Real Wheels Live

Feb 14, 2014

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond will discuss the auto industry. Plus, they'll give purchase advice to readers.

Good morning Warren and Friends has come up with the best deals in February. I am passing them onto you.

Below is a snapshot of the best deals (compared to MSRP) on new vehicles in February 2014:

Year/Make/Model/Trim/segment/msrp/mkt avg/% savings/est. mthly pmt/mmpg

2014 Ram 1500,
Big Horn,
Crew Cab 4X2
Short Bed/ Large Truck/ $37,145/ $31,504/ $5,641/ 15.2% /$452.87 -18/25/21.3

2014 Cadillac ATS,
2.0L I4 RWD
Performance/ Luxury Car/ $43,020/ $37,904 /$5,116/ 11.9%/ $544.87 -21/31/25.5

2014 Ford Fusion
S FWD/ Sedan/ $22,795/ $20,214/ $2,581/ 11.3%/ $290.58 - 22/34/ 27.3

2014 Nissan Juke
SV AWD Automatic/ SUV/ $24,550/ $21,910/ $2,640 / 10.8%/ $314.96 - 25/30/27.5

2014 Toyota Prius
Two/ Small Car/ $25,010/ $23,119/ $1,891/ 7.6%/ $332.33 - 51/48/49.3

Below are the best lease and finance deals currently available, according to “TrueDeals”:

2014 Fiat 500L: $199/month for 36 months, $2,699 down, 12,000 miles/year, Exp: 3/3/14
2014 Honda CR-V: $219/month for 36 months, $2,499 down, 12,000 miles/year, Exp: 3/3/14
2014 Volkswagen Jetta: $149/month for 36 months, $2,349 down, 36,000 miles, Exp: 3/3/14
2014 Toyota Tacoma 4X2 DoubleCab: $289/month for 36 months with $999 down, 12,000 miles/year, Exp: 3/3/14
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Coupe: $329/month for 36 months, $3,623 down, 30,000 miles, Exp: 2/28/14

2014 Toyota Camry: 0% financing for 60 months or $2,500 consumer cash, Exp: 3/3/14
2014 Kia Forte: 0% financing for 60 months or $2,000 consumer cash, Exp: 3/3/14
2014 Nissan Murano: 0% financing for 60 months, Exp: 2/28/14
2014 Ford Explorer: 0% financing for 48 months, Exp: 3/31/14
2014 Acura TL: 0.9% financing for 60 month, Exp: 3/3/14

(of course, the cars have to be in inventory)

Let's chat about cars

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Lou Ann Hammond

I was astonished to read Consumer Reports review of the new Infiniti q50 vs the outgoing G37, they were not very kind the new version. Have you reviewed the q50? Thanks

Yes. I was not very kind to it either. It is another G37 expensively priced.

Every time I have to replace a headlight, turn signal, break, or other light on my car, I wonder if there is a better way. At home, several of my lights have a backup. Either a fixture with two or more bulbs or 3-way bulbs with multiple filaments. Either way, when one burns out, the other lights usually continue to shine. It would be nice if cars had a central light that provided light to all of the lamps and signals on the car. I would think that fiber optics could be used to illuminiate any light from a central location.

I think it's going to be more interesting, and more expensive, to change lights. Everyone is going to LEDs and Audi has announced it's going to laser lights. I'll ask about the concept, but bling is in.

My rear defrost doesn't seem to be working. On my last car, the wire eventually corroded breaking the connection. Everything looked connected at the window side. Any suggestions for a quick and easy fix.

Check the heating element. Check the fuse box. One of those is defective, I suppose.

Hi Warren and LouAnn, I have a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid with 42,000 miles. I purchased the car used in November 2012. We just had to replace the hybrid battery (covered by warranty, thank goodness). My 17 year old son drives the car to and from school and other short trips. I am wondering if the battery needed replacing beacuse we aren't driving the car enough. Do hybrids need to be driven for a recommeded amount of time to keep the battery charged? Thanks!

This sounds unusual. Did they say what happened to the battery? I can tell you they are examining the battery. No, I don't think it was because he wasn't driving it enough, but I have put the question out to some friends and will get an answer.


I just heard from my friend Wayne Gerdes who owns and he says, Honda's Nickel Metal Hybrid (NiMH) batteries in the first gen Insight and first and second gen Civic Hybrids are notoriously susceptible to premature aging. With the advent of the 2012s with the new Li-Ion battery packs, this "issue" has apparently gone away although these new batteries do not have any history given their age. From friends, acquaintances, and forum members that own the second generation Civic Hybrid, there appears to be no common cause. From Minnesota to Texas and California to Maine, this problem has reared up on a large percentage of Civic Hybrids so it is not heat, driving topography, driving style, shorter or longer daily ranges, or anything else that we can pinpoint. While Honda has issued numerous flashes to reduce the usable battery pack State of Charge (SoC), the failures continued with Honda's NiMH chemistry. Fortunately Honda has been providing "Good Will" for replacement well beyond the new car stated warranty for those afflicted. This does not afflict any other Hybrids with similar battery chemistry like Toyota's Prius so please make sure your reader understands this.

Lou Ann & Warren, it's time for you two to judge the following contest: Of the GM models offering the Opel-based 2.0 liter turbo, which make & model do you think offers the best value for the money in terms of fit, finish, and handling? Chevrolet Malibu Buick Verano Buick Regal Cadillac ATS

The Buick Regal GS.

Lou Ann here:

I like the Regal but I'd look at the Verano. It's the quietest car in it's segment. I like quiet. I also like the colors offered in the Buick.

Looking for an all-wheel-drive vehicle in anticipation of moving to Maine. Subaru is an obvious choice, but how does Jeep compare? I need good cargo space and reasonable gas mileage. Thanks.

Subaru, Forester or Outback, offers a better overall value.

I know that some cars and trucks have bug guards that are supposed to keep the bugs from going splat on the windshield. With all of the salt splashing around, I wonder if they might work in the winter months. It would save on washer fluid and extend the life of the wiper blades.

Just buy the washer fluid. There's no getting around salt splash this messy East Coast winter.

I have a 2012 Subaru Forester that I absolutely ADORE. Just throwing this out there for anyone who is looking for a small SUV, station wagon, or cross-over. Small enough to park, decent sized cargo area, can handle a decent snowfall. Downside: back seat REALLY only big enough for 2. I believe later models got the CVT tranny with MUCH improved gas mileage. Can't speak to those.

And I have a Subaru Outback in snowy Cornwall, N.Y. Makes perfect sense there.

Tips for Safe Winter SUV Driving

1. Brake With Caution And Earlier: SUVs can weigh as much as two to three times a typical car. This can make stopping on sleet or ice-covered roadways tricky. Stay aware of the distance between you and the cars in front and behind you and begin your braking sequence earlier than normal.

2. Watch Your Fuel: Driving in four-wheel drive will burn gas faster than typical driving. During colder months, fill up more often to keep your gas tank at least half full. The fuel reserve will be important if you get stuck in holiday traffic, plus it will add more weight to your vehicle which will help with traction on the road.

3. Turn With Care: Because of its powerful engine, a four-wheel drive SUV may get up to speed faster from a stop than many smaller cars. Be sure to allow for this faster pick-up and possibly the higher center of gravity of the vehicle when turning corners or making lane changes. If you’re approaching a turn while in motion, brake earlier than normal, remove your foot from the brake at the beginning of the turn and steer into the curve. This will provide the most tire grip to avoid skidding or sliding sideways. This tip is important to remember in all seasons.

4. Watch Your Tires: Four-wheel drive doesn’t guarantee good traction – all four of your tires need to have good tread and be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended air pressure. As the winter months get colder, air in tires contract which reduces the tire air pressure one pound per square inch for each 10-degree drop in temperature, so check your inflation pressure more frequently during the cold months. Under-inflation will lessen the gripping action because the tire tread will not meet the road surface as designed to do.

5. Don’t Be Overconfident: SUVs are seen as big and tough, but they’re not invincible and come with extra responsibilities. Practice safe, defensive driving techniques all winter long and always wear a seat belt.

Other Important Winter Driving Tips For ALL Drivers:

  • Take your car to a certified automotive technician to check that the tires, brakes, engine, battery, exhaust system and the heating and defrosting systems are in good working order.
  • Maintain vehicle’s fluids including engine oil, radiator coolant, brake, transmission, window washer and power steering fluids to the recommended levels.
  • If there’s snow on your car, take advantage of the time you’re scraping off the windows to let your car warm up. Turn on the heater and defroster.
  • Check that your lights and turn signals are in good working order.
  • Before driving your car, make sure its windshield wipers aren’t frozen.
  • Allow extra travel time if weather is severe.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel when driving; avoid jerky steering and quick lane changes.
  • Slow down.
  • Be mindful when driving over bridges and overpasses. They freeze up earlier and stay frozen longer.Firestone Tire & Service Centers are owned and operated by BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, LLC (BFRC). BFRC operates the largest number of company-owned automotive retail generalist stores in the world. MasterCare® technicians perform part repairs and replacements, routine scheduled maintenance services, and a variety of diagnostic services covering major systems within a vehicle. To learn more about driving tips and maintenance or Firestone Tire & Service Center locations, visit
  • Slow down, people! All-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive don't mean speed on ice and snow. Slow down! Stop completely avoidable vehicle crashes.

    Warren and Lou Ann, I love the blog. Have you had a chance to drive the XV crosstrek hybrid? It appears to be one of the only hybrids that allow me to stay on 66 hov with 4 wheel drive.

    I'm not terribly impressed by the Subaru Crosstrek, assuming that is what you are talking about. As for I-66 hov allowing hybrid vehiucles to use HOV lanes, if I'm correct, the General Assembly plans to get rid of that nonesense.

    Do you own a "most love vehicle"

    The following list contains the number one ranked vehicles “Most Loved” in their segments as rated by new vehicle buyers for the majority of categories (4 points are required to determine a significant difference) by Strategic Vision:

     Micro Car          Chevrolet Spark                                                                                    612

    Small Car         Nissan Sentra / Dodge Dart                                                           587

    Small Multi-Function Car         Hyundai Elantra GT Hatchback                                                     611

    Small APT Car         Nissan Leaf / Toyota Prius C                                                          541/540

    Mid-Size Car         Hyundai Sonata / Volkswagen Jetta/Passat                           548/547

    Mid-Size Multi-Function Car         Honda Accord Crosstour / Volkswagen Jetta Sport               503/501

    Mid-Size APT Car         Chevrolet Volt                                                                                     601

    Large Car   Dodge Charger        684

    Near-Luxury Car        Lexus ES 350/Hyundai Genesis                                      734/732

    Luxury Car         Hyundai Equus                                                                                   821

    Specialty Coupe         Dodge Challenger                                                                              702

    Premium Coupe         BMW 3-Series Coupe / Audi A5 Coupe                                      695/693

    Standard Convertible         MINI Cooper Roadster / Convertible                                          692/691

    Premium Convertible/Roadster         Mercedes SL Class                                                                            753

    As far as I can tell, there is currently no legislation proposed to change the HOV hybrid exemptions in VA.

    There will be. It's a dumb law. Hybrids do their best work, saving fuel, in stop-go city traffic. HOV high-speed highway lanes completely defeat their purpose. Legislatures around the country have figured this out. Virginia is looking at similar elimination of that nonesense.

    Good Morning Warren and Lou Ann, What is up with used car prices right now? We were in the marked to replace our ancient Jetta, and the prices for used CUVs (RAV4, CR-V, Santa Fe) are just ridiculously high here in Florida. We ended up leasing a new Tiguan (love it!) because it made better sense financially. What's going on?

    It's been going on for sometime. First there was cash for clunkers which took a slew of decent cars off the road (At the time I railed on Congress because I thought they should have offered money for pre-1983 cars, not 1983 cars and newer)

    In the past 4 years there have been fewer cars sold and now car dealers are scouring the nation looking for cars.

    When will automakers learn that even if you build a great car, that for a lot of people comfortable seats are a must. I've test-driven too many cars and SUVs to mention that overall were absolutely worth my money as a consumer, but I ended up not buying because the seating was not comfortable. It is frustrating that if you want decent comfort in a driver's seat, you may be forced into a different class of automobile....

    Check out Volvo. If it's comfortable seats you want, Volvo offers the best in the business.

    Problem with LEDs is the cost which can be 10x the cost of a regular bulb or more. Now allegedly they last longer. I owned a 90 325i for 16 years and replaced the headlight bulbs once when I went to euro lights and replaced the brake lights once. That was it. Cost of laser is even more outlandish. And come Lou Ann you didnt mention the new S class has Swarovski crystal headlights. Other big issue with LEDs is they dont get warm enough to melt snow. I have friends with Jeeps with LED headlights and fog lights and they had to stop every a few times yesterday to clear the lights when running hospital staff to and home yesterday from Fair Oaks hospital. Clifton VA

    Vanity over functionality

    Any news on the new for 2015 Buick Anthem? Have yet to spy it at any of the car shows I've been to.

    I haven't seen it on display, either. You, Lou Ann?

    Lou Ann here;

    It's supposed to show up next year. There are reports that they are testing it in Colorado. Think Chevy Equinox or GMC Terrain.

    What evidence do you have that VA is looking at the issue? No one is proposing any new legislation in 2014?

     Check news clips circa 2010-2012.  Check Assembly reports same span.

    "air in tires contract which reduces the tire air pressure one pound per square inch for each 10-degree drop in temperature" Where did you get this rule of thumb? Is there something about car tires that makes the air pressure within react differently than the standard Boyle's Law? Air pressure varies proportionally with temperature, but measured from absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. A drop of 10 deg F is no where near the temperature change that you'd need to see 1 psi difference in a tire inflate to somewhere 30-35 psi.

    I don't know the exact psi difference. But I do know, from empirical experience, that extreme cold usually triggers a tire pressure warning.

    Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: Canadian pricing for the new MK7 Golf has been released, and I'm surprised the numbers are so high. If you were to buy the Golf TDI Highline (auto transmission) with the optional bi-xenon lights and adaptive corner lighting, the final price is just north of $40K. I was sure prices would drop a bit considering there won't be a 6.1% tariff because it's not being imported from Germany and the fact that, according to a recent NYT op-ed, VW wages in Mexico (including benefits) are about US$8/hour versus US$67/hour in Germany. Not to mention the new MQB platform that will result in substantial savings. Thoughts? Garey, Ottawa

    Happy Valentine's Day Garey.

    Not feeling the love from Volkswagen today, are we? :)

    Car companies don't expect you to look at those things. And they are not producing in Mexico only because of the wages, per se. If they are selling the car in North America and South America Mexico is the place to produce.

    Mexico is part of NAFTA but it also has a bilateral agreement with Brazil that keeps them from having to pay a 90% import duty fee.


    I am the owner of the Civic Hybrid. Thank you for a very thorough response! Will the replacement battery also be at risk for an early demise?

    From reading Wayne's response I would be careful, because it doesn't sound like the have the fix yet.

    Keep your receipts, all the correspondence with the company. And let us know, neither Warren nor I were aware of the extent of the issue. 


    Depending on what part of Maine. A Wrangler amy get you through the deepest snow where a Subie cant and will get stuck. Both the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee hav select terrain which is more advanced and sophisticated than what Subie offers. Reliability and mpg advantage goes to Subie though. My friend just moved from the Boston area to around Bangor Me and she is looking at Wrangler Rubicon. Clifton, VA

    Good for you, Clifton. I'll stick with what I know works in snowy climes--Suaru.

    I always watch in wonder those people who drive cars in snow and ice that: A) aren't designed for it (i.e. no all-wheel drive), and B) who don't have snow tires. Can't drive a small car or SUV like it's the Autobahn to begin with, but please if you're trying to drive a vehicle, make darn sure you have to be somewhere, # 1, and # 2, give yourself the best chance to arrive safely by driving slowly and steadily, and with the proper safety items in place.

    Good advice. Thanks.

    thanks for joining us this cold, snowy day. Drive slowly in this mess. Four-wheel-drive, even in a Jeep, does not give you license to drive faster than conditions and common sense allow. Slow down! Thanks for another fine production, Matthew Monihan. Thank you, Lou Ann, for good notes on Honda Hybrids. Thanks, Ria Manglapus and Michelle Dawson, for all you do. Be safe. Eat lunch.

    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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