Real Wheels Live (Sept. 29)

Sep 29, 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, 

I drove a completely new car from Kia this week; the Kia Stinger. I can't tell you how my driving impressions, but I can show you a picture of the Stinger and the Stinger GT; they are RWD and AWD. 

I can let you see the video interview with the chief designer for Kia Europe Gregory Guillaume  


What do you think of the idea of flying to work? Driving from your home to a small airport, going from one small airport to another, and then folding your airplane wings up and driving to your destination? It's an idea that has been floating around for decades, probably before the 1956 Moult Taylor Aerocar, and the Terrafugia transition, but at the Frankfurt Motor show there was another flying car, called the Aeromobil. Do you live near a small airport? What do you think?

We had the GT 350 this week. The little 5.2 liters 6-speed ruby red metallic 4-door sports car. Out the door, it was $60,000. Does anyone buy that car with fuel economy in mind? I think not, but we got about 16 mpg. You think performance, right? The car performs with ‎526 @ 7500 rpm horsepower and  ‎429 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm of torque. The competitors would be a Chevy Corvette, a couple of Porsches and a Chevy Camaro ZL1. 

One last thing, last week we talked about zombie noises in cars; noises that only happened when the mechanic wasn't around and couldn't be recreated. Robert Newman added a comment to last week's chat that I thought was smart, "To the person with the service warning lights going on and off: Take video and pictures to document the problems for your dealer. Then the problems are irrefutable. Be sure to follow the requirements for your state's vehicle buyback program, because it may come to that if the dealer can't get to the root of the problem."

Let's chat about cars


My friend has a 2003 Buick LeSabre that is on its last legs and she wants me to pick out another car for her. She can't afford a luxury car. Because I have always had Toyota's, I think she should get a 2017 Toyota Corolla because of all the safety features (she's in her 70's) and she can get a good deal on a new one. However, my previous 2001 Corolla and current 2007 Prius do not have as smooth a ride as I think she is use to. What do you suggest? A Corolla or the cheapest Buick model (I think it is a Verano) or something else?

Good Morning good friend,

I like your idea of the Buick Verano. The car is sooo quiet and I love the interior design.

Have her test out the Hyundai Elantra and the Volkswagen Jetta as well. 

She can also check out the Chevy Malibu and Buick Regal. 

My recollection was that Warren was supposed to test this vehicle this week. If so, how was it? I am particularly interested in how well the CVT worked. Thanks.

The vehicle di not come in. But I did drive it week before last. The CVT worked fine; But I no longer am one of those drivers looking for maximum perfornabce on city streets.

Why can't you tell us your thoughts?

Manufacturers will put an embargo on when you can print your articles; Kia has asked us not to print our driving impressions till OCtober 9th. So expect a slew of car articles around October 9th about the Kia Stinger. 

Yeah. Right. When pigs fly....

Not impossible.

Do we know what data is downloaded from our devices when we connect our smartphones and tablets to a car (either via USB or Bluetooth)? I don't think it's a big deal with our own cars so long as we can be assured service centers, dealers, etc. can't scrape our data. But rental cars are another matter. It's obvious the rental companies don't clear this out between rentals... I see the other devices that have been connected via Bluetooth when I connect my own.

Data is downloaded. Exactly what data, I don't know.

More a comment than a question. We found that the Accident Avoidance training at Summit Point (BSR Training) to be very valuable for our 18 year old son who is a newly licensed driver. They have been keeping track of their students and find that accident and injury rates are about 1/2 of peer groups. I found it a valuable investment at $350.

I love the idea as well. Did you know that when you take a defensive driving class you get a better insurance rate as well? I was just renewing my insurance yesterday and it was a question they asked me. 

Thanks for the heads up

I'm probably going to treat myself to a small luxury sedan in the next year. I was thinking Mercedes, but the Audi A4 keeps appearing higher than the Mercedes C class on various lists. What are your thoughts?

I;d go with the Audi A4. Nice treat. Enjoy.

The conventional wisdom is that the Suburu is the safest compact SUV. Is this reputation deserved? Safety and reliability are important to me. Why doesn't the RAV 4 get any love from reviewers?

Because Subaru uses the word LOVE in everyone of their ads. They show the Father with a Subaru and a young girl growing up and bonding with the Father and then she gets his old Subaru and LOVE in '70s font comes up on the screen. What is more important in life than love? 

That is not to say that Subaru isn't reliable and safe, it's to say that their marketing is spot on. Other car companies, including Honda, have great safety, Toyota has great reliability. They don't have as good of marketing as Subaru, a company that has increased sales for 66 straight months. 

It is a safe suv. Safest? Who is driving?

What, if any, assurances has GM provided about the availability of parts for Opel-based Buicks after the sale of Opel to Peugeot is complete? I've had more than enough problems trying to source parts for Opel-based SAABs. I don't want to repeat that experience with Opel-based Buicks like the Regal and the new wagons.

Opel is still in business, Buick is still in business. Saab is not. Big difference. You should be okay with General Motors/Buick/Opel parts. For Saab you will have to go to the metal vulture heavens (parts places) to find many of them. 

What company do you recommend?

I rely on Geico. No probs.

I will just say - I just switched from Liberty Mutual to USAA. I got angry at Liberty Mutual because - after 30 years of being with them - when I had a claim they penciled it out at just below my deductible. I couldn't find anyone to do the work right for that amount and they refused the claim and I took my business to USAA. 

I don't even trust most drivers on the ground!!!

LOL - right! Don't you think that people who have road rage on terra firma would be a little hesitant to play chicken in the sky? 


That's what 20 mm cannons are for.

Nah, I believe that 98% of the people are good and kind and want to live in a better world. Some of the people get caught up in their lives and forget that, but I'm not into blowing people out of the sky

What I keep in mind about an insurance deductible is that the insurance company considers every claim when they compute your rates. At best you get one freebee before the company starts jacking your rates. For that reason, I will not make a claim unless it comes to at least several hundred dollars more than the deductible. Because we carry a $500 deductible on our vehicles, this effectively means that damage has to be worth at least $1000 in repairs before we file a claim.

Insurance largely depends on the behaviior of the insured, even at  Liberty Mutual.

Full disclosure--I despise rentals and avoid whenever I can. Recently, I did have to rent and did not "set-up" up my Blue Tooth. It was a huge hassle since I couldn't take calls. Those companies need to erase that data--rental cars are already awful--don't make it worse by keeping info in the cars memory.

Are you talking about the data you download when you connect? 

I get press cars and the drivers that bring them say one of their jobs is to make sure all data is deleted before it goes to the next journalist. 

I agree, it should be done.

Is there one on the 2018 Honda Accord? I haven't heard much specific information even though it apparently entered production last week.

Neither Warren nor I went to the launch and I haven't driven it yet, so I can't say. I'm sure you'll be hearing information soon. 

Noticing that more and more SUVs are undergoing "makeovers" to make them younger, more "hip" and lighter in weight. However, a lot of the automakers making SUVs while making them lighter and safer with technology are also making them smaller and uglier. Are the days of head-turning quotient the new normal when it comes to SUVs?

The trend is toward lighter, more fuel-efficient SUVs that are easier to drive and park, Adanced electronic safety also is a norm.

Is it the new normal for car dealerships when you've bought a CPO or used vehicle in good condition to keep pestering you to trade in/up to a new (or newer) model year? I find that some of the dealerships for the "luxury" brands are sending all kinds of pressure to trade in and up to get gently used vehicles and make money at the same time.

They are in the business to make money - they can't do that if you keep the old car and don't want a new one. Since you have such good credit and a decent car they are picking on you :) 

As I used to tell my Sister when Mom was mad at her, better you then me 

Wow! $45K for a MINI???? I'm sorry but that's insanity.

Depends on the buyer. A fully loaded Countryman is worth it to some people.

Thanks for joining us today. Check out he Sunday wheels column--the 2018 Toyota Camry. Cheers.

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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