Video: The In-Car Tablet Trend

Tablets are becoming a popular backseat entertainment choice in vehicles, and automakers are taking notice. Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder explains the trend. Watch the video for more.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 30, 2015 | Comments (0)

Only One Editor Used Our Jeep Cherokee's CD Player

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Our long-term fleet cars get around. Almost everyone on our editorial staff gets behind the wheel at some point, and a lot of those excursions are of the road-trip variety. Most are regular commutes of course, but with a long-term car the stereo is probably used more often than cars in for shorter examinations.

Related: More on Our Long-Term Fleet

Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee came with an optional — yes optional at $195 — CD player, which is located in the center console cubby, not in the dash. Most of our test drivers plugged in their smart devices via USB or tethered wirelessly via Bluetooth during trips adding up to 15,000-plus miles. There were also options for terrestrial and satellite radio. Those seemed to be enough choices for hours upon hours of listening for our staff ... all except for one.

By David Thomas | January 21, 2015 | Comments (6)

Would You Choose Pay-as-You Drive Insurance?

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Pay-as-you-drive insurance programs appeal for their low price, but a new study suggests that many Americans would not consider enrolling in one due to privacy concerns. According to the study, 51 percent of people surveyed said they would never consider enrolling in a pay-as-you-drive insurance program, up from 37 percent last year.

Related: By-the-Mile Car Insurance Targets Urban Drivers

The programs, like Metromile, are designed for urban drivers who drive less than 10,000 miles a year and claim to offer a 10-30 percent discount off annual premiums compared with a traditional flat-rate policy. Mileage is tracked via a device that plugs into your car; it captures the data and transmits it to the insurance company for tracking. Most people, however, aren't willing to trade savings for privacy.

"It's still a very small percentage of consumers involved in pay-as-you-drive. I think there's still reluctance on the part of some drivers to have a GPS device installed in their cars that’s monitoring their driving habits," Mike Barry, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, said in a statement.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 19, 2015 | Comments (12)

Tablet-Addicted Kids Spawn Car Trend

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There's a trend we've been starting to pick up on recently, and it's more apparent than ever here at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit running through Sunday. Automotive manufacturers are starting to pick up on the fact that our kids, from toddlers to teens, are tablet addicted.

More 2015 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Expensive entertainment systems built into cars' rear seats are being replaced by universal tablet holders like those in the Volvo XC90 and Kia Sedona. Rear-seat passengers can mount their own personal technology devises into these brackets, secured on the back of the front seats. Music, movies, games, apps and research for homework (as if) are just an arm's length away.

By Kristin Varela | January 19, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Consumer Electronics Show: What You Need to Know

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Amid the flurry of sales reports and state-of-the-industry analyses, automakers had plenty to say at an event that's becoming more intertwined with the auto industry each year: the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show.

Related: Chrysler Debuts Updated Uconnect Access System

This year, autonomous cars and wearable technology were high on the docket. The show runs Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas, but we pulled together all the news that should matter for car shoppers.

By Kelsey Mays | January 7, 2015 | Comments (0)

Chrysler Debuts Updated Uconnect Access System

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Detroit's North American International Auto Show may start next week, but there's another big show making news. Automakers are showing off their latest tech advances this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unveiled the latest version of its Uconnect Access app-based connected-car system.

Related: More Chrysler News

New features include Vehicle Finder, Send Destination to Vehicle, Vehicle Health Report and Vehicle Health Alert. Aside from the added functionality, the app has been redesigned as well; FCA says that aside from a whole new look, the app is faster and more intuitive.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 6, 2015 | Comments (0)

Cadillac Debuts Video Rearview Mirror in 2016 CT6

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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)

Night Drivers Need This Button

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It seems that the older I get, the more sensitive I am to driving at night, whether its lights on the roads or the light coming from test cars' multimedia systems. And I'm not alone.

Related: More Safety News

Most adults have trouble adjusting to bright lights as they age. "The pupil shrinks from a diameter of about five millimeters when we're young adults to about three millimeters in old age," according to an article on night vision in Harvard Health Publications. "A smaller pupil means less lights can enter the eye ... and [is] part of the reason older eyes have a harder time adjusting to changes in light — going from darkness into bright light and vice versa."

Pair this phenomenon with the increasing size of electronic screens in cars and it's a recipe for difficulty driving at night. Chrysler's Uconnect system features an 8.4-inch screen; the new Volvo XC90's touch-screen is iPad sized and inspired, and the Tesla Model S features a mac-daddy 17-inch screen. These screens emit a continuous glow, and it can be difficult to see after looking at a tablet-sized glowing screen and then back to the dark road ahead while driving at night. Want to turn the glow down while its in night mode or even turn it off? With many systems, you'll have to stare directly into the glowing embers, so to speak, long enough to toggle through several menu screens to turn off the screen.

By Kristin Varela | December 18, 2014 | Comments (4)

Tested: Clickit Sport Car Dog Harness

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Earlier this year we tested Sleepypod's Clickit Utility dog harness, the top performer in the Center for Pet Safety's 2013 crashworthy study. CPS now conducts voluntary certification tests of pet safety harnesses, and Sleepypod's newest harness — the Clickit Sport — is the first harness to achieve certification. The Clickit Sport earned CPS' top rating of five stars for each size in which it is offered (CPS ratings are assigned by size categories and not across a brand).

Related: Tested: Clickit Car Dog Harness

Since the Clickit Sport is significantly different from the Clickit Utility, we took it for a test drive and found the new harness to be more dog and human friendly.

By Jen Burklow | December 16, 2014 | Comments (1)

Goodbye, MyFord Touch; Hello, Sync 3

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MyFord Touch, maligned for its unintuitive touch-sensitive buttons, tiny touch-screen icons and overall lag, will finally head into the sunset. This is exactly 1,800 days since we first reported on the system, which appeared in the restyled 2011 Ford Edge and its 2011 Lincoln MKX sibling.

Related: 2015 Ford Fusion Review

Four years, 11 months and 5 days later, meet Sync 3. The third generation of Ford's Sync system (the automaker already markets Sync 2 in Europe), Sync 3 promises conversational voice recognition, less complexity, smartphone-like pinch and swipe touch-screen motions, better app integration and over-the-air updates through home WiFi networks, according to Ford.

By Kelsey Mays | December 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

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