Real Wheels Live (Dec. 1)

Dec 01, 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,

Have you started your Christmas Shopping? Before you finish it Warren and I have some great gifts we've rounded up for you that we are giving away on the next carchats, 12/1, 12/8, 12/15 and culminating with the big giveaway on December 22. 


Each week we are giving away stocking stuffers - tickets to the Washington Auto Show. We'll give 2 tickets away today. All you have to do is email me at lou at drivingthenation dot com. Be the first person to email me with your name and address and we will have the Washington Auto Show group send them to you.


Next, Harman Kardon is going to give away a Harman Kardon Esquire Mini Portable Wireless Speaker and Conferencing System. Description: premium portable Bluetooth speaker & conferencing system. High Fidelity Harman Kardon sound with Bluetooth streaming and dual microphone conferencing system. Features real leather backing, aluminum finish & ceramic coated speaker grill.

I will give this away today, and next week we will give another Harman Kardon gift away. 

For this gift, mention that you want the Harman Kardon gift on the carchat today (give me a name) and at the end of the chat I will pull a name from the hat. 

The most amazing gift is going to be given away on the Dec 22nd carchat. You need to start registering now! If you have a car that is between the ages of 2010 or better and you have cloth seats you could have Katzikin leather transform the interior of your car. Click here to see the video so that you can understand what we are offering. Send me an email to lou at drivingthenation dot com. Tell me your name and the type of car you want to be transformed.


Stretch, and I attended the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. We only have a couple of the pieces up we did on Driving the Nation. I hope to have all of them up by next Friday. We got some great video with some new start-ups that have really cool ideas. 


Whether you love the idea of autonomous cars or hate it, Waymo, Google's self-driving car group, has over 4,000,000,000 miles of autonomous driving on public roads. 


We went to a Land Rover Jaguar unveil for its new Jaguar Project 8 and Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) in each of its three unique categories (SVAutobiography, SVX, and SVR) with the debut of the new 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography, Land Rover Discovery SVX, and 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR.


While I was at the Land Rover event, I ran into James Corden, yes the late-night car karaoke James Corden. No, he wouldn't sing with me, and yes, I blogged about it. 


We don't have the articles up yet, but here is a teaser picture of the BMW i8 Roadster from the Los Angeles Auto show World Premiere. 

My priorities for a new vehicle are: Reliability, Safety, Comfort, Value. It might be my last vehicle purchase. A sedan is ok. A smaller SUV is ok. What would you suggest I test drive in both the sedan and smaller SUV categories?

Good Morning Vanilla

I want you to drive the 2018 Toyota Camry hybrid (52mpg) and the 2018 Honda Accord. You are the perfect person to help me decide which car is better. Why do you like it, what do you dislike it about them? They are both up for North American Car of the Year and I would love your opinion.

As far as an SUV take a look at the 

Kia Soul

Hyundai SantaFe Sport (smaller version of the Santa Fe)

Toyota RAV4

Honda CR-V

Nissan Rogue Sport 

I'm looking for a compact SUV that gets good mileage (at least 27 mpg combined) in the $25--28k range, so far I've really liked the RAV4 Hybrid, the CRV, and the Outback. I need the space for my adult children to sit comfortably in the back seat, too. Do you have any preferences among the three? Is there something I didn't consider?

Subaru Forester

Mazda CX-5

Kia Sportage 

Hyundai Tucson

I'm not sure how much the Chevy Traverse diesel goes for but that's a pretty nice new design as well. 

As far as amenities and space they all are great cars. The difference is going to be when you pencil out the options you want on these vehicles. 

I would probably look closer at the rav4 hybrid and the CX-5 but also the Hyundai. If you decide you're going over $28,000 come back and let's talk some more. 

I am trying to help an older lady who is about 6'2" find a car she can be comfortable in. She currently has a 90's model car that does not have a center console. She feels that the center consoles get in her way, but she cannot find a new car without one. Are there any cars without a center console? What cars do suggest for a tall person?

A mini. The mini has the most headroom with the smallest center console I can think of. Stretch is 6'4" and loves the headroom in the mini and he has lanky arms and doesn't mind the center console. 

We rented an MB AMG C63 on vacation ... I'm in LOVE!!! From the rumbly purr of that turbo V8 (push button start), the infinitely adjustable seats, the curtained sunroof, the oh-so-cool command console ... I know I'm gushing but it truly was a joy to drive. Comfortable cruising speed -- 90mph on the interstate. Hard to keep it at 25mph on the residential roads :). I didn't even mind getting stuck in a traffic jam on our return to the airport -- the ride was just so sweet. And a head-turner! LOTS of buttons we never figured out -- didn't play with the manual shift paddles -- didn't explore the various drive modes. My Forester is a 2012, so the blind-spot and collision-aversion beeps were initially startling but clearly something I want in my next purchase. **sigh**

I feel your pain. I just did the same thing in the Lexus LC 500h. OMG! I can't buy that car because I would end up dead or in jail. It is just a beautiful piece of art to behold, a joy to drive and it practically goes without me putting my foot on the pedal. You know how you can look at certain foods and gain 5 pounds? I can sit in the LC 500 and get in trouble. 

But whatever car you get next it definitely has to have all the safety technology on it. I drove from Los Angeles back to Auburn, CA yesterday - a 6 hour drive - and those safety gadgets are the best. 

Some time in the past, there was a discussion here of the difficulty involved in researching car seating heights. I have discovered that has this listed on some of their recent "in-depth" reviews. Under "Reviews," select "In-depth Reviews" and enter the make and model you are looking for. Seating height is listed under "Interior." There is a lot of information in these reviews, including the vital "Cupholder Location" diagram

great information. 


I have read that a turbocharged Mazda6 is coming. Do you have any information on that? Will any other Mazdas, like the CX5, be getting a turbocharged engine soon? Thanks

I have heard the same thing, that the 6 will have the rubo from the CX-9 

The CX-5 turbo question has been poised but Mazda is notorious for not talking about future product. 

I'm shopping for a car right now...I usually just buy them for straight cash and drive them until they die. I have a strong feeling that we are on the cusp of entering a new era for cars, and if I buy a traditional gas-engine vehicle I will feel like I have a very large paperweight in three or four years. What are your thoughts? Also, I'd like to be entered in the giveaway (David Asher)

Good Morning David, 

Which giveaway? The Washington Auto Show tickets? 

The Harman Kardon bluetooth speaker? 

The Katzin Leather transformation? (you have to have a 2010 or better cloth interior) 

We are on the cusp of entering a new era but I think you can get a really great car with spectacular safety and technology right now. 

While you hear autonomous and 2025 you won't be buying them then, they will still be fleet etc. 

EVs are already here and can be bought, but I like the plug-in hybrid better because I have a choice of two energies. While I was in Los Angeles I charged my vehicle at the hotel and the convention center, but when I drove from LA to Auburn I filled up with gasoline. My next car will be a PHEV. 

Could you post a picture of the item?

Would buy one now if I could get the V6 or the diesel. I dont need the V8. Maybe some of the off road specific options will trickle down to the regular Disco. Clifton, VA

Clifton I thought about you at the show. They brought out a new Jeep with Mopar Katzkin leather on it. I'm surprised to hear you say you would get a Land Rover. 

No one has said they want the Washington Auto show tickets yet, do you? 

Note to self: don't rent an AMG Mercedes on my next trip. Will be hard to go back to the Sonata.

That would be true, but if it is a vacation it would be a memorable vacation

Just remember you cant speed in one. The vehicle will do the speed limit so on I95, I495, I66 and 270 you will get run over literally and it will tkae longer to get to work.

There is much discussion about that issue - most people go about 25 mph on the highway in LA, so I'm not sure that is accurate. If they had an autonomous HOV lane and all the cars could go 65 mph it would be great. 

When software is running the world there is no emotion, no road rage.

What minivan are you recommending these days? I'm looking at the Pacifica and the Sienna, but am totally open to all suggestions. thanks.

I would go with the Pacifica plug-in hybrid. I can plug it in because I own my house and have the infrastructure. Most days I wouldn't use more than 20 miles. 

The Honda Odyssey just won most loved minivan by Strategic Vision, a company that questioned 1,000s of owners. 

The Harmon Kardon and the Katzin Leather giveaways, please. Thanks David Asher

send me an email at lou at drivingthenation dot com with your name and address and I'll have Harman send the product. 

Also include the make and model and year of your car and if you have cloth seats. Only certain cars are able to win the Katzkin leather transformation

I want in! Mark from VA

One person got it before you. Come back next week, there will be another Harman gift. 

We still have the Washington Auto show tickets if you want them. 

Near the end of the last chat, someone asked for feedback on the Hyundai Elantra GT. Just over a year ago, we bought a Kia Forte5 (same car, different badge). We have already put over 17,000 miles on it and have been very happy with it - no problems and still as fresh and tight as when we first drove it off the lot. It's proven to be an excellent bargain for what we got for our money, and there's no reason to think the Elantra would be any different.

I absolutely agree. Hyundai has come a long way and I enjoy their cars.

Did you buy a fully optioned vehicle? I always think one should buy as much technology as they can at the time they are buying because technology is advancing so quickly and I think I would get bored and want a new car sooner. 

your thoughts?

You asked this person to choose between the Camry hybrid and the the latter also avialble as a hybrid or do you not recommend a hybrid vs hybrid comparison of those models?

There is no Honda Accord hybrid. The two are comparable in price, but the mpg is about 15 miles apart. 

I want to know if new car buyers would see the difference in mileage with about the same price. 

A real world buyer will want the same options on a car - when you option out the car which one is less, which is more comfortable, which drives better. 

I want to know that from real world buyers. I know what I think, but I want your input. 


I thought you were pulling a name at the end of the chat. Why did you give it to the first person??

OH - you are right! give me your name. 

Sorry - it's the Washington auto tickets that are first come first serve. 

Thanks for keeping me honest. 

I'd like to speak out for the speaker give-away. Adele Logan

Ok - So far I have Adele and David that are in the running 

"For this gift, mention that you want the Harman Kardon gift on the carchat today (give me a name) and at the end of the chat I will pull a name from the hat. "

Yes, I was wrong, What is your name? 

Warren and Lou Ann, I wanted to thank you all for a great show week in and week out. In this one year I got a 2012 Panamera 2012 4 and a 2013 Mini Cooper S. Both used and both fun to drive. What this little 3 banger can do, no one will ever believe.

My first ride in a Panamera was with Hurley Haywood and I loved it. Stretch's favorite car is the MINI, so you got the best of both of us. 

Unless its rush hour and I leave for work at 430am for my in office day I am cruising at 75 to 80mph and going with the traffic flow. Going home can vary but I am still above the speed limit till I get to I66.

Oh, so you're that one person :) 


Yes please!

Perfect! email me your name and address

There have been several recent magazine/internet articles mentioning Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) that have controls that allow drivers to simulate "shifting." Does this feature do anything but allow the operator pretend that he/she is driving a vehicle with "gears." Does using this feature improve acceleration or fuel economy? Thanks for helping me plumb the depths of my own ignorance.

Which vehicles, I don't know of them either. 

I just drove the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid and the BMW i3 plug-in hybrid back to back. The Toyota has a CVT and the i3 has gears. Totally different feel. The BMW has more torque, the Toyota gets better fuel economy. 

I would buy the i3. And I hear the i3S is even better. 

I have read that this new Subaru three-row SUV will have 19 cupholders in a vehicle that seats 7 or 8 people and, like most vehicles, probably spend most of its operating hours with only the driver aboard. The mind boggles. What else is being debuted at the Los Angeles auto show?

When you take a 6-hour trip you realize why you need 19 cupholders. 2iPhoness, coffee, tea, water - it all adds up. 

I went to the technology pavilion at the show and found an app called what3words. Did you know that there are 57 trillion 3 meter squares in the world. This company broke it down into those squares and if you say those three words you can tell someone to meet you there. Download it on your smartphone and tell me what you think

Are hatchbacks/wagons/sedans still selling poorly enough that we can look forward to good deals on these vehicles? Thank you.

I think so, but the new Accord and Camry will be hotcakes still. If you want a great car try the Kia Stinger. It was nominated in the top three for car of the year 

The older lady might find that it's easier to go into a small CUV/SUV. I'm taller than her, and have found the Chevy Traverse and Hyundai Santa Fe to have the best headroom in the class, other than the '04-'12 Nissan Murano, which is cavernous (not so much the newer body style). Chris from The Other West Coast (who would love to win the Harman Kardon squawk box)

I like the new Traverse myself. Good call. 

I know have adele, david and Chris for the Harman speaker. 

I'd add Subaru Forester and/or Outback to the list. My 2003 Subaru Forester lasted for 220,000 miles.

I added those on the small SUVs but not the Vanilla one. 

Thank you

So its Monday morning and you your vehicle is on empty you have maybe 15 miles of range. In a vehcile with a diesel negine or internal combustion engine you can amke it to the gas station. An EV you have to give it a few hours to charge so you can get to the office. Clifton, VA

Which is why I would go with the plug-in hybrid; two choices - electricity or gasoline

Bought a Sienna last year and I love it. Plenty of space, plenty of highway power, great visibility, comfortable and stable on road. The only drawback is that the middle row of seats is a pain to take out and put back. If that's important to you (and I didn't know how important it would be to me; my last minivan was a 91 Previa), don't get the Sienna.

I love the stow and go seats in the Pacifica. Honda Odyssey just had a recall because the second row seats could come unlatched (I think that was the problem, though I'm not sure it wasn't the consumer putting them back in incorrectly) 


And Mark from VA... I would gladly take some Auto Show tickets too if available!




mark from VA


What about Mark from VA, is he in the running too???




mark from VA


Says Jim!




mark from VA


Put me In Karl




mark from VA



come back next week for the auto show tickets - these are already gone 

My parents are in their mid-60's and currently drive a 2013 Ford Taurus. They hate this car because they think there are lots of blind spots. (for comparison, they had a 2009 Taurus that they loved, but the redesign was the problem) They will be looking for a new sedan in the next few years and I was wondering what you'd recommend. They don't want to get an SUV or a crossover. I think they want to stay with a full size. Impala? Camary?

As we age our neck gets stiffer, our night vision gets worse. We need the safety technology that allows us the freedom to drive like our bodies were younger. 

The Toyota Camry hybrid is my favorite because of the price and the mpg, but Honda has a full suite of safety technology as well. Have them look at the 2018 accord and camry hybrid and tell me which they like better. Both are on the car of the year and I want to know why they would buy one over the other. 


Two weeks ago I asked if you knew whether and when Chevy might come out with the next-generation Impala. You were kind enough to say you'd look into it. Any news? I ask because even though car websites say the new Impala will come out in 2020, business sites say GM is seriously considering going 180º degrees and killing the Impala and other sedans. Is that really on the table? I think I'll be buying a new car in a few years. Consumer Reports loves the Impala. If a new one comes out, you should be able to get a great deal on the old one. According to Costco's car-buying service's website, Toyota is offering $3500 cash-to-dealer on 2017 Camrys. I would think we'd see something like that if and when a new Impala comes out. PS: I looked into buying the outgoing Camry, the 2017, but there are very few of them available down here in the Tampa Bay and central Florida area. I guess the dealers sold all their inventory.

I've waited all hour - I emailed chevy asking and haven't heard from them. 

I will follow up next week with the answer. 


Great discussion today, thanks

Jim is the winner of the Harman Kardon bluetooth Speaker. Jim email me your name and address and Harman will send it to you. 

Come back next week we will have another prize from Harman and more auto show tickets to give away. 

If you are interested in winning the Katzkin leather transformation continue to email me your name and the type of car you have and you will be entered. I see a couple of people have emailed me already. 

Thanks for being fun. 

And remember, 

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly. 

much love, 


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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