Real Wheels Live.

Aug 22, 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


This week I drove the Cadillac ELR with all the bells and whistles - literally 


Anyone who knows me knows that I love the technology in the Volt and now in the ELR. I drove a Cadillac all week and didn't use a single gallon of gasoline! I would plug the ELR in at night and wake up to 36 miles of driving range every morning. I absolutely love that technology and General Motors was the first company to bring it to market in a production vehicle. 


I also like the interior, I like the contrasting colors and textures and woods and carbon fiber. It reminds me of the Stevie Nicks song, leather and lace, there was just enough, or little, of each material to make the car interesting. 


What I didn't like is all the bells and whistles. I got in the door and turned on the machine and I thought I had turned on CNBC. All of a sudden there was this loud WHOOSH! I was waiting for a screen to pop up and the obnoxious and over used "breaking news" "Exclusive" that CNBC is known for to come up. Plug-in hybrids are supposed to be quiet, why fill them with obnoxious sounds? I don't know either. 


There is a bell or whistle for everything you do in the car. When the car shuts there's another obnoxious WHOOSH! At 5:00 am on a Sunday morning I was going to the Relay for Life, a cancer walk that goes on for 24 hours and someone has to walk to the circle. My girlfriend, Joyce, and I were walking for Peggy's husband, Don, who has been a cancer survivor for four years. We walk the last leg that starts at 5:30am. 


I get into the car and instantly, before I finish my first cup of coffee, I get the whoosh. I turn the lights on and go to turn the brights on and the car honks. At 5;00 am in the morning on a Snday morning. I still haven't figured out why Cadillac has the car honk when you flick your lights. If I'm flicking my lights at someone it to me is a lot gentler than honking my horn. If I want to honk my horn I will do that. Don't change the rules by combining the two. 



I love the car, it is a two seater, like many coupes, there is no room in the back for two more adults. It's over priced for a coupe, but a lot of coupes are overpriced. 


But to never buy gasoline again, that is priceless. 


Let's chat cars 



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Lou Ann 

Top 3 SUV's under $25k? Ideally looking for AWD. Thanks!

Anything Subaru, including the new Crosstek, Kia Sportage 

Mazda CX-5



The radio had an ad about the importance of car seats for infants and children. They said that more than half (maybe 3 out of 4) are not installed correctly. Why are the seats so hard to install? Would it be better if Ford, GM, and Toyota all sold car seats specifically designed for their cars? If car seats are so important, it seems that making them easy to install would be a higher priority.

Local fire stations nationwide are running programs to teach parents how to properly install ar seats. The fault isn't with the car companies any more than the improper use of smart phones is with the telephone companies. Folks need to pay attention. Thankfully, fire and police  officials are teaching them to do that.

Greetings! At 148,000 miles and counting, my 2002 Mercedes C230 Sportscoupe is beginning to show its age. I'm keeping it till it dies, but I'm also looking to buy another car before that happens. I want another C-Class 2-door, 2012-13-14. My question is whether the 17-inch tires on a C250 can handle DC-area snow or I should be looking at the 4Matic C300(?). I know from talking to other C230 owners that the sport package 17s on the coupe tended to get stuck in snow (I have 16s). I have no place to store tires so I need all-seasons rather than snows. Thoughts?

Get a 4matic C or E. For best winter traction, buy genuine snow tires. I recommend Blizzak.

We are ready for a new car and are strongly considering the Subaru Impreza for its cost, city-friendly size, and (important for my wife) all-wheel drive. Before we commit, is there anything else that we should be looking at or considering that is NOT a "cute-ute" (like the CRV, CX-5, etc)?

All of these are all-wheel drive and in the same price category as an Impreza. The Sportage is kind of a cute-ute but it's well positioned with content and should be looked at. 

2014 Subaru Forester

2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Legacy

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek

2014 Nissan Rogue

2014 Kia Sportage

I have an old Chevy S-10 that's getting long in the tooth. I would love to replace it with a small pickup with the Volt drivetrain or even a pure electric. Have either of you heard any rumors of anything like that coming to the market in the next few years?

Via is supposed to be coming out with an electric truck.

Dear Warren and Lou Ann, We're looking at <$10K for a replacement, Point A to B SUV. Occasional I-10 roadtrip. Like the safety of Boron steel and "Drive Safely" motto. Keys will be turned over to younger driver in a few years. Is there anything to pay attention to with the V8 XC90 AWD? Also found a 3.2T FWD. Just want a professional opinion. Thanks, AWD Mobile

Gasoline mileage is the first thing that comes to mind.  I6 mpg city and 25 hwy isn't much to cheer about. But, if you're okay with that, the XC90 is a go.

Ill tell you in my review of he same.

What did you think of the Post's review of the Mercedes electric car?

If anyone thinks the other car companies are standing still and letting Tesla create electric cars they are sadly mistaken. it is one of the biggest questions Tesla is going to have to answer - BMW and Mercedes are coming on strong with EV and PHEV. How long before the cult status following of Tesla goes back to the manufacturers that have dealerships already in place to service your car? I love the Tesla as well and hope they continue if only to keep the big boys on their toes. 

Why doesn't Honda add AWD to their Accord models---and I discount the ugly Crosstour. Thank you

I suspect that Honda is responding to its interpretation of demand, which isn't that great, at the moment, for AWD n the Accord.

Thanks for the response Lou Ann. It looks like Via is only selling to fleets at this time not to individuals. Oh well, maybe someday.

They will get there. Someday soon. There is more and more call for plug-in hybrids. As much as I hated the start up in the ELR I loved not buying any gasoline for the ELR. I remember watching the Streets of San Francisco with the big old cadillacs - could you imagine filling those cars up? 

You could have that kind of design again if we didn't have to worry about aerodynamics for fuel economy

It looks like the August doldrums here--so many people on vacation, so few questions. Not to worry, Lou Ann and I and the rest of our team will keep driving, researching until you all come back from wherever you are. Enjoy.

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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