Real Wheels Live (Dec. 9)

Dec 09, 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 went to Detroit this week and visited General Motor's Energy center. I got to see the lab where they tested the batteries for the Chevy Volt and the Chevy Bolt. It's amazing how far batteries have come just in my time; from lead acid batteries to Nickel Metal Hydride to Lithium-ion batteries.

When we think of drivers using apps to get around we think of cars. Continental has an app for motorcyclists to help them get around. The technology is called eHorizon, and it will debut for motorcycle riders at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. I talked to Hans Hiebl at the LA auto show about eHorizon.

This week I drove the Nissan Rogue SL AWD hybrid. Love that vehicle. Love that Nissan is starting to get serious about hybrids would like to see Nissan come out with plug-in hybrids. The competitor is a Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which starts around $28,000 and has an EPA of over 30 mpg. Nissan didn't give me the price or the EPA estimate, but I got 25 mpg. The Nissan Rogue S AWD starts around $26,000 and is supposed to get 26 city/33 highway.

Let's chat about cars

So, I have not seen a lot of reviews or questions here anyway, on the Mercedes GLC300. Thoughts? I test drove it vs the LEXUS NX200t and found it quieter, roomier, and it had better vision forward and reverse. I am not too fond of either due to the need for Premium fuel but all else considered, is there any other more affordable SUV with similar characteristics - in particular a quiet cabin? That is really important to me as I wear hearing aids and all the noises that normal hearing people tune out are actually amplified in my case - both the Mercedes and the Lexus were VERY quiet - a great selling point for me. Thanks and great holidays to all. JW

Hearing aids have come such a long way. My Father hated wearing hearing aids because they were bulky and, just like you have said, certain noises are amplified.

Mercedes and Lexus are great at creating quiet spots. Audi is as well. The Audi Q5 is a lovely machine, though I didn't test it for quietness compared to the Mercedes or Lexus.

The other compact crossovers I have test drove in the luxury segement don't compare in quietness.

My first daughter graduates from Trinity DC (her last finals are next week), then 3.5 years later my last daughter graduates from College of Charleston (I hope!) want to be fair to both of them..... Only requirements are close to (cheaper is better ☺) $10k. Ideally Auto Trans, 4 doors, back up camera, safe, reliable, economical, seat at least 3 comfortably? Thanks!

LOL - I hope! Is that you hope she graduates or you hope she gets into College of Charleston?

The one big factor is that you are going with the strip down model of anything if you are buying new. Three of the top of my head are

Nissan Versa
Chevy Spark
Kia Rio

I don't know if they have backup cameras since they're not mandatory yet.

Honda Fit would have a backup camera, but it might cost a little more.

Hi. When will know what cars will be at 2017 Washington auto show? I am really hoping Toyota is showing the new C-HR. Thanks.

I'm not sure, but I just sent the auto show group and Toyota an email asking. If I hear back from them I will let you know.


I've half seen a few news reports about thieves able to break into many different cars through their keyless entry systems. What have you heard?

I haven't, but hackers never cease to amaze me. All that intelligence and it's used for evil.

Where is Batman?

The incoming president has said lots of things. He's going to save jobs but will this sharply raise our vehicle and parts prices and dirty our air?

Scott Pruitt (not to be confused with Scott Pruett the race car driver) is the new head of EPA. My understanding is he is not a fan of all the regulations for clean air etc that happened under the Obama agency.

Part of the reason I heralded the bailout was because they had the technology to bring out cleaner cars. Since then GM has brought out a plug-in hybrid Volt and an all electric Bolt that will get 238 miles to the drive. If General Motors wants to show their appreciation to the United States public they will continue to produce these types of cars and not fight the government on legislation to produce clean cars.

California will still require these types of cars - their legislation wants all gasoline cars off the CA highways by 2050. They are 12% of the Nation's car buying status, so that helps keep clean cars alive. Other countries have the same requirements or near that, so that helps.

As far as price, I'm not sure. I found it interesting that PEOTUS Trump met with Mulally and not with Fields. It will be an interesting time in January.

Warren, you mentioned sciatic issues you deal with. I have a similar problem that is most frequently triggered by long drives. What vehicles would you recommend that are compact and preferably sporty, including crossovers? I live in DC. Thanks, Bill

I know Warren always recommends any volvo car because of the seats, and a Nissan car if it has the NASA seats.

Just saw your review of the 2017 A4. Test drove it and a 2016 A3 cabriolet. Both Quattro. Loved the A4. Loved the open top on the A3. Any advice deciding between the two?

space. especially trunk space. both great cars

What are your thoughts?

which one?

It appears to me that Honda is selling many more CR-Vs than HR-Vs. I'd prefer the smaller size of the HR-V, but I'm worried that Honda will stop making them, which might make it hard to get parts in the future (I tend to keep a car for 10+ years). Your thoughts?

No. Honda sells worldwide and makes cars for global consumption. They have lots of parts and will keep their word. I believe in Honda. Buy the HR-V.It's a great vehicle and practical.

Where's Warren?

Aren't they one in the same?

If I can recall, he and Robin didn't even lock the doors of the REAL Batmobile -- which I saw at a cable TV trade show circa 2002, featuring a clearly medicated Adam West, whose only words to me were "Please don't touch the car."

At least he had his priorities - and lines - straight. Celebrities!

So, clearly, they didn't need locks, because even when Batman was in regular clothes and schnokered you listened to him. :)

Apparently Chevy does not offer blind spot monitoring as either standard or optional on the Colorado. Do either of you know if Chevy plans to make blind spot monitoring available on the Colorado in the near term?

I wouldn't buy a car without blind spot monitors at this point, I have started relying on them so much.

Chevy put in a blind spot mirror, which takes some time to get used to, but isn't as good as a blind spot monitor that lights up when a car is in your field and you shouldn't move to the other lane.

It should be an option at least, or part of the safety package.


...and it was so easy to use that I forgot to turn off the engine while I went into the grocery store. I came out, the door unlocked itself, and when I stepped on the brake to push the Start button I heard the engine change speeds. As usual, the technology outstrips our ability to use it...

hmmmm... are you sure the door unlocked? I was under the impression that if the engine wasn't turned off the doors wouldn't lock.

I have done that - in a Toyota Prius and a Rolls-Royce Dawn. The only way I knew I had not turned off the engine was because I didn't hear the sound of the door locking.

Check to make sure and let me know. I would hate to think that you thought you locked your doors - even with the engine running - and you hadn't and someone stole all your belongings.

Hi Lou Ann and Warren. I am considering purchasing a car for the first time after years of family hand me downs, and am interested in the new electronic safety and entertainment features that are available in newer cars, but am concerned about using touch screens while driving. Dashboards with buttons can be used by feel while keeping your eyes on the road, but the flat touchscreens require the driver's full attention. I am also worried about glare coming off of the touch screens. Can you recommend a newer (2015 +) sedan where the entertainment system still has buttons? Looking for a mid-size and mid-price. thanks!

alert and blind-side monitoring.

Now THAT's funny. Buy the car, peasant, and don't complain when it dies in a couple years.

I disagree

I have every right to expectations, and won't buy a car if the company isn't going to be competitive in the market.

The Germans (at least VAG) make a really nice seat, if you get the leather(ette) and the heater option. Great for the back even when it's not all that cold.

Half the time I put the heated seats on is because my back hurts, not because it is cold out side. In plug-in and EV cars if you use the heated seat insted of the HVAC you save driving miles.

My other favorite is a heated steering wheel. If the vehicle has a heated steering wheel on the cold days Stretch and I both want to drive because it keeps our hands warm without having to overheat the cabin. We were just talking about this yesterday while driving the Nissan Rogue hybrid because we finally found the heated steering wheel button :)

Yeah, the next year they had Mr. T, who was fabulous -- he looked at my badge and called me by name about 10 times in a brief conversation. Delightful guy -- very engaged, very high energy, and surprisingly short even for an actor.

They have to be short to fit in the camera screen :)

It's interesting which celebrities are lovely human beings and which ones are not.

Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: Any thoughts on the next-gen Tiguan and the all-new Atlas coming next year? Is VW late to the party with the Atlas? And, with midsize pickup trucks making a comeback, wouldn't VW be smart and build the Amarok in Chattanooga. Might be a market for them, no? Garey, Ottawa

New Tiguan is well-done. I think VW will make a hit with new Golf Alltrack. The others, I don't know.

My 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with eninge running and leave the it. No problems.

Interesting. the difference there is you can hear the engine running. EVs are so quiet you don't realize they're still running.

I can see it in a Jeep because many of them are bought for cold weather use and people like to keep their cars running to keep them heated. And of course you have remote start which starts while the car is locked with the remote key....

Maybe I left it unlocked, now that you mention it. Nothing was missing, pleased to report. It was a Chrysler 300, and really pretty nice for a car that you know is going to start crumbling at 30K.

Try it again and let me know. Another chatter reported the Jeep Grand Cherokee is able to lock with the engine running.


Mulally is supposedly now on the "short" list for Secretary of State. Probably why he met with Trump fyi. Interesting isn't it....


This is a hot topic and other than learning that hacks are possible, not much about what we can do about them. For starters, I'm thinking not to use them in crowed public parking lots. Also wonder if wrapping our fobs in a metallic covering, like our chipped credit cards, when not in use, might be advantageous.

I will have to look into it, thanks for giving me the heads up.


Thanks for coming in for the chat this week. Warren moved to a new house and he was able to get on for a few minutes...he will be back with us next week.

Remember your Holiday spirit when you're out shopping this week. Take it slow, smile.

And remember

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly

much love,


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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