Real Wheels Live (April 28)

Apr 28, 2017

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,

Car manufacturers are listening to you and have created the compact SUV. I call it the AGSUV - active grandparents SUV. Grandparents are around sixty years old, almost at retirement, while their kids are in full tilt with their kids and all of their stuff. Grandparents take their grandkids in their cars, and they buy cars that fit that lifestyle.

Grandparents don't need as much room as parents with kids in their cars, but they need to have extra space in that car. Enter the compact SUV, including the new Nissan Rogue Sport.

What's the difference between the Rogue and the Rogue Sport? I asked my colleague, and 6' 9" friend, Brian Armstead, to sit in the front seat of the Rogue and the Rogue Sport. I then took pictures of the front row of both and the backseat of both. Brian set the configuration the same in each car so that you can see the difference in the picture. There were fewer inches in the rear, making it snug, but I was still able to fit nicely. The big deal for Brian was the headroom; fortunately, he was in a car that had a moonroof :)

Most people are not 6' 9", Stretch is only 6' 4". He would fit nicely, have more room in the rear seat and plenty of headroom. And the price is right -

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport S FWD  - $21,420 USD
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SV FWD  - $23,020 USD
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL FWD  - $26,070 USD
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport S AWD - $22,770 USD
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SV AWD  - $24,370 USD
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD  - $27,420 USD
 * Destination and Handling $960.
If you need a bigger SUV, the 2017 Nissan Rogue starts at $24,760 with an EPA-estimated City/highway/combined mpg 25/32/28 AWD 26/33/29 FWD.  The Rogue has more horsepower than the Rogue Sport at 170 hp @ 6000 rpm 175 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm and is twelve inches longer. The Rogue competitors are Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.

Compare that to the compact Rogue Sport starting MSRP of $22,380 with an EPA-estimated City/highway/combined  24/30/27 AWD 25/32/28 FWD mpg. The Rogue Sport is tuned to be more fun to drive with less horsepower; 141 hp @ 6,000 rpm 147 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm. The Rogue Sport competitors would be more like Hyundai Tucson, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3. 

I also drove the 2017 Infiniti QX 80 AWD Limited at  $90,445. A 5.6-liter V-8 with 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque is the only engine available in the 2017 Infiniti QX80, and it’s paired exclusively to a seven-speed automatic transmission. EPA estimated fuel economy is 13 city/ 19 highway/ 15 combined mpg; I got 14.1 mpg. Some of the competitors are Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX 570, Lincoln Navigator, and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

Let's chat about cars

I'm pretty close to resigned to doing the less fun but better for the environment thing and getting a used Nissan Leaf instead of a stick shift anything to replace my polluting but fast TDI (never again, VW), but I'm a little unsure about how to go about getting a charging station at home. I've got a single family home, but no garage so I'm worried it might be a difficult install since it'll have to go through a brick wall. Should I try to get the charging station before buying the car? Can I get by on a charger plugged into a regular outlet and still commute my 30 miles daily while I comparison shop installers? And lastly, is there any compelling reason to get an SL over SV trim level? I'm still tempted to do the easy thing and get a manual CX5 or one of Jeep's smaller SUVs since that's about as close to a stick shift wagon as affordable cars get anymore, but my kids are watching and I'd like to set an example. Thanks!

My friend, and colleague, Dan Neil, from the Wall Street Journal is asking the same question on my facebook.

I would not do the hillbilly orange cord down the street and plug in.

I would look at different charging stations and find one that syncs with your utility company to charge at unpeak times so you get charged the least. It will also shut off after it is done charging.

I would look for a level 2 - 240 - that is plenty and it is power you already have in your house (the same as your clothes dryer)

I will give you some of the links people have been putting on Dan's facebook post

I like that you are setting an example. We meet for the final go through this week with our guy to put up solar panels. Electricity is going up, on average, 6% each year. My goal is to have as few fixed costs as possible when I retire. We have calculated that we can get rid of an electric bill by that time by getting solar panels now. It also increases the value of our home.

And if we get off the dependence of foreign energy we will have less reason to get in fights with other countries.

Thanks for caring

Your pictures are a little dark on my screen and I don't quite follow your text. Are you saying that the Sport has less room?

Sorry! The first thing Stretch said when he saw the collage was that I should have used a light.

Yes, the Rogue Sport is 12 inches shorter than the Rogue. Easier to park but all the amenities of the Rogue. There is less legroom in the rear and a couple inches less headroom but unless you're 6'9" - like Brian is - you will find the Rogue Sport quite comfortable. The big deal is the ability to carry so much junk, which is why I say the Rogue should be for the parents and the Rogue Sport would be for the grandparents.

The "new" Jaguar cars have been out for about fives years now i believe. Is there any way to review their reliability records? CR doesn't seem to offer a lot of info--I suppose because there aren't as many owners. Jaguar's previous records were not very good. I have the same concerns about the new Alfa Romeos.

There is some information on JD Powers website (just go to the car you want)

I believe edmunds has a section on their website that breaks down how much it will actually cost to own the car as well - including maintenance etc. If those numbers are high you know the reliability and warranty are not good.

Hi everyone. Been a Toyota guy all my life but just switched to the Honda HR-V. So far a very nice ride. Price was not too bad either. Since my wife's Forester has AWD, I opted for the lower trim and FWD. thus I was able to buy some nice Weathertech mats and liner.

I really like the HR-V. Just the right amount of room and in the AGSUV - active grandparents SUV category - enough room for the grandkids but easier to park etc.

FWD with snow tires are just fine. I drove 8 hours in snow the other day in Newfoundland in a 2010 Honda Civic 4-banger with snow tires and did just fine.

Hello, Warren. Thank you for your recent column on the CR-V. We just made a deal on a 2017 (EX trim), replacing our 2004 Honda Odyssey. We also test drove the Toyota Rav4. The Rav4 was nice, but we preferred the CR-V handling and quiet ride. The CR-V EX was loaded with features for less money, too.

You aren't going to go wrong with either of those vehicles but I'm glad you test drove them and found the one you liked the best.

I would have been interested in what you think of the Nissan Rogue Sport as it is the competitor to those cars.

This is one of the models I am looking at it. Should I be concerned that it is built in a new factory - presumable with new workers who are on a learning curve - in Mexico? Have you driven it yet?

No, Audi has great quality control. You will be fine.

This is the premium luxury compact. If you want to look at other competitors they would be  Lexus RX,  Infiniti QX50, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes-Benz GLC,  BMW X3


Not going up here in Clifton,VA Lou Ann. I have NOVEC and over last 3 years cost of electricity has gone down over the last 3 years if not 5 years. Only in the Socialist Republic of California is the cost going up. Remember to thank Gov Moonbeam if he isn't under the influence of of psychoactive substances. Clifton, VA

Enough with the snide comments Clifton

On average electricity is going up. Gasoline should go up higher, but the geopolitical games being played keeps it low till OPEC has a stranglehold on it again.

I prefer domestic energy and will do all I can to obtain that national freedom.

How much of a step up is it to climb into the Sport? My spouse (5'-10") is 65 and has trouble climbing up into most SUVs. Or is it an easier than trying to get into and out of a lower-to-the-ground passenger car? Thanks!

When we used to take our 92-year-old neighbor, Barbara, places we would take a compact SUV to her house. I have a 1993 Lexus LS400 with heated seats, but the fall to that seat scared her. I

The height of the Rogue Sport is 62.5 in. (FWD) compared to the 68.1 for the Rogue. I'm not sure if the ground clearance is different, but the height is.

Also hire an electrician please. Spend the money especially for level 2 240 volts. Also electricity can kill. Plumbing mistakes just get you wet and smelly.

Good suggestions. Most groups selling charging units will come out and install the unit for you.

Yeah, that 240 volt is a bit more live than a red bull :)

Just remember Consumer's Reports reliability surveys ding automakers for not enough cup holders and cup holders not being big enough as reliability issues.

You are correct, and they used to go back 6 years to consumers for feedback. If you're a consumer that got upset at anything that happened in the last 6 years - at a dealership anything - you could take it out on the car in the consumer report.

Having said that, it is the most comprehensive study I can find for reliability and accurateness without bias.

Hey hey hey hey hey hey hey hey hey! I needed a heavy-duty 50' extension cord to power my beloved wife's outdoor seating area/used car lot last Christmas (seriously, she has me put up a LOT of lights) and you can only get something that isn't orange or that hideous neon green by ordering online (and it costs about twice as much)..

Hey now - your wife and me - we like our Christmas lights :) There is something about that much light and brilliance during the dark days of winter.

Yeah, they really mark up anything that isn't orange.

We drove one before settling on the significantly larger Murano for about the same money (lower trim, but still really nice). It was fine, probably a little peppier than the RAV4 or the CRV or the Tiguan, all of which really seemed to be laboring to get from 30 to 50 on a flat road. By the way: great job having your extra-tall friend try the car! I mean, we love Warren, but he's neither tall nor big.

I love the Murano. Great vehicle. It has the safety feature that will tell you if a car two vehicles in front of you is stopping.

My big test is going from 30-50 on a hill

Wasn't that great of Brian? It really shows the room advantage and yet he is comfortable in the Rogue Sport as well. When he does have grandchildren he would be able to transport them easily.

Yes, Warren and I are not big in stature but my buddy is big in heart. As most of you know on Friday mornings he does dialysis. He probably didn't get through in time, but he will read this.

Average electricity rates in the Washington-Baltimore area are up 6.5% since 2013. Perhaps Clifton should get out more (or perhaps his snide comments need not be posted).

I let him have one each chat. Trust me, there are more :)

LouAnn, a few years ago I was exploring the market for SUV's like the Pathfinder (I already have a Frontier P/U) and found that the forums had lots of complaints about the Nissan CVT in the Pathfinder and other such vehicles. I wanted none of that and backed off. What's the latest on that, has Nissan got the bugs worked out?

Yes, in fact my colleague, Nina Russin, and I were driving the Rogue Sport and we both agreed that Nissan has one of the best CVTs on the market.

I would rather have Nissan's CVT than a 9-speed.

If you were to put aside the problems Volkswagen has with its diesel mpg shenanigans, what is the horizon like for them in the U.S.? They seem to have a pretty good track record of not figuring out the U.S. market and producing cars that relatively few people want to buy (aside from the Jetta station wagon). Have they addressed these challenges as well, and do they have a plan?

They are addressing the challenges - VW and Toyota are vying for number one and number two in marketshare globally. The difference is in return on equity. Toyota soars past VW on that.Just today GM's financial sheets came out stronger than they have in a long time.

That's the key to me - marketshare can be manipulated with incentives etc. Tell me which company is making the most profit and has the best consumer rating and I will show you a company that is in it for the long-term.

Volkswagen has gotten rid of the people that lost their moral compass. They are bringing out vehicles (mainly SUVs) for the US market in a timely fashion (have you seen the VW Atlas)

And they will bring out more electric cars, though I wish they would also bring out plug-in hybrids as well.

VW's are fun to drive. That is always a deciding factor.

Once we recover from the move into our new home, we plan to pick up a second car. I'm thinking of a 2013 Ford C-Max or Honda Fit, both sitting a bit over $10K. Any thoughts?

How much configuration do you need in a car? The Honda Fit can fold into origami pieces it has so many configurations. Are you getting a manual or automatic? I liked the automatic on that generation better.

The C-Max - check the mpg stats on of what people actually got on that car. That is a noodle in the back of my brain.The C-Max sounds new, but it has been in Europe and New Zealand, so both cars have good reliability.


I seriously doubt CR dings automakers on reliability for bad cup holders. Bad ergonomics might affect the overall score, but not reliability. It's probably true that people taking the survey could lie to settle a score (as you seem to allude to) but if you survey thousands of people like they do and ask the same questions for all manufacturers, the survey results should be reliable overall.

Which is why I said I think overall they are the most comprehensive and unbiased. But I think they do have a category for cupholders, I think the other chatter is right - they may have changed that, but cupholders are a big deal.

Just want to say that Elisabeth Leamy's article yesterday on negotiating with car dealers was great!

Thanks - in case anyone missed itour chatter has put the link above (and there are almost 60 comments so probably even more tips)



Is he here today?

On Fridays Warren has dialysis in the mornings. Sometimes everything runs smoothly, sometimes he needs more time. Today he needed more time. He is fine and will be back with us next Friday. Thanks for asking.

Thanks everyone for chatting today. Good questions. Thanks Teddy for taking over production while Gene was speaking at his alma mater. We are proud of you Gene, and you have just begun.

Come back next week 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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