Real Wheels Live

Nov 01, 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

I want to thank you for all the information you give Warren and myself. I was on CNBC the other day talking about marketshare, brand loyalty and profits. I was asked, by Mandy Drury, co-host of street signs, about how consumers see reliability tests and what it means to them. I was able to tell them that I talk to you - consumers - every Friday on this chat. I told them what I thought because of what you say.

Thank you

Let's chat about cars

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On Sunday, the following 60 MINUTES segment may be of interest:


Warren, have you driven the Lexus IS 350? Can you compare to BMW 335? Thanks

I will drive the BMW 335i towards the end of November. I have to speak to the Lexus people.

is here to stay, thanks to worldwide governmental regulations cracking down on fuel economy and smog-causing carbon dioxide emissions. All manufacturers are working on improving the "feel" of that tecnology with the aim of making it seamless.

Sorry, I forgot about the time difference and didn't get to the chat in time to reply. We didn't like the "feel" when we stopped accelerating (but not putting on the brake) Apparently the Hyundai was even worse, I didn't drive that one. There was just a little bit of a lag/lack of responsiveness that we didn't notice in the Honda and Toyota. We've disliked a number of new cars we've driven and think it's something to do with some of the newer CVT's and "eco" tunings. (The Mazda wasn't near as bad as a Ford we got as a rental car though) The Accord and Sonata are bigger than we want (really mileage is the biggest consideration). We hadn't considered any of the other makers due to reliability concerns, we plan to keep the car for quite awhile. Will the Chevy's and Ford's really hold up for 10/15 years and 150,000+ miles like the Honda's and Toyota's tend to? What makes you recommend say the optima over the civic? Sorry for all the questions, just trying to figure out why the optima and altima etc make your list, when they weren't even thoughts on ours. Thanks so much!

I posted this link this morning, but I will post it just for you. I talked about reliability and what it means to consumers. The average age of a vehicle is 11 years old, well beyond most warranties. People are concerend about the hidden costs after the warranty is gone.

Hyundai has a 10 year/100,000 warranty. I think Kia does, but I am checking now. I will let you know.

Yes, CVTs can be less responsive. Nissan has started getting a better feel for their CVT. I'm still surprised you didn't like the mazda 3 (I'm assuming this is the chatter from last week, even though you didn't say specifically). I enjoyed the Mazda drive.

Yes, Chevy and Ford are holding up better. Did you get the Consumer Reports reliability test that just came out?

I just checked with Kia and they say that Kia’s comprehensive warranty does cover 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Warren, my sense car makers, even Germans seem to be more interested in building cars with luxury features than providing a real fun driving experience. What cars would you recommend---I don't care about having "my favorite scent" (MB new feature) or reading my email in my car.

If you don't want the "infused scent" of MB, buy the fun-to-go, no-scent performance of the new M-B CLA. As far as luxury is concerned, BMW, M-B, Lexus, Cadillac et al are all luxury marks serving five percent of the world's wealthiest buyers who, unlike the upper and lower middle classes, have increased their incomes in the last nine years.

Have you had a chance to review a Tesla model yet?

I have driven the Tesla Roadster (back when Martin Eberhardt was CEO and co-founder, at Pebble Beach). I have set inside the S, seen the X.

I have not reviewed one because I haven't spent enough time in one. I love the concept, love the fit and finish of the car and loved the way the Roadster felt when I drove it.

Hi Warren and Lou Ann. I'm starting to enter the market for a new car, and a lot of the cars that appeal to me have turbos as standard equipment (Escape, Fusion, Passat, etc). I would normally avoid turbos, but in many models, a non-turbo choice is unavailable. I normally keep my cars for 10+ years, so reliability is a big deal with me. Are turbocharged engines any more likely to have repair issues (or age badly) than non-turbocharged engines? For some reason, I associate turbos with problems. Is that still true, or am I remembering the 1980s too much? Thanks.

Today's turbocharged engines are not yesterday's technology. They are substantially more reliable, increasingly seamless in actual operation, more durable. Most manufacturers offer non-turbo equivalents. Check,, for samples,

I called my local Honda dealer and the 2014 Accord Hybrid will not be available until late November/early December. Do you know the reason for the delay? Thanks.

Do you consider that late because you want to buy it now? I don't remember that it was supposed to come out earlier. I just drove it and loved it. Love that it has a backup camera as standard and love that it has a camera in the NAV that shows the right lane when you put the blinker on to turn right.

It's spacious, intuitive and has a good drivers seat. You will enjoy it if you buy one next month.

I figure I'll be in the market for a new hatchback in the next year or two, so I'm keeping an eye on the segment. Have you guys driven the Fiesta ST? It seems to be a bit cheaper, a bit smaller, a bit slower, and a bit more efficient than it's Focus big brother. Is it all that different? How does it match up against the Focus, GTI, and Mazda[Speed] 3.

The hatcback segment is growing quickly, largely because that is all 90 percent of us can comfortably afford. Check out the 2013 Car Affordability Study by, a company specializing in personal finance. It is a sobering eye-opener. Of the hatchbacks mentioned, my favorite is the Mazda3.

Hi Lou Ann, A couple weeks ago I wrote in asking about what and when VW would offer diesels here and you sent me a link to one of your columns. Either both the computers I tried to use don't have the correct video software, or there's something wrong with the video link. Can you tell me where I could find a transcript of the video, or just tell me what VW's will be here as diesels and when they'll get here? Thanks!

Short answer from Warren:

VW and Audi already have a slew of diesels here. Check "diesel" at, You'll get every diesel now being offered in the Unite States.

Lou Ann here:

The reason I post the url is because I can't remember everything Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW USA said, but it was about future product and diesel.

Try again - we had some issues with our site, that may have been the problem -

This is what the post says:

Jonathan Browning President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America President, Volkswagen of America, Inc. talked to Lou Ann Hammond, CEO, about the 2014 Volkswagen full-lineup.

Quality and reliability have been an Achilles heel for Volkswagen over the years. Has Volkswagen been able to gain customer satisfaction? How do they measure this? Will Volkswagen offer a longer warranty? What about free service for a limited number of years?

Car-net is a new service being offered by Volkswagen. Is it free?

In 2012 438,000 units were sold in the United States by Volkswagen. The goal is to sell 800,000. How are they going to meet that goal.

What are the two new vehicles that are hot on Browning’s list of wants and must-haves for Volkswagen? How close is Volkswagen to formalizing both of these vehicles?

I agree with you that there is no reason to shy away from a turbocharged engine. I have had several VWs with the 2.0 turbo and they have always been reliable (turbocharger, engine, and entire car for that matter). I would use synthetic oil, which I think most manufacturers recommend. I just bought a Fiat Abarth, where the turbo totally transforms the car.

TOTALLY transforms the car! The Abarth is the way to go on the 500, though I would have purchased the Fiat 500L which has as much interior space as the Chrysler 300.

My lease is ending on a BMW 135. I adore the car, but I my commute has doubled and I need something a little more commuter-friendly. Looking at the Ford Fusion hybrid and the Ford Fiesta Titanium. I prefer a manual transmission, although the hybrid’s gas mileage might be enough to convince me otherwise. Most importantly, I’m looking for something in a reasonable price range, good gas mileage, that would still come with most of the creature comforts (leather, heated seats, navigation, etc.). Thoughts between these two? Should I be looking at anything else?

I'd get the Ford Fusion hybrid and save gasoline, or the Ford Fusion Titanium and spend more on gasoline...and be perfectly happy. We are facing a dilemna, assuming you are a part of the 95 percent of us who haven't seen a real rise in income since 1999. BMW is reaching down because fewer people are able to afford BMW. Companies such as Ford are being forced to offer higher contented cars at lower prices. Follow that strategy.

Hello, do you know if Honda is planning on dropping the direct fuel injection engine from the new accords into the CRV and plan on offering a hybrid version (ala Subaru's XV Crosstrek) in the near future?

Not me. You, Lou Ann?

Lou Ann here:

I have not heard but the response to their new hybrid has been impressive so I think you will see more of the new direction coming out on future cars.

Yes this is the same poster from last week; and this does clarify your answer. We aren't as worried about length of warranty as the car generally being trouble free. We've had great track records with Honda's and Toyota's in that regard, and the CR's we saw indicated that we could expect the same now. My husband didn't like the Huyndai enough for us to even consider the warranty. We checked consumer reports a few weeks ago when we started looking. Not sure if they've been updated since. (and it wasn't so much that the Mazda was bad, but wasn't as responsive as the Civic and Carolla) Also the mileage on the Civic and Corolla is hard to beat.

Review CR. It is now giving Toyota and Honda a hard time for "poor" performance in offset crashes, as if we can predict the kinds of crashes we are going to be in. Personally, I'd take any small car from Honda, Toyota, Hyundai or Kia. I humbly suggest your husband get over his Hyundai-Kia bias. Those South Korean companies make good, reliable cars.

Lou Ann here:

I'll post what I can from consumer reports here.

Audi, Volvo, and GMC captured three of the top-10 spots in the survey this year. Three Japanese brands, Lexus, Toyota, and Acura captured the top three spots in the survey.

Audis, the A6 sedan, Q7 SUV and Allroad wagon, have “much better than average” reliability. Volvo
jumped 13 places to seventh. GMC emerged as the top domestic brand, finishing ninth—three places
higher than last year. Moreover, every model from Audi, GMC, and Volvo, for which CR has data,
earned an average or better reliability score.
The top predicted-reliability score went to the redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester SUV, which
hadn’t been on the market for very long when CR conducted the survey. The Ford C-Max Energi plug-in
hybrid got the worst score, and the regular C-Max Hybrid wasn’t much better.

General Motors fared better than other domestic brands. In addition to GMC, Buick climbed nine
slots to 12th place over last year. All Buicks except the V6 LaCrosse were average or better. The only
dark spots for Chevrolet are the Camaro and Cruze, both of which earned below-average reliability
Japanese brands took seven out of the 10 top spots in the survey. Nissan sank to 22nd among the
28 brands in the rankings. As a group, the nine Japanese brands in the survey still produce a remarkable
number of reliable cars.

All Lexus and Acura models earned an above average reliability score while all
Infiniti, Mazda, and Toyota models earned an average or better reliability score.

Two popular models, the redesigned 2013 Honda Accord V6 and the 2013 Nissan Altima, scored
too poorly in the survey for Consumer Reports to continue Recommending them.

Mazda slipped from fourth to fifth. The redesigned Mazda6 debuted with above-average
reliability. Subaru and Scion, which also typically rank well in reliability, were torpedoed by their twin
sports cars, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S, which scored below average. This dropped Subaru to
10th place, from last year’s fifth. Scion, for which CR had only two models with sufficient data, sank
from first place to 11th this time

Hybrids and electric cars continue to do well. The Toyota Prius, Lexus ES 300h, Toyota Prius C,
and Honda CR-Z hybrids, as well as the Nissan Leaf electric car, were among the top models. Ford’s CMax
and Fusion hybrids were the only exceptions.
The Tesla Model S electric car performed well enough in the survey to earn a Recommendation
from CR for the first time. CR gathered data on more than 600 2012 and 2013 models. Owners of the
2012 model reported very few problems, although 2013 owners reported quite a few more. Problem areas
included wind noise, squeaks and rattles, and body hardware (including the sunroof, doors, and locks).
Of the 31 Ford models in Consumer Reports’ survey, only one, the F-150 pickup with the 3.7-
liter V6, was above average. Seven achieved an average score. Ford’s challenges don’t end with the
historically problematic My-Touch systems. Several EcoBoost turbocharged V6 models have poor
reliability as well. Almost two-thirds of the 34 Fords and Lincolns in our survey got scores that were
much worse than average.
Chrysler is still below par overall, but a bright spot is the very nice Chrysler 300 C which scores
above average—last year it was the company’s most troublesome vehicle. Unfortunately, some of
Chrysler’s most reliable models, such as the Jeep Compass and Patriot SUVs, didn’t score well in
Consumer Reports’ testing, while the better performing 2014 V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee has fallen well
below average reliability.
In recent years, Hyundai and Kia were beginning to challenge the Japanese at the top of
Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings. In 2011, they scored well ahead of Detroit and most European
companies. But they slipped a bit in the 2013 survey, with Kia ranking midpack and Hyundai sliding to
21st place.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz remained around midpack among all brands. Most models from those
German badges are average or better, with each company having a few problem children: the BMW 335i
and turbocharged six-cylinder X3, and the diesel-powered Mercedes M-Class. Volkswagen, which turned
in a middling performance, was especially hampered by the trouble-prone Beetle, GTI, and Touareg. All
three Minis in our survey made a very poor showing.

Complete reliability report and results for all models are available at
today, and in the December issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands November 5.


I've only tried one computer but am getting the same error message: "Error loading media: file not found". Bottom line, what did he say about a mini-van? Anytime soon?

? I tried it on my computer, two different browsers - firefox and safari. what computer and which browser? thanks for the help.

I have gone in and listened now.

He says he is personally making it his mission to have a station wagon TDI and a SUV 7-seater.

May want to see if the new 2 series is more to their liking. Smaller than the 3 series and more like the original 3 series than the current one. Current 3 and 4 series are fat and overweight. The steering and brake feel which is what separated BMW from rest of the back is numb and non existent. BMW's draconian policy of run flats hurts the 3 series handling and ability to be used for long distance travel through rural areas. Also important when considering a BMW is the dealer. Clifton, VA

Thank you.

The hybrid was suppose to release on Halloween. I'm just wondering if there is a reason for the delay in delivery. My 2003 Honda Accord with 190,000 miles can wait will server me perfectly well until the new Honda is released. Thanks.

Trick or Treat? :)

I haven't heard of a delay, but that was just yesterday. go online, there might be some for sale in other dealerships.

I did see something about the crash tests, I'll have to investigate further. The Hyundai dislike wasn't bias, we were really impressed, until we got behind the wheel. (except for the "patch kit in leui of spare tire" patch kit won't help at all if you have sidewall damage)

More companies are beginning to get rid of the spare tire, which is why some are experimenting with run flats and others are offering patch kits. Spare tires are weight. Weight negatively affects fuel economy. The idea of run flats and patch kits is to get you to safety for a more complete repair.

Lou Ann, I like the features you mentioned for the Accord Hybrid, including the NAV camera that works in conjunction with the right blinker. However, I have two small dogs and carry them in crates in the back of our small SUV. Is there any car that has that same NAV back-up camera that also has, at minimum, back seats that fold down, or preferably, a station wagon type of design?

You can get the back-up camera (get the sensors too if you have to/can purchase them) but if you are looking for a car that has a back-up camera standard I have created a comprehensive list of vehicles.

Really NHTSA, back-up cameras and/or sensors should be standard. 2 children every week are killed in backup accidents.

May also want to look at the Ford Escape, The Hyundai/Kia twins in this class, VWs entry and the Jeep Cherokee. If the Cherokee can deliver all the technology crammed into it in a reliable manner it could become the class leader. Cherokee has models for soccer dad and for moms who want to transverse the Rubicon. Jeep could even put a diesel in this model,Clifton, VA

Thank you.

Congratulations on  your new job as Lambhorgini PR.

Here's the real breathtaking Lambo news: Barely five percent of the world's population can afford to buy it. If that.

Lets all remember this is not in any way a scientific survey and has a very unique audience ie CR subscribers who choose to respond to the Reliability survey. Small and unique sample size makes the rating suspect as does some of things automakers gat dinged for like not enough cup holders or cup holders being to small for example. These are not real reliability issues. CR should be one source. The major car mags all do long term test on new vehicles. Clifton, VA

You are correct, Clifton, CR doesn't say how many people actually responded and some of these respondents have had their cars for many years.

But, CR is highly regarded and influential in helping consumers make these buying decisions based on reliability. To dismiss them would not be prudent.

Has a wide ane ever expanding definition. I saw your piece on CNBC, Lou Ann. I love you, but disagree. For one thing, the sales numbers don't match your thesis.

Just change the oil every 6000 or so miles and use a quality synthetic ie Castrol, Mobil 1, Valvoline, or pennzoil. Do not ever use Amsoil. Also after running a turbo hard it is always a good idea to let it idle for a while before shutting off. Was more of an issue back when turbos first came out but still recommended today. Clifton, VA


Was more of an issue back when turbos first came out - a long time ago.

Please note readers - it is Clifton's own personal bias, not anyone else's saying not to use Amsoil. One person does not a Consumer Report make.

Thank you all for joining us today. Please return next week. Thank you Matthew Monahan, Lou Ann Hammond, Victoria Manglapus, and Michelle Dawson. Eat Lunch. Have a great weekend, everybody.

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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