Cars.com Recommends the 2012 Toyota Prius c

Everyone has the right to their opinion, especially when it comes to evaluating new cars.

But sometimes — only one other time, actually — we have to step in and let car shoppers know we have a different point of view that could impact the car they decide to buy.

Consumer Reports announced Wednesday that it wasn't recommending the 2012 Toyota Prius c due to low scores in the publication's testing. Its final rating of 53 is near the bottom in terms of cars this size; it sits below the Mazda2 and Scion xD, which both received a rating of 60. Consumer Reports does recommend the xD, however. The segment's best rating is 68 for the also-recommended Honda Fit.

CR's low testing scores for the Prius c stand in stark contrast to our impressions of the hybrid.

By David Thomas | May 31, 2012 | Comments (38)

Cars.com Buzz Index: May 2012

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Ford and Lexus have a lot riding on their new SUVs. The redesigned Ford Escape and refreshed Lexus RX recently hit dealer lots and have big shoes to fill. The two have been hot sellers for their brands — the RX is Lexus' best-selling model, period — and both are in competitive segments.

That's why both automakers should feel a bit of relief: The two topped this month's Cars.com Buzz Index. The rankings chart how many people are searching for these models on Cars.com, as well as how many are contacting dealers from the site.

The 2013 RX has been getting a heavy marketing push right out of the gate with constant TV commercials and even billboards along major highways. Most of the model's changes are cosmetic — it has the same engine and overall dimensions as the 2012 — but the updated styling is eye-catching.

Ford, meanwhile, completely overhauled the Escape for 2013. Managing Editor David Thomas reviewed the small SUV and said, "A duo of new turbo engines offer better performance than the competition, the interior is roomy and comfortable, high-tech gadgetry works well, and it even looks cool."

By Kelsey Mays | May 31, 2012 | Comments (1)

Unusual Suspect: Ford F-150 Works as Family Car

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There are a slew of minivan alternatives out there for large families who don't want to succumb to the rolling stereotype. Three-row crossovers are the most popular choice, but I'm always looking for something unique that can fit families with more than two children.

The Ford F-150 in a SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration is one such unusual suspect. Not only can it handle your family, but it also does a sound job of hiding the truth about your mundane familial existence. It's even a ride with sex appeal.

By Courtney Messenbaugh | May 30, 2012 | Comments (12)

Backing Up Blind: Chrysler's Rear-Cross Path System at Work

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On my last trip to the grocery store, I squeezed the large Chrysler 300 sedan into a less-than-large parking spot and ran in for some supplies, not giving the car or the spot a second thought. When I returned, it was flanked by an SUV and a pickup truck, blocking my view to the sides as I tried to back out.

I had two choices: Hold my breath and hope no one was charging down the aisle while I did the blind backup, or rely on the 300's Rear Cross Path detection system, which I was betting would be more effective at preventing accidents while in Reverse than simply crossing my fingers.

By Jennifer Geiger | May 24, 2012 | Comments (5)

Dream Catcher or Air Freshener: What Hangs From Your Rearview Mirror?

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I've never been one of those people who dangle items from their rearview mirrors. While the law differs from state to state, in Colorado, where I live, having an item dangle from your rearview mirror can be considered an "obstruction of the driver's required view," according to a local police sergeant. It can be grounds for being pulled over and getting a ticket.

I've never felt the urge to assert my individuality from my rearview mirror, but the threat of a fine is added incentive to keep the view out my windshield free and clear.

By Kristin Varela | May 23, 2012 | Comments (9)

Faster Charging a Major Advantage for Ford EV

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Ford's biggest selling point for its 2012 Focus Electric ($39,600) is that it charges twice as fast as other electric vehicles when using a Level 2 240-volt supply. Having tested a Focus Electric for a couple of days, I can confirm that the claim is both true and a compelling advantage indeed.

In the simplest terms, a depleted Focus battery can be fully recharged in about four hours compared with about eight hours for a Nissan Leaf. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which I recently reviewed, uses a smaller battery and takes closer to seven hours. But it's not just about full charges; it's about how many miles you can drive in a given day, and some other less obvious advantages.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | May 21, 2012 | Comments (18)

2013 Acura RDX: Car Seat Check

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Acura's RDX may have lost its turbocharged four-cylinder engine when it was redesigned for 2013, but it gained better fuel economy from a new V-6 and some family-friendly convenience features. Parents will love the RDX's huge console storage bin, easy-folding second row and how well this premium compact crossover handles child-safety seats.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.

By Jennifer Geiger | May 21, 2012 | Comments (4)

Extreme Commuting in the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban, 2012 Toyota Yaris and 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

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The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban and 2012 Toyota Yaris we tested for this edition of Extreme Commuting are two ends of the commuter-car spectrum. The large Suburban takes the comfort angle, while the tiny Yaris takes a more frugal approach. I also put the punchy Fiat 500 Abarth through my lengthy commute.
 
The Yaris is cheap and gets decent gas mileage, making it the more traditional commuter car. Not everyone is a fan, though; it finished midpack in our mileage challenge of $16,000 subcompacts earlier in the year. The SE we tested here is considerably more fun to zip around corners in than the base L model we drove in our Subcompact Shootout. A little bit of on-ramp fun was had before the inevitable bumper-to-bumper traffic buzz-kill. The Yaris over-delivered on its 30 mpg city rating with 33.3 mpg.

By Joe Bruzek | May 17, 2012 | Comments (15)

2012 Volvo XC60: Car Seat Check

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Volvo's sporty, luxurious compact crossover can carry five passengers in style, and quickly, too. The T6 R-Design model we tested has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder and pins you in your seat with 300 horsepower. Moms and dads alike will have plenty of fun driving the XC60, but they might find it a bit difficult to install child-safety seats in its second row.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.

By Jennifer Geiger | May 16, 2012 | Comments (0)

Incentives Diet: Buy This, Not That

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In this latest round of Buy This, Not That, we focus on soon-to-be-discontinued midsize luxury and mainstream sedans. Included in this rundown are the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ, Dodge Avenger and Mitsubishi Galant. All are on death's door in their current incarnations.

All the trim levels picked for these comparisons include an automatic transmission, air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and power locks/windows/side mirrors. Final prices include destination charges.

By Colin Bird | May 16, 2012 | Comments (7)

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