Why Jeep Replaced Our 2014 Cherokee's Engine


Jeep replaced the engine in our 2014 Cherokee. Here's why.

It seemed simple enough. Drop off Cars.com's long-term Cherokee at our local dealership to diagnosis an occasional drivability issue and get the oil changed. Our Cherokee had thrown a tantrum a few days earlier where the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine stalled multiple times, but, of course, it was driving perfectly fine en route to the dealership.

Related: Follow Cars.com's Long-Term Fleet

We thought maybe the Jeep needed a software flash update to the engine's computer, or maybe a rat had chewed through an engine harness while the SUV sat outside in these cold Chicago temps, as had happened to our Chevrolet Volt. The last thing we expected to hear was that our Cherokee was getting a new engine at only 13,300 miles. After all, the four-cylinder didn't spectacularly fail in a burst of shattered pistons and connecting rods leaving us stranded on the side of the road. We drove the Cherokee into the service bay under its own power, as it was operating fairly normally.

What the technician found there was surprising, though: excessive amounts of oil had crept into the intake side of the engine, coating the intake manifold, hoses and an engine management sensor.

By Joe Bruzek | December 22, 2014 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2015 Acura TLX


Vehicles Affected: Approximately 9,000 model-year 2015 two-wheel-drive Acura TLX sedans equipped with the V-6 and manufactured July 14 through Nov. 12, 2014; all-wheel-drive vehicles manufactured between Aug. 26 and Nov. 10, 2014, are also affected.

The Problem: Problems with the automatic transmission shifter or park rod could prevent the transmission from shifting into Park. This could cause the vehicle to roll away, increasing the risk of accident or injury.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the transmission for free.

What Owners Should Do: Honda will notify owners beginning Jan. 6. Owners can call Honda at 310-783-2000 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

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

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By Jennifer Geiger | December 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2015 Toyota Sienna


Vehicles Affected: Approximately 25,000 model-year 2015 Toyota Sienna minivans manufactured Sept. 2 through Nov. 14, 2014

The Problem: If the curtain-side airbags deploy, the second-row overhead assist handles may detach, possibly injuring the minivan's occupants. Toyota is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this recall.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and modify the headliner near the second-row overhead assist handles for free.

What Owners Should Do: Toyota will begin notifying owners on Jan. 15. Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

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

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By Jennifer Geiger | December 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

Five Features to Look for in a Minivan


Chances are, if you're shopping for a minivan, you're in full-fledged family mode and need a comfortable, roomy vehicle to haul multiple kids and all their stuff. Sure, minivans have a lot of things in common — like those oh-so-practical sliding doors — but some are better than others at becoming your family's living room on wheels.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

Since your minivan will be carrying your most precious cargo, plenty of safety features and top safety scores are a must for parents. But the family truckster also has to make the kids happy, with enough creature comforts to ease the drive (read: keep them quiet).

Check out our top five features to look for in a minivan:

By Jennifer Geiger | December 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Chrysler 300: First Drive


Austin is weird. In fact, the city hangs its hat on that distinction. A small patch of donkey blue wedged in a sea of elephant red, the liberal city prides itself on its odd-man-out political status and singular strangeness. I visited the Texas city to drive the updated Chrysler 300, and the sedan is anything but strange.

Related: 2015 Chrysler 300: First Look

The 2015 Chrysler 300's attention-grabbing styling, elegant interior and composed road manners convey an overall classiness that rivals other large sedans.

Light exterior and interior styling updates, a standard eight-speed automatic transmission with rotary dial and additional safety features highlight the changes for 2015. The 300 has always made a splash visually, and the new model's exaggerated front-end proportions ensure it will continue to be a statement-maker for the brand. Its signature gaping grille is even larger this year — pumped up by 33 percent — and inside the mesh grille floats Chrysler's winged badge.

The 300 Limited, 300C, 300S and 300C Platinum trims are available for 2015; I tested a rear-wheel-drive Limited trim with the V-6; Chrysler expects around 40 percent of buyers to opt for this entry model.

By Jennifer Geiger | December 21, 2014 | Comments (4)

2016 Cadillac CTS-V: First Look


Competes with: BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Looks like: A meaner, wider CTS with lots of extra aero bits

Drivetrain: 640-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: TBD

Related: More 2015 Detroit Auto Show News

We all knew the third generation of the CTS-V was coming at some point, and after Cadillac unveiled the new, smaller ATS-V sedan and coupe at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this year, we knew it couldn't be far away. And right we were: Cadillac has pulled the covers off of its flagship performance sedan several weeks ahead of its official public debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Like its predecessor, the new CTS-V does not disappoint. Meant to go head-to-head with the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, the CTS-V builds on an already lightweight, sophisticated platform to create what looks to be a phenomenal automobile.

By Aaron Bragman | December 21, 2014 | Comments (3)

Traffic Deaths Down 3.1 Percent in 2013


Fatalities from traffic accidents decreased 3.1 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to a traffic fatality report issued today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In total, 32,719 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2013. That's down from 2012's 33,782 — a figure that's been adjusted since NHTSA released it more than a year ago. In 2013, about two-thirds of fatalities (21,132) were occupants in passenger vehicles; the balance comes largely from commercial-vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Related: Study: AAA Finds Safety Systems Still Have Kinks

The totals match a February 2014 estimate by the National Safety Council, but NHTSA typically issues the prior-year report near the end of each calendar year. Of note, traffic injuries (not deaths) also decreased 2.1 percent. Deaths from drunken and/or distracted driving both fell, though distracted-driving injuries increased. Finally, the rate of deaths — 1.10 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2013, versus 1.14 deaths in 2012 — also decreased. That's a historic low, NHTSA says.

Still, the nation's 4,735 pedestrian fatalities are 15 percent higher than 2009's record low, and pedal cyclists (anyone riding a bicycle, tricycle, etc.) increased 1.2 percent to a seven-year high.

Want more? Click here to read NHTSA's full report.

Zoran Horvat/iStock/Thinkstock

By Kelsey Mays | December 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

Cadillac Debuts Video Rearview Mirror in 2016 CT6


Cadillac announced Thursday that the 2016 CT6, its forthcoming flagship car that signals a brand-wide nameplate change, will offer streaming video of what's behind you in the center rearview mirror. The video overlays the mirror, but drivers can switch back to the mirror view at the touch of a button. Cadillac estimates it will improve the field of vision by 300 percent, as it removes passengers, head restraints, window pillars and the vehicle's roofline from your line of sight.

Related: Cadillac Changes All Model Names to Alphanumeric, Starts With CT6, Etc.

It reads a lot like Nissan's Smart Rearview Mirror, but that has yet to reach our shores. And it won't be the first time an automaker has streamed real-time video of what's behind you. Tesla and Land Rover have true rearview cameras — not just backup cameras — that do just that.

Like Nissan, Cadillac claims the camera reduces glare and picks up your surroundings even in low-light situations. The display itself is a TFT LCD, or thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display, that measures 1,280 by 240 pixels; it draws video from a rear-mounted high-definition camera lens with a specialized coating to repel water and dirt.

By Kelsey Mays | December 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review


"The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata offers superior handling, an easy-to-use convertible top and loads of driving fun, but it needs its imminent 2016 redesign to keep pace with a growing, competitive market," says Cars.com reviewer Bill Jackson.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Jennifer Geiger | December 19, 2014 | Comments (1)

What Does This Button Do?


At first glance this button doesn't look like anything special. It's obviously a side-view mirror control of some sort, but pressing it doesn't automatically reveal the button's multicontrol function. What looks like a simple retracting mirror button activates a different trick all together.

Related: More Curious Buttons

A better clue is the car in which you'll find the button — or rather the truck: the 2015 Ford F-150.

By Joe Bruzek | December 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

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