Five Things Families Should Look for in Pickup Trucks

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Parenthood is rarely glamorous, and the cars we drive around often aren't either. Of course, there is merit to the practicality of a minivan or crossover, but sometimes we parents want the world to know we haven't lost our more adventurous side.

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To achieve this, parents need look no further than a full-size pickup truck. Trucks can be practical family-haulers and show the world you've still got some pizazz. If you long to be a carpool-lane iconoclast, consider a full-size pickup truck for your next family car. When you do, be sure to look out for these five family-friendly features:

By Courtney Messenbaugh | October 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

Unexpected Family Car: 2015 Volkswagen Golf

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When my husband and I became parents, we embraced our new roles with enthusiasm - except when it came to what it might mean for us out on the road. No disrespect, but we just aren't the minivan types and we both enjoy smaller cars with a little more pizazz than your average family crossover. But it didn't take long for us to realize how much a car seems to shrink with a rear-facing car seat in the backseat and a stroller in the trunk. We chose the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta as our family car, which had the largest backseat and cargo area in its class at the time. Now life's become a little simpler with a preschooler, and Mama's thinking about a new car.

Related: 2015 Volkswagen Golf, Golf TDI: First Drive

The timing was right for my family to test the 2015 Volkswagen Golf. I had some concerns about this stylish compact hatchback, but we were off to a great start with its family-friendly lower Latch anchors. The Golf's anchors are covered by plastic doors that flip up to reveal the anchor. No digging, no sweating to install my daughter's car seat; we were off and running.

By Carrie Kim | September 26, 2014 | Comments (5)

2015 Dodge Challenger: Car Seat Check

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When it comes to child-safety seats, the 2015 Dodge Challenger is a car that allows parents to have their cake and eat it, too. Not only does this muscle car offer a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine for starters but also its roomy backseat can fit most styles of car seats. We were also able to fit three across the backseat.

Not everything is perfect with the Challenger and car seats, however. In our tests, we found that a rear-facing infant seat, which takes up a lot of backseat space, doesn't work well with the front passenger seat. The front seat is designed to fold and slide forward for better backseat access, and then the seat has to be pushed all the way back to lock the seatback into place. From there, you can slide the seat forward to create more legroom for backseat passengers. However, the infant seat is so long that it prevents the front passenger seat from sliding back and locking into place.

We tried to work around this setup, but ultimately decided that the Challenger and infant seats don't mix. Oddly, we didn't run into this problem when we tested the 2012 Challenger. If you have an infant, use a rear-facing convertible seat in the Challenger instead, which thankfully doesn't take up as much legroom as the infant seat. In our photo, we used the infant seat to illustrate that three average-sized car seats fit across the backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Three, but if parents are using a rear-facing infant seat, it's likely too long to fit in the Challenger's backseat.

More Car Seat Checks

 

By Jennifer Newman | September 25, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Acura MDX Simplifies Third-Row Access

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If your family is anything like mine, you actually need to use the third row in your car. Whether it's picking up Grandma for a family dinner, hauling sixth-graders to the botanic gardens or chauffeuring teenagers to their first homecoming dance, the third row in our family car gets its fair share of abuse — make that use.

Related: 2015 Acura MDX: Car Seat Check

Third-row access in most cars is almost always an exercise in engineering aptitude: flip seat bottom, fold seatback, tumble seat forward, engage ejector ignition and so on. I don't care how easy an automaker claims it is for a 5-year-old to tumble the seat forward singlehandedly to climb into the "way back," it's almost never true. My kids give up on these systems almost instantly, favoring the graceless headfirst dive over the second-row seats into the third row.

By Kristin Varela | September 24, 2014 | Comments (4)

Ford Talks More Details on 2015 Edge

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When the 2015 Ford Edge goes on sale in spring 2015, it will start around the same price as the 2014 ($28,995) but swap the available engines. A turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder will serve as the base engine, with a 3.5-liter V-6 optional, said Ford officials at a Midwest Automotive Media Association lunch on Friday. That's the opposite of today's 2014 Edge, which carries a standard V-6 and optional EcoBoost 2.0-liter.

Related 2015 Ford Edge: First Look

"You will pay more for the V-6," Ford utilities spokesman Mark Schirmer said. "We're going to try and steer people toward the 2.0-liter."

But that isn't the same 2.0-liter found in the outgoing Edge. The new EcoBoost four-cylinder employs a twin-scroll turbo and other refinements to make an estimated 245 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque — up 5 hp with no change in torque versus the last 2.0-liter EcoBoost. The new 2.0-liter also accommodates up to 3,500 pounds of towing capacity when equipped as well as optional all-wheel drive, two things the last 2.0-liter Edge did not.

By Kelsey Mays | September 22, 2014 | Comments (1)

This is the First Photo of the 2015 Honda CR-V

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Witness the first photo of the 2015 Honda CR-V. Honda characterizes the changes as an "aggressive and bold" update that "portends the significant enhancements made" to the popular SUV, which has been around in its current form since the 2012 model year.

Related: 2015 Honda Pilot: What's Changed

The 2015 CR-V mixes in some of the Accord's horizontal lighting themes; the headlights also appear to get some sort of wraparound LED piping. We won't know more about the updated CR-V until Sept. 30 when Honda says it will unveil full information. The 2015 CR-V goes on sale the next day, Oct. 1.

There are more than 35,000 2014 models in Cars.com's new-car inventory, which means people looking for the outgoing model should have plenty to choose from when the 2015s hit dealer lots.

Check out a photo of the 2014 (below) to see how different the front end truly is.

By Kelsey Mays | September 22, 2014 | Comments (3)

NHTSA Tool Makes It Easier for Parents to Find Right Car Seat

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Buying the correct child-safety seat for a child can be an overwhelming task for parents, especially if it's for their first child. For Child Passenger Safety Week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just launched its Car Seat Finder Tool that makes selecting the correct car-seat style a lot easier.

Related: Child Passenger Safety Week: Protect That Precious Cargo

Using the tool is easy. Parents enter their child's birthdate, weight and height into the Car Seat Finder, and it tells parents what kind of car seat is best for their child. It also offers a listing of compatible car seats with their height and weight recommendations as well as NHTSA's ease-of-use ratings.

I tested the tool by entering info about my 7-year-old, who still needs to ride in a booster seat. Remember, kids should stay in booster seats until they're 4 feet 9 inches tall and at least 80 pounds. The tool correctly told me that my son should be in a booster and gave me a list of boosters to consider.

Anything that demystifies car-seat shopping is a major win. If you already have a car seat for your child, but aren't sure it's installed correctly or is the right fit for your little one, visit a car-seat inspection station during National Car Seat Check Saturday where certified car-seat technicians will be happy to help.

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By Jennifer Newman | September 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Dodge Journey: Car Seat Check

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The Dodge Journey is a midsize crossover that can seat five passengers in two rows or seven with the addition of the optional third row. The Journey is one of a few cars that offer integrated booster seats. For 2014, the optional booster seats, which are in the second row's outboard seats, cost $225. Our test car didn't have the booster seats, which we tested in an earlier model year and liked, but it did have the optional third row.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two, but parents should only install booster seats back there.

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Newman | September 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

National Seat Check Saturday Is This Weekend

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If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were to tell you that heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, you may or may not adopt the Mayo Clinic's recommended preventive measures such as quitting smoking, getting more exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet. But if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were to tell you that car crashes were the leading cause of death for children age 1 to 13, you'd almost certainly take every reasonable precaution to protect those who depend on you to keep them safe. Well, you'll have just such an opportunity this weekend during National Car Seat Check Saturday.

Related: Child Passenger Safety Week: Protect That Precious Cargo

The event, which wraps up Child Passenger Safety Week, invites parents, grandparents and caretakers to have their child-safety seats inspected by certified car-seat technicians. This weekend, schools, hospitals, fire and police stations, retail stores, banks, car dealerships, civic buildings and other locations will be offering car-seat inspections on National Car Seat Check Saturday. You can find a participating location by going to NHTSA's Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator.

By Matt Schmitz | September 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Diono Car Seats Allow Parents to Fit Three in the Backseat

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When baby makes three kids in the backseat, it's often time for parents to start looking for a larger car. However, there are some who instead look for a way to fit three child-safety seats across their current car's bench seat. Car-seat manufacturer Diono offers two lineups of convertible/booster seats that not only fit three across some cars, but these seats also fit kids who weigh as little as 5 pounds to as much as 120 pounds.

Related: Which Cars Fit Three Car Seats?

The Diono Radian lineup — the R100, R120 and RXT — is the company's flagship car-seat line. The well-known Radians are just 17 inches wide, which makes it easier for parents to fit three car seats across a backseat.

Introduced earlier this summer, the Diono Olympia, Rainier and Pacifica car seats improve on the Radian lineup's design, though at 18 inches, they're slightly wider than their predecessors.

By Jennifer Newman | September 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

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