The Washington Post

Real Wheels Live (June 30)

Jun 30, 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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A couple of weeks ago a chatter asked about the redesign of the Hyundai Azera for 2018 because they loved the car and would be interested in purchasing one. I just got word from Hyundai that, "There won't be a 2018 model Azera. We didn't have enough fans like this one."

Do you watch racing? If you do, then you've heard of the race car driver Scott Pruett. Pruett won TWO awards this week; West Coast Sports Car Hall of Fame, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame I don't follow a lot of racing, but Scott is a neighbor, and we're very proud of him. Score two for one of the good guys. To celebrate, he will do what he does best; he’ll race the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in New York this weekend.


If you are interested in an auto supplier that is making its way to the top of the ranks in autonomous driving look at the article, I just wrote about ZF, and all the strategic partnerships they are amassing. 

We drove the Volkswagen Beetle 1.8 Dune Turbo this week, or as I call it the VW lovebug. I used to have a 1974 VW Bug, named Herman. I loved that thing. It was green,  manual transmission, and I drove the heck out of that thing. This convertible Dune is so much fun to drive. If you're looking for a small car that is easy to park - and did I mention it is a convertible - consider this one and get it in the yellow metallic exterior with the dune gray & black with yellow piping. Out the door, it was $30,465. The EPA estimated fuel economy was 24 city/31 highway/27 combined. We got 27.5 mpg combined. 



For years you have been saying the Avalon is just a Buick. But my own experience and the experiences of many, many other people who either own Avalon's or know people who own them versus Buick's is so much different than yours. Avalon's last longer, have significantly less maintenance issues, are better built and the TCO over the life of the vehicle is much less expensive than the Buick. And at the time to sell the Avalon the owner will get much more money for the Avalon than the Buick. I would suggest that you rethink your narrative since it makes you seem out of touch as a "car guy".

Good Morning 

You must be talking to Warren because I agree with you. Toyota is so reliable and the Avalon is a great vehicle full of wonderful technology. Stretch and I saw one yesterday and thought it had the styling of an Audi. So, yeah, not a Buick. 


The other day, there was a message on my answering machine from someone saying they were with the car dealership I purchased my car. They said they wanted to buy my car. While they might spin things by saying that there is high demand for used cars, my guess is they are really trying to get me to buy a new car. What do you think?

Smarter than the average bear booboo. Unless it was a BMW manual of an earlier year, or some other really hot rare car, I'm with you. 

I get those flyers almost daily for my house. I look at them and throw them away. My house is paid for. I am not going to start over in a new home with a new mortgage. Get someone else to keep the economy going. 

Have you driven the new 2018 Acura TLX? If so what did you think? Thanks

Yes, If you like a more luxury feel stick with the TLX, if you want more performance, sportier feel try the a-spec

What do you think of the Mazda these days? Are they making the right moves, dealer network pretty stable, reliability good, solid safety features, R + D expenditures adequate for their future cars? After years of just feeling "meh" about the brand, I like what I see of the CX 5 refresh and the Mazda 6. Both seem like good values and appear to be attractive alternatives at their price points. Would be interested in your thoughts on Mazda's place in the car world these days. Thanks!

Mazda struggled for awhile after Ford sold them in 2009ish - after the economic downturn. Today they are a solid brand and I have been saying that I think the Mazda CX-5 is the sleeper car. I love the drivability of the Mazda and the CX-5 in particular. 

Hi, Lou Ann. I know you recently drove the new Camry hybrid. I'm considering either a Camry hybrid or the Accord hybrid and am not sure whether one is really better than the other. What are your thoughts about it? Thanks.

I am just writing up my review on the Camry so I can't share it with you - I promise to have it done next Friday - please check back. 

If memory serves me I got 20 mpg better in the Camry hybrid than I did the gasoline version of the Camry. Somewhere around 50 mpg. I don't have my notes in front of me, but it was substantial. 

I like the Camry because of the all new styling, the resale value and the reliability. The extra mileage on the hybird is the butter on the bread. 

If you're going to go for one of the two I would narrowly opt for the Camry hybrid because of the completely new styling and the fuel economy. It will look completely different on the road and you will love the feel in your wallet. 

I drive a 2005 Pontiac Vibe with 312,000 miles (base model with crank windows). It still runs great and has to last 3 more years until kid finishes college but I'm looking around for possible replacements. I like its size, mpg, hatchback and interior functionality. Would like better snow handling here in the north. I commute about 80 miles a day. I was looking at the Subaru Crosstrek but then saw the Impreza has a similar looking model. How are they different and which is better.

I hope you are going to give the Pontiac to your child when they go to college. It's the perfect beater car - it will be so retro it will be cool. 

The great thing about Subarus are they are all all-wheel drive, the bad thing is they are in hot demand, so very little negotiating room there. 

The difference is going to be in the drive. I am assuming you meant the hatchback version of the Impreza, since the crosstrek is a hatchback as well. My neighbor, Jim, has the crosstrek and loves it. 

Really, both great vehicles, the Impreza is slightly smaller, a little less money, but a great drive. 

That VW Beetle is a cute car. Test drove one years ago but was hampered by the "sight line" of the top down - it cut off my vision since it didn't sit flush with the trunk lid. Has that improved any?

I didn't notice that there was a distinct bump, maybe a little, but it didn't bother me. 

What I did notice was that VW has the blind spot detector in the side mirror and it is orange - when the sun is shining - like it is now till 9pm - you can't see the orange flashing to indicate there is someone in your blindspot. Other manufacturers have an orange triangle close to the mirror. Now I know why. 

It was a fun little vehicle to drive in the summertime. My one question would be how long the soft top would last in the 100 degree heat we have in Northern California.

Someone -- Clifton ? -- posted a comment in a recent Real Wheels discussion about reports of the electric drive motors in hybrid pickups overheating when the pickups were pulling heavy loads. I've looked online and cannot find a link that provides information on these reports. Would whoever posted the comment be able to provide a link for more information?

I'll put it out there and see if someone remembers it. I don't. 

Answer: In the 2017 JD Power Initial Quality Rankings. According to JD Power, the initial quality score for Toyota-badged vehicles is 95, and the initial quality score for Buick-badged vehicles is 95. The industry average score is 97. Oops.

I didn't say that Buicks were bad, I just don't think of Toyotas as Buicks. And just because a McLaren and a Porsche might get the same rating on initial quality doesn't mean they would be thought of as the same car. 

Looking for a more affordable hybrid: Ford C-Max or Kia Niro? I'm a little bit hesitant to investigate a brand new model without a history yet, but the Kia's supposed mileage is enticing. I've heard that Kia's are decent cars these days?

I love the Kia Niro hatchback. Sooo functional. I like the Ford C-Max as well, but if memory serves me they had some mpg issues. If mileage is a strong consideration go to and look at what real world driving car owners are saying they are getting from the cars they are driving. 

Consumer Reports (CR) used heap praise constantly on Infiniti's Q37. When Infiniti did a design and called it the Q50, CR panned it. Did the car change that much?

Did you mean Q30 or G37? The Q50 is the replacement for the G37 and as long as you buy the hybrid fully loaded vehicle you will be fine. Remember, Consumer Reports can have people with cars that are six years old. If you didn't buy the fully loaded version it will be difficult to love a car after six years if it doesn't have all the technology and luxury it could have had. 

Lou Ann & Warren, The rear styling of the 2017 Prius looks like a Toyota designer was watching reruns of The Jetsons when he/she designed the Prius. I recommend that the designer needs to abandon his/her inhibitions and go big, like the 1959 Cadillac. Now those were some tail fins.

LOL - Now that you mention it --- one only notices it when the tail lights are on; now those are some taillights! I like them, mind you, but they are serious. 

The Cadillac of yore actually had the tail fins sticking out. Those were really cool. I would imagine that NHTSA or some other government group would say one couldn't build that car anymore for fear of a pedestrian be impelled by it. 

Thanks for the smile 

I remember when Scott got his start in professional road racing in the SCCA Trans Am series. Saw him race numerous times at Summit Point, WV with Protofab and Roush Racing. He was also great with the fans unlike Willy T. Ribbs. Ribbs and I almost got into a fight at Summit Point when I was leaving the track and he almost ran me off the road coming back to track and playing race car driver off the track and apexing his corners for his sponsors who were in the back seat. BTW Dan was in the front seat. I headed back to track and found Ribbs and gave him a piece of my mind. Yeah I knew about Ribbs boxing. He was in my face and Dan stepped between us. That's Dan Gurney. Ribbs was reprimanded severely for his conduct by the SCCA. Clifton, VA

Great story Clifton. Somehow it doesn't surprise me that you gave someone a piece of your mind :)

[Really, what would we do without Clifton to spoof on] 

Scott is a lovely man and has a great family. He also has a spectacular vineyard. I tried his Lucky Lauren Red - OMG! His wine gets 95-96 in Wine Spectator. It's nice to see an all around nice guy getting accolades. 

Stay away from boxers, Clifton. It's like getting in a pissing contest with a skunk - you're not going to smell good afterwards even if you are right. 

LOL - Stretch used to tell me that my tombstone was going to read She's dead, She was right, but she's dead. 

Be careful out there -- Hill Street Blues (did you know that race car driver/journalist Denise Mcluggage was married to that guy) 

I always assume mine will say "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time."

Now that I've gotten older mine might say that :) 

You know, if all your acting resume had was The *Real* Longest Yard and "Let's be careful out there," you'd have to call that a great career.

It's amazing how certain lines conjour up memories. 

The Prius comment cracked me up. Personally, I think it's one of the ugliest cars on the road - but it's all in the eye of the beholder, right? One of my earliest memories - 2 yrs old or maybe a little younger - was standing in my neighbor's driveway, at the back of their '59 El Dorado, looking up - up - up at those bullet lights on each fin. (FYI, the car was pretty new...just sayin'.) I'm pretty sure that made me the car fan I am today. Even at that age, I'm pretty sure I recognized the outlandish artistry of that supertanker! Just wanted to share... ;-)

great memory, thanks for sharing. I don't think we will have those cars again, but maybe once everything is electrified and autonomous and flying in the air...jetsons, meet the jetsons :) 

Thanks for the great chat today. Many of you will be celebrating Independence day this weekend. Please - don't drink and drive. You have loved ones that want to see you again, and I want to chat with you again 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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