are all-wheel-drive vehicles with higher- than-normal road clearance plus new tires? I drive a Subaru Outback which "seems" pretty stable driving at very low speeds through heavy rain with standing puddles and shallow water run-offs. (Of course if other drivers are not moving very cautiously, all bets are off.)

I like that you put my first part of the answer in your question - it depends on other drivers.

It also depends on how you drive.

But all being equal in rain the difference will be the higher-than-normal road clearance. The second difference will be the tires and if you've got all-wheel-drive it's another layer of assuredness.

Warren - Last week, I asked why Ford does not use the face of its ubiquitously popular F-150 to enhance the appearance of the dowdy Expedition. You replied, "You'll have to ask Ford." Warren, you're the expert with the industry connections, so how about you ask Ford on behalf of your readers or at least come up with an educated theory? I pay a subscription for this service and would appreciate it if you would be less curt and dismissive of people like myself who support this effort. I have no problem at all with Lou Ann who is always helpful to readers, but I've noticed you have a pattern of uneccesary arrogance.

Ford does not want to confuse its icon, the F150, with anything else. It's that simple.

Any thoughts on the new Volvo S90? I just had a milestone birthday and had always told myself that I would buy a nice car like a Lexus and ride it into the sunset but I'm kind of bored with the sedans Lexus is offering and am looking for something a little different. The S90 looks kind of interesting.

The Volvos are great. The S60 is good, the S90 is good. Stretch would go with a Honda Accord, I would go with an older Maserati Gran Turismo S.

It's your last shot, shoot well. Volvo is a great car.

Any reactions?: rules-now-will-save-many-lives regulating-driverless-cars-before-theyre-road-ready-is-silly

It doesn't surprise me. This is a new technology which will mandate a new infrastructure, new laws, and a steep public learning curve.

People are much more important than cars, and its great to have had such wonderful friends.

I had to stop before I could write a Thank you to you. I am so sad. It was so sudden.

I knew she was leaving us. She was a journalist as well and had to stop going on the trips with us. I would call her every week through the car and ask her what she thought of the speaker. It was our way of keeping engaged.

She was one of those people that didn't want the disease to rule her.

You would have loved her.

My 2010 Ford Escape hybrid, which I have loved, is nearing the end of its useful life. I live at 9,000 feet in the Rockies. I have appreciated the weight of the battery over the back axle, and I've certainly appreciated averaging more than 32 mpg. I need more than a minivan; I need high clearance and stability in the snow. What should I consider as a realistic replacement?

Kindly take a look at the hybrid Fusion, which should give you similar service at a similar price. Or the Tota Prius wagon,

I have used the Tirerack website as part of my research when buying new tires and have bought my tires from them many times, having them drop-shipped to a local tire installer. Depends on your dealer, but there's really no critical reason to depend on the dealer for a tire swap.

I also use Tirerack

Before I buy tires I always check out the Consumer Reports ratings plus those on Tiretrac. My Subaru came with Continental Contac and I replaced with same. Michelin also gets high ratings. Note that all wheel drive cars like Subaru tend to wear out tires more quickly and that wear is exacerbated by mountain driving which attracts Subaru buyers.

Good point. Thank you.My chatters to the rescue!And you drift, you might want to buy some new tires every week :)

Continental and Michelin are wonderful tires; I have visited the Michelin plant in South Carolina - when Edouard Michelin was alive (one of my all-time favorite CEOS).

Continental has a system that is theirs that other companies are using that accurately gives the longevity of the tire



Our family is expanding, and as a result, we'll need to get a new second car to simplify things. We have a new-ish Subaru Outback that'll take us on any long road trips, so the second car will be primarily for local commuting and school/daycare runs. We'd like to something safe, but also economical. Daycare costs are looming, so the cheaper the better (so long as it's safe). I'd prefer a hatchback for a little extra space, but it's not a necessity. We like to buy new, as we tend to keep our cars for a long, long time (my last car was over 20 years old when we sold it). What would your top three choices be?

Congrats on your growing family. Daycare will cost. Take a serious look at things Hyundai, probably an Elantra.

Apparently VW's big new SUV/Crossover is going to be called the Atlas & will debut late October. Have you guys seen/driven it, will it get everybody's mind off of Dieselgate?

Not yet.

I too notice that Warren Brown can occasionally be "terse" in some of his replies. I give him a pass because like all of us I know there can be good days and bad days. Many years ago I took offense at someone who treated me very badly and then I subsequently found out that person was suffering from terminal cancer.

I appreciate that. Warren, as all of you know, is not in good health. He has said on here before that he goes to dialysis twice a week, so I don't mind repeating it.

He switched his days of going from Friday to other days so that he could be here.

If you don't get the right answer, or as much of an answer as you want email in again. If you want to email me at lou at I will try to help you personally.

Best to Warren and his family as they work through this new issue. And be kind to him today - he has been off line dealing with things and just found out about Holly now.

Thank you

When you think about the fact that your tire contacts the road for only a dimension about the size of the palm of your hand and you might be driving at a speed of 50 to 60 to 70 to 80 mph, you probably do not want to stint on the quality of your tires. And you might want to replace them after 6 years or so even if they still have good tread because age and ultra-violet and flexing tend to damage them.

I went back through the old stories - this is the one I was looking for

Previously, tires were tested outside, in all types of weather. The problem is that there was no consistency for testing.

Continental created an indoor testing facility that tests all tires equally.


We loved you, as you loved us. We enjoyed your laugh, conversation, fight and optimism. You were the introduction to cancer for many of us. More than that, you were our real introduction to faith and hope. We will miss you, Holly. Pray for us, as we will for you. Love you.--Warren

...but we buy our Michelins at Costco because (a) the price, plus the cash back deal, and (b) they make evening-ish appointments so you don't have to get up pre-dawn to avoid sitting all day at the tire shop. (I can't stand Costco, even though my wife loves the place with all of its endless lines and meandering swarms of geriatrics.)

Tell your wife she and I can go shopping together :)

Tell her that if she is a Costcoauto member and her car dealership is a costcoauto member that she can get 15% off any servicing you need done.

Costco also has some of the best mortgage rates around

Dealers usually are way overpriced. Not sure where the OP lives but if he/she is in the DC area try Radial Tire in Silver Spring, MD the largest single unit tire store in the country. I have been dealing with them since 1987 and they have always beaten Tire Rack's prices by $75 to $100 out the door. I recommend a good all season from Michelin and Toyo. You get what you pay for in tire. And yeah I know more about tires than Warren and Lou Ann. BTW the owner of Radial Tire would be a great guest on this chat. Clifton.


Take care buddy and will say a prayer for you at mass on Sunday. Recovering from cancer surgery myself. Clifton

Thanks, Clifton. You are in my prayers, too.--Warren

See? People really are more important than cars. May we all give and receive such grace from those around us. Take care of your self, Warren, and thanks for hosting this forum.

People are why cars exist, not the other way around. Lou Ann and I, and many others, just lost a great friend, Holly Reich, who taught us that much. We will miss her.   

You never know what someone is going through. Plus if you think Warren is terse, tune in Thursdays to the TV Chat with Hank Stuever. Terse and snarky. But we love him anyway. ;-)

He is not terse or snarky in person. He is funny and has some of the bests stories around. Everyone wants to sit with Warren when he goes to an event because he is fun and knowledgeable and he says what he thinks. 

Warren, Us former altar boys need to stick together and pray for each other. Nothing was more fun than serving the 615am mass for a week.

I used to serve that one a month at a time--the Josephite way of teaching you to respect the clock.

My apologies. No harm or disrespect meant. I am just trying to answer efficiently, minus bloviating.

Lou Ann and Warren: What do you think of the Chevy Bolt? Have you driven it yet? 238 mile range at a reasonable price seems like a game changer for electric cars.

I have driven it and love the driving range and the price.

As most of you know I think our infrastructure has a long ways to go before all, or many of us, could go completely electric. I am thrilled there are so many plug-in hybrids coming out because that way people and infrastructure get to acclimate.

The Bolt is a great car  and will give the Tesla model 3 a run for its money - when the Model 3 comes out. The Nissan Leaf has a following, but if you're a Chevy loyalist you have an option.

I haven't taken a physics class in nearly twenty years, but wouldn't a vehicle with a higher center of gravity perform worse in slippery (...or any) conditions on a flat surface? High water may be a factor, but if it's just plain wet outside, please help me understand why a higher vehicle would perform better.

Not really. You have to consider overall vehicle weight and geometry. And tire traction. And water flow and depth.

The chatter didn't say it was slippery, they said there were standing puddles of rain. I was thinking more Katrina or hurricane weather.

LouAnn and Warren, thinking back to all the cars you've ever owned, what's the one you wished you had kept and why? (Trying to lighten up the mood here a little bit!)

None, and I a not being terse. Cars are things. Some good, some bad, but all replaceable, all temporary. I used to love them, until I realized the silliness of loving a thing.

Let's see - would it be the dark green VW Bug that I would take in the sands of the San Joaquin valley, auto crossing through the Almond trees, or the light green Fiat 124 that I had to turn the heater on to get up the hill to my house because it overheated in 100 degree weather. Or would it be the BMW 3-series that had the bald tires and I prayed to God that if he would just let me get home through the rainstorm this one last time I would get new tires?

It's as much about the car as the experiences I had.

It still wouldn't be the Ford Pinto..

I have the first version of a Camry Hybrid and love it! Wish the trunk space was larger, but I love the car. I probably wouldn't switch to a plug-in, unless it was a Tesla. LOL

There are no plug-in Teslas - only ev.

TR-6, because of the way I felt every time I drove it with the top down. Have a Z-3 now, for the same reason. No claims that these are the BEST cars ever or anything. I'm one guy, with limited resources. Not sure I'd say I "love" these cars, but I'd say they gave/give me lot's of smiles per gallon.

That is the most important part my friend.

Keep smiling

Here's to Holly Reich: We love you and will miss you. Thanks for teaching us how to care about one another.

Thank you all for joining us today. Please return next week. Thanks Lou Ann, Teddy, Ria, Gene, 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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