Real Wheels Live (July 28)

Jul 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,

One of the chatters last week asked, "What group would have this information? I know when the turbo 4 ECOBOOST came out at first, people seemed unsure about it in terms of MPG and reliability. Specifically talking about the 2.0T in the Fusion Titanium, not the smaller 1.5. Has the 2.0T Ecoboost turned out to be a reliable unit? It's in the Fusion, Escape, Lincolns, and even the Edge, Explorer, too I think. I'm wondering if it's as solid as the other 2.0 Turbos out there from BMW, MB, Audi/VW, Hyundai, etc."

I asked my colleagues online and at Consumer Reports. CR doesn't have a comparison yet, but Douglas did send a note that said, "CR has been reporting reliability information at the model level in recent years, and so we no longer have separate and detailed information on specific vehicles or trim levels.

That said, in the most recent 2016 survey, the overall reliability of the Fusion has been above average (4 on a five-point scale)  for the model years 2015 and 2016, and the new car prediction is also a 4. Engine trouble spots (major or minor) are all 5's for the model years that have the 2.0-liter turbo. Based on those solid numbers, CR believes this turbo engine has been reliable--at least in the Fusion. (Otherwise, CR's survey experts would have seen a negative impact on overall reliability.)

Results from CR's 2017 auto reliability survey are being evaluated now and will be released in October." 

Another colleague sent me his article on turbos and new car reliability. Michael Karesh from True Delta posted the most recent piece he's written on common major problems. Overall it remains relevant. Michael went into depth in the article and next time would add oil consumption in 2011-2013 Subarus with the then-new naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine.

Finally, Stretch and I drove the Range Rover Evoque convertible this week. I have not been in a car that got so many looks in years! I've been in Range Rovers before, but this SUV convertible is different. Everyone loved it! Even the guy who got my chicken feed for me, even though he thought he would never be able to afford it, loved it. You know you're on to something when the people who can't afford the car love the car, instead of dissing it. 

The Evoque soft top doesn't have as much room as a conventional SUV, more like an Audi A4 convertible in total space. The trunk is small, (can you see my polish hen in the trunk?) not a liftback like most Range Rovers, but here is the key; every other sports car convertible you drive you have to lower yourself into as though you're going to take a bath. This vehicle allows you to sit in it without having to have the upper body strength of a fighter pilot getting into a cockpit. The roof goes up and down within seconds. And it is only $58,270 out the door! That is right in line with a luxury premium SUV. EPA estimated fuel is 20 city/ 28 highway/ 23 combined. We got 23.2 mpg and ran all over the place in the vehicle. It's so much fun to drive a vehicle that makes people smile. 

Let's chat about cars

Any idea when the 2018 Honda models will be coming out? I'm interested in a 2017 Honda Pilot and want to negotiate the best deal. Thank you.

Good Morning! 

Most new cars come out in October time-frame. If the Honda Pilot is hot and the car company hasn't over produced there should be very few 2017s. You will probably get your best deal around December when everyone is trying to get the best numbers for the final tally of the year. 

Hi Warren, Do you have any idea when the Acura MDX will be completely re-designed? I'm looking at purchasing a used one. Thanks!

The 2018 3-row SUV had a redesign this year, so buying a used one now would be good. It's funny, some people have to have the newest and brightest, and some of us wait for that new redesign to get the best price on the last generation. The last generation of the MDX was good, you'll like it. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that GM is considering killing the Chevrolet Volt hybrid, the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Sonic. Heard anything about this? I noticed that Consumer Reports recommends the Buick, the CT6, the Impala, and the Sonic.

I would also recommend the Chevy Volt last generation. Sad that sedans aren't selling, but with gas prices this low the world is gaga over SUVs. 

Good Morning. I have in my half-century of driving never owned an American-branded, or even majority-manufactured, car, though I always look when it's time for a new one. I dearly wish to do so now. I have loved my 11-yr old Audi A4 and want to replace it if I can find a roughly equivalent "American" car; I could also keep it running for several more years. Where should I be looking? I do not at all like the feel of driving Japanese- or Korean-branded cars--too light, too quiet, too tinny (listen to the doors close), not enough feedback (I long ago drove road raliies) and, for me, interior space that feels, well, too spacey. Thank you for advice and, not incidentally, thank you for your excellent columns and discussions over the years. Kind regards, Charles Fogelman, Silver Spring

Good Morning Mr. Fogelman, 

Thank you for the kind words (I'm speaking for Warren as well) 

I know you said you didn't like Japanese, but have you driven a Mazda? What about the Toyota CHR? 

Ok, back to your question/answer - I have to be honest, I love the Audi A4. If it were me and there was nothing wrong with the car I would keep driving it. 

If you want an American car you can try the Cadillac CTS-V


Good morning! I wanted to get your expert opinion on buying new versus used. I'm in the market for a luxury SUV and have recently been open to the option of buying used (1-2 years old) due to the drastic depreciation hit of a new car after purchase. 1) I intend to buy from a dealer instead of a private seller. Do you think it's worth the extra money for a certified pre owned car? 2) What do you think about buying an extended warranty should the car not be CPO?

I would buy a CPO, and I would buy it through Costco Auto. Costco Auto has a CPO program and they will have the best price through the dealer. 

Make sure the warranty you get is through the manufacturer, not the car dealer. If you get the warranty through the car dealer and that car dealer goes away so does your warranty. If you get it through a manufacturer, and the car dealer goes away you can go to another car dealer of the same brand and it will be honored. 


About 6 months ago, when we were considering small SUVs, I made an inquiry into the reliability of the available engines for the Escape. A service manager from a local Form dealership told me that his department rarely saw problems with the 2.0 turbo, but saw many problems with the 1.5 turbo.

That seems to be the consensus from the people that do deep dives into turbos. Thanks for confirming that.

Hi Lou Ann and Warren, I wanted to follow up regarding a question from a chatter last week about the Toyota use of the nickel metal hydride battery in their higher trim cars....did you ever get an answer as to why they haven't updated to the lithium ion ones? I'm interested in a Lexus hybrid but am looking elsewhere due to their battery. Thanks - have a good weekend! NW DC

The 2016 Toyota Prius comes in different models and different batteries; a Nickel Metal Hydride or a Lithium Ion battery. The NiMh battery is tried and true for Toyota, and a first for the Prius. Not all countries can recycle lithium-ion batteries to Toyota’s satisfaction, so some Prius’s will continue to have NiMh batteries.

Is he here today?

yes, I am. How are you?

Welcome back! Thanks for being here to answer questions

Thank you. Back much improved.

Regardless of how many sedan models GM discontinues, the sedan will endure. Body styles ebb and flow in popularity. People of a certain age can recall the period in the late 80s-early 90s when the hatchback went out of style and before SUVs became popular. The sedan, like the hatchback, is a body style that makes sense for many people.

Remember station wagons? No one would buy them because we all grew up in them. They are making a come back. 

I remember be the runt in the back of the station wagon - the way back. My Mom would open a can of Campbell's vegetable beef soup and I would eat it right out of the can. 

I love Station Wagons and sedans, but that Evoque convertible was so much fun. I think that is a winner. 

Yes. They'll be around--not necessarily forever.

This car doesn't have very much information listed -- it's hard to know if it's a good deal or not:

Thanks for the catch. I will send it to my web guys. It's probably a private individual that didn't finish listing. Thanks for the heads up 

Hi, Warren: Your insights are always useful. My wife's vehicle (a 2006 Honda CR-V is on its last wheels, with about 185,000 miles); to replace it, we're thinking of a slightly used (2-3 years old) CR-V or Mazda CX-5; reliability and economy are paramount. Could you please offer your take? Thanks!

Mazda now is running 2017 sales. Good deals available, especially for previous customers. Buy;

Whoops, sorry, Lou Ann -- your take is requested, too. Also, what about the Hyundai Tucson?


my take will be different than Warrens. I would go with the Mazda CX-5. 

wow ! I just looked at Warren's answer and we agree. 

Mine isn't for price, it's for drivability - I love the way the Mazda drives. Getting a good price is a bonus. 

I've loved my Taurus wagon, but my arthritic left knee prefers getting in and out of an SUV.

Yep. Take a look at a Hyundai Santa Fe with good ingress and egress.

I understand the difficulty in defining a "serious" type of problem with a vehicle model. While Michael Karesh's definition focuses on replacement of major drivetrain components, I think that his definition needs to be expanded to include repairs that were once considered minor, but which have become very costly as vehicle designs have evolved. Example: some turbocharged engines are so tight in the engine bay that water pump replacement is a major procedure that can easily cost well North of $1000. Instead of basing the definition of "serious" on which vehicle system is involved, I think a better definition would be any procedure that is not on the maintenance schedule that costs more than $1500 for parts and labor. Then adjust the dollar amount by the appropriate component of the Consumer Price Index each year.

Yes, thanks.

Do the back seats of the Evoque go down like some models of Audi convertibles do?

Stretch and I rushed out to the SUV because it wasn't something we had thought about. It doesn't appear to - it looks pretty fixed and the only latches we see are for tie downs for baby seats. The bottom of the backseat moves so we're looking in the manual. 

page 29 of the manual says it should but I'm thinking it's not for the evoque convertible. 

I would say no. 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio or Jaguar F-Pace - have you driven either? Thoughts?

I've driven the Jaguar F-Pace, I will drive the Stelvio starting today. I will let you know next week. 

Go with F-Pace. Stelvio a poor contender,

Thanks for joining us today, Come back next week.

Do people really pay $95K for them? If so, YOW!!!!

LOL - Warren and I were just having this discussion on the side. The evoque convertible was only $58K, which I think is incredibly affordable for a compact SUV and a convertible that you don't have to fall into. What is the most you would pay for a car? 

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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