Real Wheels Live (Sept. 22)

Sep 22, 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,

How was your week? Can you believe it's almost Fall, almost Halloween?

This week I gave a couple of speeches at an analyst convention; Strategic Vision's 4th Annual Recon conference. I put the speeches up on my website so that you could see them and we could talk about them. 


The first was What Electric Vehicles and the Affordable Care Act have in common? Now before you click on the link and read the article, think about what the two could have in common. 


The second speech was Mid-term review – dissolve the vertical silo!. How many of you work in companies that seem like you are working in silos instead of working together as a team? This article is about incorporating all aspects of the car to create a domestic clean energy infrastructure instead of worrying about a mythical number such as 54.5 in 2025. 


If you're looking for a new BMW, I spoke with Ian Robertson at the Frankfurt Motor Show about the new vehicles they will be bringing out in the next couple years. And if you're looking for some really cool speakers, Harman Kardon is collaborating with Google and Amazon to bring you some trick speakers. 

While I was in San Diego Stretch was down the street talking to our neighbor, the iconic race car driver Scott Pruett. Pruett will be racing this weekend at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, while his award-winning wine will be steeping (I'm sure that's not the correct terminology). Stretch took this video of Scott showing off the vats of wine he is making and talking about the upcoming races. 

Lastly, we drove the 2017 Infiniti QX 60 3-row SUV with a starting MSRP of $43,100, but out the door at $58,245. Optioning up on luxury vehicles is a real thing, which is why it is always difficult when one of you says you want a vehicle for $43,000. I was pleasantly surprised to see the 3-row SUV get 22. mpg with the EPA fuel estimate of 20 city/27 highway/22 combined. 

Let's chat about cars 

I'm not reading much about what owners are thinking of their new Tesla 3s. This is such an important car, thought we'd be saturated by now.

The last I checked Tesla had only delivered the Model 3 to employees. I did hear the other day that Tesla is not going to be working with Nvidia soon. I have to confirm that, but Nvidia is an amazing software artificial intelligence company. I will have to find out what happened. 

I have a narrow garage and need a new car that sits a little higher than most sedans or hatchbacks. Since the Mazda5 is no longer sold, I am thinking about something like a Honda HRV, Is there anything else that is narrow and has a drivers seat that is high enough to be easy to get into and out of? Good handling and brakes and reasonable acceleration would be nice too. Thanks.

A Honda HRV would fit nicely in your narrow garage. Are you carrying lots of people? If not, the Fit will Fit with lots of utility space.

In April I bought a 2017 Jeep Cherokee. It was great, no issues, and happy I got it. However yesterday was the 3rd time since getting it that I've gotten warning lights on my dash. The first warning light was to service emergency brake, along with service air bags. Last week I got one to service the start/stop feature. Everytime I turn the car off and back on the warning lights are gone. I've gone to the dealer once about it and they couldn't replicate it. In the back of mind it's telling me something is wrong however the dealer can't find anything. Is it common for a warning light to go on and off when you start the car again? Previous to this I had an acrua TL and only once in it's 12 years did I ever get a warning light.

You know the drill - send me an email - lou at driving the nation dot com. Put WAPO carchat in the subject line. Give me your name and number and we will get to the bottom of this. 

I have friends at Jeep that want to help you. 

In the meantime start taking notes; is it a certain time of day, is the car cold, is it on a hill, anything you can think of.The more information we have the better. 

I have a vehicle which isn't rated for towing the trailer campers I'm considering. Not looking for a 5th wheel type, though. Probably between 4-5 thousand pounds for towing. What vehicles would you recommend? I will probably go with used to keep it under $25,000, as the new SUVs under that price don't seem to offer tow capabilities.

Ford F15o, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, And, remember, you will have to get it outfitted to towing capacity.

Lots of srealth damaged flood vehicles on the make, especially from Texas and Florida. Check carefully.

Why is this Mazda so expensive?!

A small company with heavy manufacturing, currency exchange and shipment costs.

Pull up the rear seat cushion and check under the spare tire. Clifton VA

Among other things, yes.

Would you anticipate the recent hurricanes and resulting damage will have much impact on car sales as people purchase replacements? And what can the average consumer do to protect themselves from buying storm damaged cars in the used car market?

1. Make sure to get a carfax report that gives the history of the car. Even if the car is not in Texas or Florida it could have been moved to another state. 

Yes, there will be more sales. It will go on for months because people have to get their housing figured out and then their mobility. I would see a surge in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. 

I have seen some companies give nice friends and family options. If I hear of any I will let you know. 

Thanks - good question 

Thought you might like to know that PSEG (my NJ utility) has placed two EV chargers at two service areas on the NJ Turnpike (about midway between Del and NYC). ( ) As the article states: "Participants in the Nissan No Charge to Charge and BMW ChargeNow programs can utilize the chargers, as can EV drivers with an EVgo subscription plan. One-time customers can also use a credit card to pay for a charge." I'm assuming there are similar installations in other parts of the country.

Mor e of that kind of thing will happen nationwide.

There are, but there are not enough. I think that is part of the issue; we are asking people to buy electric vehicles and there aren't enough charging places to charge. If there were more than people would be able to charge little bits at a time while they do their shopping, work etc. 

All of you know that my favorite is the plug-in hybrid PHEV; electricity and gasoline. I don't see it as overkill, with two energy sources. I see it as maximizing my options. If I were in Florida and needed to evacuate I would have two energy sources. 

The Volvo XC 60 PHEV is only $2,000 more than the regular gasoline version. To me that isperfect.

You don't think $117,000 for a Mazda demo car is excessive?

Why would you even consider buying it?

Hi guys, what's up with Dodge and Chrysler? All their vehicles except the Pacifica seem to be very dated. No complete redesigns of the Challenger, Charger or 300 in many, many years. I notice it even more recently when I see TV commercial for their products on now. What gives? Please, Warren, no curt, rude responses.

FCA--Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has its own lineup of Fiat-influenced vehicles on the way,

Hi, just checking in from The Other (soggy) West Coast. We're already seeing the spots from local dealerships offering F&F pricing for people who have had damage to their car. (I paused the spot to read the fine print, and it looks like it includes all other incentives are in play, but you have to bring in a copy of your insurance claim.) Still a big mess here with many, many downed trees and lost roofs and flooding, so what Warren and Cliffie said is even more true for your used car purchases.

Be careful. Check thoroughly.

I was asking Lou Ann because the car was listed on with several other very expensive Mazdas

LOL poor Warren - he was being so earnest. 


I'll have a look but as we both know it is probably a typo. 

Thanks for bringing it to my attention. 

Hi Warren and Lou Ann. Have either of you ever driven a Subaru with its Eyesight safety package? Does it work? Is it worth it? Thanks, from a potential buyer.

Yes. It works, Its optional, but worth it in comparison with hospital costs.

I have driven it and the one thing I remember is that if there is too much sun and it can't see it will let you know that it is being disabled. 

Hello, we are in need of a three row crossover for our growing, extended family. It needs to have space for at least six passengers and decent cargo space when the third row is in use, as we will take road trips often. A minivan is not an option - at all! I The Chevy Tahoe has hardly any room behind the third row, and though we like the YukonXL, it's out of our price range in the trim level we like (Denali). What's your thought on the Ford Explorer? Wifey thinks it looks stale after all these years. Chevy Traverse? Should we wait for the new Buick Enclave? The current Enclave is nice but doesn't have some of the features we want like adaptive cruise control, and it, to me, has a dated interior. Again, this crossover must have adequate luggage space behind the third row. Help us, please.

LOL - A minivan is not an option - at all! Because you knew I was going to say the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV didn't you? :) 

I agree on the Tahoe, I would have recommended the Yukon Denali. 

Have you looked at the Ford Flex? Ford expedition? 

The Chevrolet Traverse is good as well

What is your price range? 

Have a 2002 Honda CR-V that I want to replace. The 2018 Jeep Cherokee has a lot of features for the dollar. The Grand Cherokee has more cabin room for a few dollars more. If I were more flush, I would love the Lexus 350. I want something with height for easy in and out, comfort and convenience features, and plan to keep it for quite some time. Third row seating is not an option I want. Do you recommend either of the Jeeps? If not, what would you recommend for around $35K? Thanks.

Yes. Just bought a Grand Cherokee and absolutely love it.

Clearly a typo...but was it an extra "1" or an extra "0"? Warren - you should've looked at the link before responding!

Could you repost the link? I don't see it on your original post. 

Carlist link:


Does New Jersey let you charge your own vehicle, or do they require attendants do that for you, too?

I don't know. Will check.

Last year I bought a 2013 Chevy Volt to be used as a daily work commuter. Love love love it, not just because of its efficiency, but for its smooth ride, handling, and all the bells & whistles. Most folks who ride in my car are also impressed, but they say they never see any advertisements for the Volt, or for that matter, the new Chevy Bolt. I think GM is missing lots of potential sales here. Any idea why this marvelous piece of technology on wheels isn't being promoted locally by dealers or corporately?

I haven't a clue - really. I have talked to so many people about this - no marketing. And they're talking about getting rid of it! 

I talked to about 10 people in the last week and maybe two of them knew what a PHEV was; the car that can use electricity or gasoline. It is so disheartening. Of course everyone on this chat knows because...well, it's my favorite car. :) 

I'm so glad you love it. 

Do you have solar panels? How many gallons of gasoline do you use a month? 

I was looking at the ad, and the area code is (018) ... I thought maybe that was a country code for somewhere with a lot of oil and the interior is lined with solid gold.


I'll bet anything they require an attendant, if only to prevent damage and/or vandalism.

Most of the ones I've seen on the NJ Turnpike have no attendant.

Do you think the real price is $8,700? If so that could be a good deal!

I think I know the problem - it looks like it is a listing from China or somewhere. 

Another anomaly we have to fix! 


Hello, writing this for a pal who is in a dilemma. Yesterday he drove a pre-owned Chevy Silverado that was bought back from the original owner under our state's lemon law protection plan. The salesgirl (not at the same dealership where the truck was originally purchased) says the previous owner complained about electrical problems but the service department could not replicate the issues. The title will clearly be marked, GM Buyback Vehicle. What do you think? Will the negative association of buyback have any future implications on the value of the vehicle? Should he buy it or walk away?

You bet! I wouldn't touch that car with a ten-foot pole. 

It would be different if they said, we found the problem and fixed it, but they're saying they didn't find the problem but they had to buy it back. 

Look for another car. 

Why would Dodge update when it sells especially the 700hp+ version. FCA is a total disaster. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is having all sorts of pre production and assembly line issues. Jeep management is having problems with senior FCA management and using a new Alfa platform for the new 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Seems the Alfa platform/Stelvio that they are supposed to base new Grand Cherokee on cant be upgraded to be trail rated and go off road like a Jeep.

I disagree.

What do you know about this new Volvo? Thank you!

I love Volvos and I love that the have a gasoline version and a plug-in hybrid version that is almost the same price as the gasoline version. 

I do believe Volvo was the first company to say their entire fleet would be electrified shortly. 


Have you driven it? How well did the CVT work? Thanks.

Next week.

Tesla is now getting into residential solar panels with battery storage. Do you think this business line will help their bottom line?

That is such a great question. 

There are more federal/state credits for solar panels and we all know that Tesla is a master at credits on the state and federal level, so it will help their bottom line. 

I love the idea of battery storage for electricity. I am in the process of getting solar panels and that is a big wish list on our part. 

Solar City panels are expensive, but I haven't gotten an official quote from them. I will do that just because of this post. 

It's too early to tell, but on a well-to-wheel - solar panels to EV I love the idea. 

Thank you all for joining us this week. Please return. Praying for family and friends in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

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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