Real Wheels Live (Nov. 4)

Nov 04, 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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Stretch helped me out this week and went to Las Vegas to drive the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport with a starting price of  $21,650 or the Elantra Sport automated shifting with a 7-speed DCT and paddle shifters for $22,750. Stretch got around 28 miles per gallon.

How many of you are worried about car hacking/cybersecurity? NHTSA has come out with a layered proposal on cybersecurity. I talked to Ian at Magna about cybersecurity, and he told me what they are doing to counter attack the hackers.

I drove the 2017 Nissan Titan V-8 Platinum Reserve 4WD crew cab this week. The starting price was $55,440, out the door was $55,595. The vehicle was impressive, but when I realized everything on the truck was standard - not one option - I was more impressed.

After driving the Elantra, Stretch went to SEMA, the aftermarket Pimp my ride convention for everything with an engine. You can see most the pictures he took on Facebook.

Chevy showed off the tricked out Hurley, Kia and Hyundai showed off their autonomous and pimped up machines, but Stretch's favorite was the Indian motorcycle.

I love you guys when you want something. For the past year, since his buddy Sam has gotten a BMW motorcycle, Stretch has been showing me motorcycles, "I'm not going to get this, but I just wanted to show it to you." Because I have so much interest in motorcycles? No, because he's priming me. His fixation right now is a BMW R nineT.

Let's chat about cars

Hi Warren and Lou Ann, Happy Friday! Unfortunately, my 2007 Nissan Rogue required quite a pricey repair according to a local Rockville MD dealership. The car was taken in for a routine oil change when other issues were discovered. I had not previously had any issues with the car. Needless to say, I'm a little leery as to whether the need for repair is real or fabricated. I'm still in school and relay on my (awesome) parents' assistance for unexpected things like this. My dad insists on taking all of our family's cars to their respective dealership, no matter what. Therefore, my input of getting a second opinion falls on deaf ears. I've had issues with mechanics before, suggesting "repairs" but when taken to get a second opinion, the second mechanic has not seen the same issue. I would love to be able to learn more about car mechanics. Just enough to be able to have an intelligible conversation and better understand my car, as opposed to just feeling utterly helpless as I do now. As car lovers, do you have any specific suggestions for finding out more about the basics of car mechanics? I'm a big reader so a book would be ideal but I'm open to anything at this point. Thanks so much!

I love that you want to know more about the mechanics of a car. This group is on facebook, twitter, blogging etc. ASk them some questions.

Also, make sure the service person at the dealership you are using is ASE certified. That is why they cost more because all the mechanics have to go through this training.

And tell your Dad that if he is a Costco member and the dealer is a costco dealer he can get a 15% discount on all work done.

For most of us reliability is right up there with safety as the most important consideration in buying a car, but it is not covered in your car reviews. Is that because of lack of data or a belief that there is not a significant difference between brands or models? Consumer Reports and other relibility rating reporters show a consistent history of reliability that could be referenced in your reviews and would seem to be a valuable addition to aid your readers.

Because most people who test new cars don't test for reliability. Reliability is done through years of driving, and really needs input from the consumer, the mechanics etc. We test for drivability, all the new items that are put in a car.

Consumer Reports is the best at reliability because they test the new car, and incorporate your input into the reliability equation.

I already live in trump country in a state awash with guns that can be carried into polling stations. We already will have plain clothes and armed security in the precincts, and now there are terror threats. And suggested to have armed escorts at the end of day when we take the ballots and counting media to the election office! Is this all a gop plot to suppress voting thru threat of terror? Have we all lost our minds?

I think this is the most divided I have ever seen our country. I love America. I won't leave it no matter who gets voted in as President. I will do everything I can to continue to make America great.

We all have to understand that this is our nation. It maybe lead by someone you don't agree with, but the moral compass of this great nation starts with all of us.


Is not just PIMP My Ride. Serious aftermarket and race manufacturers are there. Just remember BMW motorcycles are "beamers" and the cars are "Bimmers". R's are really nice bikes. Just tell Stretch road rash really hurts at his age and so does the beating a beamer will give you. Spend the money are something just a little bit safer a Caterham Super 7. Clifton, VA


The reason my marriage works so well is that I let Stretch make those decisions. He's a lovely gentleman, plays any musical instrument by ear, built his own Thorp T-18 plane. He is prudent.

If I were to stop him from being him and following his passions it would quell who he was as a person.

BMW 3 or Audi A3?

I would probably go with the BMW 3-series.

I love the interface on the Audi, but the 1.8 is a bit long in the tooth, unless you upgrade to the 2.0. The BMW uses their 2.0.

The Audi is a front wheel drive so it could do better in snow, but the BMW is a rear wheel drive and could be more fun to drive.


Have been seeing more and more of them on the roads. Gorgeous vehicle but HUGE! And the S90 sedan is soon to come. Is Volvo going to be competing only in the big car market or do they have something smaller coming out for US consumption? Is the 60 line going to be their small car here?

I was in Sweden earlier this year and got a look at some of the new product coming out from Volvo. In fact, I'm driving an S90 now and love it.

There are videos in this post - watch them and you will see the new designs

Volvo Senior Vice President of design, Thomas Ingenlath, talked about the indistinguishable brand design of most car companies, explaining the difference in Volvo’s brand design by using shoes as an example. Each pair of shoes was the requisite difference in length, but they were also different in style, color, and texture. Ingenlath explained the difference, “it is a new chapter for Volvo, it is much bolder, in the shapes, it is much more extreme and expressive in the colors it combines and the classic elements. It is an adaption of pop culture and new elements in haute couture of design.”

Is I buy my girlfriend La Perla and Jimmy Choos Clifton, VA PS She has been putting up with me since July 2000!

Using your analogy - Jimmy Choos are not the safest or most most comfortable. But they are who she is.

What engine do you have in the one you're driving? Is it adequate for the size of the car, especially in the hills? Gas mileage? Thx!

2.0 super and turbo charged 316 horsepower 295 lb-ft of torque 8-speed automatic all-wheel drive

Starts at $62K out the door for the one I'm driving is $66K - 22 city/31 highway

drives like a dream

I'm ready to buy a car - something I've never done before (still driving the same car I got as a college graduation present 17 years ago...). I generally know the style/type of car I want, but how to compare? Are their apps or websites you recommend? Rule of thumb for number of dealerships to talk to? Etc, etc...

1. Find our your FICO score before you start shopping - do not rely on a dealership to tell you your score. If you belong to a credit union that may be the way to go. If you belong to a big box warehouse like Sams or Costco see if they have a deal on the car you decide on.

2. Be willing to take your time and test drive many cars. Test drive them on the same route you will be driving the most. If that is work, try to test drive that route.

3. Find out the new options on vehicles that you like the most. My favorite is blind spot assist and rear back up camera.

As you narrow all that down keep coming back to us and telling us what you like and don't like and we will all chip in to help you.

Lou Ann - last week I posted about the Kia Forte5 we bought. You asked whether we had looked at the Chevy Cruze and what we thought of it, so I wanted to respond. Although we did research the Cruze hatchback on the internet, we never went in to look at it or test drive it for two simple reasons - time and money. The Kia that we bought checked all of our "must have" boxes as well as several "nice to have but not vital" boxes, and we were able to get it for a great price that was well under (by 20-25%) the best price that we could find anywhere for a similarly-equipped Cruze, even with incentives (I think it helped that we were buying a 2016 at the end of the model year rather than a 2017, as the Cruze would have been). Given the significant price difference, it simply wasn't worth spending another whole day at yet another dealership (assuming we even could). That said, I also have to admit that I still remain leery of buying the Bowtie. Our family had GMs when I was growing up, and I've had several different models of different levels as rentals over the years, and ... the company lost me. I gladly concede that Chevy is turning things around and I have been impressed with the INITIAL quality of their newer products, but we buy our cars for the long-term and I just don't have my faith back in them yet for the long haul. Maybe if they were willing to step up with a warranty like Hyundai/Kia I might reconsider (by the way, that was a brilliant move on Hyundai's part), but right now I'm not sure I could have taken the Cruze over the Kia even at the same price or less.

Warren here. You chose well. The Kia Forte is a good car. But had you gone with the Cruze, you would have been okay, too. Today's GM is not yesterday's. GM vehicles are very competitive.

Thank you all for joining us today; and thanks to the Prince Williams County. Va/ Fire Dept. You good folks saved the day...and the new house. Thanks a bunch.

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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