NHTSA Tests New Crop of Vehicles

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A host of 2014 vehicles have earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's five-star rating in crash tests, perhaps most notably the redesigned-for-2014 Cadillac CTS.

Both the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the CTS got an overall score of five in NHTSA's safety ratings. Both earned fives in frontal-crash tests and side-crash tests, and fours in rollover tests. Meanwhile, its compact sibling, the 2014 ATS, earned fives across the board for both the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. Both the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the 2014 XTS also earned an overall five-star score, with fives in frontal- and side-crash ratings and fours in rollover tests.

Other 2014 models joining NHTSA's five-star club earned fives in frontal- and side-crash ratings and fours in rollover tests. They included:

By Matt Schmitz | May 17, 2013 | Comments (0)

What's the Most Affordable Compact Sedan?

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Car shoppers want a long list of features in a new car, even if that car is a compact sedan that starts around $16,000. That starting price usually doesn't include what many consider "must-have" features — chief among them an automatic transmission.

We took 11 compact sedans and looked at their prices when equipped with the following features:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Cruise control
  • USB input
  • Remote entry
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Steering-wheel audio controls

It may seem like a simple search, but if you're looking at a new Nissan Sentra, Dodge Dart or Volkswagen Jetta, you'll need to know the specific trim level, options and option packages to ensure you won't regret not having that one missing feature.

We took those as-equipped prices and then added five years of fuel costs to come up with the most affordable compact sedan on the market.

Having recently purchased our long-term Honda Civic that has all of these features in a base model, we thought it had a good shot of scoring well here. But the results were somewhat surprising, especially in terms of what car was No. 1.

By David Thomas | May 8, 2013 | Comments (15)

GM Expects EPA to Rate 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel at 27/46 MPG

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GM said today the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze diesel will get an EPA rating of 27/46 mpg city/highway with its standard six-speed automatic transmission. The highway rating represents the highest of any non-hybrid car in the U.S., GM says, but the EPA's combined rating — 33 mpg — is just 2 mpg better than a gas-powered Cruze Eco with its automatic. It also falls 1 mpg short of the diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI with its six-speed auto.

The Cruze diesel's turbo-diesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 148 horsepower and, typical of diesels, a prodigious 258 pounds-feet of torque. An overboost mode can crank out as much as 280 pounds-feet for short bursts. GM says the car hits 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, which beats the Jetta TDI's 8.7-second rating by a smidge.

By Kelsey Mays | April 18, 2013 | Comments (20)

Most-Watched Videos of the Week

The 2014 Toyota Tundra proved to be a cool customer, holding the No. 1 spot for its second consecutive week on our list of most-watched videos and once again keeping the previously dominating Ford Atlas concept at bay. The top video features PickupTrucks.com Editor Mark Williams' introduction of the new Tundra during its unveiling earlier this month at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. Other Chicago Auto Show favorites round out the Top 5, with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel rising one spot to No. 3, and the 2014 Ram ProMaster commercial van and 2014 Kia Cadenza sedan joining the list in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Check out what was popular this week:

1. 2014 Toyota Tundra
2. Ford Atlas Concept
3. 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
4. 2014 Ram ProMaster
5. 2014 Kia Cadenza
By Matt Schmitz | February 23, 2013 | Comments (2)

Most-Watched Videos of the Week

On its first time out, the 2014 Toyota Tundra froze the popular Ford Atlas in its tracks after the concept truck's three consecutive weeks atop our most-watched videos list. The No. 1 video features PickupTrucks.com Editor Mark Williams' introduction of the new Tundra during its unveiling this month at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. Toyota's full-size pickup, Williams explains, adopts a "more dominating stance" with its new exterior design. Also showing dominance were our videos from this year's Chicago Auto Show, which accounted for all but one of the top clips and included the 2014 versions of the Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and Nissan Juke NISMO. Here's what was popular:

1. 2014 Toyota Tundra
2. Ford Atlas Concept
3. 2014 Cadillac ELR
4. 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
5. 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO
By Matt Schmitz | February 16, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Video

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The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is not your father's diesel car. Still, while far from the "smoke-spitting clatter boxes" of yore, Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays sees several reasons you may not want it to be yours. The Cruze Diesel, now appearing at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, should offer impressive torque and quickness on par with its nearest competitors, along with some nifty trim features.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

However, the diesel boosts fuel efficiency by less than 8% compared to its gasoline-burning counterpart the Chevy Cruze Eco, and the diesel model costs 18% more. Watch the video below and decide if that's going to be good enough.

By Matt Schmitz | February 12, 2013 | Comments (6)

2013 Chicago Auto Show Winners and Losers

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The Chicago Auto Show is traditionally big on floor space and short on new product debuts, and the 2013 edition is no different with just a handful of all-new production and concept cars making their premieres. Editors Mike Hanley, Aaron Bragman, David Thomas and Joe Bruzek crisscrossed the expansive show floor in search of the hits and misses.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Mike Hanley: Winner
It would have been nice to see some frame or powertrain improvements, but the styling changes nicely update the truck. The taller hood makes for a bold front end, and the stamped badge on the tailgate is something you'd typically see on a concept truck. On the show floor, the changes work. Whether it stands a chance in the real world with updated domestic competitors is another thing.

Aaron Bragman: Loser
Lots of us thought that the new 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra updates were tepid, but this makes GM's changes look revolutionary. Two elements one can point to — the new grille and the new interior, and neither one looks good. The new headlights and body-colored grille make the Tundra look like a bigger Honda Ridgeline, which is not a positive change. The interior is practically a direct rip-off of the current Ford F-150, and with no changes to the structure or powertrain (a five-speed automatic transmission? Still?), one wonders why Toyota even bothered to change anything.

David Thomas: Winner
I like the updates to the Tundra because it maintains a modern look versus the traditional styling of the domestic trucks on the market. The Tundra is what you think a truck in 2013 should look like. The different treatments to the grille are interesting, too, and everyone seemed to love the stamped-in name on the tailgate. Inside may be a "ripoff," but it is well-executed.

Joe Bruzek: Loser
Is Toyota giving up on the Tundra? It looks that way with hardly significant styling improvements and rip-off of the F-150's interior styling plus no mechanical changes to the truck's capabilities. The Tundra's old interior at least differentiated itself from other pickups with a unique, clean and swoopy design instead of the blocky industrial look it now uses.

By David Thomas | February 8, 2013 | Comments (8)

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show

2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel-300
  • Competes with: Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Chevy's own Cruze Eco
  • Looks like: A lot of money to pay for little fuel economy benefit
  • Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder making 148 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque; six-speed automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Summer 2013

Supposedly Americans just don't like diesel passenger cars. Every German auto brand disagrees, however, and VW seems to have no trouble selling at least a quarter of its total volume with an oil burner under the hood. With fuel prices consistently high over the last few years, automakers are looking at diesel as a fuel-efficient option, and GM will be the first domestic automaker to offer a diesel-powered passenger car later this year with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Outwardly, the '14 Cruze Diesel looks just like the current Cruze — a freshening of Chevy's compact sedan is still at least one model year away. Instead, the changes are in the engine bay, where there's a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine making just 148 horsepower but pumping out a formidable 258 pounds-feet of torque. Chevy says that the motor can also enter an "overboost" mode for 10 seconds, which boosts torque to 280 pounds-feet on a limited basis. That power channels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission and propels the Cruze Diesel to 60 mph in just 8.6 seconds. It's not a blistering drag-strip performance, but it's a hair quicker than the Cruze Diesel's main competitor, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which does it in 8.7 seconds.

By Aaron Bragman | February 6, 2013 | Comments (17)

Why the Dodge Dart Has a Long Way to Go

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Dodge sold just 7,154 Dart sedans in January — better than December 2012, but a shabby performance when you consider that Honda moved 21,881 Civics, Ford sold 16,161 Focuses and Toyota moved 23,822 Corollas and Matrixes. Dodge dealers opened January with a glut of Darts — 141 days' worth, to be exact. That's more than double the days' supply for the Chevrolet Cruze and more than triple the supply of the Civic and Focus.

January marks the seventh full month of Dart sales, and it's been a slow start for the compact sedan. The Wall Street Journal reports Dodge parent Chrysler cut a factory shift at its facility in Dundee, Mich., which makes one of the Dart's engines, due to slow sales. At January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted that the Dart's dual-clutch automatic transmission and high mix of stick-shift cars at launch reflected "powertrain solutions that, in today's world and in hindsight, were not and are not the ideal solution."

The drivetrains don't help, but there may be another factor in play: Dodge's compact sedan is only that — a sedan. Compact cars offer the most diverse body styles. The Corolla has a Matrix offshoot, the Civic comes as a sedan or coupe, the Focus and Mazda3 include a hatchback and sedan, and the Hyundai Elantra scores a trifecta: sedan, coupe and hatch.

By Kelsey Mays | February 4, 2013 | Comments (20)

Recall Alert: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

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GM is recalling 8,519 model-year 2013 versions of the Chevrolet Malibu sedan due to suspension bolt problems, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The affected vehicles may have one or more suspension bolts that weren't adequately tightened. This could lead to a sudden change in handling, increasing the risk of a crash. According to a GM letter to NHTSA, "Initially, noise and a minor handling effect may be noticed. As the condition progresses, sudden changes in the vehicle handling could occur and the driver may not be able to control the vehicle."

GM has already started the owner notification process, and dealers will inspect the bolts and retighten as necessary for free. Owners can call GM at 800-630-2438 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more information.

In other GM recall news, NHTSA is expanding a previous 2012 Buick Verano, 2012 Chevrolet Cruze and 2012 Chevrolet Sonic airbag recall to include the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro. Click here for the original recall or call GM for more information.

Related
Research the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
More Safety News on Cars.com
Check out Other Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | January 31, 2013 | Comments (2)

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