Real Wheels Live

Oct 25, 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


What would you do every morning and afternoon - in the car - if you didn't have to drive? If you had a car that drove for you? 


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Top Ten things people would do in driverless cars; Couch-Nets unite!


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Lou Ann, please, please, please correct Warren and tell him that CO2 from cars does not affect fog.

Then, she will have to correct every global car company, all of whom are tryin to reduce CO2 emissions from their vehicles.

I have a Mazda 2012 that spontaneously stalls while decelerating. It also stalls predictably on an incline. Mazda corporation has stated "the stalling on an incline is a characteristic of all CX-9 Models" and are not willing to fix it. They have informed me that stalling while decelerating in my car has not been able to be recreated by their tech so they are doing nothing about it. I have been in two near miss accidents. The car loses power steering and braking and the driver has little to no control when it stalls. Please watch this video of a brand new (loaner from the dealer while they looked at my 2012 CX-9) 2013 CX-9 (125 miles on it). This is the "characteristic" I am referring to, please advise future buyers of this very unsafe "characteristic". When it stalls in my driveway, I cannot brake "sharply" or effectively enough to stop the car from drifting into the road. Mazda refuses to help me. The car has been in the shop for 13 days, what should I do? Thank you, Michelle Welborn

I'll post this for Mazda's eyes. Help this person, Mazda.

Warren, Everytime I travel to Europe I'm sad that we don't get the best choice of cars on America. When in Sicily, I spotted and Audi A1 hatchback. Looked perfect for me. Alas, it will never come to these shores, will it? So many other sweet small cars in Europe that i would love to own.

Never say "never" in this business. If Audi finds a lucrative business planfor the A1 in the U.S., they'llbring it here.

What do you think about the 8 state electric vehicle agreement?

In addition to California, the pact includes Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. 

The sales of EV, PHEV, hybrids would be less than what they are now if states did not mandate sales of ZEV. 

California was the first state to mandate emission standards so they are allowed waivers from the Federal government, which pretty much means California sets the standards. 

41% of Californians are engaged in going green in some way. Many of us (yes, I still live in California) grow our own vegetables and fight against Monsanto. We have our own chickens because we don't like to eat hormones and antibiotics. 

This regulation is because the air in certain parts of California, and these other states, is bad. It is hurting your children's lungs. Those children are precious to us. They are our future. 

It's very little to ask to make sure our children get the cleanest air and best education they can. 

Warren - I haven't thought about buying, or bought a car in 12 years (!), but that time has come. For various reasons, I'm leaning hard towards a used car. What's the best place to get one? I'm not a car person, I don't talk the talk, and honestly, I'm not interested in doing a long, labor intensive search. Should I go to Carmax? Go to a dealer? Check the classifieds? Craigslist? Any thoughts on strategy or pros and cons of any of the above? Or is there a better option? Thanks!

I don't talk the talk . eother, mostly because I find most "car talk" barely literate. But I wouold go to Carmax,primarily because Carmax has taken good care of everyone I sent there. I'm now sending you.

My husband and I are looking for a small sedan for commuting. Priorities are mileage, reliability, reasonable space, and not terribly expensive. We're between a Civic and Carolla, and did not like the way the Mazda 3 or Elantra drove. Anything else we should consider? Thoughts between the Civic & Carolla? Prius C was too small.

Here is a list of the cars that you're looking in 

Chevy Malibu 

Ford Fusion

Honda Accord 

Hyundai sonata 

Kia Optima 

Nissan Altima 

Volkswagen Passat

I would also add Chevy Impala. 

What is it that you didn't like about the Mazda3? That one surprises me.

I would go with the Corolla only after I've test drove the others above. 

Let me know. 

Hi Warren and Lou Ann. I'm in search of a new hybrid and here's my specific question: I'm choosing (for now) between the new Honda Accord which gets up to 50 mpg OR trying to wait until next year's Prius comes out some time in the spring. Do you know anything about the new Prius - new features, updated MPG? Is it worth waiting or Should I choose between the current Prius and new Honda? If so, which would you spend your $ on?

I just drove the new Honda Accord hybrid that gets 50mpg and really enjoyed it. One of the nice parts about Honda is 96% of their cars come standard with backup cameras and/or sensors, which is really important to me especially if you hav e children. 

It also has a camera that when you put a blinker on it shows the next lane over. That's really important if there are 3 lanes because you might think your lane is clear, but the far right driver might be going into that lane as well. 

Honda is known for their fuel efficiency, but they are also very safety oriented. 

Here's a video about Honda with John Mendel, the EVP of American Honda a major greenhouse gas, to wit, one that contributes mightily to smog. Tailpies also emit carbon monoxide (CO1), which can killyou quickly if bresthed in a closed space. But CO2 contributes to smog.

I test drove and enjoyed both of these vehicles. The Passat was more fun to drive, however the interior didn't feel as comfortable as the Accord. The Accord was a solid car that comes with a number of bells and whistles that the passat charges extra for. I want a car that lasts 10 years as that is how long I have kept my previous vehicle. Have you had a chance to drive these cars? How do you compare them?

Both of them and I love both of them. What I appreciate is that you have taken the time to figure out what you want on a car and priced them both out. Those options can put a car out of your price range. 

Both are solid cars. You would be happy with either one. 

See the post above you about the attributes of the Accord that I like. 

Hi Warren, I bought a Ford Flex 2009 based on your advice and really love it. The one problem I have is that the middle row car seat seems to get stuck and I cannot access the third row (or climb over the middle row). I repaired it twice. I was just trying to google it and I noticed that when I do "ford flex midd" it completes with seat stuck. It clearly is an issue for a lot of people. Right now, I have car seats in the middle row and it doesn't matter but every summer I need to change the configuration and need to be able to access the third row. Any advice an how to get Ford to permanently fix it? I live in Boston, the car has 70k+ miles. I called several independent service shops and they tell me that they don't touch car seat mechanisms and I need to take it to the dealer. Thanks, Praveena

Thank you for writing. I'll post this for Ford's eyes. I doent't strike me as a safety issue. Otherwise, I'd also post it for the National Highway Safety Administration.

I have a 2003 Jetta GLI that has been a great car. I have been the only owner of this car during the past 10+ years. Recently, it seems like every few months I am putting in a few hundred dollars into replacing or fixing something different. Started with the CV joints, then the AC Compressor, then a leaking engine coolant hose, and I now have a faulty fuse which will cost $868 to replace. There are a few other things that will need to be replaced shortly. My question is this, should I continue to make the repairs on this car? Or, in your opinion, do you think it's time to put the money I would use in repairing the Jetta towards a new vehicle? Thank you.

The average new car costs $30,500. I doubt if you'll pay anything close to that on your current model. I'd make the repairs and keep the money.

I haven't been able to find any other sources that say CO2 from cars causes fog.

Try Wikipedia, mobile source air pollution. Also, go to the federal web site for the Environmental Protection Agency. Also, some middle and high school cemistry books will help.

I don't really get the CO2 = fog thing. Fog isn't really a global problem that anyone is looking to fix. On the other hand, SMOG certainly is.

Then I apologize inasmuch as I was referring to SMOG, not FOG.

Do you have your own chickens?


I have noticed a number of questions about the Jetta TDI and Hybrid models. Car and Driver did what I think is a nice comparison and I am wondering if you agree: Your chats are terrific! Thank you.

I really like what Volkswagen is doing. The other week someone asked about the hybrid in the VW and I wasn't correct. In a hybrid you usually get better mpg in the city, but because of the DSG gearbox VW gets better mpg on the highway. 

My friends from VW helped me with the explaination:

"While it is still a parallel hybrid, it uses a DSG dual clutch automatic gearbox rather than a CVT, and we have some features they don’t on the highway, such as coasting, where the engine is turned off and decupled from the drivetrain, to be re-engaged when needed. This helps the highway number relative to the city figure." 

Thanks Mark Gillies from VW 

Are you really confused about the difference between FOG and SMOG? They are not the same thing, you know.

Really ,get real. I thought the chatter was referring to SMOG. I'm no more confused abou SMOG and FOG than some people apparently are about CO1 and CO2.

Thanks for clarifying -- it was your references to fog that was causing the problem!

For which i humbly apologize.

I'm leaning towards the Mazda 3 due to excellent reviews and fuel economy. In general, I would prefer to buy a lightly used car to save some money, but I wonder if it would be worth the investment to get a new one in this case since they seem to keep improving. What would you recommend? Are there other safe, fuel efficient vehicles I should be considering that might be less expensive?

I'd go with the new Mazda 3, an all-around excellent small car.

Hiya Warren and Lou Ann Have you had a chance to drive the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagon? Is it much different than the previous Jetta wagon? What are the new and improved features, and what are the features that are different but are not as good as before? Has VW given up on introducing a Passat Sportwagon in the U.S.? Thanks for doing these chats. I always come out a little smarter about cars after the hour.

I drive it in two weeks. You, Lou Ann?

Will your review from a couple weeks ago be corrected to refer to smog instead of fog?

Of course. I meant smog.

Warren I am about your age and size. Bought a 2013 TSX earlier this year and like the car. What it is missing is 2 cylinders and a clutch --like II had in my 2005 TL. I had shopped around before buying the TSX and it was my first choice. What else is out there that might be more fun to drive? It wouldn't have to be a V6 , but manual transmission and sporty feel would be very nice. Thanks

Thego there's so much, too much for me to go throug in this space, I'd recommen a look at ww.edmunds.comor to get a totallisting and descripion od cars that compare with the TSX or TL.

I respectfully corrected you and asked whether you meant SMOG instead of FOG. You replied like an ass to another poster about looking up the effects of CO2 on FOG in wikipedia. Maybe you should apologize to that poster for being rude?

 I already did. As my late Mom always said, "it takes one to know one."

For the poster who asked about it, we have a 2012 model with the gas engine and have loved it so far (we ave around 27 mpg in city/highway). Our only wish: that VW would make a wagon the size of a Passat to increase the demilitarized zone between sharp elbows in the rear!

:) Mom, she looked at me! 

The never ending, generation after generation, sibling warfare. :) 

Thanks for the info. 

No question, really, just a comment: I bought a 2013 Honda Fit Sport and LOVE it. Handles great, is solid and immensely practical. Only gripes: it's underpowered and the gas tank (10.6 gal.) is way too small. I'd still buy another in a heartbeat.

The Honda fit is an economy car, a good one. Underpowered? I don't think so. It has enough power for what it is.

Panamera or XJ? Anything else I should consider? Can't spring for a Quattroporte, unfortunately . . . I will buy used, which gives the Jag the edge because it depreciates so fast.

I'd stick with the Jag XJ. Simple reason: I've never, ever understood the Porsche Panamera. The car makes no sense to me.

Thank you all fo joining us today. Please return next week. Sorry for the confusion over smog and fog. When it comes to motor vehicles, I am much more concerned about the latter. Thank you, Matthew Monahan and Lou Ann. Thank you, Ria Manglapus and Michelle Dawson. Eat linch, 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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