Real Wheels Live

Dec 20, 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.

Hello! My husband has had his eyes on the Mazda 6 since the 2014 came out. I'll admit, it's a nice looking car and generally meets our criteria for our next car. But, in googling some images, I found the Mazda 6 Wagon. WOW! I would buy that car in a heartbeat. It embodies the beautiful design (and functionality) of the former Audi A4 Avant (before they discontinued that for the fugly Allroad). PLEASE tell me Mazda plans to bring us the Mazda 6 Wagon! This youngish mother needs some spice in her life!!

For the moment, looking at 2014, Mazda seems to be concentrating on the Mazda 6 sedan. But I would not be surprised to see the wagon entering the U.S. market as a 2015 model. The Detroit show next month should givae us a stronger indication of Mazda's market intent.

Hasn't it been said that Dec. is the best time of the year to buy a car? Do you agree?

If you're looking for a new car, yes this is a great time to buy a car. You have the option of the newest of new models available or great discounts on 2013 models.

And if you're trading in a car for a different brand ask if there is a conquest deal available. If you have a toyota and you're buying a chevy that means more marketshare for chevy. Manufacturers will sometimes give a spiff to the dealer for that. See if the dealer will pass it on to you.

Most of what has been said is myth. Go to your local library. Get a copy of Automotive News. Or, go online and look up or to see what is selling and what isn't, especially in your area. Check your finances; bargain accordingly.

Lexus offers an "Ultimate Luxury" package for its ES350. This is separately described and separately priced on their website but you must buy several other options if you want the package. A $3000 package becomes a $10000 package. In my opinion this is a misrepresentation of their product - the "Ultimate Luxury" package is not a package at all but rather a piece of a bigger package. This would be like Macy's advertising a pair of pants but when I go to the store I have to buy an entire suit. Any thoughts?

I never pay attention to "ultimate" claims. I adviseyou to be similarly skeptical, especially if procurement of the "ultimate" takes more from your bank account than what was originally planned.

I read that GM will debut the new Z06 at the Detroit Auto Show, which is shortly before the DC show. Is there any chance that they might bring one to DC too?

Yes. I don't think GM will make the same mistake In DC made last year by failing to bring the new Stingray.

How scrupulously objective are both of you? How much are you influenced by: ready access to manufacturer's reps; by special treatment of any kind; by extended free use of new vehicles or by outright gifts?

We don't have to go to any events, we don't have to talk to any of the reps. We could just stay home and drive the cars and report to you, but we don't because we get so much more information about the cars, whats new, what the designers are having to take into consideration for NHTSA, what new technology is coming out.

When I take a trip I am looking at everything and asking questions just so that I can answer all of your questions. I have affiliations/friendships now with reps so that I can email them your concerns. And it does make a difference.

Warren, have you driven the new BMW 4 series? BMW claims it is a different, better driving experience than the 3 series.

In early January, I'm told. In New York State. Looking forward to it.

Has there been anymore information made available about the upcoming new Miata?

On hold for Detroit, I think. You hear anything, Lou Ann.


Lou Ann here:

not yet

What is a spiff?

more money. sometimes it can be more cars or better cars, but it's usually more money

The conventional wisdom is that the best time to buy new cars is at the end of the month and, even better, at the end of the year. Does the same apply to used vehicles? We are looking at CPOs from luxury brands; are the dealers anxious to get those off the lot at the end of the month/year too?

Ignore the conventional wisdom, which is mostly wrong. Research your local market. Check,, to get an idea of what is selling and what people actually are paying for it. Check your finances. Nothing beats reasearch.

Were you referring to what Lou Ann said or something else?

Warren is in DC, I am in California. We don't see each others answers till they are published. If you put both of our answers together and remain skeptical about all grand advertising you will get a good deal.

We're looking to buy our college age child a used car. Have a max of 12K to spend (to include title, taxes, etc.). Looking at something reliable, safe and gets pretty good gas mileage. Suggestions?

Chevy Sonic, Chevy Spark, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Kia Soul, Mazda 2,  Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris

not Mitsubishi mirage.

Go to hyundai or Kia. Look for something such as Accent, Forte, or Elantra. You should find a good deal among those. Suffer NO objections from the college kid.

Here's another plea for that beautiful piece of design to make it to this continent. They've really nailed it with this latest redesign. Given how popular their 3 wagon/hatch is, I'm bummed that we haven't seen a 6 wagon since the middle of the last decade.

Mazda likes to get reactions first from its home market and the Europeans. My hunch is that the wagon will be coming in 2015, especially if its a hit at the Detroit show.

For certain accessories such as remote starters, backup cameras, etc. if they were not on the car when you bought it, but the dealer offers it as an dealer installed accessory you can buy after purchase, it is worth it to go back and have it done there as opposed to taking it somewhere else and having it done?

Ask the dealer if there is a warranty on it if the dealer does the installation, otherwise look for a reputable group that installs these items. You're dealing with the electrics of a car so make sure it doesn't violate a warranty of some type.

Never underestimate Maserati. The company has been smart in exploiting its rich-but-not-crazy niche. It will bring the latest Quattroporte here.

Do you ever listen to podcasts? If so, you'll love "Cars" from This American Life. You can listen online too, if you don't have another device. They track a NYC car dealer as they struggle to meet the monthly sales quota imposed on them by Chrysler. Great stuff.

Thank you. I'll listen in.

I don't know if I spelled that correctly, and I don't know if it is the best name for the American market (unlike Quattroporte, which sounds so much better than "four door"), but do you know anything about it? One was sitting in the mall the other day, and it looked great and cost only about half as much ($75K) as its big brother the QP. It seemed like a lot of Maserati for the money, if there is such a thing. Your thoughts?

I was in Shanghai at the auto show when they unveiled the Ghibli for the first time. They got like 2,500 orders at the show alone. I talked to Harald Wester, the CEO of Maserati, about the Ghibli and Maserati at that show and at the LA auto show. Here are the interviews

Here I am at the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy talking to the product person about the Quattroporte and Ghibli

Are there any great inventions or items you have seen in your recent memory that have stuck in your mind as a great gift for a car person? I know my wife loves the soft expandable filler that goes in-between the auto seats and middle console, since she loses change, food and other items there.

I like the box compartments for the trunk. It keeps items from rolling around. If you don't have heated seats on your old car you can get a pad that hooks into your cigarette lighter to heat your seat.

Are you looking for a gift outside the car for a car person, or in the car? What type of car?

I guess I'm confused, what is the myth? What research is there into if there is a better time of the month for buying a car? The conventional wisdom is that because of the commission system, you can get a better deal at the end of the month if a dealer or salesman needs to make their quota. I don't really know how to research that or not.

It's simple, really. If Car A is a hot-seller in your area, local dealers will be less likely to deal. If there is an over-abundance of models, which is currently the case with the 2013 Kia Soul, dealers will be more willing to deal. Research beats mythology in the marketplace.

1. Do the manufacturers pay attention to consumer comments in fora such as this on issues like whether or not to bring the Mazda 6 wagon to this market? 2. Have there been many instances where customers cried out for a certain model and then did not buy it when it arrived?

At every auto show there are people from the manufacturer watching to gauge what consumers think of the cars on the showroom floor. They will ask us what we think when we're driving them. It's a cutthroat business and they are looking for all the market research they can get.

Yes, there are times when people want a car but can't afford it or drive it and don't like the way it drives and don't buy it.

Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: I couldn't read last week's chat live, but his pertains to the question about the accuracy of GPS versus a car's speedometer. According to a WSJ auto Q&A from a few years ago, the GPS is more accurate. My aftermarket GPS shows my speed 5 km/h (3 mph) slower than the odometer. Link: Merry Christmas! Garey, Ottawa

I pay more attention to my car's speedometer. New GPS units can help, certainly by displaying local speed limits in relation to your actual speed.

If we're soliciting car gifts, can I suggest a gift certificate for a track day? (I can only hope my wife is reading, which she usually does...)

That would be a great gift. Have you ever done a winter driving class? That would be a good one as well. I did it Colorado and learned a lot.

One of the best things I bought my wife was the OnStar mirror and service. She is always running around, so it is a great feature to have that wasn't on the make and model she bought.

Yeah, that is a good one. And it can save life. Bravo!

Inside the car and she has a Toyota Camry. :-)

You're getting ideas from other chatters so look at the chat. They're trying to help.

Season's Greetings to all of you. Find love. Be safe. We'll see you again in January. Thanks to Matthew Monahan, Lou Ann Hammond, Victoria Manglapus, Michelle Dawson. Take care, everybody.

I bought my husband a subscription to XM Satellite Radio one Christmas. He drives about an hour to work to and back each day, and he says it makes his commute a little more bearable.

I love XM satellite. Great idea.

Next chat will be 1/3/14...thanks all!

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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