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Warren Brown
Warren Brown
(The Post)
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Real Wheels
Hosted by Warren Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 16, 2003; 11 a.m. ET

Warren Brown is back to talk about all your automobile issues! He has been covering the automobile industry for The Washington Post since 1982. Brown, who joined the newspaper in 1976, has what many people think is a particularly cool job: He gets to test drive all manner of cars, from top-of-the-line Mercedes sedans and the newest sports cars to Volkswagen Beetles and SUVs. His auto reviews are lively, detailed accounts of a car's good and bad points, addressing everything from a car's highway performance to its "head-turning" factor and sound system.

He regularly comes online Wednesdays at 11 a.m. ET to answer your questions on every aspect of the automotive industry -- from buying your dream car to the future of the internal combustion engine.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Warren Brown: Greetings from the New York International Auto Show, where the world's automakers are introducing 29 new cars and trucks, including nine all-new models from North American manufacturers. The show at the Jaco Javits Center is open to the media today and tomorrow. The public show opens April 18 through the 27th.

Fairlington, Va.: From today's Post, regarding new restrictions on off-road diesel vehicles: "The proposed rules would slash off-road diesel emissions by as much as 95 percent and bring them in line with recently adopted standards for heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses . . . Agency officials estimate that within 30 years the new rules will prevent more than 9,600 premature deaths annually and save tens of billions of dollars a year in hospital and medical costs and lost workdays. Officials concluded that the projected savings in lives and medical-related costs -- more than $80 billion a year -- would far outweigh the estimated $1.5 billion in annual increased costs to industry to retrofit plants and refineries to produce cleaner diesel fuel and cleaner-burning engines."

How do these new rules effect efforts to clean up on-road diesel-powered vehicles? Granted, on-road diesel vehicles don't present nearly the health problem that off-road diesel vehicles do, but don't the numbers, in terms of cost savings alone, support legislation for massive reductions in on-road as well?

washingtonpost.com: Tougher Rules Unveiled For Diesel Emissions (Post, April 16)

Warren Brown: Good morning, Fairlington:
Off-road diesel models essentially are construction and earth-moving vehicles. The EPA's proposal to clean up those diesel burners is in keeping with its longstanding efforts to reduce diesel emissions/particulates in other heavy runners, such as 18-wheelers.
Key to these efforts is the production of super-low-sulfir diesel fuel, which the heavy-duty trucks are suppose to start burning by 2006.

Heavy-duty trucks, at the moment, are the primary on-road diesel vehicles.

It's all to the good.

The Europeans already are running second-generation, clean-burning common-rail diesel injection engines in their passenger vehicles. Those models require super-low-sulfur diesel, too. Currently, at the NY International Auto Show, there is much discussion about bringing cleaner-burning, 35 percent more fuel efficient (over comparable gasoline models) passenger diesels to the United States.

Herndon, Va.: Hi Warren! I could really use a bit of your expertise and knowledge. My mother is looking to get a used car, but can't seem to find the right one for her. She needs something reliable of course, but also a car that really feels like it holds the road, has a good sound system and,very importantly,is a quiet ride. Her last car was a Pontiac Bonneville and she liked that, but wanted to try something new. Do you have any recommendations for a car that will meet her requirements? How do you feel about the Volvo S-class or a VW Passat? Thank you so much!

Warren Brown: Good Morning, Herndon:
There are many models, including:
. The usual run of very solid, very reliable Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords.
. Volvo S60 is good, but may be a bit too tight for aging backs and bones. In which case, the more accommodating Saab 9-3 could be a good choice.
. But, frankly, I'd put her in another GM car, probably the Buick LeSabre, which is very nice.

Washington, D.C.: Your review of the Mitsubishi Lancer brought back fond memories of my childhood -- in the '60's, my father drove an incredibly ugly green contraption also called a "Lancer." I've never seen another reference to it, let alone known who made it.

Do you know what it was? And is Mitsubishi somehow paying tribute to it? (And if so, will they be releasing a Gremlin or Pacer anytime soon?)

As for my father: in '72, he traded it in on a bright orange Datsun 240Z! Woo-hoo!

washingtonpost.com: Born for the Track: 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII (Post, April 6)

Warren Brown: Thank you, Washington. I don't know that the two Lancers necessarily are connected. But I will check. In the interim, automotive historians are invited to check in.

Washington, D.C.: Hi Warren, I saw one of the new Ford Thunderbirds the other day, and man oh man, was it sweet! I could definitely see myself in it, especially on a day like this! What do you think of it?

Warren Brown: Good Morning, Washington:
The new Thunderbird is the beautiful woman you marry, the man you choose to father your children, the flame that engenders commitment, after which it relegates passion to special occasions.

Allentown, Pa.: Really enjoyed your video clip review of the Hummer H2. Some additional questions: how many people can it sit? Wasn't clear about that. Also, my research indicates that not all H2s have the spare in the back (my research consists of peering into parked H2s). Can you take the spare out permanently?

Are more video clip reviews coming? I like the different interior camera angles.

washingtonpost.com: Video: Hummer H2 Adventure Series SUV

Warren Brown: Good morning, Allentown:
You can take the spare out. But, if you're planning off-road duty, you're best advised to keep it in.
The Hummer H2 seats five people in relative comfort, four in more comfort.
And, yes, more video clips to come, as well as the possibility of a weekly radio show. Stay tuned. And, by all means, feel free to send suggestions, complaints, tips, et cetera to warbro69@msn.com or browar57@aol.com.

Mt. Airy, Md.: Warren, in a recent chat you provided the 800# of an outfit in Atlanta that specializes in truck auctions. Can you please give it again?

Warren Brown: Hello, Mt. Airy:
Yes, I think that was for Manheim Auto Auctions. I'm currently sitting in the middle of the auto show pressroom without access to that number. But I'm sure it was for Manheim Auto Auctions.

Washington, D.C.: In response to the first question on diesel vehicles:

EPA has already finalized new emissions standards for on-road diesel engines (i.e. heavy trucks). That rule was finalized at the end of the Clinton/beginning of the Bush Administrations. The new off-road rules are part of a whole package that EPA has been working on for years: light cars and trucks, heavy trucks, motorcycles, non-road gasoline vehicles (jet skis, snowmobiles, etc.), and now non-road diesel. This is one case where EPA is doing its job, doing it well, there are RELATIVELY few complaints from manufacturers, etc. The last thing we need to do is create new legislation that would fix a problem that ain't broke. And I'm an enviro.


Warren Brown: I agree. As you know, we in this quarter have long supported the EPA's push to clean up diesel. Doing so will help to create a market for more fuel-efficient passenger diesels. The EPA is to be congratulated in this case.

Washington, D.C.: It was the Dodge Lancer, similar to the Plymouth Valiant and produced during the early 60s. I'm assuming that Mitsubishi's links with Chrysler are responsible for their use of the name. . .

Warren Brown: Right you are.

Washington, D.C.: Why is it that SUVS have greater environmental impact when many (luxury models in particular---X5 comes to mind) are built on the drivetrains of sedans (from what I understand the X5 is a beefed up 5 series). Is it a function of the all wheel drive? If so why don't 4wd sedans come under such scrutiny? Is it the extra curb weight? Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated...just something I wondered about for a couple of months now. Thanks in advance...WDC

Warren Brown: Dear Washington:
It all depends on which SUVs you are talking about--distinctions that frequently, deliberately are lost in a lobbying attempt to damn all SUVs. For example, it isn't likely that a four-cylinder Honda CR-V is going to pollute as much as a six-cylinder Honda Accord sedan.

Washington, D.C.: Warren,
Hey. Regarding the clean diesel discussion last week, is it fair to use the word "clean"? Even when super low sulfur diesel hits the market by 2006, there's still the matter of particulate matter discharge from diesel engines. With the Tierr II regulations that come into effect next year, is it possible that we'll see more commom-rail injector diesel engines from Europe? I really like the idea of a high torque, high fuel mileage car, but I'm thinking this won't happen in the US. Please say that I'm wrong.

P.S. Are you thinking about getting the supercharger kit from John Cooper for your Mini?

Warren Brown: You are right, Washington. That's also true of "clean" compressed natural gas. It is more accurate to use "cleaner."

On my coming, newest Mini: I looked at the John Cooper supercharger kit; but ibn doing so, I was looking at another $4,000. So, no kit.

Vienna, Va.: Warren...to answer the question: The (ugly) 60's vintage Lancer the caller was referring to was the Dodge Lancer twin to the Plymouth Valiant, Chrysler's compacts. They competed with the Chevy Corvair, Ford Falcon, Olds F-85, Buick Skylark, and Pontiac Tempest. The Lancer, like the Valiant, had small angled fins in the rear and a headlight bezel that surrounded the quad headlights (unusual then for a compact), and had Chrysler's famous "slant six" engines. It indeed had unusual styling compared to its competitors. It was built from 1961 and 1962, in 1963 the Valiant was completely redesigned with much cleaner lines and the Lancer name was dropped...it became the Dart. They were tremendously durable cars for the time, especially with automatics --all except for the drum brakes, which were complete garbage.

Warren Brown: The collective intelligence of this audience is both inspiring and humbling. I thank you.

Mt. Pleasant: Warren,

I'm the one who wrote in a few weeks ago having had the car stolen. It seems (meaning my wife has indicated) that we are now in the market for a wagon. We would like room in the second row of seats for adults to sit comfortably (and I'm 6'2" and will be in front). Right now, the front runners are a Volvo V70 or a Passat wagon. Would you care to comment, especially about engine choices, reliability (especially if we go for a turbo in the Volvo), and anything else you think we should consider? Price matters, but is not the first priority.

Warren Brown: Hell, Mt. Pleasant. Good to hear from you.
Your listed choices are fine.
You might want to add another, the Chrysler Pacifica, which, for all of its pretensions to the contrary, quite simply is a good station wagon.

Outside The Beltway, Va.: Warren, we test drove a number of CUVs last weekend in anticipation of our impending first child. We liked the Mitsubishi Outlander better than the Toyota Matrix. Our only concern (which you raised in your review) is the power issue. While the Outlander seemed fine on our test drive, we're concerned it might not have enough pep for the Beltway trips to the inlaws'. Do you think our concerns are justified, or is the Outlander fine for soon to be suburban parents? Thanks.

Warren Brown: Welcome Inside, Outside:
One of the sins of automotive journalists is our over-emphasis on horsepower.
Yes, to me, the Outlander was a bit of a slug.
But the bottom line is that it is competent on the highway. It just forces you to drive more carefully, to time your lane changes with greater care, that sort of thing.
The world isn't a racetrack.
You'll be okay.

Rockville, Md.: Warren, hope you a feeling well.

I'm looking for a recommendation for a used car/suv that would be used only on the weekends for hardware store hauling (large lumber and 4x8 plywood sheets) and possibly some short day trips. Wife and I have a beetle, and a new baby on the way, and are looking for a car/suv that might be a little more comfortable and roomy. Since cash is tight, my eye has been on late 90's Jeep cherokees, but I wanted to ask your opinion for several recommendations. Thanks

Warren Brown: Good Morning, Rockville.
Forget a car.
Forget an SUV.
You need a pickup, perhaps a king cab. Many Available used. Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, et cetera. Get a pickup and haul without worry.

McLean, Va.: Warren,

I understand that there is a general downward trend in motor vehicle sales. Have you heard or read about any segment (small cars, light trucks, full sized cars) being harder hit than the others?

Warren Brown: Dear McLean:
For all of our ranting and raving in this country about fuel economy, small cars usually sell poorly. My non-crib-sheet guesstimate is that they are about five percent of the overall market, with the most fuel-efficient among them accounting for less than a two-percent share.
Domestic sedans, such as they currently exist, are competitive cars, but relatively slow sellers.
You can always get a deal on a Toyota Canmry nowadays. Toyota is using incentives on those models.
Trucks are still selling well, but with incentives. There are some exceptions, here. Toyota, for example, probably is not inclined to put incentives on its quite well-done V-8 Tundra SR5 pickup./

Oakton, Va.: Can I recommend the Subaru Legacy Wagon (or Outback) to the caller from Mt. Pleasant who wants a reliable, affordable wagon to replace the stolen one? Volvo makes an entry-level V40 wagon in the Lagacy's price range (mid-20's), and VW makes the Passat and Golf wagons, but neither of them have all-wheel drive (at that price) or Subaru's durability. Honda and Toyota can match Subaru's durability, but their "wagons" for the most part are really tall hybrid car-based SUV's.

Warren Brown: Absolutely. Pardon my omission.

Washington, D.C.: Help, please! I know little about cars, except that I love mine, when it gets me places. Which it's not doing now. I have a '93 Mazda Protege with major transmission problems. It will likely be $2,000 to fix that. People are telling me that that's too much money to put into a 10-year-old car with 97,000 miles on it (and that's my gut feeling). But I'm just starting grad school, and need a car to commute there. So I'd like to avoid (or minimize) a monthly car payment, but need a reliable car.

What's the best thing to do -- invest the $2K in the Mazda, knowing that something else might go out, or put the money toward a new car? And what SORT of new (or used) affordable car would you recommend? How many miles should it have on it, if I buy used? I bought the Mazda brand spankin' new, and planned to drive it into the ground. Which, apparently, I have done.

Warren Brown: Frankly, Washington, I would re[pair the transmission. Shop around. You might be able to get a better price than $2,000.
Look at it this way: Grad school is going to set you back big bucks. Like most of us, you're not independently wealthy. Consider: Paying $2,000 to repair a transmission, or taking out a used-car note or a cheap used car note, with interest, for $7,000 to $10,000 more--on TOP of student loans and other academic expenses, such as research costs.

Clifton, Va.: Warren,

For the poster concerned about driving a slug like the Outlander if you have the money
and the connections BMW will build an X5 for you with a 620hp V12 from the Mclaren F1. Tunrs laps at the old Nurburing faster than a 911 Turbo.

Warren Brown: Oh, Clifton. Welcome back. How's business?

Headlights: In your past chats, some people have complained about the glare from trucks and SUVs, even when the brights off. Do the auto makers have standards for aiming headlights? The larger vehicles seem to aim their lights at the same angle as smaller cars, meaning that the light hits the road farther in front of the vehicle.

Warren Brown: Yes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administyration has standards for headlights--candle power, angukation and all of that.

But, it stands to reason that a smaller, lower vehicle is goping to be flooded by the headlights of a bigger, higher vehicle.

Some things are unequal.

Alexandria, Va.: Why do people automatically buy a minivan or SUV when they have ONE kid? It's only one kid. That back seat in your Accord should handle one car seat just fine.

Warren Brown: Because they want to.
And, frankly, that's good enough for me.
Their money.
Their choice.
Their kid.
Their gasoline bill.

Alexandria, Va.: Hi Warren,

Here's the situation - we currently have one child (he's 2.5) and another on the way (due in October). Our babymobile is a 2001 Mazda Tribute, and 2nd car is a 94 Ford Probe (love driving it still but can't fit child car seats in the back). We want to replace the Probe with a 4-door baby-friendly car that's still fun to drive and isn't going to break the bank. Husband doesn't want used because he figures we'd have to replace both the used car and our Trib at the same time in not too many years, so he's thinking of the new Mazda 6. Opinions? We've done no research into this yet. FWIW, we're also about to buy a new house, so we'll be cash-poor for a while.

Warren Brown: Hello, Alexandria.
The Mazda 6 is fine.
But if you want a good, new, safe baby hauler. Get the Ford Taurus. Seriously.

Herndon, Va.: I think you and David Segal have the best jobs at the Post! You both get to cover areas that you obviously love and really seem to enjoy your work. My question has to do with how do you decide what cars you review. I would think that you have a good idea of what cars will be coming out during the year. Do you have complete autonomy in your decision or does your editor make suggestions? Do the manufacturers send you a menu with their suggestions? In these chats, I've seen requests for your opinion on practically every type of vehicle, so your readers are all over board. With so many choices, do you ever feel that you've neglected certain vehicle classes, socio-econmic classes, or regions? Love these chats!

Warren Brown: Dear Herndon:
I absol;utely love my job. My only frustration comes in trying to figure out how to do more of it better.
On how I choose cars and Trucks:
I have complete autonomy. Here is what I try to do:
. I always try to get in the latest models, cars, trucks, whatever, because that is part of the job's excitement. "New" here means more than sheetmetal changes. It means new technology, powertains and safety, fuel efficiency, et cetera.
. I also look for new ways in which the vehicle itself interprets the market. The Honda Element is an example. It is a different embrace of utility. There's joy in it.
. I try to recognize regions and affordability, as well as general market trends, regardless of whether those trends irritate some people (although I do try to understand why they're irritated).
Frankly, what I do is use cars and trucks as an excuse to explore and write about everything else. It's the physical vehicle as literary vehicle.

Washington, D.C.: Regarding SUV vs. Auto emissions:

Taking the example you used, you are mistaken.

The Honda Accord V6 has the same emissions profile as a 4-cyl CRV 2WD. If you get the 4-cyl Accord, the emissions are actually lower. It is a function of weight, but also design. Trucks (including car-based SUVs) have, to this point (things will change with Tier 2), faced less stringent emissions standards.

Warren Brown: How can I be mistaken if you you agree with my point? I said: I seriously doubt that a four-cylinder Honda CR-V pollutes MORE than a six-cylinder sedan. See?

Vienna, Va.: I suspect that small cars actually sell a lot better than the "figures" indicate. As a part-time auto consultant, the vast majority of the people I work with usually end up buying more or less conventional compacts and subcompacts in the $10,000-$18,000 range -- cars like the Accent, Corolla, Civic, Protege, Sentra, etc. The $18,000 Impreza sells quite well among those who want AWD drive and reliability but who don't have a whole lot of cash. And THERE is the key, it isn't so much the mileage issue that sells small cars, it is simply that huge numbers of people simply don't HAVE 25K and up to spend on wheels or don't want to for various reasons. And why do they have to spend such big amounts? The $10,000 Accent offers excellent base transportation, a 10-year drivetrain warranty, and fit-and-finish that TODAY (not the Hyundais of yesteryear) is as good as anything else on the market. I suspect that the sales "figures" may be being doctored by the auto companies to try and steer attention away from the low-profit small cars into super-high profit vehicles like the expedition and Escalade, Ford reportedly makes $7000-$8000 on every Expedition it sells. Just an opinion, not necessarily fact.

Warren Brown: With all due respect, Vienna. You are off on this one. I don't care whose measurement you use--R.L. Polk. Ward's Automive, Automotive News, et cetera. All of them show that subcompact cars consistently occupy small market shares. Kindly show me some national sales reports to the contrary to back up your claim.

Springfield, Va.: Warren,

Re: Thunderbird caller

You're response was pure poetry. Beautiful, man. Can I quote you to my wife? Instead of Thunderbird, I'm going for a Porsche Boxster.

Warren Brown: Ah, the Boxster, that's the ticket--a roadster that honors the best of romance, the essence of it, the involuntary smile and leap of the heart at the sight of something beautiful.

RE: Small Car Market Share: According to Ward's Auto Data, small cars have been right around 14 percent of the overall market for the past three years. The 10 cars that get the highest MPG are a total of 2 percent of sales.

Warren Brown: Thank you. That's right. Your "small" category includes "compacts" and "subcompacts," does it not?

Clifton, Va.: You can never have enough horsepower or enough candlepower for your headlights.
My headlights are illegal European ones in my BMW with 120 watt bulbs. Beats the NHTSA standard of 60 watts. Nothing better than 4 120 watts high beams to fry the retinas off left lane bandits. And yes I need the candle power at legal speeds on Rt 66. Even at 55 and 65 mph you are overdriving the stock headlights. MORE POWER!

Warren Brown: Control yourself, Clifton! Either that, or we'll get you a job in the White House.

Takoma Park, Md.: Hi Warren, I have a question regarding advertising and marketing. I recently bought the new Honda Element and love it. I was a little put off by the advertising for gen X males (being a 40 something female). The brochure even had a comment about all the cubby holes "perfect to store an extra pair of boxers." I've gone online to an Element owners website and the vast majority of owners are in their late 30s to 60s! Is there a method to Honda's advertising or did they just misgage the market? Thanks!

Warren Brown: My beloved Takoma:
Essentially, men are fools.
Women are redemptive.
Too many boys control marketing.
Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Bonnots Mill, Mo.: Last week, the question of Mercedez reliability came up. I have an anecdote to relate. A buddy of mine, a lifetime Benz driver told me that you NEVER purchase one used. That's because his Benz dealers over the years told him that people would drive the car 100K miles and not even change the oil, then trade it in on another model. Generally, Benz owners simply abused the cars to death knowing they were inherently "reliable" for the first 100K miles. After that, they unload em cuz the damage was done. I wonder if that effect isn't being seen now in CR's reliability ratings.

I used to think the same way about full size trucks, never buy em used because they've been beat to death. Heh heh, after living in the Midwest for 7 years, I know that's not true. Full size trucks out here never haul anything and the only thing that ever sees the inside of the truck bed are empty beer cans. I've never seen a culture that coddles a heavy duty vehicle like it was an antique Model A or something.

Warren Brown: Thank you, Bonnots Mill.

Fairfax, Va.: Hi, Warren-

We are looking for a second family car. We have narrowed the short list to the Mazda Protege 5 and the Subaru Imprezia Wagon. We like the idea of the AWD on the Subaru, but it is a bit more expensive than the MP5. We have driven the MP5 and liked it well enough. What do you think of the safety and reliability of both (our most important reqs)?


Warren Brown: Hello, Fairfax.
Get the Subaru Impreza wagon.
It costs more.
It's worth it.
You'll be happy.

Carlisle, Pa.: Re 1960's compacts - the Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac clones all had high performance versions. The Pontiac had a front engine/rear transmission RTWD setup for better weight distribution. As for Buick and Olds, one was supercharged and the other had a water injector that sprayed mist into the fuel mix to lower the temperature and aid in smoother combustion. They all used the 215 c.i.d. BOP V-8, a design that GM sold to Rover, who used it in various sedans and Rangerover designs as the "Rover 3.5 litre V-8". It may still be in production.

Warren Brown: Thank you, Carlisle. Hey, when is the old car show out there?

Re: Alexandria, Va.: After we found out we had a second child on the way, we sold our Pontiac Grand Am and bought an Oldsmobile Silhouette. Even with one baby, the Grand Am was inconvenient because reaching the car seat required a lot of bending over and kneeling. In the Silhouette, the car seats are at a convenient height.

Warren Brown: Thank you, Alexandria.
But keep in mind that you don't have to explain your reasons for buying to anybody, especially to folks who suggest that you pass a needs assessment test.
It is your right to buy what is legally available on the market. Period.

Washington, D.C.: Hi Warren: Just wanted to give you a big "thanks" for your recommendation. I wrote in a couple times looking for guidance on choosing a new SUV...I was weighing a variety of models. Well, I made my purchase (ML350) and I'm really pleased. I just wanted you to know how much I value your candor and no-nonsense advice...in a world filled with hype, it's really refreshing.

Warren Brown: Thank you, Washington. You all really help to keep me honest, and keep my mind open. So, thank you.

Somewhere, USA: Warren, the reason there is ranting and raving in the country about fuel economy is precisely because small cars constitute 5% of new auto sales and fuel efficient cars even less. If it were 50% or more, those of us with foresight who care about our children's future would move on to other cultural abuses.

Warren Brown: Well, Somewhere, there is no law AGAINST buying small cars. Individual consumers are making those decisions. It's sort of to be expected, considering that we have the lowest gasoline prices in the developed world.

Marquette, Mich.: Alexandria - if the Accord is a coupe, it's near impossible to get the first kid in there, especially after about 20 lbs. when a rear facing seat is still necessary due to age. We cried when we sold our Accord.

Warren Brown: Hmm. I cry whenever I'm in your town in the winter.

For reader in Mt. Pleasant, Washington, D.C.: If you are shopping the volvo V70, definitely check out the Saab 9-5 wagon. We found it was more fun (has turbo also) and could be had cheaper than the Volvo. Definitely worth a test drive.

Warren Brown: Good point. Thanks.

Bethesda, Md.: Warren,
I wrote in last week with the question "Saab 9-5 Aero or Infiniti G35?". You rather enthusiastically endorsed the G35.

Just wanted to fill you in, after test driving both I must say that the Aero is a fantastic car. It was as capable or better than the G in every situation I was able to put it in, and it has a much better interior and feature set.

Warren Brown: Way to go, Betesda. Perhaps, I should look at the 9-5 wagon again. Thanks.

Clifton, Va.: Actually both the CRv and 6 cylinder Accord are ULEV vehicles which means they both pollute about the same when new!

Warren Brown: Okay. Also, good point. When we're doing pollution comparisons, we're doing NEW vehicle comparisons only. How people maintain, or fail to maintain their cars affects emissions.

Loudon County, Va.: Hello!

I am looking for a C/SUV to haul home improvement projects now, and shortly to haul the 1st of a planned 2 kids (to Mr. 1 kid SUV, we might be planning ahead). Looked at the Highlander, Polit, RAV-4 and CRV. Not impressed, really. Anything else to look at?

Warren Brown: Look at the Escape/Tribute, but also look at the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Marquette, Mich.: For tall people in wagons - unfortunately the Subaru doesn't have that much room (much as I like it otherwise). Tall people (and short people and other less usually sized folks) have to find a vehicle that fits first, then choose among those vehicles.

Warren Brown: Noted.

Randallstown, Md.: Thank you for taking my questions...
Thinking of purchasing a 4WD/AWD SUV next year. We are only 2 but with thoughts to expanding. Should we just look at the smaller 5-passenger SUVs? Or the larger 7-passenger variety? What would be your recommendations for a new or used 7-pass SUV w/ AWD or 4WD under $30k?

Warren Brown: Dear Randallstown:
Are you deliberately excluding station wagons and minivans? If not, you also should l;ook at those.

Los Angeles, Calif.: What do you think of the Infinity G35 coup?

Warren Brown: I like it a lot. Love that 3.5 V-6.

But I also love looking at new cars and trucks, of which about 1,000 are now on display at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in N.Y.

I'm going to take a closer look.

See you all next week, good folks.

Take care. God bless.


That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

© Copyright 2003 The Washington Post Company