Real Wheels Live (Oct. 13)

Oct 13, 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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Dear Warren and Friends, 


I drove the nicest Lexus I have ever driven this week. The Lexus LC 500. It almost makes me want to trade in my 1993 Lexus LS 400 with only 88,000 miles on it. That and another $90,000 and I could own it. 


We drove the LC 500, LC 500h, Toyota Camry and the Toyota Camry hybrid around the Texas Motor Speedway. It wasn't fair to the Toyota Camry that I drove it right after the LC 500. I mean, really how can you go from a luxurious Horsepower (SAE) 471 HP @ 7,100 rpm, Torque 540 Nm / 398 lb.-ft. @ 4800 rpm, 0-60 in 4.4 seconds to a  Toyota CamryToyota Camry. 

What I did notice is that the Toyota Camry hybrid did so much better than the regular Camry. And it wasn't that much more expensive, and it got the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius. So then I compared the pricing and mpg of the Toyota Camry hybrid versus the 2018 Honda Accord, and I was astonished. 


2018 Toyota Camry hybrid pricing and mpg


2018 Toyota Camry HV LE $27,800 51/53/52 mpg

2018 Toyota Camry HV SE $29,500 44/47/46 mpg

2018 Toyota Camry HV XLE $32,250 44/47/46 mpg


2018 Honda Accord pricing and mpg


2018 Honda Accord EX CVT $27,470 30/38/33 mpg

2018 Honda Accord EX-L CVT $29,970 30/38/33 mpg

2018 Honda Accord EX-L CVT w/ Navi $30,970 30/38/33 mpg


I was on the John Batchelor radio show this week. We talked about General Motor's announcement that they were going electrified, in 2023. Some people have said that GM is late to the game. I contend that they were in the game in 2004 and 2005, with hydrogen, it just withered away. They were the first Big 3 to bring out the electric car; it just withered away. While Tesla has become a luxurious household name for electric cars, GM is still starting and stopping production. Will this time be different? I hope so. They have the ability and the technology, they just have to have the will.

And finally, the 2018 Kia Stinger's embargo is up. I can tell you that they haven't finalized the pricing (yes, I consider that lame) but the base price is $33,000-$39,000 for the Stinger or Stinger GT - somewhere in there. There is no hybrid or plug-in hybrid to announce. 

It's a great car, loads of fun to drive, can seat 5, looks like a sedan, acts like a hatchback. It will give the regular 5-passenger, 4-door sedans a run for its money and if you are looking for a sedan, you should drive this vehicle. Even if the sedan is a German car, you should drive this vehicle to get a comparison.


At home Stretch and I drove the 2017 Ford Fusion hybrid. It's a good car to look at as well for a 5-passenger 4-door, and the numbers are decent. More in line with the Honda Accord on mpg, but a hybrid, so it has low-end torque. The base price is $31,000, so you're looking at 2018 Toyota Camry HV XLE $32,250 44/47/46 mpg or the 2018 Honda Accord EX-L CVT w/ Navi $30,970 30/38/33 mpg. The EPA estimated fuel economy is 43 city/41 highway/42 combined mpg. I got 41.5 mpg. 

Let's chat about cars

Wait for the 2018 or buy the 2017?

Depends on what you are looking for; the new Accord has all the newest safety suite and technology. The design is different. I don't like the piece of chrome on the bottom on the side, but that might be optional. 

Also, drive the Kia Stinger, Ford Fusion hybrid and Toyota Camry hybrid. Here are the numbers 

2018 Toyota Camry hybrid pricing and mpg


2018 Toyota Camry HV LE $27,800 51/53/52 mpg

2018 Toyota Camry HV SE $29,500 44/47/46 mpg

2018 Toyota Camry HV XLE $32,250 44/47/46 mpg


2018 Honda Accord pricing and mpg


2018 Honda Accord EX CVT $27,470 30/38/33 mpg

2018 Honda Accord EX-L CVT $29,970 30/38/33 mpg

2018 Honda Accord EX-L CVT w/ Navi $30,970 30/38/33 mpg

Just wanted to wish Lou Ann and her neighbors well with the fires.

You have touched my heart with your kind words. Thank you.

Hi there, Looking to replace a 2005 sedan that got totaled last week in a crash. Need something that gets reasonable gas mileage (30 miles each way to work!), is reliable, comfortable for a larger person, easy to get to little kids in and out. The real kicker: we'd like to keep to a budget of about $9k so we don't have a car note. What would you look for?

Are you okay?

I remember when I had my accident and I was so concerned about the car and my Dad (gosh, I miss him) said, "Lou, I can replace steel, I can't replace you" 

A friend of mine just got an Audi for $10,000. I was shocked, shocked I say! 

You will need to scour the classifieds, but they are out there. 

I would look for a used Hyundai or Kia. Before the other car companies knew it, Hyundai and Kia were putting technology in cars as standard while the others were still making you pay extra for them. 

stay well. 


Who would buy the new VW Atlas that has cheesy, cheap, plastic dual exhaust pipes that have no function? Single one pipe exhaust is tucked under the rear bumper. Doesn't the 2018 Touareg have the same V6 3.6 engine, but real dual exhaust?

I didn't know this, but wow! 

The Touareg was a joint project between VW, Porsche and Audi (though they didn't like you knowing that). It was easier to have nicer bits and pieces because they were amortizing three cars over one platform. 

I have heard rumors that the Touareg might be cancelled, so the Atlas becomes more of the flagship vehicle. 

Hi Warren and Lou Ann, I am on the verge of buying a new Honda CR-V, as my '05 Subaru is about to cost me thousands. It is a stretch budget-wise but I love all the new safety features. Should I be leasing instead of buying given all the expected tech changes, especially the switch to electric the next 10 years, which may make my car lose value down the road? Thanks for the chat! Warren, hope you're feeling good (and Lou Ann too of course) -- TkPk

Thanks for the kind words. 

It's the saddest day when you realize that your faithful old friend is leaving you. The only thing that makes it better is that it lasted for twelve years and now you get to go shopping! 

Honda is known for its safety suite so you are good there. Why are you not looking at the Forester? A couple others you can look at in that category are the GMC Terrain and the Mazda CX-5. 

I would buy. You keep your vehicles forever. By the time you are going to sell your car (if the Subaru is any indication) it will have little to no resale value. 

Electric will happen; not as fast as everyone says. The infrastructure isn't there, but they are trying. If you're going to get an EV, I would get a plug-in hybrid, like the Volvo XC 60 PHEV which is only $2,000 more than the gasoline version. 

But you can wait another generation of cars before doing that. 

I don't understand car commercials anymore. From what I gather, a Subaru will make me a better, more caring person. There's another brand that I should buy if I'm an oppressed fairy tale character like Cinderella or Rapunzel. Are all cars so equal that decisions are completely about the lifestyle now? Maybe I should just buy a truck, because those commercials actually tell me something about the vehicle.

LOL - so you are the person who still watches commercials :) 

The rest of us video our programs just so that we can blow through the commercials. 

Yes, everything is about lifestyle these days. Subaru's pink seventies LOVE commercials, hamsters that make you feel good. It's not the car companies fault, it's yours. You love that -- stuff. Research groups have told them so. So they listen. And make commercials that tell you what you want to hear. 

Blow through the commercials and come chat with us when you're ready to buy a car. Not only will Warren and I tell you what we think, our other chatters will do so as well. 

2015 used Leaf now or wait for 2020 for 2018 Leaf?

Wait for the 2020 - it is already known that there will be a better denser battery with more driving range. 

Between the Audi A5 and the Mercedes C class convertible, which would you pick? If budget were more important, would you go to the Audi A3 or something else entirely? I'm in my late 60s and looking for comfort, safety, reliability, more than zoom-zoom, but a little zoom-zoom is fun, too.

I had to go to my cheat sheet for you. I try to keep a list of cars that I don't get asked about often, so I don't forget them. A 4-seat convertible is one of them. Below are the convertibles, with the price ranges. You can see that the Audi A5 starts well below the Mercedes C300, which means you can option up with the technology that is not standard. 

I know it's a different breed of car, but I would drive the Buick Cascada as well. It's easy ingress and egress and it is a nice easy ride. 

4-seat Convertibles

2017 AudiA5

$41,200 - $61,100

2017 BuickCascada

$33,065 - $37,065

2017 Fiat124

$24,995 - $28,195


Land Rover Evoque Convertible 


2017 MazdaMX-5 Miata

$24,915 - $34,925

2017 Porsche718 Boxster

$56,000 - $68,400


Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 

$50,900 - $52,900

I want one and apparently they're impossible to find. The Jeep site is AWFUL and I don't want to call dealers at the moment. I want to play with options on a website - not talk to a person. Did they make any for 2017? Will they be in production for 2018? I don't need or want an electric vehicle. I actually have heavy things to tow and diesels last almost forever. I may end up hitting CarGurus and finding something used, but it annoys me that I can't play around with options and at least pretend I can find one that isn't black or white. Thank you.

Have you tried edmunds or autotrader? I thought they let you option out what you wanted. 

You are thinking of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel. 

Have you looked at the GMC Terrain diesel? I liked that a lot. I think these are the numbers, but check it out 

28/39/32 diesel 6-speed 

$32,565 - $36,890

There is also a BMW X5 xdrive 35 diesel or 28d 

I am so excited to have a self driving car one day. My current car probably has another 2-3 years of life in it before it dies (180K miles). Assuming I get those 2-3 years out of it, do you think self driving cars will have become a bit more mainstream by then? I always buy used cars because they are such a better value, but I might break my own rules and go new if it gets me a self driving car and is a fair and reasonable price.

You and Stretch (my husband) are the same! 

We will be driving down the highway and someone will cut us off with road rage exuding from their car and he will shake his head and say, "autonomous cars can't come soon enough" 

More cars are getting more technology that helps you see and helps you park, but I don't think self-driving cars will be on the main roads in 2 years. I would wait for your next purchase after this one - say in 7 years - for automated parking. 

In the meantime look at Tesla, Audi and Mercedes for the most self-piloted technology on vehicles right now. 

Wondering if you or Warren have it on your list for review?

Yes, it is on my list.

$10K for an Audi - probably overpaid by $9K

Good Morning Snarky :) 

You are so bad! Let's hope you're not right, it was for her 16-year old daughter. Who, By the way, is a straight A-student and on a volleyball team. 

Before you buy consider your personality and lifestyle. Are you the kind of driver that forgets to fill up the tank on your current vehicle??? You know you get up in the morning to go to work and get and turn the key and see the little light that tells you are on empty. So you have to fill up and are late to work. Now if you forget to plug in your EV you are in trouble. Also think about a ice storm. Power is out for a days maybe a weeks. Roads are clear but you have no power for two weeks. Happened to my collies breed who lives in Lexington, KY back several years ago. If your vehicles are gassed up you can go but if you have EV oh well. Do you want to waste generator power on charging your EV??? Is your generator powerful enough to charge your EV??? Just something to think about. Clifton, VA


Don't forget the BMW 4 series which is superior to both Clifton, VA

OMG Clifton you caught me! I didn't have that one on my sheet but it will be there now! 

I love the BMW 4-Series - yes, yes, yes. 


Is he here today?

Yes. Computer problems. Repaired,

Ford says its coming out in "early" 2018. Can you translate that - does it mean January, April, June ... ?

yes. :) 


Subaru Cross Trek or Mazda CX3?

CR9 ifyou want to haul a gang. Crosstrek, if not.

Actually, the truck commercials mostly tell you what kind of man you are, or more importantly: what kind of man you won't be if you buy the competitor. Subaru tells you that you love dogs. Mazda tells you that somewhere, someone gets to drive along the winding ocean highway without being stuck between Winnebagos. Chevy tells you that actors are "not actors, but real people." Buick tells you that the reason you should buy a new Buick is that people won't realize you bought a Buick (can you imagine the pitch meeting for that campaign?) ... shall I go on?

Those are great - are you in the advertising business? 

My brother-in-law wants to buy a truck because he wants a manly vehicle for his clients to see him in. He really wants a four-door sedan that is a plug-in hybrid but he would be laughed at. 

How much of a man are you if you have to buy something that says you're a man instead of just being your own man? 

Thanks! But, man 7 years? I expect my cars to last me a minimum of 10 and I drive them until they are dead. So if I miss the boat on self driving after my current car dies, I'm stuck waiting a long time. If I can't get self driving (I'd be willing to spend 50K max on a new self driving car), I'll stick to a very lightly used/less than 2 years old used car that is under 20K, which probably means no teslas, audis, or mercedes for me. Sigh.

You haven't missed the boat. Just fin another port to catch it, they are around, with dealers willing to hep,

.Here's hoping the country doesn't wait tpp long on  self-driving infrastructure.


My sincere apologies for today's late start. I am dumping this Toshiba. What do you use,Lou Ann?

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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