Real Wheels Live (August 18)

Aug 18, 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.

Like me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Download the Carlist app and list your car for free on and it goes to Facebook and Twitter instantly

Good Morning Warren and Friends,


The event of the year is happening this weekend; the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. This event has been a staple of the love for new and classic automobiles since 1950. 

Before the actual event on Sunday there will be many unveils; BMW unveiled two concepts; a BMW 8-series and a BMW Z4. We will also be saying goodbye to my friend, Ludwig Willisch, the President and CEO of BMW North America. Bernhard Kuhnt will be taking over for Willisch. 

Stretch attended and videoed the reveal of the Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) racecar. It's embargoed, so we can't even show you a picture yet! 

I can show you the Infiniti electric concept Prototype 9 that was shown at the Infiniti party last night at Pebble Beach. 

We drove the VW Passat down from Auburn, CA to Monterey. The trunk space in that car is phenomenal! And we got 34 mpg! I get these cars, and I just can't wait for them to come out in a plug-in hybrid so that I can buy one. I really want solar panels and a PHEV. Can you tell?

Lastly, a very Happy 102nd Birthday to Trudy at the Paris Bakery. My friend, Jeff, turned me onto this bakery in Monterey. After the chat, I will stop in and say hi. If you are ever in Monterey, please do the same. Imagine, 102! 

Have you driven the A5/S5 Sportback yet? How do the two compare to other automobiles in their respective classes?

Yes. The A5 coupe is excellent on the road, one of the best drives ever. I am looking forward to driving the A5 Sportback--just greed on my part.

As a follow-up to last week's discussion, I checked the Chevy website about start/stop on the Impala, a car that Consumer Reports loves and I would like to consider when buying a late-model used car in a year or two. As best I can tell, only the 4 has start/stop; the V6 does not. To the best of your knowledge, am I correct?

I did not ask Chevy which cars had start-stop, only if the owner could turn start-stop off on the car that had it. They said it could not be turned off. If you look at last week's chat you will see that there are ways to override it, but that is not GM's intent. 


The compact temporary spare tire mythes new car came with is nearly ten years old. It's never been used. Should I have it replaced?

Yes. You should at leasr have it checked. Rubber deeriorates.

Took my Forester into local dealer for standard oil change. Technician indicated my oil was very very low. I asked him why then did my dash light not come on indicating low oil pressure. He said my model did not have this indicator. What? I laughed and when I got home, I looked at my Manual and it definitely has this indicator as ALL vehicles do. Might be a national standard/requirement. I sent an email to the service manager to educate this technician.

Thank you for politely educating them. :) 

I am in the market for a new car. I need a relatively high seat height, for ease of entry/exit, but I don't want an SUV. A minivan would be great, but Odyssey, Sienna, etc., are too large for my small garage. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

CConsider Chevrolet (the Equinox) or Hyudai (the Sportage).

Hi Warren and LouAnn, love reading your chat and appreciate your input! My 1996 Honda Accord is on its last legs :-( and I know it's only a matter of time before I need a newer vehicle, so I'm starting my search now. Any vehicle I get MUST be able to stand up to and traverse a rock/gravel road that is approx. 1-mile long with a 500-600 ft. drop in elevation, in upstate NY (so, think snow and salt in winter)--and since we keep our cars a long time, be tough enough to stand this over time. I commute to this site, so mileage and comfort over a distance would also be important. Being able to have lots of cargo space is also important (we're always hauling things, since we have a farm). I would prefer something with comfortable seating for my large/tall son and husband, too, if possible. Even better would be a vehicle that is as eco-friendly as possible. At first thought a truck would seem to fit some of the criteria (but not all). Same for an SUV. While I had been thinking along the lines of a new-to-me vehicle in the 2008-ish year range, your article on the new BMW SUV, Warren, made we wonder if I should maybe give some new vehicles a look, too. That being said, I'm not big on SUV's as status symbols (we still use my 1989 Nissan Pathfinder on the farm!), and, don't want to spend lots per month on a (new) vehicle. Any suggestions? Thanks much!

I live in farm country in Northern California. We watch our neighbor, Best Neighbor Sheri, haul her hay and trailer her horses. She is part of the search and rescue team (sweep team) for the Tevis cup. 

I would get another truck. It is not going to be as fuel-efficient as an AWD Subaru Forester, but it will meet all your needs. You really are the person that needs a truck. 

Your Nissan Pathfinder is mid-size so if you want something comparable I would go with the Toyota Tacoma, if you want full-size I would go with the Toyota Tundra. 

What are your thoughts on the 2.5 liter engine, compared to the 2.0 liter turbo? Does the CVT work well with either engine? Thanks.

Yes, the CVT works well with either. 

Check to see if the turbo requires premium fuel. 

I ave a 10-year-old compact car that was great for its day in terms of safety and comfort features with leather seats and XM and lots of air bags and all that. It has less than 60K miles on it, but is worth less than 5K now. Reliable transportation, yes. Does it make sense for me to buy a new car with all those lane drift and backup camera and bluetooth phone thingies to help me survive any possible senior moments on the road? I can afford it, but there are many other uses for the money. I'll be driving MORE in retirement than i did while working.

Yes. Lane drift and all of that advanced safety stuf can save your life--or lots of pain and suffering.

Warren, I went and got a used Mini... I love it, it also give me a break from driving my Panamera around all the time and I can still have fun. Thank you for the recommendation on both.

You are welcome. Enjoy!

...did you use the gears or leave it in D? I found that dodging RV's on the PCH was easier when I could shift a little, even though it hurt mileage.

This was the amazing part - there was no traffic from San Francisco to Santa Cruz! We have never seen so little traffic on Highway one. The only thing we could think of was that all the tourist thought that all highway one was closed because of the landfall, but that is after Monterey. 

Of course, it was rush hour when we got to Santa Cruz so we hit traffic. 

To your question, we left it in automatic. 

Lou Ann, I was happy to hear you enjoyed your trip in the Passat. I love my 2015 SE! Any word on when VW will restyle this vehicle? Honda and Toyota make radical styling/design changes to their Accords and Camrys, but VW plays it steady and safe. Do you know if anything is planned for 2019 or beyond?

I don't know when they have plans to change. I may see someone today at Pebble Beach from VW. If so I will ask them. 

We had the Cadillac Escalade but if you have ever seen the traffic at Pebble Beach you know you want something that can haul all your stuff but be able to maneuver the traffic and the parking at Pebble. The Escalade would have been too much car for here. 

As you know, the Passat has a YUGE trunk. The passat got twice the mpg of the Escalade; it was a no-brainer. 

I want good handling and performance. My wife wants luxury. Would one of these fit these criteria better than the other? Thanks.

I am going to have to give the nod to the RDX. It is a nice midsize luxury SUV. If you want a couple more suggestions; Audi Q5, Volvo XC 60 (this also has a plug-in version). Just for fun, drive the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. 

Upstate New York should put the Chevy Colorado Z71 on her list. The ride is more comfortable than most trucks, and there are a couple of configurations available for her needs.

As much trouble as GM has had with keys in the steering ignition they still only use that configuration in the Colorado. And they advise to not put more keys on the ring. When you're a farmer you have keys to lots of things. The Toyota has smart key system and knee airbags, two things the Colorado doesn't have.

Hyundai Sportage? Isn't that Kia? Or are the Sportage and Tucson pretty much interchangeable?

shhh. They don't want you to know that Hyundai and Kia have interchangeable parts. 

Hyudai is the parent company with the higher end cars, Kia is the sportier more affordable cars, like Toyota/Lexus Nissan/Infiniti Acura/Honda. 

Unlike the other three Hyundai has come out with a new brand called Genesis which is even more upscale, higher end luxury. I will go to their party tonight and get pictures of the new car for next week. 

Yes, the Sportage and the Tucson have similar parts, the design is different. You can also consider the Ford Escape. 

I know I sound like a broken record to my family and others, but if you talk to a Volkswagen rep that is in the know, would you please ask them if VW has any plans to introduce a camper van (e.g., VW California available in Europe) to the U.S. market? Thanks for your indulgence. Have fun at the show!

Dear LP

On our way down we saw a Westfalia and my heart leaped. I will ask. 


Bought a '99 after Consumer Reports named a car of the year. Fun to drive, but awful to ow. Replaced nearly everything under the hood, beginning within months of purchase. Dumped it for a Forester two years ago. No regrets.

The Forester is a safe bet, but I am disheartened by the VW Passat story. I thought their reliability was getting better, especially with the Passat. I will have to look into that. Thanks for letting me know. 

Thanks everyone for joining us. By next week we will have more videos and stories about Pebble Beach. I am also going to drive the Jeep next week so if you have any questions email me now at lou at drivingthenation dot com. 

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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: