Real Wheels Live

Mar 22, 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.

If the yen continues to depreciate against the dollar, can we expect the price of Japanese-built vehicles to decline?

Probably not.

Lou Ann here:

Many of the Japanese vehicles are built in the United States to hedge against currency fluctuation. The ones built in Japan may have an increase, but the competition is fierce.

Good morning Warren and friends

Have any of you had a family member get in an accident? How long did it take before you knew about it?

There's a proposition in California to allow you to list people you want the police to notify in case of emergency. It is associated with the VIN number of your car. It would be voluntary, so far, just like organ donation is voluntary. It would cost something, not much, they say. 

How do you feel about that?

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Hi Warren, love these chats, alway read your car reviews too. While I typically agree with your take on cars, Buick's new Encore takes me back to the first SUV they made, the Rendezvous. That isn't a good thing and to me, it seems like they whiffed in the design big time. Do you really see it being competitive in the small SUV/crossover category as there are many compelling alternatives I'm much more attracted to.

Honestly, it remains to be seen. The syling is good. But GM needs to do something to that suspension, which is too hard (in feel) for many people.

Lou Ann here: 

I am such a fan of the Buick Enclave. Gorgeous vehicle. The Encore, not as much.

Good morning, Warren! I loved your review of the Forester. I've recently become interested in it, even though we've been a Honda family. We keep our cars for years (and years), but we're at the point where a new car will be needed soon. My husband likes the new CRV; I'm not so fond of its new look & worry about the sight lines because of the back window configuration. It may be 6 of one/half dozen of the other, but if you were to choose one for reliabiity, safety, gas mileage, best overall, which would you go for? Thanks!

I thought Mary Anne and I were moving toward the Forester and away from the Mini. But then I brought home the Beetle Tdi, which we both loved. I hadn'y figured on that. You can't go wrong choosing the CR-V. But I'm not personally interested in that one. It Bores me.

Hi, Me again! No, I wasn't ranting about the lack of hybrid SUVs. It is what it is. You know what I mean? I just wanted to make sure I had been thorough in what is out there as well as aware of what is upcoming. So now I am thinking of going for a smaller SUV in order to take advantage of better MPG. I just saw the new Acura RDX this morning. Your thoughts on this new redesign? I like it, but I am concerned that the kids, who will be riding in the back, won't have the ability to control temperature for themseves. Side note: what is it about teenage boys that they are always complaining it is too hot wherever they are!! Thanks! Have a superb weekend!

We appreciate you being thorough, sometimes we're reading fast and might miss a point that is important to you.

The thing about boys complaining is the same thing about women complaining about the heat when they get to a certain age - hormones.

I like the RDX design and am baffled that they wouldn't have temperature control in the back. I will have to check that out.

Have you looked at a diesel version of SUV? You mention you want higher mpg, diesel will give you that plus low-end torque to get you up the hills with a car full of kids and all their stuff. Both Porsche and Audi have great diesel SUVs.

Lou Ann and I will be at the 113th annual New York International Auto Show next week. It promises to be an interesting venue. We'll keep you aware of what's going on there.

Sounds like the CRV, though boring, would win out over the Forester in the safety/reliability/mileage/overall categories? Darn. We want something to replace our (old) Honda wagon (too bad they don't make those anymore) for dogs, gardening purchases, and such.

I don't think the CR-V is necessarily safer than the new Forester. Both have good ratings. In the final analysis, it all depends on the type of accident. Most of us can't determine that in advance.

What new car at the NY autpo show are you most excited to see? Highlander? New Buick Regal/Lacrosse, etc?

I look for trends as opposed to particular vehicles. i look for some indication as to where the industry is going in terms of vehicle size, propulsion systems, et cetera. Every now and then I'm gobsmacked by a wow car, such as the Lamborghini Veneno.

Lou Ann here:

New York is style and beautiful luxury cars. Audi, Porsche and Cadillac have reveals the night before. Hybrids and diesels are on the venue as well.

The idea sounds good in concept, but the devil's in the details. Does the list get wiped clean for that car when it's sold? I sure don't want to be notified about an accident in a car that my family hadn't owned for 5 years!

good point. Then DMV does have to get involved don't they? You don't want a cop calling you and saying your loved one was hurt and is in the hospital and you should get there right away and then find out it was a car you sold 5 years ago. Would someone sue because they were taken away from their work? It's not as easy as having an organ donation card on you. Why not just put it on your license, not associate it with the car?

I'm looking for a mid-size or luxury sedan 2-5 years old with decent gas mileage but also a solid engine and good style. I've looked at the Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti G series, and Nissan Altima. Any recommendations for getting the best bang for my buck?

Nissan Altima--well made, fuel efficient, attractive, safe and reliable.

Most smartphones have an "ICE" list at the top of the contacts list where you can list those numbers.

Good to know. I didn't know that. Most people have their phones with them. In fact, that is probably one of the reasons for some of the accidents!

But can the police get into their phone to access that if the person has a passcode on their phone?

You recently reviewed the Honda Civic and gave it a nice review. I am considering the Hybrid version that only has 110 HP and goes 0-60 in over 10 seconds. Is that so slow that it is either unsafe or just plan annoying?

No on "too slow." You can go to jail or to the graveyard in a Honda Civic as quickly as you can get to either of those place in anything  else. Fast is fast. Speed limits are speed limits. You can exceed any speed limit in a Civic.

Interesting chat last week with the Hertz exec. The question I did not get a chance to ask though is why there is not any consistency with how the company accepts debit cards for rentals? Does it have anything to do with whether or not the site is on/off airport and/or franchised vs. owned by the company itself? Also I would note, Hertz does NOT own Enterprise, so Clifton needs to do his research before he vents. Potomac, MD a.k.a. "the anti-Clifton, VA"

Hertz does not own Enterprise. You are right. But you've got me stumped on the credit card question. Lou Ann?

Lou Ann here:

I just emailed the Hertz people. If I get an answer before the chat is over i will post it. BTW - Avis bought zip-car, so that is why Hertz is promoting their Hertz on-demand which is by the hour rate.

Which do you prefer among the Jag XJ, Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera? The BMW 7-series now turns me off, and I can't get excited about the Mercedes. BTW, I wrote in last week about my issue with Hertz. Thanks to Lou Ann for contacting them. I still haven't received a substantive response, although in fairness to them they did say they were looking into it.

I'd take the Jag XJ, especially the XJ with all-wheel-drive. The Panamera strikes me at being an answer to a question that no one asked. Grossly overdone. Reminds me of a guy who is trying too hard because it is so painfully obvious that his wife is much smarter than him.

Lou Ann here:

I love Ian Callum's designs, so I would agree with Warren, but I do love the Panamera and the Audi A8 as well.

Have you driven them yet? Would you drive all three and let us know what you think because I think it's going to be an easy decision once you do.

I emailed Hertz again to remind them about you.

Did anyone read Warren's article on the Hyundai Sonata?I love that car, it is a game changer for that segment.

Here's the link:

Warren, PLEASE keep hammering away on the need for rational energy policy! Gas should not be $2.50 a gallon, indeed if we had rational policy and the proper perspective on infrastructure I would expect gas would be $5.00 or so, diesel maybe $4.50, with the apporpriate taxation to support the trillions of dollars needed to get the roads somewhat more in shape and more cash for mass transit. Maybe McDonnell has something with the changes he is attempting to render on gas taxes in VA, but I hope they also get indexed yearly with inflation. Potomac, MD a.k.a. "the anti-Clifton, VA"

If we paid the true cost of gasoline, we'd all be driving less and more rationally. But our energy policy is divorced from the cost of everything else, such as deciding to go to war. Our "all volunteer" military comes from a lot of towns we tend to overlook--such as those along old Route 66. If we had a draft, we'd be less inclined to stop dropping bombs in defense of cheap gasoline.

If you had to choose between these 4 vehicles, which one won't break the bank on repair costs. My budget is $25-30K for a used one.

One of your fellow chatters gave me this website

If you would let me know whether you find it beneficial or not I would appreciate it.

Other than that I would go to a carclub website and chat with them.

We have a 2012 Forester, which is great in every respect except the transmission, which is short 2 gears. Is it worth considering the financial haircut to trade it in for the new one?

No.  You've lived with the gearbox thus far. Try doing it a little longer. It's never worth it to take a completely avoidable financial haircut.

Are there that many homeless, disconnected people in California? Most of us would know within a matter of hours if we had a loved one in trouble, or worse. Do these people not call their next of kin on a regular basis?

I feel like it's more trouble than it's worth. Would the notification say "just a fender bender" or "they've been taken to the hospital," or would it just say "your spouse/mom/dad/whomever has been in an accident." The latter would NOT be a good option. The only way I see it working is if the person is unconscious or otherwise unable to inform their next of kin. My husband has been in a few accidents, and always calls me first. I then call his family, if need be. The most serious was when he and his little Saturn SC2 collided head-on with a school bus on an icy road. He was fine, other than whiplash, so he was able to call me. I don't know, I just see more problems than not with this idea.

The more responses I get from all of you the more I agree.

But, I believe this is for people who would be seriously hurt and couldn't call.

But would the police only be able to use it for that reason, or would they be able to access it in other cases?

I read awhile back that police were taking pictures of license plates as they drove by, wherever they drove and those plates and where the car were went into a database that never had to be deleted. I'm not sure I like that idea.

At the New York show, could you ask Ford when the B-Max will be coming to this country? From company statements, it appears headed to Canada, and it’s now difficult to find a high fuel mileage, non-hybrid, large cargo capacity vehicle that is geared adequately for turnpike speeds.

My understanding from Ford is that the B-Max isn't coming Stateside anytime soon. Instead, the company is planning to introduce the similarly sized Tourneo Connect here, soon.

Are you guys expecting any makers revealing additional models of their cars with a diesel engine? I'm thinking Mazda and VW (that's what I can afford!), but there may be others beyond those...

BMW 328d

Kia Optima hybrid

On thursday there is a clean diesel sympoisum I will go to. Any questions you have?

I bought a 2012 Forester last summer (downsized from a Sienna). LOVE IT. Good sightlines, nice height, peppy enough to merge on beltway, easy to park in parking garages, decent MPG, decent cargo capacity (mulch, etc). Love the HUGE sunroof (they all seemed to come with). What I miss from minivan: cupholders galore, cubbies galore, sliding doors. One other nitpick: kid in booster seat could buckle self in minivan, but can't quite reach the Forester buckles, so I have to do it from other side. Sexy it ain't, but I have no REAL complaints. Was considering RAV4, happy I went with Subaru.

I'm still leaning toward the Forester. It offers everything I want in a family vehicle--build quality, reasonable fuel economy, utility and safety.  Sexy would be great if it did anything to take care of those other needs and wants. But, it doesn't.

Yes, please ask someone to produce a family friendly diesel vehicle- I'm thinking diesel mini-van or 3-row SUV. I love the Audi Q7, but it's out of my price range by a lot...!

Volvo, VW, M-B all hear you.

Lou Ann here:

I will keep my eyes open for you and Warren is right, the car companies do hear you.

Lou Ann & Warren, I've priced the new Forester wagon using the Build It feature on the Subaru web site. The turbo version is quite costly, and many items that I consider standard features are expensive options. What is Subaru's thinking on this?

Subaru knows their customer, and they will pay it. Subaru's are hot in demand.

Where were you guys today? Please come back next week. We're lonely...and a little loony...without you. Thank you Jessica Urquiola, Lou Ann Hammond, Vistoria Manglapus and Michelle Dawson for all you all do to keep things going. Thanks to the JaguarClub of the National Capital Area for inviting me to your meeting last week. I enjoyed meeting you all. 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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