Real Wheels Live

Dec 28, 2012

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.

Don't be fooled by those "final" and "hurry up" end of the year auto sales now pummeling the air waves. There's nothing "final" about them except, perhaps, the number 2012. They will morph into New Year's sales for 2013. Buy when you are ready to buy. Buy what you can afford to insure and maintain. Know your financial limits. Think longterm. Happy shopping!

Hello Warren and friends

Warren, So glad to hear Binta is better. Thanks Cornell Presbyterian hospital for taking care of Warren's daughter.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I had a few minutes to go back and clear up a couple questions.

Mr. Brown. Thanks for your Q&A. Have you seen or heard anything about the Hyundai CURB? It was showcased almost two years ago at Detroit as a concept Urban small SUV. Thanks.

It took 3 years for the Veloster to go from concept to production, so I would keep an eye out for the Curb to come out. According to Hyundai, this is a Hyundai concept and will not be seen in a Kia form.

Excess undercoating?
Hi! Have you ever seen excess undercoating on the bottom of a car? Yesterday my husband pulled off a small loose piece of something rubbery from the bottom of our 2013 Honda Accord (near where one would position a jack to change a tire on the driver's side in the front). Our best guess is that it's a bit of excess undercoating but we aren't sure. Thanks!

I asked Honda PR and this is their answer:

Lou Ann,
All of our cars, including the 2013 Accord do receive a light undercoating at the factory, primarily to absorb sound.  It does feel a bit rubbery, and at the jack point, which sticks up at the edge of the coated area, some excess can be seen at times, because of the raised shape.  A bit of undercoating coming off will not cause any problem with the car since all of our cars receive special metal treatments before they're painted to help them resist corrosion, and the undercoating's primary purpose is to quiet the cabin.

In the market to replace a 2004 Acura TL which has served us well. Would like an AWD under 50k. Any guidance on a car to pick or how to go about selecting one. Only criteria - can't be general motors. Will be used mainly for commuting from Fairfax to the district. Thanks!

What about the new Ford Fusion AWD. I was going to suggest something from Lexus, but can't seem to find an AWD under $53K.

There is an Acura MDX, plenty of Audi quattros, BMW with an X on it is all-wheel drive, Buick Lacrosse has an all-wheel drive, cadillac has awd, even the new ATS.

Lots of AWD under $50,000. Good Luck. Narrow it down a little and email us again.

Yeah, it's another "end of the year" piece of journalism which always leaves me skeptical. Some good generic points. But, still, reader beware.

I swore I'd never get an SUV, but I want to be up a little higher than in my coupe. Why don't they make smallish SUVs, like the old two door RAV 4?  My question really is what is a small SUV that I should look into getting that isn't a monster on the road and for parallel parking? Is the Juke the one?

So many, among them: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Samta Fe, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota Rav4, Kia Sorento, to name a few.

Also consider the new Buick Encore.

Dear Mr. Brown: I just looked at both vehicles at the dealership - other than gas vs hybrid, they're nearly the same, even in price! I'm downsizing from a 6 cylinder minivan and don't want to feel like a skateboard on the road or be under powered. What's your opinion on these vehicles?

I love the C-Max, although there is quite a bit of debate over its mileage claims. I got in the neighborhood of 33 mpg highway in my usage. Not 40 mpg, as advertised. But that did not bother me. It is such a great little car/wagon around the city. Also good for long-run commutes. But, if you want a slightly more robust wagon/crossover, go with the Escape.

We will need a replacement car in the next year, and would like the room of a Prius V.  For financial reasons, we may have to buy used, and I doubt such a new model will be available as used in that timeframe. Is the Toyota Matrix similar in capacity, trunk lift-over (or lack thereof), and height of the step-over to get into the vehicle?

Good morning!

You may want to take a second look at the Prius V. The Ford C-Max outsold the Prius V in its first month on the market, so Toyota may have some better incentives if they want to recapture that market.

Yes, the Matrix would be similar in capacity, so would the Volkswagen Jetta station wagon.

I can buy a used 2006 Lexus RX450h for about the same money as a non-hybrid of the same year. I'm concerned about the possibility that the hybrid battery or electric propulsion system could die after the warranty expires. What's your take on reliability of used hybrid vehicles?

Based on field reports from Carmax and other outlets, used gas-electric hybrids last just as long as their traditional gas-only counterparts. Yes, batteries will wear out, like anything else. Replacement? You're looking at about $3,500.

Warren, Good morning. I really like the looks of the Veloster and am not a guy who needs to go 0-60 in a nanosecond. So will I be fine with not getting the Turbo and saving tons of gas money? I really like the lines and the 3 door concept. Thanks.

I love the lines of the Veloster and the 3-door concept.

I'm not someone who has to have the 0-60 either, but I like the ability to go up a hill when I'm merging on a highway and the turbo gives the Veloster the added ummph needed to do that.


Best wishes to everyone in the New Year. Please remember to be careful on the roads. No drinking and driving. Thanks Dominique and Warren for all the fun times on the chat and thanks all of you for chatting with us.

And remember, never drive faster than your Angel can fly.

See you in the New Year, see you at the Washington auto show.

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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