$40,000 3-Row SUV Car Seat Challenge: the Highs and Lows

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Large families basically have two choices when it comes to what to drive: a three-row SUV or a minivan. Both have their merits and handle cargo and passenger room differently. During Cars.com's recent $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, I spent a few days getting to know seven of the contenders in the midsize crossover class, driving them, climbing in and out of them, and installing car seats in their second and third rows.

Read the Full $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Although they all have to offer a large amount of room in order to fit that third row, it's obvious that not all SUVs are created equal. When it comes to car seats, there were some very clear winners and losers, with the Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe leading the pack, and the Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9 bringing up the rear.

By Jennifer Geiger | April 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge: What the Judges Said

Chris Woodyard and Joe Bruzek

Here are our judges for this Challenge:

  • Joe Bruzek, Road Test Editor, Cars.com
  • Jennifer Geiger, Assistant Managing Editor, Cars.com
  • Kelsey Mays, Consumer Affairs Editor, Cars.com
  • Chris Woodyard, L.A. Bureau Chief, USA Today
  • Brian Robinson, Producer, "MotorWeek"
  • LadyAnn and Ed Sabalburo, a Southern California couple with a young daughter and a second child on the way; they own an Acura MDX currently and are thinking about moving up to a bigger SUV.

We set a maximum price of $40,000, including a destination charge, and a minimum EPA combined city/highway mileage rating of 19 mpg. There were eight SUVs that met our criteria:

By Patrick Olsen | April 6, 2014 | Comments (5)

What's the Best 3-Row SUV for $40,000?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Family-friendly SUVs are still a big business: There are plenty of kids to cart around, groceries and sports equipment for kids of all ages to carry.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Drive

We focused this Challenge on three-row SUVs that cost less than $40,000, including a destination charge, and achieved at least 19 mpg in EPA combined city/highway fuel-economy ratings. We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for SUVs that came with the features we know are popular with families. After four days of testing by experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (18)

Which 3-Row SUV Gets the Best Mileage?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge Mileage Results

Squeezing fuel economy out of the three-row SUVs tested for Cars.com's $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge is no easy task for automakers. Large people-and-cargo haulers capable of carrying eight and towing up to 5,000 pounds or more aren't really conducive for saving gas.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | ResultsWhat the Judges Said

Efforts to raise fuel-economy numbers mean there are a variety of fuel-saving technologies in the seven SUVs we tested. Our mileage drive put these features — including efficient transmissions, cylinder deactivation, Eco modes, sleek aerodynamics and weight savings — to the test.

By Joe Bruzek | April 6, 2014 | Comments (3)

2014 Dodge Durango Photo Gallery

2014DodgeDurango

The 2014 Dodge Durango finished second in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "The Durango combines brash styling with an entertaining ride-handling mix and the best multimedia setup in this group," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the Durango's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

Most-Watched Videos of the Week

Last week's lone newcomer to our list of most-watched videos, the 2014 Dodge Durango, worked its way up to No. 1 this time out. In his critique, Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says that, despite only apparent tweaks to the exterior, the SUV has been updated significantly for the new model year, and the result is an effective combo of "drivability and utility." This week's lone debut is from the 2014 Honda Ridgeline, checking in at No. 5 as PickupTrucks.com editor Mark Williams introduces the pickup’s new high-level Special Edition trim. Check out what was popular.

1. 2014 Dodge Durango
2. 2014 Lexus GS 350
3. 2014 Nissan Rogue ("MotorWeek")
4. 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S ("MotorWeek")
5. 2014 Honda Ridgeline

By Matt Schmitz | April 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango

2014JeepGrandCherokee

Vehicles Affected: About 644,354 model-year 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs manufactured from Jan. 5, 2010, through Sept. 8, 2013.

The Problem: A brake booster's center shell may corrode and allow water to get inside, which could freeze and limit the braking ability of the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners starting in May, and dealers will add a water diverter shield to the booster after the booster has been tested to confirm that it can hold an acceptable amount of vacuum pressure. If the booster inspection confirms an unacceptable loss of vacuum pressure, the booster will be replaced for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can contact Chrysler at 800-853-1403, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov for more info.

More Recalls

Manufacturer photo

By Matt Schmitz | April 2, 2014 | Comments (7)

Most-Watched Videos of the Week

Cars.com reviewer Mike Hanley's critique of the 2014 Lexus GS 350 jumped three spots to No. 1 this week, finally knocking the popular Acura TLX Prototype — the last holdout from our 2014 Chicago Auto Show coverage — off our list of most-watched videos. The lone newcomer this week, the 2014 Dodge Durango SUV, checks in at No. 5, while a returning trio of MotorWeek videos featuring the 2014 versions of the Nissan Rogue, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Porsche 911 Turbo S round out the middle of the roster. Check out what was popular.

1. 2014 Lexus GS 350
2. 2014 Nissan Rogue (MotorWeek)
3. 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport (MotorWeek)
4. 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S (MotorWeek)
5. 2014 Dodge Durango

By Matt Schmitz | March 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Dodge Durango Video

Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says the updated-for-2014 Dodge Durango strikes a nice balance between drivability and utility. With subtle, if not scant, exterior-styling updates, most of this large three-row crossover's obvious changes are inside, led by a successful redo of the center controls featuring Chrysler's user-friendly Uconnect multimedia system. Rear legroom and headroom impress, while max cargo space simply blows the competition out of the water. That's in addition to an amply powerful drivetrain, surprising maneuverability, comfortable ride quality and formidable towing capabilities. Watch the video above.

2014 Dodge Durango Expert Review

By Matt Schmitz | March 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2012-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango

2013JeepGrandCherokee

Vehicles Affected: About 18,700 model-year 2012-13 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs

The Problem: Chrysler received complaints about the performance of a component that accommodates Ready Alert Braking, a safety system that primes the brakes for optimal response when making a sudden stop. An investigation found brake-fluid flow was being overly restricted. "Brake function was neither lost nor out of compliance with regulation, but pedal feel was not consistent with customer expectations," the automaker said in a statement, noting that no injuries or crashes have been reported.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update software to optimize brake-fluid flow and restore appropriate brake-pedal feel. The automaker has not specified a timeline for the recall notification.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

More Recalls

Manufacturer image

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

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