Best AWD Vehicles, Tow Ratings, Unicorn Vehicles | Talking Cars with Consumer Reports #202

Best AWD Vehicles, Tow Ratings, Unicorn Vehicles | Talking Cars with Consumer Reports #202

On this episode, we
answer audience questions, including the difference between
all weather and all season tires, how wheel size
affects ride and handling, and do you really need to
change your oil every year, even if you don’t put that
many miles on your car– next on Talking Cars. Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode,
I’m Mike Monticello. I’m Jake Fisher. And I’m Ryan Pszczolkowski. So, every week we get a
lot of questions from you guys and gals at
[email protected], and we love answering
those questions, but we get so many in, we don’t
get to as many as we’d like. So, today, back
by popular demand, it’s an all questions episode. So, also, for those of you that
send in the video questions, pro tip– horizontal looks a little
better than vertical. So, that’s just a
little pro tip for you. But let’s dive right
into these questions, because we’ve got a lot we want
to try and get through today for the good people out there. So, the first question
is from Lee M. And says, I have a question
about checking the oil in my 2015 Honda Accord. I’ve always checked it
first thing in the morning, because I knew none of
it was up in the engine. But, when I did this
after my last oil change, it didn’t show that
the oil level was full. The dealer says that’s
incorrect and says I should check it about
10 minutes after I shut the car off. When is the best
time to check my oil? Now, we’re very fortunate here
that we have John Ibbotson– he’s our shop supervisor. He takes care of all
of our test cars. He says that, actually,
either one is correct. He prefers checking it
first thing in the morning when the car is cold,
but you can also check it after the car’s been
running as long as it’s been sitting for about 10 minutes. I’m not quite sure how the
bad reading except what I wasn’t clear is maybe
Lee changed the oil himself and then checked it too
soon before the oil had drained down. That’s the only thing I
can think of as to why he’d get the bad reading. Because, otherwise, either
one of these is correct. And, of course, another– we’re talking about pro tips– make sure you
check your oil when the car is on a level surface. And, also, make sure
you get it all off. Make sure you get a rag. Because, I mean, one of
the common things people do is they pull it up and
you’re seeing oil level is high, but it’s actually just hitting
the side of that little tube. Yeah, you should clean it– when you pull it
out that first time, clean it off, and then go
back in and then back out. Because that first
reading could be oil still splashed from whatever. It’s better to get that second. I do it a few times
just to really be sure. Sometimes hundreds of times– all day long. It’s a critical thing. He’s got some issues. OK, let’s move on to
the next question. Jinsoo says, why aren’t all
weather tires more popular? I’ve seen a few tests out there
where all weather tires are compared to winter tires,
but how do they stack up to all season tires? Is the lack of
popularity due to a lack of testing data, marketing,
consumer awareness, or performance? And, of course, those
longtime viewers out there know that Ryan
is one of our tire experts. So, Ryan, I’m going
to throw this to you. Talk to us about
all weather tires. All right, so, for
those who don’t know, all weather tires
are basically– think of them as an all season
tire with more winter traction. Now, he’s seen them
compared with winter tires, because they both have
a mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall,
which means they both passed a certain level of
snow traction to have this symbol on the sidewall. So, all weather tires
are still a compromise. There’s one tire out there–
the Michelin cross-climate plus, which we tested– a freak of nature tire does
everything really well. Head and shoulders above
the other all weather tires? Yeah, it just does
everything well– very well. But that’s just
kind of an oddball. But, in general, all weather
tires are still compromised. A dedicated snow tire has
really, really good snow traction. An all weather tire has really
good snow traction but not quite as good as a
dedicated winter tire. It’s going to be better than
an all season tire, though. So, you got to
think of it as it’s slotted between an all season
and a dedicated winter tire. Now, there’s still a
small, growing category here in the US. These tires were invented
years ago kind of by accident by Nokian Tyre. In Europe, they
have summer tires and dedicated winter
tires, and they wanted to design what would
have been their all season tire, but they put a lot of emphasis
on the snow tire side. Years later, it comes to
the US, and we already have all season tires, and we
have dedicated winter tires. So, where does that go? It goes in between the
two of them, like I said. It’s a small group of
tires, it’s growing slowly. Also, in the US,
it’s very regional. Not everyone gets snow. I just want to go
to this terminology, because all seasons– that’s every season. All weather– all weather,
they seem like the same. The other thing is we
talk about winter tires and we talk about snow tires– that terminology, snow
and winter tires– same thing? Makes it more confusing. Since we’re asking
you questions– so, is the all
weather tire designed to be driven year round
like an all season tire is? We know the snow
winter tire is not. I left that out– yeah, so,
because it has the mountain snowflake, it allows you
in certain areas where it’s regulated that you have
to have a snow tire on– certain areas in Canada– you have to have a snow tire on. The mountain snowflake
lets you do that, but also you can drive it year round. So, it has a higher
speed rating and, so, it can handle the heat build up
in the summer, this, that, and the other thing. It’s great for
people who don’t want to switch from winter tires
to all season tires or summer tires. It actually sounds like it would
be a really good tire for where we live in Connecticut where
we usually get a few snow storms a year, but we’re
not getting tons of snow like, say, up in Vermont
or Maine or stuff like that where you
probably want the better traction from the snow tire. But, like I said, it’s
still a compromise on the all season side. So, wet and dry traction
isn’t quite as high as, say, a regular
all season tire. Or a summer tire. I mean, that’s really
the best of both worlds. In an ideal world, you run a
summer tire, and then you– Switch over to– A dedicated winter tire. But I understand
people who don’t want– more money, more effort. We wear boots in the
winter when there’s snow and we wear flip-flops
in the summer. Exactly. It’s a growing segment– It Is. It’s still fairly new, I think
that’s the real answer to it. OK. Here’s another question. This question is from Tiffany. Tiffany says, sadly, our 2008
Volvo C30 needs to be replaced. We put a lot of
miles on our cars and appreciate dependability,
comfort, and the fun factor. We’d like something
newer that can accommodate our dog, pre-teen,
and long commutes into Seattle. My unicorn vehicle
is dependable, fuel efficient, all wheel drive,
has a manual transmission, heated seats, and
it’s fun to drive. Tiffany wants everything–
oh, and under $35,000. What am I looking for? Does this exist? Jake, you’re the
smartest guy here. I’m not taking it. I’m not tire questions. What is Tiffany’s
unicorn vehicle? Because this is a difficult one. It’s a difficult one, because– It doesn’t exist. Well, it may. I mean, the problem is that
manual transmissions, sadly, are kind of going away slowly. And, also, when you start
packaging all wheel drive, there’s a lot of vehicles
that are available that is a manual transmission,
but you only get that with the
two wheel drive. You can’t get it with
the all wheel drive. Or base and doesn’t have the
heated seats or whatever. Exactly. So, my recommendation for this
would be the Volkswagen Golf all track. I think that’s
the right vehicle. Because the other thing is
unicorn vehicle, manual– you also want a wagon
too, because you don’t want to be more unicorny. I think that’s a word. It is now. You’re the word guys,
so you’ve OK’d it. So, yeah, the
Volkswagen Golf all track– which, I mean, they keep
on changing the name of what this offering is. It was the Jetta sport
wagon, the Golf sport wagon– basically, it’s a Volkswagen
Golf station wagon, all wheel drive, manual transmission. You can get it with
all the safety– all the safety
stuff is standard. Nice turbo engine. Nice turbo engine, nice cruiser,
fun to drive, and $35,000. You could get it for that
and I think she’ll be happy. Honestly, that’s a great choice. I was originally
thinking Mazda CX5, but you can’t get the Mazda
CX5 in a manual transmission anymore. So, that’s– Tiffany, you really
put some difficult things on us there. There’s a lot of filters. That sounds like a good choice. I was going to say
the same thing– the all track. OK, next question– Kurt says,
I have a 2015 Hyundai Sonata with low speed automatic
emergency braking. At what speed does low
speed AEB stop working, and when does high
speed AEB kick in? So, first of all,
automatic emergency braking was not available on
the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, so, my guess is what Kurt
is feeling or actually seeing is for a collision
warning, which was available on the 2015 Sonata. But it does beg the
question about what’s the difference between low
speed, automatic emergency braking and high speed. Part of the problem
is the manufacturers don’t– there’s not a set
guideline for when this low speed goes up to this speed– it’s all over the place. It’s all over the place. And when we talk about
low speed and high speed, honestly, that’s just basically
how we’re talking about it, because everyone has got
their different nomenclature and terminology and
whatever this is. When we’re talking
about high speed, we’re talking
about an AEB system that’s going to operate
even on the highway too. If you’re cruising along at
65, it’s going to operate. We’re trying to make a point
that some of these systems– they’re talking about
automatic emergency braking, but it’s only operating
at slower speeds. It’s not going to help you. Yeah, might be like
35, 40 miles an hour. Different depending on the car. So, the way to think
about it is like there’s two different systems,
and it switches a gear. It’s not really the
way to think about it. It’s just if you have a system
that has a high speed system, you could depend on– I wouldn’t say
dependent on, I wouldn’t want to go that far–
but it will operate. It will help you even
in highway situations. That’s really the way
to think about this. Almost, in a sense, there’s
either low speed AEB or there’s all speed AEB. I put air quotes up there,
which doesn’t help the people listening. That’s probably a better
way to think about. you know what I mean? But it’s not like if
you have low speed AEB and sometimes you can order
an optional high speed AEB, but it’s not like they’re
really two different systems. It’s basically extending the
capability of the system. The whole gamut. Yeah. So, hopefully,
that helps everyone out there trying to understand
how automatic emergency braking works. And, of course, we’re
working with manufacturers and trying to get everyone to
be the same on what they call all these different
types of systems– like forward collision
warning, blind spot warning. Be consistent about
the nomenclature. We’re trying to help
standardize that so it’s better for the consumers. Well, I’m happy that they asked
about AEB and not pre-sense, because who knows what that is. Yeah, there’s all different
kinds of names out there. OK, Will says,
love the podcast– that’s not the only reason
why we’re using this question, but it helps. Simple question– how
should potential buyers view cars that have
an NA reliability verdict in your ratings? Are they worse than cars
with a 1 out of 5 rating, or is there just not
enough data to assign a score in that category? I’m looking at a 2016
Subaru WRX and I’m trying to judge how
dangerous a buy it is versus a car with a 1 out of 5 rating. Jake, you know, I
always like to call you old reliable because you’re
heavily involved in our– he hates it when
I call him that. You’ve never called me that. OK, I made it up, I made it up. Anyway, you’re heavily involved
in our reliability ratings that we do, which is, of
course, based on feedback from surveys from CR members. So, talk to us
about what happens when a car doesn’t have the
reliability data for people to look at. Sure. So, the 2016 WRX– it’s an NA, so,
there’s not enough data that we have to have information
on that specific model year. And, so, what to
do in that case is I would just look at
adjacent model years. So, if you look at the
2015 WRX, the reliability was much worse than average. So, we don’t have data on
the ’16, but, considering the ’15 was so bad– I wouldn’t call it
dangerous, I wouldn’t say that it’s a danger, but,
I mean, you’re going to have, likely, more than your share of
problems of another 2016 model. However, if you
really want that car and you’re willing
to put up with maybe more than the average
share of problems, you might be very
happy with that. The other thing I
would do is also look at an adjacent year–
look at what kind of problems they’re having. You can actually look and– especially if you’re
buying a used car– if there’s transmission
issues, for instance, you might want to
find out, well, is there any issues
with this transmission? Has it been replaced? Have they already addressed
some of the problems that may happen? And the other thing is that
when you’re thinking about it– if it’s a car with a much below
average rating or 1 out of 5 if you think about it
in terms of the numbers, there’s proof that that
car has some issues. You know what? The truth is is that
even though those cars– say there is data and it’s
below average reliability– doesn’t mean the car that you
buy is going to fall apart. It’s all about odds. So, I mean, if you really
want– if that’s really something important to you,
you want to get something with a proven record. Let’s move on to
Steve P. Steve says, I’m considering
buying either a Ford F-150 or a second
generation Honda Ridgeline. Looking at the trim
levels and equipment I’d want on either model,
there’s a $6,000 to $10,000 difference between a
used truck and new one. Buying new often brings
a lower interest rate and a full warranty. At what point is a new truck
a better buy versus one that’s two to five years
older with lower mileage? Ryan, I’m going to throw this
to you, because I don’t– that’s a lot of numbers there. I’m good at numbers. What’s your suggestion– I said Jake was the
smartest, I didn’t say you weren’t good with numbers. So, what’s your recommendation
for Steve P. here? So, listen, a
brand new vehicle– a brand new F-150
is going to be more expensive than a used F-150. OK, and that’s going to
be the case for most cars. Big surprise. It’s almost always
going to be that way. Now, he mentions the– He puts it in there anyway. He said there’s a $6,000
to $10,000 difference. And even when you consider
all the other things and financing– you’re going to wind
up spending more. And if you’ve got
the new thing, you have to want to spend the
money for those things you’re going to get. So, now, there is a
certified pre-owned vehicles that you would get from
those actual dealers, and they can have very low
interest rates and warranties on them. So, there’s maybe a route there. The trouble with
this question is, it depends where you
are, the deals that are to be had around you. You’ve got to weigh that out. If you really want
a new truck, I mean, yeah, you have that
peace of mind, it’s brand new. I’m going to say– this
is actually an easy one. Because, yes, if you’re
looking at a new F-150, the used ones going
to be cheaper. You’re looking at the
new Ridgeline, used one. But, if you’re considering
both a Ridgeline and an F-150, the Ridgeline is
considerably less expensive. And it’s a really nice vehicle. So, if you’re
considering a used F-150, you could get a new Ridgeline
for the same price and it has– I mean, I think
that’s the choice. Problem solved. OK. Let’s move on. Christopher S. says– I own a 2010 Lexus ES350 with
just under 100,000 miles. I want I used ES300H, but
most for $17,000 to $18,000 have 85,000 to 100,000 miles. I know nothing about
hybrids but see a lot make it past 100,000
miles without any issues. Would you recommend buying a
used ES300H with 100,000 miles as long as all the
maintenance info is present. Jake, going to throw it to you. Go for it. We know a lot about
hybrids and we know a lot about reliability. And we know a lot
about Toyota hybrids. We know a lot about Toyota. So, all those together– I mean, the truth
is is that, look, if it was another manufacturer,
it was another hybrid system, I wouldn’t be giving
the same answer. But the truth is that higher– I mean, Toyota has
been about 20 years now in in their hybrid
system, and the history has been just stellar. I mean, we’ve got reliability
going back 20 years on these, and it’s been fantastic. And it’s not 100,000 miles. I mean, you go and
you look at listings– x you see these
250,000 mile Priuses that are excellent
condition, perfect condition. I mean, we’ve tested
some and like, yeah, it still continues to work. So, I would not have any issues
with getting a Toyota hybrid with that kind of mileage. Yeah, go for it. WH says– the past
two winters, I found myself unable to get
to my house in the snow. I’d like to purchase my
first all wheel drive vehicle in hopes that it can get me
up the hill in my neighborhood and home this winter. My budget is $25,000
and I’m looking at a 2018 Subaru Forester, 2017
Toyota RAV4 hybrid, or a 2018 Mazda CX5. Taking reliability, fuel
economy, and all wheel drive systems into consideration,
which would you recommend as my next car? PS– I’m familiar with the
argument for snow tires, but I’m unable to store
an extra set of tires. Thanks. Ron, I’m going to
throw it to you first. What’s your suggestion here? Really, these are
three great choices, it comes down to his
biggest priority. I mean, the best in
the snow is probably going to be the Forester. We’ve actually done
some evaluations– It’s got a great all
wheel drive system. We’ve done some
evaluations, we also have done some
surveys where we’ve asked people what
their experiences are in different types of vehicles. And Subarus– it’s a
little bit different the way they do the mechanics
of their all wheel drive system, and it appears to
work pretty well. It does. Obviously, the RAV4 hybrid is
going to be the best on fuel, and that’s a great car. But might have–
the tires might be– The tires on any of
these, like a low run– I’ll get to that after. The RAV4 hybrid, like I
said, that’s going to be– that’s going to be the benefit
there, the fuel economy. And then the CX5 is just a
fun car to drive year around. The all wheel drive
system is good in that. It’s the most sporty. Yeah, it’s a sportier car. Any of these with
proper tires on it should be good in the snow– I mean, any of them. The issue is, what
tires are on it? And, sometimes,
with Toyota hybrids, we’ll put on tires to get that
extra inch of fuel economy, and, in our experience– I mean, I know I was
driving our last Highlander hybrid in the snow. It’s not about the
four wheel drive system to get you up the hill. I mean, the four wheel drive
system is going to get you up. That’s going to be fine. The issue is just
you’re cruising along on some sloppy roads. And, when you go for the
hybrid, sometimes those tires. Now, if it’s a used car and you
replace the tires, now you– You’re not stuck
with those tires. I mean, you could
change the tires. You can go– That’s going to
be a game changer. And find tires that– Maybe get some
all weather tires. Maybe. That’s an option. Now, he said he doesn’t
have room to swap out dedicated winter tires. That’s a perfect spot
for all weather tires. All weather– and, also,
can’t stress enough how important tires are,
especially in snow conditions. And I know that this
person says that they are unable to store
an extra set of tires, but some tire places– some tire changing
places, retailers will store your extra
set of tires for you. I used to do this when
I lived in Detroit. I lived in an apartment, and
I had my Toyota Mark II, which is a really great winter car. And I bought a
set of snow tires. And with the package I had,
they stored them and they swapped them over on my wheels. So, it’s worth
looking into that. If you haven’t
looked into that yet, at least go see if your local
store will do that for you. Nothing beats a snow
tire in the snow. Yes, absolutely,
great peace of mind. Isaac says– I was driving
my parents 2012 Toyota Camry and had to floor
it off of a turn because of quickly
oncoming traffic. I saw a massive
puff of white smoke behind me that I assume
came from the exhaust. Can you give me an explanation
as to why this happened? Thanks, love the show. So, the first question
is, was the car cold when this happened? Because, if it was
cold, it could’ve just been excess moisture
coming out of the exhaust pipe. Now, if it wasn’t cold and
it was this white smoke, you’re looking at, potentially,
a blown head gasket, because anti-freeze is
going into the exhaust, and that’s why you’re
getting this white smoke. Now, if it was actually
blue smoke and not white, now you’re looking at
that it’s burning oil. And, so, now you’re looking
at it could be bad valve seals or piston rings. The bummer is if
the engine was warm and you got this big puff of
either white or blue smoke, it’s probably going
to be expensive. That’s the bummer. There’s something
wrong with that and you’re going to need to look
into that and get that fixed. And it’s probably not
going to be cheap. Sorry to be the
bearer of bad news. Hopefully, it was the engine
was cold when you floored it. And, of course, don’t floor
it when the engine’s cold is another pro tip. OK. True. OK, next question– why do rear
wheel drive vehicles handle better than front
wheel drive vehicles, and what is the best
rear wheel drive or rear wheel biased SUV under $50,000? Thank you. Folks, you’re lucky because we
have two great drivers here. Jake is a former racing
driver, and Ryan does a ton of dynamic testing for us– both with the new cars
and with the tire program. So, Jake, I’m going to
throw it to you first. Explain to people what the
inherent advantages are of a rear wheel drive car. This is just physics. So, look, the front wheels turn. And, if you ask the front wheels
to actually accelerate too, you’re asking them to
do two different things. I mean, it really
comes down to tires. So, by dedicating the
front wheels just to half to turn and not to
accelerate and you require the rear ones to do
that, you’re asking less of the front wheels. What it ultimately
means is more grip. When you look at actually
front wheel drive cars– I mean, basically everything
is going on in the front tires. You’re asking these front tires
to do basically everything. And, in some cases, if you at
front wheel drive cars racing, sometimes they’re
lifting up a rear wheel, because they’re basically
not doing anything. They’re just along for the ride. That looks pretty fun, actually. So, I mean, that’s
just– it’s about that. It’s also about balance. The rear wheel drive vehicles
tend to be more balanced. Closer to a 50-50 weight. More to a 50-50. So, front drive cars, all
the weight’s up front. So, what that gets
into is also braking. So, when you’re
hitting the brakes– again, you’re asking the front
wheels and the front brakes to do everything, whereas
you have better balance– I mean, you look at
Porsche 911, this is why they break so
well, because they have a lot of
weight in the back, and now you’re
distributing the forces. There’s also weight transfer. So, the rear wheel drive
car with the front engine, when you accelerate,
going to go rearward load up the wheels at you, want
that traction on to go forward. When you’re braking, you’re
stepping on the brakes, you’re loading up the front. Like Jake said, if you are
asking those front wheels to do too much, you’re just
going to overwhelm them. And, unfortunately, I think
rear wheel drive is slowly going away, because people
want all wheel drive. And front wheel drive
is cheaper to build. Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, there’s plenty
of all wheel drive vehicles, and they do have a
lot of advantage. I mean, distributing
out the forces there, they have the balance. So, there’s plenty
of choices out there. I mean, look at
all the luxury cars are pretty much
all quite balanced. And, of course, rear wheel
drive is typically more fun to drive as well,
because you can do more playing with your
power on, tail out action. It’s a lot harder to
get front wheel drive to do the things you want. If you’re going around
a corner and you hit the gas and the
front wheel drive, you just kind of plow forward. Right. But the last part of
this question was– what is the best rear
wheel drive or rear wheel biased SUV under $50,000? So, I came up with– that’s actually a
really difficult vehicle to find as well– kind of
like that previous unicorn. I came up with Porsche Macan. Now, it starts at $49,900,
so, you’re really. That’s without paint. Really not going to
find one for $49,900. You can find a year or two
old one for that price. That’s the first car
that comes to mind. It’s so fun to drive. It almost feels like it’s a
rear wheel drive at times. But it’s obviously– if you find
one for that kind of price new. You’re smirking at us, you
don’t like that answer, do you? I love that car. It’s imaginary. Imaginary $50,000. I mean, you could get– I mean, look, honestly,
you get like a BMW X3– that’s a very nice
handling vehicle. You can get that at $50,000. I like to dream. Yeah. OK. Alex F. says– why
is it that when you buy a pickup truck with
4×4, the towing ability usually decreases? I’m assuming because
of added weight, but if you buy an SUV like the
Honda Pilot or Chevy Traverse, you get more towing ability with
the all wheel drive version– 5,000 pounds over the front
drive version, 3,500 pounds. Isn’t the all wheel drive system
adding weight to the vehicle? Looking forward to your
answer and congrats on the 200th episode. Thanks, Alex. Lot of love today. So, Ryan, you tow a lot, so talk
to us about the differences– why do the towing
capacities differ? Yeah, so, he’s actually right. It’s kind of weird. A 4×4 truck tows a little less
sometimes than just the rear drive version. That comes down to
weight, like you said. If you take a couple hundred
pounds of actual weight and gizmos out of the front end,
you have more potential ability to tow, because there’s
less weight there. It’s never about power. Engines nowadays can
tow more than probably they’re even rated for. But you have to handle a
weight and you have to stop it. So, a pickup truck
is designed to tow. So, you take out weight,
you can probably tow more. The SUV thing is
interesting, because it’s kind of contradictory
to what I just said. The all wheel drive
does have more weight, but you’re towing less. When you load up a front wheel
drive SUV with a ton of weight, you’re actually picking
up off the drive axle. Kind of like what we just
talked about with the difference between front wheel drive
and all wheel drive. Front wheel drive
SUVs are asking them to do a ton of stuff. That front wheel drive
SUV with the same motor as maybe that all
wheel drive one, it could tow the same amount of
weight, bit it’s handling it. It’s a balance thing. I mean, that’s the best
answer I can give you. OK, next question– Dave C.
says– hi, “Talking Cars,” love your show. I have a question
about motor oil– in the recommended
scheduled maintenance for all internal
combustion vehicles, oil changes are recommended at
a certain amount of miles or one year, whichever comes first. If I only put 1,500 miles
a year on my vehicle, why should I change
it at that point? If oil can deteriorate
while not being used, then why don’t cans of oil
come with a use-by date? So, the short
answer is, yes, you want to change your oil every
year regardless of how little you drive. I mean, obviously, if you
drive it a lot more than that, then you’re going to change
it more than once a year. And it’s not that the
oil goes bad, per se, it’s that, for instance,
you can get condensation that builds up in
the engine, and now that makes the oil go bad. Or another thing is don’t put
many miles on your vehicle, but when you do drive it,
you do a lot of short trips– or what we call cold
start situations, which is also not good for the
engine, not good for the oil, and you end up– because you
don’t get the engine to its peak operating temperature– You don’t get rid
of all the moisture. Exactly, so, now you’re getting
contamination in that oil. So, unfortunately–
yeah, once a year– you want to change oil once
a year pretty much no matter what. It’s a good question. It is a great question. In terms of the on
the shelf, it’s, well, because it’s sealed. So, I mean, that’s kind
of the short answer. So, if you open up the
oil and let it sit there, maybe it would
need an expiration. Right, right. OK, Henry W. says– how does wheel size
affect ride and handling? I think that an 18-inch tire
would have a taller aspect ratio and ride more comfortably
than a 19-inch tire. When I bought my
2015 Lexus RX Hybrid, the 18-inch wheels cost $700
less than the 19-inch wheels, and I expected that 18-inch
replacement tires would be less expensive than the 19s. True or not true? Any suggestions on
which tires I should buy to replace the Bridgestone
run flats that came on my car. Longtime “TR” subscriber,
and I love the show. Ryan, you’re our tire
guy– talk to me. So, he’s right. So, on that car, the
18-inch wheel package will have a certain
amount of sidewall. When you go to
the 19-inch wheel, you want to keep the overall
tire diameter the same so you end up with less
sidewall– lower aspect ratio. In general terms for the
same tire in those two different sizes, yeah, the
less sidewall, the stiffer it’s going to ride. Handling wise, it could
get a little better. It’s a little stiffer. It’s going to give you maybe
a little more steering feel, or a little sharper steering. However, we have seen– and it can happen when we do
our tire testing, for instance– we test the same size
tire on the same car. And two different tires
can ride a lot differently. One could be more
comfortable than another. We’ve actually seen,
in cases testing cars where we’ve rented vehicles that
had a different wheel package and happened to
have a lower aspect ratio but a different
brand or model tire, and it rode better than, say,
the one that had more sidewall. Because they can fiddle
with the compound, right? Tires are extremely complicated. There’s a lot that
goes into it, and they can tune a tire
differently depending on– even from brand to
brand, model to model, it can be different. What he’s getting
at is it’s cheaper– that’s another
thing– generally, it’s cheaper to have
a smaller wheel size. It sounds silly,
because it almost looks like you’re
getting more rubber and it costs less where you
have these skinny sidewalls and they’re a little
wider, they cost more. That’s generally
the trend there. So, a big thing is
to make sure when you’re buying a vehicle, to
see what this thing comes with for tires. You can buy a Honda Accord
and $200 a piece on the tire if it has a 19 or 20-inch
wheel package on it. So, the other thing to
consider, though, is potholes. And when you get those
low profile, not much rubber on the 19s,
and sometimes they’re trying really hard to get that
ride they put a soft sidewall, means when you hit a pothole,
you’re buying a new wheel. So, you’re going to be better
off with the smaller wheel for another reason. OK. Gerald T. says–
hi, “Talking Cars.” On a recent ski
trip with a family, I downshift my car to use
the engine brake to slow down on long downhills to prevent
riding and overheating the brakes. Do high RPMs during
engine breaking damage the engine
and transmission and waste a lot of fuel? In a it plug-in hybrid
electric vehicle, should I use engine brake or
regen brake for long downhills? And would I still need to worry
about the brakes overheating with their regenerative braking? Jake, throw this to you– there’s a lot going on
here, but talk to us about engine braking
and that kind of stuff. Downshift, downshift, downshift. You’re not using fuel when
you’re using the engine to slow you down. You’re not damaging anything,
and you are saving your brakes. If you have a hybrid
vehicle or electric vehicle and use regen braking, it’s
not really regen braking. You’re not actually
using any brakes. You’re just using a generator to
generate back the electricity. Use that first. So, it doesn’t hurt the
brakes at all either. It’s not going to
hurt the brakes, it’s not going to hurt
the system either, because it’s going to be smart
enough– if it does get warm or whatever– the car’s going
to be smart enough to bypass it and not use it too much. So, absolutely, do it. And some of these
cars these days, you have multiple
levels of the regen, and, so, you can have
like 1, 2, or 3 levels, and you can adjust that while
you’re going down the hill. If you need more, if
you need less– so, it’s kind of neat actually. Yeah, that’s the other thing
about manual transmissions is that that was one
of the things I love about manual transmissions
is that you can downshift when you’re going down a hill. You can on automatics. Sometimes the paddle shifters
and all those things. Most people don’t use
them, but you can. Yeah. OK, Terry J. says– I’m only five feet tall. I’ve been shopping for a new car
and really love the 2019 Volvo XC40. My problem is the headrest
tilts forward pushing my head and neck into a very
uncomfortable position I’ve had the same problem when
I sit in other cars too, so I’m not even taking
them off the lot. Is there a head rest
resolution for shorter people? I understand there
are safety issues, but luxury cars can be
designed for tall people. Thanks. This one– I have some
familiarity with because– I don’t have a head rest
issue when I’m driving, and, of course, I’m almost
never in the passenger seat. But when I take my
sister somewhere, one of the first
things she does when she gets in one of
the test cars is she’s annoyed with
the headrest jiggles. Mike, why is it tilted forward? How do I get it– some of these you can adjust. You push them forwards,
and they go back, you can adjust the height. But she does get really
annoyed with that, and same thing– she’s
only 5 feet tall. So, it is an issue. What’s going on with that? That’s a safety thing, right? Well, first of all,
it’s not a headrest, it’s a head restraint. It’s designed for crash
is really what it’s for. It’s not to be comfortable
to put your head back there. That’s one thing. But it’s absolutely true– some vehicles don’t fit shorter
drivers or taller drivers very well. And that’s why when we
test all our vehicles, we put in a five-foot tester
and we put in a taller tester– Me. Yeah, right. You’re not the five foot guy. But it’s like that
is really important. So, yes, absolutely, you’re
buying a car, check that first. And some do a much
better job than others. I will say one tip, though– sometimes when you
get in a situation– and you may even be a
passenger in someone else’s car and you do have that situation
where that head restraint is just smacking right in there. Sometimes you can avoid it
by how you set the seat back. So, if you have a very
upright position– and maybe right in your head– you might want to
recline it a little bit, move the seat bottom
a little bit closer, and you might remedy
some of that situation. So, try different
seating positions, but, certainly, try those
positions before you buy a car. OK. All right. Well, that’s going to
do it for this episode. We got through a fair
amount of questions. Hopefully we gave you
some good answers. If you want to learn more
about the cars we talked about, you can click on the
links in the show notes. And don’t forget to send
those questions, comments, 30-second video submissions
to [email protected] Thanks for watching, and
we’ll see y’all all next week.

36 Replies to “Best AWD Vehicles, Tow Ratings, Unicorn Vehicles | Talking Cars with Consumer Reports #202”

  1. All season tires probably the best choice for New England. Hydroplaning a higher risk factor. At least most people slow down during snow storms.

  2. Absolutely no issues with my rav4 hybrid 2016 during the winter time. Love the stability of the rear traction electric motor.

  3. Anyone know when Michelin will release All Weather tires suitable for mid sized crossovers?
    I can't find them in 255/50R20 size.

  4. I have the same oil level issue with my G37 if I check it hot it’s full, of cold about 75%. I change the oil myself and know I added the correct amount.

  5. Remember – battery packs have to be replaced in most cases at 200,000 miles. They don't mention that. So buying a Lexus or Prius with 100,000 miles means you have another 100,000 until that has to be replaced. Do it yourself, it costs $2000. Ask the dealer, and that price doubles. Just something to be aware of. Here is a video by Chris Fix fixing such a Toyota Hybrid with 200,000 –

  6. for Jen Stockburger: will you be updating your excellent article "Top 25 New Cars for Senior Drivers"? Last update was Feb 22, 2018. Do not need to be a "senior" to benefit from this review.

  7. I can't help but wonder if a little of the WRX low reliability score was due to owners style of driving and their mods.

  8. OMG..!! Did I hear Ridgeline been recommended over a F-150. O M G…!! How would you recommend a Ridgeline not knowing if this person is going to do truck stuff with F-150.

  9. Manual SUVs. I have not seen with own eyes… but Jeep Compass has manual/AWD. I’ve driven a manual Subaru Crosstrek. And of course grandaddy pick is Jeep Wrangler. But FE fuel efficiency, one of the first two, imo.

  10. It can be surprising that the shortest possible sidewall isn’t ideal for performance. The extra compliance from taller sidewalls can improve absolute maximum grip. Take a look at C sports racers, aka, SCCA P1 cars. It’s one of the few areas of racing where wheel and tire height are essentially open

  11. If your sitting height results in the (non-adjustable) headrest/restraint hitting you uncomfortably, and reclining the seat doesn't help enough, you could always sit on a seat cushion. I would suggest using the thinnest seat cushion that helps your situation. Certainly, "test drive" any seat cushion, to ensure you can operate the pedals comfortably. If your vehicle has heated/ventilated seats, the "seat" portion will feel less effective.

  12. Make a daggone show with all questions… additional to the talking cars show!!!! Sigh!!!! YOU GUYS JUST DON'T GET IT….YOU HAVE THE VIEWERSHIP…..SO DO THE DING BLASTED SHOWS.

  13. why would they recommend a golf SportWagen when the woman said they put a lot of miles on their cars? Reliability is horrible Honda VW and repairs are super expensive. Malpractice Consumer Reports!

  14. My personal experience in a snowy climate is that an AWD vehicle, is the worst vehicle to not have snow tires on it. It still accelerates fairly well, misleading you as to how bad the braking and steering will be. At least in a 2wd, when you are spinning your wheels, you realize how slippery it is. AWD with snow tires is awesome.

  15. For the guy with no room to store a set of winter tires. The guys forgot to mention the Michelin Cross Climate tires which seem to do very well in all conditions. That would solve your storage issues.

  16. Hate these all question episodes. Literally the dumbest questions. I mean asking what "N/A" means has to be a new low

  17. I'm Lee M. that asked the question: I didn't do the oil change. I decided to see if the dealer was filling it completely, and I checked it in the morning following the change. It showed 1/2 quart down, so I called the dealer and they told me I had done it incorrectly. The next time I drove, and checked it 10 mins later as the dealer instructed me and it showed full. I'm confused. How can it show less when checked much later?

  18. Question 2. Contrary tothe statement made in the video, winter tires and snow tires are not equivalent terms. There are two categories of winter tires: snow tires and ice tires. Although both are designed for cold weather they have very different characteristics and are not designed for the same road conditions. Note: This is the situation in Canada. I do not know about in the U.S.

  19. unicorn? AWD under 35K$ Subaru ? impreza, or legacy I agree VW is a great choice, but why didn't people mention subaru?

  20. I have a different kind of tow rating question, coming from my ownership of a 2017 Subaru Forester XT (weight 3700 lb, 250hp turbo engine, CVT transmission). My Forester is limited to towing a 1500 lb trailer if it has brakes, 1000 lb if not. The new bigger 2019 Subaru Ascent 3-row SUV is configured very similarly to my Forester (weight 4500 lb, 260 hp turbo engine, CVT transmission) but most Ascent models are rated to tow 5000 lb. Do you guys believe there truly is enough reengineering of the new Ascent chassis that its realistic physical towing limitations are that much greater (more than triple) compared to my Forester? Or did Subaru artificially low-ball my car's stated capability because there was little market demand for Forester towing capability? Or is Subaru taking a competitive risk exaggerating the capability of the Ascent?? Maybe a combination of these factors? I myself may have part of the answer to this by October this year; we are planning to tow a rented 1000 lb teardrop trailer on the order of 10000 miles, from the Pacific NW to Newfoundland and back. I'll report in again if something dramatic happens. A practice run I recently did with an empty 1000 lb UHaul utility trailer, 100 miles up to Snoqualmie Pass and back on I90, didn't faze the Forester at all. In the meantime keep up the good work – I greatly respect your shows, not just for technical automotive content but also for high quality videography, wit and personality of all of you.

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