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 (0)

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

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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.

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

Not All Small Cars Shine in Latest IIHS Crash Tests

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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 (3)

2015 Lexus NX Review

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"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.

More Recalls

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

Recall Alert: 2011-14 Hyundai Sonata

2014HyundaiSonataRecall

Vehicles Affected: More than 880,000 model-year 2011-14 Hyundai Sonata sedans manufactured between Dec. 11, 2009, and May 29, 2014

The Problem: The transmission shift cable may detach from the shift lever pin; if this happens, the transmission gear selection may not match the indicated gear, and the vehicle may move in an unintended or unexpected direction, increasing the risk of a crash. In addition, when the driver parks the vehicle, despite selecting the Park position, the transmission may not be in Park; if the parking brake is not applied, the vehicle could roll away, endangering occupants exiting the vehicle and bystanders.

The Fix: Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, if necessary, repair the connection between the shift cable and shift lever for free. The automaker has not yet announced a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Hyundai at 800-633-5151, 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.

More Recalls

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

What Does This Button Do?

E550_button

Tons of things go into seats, like passengers, child-safety seats and less convenient items like quarters, cellphones and keys that disappear into the black hole between the cushions. Few things, however, come out of a seat unless it's a coil spring poking you in the rear or the extravagant feature Mercedes-Benz incorporates on its E-Class convertible.

Top 10 Most Extravagant Car Options

The Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet's mysterious button hints that it expels something from the front seats, but it's not the scented breeze of pine trees when your passenger can't catch a hint.

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

Bench Seats Versus Captain's Chairs

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I'm on a quest for a new family car, one with three rows to accommodate my three tween/teen daughters and the occasional friend or grandparent. My pool of available options is quite limited by one hard fact: We must have captain's chairs.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

While many families may think they want the extra seating capacity that a second-row bench seat allows, I'm here to save you from making that mistake.

While offering room for three passengers, bench seats can create problems in family cars. If you have kids in child-safety seats, you're most likely to put them in the outboard position of the second row, where you have the easiest access to help them climb in and out and get buckled and unbuckled. The problem is that in most three-row SUVs, the only access to the third row comes by sliding, folding and/or flipping one of the outboard seats in the second row. That's difficult to do when a child-safety seat is installed there, though there are a few SUVs (like the Infiniti QX60, formerly the JX35), that work around this problem. Most, however, do not. This leaves limited options.

By Kristin Varela | July 30, 2014 | Comments (4)

Recall Alert: 2015 Hyundai Sonata

2015HyundaiSonataRecall

Vehicles Affected: Nearly 5,700 model-year 2015 Hyundai Sonata sedans manufactured between April 25, 2014, and June 16, 2014

The Problem: Due to a manufacturing error, one or both of the front brake calipers may fracture, reducing brake effectiveness and lengthening the distance required to stop the vehicle, which increases the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Hyundai notified owners on June 19 and instructed them not to drive their vehicles; the automaker will replace the affected brake calipers for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Hyundai at 800-633-5151, 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.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | July 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

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