Real Wheels Live.

Jun 13, 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.

The Kia K900 has been sitting inside Tysons Corner Center for a few weeks now. It is very impressive to sit in. I'm not in the market for a car of that price range, but how would a potential buyer go about getting a test drive and then buying it if most Kia dealerships don't have the car? I have had problems in the past with getting specific trims of specific models at dealerships (they always try to get me to buy what I don't want), and it's very frustrating. Do you need to drive to a distant dealer? Use a car buying service?

Go to the dealership, or go online, and ask for a test drive. Most Kia dealerships at least try to be very accommodating.

Good morning Warren and Friends


So, What does everyone think about Elon Musk opening all of Tesla's patents to the public? 


If you owned Tesla stock would that bother you? 


Remember I drove the Toyota 4Runner last week? I'm driving the Lexus RX 450h this week and love it. I would buy this car. Last week the 4Runner got 18 mpg, this week the RX 450h gets 26mpg. I forgot to set the odo so that may not be as accurate as the 4Runner, I may have gotten more. 


Yes, the car is more expensive, a base price of $47,810 and the one I'm driving is $62,074. I think the Toyota was $52,000, so you're looking at a $10,000 difference but the ride was smoother, the turning radius was better and it got better mpg. 


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Lou Ann Hammond

Good Morning Warren and Lou, I will be shopping for a small SUV in the next two months. I'm going from a VW Passat. I read Warren's review of the 2009 Tiquan but not of the 2014. How does it compare to the CRV? I do like VW's engineering but repairs are expensive, and as a retiree I'm looking to cut costs. Thank you. I enjoy these chats.

Good Morning

You have to go with your budget - go with the Honda CRV. Yes, the Volkswagen is great engineering and gets help by sharing intelligence with their sisters Porsche, Audi and Bentley but sleep at night rules. I sleep better knowing I can pay my bills 

Honda is a good car, 95% of its cars have backup cameras and/or sensors as standard. As one gets older our necks don't turn as well. You will find that camera to be the best buy you can find. 

Enjoy retirement. 

66-thousand dollars for an eight cylinder Kia sedan that gets 18mpg? Quick. Where do I sign up?

Yes, $66,000 for a Kia K900. That is a bold move for a Kia but against the competition it looks good. But you are right, 18mpg is slim. I have a 1993 Lexus LS400 that gets 20mpg on a bad day. Kia should/could have done better. 

And you won't find the K900 at all dealerships. I talked to a dealer and they said it cost the dealership an extra $50,000 to the manufacturer to be able to sell that particular car, plus they had to send their mechanics to school to learn how to work on the car - another $75,000! 

This, IMHO, should be against the car dealership state franchise laws. If you own a franchise how can a manufacturer make you spend more to sell a certain product? You know who is going to pay that extra cost don't you? 


Warren's latest review:

Which 3-row SUV do you like best: Dodge Durango (V-6), Acura MDX, Mazda CX-9, or Ford Explorer? I have already eliminated other contenders for various reasons.

Mazda CX_9. Love the drive 

My very tall spouse currently drives a Ford Freestyle and likes the amount of cargo room and the arrangement of the driver's side for leg space. But most of his driving is around town and the mileage is horrible. Is there anything that would have about the same amount of cargo room but with better mileage, maybe a hybrid? Thanks.

A Taurus by any other name… 

I have started trying to put together lists so that I - and you - can know the cars that fall in that category. 

The Chevy Impala is a great little car with good mileage. The Kia Cadenza is well contented, as is the Hyundai Azera. I like the Nissan Maxima as well. 

The bottom group are out of his budget if he is going to stick with the Ford Taurus sticker price, but I like to give you options, such as if you want all-wheel drive you might want to go with the Chrysler 300. 

My husband is 6'4" and can fit in all of these vehicles. Narrow the field down by driving them and come back next week with a 3-4 of them and let's chat again. 

Chevy Impala

Toyota Avalon

Kia Cadenza

Chrysler 300

Nissan Maxima 

Hyundai Azera

Buick LaCrosse 

Dodge Charger 

Ford Taurus 


all-wheel drive

Chrysler 300

Dodge Charger 

Buick LaCrosse 


Large Luxury 

Lexus LS460L

Audi A7 (TDI) quattro Tiptronic

MSRP - $66,900, total:$81,395 24/38/29 diesel 

Audi A8

Porsche Panamera S

Jaguar XJL 

Hyundai Equus 

BMW 750li

Tesla S

Any thoughts on the misrepresentation?

It was stupid. Ford is better than this. 

Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: A friend of mine was a loyal Chrysler owner all her life until her recent purchase of a new Toyota Prius C. She's very happy with the car — especially its excellent mileage — but isn't happy with service at an out-of-town dealer. Somehow the speedometer registered in mph when Canadian speeds are in km/h. On her trip to Ottawa from Sudbury, she stopped at a North Bay dealer to fix the problem. They claimed the car needed to be put on a machine and she'd be charged for it. The car is under warranty and they should have bent over backward to serve a new customer. I found the quick fix on a YouTube search — no machine necessary. But you'd think that a) dealers would explain car features to new customers (no one explained anything to her, she said) and b) I find it hard to believe someone had never come across that problem before and didn't know about the fix, found on the trip computer button. Garey, Ottawa

The dealer's action is inexcusable. No machine is necessary to change from metric (kmh) to English (mph). The dealer should have known that. Inexcusable.

Garey - you have my email lou at carlistdotcom 

send me an email telling me the dealership. Toyota doesn't like this type of behavior and will want to hear about it. 

Will get you close to the mileage of RX450H for about $50K depending on how many boxes you check on the option list. Just as capable as 4runner off road with the right option boxes checked ie dont get the 20inch wheels and tires. 4 runner and Grand Cherokee along with LR4 are the only real SUVs still valaible in the around $50K price range. Lets hope the new LR6/Discovery is as relaible as new Range Rover but not swoopy like the Evoque and Sport. Everything else has no real off road ability. Clifton, VA

Thanks, Mountain Man.

It's a slow day and I looked at my Facebook just now - folks I hate seeing this post below. I know what it feels like to lose loved ones in car accidents. Please, if you have the funds, get a car with a backup camera and sensors. The life you save may be your childs. Backup cameras aren't mandatory till 2018 - thank you Ray LaHood for nothing. 

Thomas Maples

From a friend: My friend and co-worker accidentally back over her baby girl, Emily, yesterday evening on a lawn mower. Crystal did not know that she was behind her until it was too late. She was rushed to Children’s in Dallas and into surgery. Fractured upper arm, liver laceration, drains in abdomen, lost tips of 2 toes, knees to the bone (they put wound vacs on until another surgery on Tuesday), lacerations everywhere (debrided but left open). She will need muscle flaps and skin grafts. She is now on the ventilator to let her rest and not be in too much pain. Her parents, Crystal and Kenny, are devastated! She has an older brother. Please stop and lift this family up to the Lord right now. They so need it.




Did our reader read the entire column. I knocked Kia for the combined 18 mpg city/highway mileage..using premium fuel. In Kia's defense, that combined mileage is competitive with other high-end luxo-boats. But the company is moving swiftly to address the mileage issue. Otherwise, the K900 is as worthy as any other full-size luxury sedan, which is the point of the column.

Will the VW 2015 Sportwagen be offered in a AWD TDI?

I believe so, but will have to check. I know it is offered in Europe and they are starting to bring everything over to the US from Europe on a more timely basis. 

On the chat there is a lot of talk about the Jeep Grand Cherokee's, how to the Compass, Patriot, Liberty stack up in the off-road department? The Cherokee's can be a little out of my price range, but I like the idea of having something to take up in the mountains that still gets decent gas mileage in the city, unlike my pickup.

Very few people would buy the Compass, Patriot, or Liberty for off-road use. All three have limited competence in that category.

I'm not sure I have an opinion yet on his move, but open-source technology in the car industry sure could be interesting. I doubt his motives are purely environmental, but they might make for some longer-lasting air.

LOL - Yes, he's either crazy or crazy like a fox. 

I just wonder if he meant all his patents and if so what does he have to offer to sell to another car company if that is the case? 

Hi again: Does VW's announcement that it is reducing product life cycles to 5 years from 7 surprise you? Both the Passat and the Jetta look long in the tooth, for example. Will the life cycle shorten at other automakers, too? Things are so competitive that carmakers can't afford to look like they're standing still. Garey, Ottawa

Hi Garey, 

Did you get my request to send the dealer info to me on the Toyota issue?

No, no surprise. VW has to get fresher product faster. Most of the questions about VW are why can't I buy the product that they have in Europe. It had to happen.

Nothing is behind you and kids are somewhere safe. Get off your cell and pay attention. Folks with vehicles with rear view cameras rarely look at them check the research. Also if a child, small object or animal is just under the bumper or closer the camera won't pick it up. Pay attention its not the lack of a back up or rear view camera that caused this tragedy,  Lou Ann.

Baloney. Another Luddite hit from our favorite chatter. I want backup cameras, blind-side monitoring, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, et cetera, in every car. Those technologies save lives and reduce accidents. They don't undermine or cancel driver responsibility. They do help to make driving safer. Nothing bad about that.

Entirely agree with the wisdom of back-up cameras and very sorry for the accident. My kids have an Outback with backup camera, and a little 3 year old. I have a Nissan Frontier without the BUC and wish I had one.

Thank you for the kind words of sympathy and empathy. 

Once you have started using a BUC you can't imagine backing up without them. 

They are not perfect, but it is better than not having one. 

That is every parent's worst nightmare. Mary Anne and I will offer a Mass for her recovery. I hope the parents aren't to hard on themselves. Their injured child will need them fully in recovery..and in life,

We thank you all for joining us this week. Thank u, Angela Wong and Lou Ann (my personal hero), for keeping things going during my capture at/in LAX. I suppose United will get me out of here, soon.

Again, Lou Ann, our prayers for the injured child of your friends. I hope the parents rise above this personal devastation.

The rest of you good folks, please come back next week. Also thanks to Ria Manglapus and Michelle Dawson. Eat lunch, everybody on the East Coast.

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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