Real Wheels Live (Nov. 10)

Nov 10, 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, 

Before anything we do today let's stop and say Thank You to the Veterans. As many of you know, Stretch's Father was at Omaha Beach; his Mother was a member of Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. My Father served in the military for twenty-eight years, serving in the Vietnam War. 

I'd like to also Thank David Green, a two-time Canadian Prisoner of War in World War II. My girlfriend, Miriam, and I knew her Father was in the war and had been a prisoner of war, but it wasn't until we were cleaning out her Family house that we found the Canadian National Telegrams. 


Do you have a Veteran you would like to Thank? Please do so. If you have a car story that involves a Veteran, we'd love to hear it. Thank you. 


Hard as I try to read each post correctly, last week I read a chatter's question incorrectly. Fortunately, I have some loyal after-chatters that alerted me to the faux pas. 


The question was


"Q: mom-mobile replacement 

My kids are now in college, so I'm ready to trade in my ten-year-old 3rd row SUV for something still practical but a bit smaller and more fun - would like to ideally keep it under $50k - thoughts?" 


I then proceed to give a list of three-row SUVs. Arrggh. 


So, mom-mobile replacement if you're reading this my apologies. 


Something under $50,000 is very doable. I'd also like something that isn't low to the ground, and a vehicle with lots of safety technology. As we get older our neck doesn't turn as easily, our back stiffens quicker, and our hands get colder. Heated seats are a must and if you can get a heated steering wheel do it. A small SUV or sedan is what I would recommend. 


Volvo is coming out with their XC 40 soon which will have a plug-in variant I am sure. 

Toyota Camry hybrid gets the same mpg as a Toyota Prius - 52 mpg! 

Subaru Forester, Honda CRV, and Toyota RAV4 are all good vehicles. 


If you can narrow down what you want a little more I can give you more ideas.


Stretch, and I drove a Land Rover Discovery this week. Something is happening to me. I'm beginning to like Land Rovers. Sure, they're still on the high-end of how much SUVs cost, but Land Rover is starting to get the design and functionality right. The Discovery TD6 (Diesel) was also easy to drive in the hills of the Sierra Nevada. 

I told you that I went offshore on an oil rig a couple of weeks ago. I finally got all the videos done and the story together. Shell Oil Company - Oil to rig – rig to race - to  Formula 1 was a bucket list week that gave me a greater respect for what we have to do to get the gasoline in our car. I hope you will read it and go away with a greater understanding and respect as well. 


It is voting time for the North American Car and Truck of the Year Award (NACTOY). Since I am a juror, I am getting caught up on the cars, which is why I also drove the Hyundai Ioniq this week. 

The list is long, but one of these cars will be Car of the Year 

North American Car of the Year


Alfa Romeo Giulia

Audi A5/S5 Sportback

BMW 5-series 

Honda Accord

Hyundai Ioniq

Kia Rio 

Kia Stinger

Lexus LC500/LC500h

Porsche Panamera 

Subaru Impreza

Toyota Camry


and one will be Utility of the Year 

North American Utility Vehicle of the Year


Alfa Romeo Stelvio 

Audi Q5/SQ5


Buick Enclave

Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet Traverse

Honda Odyssey

Jeep Compass

Kia Niro

Land Rover Discovery

Mazda CX-5

Subaru Crosstrek

VW Atlas

VW Tiguan

Volvo XC60


and one will be Truck of the Year

North American Truck of the Year


Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Ford Expedition 

Lincoln Navigator 


Lastly, one of the chatters that come to the chat almost every week is having a kidney transplant on Nov. 15th. Owen, if you're reading this, you are in our thoughts and prayers, and I look forward to hearing from you when you are well. 

Let's chat about cars

1) Any significant differences? 2) I love the looks of their new cars but keep reading about reliability issues. Any thoughts? Thanks much ps Warren, you are the only reason to read this newspaper

1. Thank you for the kind words to Warren. 

2. The Alfa Romeo has aways to go in the U.S. It doesn't mean they can't get there. I drove the Alfa Romeo Giulia diesel in Europe and loved it. The engine made that car. As for reliability, I have heard the same issues you have and read the same reports.

The Audi Q3 will be less expensive than the BMW X1. You might also look at the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Land Rover Evoque (or the convertible Evoque).

The BMW will have more horsepower, but I think the torque on the Audi comes in faster. The BMW is faster. 

Interior the Audi is softer, and I always like Audi's infotainment system. 

Considering purchasing one of these. Have you had a chance to drive either, I know Ms Hammond drove the stinger ? Also do you know when they will be available?

Good Morning 

Please - call me Lou - or Lou Ann. 

I loved the Kia Stinger. It's a great 4-door sedan that will fit 4-5 people and is still fun to drive. I believe they are available now. 

I don't know the price yet. 

Also, check out the 4-door Honda Civic Type-R. I have that in my driveway right now. It looks fun! 

I haven't driven the Regal Sportback. 

Please give us your educated guess about what percent of new vehicle buyers opt for "sunroofs." I ask because of the recent Consumer Reports article revealing hundreds of sunroofs seemingly spontaneously shattering during the past ten years. Perhaps the negative publicity will convince manufacturers to use the same more durable glass they use in their windshields in their sunroofs. Thanks

At least 50 percent. But that's a conflation. Hard to extrapolate anything from that

IIHS now rates headlights as well as performing crash tests. If I buy a new car with "poor" headlights, can I upgrade them somehow?

Yeah, but why not skip all of that? If head;oghte had poor rating, why not buy something else?

Hi, I used to have a 2005 330i that I bought for like $17K back in 2010 that came with z sports package. It was a great little sports car but did have lots of maintenance issues (over-heating). In any case, I'm willing to take the plunge again for something similar - maybe a 2013-14 model under $30K. What could be possible? Thanks.

Why? Check Audi.

Lou Ann here: 

I would also look at the Kia Stinger and the Honda Civic Type R. 

We need a vehicle that will seat 8 (2-4 carseats and 4-6 adults). We're open to any type of vehicle minivan, SUV, van, etc. Our main priority is comfort for adults in the 3rd row, what would you recommend?

It shouldn't come as a surprise that I will say a minivan. Chrysler Pacifica (and/or plug-in hybrid) or Honda Odyssey. I like the Pacifica because of the stow and go seats that allow you to carry "stuff" if you don't' have kids in the back. The Pacifica has a vacuum cleaner as well. 

Okay - back to 3rd row SUVs

Nissan Pathfinder

Hyundai Santa Fe

Ford Explorer

Dodge Durango

Mazda CX-9

Kia Sorento

GMC Acadia

Honda Pilot

Land Rover Discovery 

I would look at Honda Pilot, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Mazda CX-9 

Hello. I'm in the market for a new or used car (preferably less than $25K) but would like one with an Accident Avoidance System -- not just the lane departure warnings, but something that will automatically brake. Because the car companies all use different terminologies for their systems, it's hard to compare apples to apples. I see that Toyota's 2017 models largely have this technology. Do you have any other suggestions (for new or used cars)? Thank you.

onsider Honda, VW, GM midsize, Ford midsize-new.

Why has the industry not quite decided what sort of safety features a car might have, and whether or not they should be standard? We have been looking at cars for my wife, and it’s confusing. The backup camera, fortunately, does seem to be ubiquitous, but not all have blind spot monitors in the outside mirrors, and whatever is available only often exists on the highest trim line. Am I too early in this technology process to hope all this is standard? (We have looked at the Mazda 3, the Subaru Impreza, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla; any other brands we could consider would be much appreciated, too.)

The backup camera is only ubiquitous because fought with NHTSA to make it standard on all cars when they realized that 150 kids a year were being killed by being backed over. And then there were multiple delays! 

The safety you are talking about is available in higher end cars - or it can be bought (optioned up is what they call it). This is a place where trickle down really does work. The more high end cars that buy it the more it is amorized and can be eventually put in the lower end cars. 

Honda is known for putting more safety in their cars than required. For what you are looking for, I would stick with them. 

Check Hyundai, Kia, others and ask for vehicle with  full  advanced electronic safety.

None on your list from a North American-based manufacturer.

It is an irony. The bigger irony is that many of them are built in the United States and many of the North American based manufacturers build many of their cars in North America - Canada and Mexico. 

It is a global world we live in. If they can build in Mexico and not have to pay import fees to Brazil (because of their trade agreement) than they will. Politics and money. 

Lou Ann, On the 5 seat version if your fold down the rear seat is the floor ruler flat???? Thanks Clifton, VA Its either a DISCO or the 2019 Defender

I don't know Clifton - I didn't look and the Discovery is gone now. 

Hi. I seem to recall that Warren was going to review the Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid, but had to postpone it because the vehicle was not delivered as scheduled. Has this changed? With or without this review, what are your thoughts about the Hybrid versus a standard gasoline RAV-4? Finally, given a choice between the RAV-4 or the Honda CR-V, which would you recommend and why?

No, delivery hold-up has not changed. But I'd get the regular gasoline model, which I prefer.

Todays headlights make it almost impossible to upgrade and the cost prohibitive. Now if euro headlights will fit and the electrical system can handle the euro upgrade that would be the way to go. If the headlights are awful and simple bulb change wont do it these days. Eu headlight standards mandate twice the light output. Miss the bad ole days when it was plug and play with H1 and H3 bulbs. Clifton, VA

Or when you could work on your engine yourself. My husband took his old 22r engine and rebuilt it and put it back in. 

Those were the days 

Have either of you driven the VW Alltrack? Thoughts on VW

I love station wagons and the Golf Alltrack is a great edition to that segment. 

Volkswagen itself? I think they are back on track. Diesel gate is behind them, California is getting a new air resources technical center out of the whole thing, most people are happy with the money they got to buy a new Volkswagen or other car, the people that created the way to get around the regulations are being brought to justice and they no longer work at Volkswagen. 

Thank you for joining us today. Please call a Veteran - especially the ones that fought for, or are still fighting for, us. 

Come back next week - if it's Friday, it's Washington Post carchat. And if we didn't get something right, just comment below and I will see it :) 

Thank you Gene for continuing to produce the show. 

And remember 

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly 

much love, 

Lou and Warren 

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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