Real Wheels Live

Dec 30, 2011

Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown will discuss the auto industry. Plus, he'll give purchase advice to readers.

Warren is off today. His internet service is taking a break. But  we're going on with the show.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful week of too much food and lots of presents.

Let's get to the questions

Do you have any feelings about this?: Do you feel that there is a future for businesses that rent electric cars by the hour?

I believe there is a business for rental cars by the hour. In San Francisco, and other metropolitan cities, they have had car rental, and car sharing.

As cars become more expensive to own, especially in the urban areas, you will see this take hold.

Hotels have had car services for a long time. It makes sense that they can offer electric cars because they have the ability to recharge them.

And what a benefit to the customer - if the car rental is $15 an hour, or $95 a day and you don't have to pay for gas!

Toyota announced it will begin selling the Prius C (Aqua) in Japan and it will get 83 mpg but I've also read it will only get 50-60 mpg when it goes on sale here. Why such a big discrepancy? Thanks.

For those who don't know Toyota is coming up with a whole lineup of Prius. The Prius C is a compact hybrid hatchback. It will be shown at the Detroit auto show. The same auto show Warren will receive a lifetime acheivement award.

Japan has a different testing cycle than the United States. This tells me it could be rated a little higher, that Toyota might be hedging their bets.

I'll let you know after the auto show.

My dad has a 1993 Corolla and I have been talking to him lately about buying a compact car made in the 21st century with better safety features to haul the grandkids around in. I'm thinking about cars made around 2003 or so. I'm looking at Civics, Sentras, and Corollas. Would you recommend any other vehicles to research that would come under $10k? Thanks.

It's a life cycle we all go through: we buy for safety when we have children, a fun car when we don't, and for safety when we have grandchildren. :)

I don't think you have to go back as far as 2003. I did a story in 2009 listing 71 cars under $15,000

Here it is

go to or or any other big search engine that lists all the prices and look for cars under $10,000.

Hyundai and Kia have really raised the bar on how much they offer as standard at low prices. I would start there. They also have the best warranty.

Tell Grandpa congratulations on his grand babies and thanks for thinking of their safety.

Hi, Warren and Lou Ann: Happy New Year! I was too busy to catch last Friday's chat live, but I saw Lou Ann's question about daytime running lights. It's mandatory for all cars sold in Canada to have daytime running lights. That law came into effect beginning with the 1990 model year. By the way, I was on an Ottawa highway recently, and someone was driving at night with only DRLs. His car probably doesn't have automatic headlights for night driving. (Automatic headlights should be standard on all cars.) Makes for dangerous driving if cars following you can't see your taillights.

With all the rules and regulations we have in the U.S., Canada beat us to that one.

I remember visiting my Northern relatives and seeing all the daytime running lights and was told it was mandatory.

Thanks for confirming it.

Can you tell me anything about the 2013 RDX and 2013 Rav4? When can we see them (i.e. the 2012 Washington Auto Show)? Also, will there be a hybrid option for the Rav4? I have looked for spy shots of both cars but have not been able to find anything? Also, will there be a future hybrid option for the 2012 CRV? Charles in DC

Hey Charles,

Most of the new cars will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show next week. The Washington auto show will probably have the car there, but it wouldn't be an unveil.

I assume the same for the 2013 RAV4.

Unveils are usually at four shows in the United States: Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York. That's where you find all the journalists.

The other auto shows will show all the cars that are unveiled at those shows. Washington auto show is picking up steam, mainly because of all the political types they can bring locally. It's a smart play for that show.

I drove the 2012 Honda CRV and don't remember a hybrid version. I really like the verrry refreshed version. It is up for North American truck of the year award. The award will be announced on the 9th of January. It is up against the Range Rover Evoque and the BMW X3.

A friend of mine that owns the 2nd generation CRV saw the 2012 4th generation and will probably buy it, so if you're a previous owner I think you will like it as well.

Why don't they let you sit in the newest models? Those are the cars we want to see how we "fit" without the pressure of a sales person. Will you be there? Where?

When Warren and I go to the auto shows we go on press days, the two days before the auto show. Except for the Washington auto show. I think Warren lives there the whole auto show. :)

I am thinking of going to the Washington auto show, though I live in California. It would be fun to meet some of the people we chat with.

I thought they did let you sit in the car? I remember seeing them take the ball off the stick shift and the asked them why and I was told that because if it wasn't nailed down or sewn on it would be gone by the end of the auto show. Memorabilia :)

Part of the reason car manufacturers might not let you sit in the cars anymore would be it is too hard to have someone there monitoring everyone who sits in it. If it is a new car and you have a pen in your back pocket and it sticks through the leather, there goes a seat.

Multiply that by 100,000 people and that car isn't sellable.

That is just my theory, though.

Thank you for your help! I am looking for an American made fuel efficient car, with a preference for an SUV or other four wheel drive option. The 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid was high on my list, but most of the online reviews suggest it's clunky and dated. Do you agree, and do you know if the 2013 is supposed to be any better? I don't need luxury or fancy electronics, and was hoping to get a 2012 cheap after the 2013 model is available. Any other suggestions for vehicles I should look at? I've been driving a 2003 Ford Mustang and LOVE it but need a more practical car this time around.

Ford will not be making the Escape hybrid anymore. If you want an American brand you could get the Chevy Equinox hybrid.

If you want American made I would suggest the Subaru Forester. It is made in Indiana.

Warren, I need some advice from you. I lease a 2011 Sonata SE that has been trouble from the start. The horn had to be replaced the first week, the fuel door sticks, and now the driver's side power window intermittently fails to respond to the toggle switch. I've had in the dealership twice for attempted repairs, and they replaced the window motor, but the problem is still occurring. The dealer claims that they can't duplicate the problem. The lease isn't up for another 18 months, and because the car is registered in the District, I would have to hire an attorney to try to get some relief under the lemon law. What do you think is the best route for me to take? I called Hyundai Motor Finance and got the pay-off amount to early termination of the lease. I'm thinking of doing that and then trading in the Sonata as soon as I get my hands on the title, but I will lose thousands that way. But I also need a working power window since I have to open the window to get in and out of my home's and office's underground parking garages. Do you have any suggestions? I'm losing sleep over this.

I have already sent your post to Hyundai. I have had the most response from Hyundai, BMW and Ford on posts I send to them when I get problems.

Email me at lou at and I will see what they have to say and let you know.

Hyundai Motor company is very vigilent about these problems. Email me.

Warren and Lou Ann, enjoy the conversations. I just wanted to know if you have heard from GM when they are going to release the new Chevy Colorado that is currently being built in Thailand to the US. They haven't done anything to make the current Colorado worth buying so I figured they were waiting until they released the new one. Also will the next generation Colorado be offered with the diesel engine that is being offered in Thailand?

GM hasn't said, but the big question is whether we get the diesel engine in it.

I will see GM next week at the auto show and ask them.

Thanks for taking the questions today. Even though my VW GTI has only 60k miles on it, I'm itching to get a new car because of all the reliability problems I've had with the VW. My wife and I are in our early 30s and plan to have some kids in the next couple of years. I like cars with sporty handling, so traditional SUV's won't work for me. I've narrowed down to two choices: Acura TSX wagon, or Subaru Outback. Should I look at any others? I'm looking to spend $30k or less. Thanks.

Subaru Outback. Tried and true.

Warren, first my wife is enjoying her Chevy Cruze (brought in July) and I have to admit it is a great car. I happen to be the BMW 3 series person so can you ask Buick to add rain sensing wipers and a inside trunk release to the Verrano (the only thing stopping me from trading in 2004 BMW for the Buick).

Wow, with all the standards they have on the Verano I didn't realize they didn't have rain sensing wipers.

I will send them this email and get back to you.

I love the Verano as well. Have you seen the Chococinno interior? My favorite. And it is soo quiet.

email me at and remind me.

What are you thoughts on the Mini Countryman?

The Countryman S is worth getting, with the AWD option for snow.

Everyone have a Happy New Year. Drive safe, enjoy the time with friends and family.

Thanks to Matt for all the help today. 

Talk to you in the New Year.

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Warren Brown
Warren Brown has covered the cars industry for The Washington Post since 1982.

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Lou Ann Hammond
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