Real Wheels Live

Oct 18, 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.

Good morning Warren and Friends

The short list for NACTOY is out. Which of these vehicles would you vote for and why? Remember, you don't compare the vehicles against each other, but against the competition in its class. What makes the car you choose the best in it's class with the winner being the best value for the money?

This is the short list for the 2014 North American Car of the Year
BMW 4 Series
Cadillac CTS
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Chevrolet Impala
Infiniti Q50
Jaguar F-Type
Kia Cadenza
Lexus IS
Mercedes-Benz CLA
Toyota Corolla
This is the short list for the 2014 North American Truck/Utility of the Year
Acura MDX
Buick Encore
Chevrolet Silverado
GMC Sierra
Hyundai Santa Fe LWB
Jeep Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Toyota Tundra

The second contest is for the 2014 Green Car of the Year jury. Which would you vote for?
The Finalists:

Audi A6 TDI
Audi's 2014 A6 TDI blends excellent "green" credentials with unexpected levels of performance in a high efficiency vehicle. Its 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder TDI clean diesel engine with tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive provides 240 horsepower and 428 lb-ft torque, achieving 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. A start-stop system aids efficiency, as does a lightweight body that makes extensive use of aluminum body panels. This sedan features an EPA estimated 38 highway mpg that enables over 700 miles of highway driving range.

BMW 328d
Featuring the first 4-cylinder BMW diesel engine in the U.S., the new 328d combines exceptionally high fuel efficiency with the performance expected of BMW models. EPA estimated 45 mpg highway fuel economy is achieved with this sedan's 2.0-liter TwinPower clean diesel powerplant, which produces 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft torque. Efficiency is enhanced with engine auto start-stop and brake energy regeneration. A 328d Sports Wagon is also available. The models are offered in rear wheel drive or with BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system.

Honda Accord
Honda's popular Accord sedan aims to lead in the efficiency space with an array of efficient powerplant choices including four-cylinder, V-6, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid versions. Even the V-6, the largest engine option, nets 34 highway mpg with the four-cylinder rated at up to 36 highway mpg. The bar raises considerably with the Accord Hybrid at 50 city and 47 highway mpg, and the Accord Plug-In with its 47 city and 46 highway mpg on hybrid power. The Plug-In also offers an EPA rating of 115 MPGe, the highest of any mid-size hybrid sedan in the country.

The all-new third generation Mazda3, this automaker's best-selling model worldwide, is lighter, more efficient, and packed with advanced electronics. The 2014 Mazda3 features an appealing new design and has been built from the ground-up with Mazda's award-winning SKYACTIV technology. The 2.0-liter powered Mazda3 four-door sedan offers best-in-class 41 mpg highway fuel economy, with the five-door hatch coming in at up to 40 mpg. A more powerful 2.5-liter engine with an i-ELOOP capacitor-based regenerative engine braking system gets 38 mpg.

Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla has long been a best-seller due to its blend of efficiency and affordability. With the all-new 2014 Corolla, Toyota adds visual excitement, improved driving dynamics, and even greater efficiency to its popular compact sedan, achieving up to 42 highway mpg delivered by the model's Eco version. This level of efficiency is achieved with a 1.8-liter, 140 horsepower engine featuring the first use of Toyota's Valvematic technology in this country. A driver selectable ECO function moderates acceleration and optimizes on-board systems to enhance mpg.

Let's chat about cars

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Hi Warren and Lou Ann, I am 65, female, and live in the Catskills. I've driven cars with standard transmissions pretty much my whole life. But I am starting to get "phobic" about the clutch/gas movement when stopped on hills. It's time to move on to automatics. But I am just not comfortable driving them. I test drove a VW Passat with the DSG transmission, and it was nice to have the faux shift but that's not what I'm not comfortable with. It's the way the automatics start moving the second you put them in gear, the full power assisted brakes, etc. Any advice on how to get comfortable drivings these cars? I don't like the feel of floating down the road! Thanks, Catskill Woman

Thereare clutch cars designed to ease your phobia, those with "hill assist,"  a technology developed to hold your car in place while you shift on the hill. VW, Chrysler, GM, and Audi, I hink, offer some forn of hill assist. Check them out.

Do you ever get confused with Warren Brown, the baker?

Not anymore.

I don't often read car reviews by anyone who is not Warren or Lou Ann. But this week, while waiting out the government shutdown, I perused what others have had to say about the new CLA. In almost all cases, the reviews have asked whether this vehicle is worthy of being a Mercedes. Warren, you discussed whether this vehicle is worthy of consideration--compared to any vehicle you could spend your money on. The distinction is pretty important, and I thank you, Warren, for having your priorities straight.

Thank you and we are glad all of you are going back to work. It is awful when your employer tells you that you are non-essential and to stay home. You are not non-essential to us.

The CLA is a Mercedes. The S-Class is known as "the Mercedes" with the AMG variants being the top of the line sports cars.

It's tough to get the respect one should when your older brother is valedictorian and quarterback for the school and you're just an A student and on the football team. :)

In last week's review, you said that cars cause fog. Is that accurate?

Most fossil-fueled cars contribute to fog, which is why governmental environmental agencie everywhere are demanding that automobile manufacturers develop engines and exhaust systems that have lower carbon dioxide emissions, a major fog-causing agent.

Welcome back, federal workers. Your behavior on the job and on furlough was exemplary. Manyof us greatly appreciate your service. Unfortunately, none of us are in Congress.

Does the Audi A6 TDI also cut down on fog in the area, like the Q5 TDI?

It has the same pollution control technology. So, I would assume it does.

I propose that we change the name of the Washington Redskins to the Washington Federals in honor of all of the military and other federal employess who live in the Washington metropolitan area. We should change the team colors, too--from maroon and gold to Army/Marine green and Air Force/Navy /Coast Guard blue, with blue helmet and blue stripe running down the side of the herseys. How say you?

"...carbon dioxide emissions, a major fog-causing agent." Warren, don't you mean Carbon Monoxide, CO instead of CO2? I am personally a producer of CO2.

No, I meant CO2, carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide would kill all of us quite quickly.

Hi Warren & Lou Ann, When you were in Frankfurt a few weeks back, did VW have any updates on any new models being released in diesel? I'm hopeful for a minivan in diesel in the next year or two... Thanks!

I talked to Jonathan Browning President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America President, Volkswagen of America right before the Frankfurt auto show about 2014 and future products.

He talked about two of the vehicles he was personally spearheading to come to the US, one was a 7-passenger vehicle

If memory serves, there was a Washington Federals team in 1980s, in the long-gone United States Football League, so there might be copyright/trademark issues. The bigger point is that the name has to change. I believe it's just a matter now of time.

Snyder has enough money to handle a copyright dispute. The question is: Does he have enough common sense to scrap a name that is historically offensive to many of our fello citizens?

I don't always use all of the features on my car. Last winter, I switched from 2wd to 4wd during the snow and shortly later one of the indicator lights went on. I don't know if it was a cause and effect or not. As a result, I am sometime more hesitant to use a feature that I don't often use. If I haven't used Cruise Control in years, will using it now cause a problem? Should I use all features from time to time to prevent their parts from going bad?

Yes. The problem with having features, such as 4WD, on a vehicle and never using it is you don't know if it will work when you need it. Use them occasionally. I have a 20 year old car in my garage that I drive once a month just to make sure it is still running and there are no new leaks.

A friend complained on facebook about a person who seemed to take way too long to back into a parking space while others were trying to pass. Someone commented about the turn radius of cars being different when going forward and backwards and said it would be easier to back out of a narrow parking space than it would be to go forwards and that is why people should not back into a space in the first place. I found it an interesting point about the turn radius. Is it true?

A smaller turn radius would help. But that is not the problem here. It's selfishness. Rather than hold up traffic, why not drive around until a more convenient oarkin spot becomes available. That kind of driver behavior is a perfect metaphor for how the U.S. Congress functions--no thought what soever about the general good, no compromise.

How is that any different from waiting while someone backs out of a parking space? Where possible, I try to pull-through into a parking space so I can quickly and easily pull out. But I'm not opposed to backing into an open space, and hardly find it inconsiderate. Now, some people are horrible at backing up (whether into a parking lot space or a curbside space), which I believe is the real problem.

The bottom line is that it all would go better with more courtesy.

Because most of the time this doesn't happen. People wait to back out until the lane is clear. Those that back into a space make everyone behind them wait.

Yes, that is correct. It's great to back into a space because it's so much easier to leave, but one should only back in when no one else is waiting.

We're all in such a rush these days, I find myself purposefully letting someone go first if I can just because everyone is on edge and a little act of kindness will make a world of difference.

Like this subject - it's hard to believe that we have to discuss being cognizant of others, but we do.

Both the name, the sentiment behind the name, and the color choices are EXCELLENT. I hope that Snyder takes your suggestions seriously.

And perhaps pay Warren royalties for the idea? :) or at least season suite tickets.

Is Mazda bringing diesel to USA? Which models-cx5,3 or 6?

I thought it was the Mazda 6 but they're having some last minute issues with meeting some criteria and won't bring it till next year.

It simply takes more time. That's an empirical observation. When backing out of a parking spot, you follow the line you took to get in and hence it's easy to do. Backing in is an indicator of a willingness to hold everyone up for awhile for a little convenience.

Exactly why it should be done only if no one else is around.

Too often people back in when others are waiting, causing a line (especially in busy parking garages) and it's usually not a small compact car but a huge SUV. Please think about it.

which is wrong because the higher vehicles can usually see better than the smaller ones. It's just common courtesy that we all need to think about.

The name should change, but with the way they're currently performing, perhaps we should name the team Congress, but really, the entire conference really isn't doing too well.

Can we blame it on the shutdown?

We have a 2004 X3 that we would like to replace with a new one. Should we hold out for the diesel model? Will that be mid-2014 as rumored? Thank you.

The diesel would mean better fuel economy and more low-end torque. If you can wait and want it, I would.

But as I tell people. I would figure out what the amount of money is you would pay per month for the new car, start putting it away now and use it as a down payment when you do buy the car.

Thanks for all the questions. It's good to see that the questions and comments have gone back to sports and courtesy when driving instead of the blackness that Congress created.

Thanks Warren and Matt, our producer, for a great hour. Enjoy your weekend everyone, and remember

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly.

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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