Real Wheels Live (Dec. 15)

Dec 15, 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's been a blurry week for me. I was sick all week and just started getting better. 


If you're still interested in winning the Katzkin leather transformation click on this link and follow the instructions. 

Stretch, and I drove the 2018 Mini Cooper-S E Countryman All4 for $40,000 this week. This is the first plug-in hybrid for Mini. What I liked the most about the technology is that we could plug the car in and it would know when the cheapest time was to charge and when it didn't need to charge it went off. In the morning it would top off the charging. This looks like the BMW software that will be in all electrified. If you are considering a plug-in hybrid drive a BMW i3 or Mini PHEV so that you can feel the difference between an automatic transmission and PHEV with CVT. The difference is in torque. 


We also drove the Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription. What a beautiful car! I saw a Buick Regal TourX recently and thought that was beautiful as well. Combine that with the Audi All-Road, and I think station wagons are making a comeback. Now if they will just sell. The Volvo starts at $58,000 (the Buick at $29K and change) with an EPA estimated at 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. 


I'm giving a shout-out to my friends at Chevy and the Texas Truck Show this weekend. I couldn't make it because I was sick, but I was ready to go, cowboy hat and all. Next year. 


Let's chat about cars


Have either of you driven it yet? The Giulia was a Car of the Year, but I still just wonder about the reliability.

I have, and the Stelia. But it is not better than the competition.

Noticed spy shots of the forthcoming (Dodge) RAM pickup. What I most liked about the truck is that it stood apart from the competition with its hefty, masculine grill. Now it looks like a boring Chevy Silverado. Why? Also, when is Fiat/Chrysler going to redesign stale models like the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Challenger, and Durango? They've not had a new design in several years. Almost everything new Fiat/Chrysler currently sells looks very old.

I don't think it looks bad, what do you think about the huge nav screen? on a truck? 

Some of the vehicles have gotten refreshed, but what I would like to see is a big change. I remember the first day I saw the Chrysler 300. That was a game changer. 

Any views on which is a better buy or a better driver's car? Thanks

I would go with the Audi A3. It's a nice looking drivable entry level car. You get a lot for your money. 

Hi Lou Anne - we waited two years for the 2018 Buick Enclave to debut, only to discover they don't offer it with a HUD as GM did in the previous generation Acadia Denali and the current GMC Yukon Denali and Chevy Suburban premier model. Any reason why they would not include an optional HUD? I've had it in my two previous vehicles and would not want to do without it in the next. Mazda offers it in the CX-9, but that thing is way too small. Even Honda has it in the new Accord. To me, the Enclave, while nice, does not offer enough special features to make it worth the price difference between it and the Chevy Traverse. Thoughts?

HUD will appear on the Enclave, probably later in the year. Buyers, 59 yrs and older, want and appreciate that technology.

Early adopters are pioneers are those with arrows in their backs? Based on your combined experiences, Warren and Lou Ann, how many years after a new model or a major upgrade is introduced should you wait to be reasonably certain most of the bugs are out?

No. They understand change and aren't left waiting for an attack.

Lou Ann here - 

It depends on how long you keep a car. Some of the early adopters are people that lease cars for a couple years and give them back. If that's not you and the technology is new and the car is new you're going to need to wait to see how comfortable you feel. Buying a car is a big purchase. Give it that respect. 

Lou Ann Would like to enter for the Shell card in this week's get-together. Never drink and drive. Seat belts? Oh, yes. Began using them in 1957, when I drilled holes in the floor of my '56 Ford and installed aircraft belts myself. Thanks to you and Warren for the helpful advice each week. James Johnson, McHenry, IL

Thanks McHenry, 

Wow you are into safety! 

We gave away all the cards last week. People started going on vacation this week and we wanted to make sure everyone got everything. Thanks for trying

Lou Ann, Is there another Harman Kardon giveaway this week? If so, please put My name (Megan) in the hat! Love these chats!

Good Morning Megan, 

Thanks for the kind words. 

We gave them all away last week. Everyone was going on vacation and I wanted to make sure the gifts got out. 

Have a Merry Christmas

Not a car person by any stretch so usually not sucked in by cars I see. I have noticed a couple of Honda HRV's in my apartment complex parking lot, and they have caught my attention enough to think about too frequently. What attracts me is the SUV style but on a smaller scale. I'm single and just have a little dog so don't really need a big SUV. Is there anything you can offer that would push me in either direction of getting over it or getting one?

You already are being pushed in a direction that makes aense to you. I suggest you also look at Hyundai in the same size and style category.

I'll be traveling next week so I won't be on the chat, but wanted to wish both Warren and Lou Ann a very Merry Christmas. Thanks for making my Friday mornings fun for an hour. Hope you're feeling better, Lou Ann!

Thank you, and Merry Christmas. Rest, Lou Ann!


Lou Ann here 

Thanks for the kind words. I'm back among the living! Have safe travels yourself. If you're on a plane watch out for all those hackers, that's what got me! 

much love, 


If (and I mean IF) the truck is for a working dog, the navigation could be really important. It's a lot easier to find the job site, especially when it's residential. The way trucks are now, though, It's hard to imagine a pool guy or lawn guy spending $60K.

There's a new app called What 3 words. Download it, try it. Every 10 feet there are three new words. You can tell someone - or text them - the three words and they will be able to find you. 

Cool idea. 

Hi Warren and Lou Ann, The lease on my Mazda3 Grand Touring is almost up and I am looking for a replacement. My problem is the most suitable replacement appears to be another Mazda3 Grand Touring (even through the only update in the 2018 model is new head lights). I am also looking at the BMW 2/3-series and Subaru BRZ. My only requirement is that it must have a old fashioned manual transmission with a clutch. Are there any other models that I should consider? Thanks!

Check out the Mazda CX-5. You are getting something much different in a BMW/

What do you consider to be the competition for the Stelvio? X3 X5 Jaguar F Pace etc? What didn't you like about it?

Audi SQ 5, BMW 3 series, Cadillac XT5

Hi Warren -- I drive a Prius now and am planning on a plug-in hybrid or maybe even full electric for my next car. I drive 25 miles each way, each day, and park in a crowded downtown DC garage. I just saw the BMW 530e and am dazzled -- I traded my beloved 525i for the Prius in part due to gas-guzzling. Before seeing the 530e, I was thinking about a Prius Prime, BMW i3, or ??? Tesla is a bit out of my price range; the 530e is pretty much the top at around $60k loaded. Thoughts? What are your faves?

Mono e Mono buddy. Those are the same vehicles I would look at if I were buying a car. PHEV is my favorite! 

Ok - BMW 530e is gorgeous! stunning! 

The Toyota Prius Prime is very good at what it does but it is a CVT. I would stick with a car that has a transmission - the torque is unbelievable. Having said that - the Prius gets better electric miles than most the other cars, so if you want to go full electric to work and then charge at work you need to look at that. 

Drive the BMW i3 and the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All 4. 

Come back next week. I am so excited to hear what you think. 


Are you giving away gift cards today?

No, they have all been won. 


My wife and I use this all the time: Me: "Where are you?" Her: "Right over here" Me "Where is that?" Her: "Behind you, dummy" -- the fun never stops. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Merry Christmas to you all, too.

Lou Ann here - 

LOL Now you should download the app and put those three words in and see where it would take you! 

Have a Merry Christmas

Who won the autographed picture?

It was won last week at the very last minute. The last person knew the answer 

Are you two going to be there?

I'm not sure yet. I'd like to be. The auto show is a great place to find out everything that is happening in politics and regulations. I have friends that are hosting parties there and would love to attend them. I will know in at the beginning of January. 

Hello Warren and Lou Ann~currently have a 2006 Toyota 4Runner, which I have maintained very well. My current commute is approx. 100 miles from Clinton, MD to Rockville, MD. I'll need a new car in 2018, what would you suggest? I'm interested in an SUV again and a new job closer to home. :) Thank you!

Chevrolet Equinoxa HR-V, Ford Escape

My car lease expires this coming May. I am inclined to go with an Audi eTron, but I know Volkswagen/Audi are going big time into EVs, so there is likely to be some major improvements in the next 1-2 years. Should I wait a year or so before pulling the trigger on an Audi PHEV? I can wait, as we have multiple cars. I'm not interested in another brand. Thoughts?

Wait and buy the E-Tron after updates.

No question, just a comment. What3Words is an amazingly clever thing and a total find! Just shared it with some friends that do much more with travel/tours and they were equally curious. Thanks!

I love for me.

Isn't' that the best! I showed it to the CEO of Panasonic and he was blown away. He went over to the group and started asking all kinds of questions

1. Is it global - yes, there are 57 trillion 10 feet by 10 feet in the world. 

2. Any car companies using it? Mercedes comes out with it next year, I think Jaguar Land Rover will come out with it next. 

I love it. If it goes public buy stock. 

Happy Friday! Any thoughts on the 2018 Impreza? How is it on the highway?

The Impreza is a great highway companion in weather fair and foul. Has many driver assistance options in new models.

Lou Ann here - 

I love that the Impreza sedan or hatchback is under $20,000 but that segment is highly competitive and there aren't any real new changes on that vehicle. 

What draws you to the Impreza? Would you consider a Civic or a Mazda? 

Its funny how even pickups are changing. To me a pickup has always been a work tool and a hunting vehicle on the weekends, and cars were for the fancy gadgets. I can't imagine how fast that Nav screen would get broken or damaged after a weekend of hunting, but it is nice and the interior looks more comfortable than I'd be used to too. To me a truck will always be like my first two tone brown ford with Indian blanket seat covers on the bench seats.

What a sweet memory. Stretch had a 1973 Toyota Camper with drapes hanging in the windows. The drapes were little cowboys - read and blue and brown. He agreed to sell the camper on the condition that he could keep the drapes. He had the drapes made into a cover seat for his airplane. He's sentimental that way. 

I see SUVs and trucks becoming high luxury. It's where car companies can make the most money and they know their audience. 

So  are we all! Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas Blessed Ramadan.

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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