TodayApril 16, 2022

Warren Brown and Lou Ann Hammond chat on, July 15, 2011

This is how it started:

I’m just back from Berlin, Germany driving the all new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. I used to own a 1972 Green Volkswagen Bug (I never called it a beetle). I also owned a Fiat 124, so it’s interesting that the market is bringing back the Beetle and a Fiat.

What’s more interesting is that Volkswagen is trying to hold onto it’s icon roots from the past, while Fiat seems to not want people to remember it was here before. For the record, I loved both those cars, had fond memories of both, and was happy to hear that both were coming back. Both are trying to give MINI a run for their money.

The cool thing about the Beetle is it will be coming out in diesel in 2012 and will get 29 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway.

The 2.5-liter 170 horsepower will go from $18,995-$25,195. The 2.0-liter turbo 200 horsepower goes from $23,395-$29,095. Add $770 onto that for destination charges.

If you like the Audi TT and Porsche 911 design those are the family cars VW is taking it’s DNA from. But let’s face it, when you take the flower vase and the long dash out of the Beetle it could be many cars.

The cars I’ve driven in the last couple weeks:

Kia Optima

I can’t say a single bad thing about the Kia Optima. great little car. Drove it to San Francisco and back to Auburn, CA. We had a NAV system that would tell us when traffic was bad (by green, yellow and red on the traffic lines). We knew how bad it was going to be and for how long. And it was amazingly accurate!

I took Norma with me to San Francisco. Norma is 77 years old and used to take care of my Great Aunt in St. Petersburg, FL when she was alive. I brought Norma out for the holiday. But just like any other friend, I use them in my car stories :)

Norma noticed right away that the Optima had a front and back sunroof. She loved the heated seats and liked the interior as well.

The Optima gets 22 miles per gallon in the city, 34 on the highway. With a Nav System and Infinity premium audio sound the total sticker price was $30,840.

Cadillac Escalade

I also drove a Cadillac Escalade. Remember I drove the Ford F150 crew cab last week? And I loved the NAV system and liked part of the backup camera. Ford’s NAV backup system is so much better than Cadillac’s version that is in the Escalade. Ford’s system has steering wheel trajectory that tells you where you are headed by the way you turn the steering wheel. Cadillac does not. Ford had beeping on their backup system (not on the front), Cadillac does not. Beeping is very important. Think of your seat belt. Don’t you sometimes click just to make the beeping go away? Over time people forget about looking at a camera, but they never tire of that obnoxious beeping.

The Cadillac gets 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 in the highway. The Escalade’s got three rows of the most comfortable seating in the industry. The sticker price on the one I drove was $88,285.

Infiniti FX

I’m just not a fan of that pit bull in your face style. My neighbor Jill loved the look and wants to get the Infiniti. She’s got two boys and two young dogs and it would fit her lifestyle completely.

Jill has two generations back Toyota Avalon and is in the market for a new car. She loved the Bose 11-speaker audio system. Her husband, Eric, liked the paddle shifters.

I had to use the pet ramp to put my dog, PJ, in the back, but there was plenty of room in the fold down back two rows. That’s important because I have to have room for the pet ramp and the dog.

Infiniti is a luxury vehicle so you’ll get a luxury drive and luxury interior.

Mazda Mazda5

I also drove the Mazda5 minivan. Love that little vehicle. I didn’t get a chance to take PJ for a ride, but Mazda has done a spectacular job on design on that vehicle.

Stretch, my husband, likes the torque. He says there is better torque between 2nd and 3rd gears.

So, let’s get started with questions.

Click on Warrens picture to go to the chat:

Driving the Nation

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.