Real Wheels Live

Mar 15, 2013

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.

Hi Warren and Friends

The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss (Price), is here with us today to answer any questions about renting a Hertz car, buying a rental car, or racing with JDX racing at the 61st annual sebring 12 hour.

Last week one of you asked about buying a rental car. This week I am with Hertz Rent-a-car and JDX Racing, in Sebring Florida. Hertz sponsors the JDX Racing team and we're at the 61st Annual Sebring 12 hour. JDX Racing is part of the GTC class in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

Within the last year Hertz has started renting high-end luxury sports cars, such as Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley and Aston Martin.

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I understand that a new Lexus IS is coming, as is the Infiniti Q50 (to replace the G). Will these new series have convertibles, as the current ones do? Thanks.


My husband really, really, really wants to buy a Tesla - one of the "cheap" ones (only 50K for a car that can't do a road trip). I think it is an expensive toy and possibly a fad - note the Leaf and Volt are not selling the way people predicted. At a minimum he should wait a couple of years. Thoughts?

How ofen does he do long road trips? Is this his only car? According to Secretary Chu (DOE), we spend $1 Billion a DAY on imported oil.

It's okay to be on the forefront of being part of a solution.

Traveling on long car trips as I do, I may have missed your reply to a question about your reaction to Consumer Report's most recent ratings pointing to the 10 best cars and the absence of American brands on that list. When I buy a new car I do rely on CR because it doesn't seem to have any ax to grind. But you have implied in the past that there really isn't much difference in the overall quality and reliability of American brands versus foreign brands?

According to CR, it changed its criteria for making its "10 best" list, which benefitted some companies and hurt others. It really does not matter. The Car companies can't have it both ways, citing CR when the magazine praises them and putting down CR when no praise is afoot. Next year, the domestic companies should just make the list.  But not making it does not mean the domestics are "bad' or worst."

Hi Warren & Lou Ann, My husband and I are really really (did I say really?) interested in getting the diesel Jetta. Love so much about it! But there's one thing that I can't seem to find, even though I can read a spec sheet (at least I thought I could). I can't find anything saying that it comes with a back-up camera. With all that wonderful German engineering and safety-consciousness, I can't believe that it's not there or an option, so I figure I must be missing something somewhere. Do you know if it's part of their Navigation package or something? If it actually doesn't come with one (?!?!?), do you know if that is an item that can be added after-market? We have one kid and another on the way, and so this is an imperative safety item at home and daycare. Thanks!!!

A backup camera is available. Ask your dealer.

There was an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Jounal entitled "Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret". Do you agree with the implication of electric cars not being as enviromentally friendly as many of us thought they were?

The oil company has had 100 years to become efficient and amortize the cost of sticking a steel straw into the sand and bringing out oil and allowing you to drive your car.

Give the EV/electric market 100 years and they might be greener as well.

Work places having EV chargers will help.

Which would you recommend: the Passat or the Accord and could you give a quick explanation why? Thanks.

I love the rejiggered Accord--almost foolproof reliable, simple interior design, good exterrior styling.  The Passat has similar qualities. But I think the Accord beats it on reliability.

From The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss:

There have been a couple questions about EVs. Hertz has EVs in certain markets, in restricted markets. They also have hybrids.

If you think about it, car rental companies were the first car sharing companies. In the second half of this year Hertz is going to be fleetwide with the same technology that is used in car sharing. Hertz calls it on-demand technology which allows customers to rent 24/7 and by the hour!

Also, Hertz has EV chargers on corporate partner campus' and various rental locations

Hi Warren & Lou Ann, one of the nicest compact cars debuted at Geneva Auto Show was the Honda Civic Tourer concept. Basically a small wagon, it has all of the style that the Civic that graces our shores lacks. Any chance American Honda would ever sell it here, either under the Honda or Acura badge?

Yes. The most notable thing about the Geneva show, which ends Sunday, was the intense global competition in the compact and subcompact car segments. Nifty, accessible, well-styled and built little cars, such as the Civic Tourer, which probably will make it Stateside in one form or another. The Reason? The global economy remains troubled, salaries coming down or disappeararing altogether. Fuel prices remain high. Buyers are looking for better fuel economy.

Hi Warren and Lou Ann, because my family expanded to four in less than a year I was ready to trade in my fully loaded 2010 Buick Lacrosse for the 2013 Enclave. The favorite features of my Lacrosse include the heads-up display onto the windshield, the smart key / push-button start. The new Enclave which costs thousands more has none of that. I'm not sure In want to go back to starting my car with a key again. Interesting enough, the Acadia Denali has heads up display but the CUV is not as attractive as the Buick, in my opinion. Why does GM play these games? Why does the 2010 car have newer technology than the 2013?

I could be going out on a limb here, but I', certain that if you want heads-up display in a Buick Enclave, you can get it. That technology is widely available within GM's ranks and can be had pretty much for the asking. Sounds like a dealer problem to me.

is much so that buiders in the District of Colubia are petitioning government (*local) officials to lessen requirements for new parking spaces in new housing developments. The builders contend that the rise of services such as car sharing reduces the need for a plethora of individually assigned parking spaces.

How does the rental cost of a hybrid or EV compare to the cost of a gasoline car? And what markets does Hertz have EV cars in?

The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss

go to (or call the 800654-3131) and you can request an EV car.

The rental cost is pretty similar, a little higher. Certainly, the bigger cities, SF, NY and LA.

Thanks for asking

From The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss

Starting in the first week of April in New York City only, Hertz will give - on specially select cars - from Hertz on demand fleet - a free first hour rental and then Hertz will take the proceeds of that hour and buy 70 meals for the New York city food bank.


It wouldn't surprise me if Hertz, et al, are given a highly competitive run for the money in the car-sharing business. Look at what housing dvelopers are doing in the District of Columbia and elsewhere in the country. They are asking  to berelieved of the expense and pressure of providing multiple individual parking spaces. They are tying their housing transportation platforms to existing or coming public transportation systems. bike sharing and car sharing.

From The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss

If you want to buy a car from Hertz, you can go to or go to Hertz retail location.

You can rent a car for a day, or more, and if you decide you want to buy it, they will refund the entire rental amount off the price of the car.

Are you guys (Hertz) a little late to the car-sharing game?

From The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss

No, on the contrary, we are innovating that space. We have the best in class technology for car-sharing and the widest network.

With Hertz, if you're in NYC, you can rent a car-share for an hour,  drive yourself to the NYC airport and leave it there.

car-sharing is just another form of rental - and we have the largest car-sharing fleet worldwide. We've been doing for years over in Europe.

Warren and Lou Ann, Do you all have a suggestion for a practical midlife crisis car? I'm thinking about either a hot hatchback like the Ford Focus ST, or maybe waiting for a muscle car like the new Chevy SS. I think the Focus would be more 'practical' in being a hatchback. Any other ideas I'm missing?

Yes. The new Corvette Stingray would be my mid-life crisis choice.  It's hote enough and costly enough to qualify as something of an exotic. The models you named are rather no crisis at all.

Hello! Have you seen the 2014 Acura MDX at an auto show? Is the 3rd row comfortable? I am impressed with the Infiniti JX, but I am debating waiting for the 2014 MDX to see how it compares.

Check out the new Honda Pilot, which shares a platform with the new MDX, before getting all excited over the MDX.

Companies like Zip Car somehow managed to identify and tap into an apparently under served market - urban dwellers needing a car once in a while for a few hours to a few days, and who want to walk from their condo to where ever it is the rental car is located. What has been Hertz response to this in the U.S. and abroad? Ask any 20-30 something about Zip Car competitors, and "Hertz"or other majors probably won't roll off their tongue.

I frankly agree with you.

I am one of your Gold Five Star something or others, and I always rent with Hertz because it is fast. But the last time I rented with Hertz, my name wasn't on the board, my car wasn't ready, then they did the contract and then I sat around waiting in a long line, then I stood around waiting for my car, then I sat in line to get out because there was a huge backup at the gate. But my complaint is this: you then charged me for a full extra day, because I had the car three days and two hours (you charged for four days). When do you charge for an "extra day"? And do really think I should pay extra while I am sitting around waiting for you guys to do your jobs?? By the way, I filled out the electronice survey afterwards and received no response whatsoever. Your comments, please?

From The Vice President of Hertz, Jerry Preyss

Customer Satisfaction is the number one priority for our company.

I am saddened to learn about your experience.

Our goal is to acheive a fair resolution of your position.

From Lou Ann:

send to lou at

Send me your contact info and Mr. Preyuss will have this issue handled.

Hi, I am looking for a medium sized SUV. It looks like the only one is the Highlander from Toyota. Have you heard of any others that will be out in the next year or so??

There are many medium-size SUVs and CUVs, too many to list here. Go to or and plug-in SUVs "mid-size."

I'm getting mixed answers from Volvo dealers so have to ask the experts. I have a 2012 Volvo S60 (which I bought in Oct 2012 based on Warren's recommendation and have been very happy with). I don't drive much so it only has 1200 miles. However, at 900 miles, "time to book maintenance" came on. Volvo service dept. told me that I wasn't due until 7500 miles (which coincides with what manual says). However, they couldn't tell me why I was getting message so I called back and was told to bring car in since apparently I was due for maintenance because if the car had been built that many months ago, it was probably due. Answer didn't make sense but better safe than sorry. I get to the dealer and the service manager tells me that I'm not due for maintenance and sorry I had to get up early on a Saturday morning to drive the car in. I now have 1200 miles on the car and "Maintenance overdue" comes on every time I start the car and no one can tell me why I'm getting this message!...Although I love the car, I have to tell you that I am not impressed with the service I've received so far. Do you have a clue why this message is coming on since apparently, I'm not due until, either I have had the car for 8 months or driven it 7500 miles (last explanation given by Volvo service dept.).

I would not do maintenance until the 7,500-mile-accumulation mark. My hunch , and I'm not trying to be funny here,  is that your maintenance advice system is on a timer.

Dear Warren and Lou Ann, Could I impose upon you to contact someone at Mazda to address a minor inconvenience with my 2014 CX-5 with Tech package? Any device connected to the USB on the stereo plays the same song (the first on the device) every time the car is started. After start-up, other songs or shuffle can be chosen, and the device plays properly. Here's a description to clarify what I'm talking about (apologies for the length of this): I hop in my CX-5 to run a few errands and pop in my ipod, the first song on my ipod starts playing (in my case, "007 (Shanty Town)"), then I hit shuffle, and the device starts shuffling the songs. Great, now I'm bopping along to, say, Led Zeppelin on my way to the grocery store. I get there, park, turn off the car, get my groceries, and get back in the car. Now, when I start it up, the stereo doesn't pick up playing the Led Zeppelin song that was on when I got to the store, no, it starts playing "007 (Shanty Town)." Every. Single. Time. Don't get me wrong, this is a great Desmond Dekker song, but you can see how on a day of multiple short trips, this gets old. And, according to members of Mazdas247 ( I'm not alone -- all the 2014s do this. The 2013 CX-5, however, handles this as it should; it resumes playing the last song that was on. Would you please tell your Mazda contacts that if the 2014 CX-5's operation is by design, please rethink it, and if it is an oversight, please correct it. Thank you!

Happy to help. Havae you heard of this before, Lou Ann? I ask because it's a new one for me. We'll put this out there to get a responsse from one of our many tecchies...or from Honda. Thanks for writing. Watch tthis space.

Can you recommend a good hardtop convertible please?

Porsche Boxster, Porsche 911. :)

okay, VW Eos.

My favorite is the hard-top Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Corvette sounds nice but expensive. Right now I have an old Subaru which says something about my 'practical' nature. But I'll give the 'vette a test drive. I might be able to get over my practicality.

Try an Audi TT RS. Love that car.

Is there a way for me to ensure that I can rent a specific model of car? I like to try out a car that I'm thinking of buying for at least a day, maybe 2-3, but I've had problems with thinking that I can rent a specific car and that car not being available when I arrive at the rental location. Is there a way around this?

You can ask your car rental agency for a specific model.  But you seem to be asking if you can rent, say, a Civic EX versus a Civic EX-L. That's possible, but a tad more difficult. Visit the dealership and ask for a test drive of a specific model.

And if Sec Chu and his boss had a rationale energy plan for this country we would be importing a lot less oil. We have more than enough oil reserves in the US and in Canada that we dont need to import any oil However, Sec Chu and Comrade Barry are giving into the greens. Right now EVs are not the answer and may never be. We need a rational energy policy not one based on biases and politics. Oh and I forgot to mention a rational Fed policy too. A barrel of oil is priced in dollars. Beranke(2nd worst Fed Chair ever) monetary policy has driven down the value of the dollar and a result driven up the cost of a gallon of gas. A gallon of gas with a rational energy and fiscal policy will cost $2.50 or less. Clifton, VA

I disagree with you. Don't blame Sec. Chu for our lack of an energy policy. Look in the mirror. Are you one of those people complaining about rising fuel prices in America, the country with the cheapest gasoline prices in the developed world? And who said that electric cars were the only answer to our energy future? Certainli not Sec. Chu. He has always maintained that we will need a variety of approaches--natural gas, LPG, diesel. etc.


Oh, sorry, I am interested in a hybrid medium sized SUV. There's the Highlander or I could look big sized such as the Tahoe. I think the Audi Q5 is too small for my family. any others I am missing or any new ones coming out in 2014?

Is this a real question, or a cynical rant?

Getting back to this year's Consumer Reports' ratings, I was disappointed to see how low Ford cars were rated in terms of reliability. A careful reading of some reviews made it seem that the main cause was CR's criticism of the MyFord Touch system. Also, when it came to small SUVs, the Ford Escape received the highest rating score, but was not "recommended." At the same time, Popular Mechanics named the Escape its "Car of the Year," and U.S. News & World Report considers it the best small SUV for 2013. Warren -- what's your opinion? And for a follow-up: if you had to choose between a 2014 Suburu Forester and a 2013 Escape, where would you put your money?

I'd choose the Forester, the new one, because it perfectly fits everything I need in family transportation. If I were buying the Escape, I'f go for the Titanium edition. But I easily could make peace with the new Forester.

Some of these maintenance timers are set on mileage some on time schedule, for example 7,500 miles or one year. Some fluids get old, some ware out, most are a mix of both. My BMW wants oil changes every 15,000 miles or 1 year. It got it's second oil change at 22,000 miles because of time. Volvo should know why it's asking for maintenance, and they should be able to reset it. How else do they turn it off after doing the work?

Thanks for the info on the maintenance timers.

Didnt you all buy Enterprise?? Enterprise ripped me off on a rental back in January. A member of your crack management team at your Manassas location forgot to call me after Chrysler started to pick up the tab. I ate the insurance I signed up. I never rent with Enterprise or Hertz again. And I dont advise anyone else to the cant be trusted Clifton, VA

"You all?" As we say in my hometown on New Orleans, "Who dat?"?  All I'm saying is that the car-sharing business has really taken off in the urban centers of this country. Zipcar types offer fast, easily accessible.

Hi there, I did this years ago and felt like I got "burned" by purchasing a rental. Is there anything Jerry can tell me about purchasing Hertz rentals, e.g., that might make me reconsider why I should purchase a used car from him vs. Carmax, owner, etc.?

We'll put this one out there for Jerry. But, generally, the same rules apply to buying a rental that apply to buying any used vehicle. 1. Run it by a certified mechanic. Check Carfax. That's Carfax, not Carmax. Becareful not to buy more than you can maintain.

Is a fool and a dreamer Warren. If he had a clue we wouldnt be in this mess. PHD's just live in la la land. Along with our Prez who wants to save the polar bears for his youngest. Not the way to develop a rational energy policy. Warren I want to mitigate climate change but not a cost of my lifestyle. I am out in the fields at least once a week working my herding dog. So I am more green than most folks. Clifton VA

Baloney. Our lack of an energy policy started long before Sec Chu came to Washington. It started with us--with the silly notion that despite rapidly growing demand for fossil fuels, we could still burn the stuff at $2 a gallon.

Thank you all for joining us this week. Thank you Jessica Urquiola, Lou Ann Hammond, Hertz, Michelle Dawson, and Victoria Manglapus. Couldn't do any of this without you all. Eat lunch. HaVE A GREAT WEEKEND.

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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