The Washington Post

Real Wheels Live (Oct. 28)

Oct 28, 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,

Magna International opened their doors to show us some new products. Car companies sell today's products; when you visit an Auto Supplier, you get a real glimpse into the future of automobiles and the Auto Industry.

Do you tow a trailer? The hardest part of towing is backing up.

Magna just announced that the 2017 Ford Super Duty would have a Trailer Reverse Guidance System. You can see the trailer through the NAV system as well as the trajectory of the trailer as the steering wheel is turned.

I drove two vehicles - well, three - the first was a Nissan Titan. I just happened to park next to a GMC and wondered- which backend do you like better and why? The starting MSRP is $34,780 for a 2017 Nissan Titan and comes in five models; S, SV, Pro-4X, SL, Platinum Reserve. The EPA fuel economy is 15 city/21 highway. I got about 21 mpg.

The second was the Mazda CX-9. I've driven the CX-9 before and really liked the vehicle. The MSRP starting price for the 2016 Mazda CX-9 is $31,250, and the EPA fuel economy is  22 city / 28 highway. Plus you can fold the seats down and pack everything a kid could fit in a dormitory room!

It was a short ride, but while I was in Michigan, I got to drive an Autumnal colored Dodge Charger. I dubbed it "Orange is the new Black."

I am now sitting in my nephew Will's apartment in Brooklyn. Talk about a place where parking is at a premium!

How was your week?

Let's chat about cars

Which on-line sites do each of you use to look up driving, technical and price reviews for new vehicles.? (I have been using Edmonds but there are often delays in its reviews of the newest models.) for not only mpg but for what people who own the cars get when they drive.

I write new car reviews for so I go to the media website for the manufacturer of the vehicle.

1) are cars this small as safe in an accident as larger cars? 2) which car is a better value? Thanks

Physics rules. Small cars generally are less safe than larger cars in crashes with larger cars.

Proud owner of a beloved 2009 VW Jetta TDI. However, my driving habits have changed from mostly freeway to mostly city, and my Jetta will be part of the VW buy-back. However, I can't seem to find a car that I really, really want. My two major criteria are a) fuel economy and b) dependability/reliability. What are your thoughts on the Lexus CT200h? I seem to be going back to that, but something is stopping me from committing. Would love to hear your thoughts.

If your major concerns are fuel economy and reliability, look at things Toyota Prius.

Any reactions to that recent article

We will always have that discussion. We had it when people went from having to get up to change the channel on the television to using a remote. They didn't get as much exercise some said :)

Some say people who use calculators aren't as sharp.

Many Older people can't move their necks as well as younger people can. Blindspot is a great assist in that.

There are trade-offs in all technology.

Morning Lou Ann and Warren, I currently own a motorcycle and a LR3. The motorcycle is my primary vehicle. (Some days the desire to ride in the rain isn't always there.) At the 15 mpg as regular driving vehicle the LR3 can get expensive quickly. The LR3 was converted to an overland vehicle. I've never paid more for $17K in cash for a vehicle. I could use some guidance on what I should look for as a daily driving vehicle. My requirements are thus: - over 40 mpg on the highway - cannot be electric - hybrid is ok but prefer petrol powered - something relatively easy to maintain (owning an overland vehicle requires you be a competent mechanic - quiet interior - heated seats a plus (spoils from the LR3) - good infotainment center a plus (bluetooth, phone, nav can always be added as an aftermarket - used is preferred but new is okay too Essentially, I want a cheap, reliable, fuel efficient vehicle with a good entertainment technology. Is this a unicorn? If not, where should I start my search?

Chevy Cruze diesel hatchback or a Toyota Prius Prime

Weren't you folks going to write something on the Prius Prime, before Lou Ann got sick at the Toyota show? It was in the Post, I missed it if.

I am doing Prius Prime, the charge-electric, in swvwral weeks, I haven't written it yet.

Lou Ann here:

I drove the Prius prime and talked about it a couple weeks ago here. Loved the vehicle.

Any reactions to this recent article?

Nope, if you have been reading this chat I have been saying for years that I like Buick. It started with the Buick Verano.

Will only be sold with an auto in the US! Sergio and his folks must be ODing on stupid pills. This Alfas primary competition is the Audi A4 and and the BMW 3 all come with a manual. At least the new owners of these Alfas can enjoy them leaking fluids like old alfas from reports from Europe. Clifton, VA

We'll see.

What happened at the Toyota show? Are you feeling better?

Thanks for asking - A silly cold that knocked me down. Nothing earth shaking.

Yes, feeling so much better. I must say, if you have to get sick being in a hotel with a hot bathtub, 150 channels of nothingness and room service is the way to go. :)

Much better now.

My wife recently bought a 1999 Porshe 911. It is way fun to ride in, but I haven't driven a manual transmission car in 30 years, so I am sitting only on the right hand side so far. Do you recommend taking a "manual transmission" driving class or just practicing with the actual car to get back on the wagon with manual cars?

Practice with the actual car. Those things are like lovers. You have to get to know their particulars.

I have read that a new Buick Regal is coming soon. have you heard much about it? Are the rumors of hatchback/station wagon versions correct? Thanks.

I have not heard that but station wagons and hatchbacks are making a come back. I know they are getting Apple Carplay and Android in the cars.

I'd be interested in purchasing a 2016 model (assuming there is leftover inventory), so when do 2017 models generally come into dealers' showrooms?

Now. October is when they start rolling out new product, so start looking now. What car are you looking to purchase?

While I sympathize with Clifton's rant on the auto-only Alfa Guilia, this topic raises two questions. 1) How far down have the sales of manual transmissions fallen in the US? 2) Am I right in understanding that current "automatic" transmissions (e.g., torque converters, dual-clutch, etc.) are usually more efficient and quicker-shifting than manual transmissions?

Manual transmission cars barely are 11 percent of the U.S market..and falling. There remains a romance about manuals...but automatics in today's world make much more sense.

We just bought a new Kia Forte5 (the hatchback) - which we are really pleased with - and have a couple of comments to share. First - yay for good hatchbacks! Manufacturers - Americans will and do like them and buy them! Second - it is amazing how much car for the money you get with the Kia (Hyundai) cars. Yes, we got a great end-of-model-year deal, but even then the features and amenities we were able to get for the price we paid was surprising. Our new car was inexpensive, but certainly doesn't feel cheap. That said, this is the first Kia/Hyundai product we have ever owned, and since we keep our cars until the very end we are taking a bit of a leap of faith that it will last for the long-term (the super-long warranty does give some comfort)

That is exactly why Kia and Hyundai give such a generous warranty and yet they have a very small warranty budget because it isn't needed.

I would have been very interested if you had compared it to the Chevy Cruze hatchback. That's the closest I can think of in comparison, but Kia and Hyundai have so much equipment standard it's crazy.

Keep us informed and if you have any problems let us know because they are a manufacturer that will respond if we tell them.


I can't stop thinking about how fun it would be to drive a 2016 Mazda MX-5/Miata.

I just got this in my email box yesterday - Mazda Motor Corporation announced today that the all-new 2017 Mazda CX-5 will make its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show, open to the public November 18-27. Mazda will hold a press conference at 12:50 p.m. on November 16, the first of two press days.

With the all-new CX-5 crossover SUV, Mazda has further refined every element of its design and technology to offer new dimensions of driving pleasure. Taking the KODO—Soul of Motion design concept to a new level, the company has honed the car’s beauty, imparting a powerful combination of sophistication and strength.


Born in Idaho, raised in the DC suburbs, she served the family for 16 years shuttling two kids and three dogs over her lifetime. She lived a good life and multiple organ failure (coolant leak dripping into the oil compartment causing an interesting coolant/oil mixture in the engine) was the cause of death. A new 2016 Prius has joined the family....MPG increased from 13 to 62...back up camera and satellite radio, too, plus, I don'know how many more airbags. All in all....should have made the upgrade a long time ago. I promise not to wait 16 years before buying a new car.

Betting on the futures is always a risky bet. Enjoy now.

Just bought a 2016 Fit and it was a breeze as far as negotiations. My local dealer really wants them off the lot. Finance was a different issue. Even though I'd already arranged excellent financing, I was still in finance for 45 minutes getting the hard, fast-talking sell. Even my friend who paid cash for her car got the hard, fast-talking sell in finance for half an hour. Clearly thanks to all the online info about pricing, profit centers for car makers are shifting. I stuck with my original financing.

Financing is probably a bigger profit center for the dealership then the actual sell of the car.

It is your duty to protect your assets. Good on you

That is old-school, trying to up-sell you. Many dealers no longer waste your time that way, especially if you come with cash,

Thank you for joining us today. Please return next week. Goodbye services for our beloved Holly Reich, tomorrow. See you all 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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