Video: These Over-the-Top Features Will Make You Drool

With car options, there are luxury features that make your driving experience more pleasurable in a tasteful, elegant manner. And then there are over-the-top features that exist in large part so you can boast to whomever will listen. Watch the video above as Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays introduces some of these show-offy features, from self-parking to hot-stone massage seats.

By Matt Schmitz | October 17, 2014 | Comments (1)

In-Car Entertainment Systems: Yea or Nay?

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Early in my automotive journalism and parenting careers, I had this grand "no-DVDs-in-the-car" stance. (I'm pretty sure I was still making my own baby food back then, too — ha!). Then I took a couple of road trips with my two toddlers in a test car with a DVD system, and I became a convert after an "Angelina Ballerina" DVD performed wonders by diverting an in-car tantrum. My sister-in-law still likes to bring up my change in policy to get a laugh at family get-togethers.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

Now that my "babies" have entered a new stage in life, I've changed tunes yet again. My freshly blended "Brady Bunch" family is comprised of my daughters, ages 14 and 12, and my stepdaughter, age 10. Today, technology inundates practically every facet of our lives. My oldest got an iPhone when she turned 12, worked on an iPad for all her middle-school classes and is now required to have a laptop for high school. Her Spanish seminars use Google Hangouts, she Face Times with me to keep me up-to-date on all the latest teen goings-on while I'm on business trips, she choreographs dances using an app to catalog her ideas — and the list goes on and on. My other two girls listen to music, play games and watch movies on their devices when traveling overseas to visit grandparents in South Africa. Our family's weekly dinner menu and grocery list are accessible by all of us, online calendars are used to manage three kids' schedules in three different schools in three different cities — and once again, the list seemingly never ends.

I'm sure many of you can relate to the fact that having dedicated time to talk to my kids, with full attention on both sides, is a rarity. The best chance of that happening these days is in the car … without a DVD entertainment system.

By Kristin Varela | October 15, 2014 | Comments (2)

Video: These In-Car Apps Aren't Worth Your Cash

When shopping for a new car, buyers are bombarded now more than ever with optional tech upgrades, from backup cameras to Wi-Fi hotspots and from social-media feeds to internet radio. Which of these features will enhance your driving experience and which should you kick to the curb? Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays will help you decide in the video above.

By Matt Schmitz | October 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Dash Cams Hold Benefits Despite Absence of Insurance Incentives

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By Ali Oswald

Dash cams may not be as popular in the U.S. as in Russia, where footage from them has produced many popular YouTube videos, but they do have a number of practical benefits for drivers.

Related: Most Backup Cameras Don't Like Bad Weather

Dash cams can give drivers additional "peace of mind," said Johan-Till Broer, Garmin public relations manager, if a crash happens. Having a recording of an incident can help protect against insurance fraud. Some dash cams have impact sensors that save footage for 3 to 5 minutes before and after a collision, said Chris Kooistra, Cobra Electronics' director of marketing. Both companies sell mainstream dash cams.

The device can be an education tool for drivers, too. Parents can review footage with their teen drivers to point out bad habits that need to be fixed and reinforce good ones, said Carinsurance.com Managing Editor Michelle Megna.

By Jennifer Newman | October 8, 2014 | Comments (8)

AAA: Hands-Free Voice Recognition Systems Still Distracting

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Ever felt like the voice recognition from your car or smartphone garbled more than it understood? You're not alone. In J.D. Power's 2014 Initial Quality Study, voice-recognition systems added significantly to the headaches in new or redesigned cars, which often pack more of the technology than models unchanged from the previous year. Now a new study from AAA finds that voice recognition isn't just annoying; it can be dangerous.

Related: Distracted Driving Campaign Targets 'Big Fat Myth' of Hands-Free Safety

And it's not just in-car systems; Apple's Siri personal assistant proved even more distracting. AAA and the University of Utah conducted the multiyear study, which coded distraction categories from 1 (least distracting) to 5 (most distracting) through driving simulators and real-world test cars rigged with measurements for driver reaction times, plus dozens of real drivers.

By Kelsey Mays | October 7, 2014 | Comments (0)

Video: How Easy Is It to Pair the New iPhone to Your Car?

Now that you've got the iPhone6 in your hot little hand, you'll naturally want to know how compatible it is with your car's multimedia system. As Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder explains in the video above, our experts put the new smartphone to the test in a number of vehicles to generally impressive effect. Watch the video to learn what features you can use and what else you'll need to know about this mating of mobile media.

By Matt Schmitz | September 29, 2014 | Comments (1)

So Far, So Good for iPhone 6 in Cars We've Tested

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When the iPhone 5 rolled out in September 2012, we had some major trouble getting it to work in our fleet of test cars. Thankfully, it turned out to be a simple fix. With the iPhone 6, it seems there are little to no hiccups with car integration.

Related: Should You Use the Apple Watch in Your Car?

First, we tested the iPhone 6's basic iTunes functions, which was something that didn't work for the iPhone 5.

We had a 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T with the Uconnect multimedia system at our Chicago headquarters. The iPhone paired easily with Uconnect, quickly bringing up all track information and album artwork. Then we tried our long-term 2014 Chevy Impala equipped with the MyLink multimedia system. Again, track info and album artwork immediately displayed.

Next was the all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is in for two weeks of testing with us.

By David Thomas | September 22, 2014 | Comments (3)

First California Permit to Test Self-Driving Cars Goes to Audi

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Audi announced today that it had received the first permit issued by California for the testing of self-driving, or autonomous, cars on the Golden State's roadways. The news comes the same day as California's new laws governing the testing of automated vehicles take effect with an eye toward the eventual consumer use of driverless cars.

Related: Survey: Motorists Apprehensive About Driverless Cars

"California roads are especially crucial to Audi Piloted driving testing because the state is home to the brand's Electronics Research Lab," the automaker stated in a news release. "ERL engineers are working on a wide range of automated driving issues, including human-machine interface prompts that indicate when the human or the vehicle are handling driving functions."

By Matt Schmitz | September 16, 2014 | Comments (6)

Should You Use the Apple Watch in Your Car?

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Apple just took the wraps off its new iPhone 6, which ships on Sept. 19 for a contract-tethered starting price of $199. Along with the phone came a new — and much-anticipated — device from the Cupertino, Calif., company: the Apple Watch. Apple's first foray into the field of wearable devices, which are multiplying like digital rabbits, the Apple Watch heralds new ways to do a lot of old things: text messages, checking the weather and social media, but it also has maps and turn-by-turn directions built in. It will start at $349 and be available in early 2015.

Related: Navdy Rethinks the Head-Up Display

Having all this information on your wrist may be as convenient — or more so — than having it on your phone, but looking at your wrist while driving may not be an advisable experience for drivers.

By Kelsey Mays | September 10, 2014 | Comments (2)

Cadillac Preps Self-Driving Tech for 2017

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In the not-too-distant future, your Cadillac could know that another car is approaching from a blind corner and warn you before you or the other car could see or detect the danger.

Related: Feds: Car-to-Car Tech Can Save Lives

That's because so-called "vehicle-to-vehicle" technology will make its debut in an all-new 2017 car from GM's luxury division, CEO Mary Barra told reporters at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit on Sunday. The 2017 Cadillac CTS will also boast such tech.

GM plans to debut the technology under the term "Super Cruise," which will also enable semi-autonomous driving. Super Cruise can brake, accelerate and maintain your lane through steering assist without any driver input. Many automakers already offer such technology — Mercedes-Benz's Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, for example — but require you to periodically keep your hands on the wheel. In certain highway conditions, Super Cruise will not.

By Kelsey Mays | September 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

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