Small Spike Breaks 33-Day Downward Trend in Gas Prices

GasPrices

Gas prices ticked up a fraction of a penny Thursday, ending a 33-day streak of declines at the pump, but the news on the fuel front for motorists was otherwise positive during the month of July. AAA said the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded fell 16 cents during the month to $3.52 on Thursday, the largest July decline in six years. Motorists are now paying the lowest prices for gas since mid-March. Moreover, domestic refineries processed a record amount of crude oil during July, averaging 16.5 million barrels a day, and the boost to the gas supply helped push down pump prices at a time of year when they usually go up.

Related: Gas Prices Approach Month of Daily Decreases

"Falling gas prices are nearly the opposite to what we usually see this time of year," AAA spokesman Avery Ash said in a statement. "Refineries are running at full tilt, and there is more than enough gasoline in the market, which has helped bring down prices despite multiple overseas conflicts."

By Matt Schmitz | August 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

Jaguar Releases New Photo of 3 Series-Fighter XE

Jaguar XE

Jaguar is whetting people's appetites for the all-new midsize XE with a glimpse of the 3 Series fighter poking its nose out of a building — the rest of the car is still under wraps. The recently released image isn't a very different angle from what we've already seen, though it shows a flesh and blood (aluminum and composite?) depiction instead of a heavily disguised rendering.

Related: Jaguar's 3 Series-Fighter Finally Announced, Named

When it goes on sale in 2016, the aluminum-chassis XE will use a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, plus offer a full range of engine choices with enough juice for one particular XE to top 186 mph.

By Joe Bruzek | July 31, 2014 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2014-2015 Fiat 500L

2014Fiat500LRecall

Vehicles Affected: Nearly 26,000 model-year 2014-15 Fiat 500L small crossovers

The Problem: The driver's knee airbag may not deploy in the proper position if the driver is not wearing a seat belt. Chrysler said in a statement that it discovered the problem during routine testing and is unaware of any related injuries.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners and advise them when they can schedule service; repairs will be made for free. The automaker has not yet announced a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403 for more info. The automaker advises owners to wear their seat belts at all times.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | July 31, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: Car Seat Check

2014HyundaiSantaFeSport

The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport earned Cars.com's Family Car of the Year award for 2014, and it's easy to understand why after spending some time in it. With roomy backseat, sizable cargo area and family-friendly touches such as an optional panoramic sunroof and rear sunshades for the side windows, the Santa Fe Sport has a winning combination of features that appeal to families.

We found this two-row crossover easy to work with in terms of child-safety-seat installation. While we have some gripes with the seat belt bases, we seemed to have less trouble with our car seats' impact on front passenger legroom with this year's model as compared to the 2013. Read on to find out how the current model measured up.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | July 31, 2014 | Comments (0)

Social Media Campaign Aims to Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars

ChildHeatstrokePrevention

Children dying in hot cars are gruesome headlines we're unfortunately confronted with every summer. Just a week ago, according to the Los Angeles Times, the 18th child this year in the U.S., a 10-month-old girl in Kansas, died after being left behind in a car.

Related: Never Leave Kids in Cars Unattended

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children younger than 14, occurring about once every 10 days, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year alone, 44 children in the U.S. lost their lives after being left unattended in vehicles. More than half of children who have died from vehicular heatstroke were left in the car by their parent or caregiver, NHTSA said. These tragedies often occur because harried parents forget that their child is in the car, whether because of a change in routine or the child is sleeping.

To help raise awareness, NHTSA is partnering with Safe Kids and the Administration for Children and Families on an all-day social-media event today, and is calling on the public to participate.

By Matt Schmitz | July 31, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Toyota 4Runner Real-World Cargo Space

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The off-road-ready 2014 Toyota 4Runner packs a fair amount of cargo room for an SUV geared toward rugged dirt duty. The five- or seven-occupant 4Runner's maximum 89.7 cubic feet of cargo space is actually a wee bit more than the family-focused eight-person 2014 Toyota Highlander's 83.7 cubic feet.

Related: 2014 Toyota 4Runner Expert Review

Though redesigned for 2014, the changes are mostly cosmetic and a number of the 4Runner's interesting cargo features carry over, including the available sliding rear cargo deck on five-person 4Runners that supports more than 400 pounds and slides out of the rear hatch area. The sliding cargo floor makes it easier to cope with the tall off-road-friendly ride height. See how well common items fit into the 4Runner's cargo area, below.

By Joe Bruzek | July 31, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Toyota Prius Gains Special Edition

2015_Prius

Toyota is adding a little extra spark to its hybrid Prius for 2015. The Persona Series Special Edition ties in a few unique interior and exterior components to the midlevel Prius Three trim, including 17-inch wheels with a dark metallic finish — 15-inchers are only available otherwise — plus the special edition adds a new Absolutely Red exterior color and the front occupants' footwells feature blue lighting.

Related: 2014 Toyota Prius: Car Seat Check

The Persona Series tacks on $1,235 to a Prius Three, so it starts at $27,810 with destination for the Absolutely Red exterior. Prius Three trims come equipped with navigation, a 6.1-inch touch-screen and keyless access. Add an additional $395 for the available Blizzard White exterior, which is the only other color option in the Persona Series. On the inside, this special edition pairs Toyota's black imitation leather SofTex with gray accent stitching along with chrome highlights on the shift knob ring and door handles.

The 2015 Prius Persona Series goes on sale in September. Information on updates to the rest of the Prius lineup will be released later this week.

Manufacturer image

By Joe Bruzek | July 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

Not All Small Cars Shine in Latest IIHS Crash Tests

Leaf_crash

In its latest round of tests the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that diminutive cars still have issues with its challenging small overlap front crash test. This time out electric cars like the range-extender 2014 Chevrolet Volt and 2014 Nissan Leaf were tested for the first time with mixed results, while the Mini Countryman was the only small car in the group to earn a top grade in the test.

Related: Tougher IIHS Crash Test Could Mean Fewer Top Safety Picks

The Volt popped up on IIHS' scale of poor, marginal, acceptable and good with a score of acceptable, good enough for the Volt to be awarded a 2014 Top Safety Pick+ designation, the institute's highest award. The Leaf didn't fare as well in the 40-mph test designed to simulate a collision with another vehicle or a pole and earned a poor rating. IIHS observed intrusion in the lower and upper compartments indicating likely injuries to the left knee and left lower leg, while a left thigh injury would also be possible. Neither electric car had any issue with the batteries or electrical systems post-crash.

Ten other small cars went through this round of IIHS small overlap crash tests along with the Volt and Leaf, including the Mini Cooper Countryman and the Mazda5, which IIHS says is one of the worst-performing models the institute has evaluated in the small overlap test.

By Joe Bruzek | July 30, 2014 | Comments (5)

2015 Lexus NX Review

2015LexusNX

"As compact luxury SUVs go, the 2015 Lexus NX combines enough driving fun and occupant comfort to deserve a look, but anyone with serious cargo needs should look elsewhere, or stick to the brand's popular RX," said Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays. Check out Mays' review for more.

2015 Lexus NX Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

By Matt Schmitz | July 30, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Chevrolet Caprice, 2014 Chevrolet SS

2014ChevroletSSRecall

Vehicles Affected: Nearly 5,000 model-year 2013-14 Chevrolet Caprice police vehicles manufactured between June 7, 2013, and May 29, 2014, and model-year 2014 SS sedans manufactured between Sept. 13, 2013, and March 4, 2014

The Problem: The windshield wiper motor gear teeth may strip, causing the windshield wipers to not work. This would prevent the clearing of rain or snow and reduce the driver's visibility, which increases the risk of a crash.

The Fix: GM will begin notifying owners in early August, and dealers will inspect the wiper module assembly and replace any affected ones for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Chevrolet at 800-222-1020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | July 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

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