The Last Real Wheels Live (Jan. 12)

Jan 12, 2018

Producer's note: In light of Warren leaving The Post, this is the final Real Wheels Live chat. Join us at 11 as we wish Warren and Louann on their continued adventures. Thank you all for your years of support.
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, 


Happy Birthday to Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post. 


Now is the time to buy a new car! Sales for 2017 are lagging compared to 2016, and car companies are dealing. My friend, Wayne, purchased a brand new 2018 Hyundai Elantra ECO that listed for $21,645 for just $13,808 last week. Link.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is over (at least for us). If you want to see what the real world looks like go to CES. It's exciting, exhausting, expansive and covers everything, everywhere. Nothing is convenient to get to, and if you think you are the only company with that idea look down the aisle because there is your competitor. 


Stretch, and I spent most our time looking at technology for automated driving. Harman is creating an interior that recognizes you and what you like to watch. Through your smartphone (preferably Samsung, since that is their parent company) you can go into an autonomous ridesharing car, sync your information and sit back and relax and watch a movie or listen to your favorite musician


Breakthroughs are happening every year. This year Continental showed off a 3D Hi-Res Flash Lidar that is already in drones. It's the exactness that is important, but also the ability to take a clear picture at high speed. Technology is getting exciting. 


Toyota is changing the moving space to reflect the way people shop and buy things. Think about the food truck craze. The food trucks come to you, make your lunch and then leave. That is the concept with e-palette. It will be interesting to see what happens by 2025. 


Since this is the last carchat, I want to thank all of you. Warren and I have enjoyed chatting with all of you, yes, even you Clifton. :) My good buddy, Warren, has retired from the Washington Post and it has been an honor to be his guest on the carchat, his colleague and, most importantly, his friend. I will miss my Friday mornings with all of you, but I will also miss chatting with Warren on the side each Friday. 


All of you can always reach me at 


Let's chat about cars

Warren congrats on your retirement. I'm happy to have the opporutunities to write to you and Lou Ann. Is there no one there to pick up the keys and keep Real Wheels rolling? You always need a forum where gearheads or buyers can express themselves and get informed answers. Keep your Land Departure Alert, BSM and Radar Cruise at the ready. Thoughts on the New Lexus LS 500?


Lou Ann here; 

Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. 


The LS 500 hybrid is my dream car. I would only be able to take it out on the track, however, because it hits 80 faster than I can look down. It's completely surefooted on the road. I would buy it in a heartbeat if I had an extra $100,0000

I am considering a small crossover. What do you think of the Audi Q3 vs the Volvo Xc40 Vs the Lexus NX? I like a very quiet cabin. Thanks! (I will miss your chats)

I would look at the Volvo XC40 for the quietness, the functionality, and the car seats. If you can wait for the XC 40 will come out in a plug-in hybrid and a full electric SUV, the first full-electric SUV in that segment. 

The Audi Q3 would be my second choice. While I love the front grille on the Lexus LS 500 the grille on the SUV is a bit much. I'm getting used to it, but...

So, to keep this short, I sold a high mileage SUV, I disclosed all I knew - from what I fixed (and when) to what was repaired by others. It was full disclosure and all in good faith. 3 months after the sale the tranny broke and repair cost (according to a text I received) was/is more than the car cost. I had no idea that it was going to fail, I have no idea if the new owner when 4 wheeling or whatever. Am I liable for anything - should I be? If I offer some kind of refund/rebate am I indicating that I knew something was wrong (I have not done so, and I did not know that anything was). I guess I need confirmation that I did nothing wrong - heck I even expected the buyer to want to have it checked by an independent mechanic - I have always done so with private party purchases. Thanks for your time and for these chats - they and you will all be missed.

Do you have any legal/lawyer type friends? I would only converse with this person after consulting a lawyer, but I would feel the same way you did, you did everything in a due diligence manner, giving full disclosure.

I have enjoyed Real Wheels for years and hope that Warren enjoys his retirement. I am in the market for a new vehicle and need something that sits high enough to make it easy for me to get in and out of, but is not too large. A compact CUV is the most obvious choice, what do you recommend with a price not over $40,000?

IF you wanted an SUV that is a diesel, I would look at the GMC Terrain. My brother-in-law is looking for a compact SUV, and he is looking between a Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV. It is the options that he has to look at the most - some safety technology is standard on the Toyota, not on the Honda. Honda has carplay and android auto, Toyota doesn't. 

Warren and Lou Ann - first, many thanks for all your advice over the years. It's been a huge help to many. Before you go, I wanted to ask one last bit of advice: We're looking for a used automatic drive car for weekend camping trips, and ideally looking to spend no more than $6-8,000. We've looked at GTIs as well as some older Mercedes. Thoughts on something that is likely to drive well and hold up despite its age? Thanks and best of luck.

I would look at the ubiquitous Subaru Forester or a VW station wagon. Something you can throw a backpack in, go camping and not worry about it if it gets broken into. Have fun. I love backpacking and camping 

Will somebody else come in to write a weekly column like Warren Brown, miss him and wish him well in his retirement.

Yes, Warren Brown, on cars and a variety of other subjects. Look for Warren:s Letters. New venue coming,

Who will replace you in the Washington Post???????

Probably someone who accepts lower pay.

Warren and Lou Ann: I will miss you both terribly. Will I be able to reach either of you on social media if I want your opinion about a vehicle? On that note, do you know anything about the new Accord hybrid version like when it will be released? Also, when can we expect to see the new Toyota Avalon? One of those is likely to be my next car.

Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. 

I asked Honda awhile back because Toyota already has their Camry hybrid out and it gets the same mpg as the Prius - 52mpg!! They said later this year. 

I love the Avalon, I'm not sure of the next gen, but should be a refresh soon. 

I have enjoyed these chats and Warren's weekly column for years - all will be missed, but I do have a question will there be a new Cars/On Wheels column? Or, has the post just absorbed the position? In any case, before this is over, I thank everyone involved in these chats - and hope all have safe, healthy and Happy 2018s.

Thank you. There will be more columns--Warrens Letters, at a venue to be confirmed soon.

What's next now that the chat is ending?

Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, instagram, twitter and facebook accounts. You can also reach me at 

I'm still traveling, writing and loving the world we live in and I love sharing it with you. 


Warren, I called you once back in the 80's to talk about a weird Dodge thing that you had mentioned in a review. I couldn't believe that you took my call and were so nice. Happy trails, my friend -- and Lou Ann, we'll see you down the road. Chris from The Other West Coast

Warren is the nicest of people and loves to chat. I can believe it. 

Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, instagram, twitter and facebook accounts. You can also reach me at 

Stay well. 

The Cadillac ELR was incredibly overpriced new. Now low mileage used versions are surfacing at less than $30K. Has it now flipped from way overpriced to a used car bargain?

I think the ELR would have done so much better if it had been a 4-door sedan. Yes, the ELR is becoming a bargain if you want a coupe. Beautiful interior.

I am sorry to see this come to an end. I wish you both the best of luck with all you do and thank you for all of the questions you have answered over the years.

Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, instagram, twitter and facebook accounts. You can also reach me at 

Warren's "Nimbly Avoiding Confrontation" review of the 2004 Elantra GT inspired me to buy one two months later; it's held up nearly fourteen years with no signs of dying any time soon. As a teenager in the 90s, his reviews really inspired me to look beyond the fancy lines and promotional rubbish spouted by the auto industry -- rather, to the guts and soul and feel that made a car worth admiring. I'm grateful for that influence when I was growing up and ever since. All the best for whatever you encounter down the road!

Thank you. I am launching a new column, Warren't Letter, on cars and otyher subjects. My daughters are establishing a new venue.

Wishing you both the very best. I've enjoyed Warren's columns in the newspaper for many years and I've enjoyed this chat for just as long. Lou Ann's personality shines through in her writings. And all that is left is for me to actually go back to work for this hour every Friday. Take care and God bless.

You are so sweet, thank you. This was my favorite hour of the week because I got to talk to all of you and my buddy, Warren. I can't fault him for retiring, goodness knows he deserves it, but I will miss this hour. 

Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, instagram, twitter and facebook accounts. You can also reach me at 

Hi Warren-- Longtime lurker, and was hoping to get your opinion on purchasing a new or new used AWD or 4WD vehicle. I am a veterinarian, so have to be able to get to work in all sorts of weather. I currently drive a 16-year-old Honda CRV, and it's been very good-- just don't want to "knee-jerk" opt for a this make/model again. And, most importantly-- HAPPY RETIREMENT! You will be missed.

I'd consider a Subaru Forester, really. Good value, reliable, and, with symmetrical all-wheel drive, great in snow.

Just 15 vehicles qualify for the TOP SAFETY PICK "PLUS" award from IIHS after the requirements were strengthened to include good-rated headlights and and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes. Among those were a couple of Kia models plus Toyota Camry and Lincoln Continental. BUT will Kia, Toyota and Ford/Lincoln actually spell out on the window invoice sticker the fact that these models have this IIHS SAFETY "PLUS" rating? Or are we going to have to become investigators and do our own research to determine whether these cars are in the ultra-safe category? Finally, Auld Lang Syne. It has been an informative column during the five years or so I have read it. Thanks

Trust me, if a car company gets an up on another company, especially in the world of safety, they will let you know. 

We will miss you as well. Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, instagram, twitter and facebook accounts. You can also reach me at 

But Warren said he isn't retiring!

He is retiring from the Washington Post, which is where we chatted every Friday. 

Congrats Warren on your retirement. It feels like I am losing a friend, though. I always looked forward to your columns and your take on all things automotive and beyond. I hope you will still be an attendee at the car shows. Enjoy this new chapter in your life. Best wishes! And Thanks!

Thank you. You haven't lost a friend, just gained a new column with new insights--Warren"s Letter. Letter 1 already poste on Facebook. Daughters are insisting that I choose a new venue and are working to set it up. See you there.

Dear Warren and Louann, Thank you so much for all of the advice, wisdom, and information on this chat over the years. Fridays will be a little glummer without you. You have helped me decide on my last two cars and I've learned from your advice. Wishing you a happy and healthy retirement, Warren, and lots of joy and happiness to both of you. I for one, will do my best not to drive faster than my angel can fly. -- A grateful fan

You remembered my saying! Thank you. 

Please feel free to stay in touch through youtube, instagram, twitter and facebook accounts. You can also reach me at 

I just want to wish Warren the best on his retirement. I will miss your wise advice and recommendations. I'm still thoroughly enjoying the Subaru Forester I bought based on your reviews. May you live a long and happy life.

No retirement. New venue with new thoughts. Please join me.

Warren, thanks so much for your advice over the years. You helped me with my first big car purchase, and educated me about so many others. You will be missed!

No need to miss me. But, thanks. New column, Warren's Letter, with new venue.  Love you all. And thanks.

Perhaps the weekly chats can continue at the new venue?

Yes. Here's hoping that Lou Ann will join. Great womand and one of the best journalists around.

No question, but I've been lurking in these chats for years and you will be missed.

No need to miss me. New column, Warren's Letter, at a new venue. Thanks for all of your support.

Where can we find your letter on Facebook?

Letter 1 is under my name on Facebook. Working on Letter 2 on The Civil War.

A quick shot out to Gene Parks, our Producer. The last few years the chat has been produced by Gene Parks, and he has been a dream to work with, I will miss him. Thank you Gene. 

Quick question - can we "follow" you on Facebook or should we become "Friends?" (Feel like we already are). I'm not seeing a "Like" or "Follow" option on your personal home page. Thanks.

Yes. Lovely daughters are setting it up. They know more about the Internet than I do.

Thank you all for joining me and Lou Ann these years. I am strting a new column, Warren's Letter,which till look at cars and the world in which we drive them. Well see how it goes. Thank all of you for love and support. Thank you, Lou Ann and Ria.--Warren

Hi I recently bought my 3rd Lexus. My prior two were ES300's and I now have a 2018 ES350. I have found the car to handle very poorly in snowy conditions. The previous models allowed for a downshift to 3 or 2 and I was able to drive in all kinds of bad weather with no issues. But the traction control on the ES350 is lacking, my tires just spin out and can't get traction. The tires are new - the car only has 6000 miles on it. The dealer suggested snow tires - but I live in a small condo with no storage for seasonal tires. I'm actually considering selling this car and buying something else. Any suggestions on alternative vehicles? I've always lived in snowy climates and am comfortable driving on roads with some snow cover. Thanks

That's odd, since it is still the front-wheel drive configuration of the ES300. I would go with an all-wheel drive Subaru. 

Dear Warren. Thank you for all of your advice and perspective. Even though I have not bought a new vehicle for some time (we presently drive a 2005 RAV4, which replaced a 2000 Solara), I always enjoy reading the chats and your writing in the Post. Reading (and sometimes engaging in) friendly sparring with Clifton has also been fun.

Thank you.

Warren & Lou Ann, Thanks for all the columns and online discussions over the years. Warren, I've followed you since ....well, since you and I were both much younger, and three of my vehicle purchases have been strongly influenced by your reviews. I look forward to reading and interacting with both of you down the road. Until then, I offer you this modified Irish blessing: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in a Lincoln Continental 30-Way Adjustable Seat.

Very Sweet. Since I am part Irish I love it. 30-way adustable seat - now that is fully configurable! 

Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. Or email me at 

BMW x1 vs Audi Q 3? BMW 330 vs Audi 4? Thanks for all the car advice in the were the only reason I still read the Post.

Warren would probably pick the Audi Q3. You can find him on facebook. 

and Louann. I have learned a lot reading this chat over the years. Good luck to you both.

Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. You can reach me at and Warren on facebook. 

Do you have any guidance on reasonable maintenance costs for an older car? I drive a 2006 Volve xc70 with 123,000 miles on it. I just spent $2000 on the 120K service, replacing breakpads, etc all of it was routine maintenance but it felt like a big expense (though obviously less than a new car!) At what point do you think its nice to replace a car?

I own a 1993 Lexus LS 400 89,000 miles on it. The most I've spent on it was for the 60,000 mile overhaul. I won't replace it till a major expense is required. I know $2,000 seems like a lot - it does to me - but in today's world that is only 4-5 monthly payments. 

Good on us for saving that money and keeping our cars running. 

Loved reading just for the entertainment and knowledge, since I keep my cars a long time, and when it came time to move up from my old G37 to a touch bigger model, Lou Ann I asked and you checked with some expert you were with at a show and both recommended the Audi A6. I have enjoyed it ever since (I just need to figure out all that those electronics can do since I'm old and still an analog guy!). So thanks for the advice and I will gladly switch over to and to Warren's FB page as well just to keep up with "old friends" (including Clifton).

Thank you  - it's funny how all of us that were "locals" chimed in about Clifton. I'd love to have met him and see who he was. 

Yes, please stay in touch. I'm so glad you love the Audi A6. 

I have been following this chat since it started and have over the years read such great advice about cars and life. I always looked forward to see what Warren had to say about current events and life in general. I even got to meet him at one of the Auto shows - made my day. I wish Warren the best of everything in retirement - and thank him for all the great writing. He will be truly missed. Thank you.

Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. You can follow Warren on facebook. 

I want a smaller car for commuting and weekend errands. Which of these would be better in the long run?

Honda Fit. The reliability of Honda combined with the options of safety you can get make it the choice

So I have to ask (and can't be the only one who ever wondered about this) - is Clifton your first name or is that where you are from since you always signed your posts "Clifton, VA."

No one knows for sure but we assume that is where he lived. We all just called him Clifton.

Based on the items listen in Volvo's 120K mile maintenance, $2000 is extremely high. In addition to the other items, you may have had more work done, such as new brake rotors, or transmission fluid flush. A 4-wheel brake job with new rotors can easily run $700 with labor, and a transmission flush runs around $500. Transmission flushes every 50-60K miles are excellent for preventing premature failure of the transmission. A transmission flush is only 10% of the cost of a new transmission. As for the brakes, it's usually a good idea to replace the rotors every other time the brake pads are renewed.

I figured the person had more done than what they listed, but it doesn't take long to spend $2,000 on a car. Even so, that is so much less than what it cost to own a new car and they only get it done every 120,000 miles. Once it becomes more than maintenance than I start thinking about another car.  

I have enjoyed your sage advice over the years. I got a chance to meet Warren at the Car show on year. I wish you both health and prosperity. Karl

Thank you Karl. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. Follow Warren on facebook. 

Stay safe 

If the earlier chatter sold the car "as is" without any sort of warranty I don't see how they'd be liable for anything. Pretty much all used car sales are as is. I doubt there's anything to worry about. If your conscience is clear I wouldn't worry. Maybe you can go to Judge Judy and hash it out.

I love Judge Judy. 

I agree, but he may be getting hassled by the buyer, which I suspect is why he is asking. I wouldn't do anything that made me look like I was agreeing to help because I had sold it. Like the guy said, you have no idea how they drove it...but if they have a friend that can help I would ask.

The safety features look amazing. Do you know when it will be released?

I believe it is on sale now. The BEV and PHEV will come out later this year or early 2019. 

Warren, Thank you so much for all your columns and the humanity that shone though in everything you wrote. Hope to find a way to keep following your work. Jim O'Connor Baltimore

Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. Follow Warren on facebook. 

Thanks Warren and Lou Ann for all the chats! Best wishes. And Lou Ann, great example and good job to Wayne on such a Great deal on the New Elantra ECO!!!

Isn't that a great deal? Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. Follow Warren on facebook. 

It is with heartfelt sadness that I write the last close. All of you have been so kind and fun to chat with over the years. I have learned so much from all of you. 



Thank you for the kind words. We will miss you as much as you miss us. Please feel free to stay in touch through, instagram, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. Follow Warren on facebook. 


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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