Real Wheels Live (Nov. 17)

Nov 17, 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, 


It is hard to believe that next week is Thanksgiving. Just a reminder, we won't have a chat next week. 


Finally, Kia announced the pricing for the 2018 Stinger. 


2018 Kia Stinger starts at $31,9002

2018 Kia Stinger Premium starts at $37,1002

2018 Kia Stinger GT starts at $38,3502

2018 Kia Stinger GT1 starts at $43,2502

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 starts at $49,2002

2018 Kia Stinger All-wheel drive: $2,200

Destination: $900


Last week I went down to Mountain View, California, AKA Silicon Valley. BMW has a technology office there, and we got a look at BMW's autonomous driving project. Hint: Level 5 will only be in fleet projects by 2021. 

Friday night Stretch and I went to a charity event benefitting the California Automobile Museum. Many of you have children. I didn't realize that the most expensive part of the field trip was busing the children back and forth - to the tune of $500 a bus!  Scott Pruett was the honored guest at the California Auto Museum gala, sponsored by Lexus of Sacramento. You can listen to his speech here. 

Stretch, and I drove the BMW i3 plug-in hybrid this week. The MSRP starting price is $47,450, the car I tested was $54,295. EPA fuel estimate is 97 miles driving range on electricity and 35 mpg on gasoline. The PHEV is allowed the $7,500 credit but check with your accountant first in case the tax credits change. No matter which way tax credits go, I would buy this car, and as most of you know there is a great low-end torque. It's all about the torque! 

What are your thoughts on the big rig unveiled yesterday?

The big rig and the roadster - I love that Musk is a futurist, a trendsetter. He has changed the way people think of cars, specifically electric vehicles. I just want him to stop bringing out new ideas and start producing the ideas he has said he would. 

This is a watershed moment for him; he has to produce the model 3 in the numbers he said he would and he needs to do it with the fit and finish of a production vehicle. 


Is that in the works? I ask because I'm interested buying an Impala or Camry. I understand Toyota is offering big incentives on leftover 2017 Camrys now that the next-generation 2018 is out. Would Chevy do likewise if or when it rolls out a next-generation Impala? Consumer Reports loves the Impala, and indicates its reliability is much better than before. But if the incentives aren't there, I'd probably go with a heavily-incentivized Camry (V6 XLE).

Yes, new Impala is in he works for its very loyal following. And you can probably get discounts on 2017 Camry models, too.

Im looking to buy a sedan (yes, some people still want one) that's fun to drive but still very comfortable. Trying to stay below $40,000 so the German cars are out of reach. Suggestions?

Look at the Audi A3, which should come in below $40,000. Or a loaded FFord Fusion, or Nissan Altima loaded.

I just heard an interview with Tesla's Elon Musk who is a champion of self-driving cars and who says that very soon Tesla will have a self-driving vehicle which can start in a parking lot in LA and end up in a parking lot in NYC without driver involvement except for refueling/charging. I can only speak for myself but I am not comfortable with self-driving vehicles. How do you feel about them? How much of this technology development is being driven by mass customer wants and needs?

It depends on the age of the person. Millenials ~ many of them, don't want to drive. They would rather be on their smartphone. Many car companies are creating the connected car with the knowledge that in the future people will not be driving like before. 

Even though I say that I will tell you that more people who have cars right now want to drive, they just don't like the commute and the road rage. Once they get outside of the city/commute traffic they want a button that puts them back in charge. BMW and many other car companies will have that in their cars.

It's more about still commuting and having the privacy of their own car, than actually driving

I love the concept and many of the extant samples. But the infrastructure ad laws will have to catch up to support mass use of the technology.

Do you know what model Honda is this? The listing doesn't say

no, but I'll have my webguy look at it. Thanks 

Warren/Lou Ann, I remember the days when you could hit a setting on the car's AC/heater, I forget what setting it was called, but it would bring fresh air into the car without opening windows or turning on AC/heat. Those days seem to be gone, and no car I've owned in the past 10-15 years seems to have such a setting -- they all want you to set a temp and let the system work. I like fresh air but I don't like wind and traffic noise! Am I missing some way of doing this? FWIW I have the 2016 Audi A6, but as I say previous cars (most recently the Infiniti G37) were as guilty. Thanks!

Those days are gone, finis. Now, you touch a screen. HVAC tech is geared to keeping you comfortable while saving fuel...and space on what we used to call the "dashboard."

Tesla also seems to be making a big bet in the residential solar power space. Musk's business model seems to be vertical integration, where Tesla's technology is used to supply the majority of the energy and transportation needs of home owners and businesses. Given the difficulty of running a modern vehicle production line, would Musk ever want to license Tesla's technology to major vehicle manufacturers?

I believe so. I am not sure how much Musk is a visionary and how much he is a day-to-day operations CEO guy. If he could partner with a group I think he would do it. He is partnered with Panasonic to build the gigifactory, so he can partner. 

The whole system makes sense; solar panels with an EV. You get rid of the electricity bill, the gasoline bill and the dependence on coal. We have enough oil in the United States we don't need to bring it over in barges from foreign countries. We just need to be willing to do things differently. That is what I see as Musk's biggest business model; showing people that we can do things differently. 

Good Morning: My wife is looking for a crossover in the $25K range... any recommendations? Thanks.

Toyota has a new 2018 model, the C-HR LXE, in that price range.

The Tesla web site states that the range of the new Roadster is 621 miles. Not 600+ miles. Not approximately 620 miles. Exactly 621 miles. Sounds like a figure that got spit out at the end of a series of calculations rather than the averaged results of actual road tests.

Maybe.Maybe not.

Could they have enough processing power to deal with rush hour on I66 and I395 and I95. Dont think so. Also folks need to realize that self driving cars will drive at the speed limit so flying down I66 from Gainesville, VA at 430am will be done at the speed limit and not 80+ mph. Adjust your commuting times Millenials!!!

Not a real problem at the moment.

Has to go through all those cabin air filters that require 4 hrs of book labor to replace because you have to dismantle the whole dash.

I'm guessing that Driving Me Crazy does not regularly get stuck in the gridlock of a major metro area. I know that my wife and I wold love to have the vehicle deal with traffic on the Beltway, I-66, I-270 and I-95.

Exactly! That to me is not driving. I could be doing anything other than getting mad at someone else while stuck in traffic. Buses and trains aren't an option and I'm somewhat of a germaphobe so I'm not sure I want to sit next to someone for over an hour with them sniffling and sneezing on me. 

Also, think about when you can't drive any longer - my 92-year-old neighbor, may she rest in peace, would have loved a car to pick her up, the seat swivels out, she tells it where to go and off she went. No more bothering the kids. And there are more people that will be in those years that don't have children to take them places. 

if you live the DC area or Atlanta or Dallas. it can't keep of the AC demand in July. Same if you live in Idaho or North Dakota in the winter time.

I was just talking to someone else that said solar panels work only 51% of the time where they live. So, you get energy from the Sun 51% of the time instead of coal. The difference in the clean air if everyone did that is the difference in children having asthma, older people being able to breathe. 

We have a lot of natural catastrophes happening right now. In California, the smoke was so bad that we couldn't open our windows. My neighbor had a to get a prednisone shot because her lungs couldn't handle the smoke. Add on the cars etc and something has to give. 

We're in this together, let's have the will to make a difference 

Now that's something I could get behind: you're in a strange city and don't know where you need to go? Let the car handle it while you sightsee out the windows.

or, you are late in age. But you have to get to a medical appointment. Just tell the car and let it take you while you communicate with medical personnel enroute.

Sounds like someone who is stuck on inbound on I-66 and is going to be late for their dialysis....

Or someone who shouldn't be driving after they have had their dialysis. 

Thank you for knowing and caring 

Is a 3rd rate at best copy of PT Barnum. Saw pixs of his roadster and its nice looking and it really needs a screaming 5l Ferrari V12. You buy a car like this for aural effect. it has to excite all your senses. Listen to 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa or a Mclaren 8D with a Chevy big block. Or even a 66 MG MGB. Its the smells from engine, gearbox, and diff. EVs are boring. I take a nice 2018 Vette of Musk's roadster anyday. Clifton, VA

I totally disagree.

Why doesn't it work well in Atlanta? Isn't it pretty sunny there?

It might work a percentage of time, maybe 70% - sounds like they want it to work all the time. 

I don't take I-66 t0 dialysis. But i know of many fellow patients who need help getting there. Auto-drive vehicles conceivably could help.

I have a friend in Davis, CA, who got solar panels on his house several years ago. The power they generate is enough to run his AC on 100 degree days in the summer while also charging his VW eGolf.


That's what I'm talking about folks! 

That is one person that is not using coal to create energy. If we can just get people off of coal that would be a huge difference. Okay, maybe YUGE :) 

We complain about how dirty China's air is, part of that is because of coal. 

I know California doesn't allow coal in the creation of electricity ~ what I appreciate is that we can show the rest of the Nation that solar works. It's not perfect, but it's getting better. We're heading in the right direction. 

I've got a bad case of the wants for this car. The pictures make it looks spiffier than a Subaru. Have either of you driven it? How did you like it? How is the cargo space?

Thanks, I forgot about that one, which does look good, In September, Lou Ann?

The tourx should be out now, with some models coming first quarter

I can get a similar aural effect at a much lower cost point than a 2018 Corvette by removing the muffler on my old SAAB. Everyone around me is going to want ear plugs when I pull up next to them.


Any idea when the next generation will appear?

I will check with Chevrolet.

What do you think?

It is proof that you can make a good car for under $30,000.

Right behind Warren (and Gene, our producer) in wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. We won't be on next Friday, but will be back the following Friday with some exciting news about Christmas presents you could win from us! 

Remember to be kind to each other and 

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly. 

much love, 

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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