Real Wheels Live (Dec. 29)

Dec 29, 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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How was your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Holiday? Stretch, and I had a lovely Christmas. We talked to 13 people on the phone, texted or left VM for 14 people, and drove around to six homes and surprised them with carols. One of our friends has a partner that is in his last days of life in the hospital, so we were quite happy to pick his spirits up. 

The week was about station wagons at our little house on the hill. The 2018 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription (top-of-the-line) that we drove was $69,340 (starting price $59,750) with an EPA estimated mpg of 22/31/25 combined. 

We drove the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack TSI 4Motion to Reno where Stretch's nephews were visiting and took a local (Machados) homemade berry pie up and had a delightful time with them. 

The Golf All-track (wagon) starts at $25,995 and goes up to $35,660 before you option up. I would add a heated steering wheel and safety technology, such as blindspot warning. We used eco mode going over the hill, from 1,200 feet to over 5,000 feet and dropping back down again. We got about 35.2 mpg. Which is excellent for an all-wheel drive! It was sad to see no-snow on the mountains.  We are going to be hurting if we don't get snow soon. 

We watched "It's a wonderful life"; well, I watched it and Stretch would come in the room and watch it from afar. He thinks it is a dramatic, traumatic movie and he can't watch it in its entirety. I like the idea that we mean something to the people we have met in our lives. In the end, George Bailey (James Stewart) realizes that he is the richest person on earth because of the people in his life. 

In another week the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will start. I previewed a couple of products leading up to the show. IF you want to know about autonomous and all the new technology coming out on cars follow CES. I'll be there and will report on it for you and from driving the nation website. FordOgo will be bringing out electric scooters ~ think global, like China. They will be a hit! 

I hope all of you had equally as lovely time, that you brought joy to people and that you left knowing that if you weren't in this world that many, including me, would miss you. 

Let's chat about cars 

Warren, I and many others will miss your weekly car reviews. Been reading them for decades, wow. Have a Happy New Year. You too, Lou Ann..

Thank you. Warren wrote wonderfully about his life and the cars he drove. He will appreciate the kind words. 

You have a happy new year as well

Its there anything special expected at this year's show? Thanks.

The auto show will still have the fun parties with the art drawing on the cars. I haven't heard of any great reveals but I will ask Chris Hosford, the new person for 2018. I do know there is a bunch of regulatory events for the media and the Society of Automotive Engineers will be there, as well as some politicians. 

I will put a note into Chris and ask him. 

While we're all happy for Warren as he moves to the next chapter of his life, reading his last article on Sunday was more than a little sad for us readers. What will happen to this chat moving forward? This forum has helped me immensely over the years as I navigate the waters of car buying, and hope it can still continue.

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad that we helped you. Anything I can do to help you I will. I love the chatters and love that they are so engaged each week. 

How much smaller is the XC40 compared to the XC60? Do they take the space out of the cargo area or the passenger compartment? With the XC40 coming the US, is there any chance they also start selling the V40 here as well?

The XC40 is smaller, some of it taken out of the front grille area and some out of the back. I just drove it and I didn't feel cramped at all! 

The XC40 will come out as an all electric and as a plug-in hybrid later. It will start around $33,000. 

I would imagine since they have brought out the corresponding V for each of the other XCs that the xc40 will have a cousin as well.

Why would I buy one, when I can get a perfectly good KIA for half the price? Mind you, this comes from someone who drove Volvos for nearly 20 years.

It is a decision one would have to ask themselves. More and more station wagons are coming into the market. Kia has the sportswagon, Volkswagen has the Golf Alltrack, Audi has the Allroad, Buick is bringing out the Regal Tour. 

When there were only a couple to pick from the companies held the market, now there are more and those companies are going to have to look at the competition. 

Have you heard when it will be released?

There are rumors that the Mazda6 will finally get the turbocharge in 2018. I hesitate to confirm only because Mazda said they would have a diesel and it still isn't here. 

Warren, I believe you said last week that the new Alfa Romeo sedan wasn't any better than the competition. Is that correct, and if so why?....Also any expereience with the Audi 3 or Audi Q3? Thank you in advance

I believe Warren was talking about the price versus the content and drivability. The Alfa is a bit more expensive when held against the competition. 

I would think you are talking about the Audi A3 sportback versus the Audi Q3? The biggest difference would be the height of course. I think they are similar in price. I haven't done a one on one comparison, but it is a good idea. 

Many folks celebrate Saturnalia. Original Roman holiday. Roman Catholic Church placed Christmas in December because of this Roman pagan holiday. Jesus probably wasn't born in December based on the position of the stars etc. Clifton, VA

I have a friend that is Pagan, so I guess I should have remembered that one as well. 


Going to get a IONIQ this week to replace my rearended totalled BMW. Suprising how nice this IONIQ is. nimble for a hybrid, nice styling great safety features for the price point, and gets same or similar mileage as the Prius. The Kia NIRO lost out due to its slightly stickier regen breaks and higher cost, but Hyundai has a winner here i think.

I don't blame you for picking the Ioniq over the Niro. The power wasn't there for me. I like the Hyundai hybrid because the battery makes the difference. Good call. 

Thank you for coming to the chat before the New Year. As always, there will be a lot of celebrating so be careful if you are driving. 

Each year brings changes, some wanted, some not. Life is fluid, but know that no matter what happens in 2018 I enjoy chatting with you each week and I hope we continue to chat. 

And remember -

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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