Real Wheels Live (Nov. 11)

Nov 11, 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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This is not the first time I have felt this way, but this is the first time I need to tell you. I really enjoy this chat and look forward to it each week. Whatever I am doing during the week I think about whether I should mention it to you. Stretch and I are always pleasantly surprised when one of you mentions him and asks if his 6'4" frame can fit in the front or back of a car. You have all become a constant in our lives, and we thank you for that consistency.

I am in Los Angeles area today - Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. I am getting ready to drive the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid. As most of you know I love the Pacifica minivan, voted for it for the Car of the Year. We will find out at the Los Angeles auto show next week if it made the shortlist.

I drove the Pacifica last week and got 18mpg (the picture above is in my front yard; a buck, a doe and their baby, all milling around the Pacifica - isn't' that adorable?!)

I am looking forward to the first-ever minivan plug-in. We drove from Auburn, CA to Santa Monica, CA in a Ford Fusion Energi plug-in. When you can net around 45 mpg in a car, you just feel good. The Shutters on the Beach - like most hotels - has an 110 that they have plugged the Fusion into, and they have a Tesla plug-in as well.

I also drove the Mitsubishi Mirage GT. Out the door, the price was around $17,000, and I got 35mpg. It will be interesting to see what happens to Mitsubishi now that they are going to become part of Nissan/Renault.

All the chats are off the front page (post-Election). What's up? You guys are the only ones on the schedule. As you say "Let's talk cars" and leave the politics aside for the moment.

I agree! Glad you are here with me

Dear Warren and Lou Ann: I am interested in an EV but have range anxiety (or would like to have an option to travel more than 100-200 miles on a long trip). In the past, I think Warren has critiqued hybrids since they require 2 drive trains. The pure electric vehicles don't appear to meet my needs. Is the Volt the only option? What is your view on that car vs other choices?


Did you know the Toyota Prius has a plug-in - called the prime.The prime features up to 22 miles of battery electric range, double that of the original Prius plug-in

I am still with you - electric cars are a niche product. Hybrids are an everyday event that gives better gas mileage, but if you want to use electricity and gas sparingly, get a plug-in hybrid.

Plug-in hybrids allow you to make sure the infrastructure in your house and the vicinity you live in can take a plug-in. Our infrastructure is not able to charge everyone everyday. We are slowly getting there, but it will take everyone. And the more people that get on solar panels for free electricity the better the infrastructure.

The BMW 330e iPerformance adds a plug-in hybrid drive system to the BMW 3 Series.

The Chrysler Pacifica includes an array of choices including the LX, Touring, Touring L and the Touring L Plus offers the first-ever plug-hybrid in its class, delivering outstanding 80 MPGe efficiency, a 30-mile electric driving range, and a total driving range of 530 miles with combined battery power and its V6 powertrain.

The Kia Optima plug-in gives you 27 miles of all-electric driving before the plug-in model reverts back to hybrid mode.

And the Chevy Volt 2nd generation is better than the first. 53 ev range, 420 total range, 41 mpg.

So many otpions!

So now VWs gas engine programming is accused of modifying the engine mapping after determining if it's under test or not. After all their internal auditing, shouldn't they have found this further deception and done some house cleaning? But we're still expected to believe its a couple bad apples.

VW is trying to fix it. It should not have condoned the mistake in the first place. Faith in the company has been ruined. Fix will take a while.

Howdy, Lou-Ann and Warren, time to replace my wife's Outback: 2008, 341,000 miles. Subaru informs me they have eliminated manual transmissions from the Outback line, but can still get manual in the Forester. Wife, myself-both 66, children are in their 30's, have never owned a vehicle with an auto-tranny. What gives here or are we still living in the 20th century. If we go with the Forester, will there be any great changes in cargo, handling, performance??? give me all the suggestions you and warren may have. 

You're going to lose room with the Forester - it's a compact crossover where as the Outback is a midsize crossover.

It's hard to get you Subaru owners to think of a different vehicle.

A couple you could think about that I loved;

Honda HR-V

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES model

Mazda CX-5

MINI Countryman

and, of course, many Jeeps (yes, I took that comment out frustrated in Shennandoah Valley - no politics today :)


Driven one yet?

Yes. It's a Civic. a good car for people looking for small hatches.

What do you think about aftermarket ECU upgrades? They promise HP/torque gains and emission legality. But they don't talk about efficiency impacts, driveability, or warranty effects. I might be more interested if it can be shut off... for example, it would be only 'on' when I put the car into 'Race' mode. But I don't see that claim anywhere.

I don't know. The upgrades may not be upgrades, or "upgrades" with functional caveats. All of this is going to take time. no easy answers.

I own a 2016.5 CX-5 Touring (and love it) but was surprised to find there is no automatic open or close on the liftgate as on my friend's car (Escape). Also, no interior button to release the liftgate as on my previous 626 trunk release. I read somewhere that the motor would have been too heavy and compromised fuel efficiency. Is that the case, or is there some other reason? Any reason why a liftgate release button wasn't included? Enjoy your column and learn a lot from it, thanks!

It was a corporate engineering decision, function over cost and what buyers were willing to pay for. Business.

C'mon, folks. Cheer up. We'll be back here next week. All of you are welcome, regardless of politics. Thanks Gene, Lou Ann, Ria and Michelle. Love to all of you.

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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