Real Wheels Live (June 2)

Jun 02, 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,

If you could build a car, would it be built on your family heritage or your personal life, how would it look? What colors would be on the exterior and interior? 

Rolls-Royce unveiled a coach-built swepttail at the  Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Sure, it's an expensive car, more than you or I could afford, but the question is what would a car designed by you, built to your specifications look like if you could build a car? 

Many people design their homes, some of the wealthier design their yachts. The chief designer of Rolls-Royce, Giles Davis, says that coach-building is making a resurgence, and I agree with him. On my two-week emersion of cars with Veloce Tours, I met Italdesign, a company that reports to Audi, along with Lamborghini and Ducati. They are building five coach-built cars. 

You and I don't coach-build our cars, but we do pick the colors, the options, and the engine. Is there a particular color you always pick? I was with a gentleman a couple of weeks ago that wouldn't drive a white car. He'd had an accident in a white car and wouldn't drive one again. Are you opposed to certain colors? 

I am in Whitley, located near the City of Coventry today with Jaguar. The Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY) is presenting Jaguar with the Supreme Award for 2017 for the Jaguar F-Pace. Last night we had dinner with Jaguar's Director of Design, Ian Callum.  Today we spent the day at Jaguar design center with Ian, and  I saw the future. 

The WWCOTY was presented to CEO, Ralf Speth, Chief Designer, Ian Callum (and Board member) and Fiona  Pargeter, global director of PR communications and the only woman on the Board of Directors and the highest ranking woman in Jaguar Land Rover. Callum and Pargeter spent the day with Eleven women from ten different countries giving us a glimpse into how Jaguar products are created and steps needed to create the heritage of the future. 

The Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), the ultimate in Jaguar Land Rover personalization, is also located in the U.K. motor city. 


If you are going to be in the Coventry area and want to visit Jaguar, there are certain facilities at Gaydon, Solihull, and Coventry that are open to the public to view. 

Out of the mouths of babes

I spent the weekend with my girlfriend Larkin and her two-year-old, Ellis. Ellis has a MINI car, pink, mind you. She got in the car and promptly told her Mother that she needed to go to the petrol station, that she was out of gas. Her Mother explained to her that she didn't need gas, that she needed to plug her car in for it to run. "You mean I don't have to go to the petrol station, Mommy?" 

That's right Ellis, and hopefully when you're old enough to drive there will be no wars over oil. 

Let's chat about cars 


The July 2017 edition of Consumer Reports rated the top 25 new cars for senior drivers and front seat access was one of the key factors. In addition to top picks Forester, Highlander, Sorento they mentioned the compact Kia Soul at anywhere from $16 to $36,000. What is your combined overall opinion of this Kia Soul vehicle? It's geekiness is not a turn off - but does it handle ok? Is it comfortable at all? Can you see out of it?

I like the Kia Soul. I think it is one of the sleepers of the industry. Kia just beat its sister Hyundai in sales. Drive it - let me know what you think

With so many high quality used cars available why would anyone choose to buy new. My brother just purchased a 3 year old Mercedes C300 with 20,000 miles for only $25,000.

Right? I hope the manufacturers are taking notice because used car prices are so reasonable that new car sales are slowing. The last thing we need is another glut of cars sitting on dealer's lots again. 

Hopefully, car dealers won't over buy cars either and get stuck with them because that means they end up costing more to you in the long run. 

I have driven 3 BMWs and one sporty Mercedes for the past 35 years. But I am 70 years plus and it might be time for a change to a reliable car with all the safety gizmos. I've been thinking about a small SUV like everyone else but am also concerned about the get up and go for the freeway and sharing the road with speed freaks. Will I be happy with a Suburu, or CX 5? Or is a Prius or RAV hybrid in my future if I want to make a political statement?

I would like you to drive a Toyota CH-R. It's a great little car and the engine was tweaked by Kato-san who races cars for fun. 

Since you like sporty cars I would like your opinion of the CHR.

Warren -- I love my i3 electric, but I would like to have a second car for longer trips. Seems like a plug-in hybrid would be perfect, but I can't actually find a company other than Toyota or Chevy that will actually sell me one! Audi says it's only selling the A3 on the West Coast. My local Hyundai dealer says they don't have any Sonata or Ioniq plug ins to sell me! I'll look at the Prius, though I don't really like the site lines in prior years. And the Volt seems a little boring. Any other suggestions?

How about the Kia Niro PHEV? or the Kia Optima PHEV? 

I would personally go with the Toyota, but if you can get a Kia Niro I like that one as well. 

By the time my question gets answered, others may have already asked. But in tribute to the herd instinct again, where in the world in Warren this week? I ask because I value all opinions but I especially value Warren's because he has been around so long. I know, I know whatever he is doing is probably contributing to him being around even longer but I am more inclined to read Real Wheels when he is contributing. Thanks for letting me know.

You are right, whatever he is doing is contributing to him being around longer. Warren and I have been colleagues and friends for over 25 years and I want it to stay that way. On some Fridays he does dialysis and when he does sometimes it tires him out. He may come on yet --- in fact here he is! 

Looking at a CX-5 Grand Touring AWD. Is the redesign on the 2017 worth it ?

YES! I enjoy the drivability of the CX-5. Plan to spend close to MSRP because CX-5 is selling well. 

Give a Subaru Forester a try. New Subarus come with a lot of safety features like lane detection. My Forester is easy to get in and out of, and has a lot of pep. A review I read many years ago said that Subaru could get more out of a 4-cylinder engine than many companies get out of 6. It's still true.

And it has a great resell value. Subaru is one of those companies that is consistently good. 

Is where his doctors want him to be early Friday morning--finishing up nearly 4 hours of dialysis in a dialysis chair, thanking about you all  and thanking God their for Lou Ann, Gene, Ria, a truly wonderful wife, and so many excellent doctors, nurses and technicians who dedicate their lives and skills to caring about me and 40,oo0 other kidney patients,

Ford Fusion Energi - unless there's some bias...

I knew I was forgetting one - yes, the energi

I think there is also a C-Max phev isn't there? 

When I was car shopping a couple of months ago, I asked my insurance agent about some of the models we were considering. He said that Kia Soul insurance rates have skyrocketed in our town recently -- not because they're dangerous, but because they've become so ubiquitous that the odds of one of the cars in an accident being a Soul is much higher than anything else. This may be due to the piggish Billy Fuccillo opening a dealership here, or maybe it's everywhere. I drove one on an extended rental and found it to be a capable car except for the persistent pain in my right leg, maybe from the unsupportive seats.

It probably is because Kia buyers, who tend to be young, are having costly accidents.

...Mainly because it's covering a Jaguar, and my experience tells me to run in the other direction. In fact, I *have* to run, because the XJS broke down again and I'm late.

I love the British racing green and I love Jaguars. The new ones are much better

I haven't really studied up on them and I know I can look this up, but since I just wondered about it, it would be quicker to ask you two pros ;-) If someone bought a PHEV, could they survive with just using the standard outlet at home, or would they really need to install a 240V charger for the car? Thanks!

They would survive slowly. Best to buy the appropriate quick-charge charger.

Thanks to Warren for alerting me to a possible rationale for not considering a Kia Soul. I don't want high insurance rates. And thanks to the contributor for alerting me to the Soul's possibly less than supportive seats. Stay well, Warren.

Are you young? As Warren said, "It probably is because Kia buyers, who tend to be young, are having costly accidents."

Check with your insurance company. 

Nissan and Volvo tend to have the most supportive seats, but you are going to pay more for them. 

I have a 2003 Wrangler (bought in 2005) that has been a great car overall but at some point soon, I will probably be looking for a "new" car (you know, with actual windows and an automatic transmission). Are the 4-door Wrangler soft tops easier to manuever than the older ones? I'd love another soft top but I'm tired of scraping skin and fighting to get the top back up.

Yes, but nor by much in comparison with all of the new compact SUVs.

Any chance that Audi A3 will bring a manual sedan to the US in the next couple of years?

hat move in the U.S. Maybe Doubt it.

It is a bright, beautiful day. Ge out of here. Come back next week. I will try to get in here earlier next Friday fom dialysis. Enjoy!

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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