2014 Jeep Cherokee Dog Kennel Tested


One of the flashy features in the new Jeep Cherokee is its built-in cargo rail system. It promises flexibility for unique Jeep accessories like the cooler we recently tested. When we decided to purchase other accessories one that stood out was a custom-fit dog crate to keep canines safe on the road.

Get Ready for Summer With Jeep Cherokee's Custom Cooler

The collapsible dog crate is similar to others you would find in the pet supply world. The Jeep version retails at $165. Our internet price was $142.41, including shipping. Similarly sized crates can be had from $60 to $140, but they aren't custom-made for specific cars, a seeming advantage for the Cherokee's rail system. However, even though the Jeep crate is custom-tailored for the Cherokee, it does not use the much-hyped cargo rail at all.

By Jen Burklow | June 18, 2014 | Comments (1)

Google to Unveil Apple CarPlay Rival


Well, that didn't take long. Less than four months after Apple unveiled its CarPlay operating system that brings apps and maps galore to a car's multimedia system, Google is reportedly launching an in-car operating system of its own.

Apple Unveils CarPlay for Volvo, Mercedes, Ferrari at 2014 Geneva Motor Show

Automotive News reports (subscription required) that Google's internal designation for the system is Google Auto Link. It's the product of Google's Open Automotive Alliance, a group that includes Google, Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and tech company Nvidia. The consortium, formed in January 2014, promised to bring Google's Android platform to the car by year's end.

The schedule appears on track.

By Kelsey Mays | June 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Resqme Is Worst-Case-Scenario Car Safety Gadget


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 300 to 400 people are killed in submerged vehicles each year in the U.S. In addition to being a disorienting, viscerally panic-inducing scenario, being trapped in a sinking car presents peculiar challenges to escaping. The water pressure can make the vehicle's windows and doors impossible to open, and tempered glass in a submerged car can be equally difficult to break through. Then, on top of it all, what if your seat belt is jammed, also preventing your escape?

More Car Gadgets News on Cars.com

While this might seem like a nightmare where everything goes wrong, it just so happens that there exists a safety gadget designed specifically for such an eventuality: resqme, which pulls double duty as both a seat-belt cutter and window breaker. The name (pronounced like "rescue me") might be difficult to read, but the manufacturer promises it's easy to use. The device is small and light enough to fit on your keychain.

By Matt Schmitz | June 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Google Announces New Self-Driving Car Prototype Fleet


If you could buy one of Google's all-new cars on a dealer lot, you wouldn't have to wonder how much that optional heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel is going to set you back — because there is no steering wheel. Or gas pedal. Or foot brakes. The prototype fleet of electric-powered, entirely self-driving cars announced Tuesday by the Silicon Valley-based tech giant — which has been developing autonomous-car technology for years — is expected to begin testing by year's end.

Driverless Cars Before Decade's End? Developers Say So

According to USA Today, the fleet of as many as 200 prototype two-seaters is part of Google's efforts to "reengineer transportation." In lieu of conventional human-controlled driving mechanisms, the new car instead uses sensors and software to avert danger, the newspaper reported. The prototype currently has a top speed of only 25 mph (no word on its zero-to-25 mph sprint time) and has been involved in no accidents yet, USA Today said.

By Matt Schmitz | May 28, 2014 | Comments (5)

By-the-Mile Car Insurance Targets Urban Drivers


Denizens of dense urban areas typically don't drive as much as their suburban and rural counterparts. Factors such as heavy traffic and expensive parking discourage driving, especially when public transportation and other convenient options exist, in addition to closer proximity to destinations like supermarkets, schools and offices. While many city dwellers still own, or would like to own, a car, paying similar insurance premiums as someone who drives everywhere all the time might not seem like it makes much economic sense.

App Helps Urban Drivers Avoid Street-Sweeping Tickets

But what if you could pay by the mile to insure your car, so that you're only ponying up for what you need when you need it? That's just what the San Francisco-based MetroMile allows motorists to do, and its business model caters to just the sort of driver described above. Already available in states including California, Washington and Oregon, MetroMile expanded to Illinois just this March, and a survey conducted of Chicago-area motorists illustrates why.

By Matt Schmitz | May 2, 2014 | Comments (3)

Distracted Driving Apps Step in When Willpower Fails


As we near the end of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, by now you've likely heard at least some of the many statistics showing how smartphone use while driving is fraught with danger for motorists, their passengers and everyone around them. Authorities cited distracted driving as the cause of more than 3,300 deaths nationwide in 2012 and thousands more injuries. Surveys show that drivers recognize the danger of distracted driving, and 43 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving, yet large percentages of drivers, including roughly three-quarters of teens and other young drivers, continue to do so anyway.

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

As a nation of motorists in a climate of nearly continuous connectivity, we have not been successful in putting down our personal devices long enough to get from point A to point B, even under threat of death or serious injury. For those of us who know better, but just can't seem to police ourselves or our driving-age children while behind the wheel, a market has emerged for apps and other measures that do our distracted-driving policing for us.

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

Nissan Demonstrates Smart Rearview Mirror

While the very purpose of a rearview mirror is to see what's behind you, Nissan is looking ahead. The Japanese automaker demonstrated a prototype of its Smart Rearview Mirror during the 2014 New York International Auto Show, and Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays was there to check it out. The system works similarly to a conventional backup camera, but instead broadcasts unobstructed real-time images to the driver's rearview mirror at the flip of a switch. Catching a glimpse of the newfangled mirror in a mass-produced car is years off, so for now get Mays' reflections by watching the video above.

More 2014 New York Auto Show Coverage

By Matt Schmitz | April 29, 2014 | Comments (7)

Truly Remote Start Impresses in 2014 Chevrolet Impala


Regular readers are probably just as tired of us talking about Chicago's polar vortex winter as we are tired of persistent cold temperatures. If there's one car feature we can point to that made one of the area's coldest and snowiest winters on record more bearable, it's the remote engine starting system on our 2014 Chevrolet Impala long-term tester.

More on Our Long-Term Fleet

The Impala's remote start is a factory-installed feature included in the $1,095 navigation and stereo package or $940 Convenience Package. Time and time again, the Impala's remote start would fire up the engine at surprisingly long distances or from well inside a house, which beat having to crack the front door and hold the key fob outside like other systems we've tested.

By Joe Bruzek | April 15, 2014 | Comments (3)

Nissan's Smart Rearview Mirror Improves Rear Visibility


Come 2016 or 2017, Nissan could have a better rearview mirror in some of its cars. After an initial rollout to its racecars and Japan-market vehicles, the automaker plans to introduce its new Smart Rearview Mirror to global markets over the next few years. The SRM uses a high-res rearview camera to overlay what's behind you — in real time — in the conventional rearview mirror. Drivers can alternate between the mirror and the monitor with a switch on the bottom of the mirror frame.

Which Small SUV Has the Best Rear Visibility?

If it works, the technology could free drivers from the compromised sightlines that short rear windows, large rear head restraints or bulky C- and D-pillars create. It also means big Uncle Eddy could sit in back without blocking three interstate lanes.

But execution matters in a huge way.

By Kelsey Mays | April 14, 2014 | Comments (3)

Texting-While-Driving Consequences Vary by State


Generally speaking, a moving violation is when a driver breaks the law while their vehicle is in motion. Examples of patently dangerous actions include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and running a stop sign. But what about texting while driving?

Cars.com Undercover: Texting While Driving Rampant

That indisputably risky variety of distracted driving that puts drivers' eyes on their smartphone screens and their thumbs on the digital keys — and only a portion of their attention on the road — has been shown to directly correlate with accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash, a major contributor to the thousands of distracted-driving deaths that occur each year.

By Matt Schmitz | April 11, 2014 | Comments (3)

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