What Our Kids Like: Games


Ah, road trips: What parents see as a way to see the more majestic and quirky parts of our country are what kids might see as a study in the mundane.

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There are plenty of ways to entertain kids during a road trip, whether with snacks, special toys doled out throughout the journey or just by chatting up the little ones. (If you've reached the tween/teen stage and have to deal with occasional stony silences, just remember it's a phase.)

But what about having the kids entertain themselves? Here are some of our picks for in-car games of both the non-electronic and electronic variety to give parents a break as the candy-hander-outers, trash-collectors and 20-questions-champions of the universe.

By Sara Lacey | July 16, 2014 | Comments (1)

How to Install a Car Seat with a Seat Belt


The Latch system was designed to make child-safety seat installation easier for parents, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. Despite the fact that all automakers have been federally mandated to include the lower anchors as standard equipment on all vehicles since September 2002, all Latch systems are not created equal, as we often discover during our Car Seat Checks.

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Buried or nonexistent anchors mean that the seat belt is often your best — or only — option when installing a car seat. This might make parents nervous, but a car seat installed with a seat belt can be just as safe as one installed with the Latch system, provided you know what you're doing. Follow these tips to ensure safe car-seat installation with a seat belt.

By Jennifer Geiger | July 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Lexus RX 350: Car Seat Check


Lexus' five-seat luxury crossover comes in two versions: the gas-powered RX 350 and hybrid RX 450h. When it comes to interior space, the two crossovers are nearly identical except for backseat legroom. Our test car, the 2015 RX 350, has 36.8 inches of rear legroom, but the hybrid version has slightly more at 37.1 inches. In our tests, we had to move the RX 350's front passenger seat forward to fit one of our rear-facing infant-safety seats behind it.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | July 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Carsick Kid? We've Got Tips To Help


With so many families headed to the beach, the campground or even Grandma's house now that summer is upon us, it's easy to get stressed about packing everything you'll need for a road trip. Between remembering extra outfits in case of diaper blowouts, packing chargers for all your varied mobile devices and narrowing down the number of beloved stuffed animals that will accompany your child on the journey, even the most adventurous parents can be easily put off of taking long car treks. The biggest deterrent, though, may be when your child suffers from car sickness; moms and dads in that boat often dread the additional preparations needed to keep the family road trip from becoming a fiasco.

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Car sickness is a type of motion sickness. It can be especially difficult for children, because they often can't see out the window: Sitting in the backseat, their vision is usually obscured by the front seat, and the high belt lines in most cars these days can keep them from seeing out the side windows. When your child's inner ear senses the movement of the car but his or her eyes and inactive joints cannot, it sends conflicting information to the brain, according to Dr. Jay Hoecker of MayoClinic.com. If your child is focusing on a book or screen, it can compound the problem.

By Carrie Kim | July 2, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2009-10 Dodge Journey, 2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country


Vehicles Affected: Approximately 438,000 model-year 2009-10 Dodge Journey crossovers manufactured between June 29, 2007, and June 17, 2010, as well as model-year 2008-10 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans manufactured between Jan. 26, 2007, and June 17, 2010

The Problem: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reporting that a road condition that could jar the vehicle may cause the ignition switch to move out of the Run position, turning off the engine and disabling safety systems like airbags, power steering and power braking. This is an expansion of a previous recall, and Chrysler said the issue has been linked to two rear-end collisions.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the ignition switch for free. NHTSA is cautioning owners to remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key.

What Owners Should Do: Chrysler has not yet announced an owner notification schedule. Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Jennifer Geiger | July 1, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 1.9 Million Graco Infant-Safety Seats


Child-Safety Seats Affected: Graco has issued a recall affecting about 1.9 million infant-safety seats manufactured between July 2010 and May 2013. The affected car seats are SnugRide and SnugRide Classic Connect manufactured March 1, 2011, through May 31, 2013; SnugRide 30 and SnugRide Classic Connect 30 manufactured July 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2013; SnugRide 35 and SnugRide Classic Connect 35 manufactured May 1, 2011, through Jan. 31, 2013; SnugRide Click Connect 40 manufactured June 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2012; and Aprica A30 manufactured July 1, 2011, through April 30, 2012.

The Problem: The harness buckle can become difficult to unlatch or can be stuck in the latched position, according to Graco. The car-seat manufacturer has already recalled about 4.2 million convertible child-safety seats for the same problem.

The Fix: Graco will provide a free replacement buckle to car-seat owners.

What Owners Should Do: Graco car-seat owners should look under or behind the car seat to find a white label with the car seat’s name and date of manufacture, and if their seat is affected, they can call Graco at 800-345-4109 or visit’s Graco’s recall website at GracoBuckleRecall.com.

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By Jennifer Newman | July 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

Window Locks Save Lives


If you've ever ridden in the backseat of a friend's car, you may have been annoyed to find you couldn't control the power window back there. Your friend wasn't trying tick you off; she was just protecting her children, in and around the car.

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While many of us are thrilled that the days of crank windows are mostly gone, power windows can pose a danger to children if not monitored properly. Since 1990, more than 50 children have been killed in incidents involving power windows, according to KidsandCars.org, a nonprofit child safety organization. While some cars may have automatic window-reversing systems, also known as "pinch protection," on their windows to help prevent strangulations, this isn't mandated by the federal government. Since the 2010 model year, vehicles have been required to have "pull up/push down" window switches, which help avoid situations in which a child could lean on a switch and roll up a window, causing entrapment. This is a step in the right direction, but only automatic reversing systems will keep lives from being lost in power-window strangulations.

One thing cars do have in common is the ability to disengage window controls for rear passengers using the power-window lock. This usually involves pressing a button on the driver's side armrest, near the window controls. While easily used, this button can often go unnoticed and inactivated.

By Kristin Varela | June 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Ford Edge: First Look


Competes with: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Looks like: The current Fusion's styling, stretched to fit the new Edge

Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 or a 3.5- liter V-6; six-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive

Hits showrooms: Early 2015

Research the Ford Edge

Ford Motor Co. has unveiled the next-generation 2015 Ford Edge at a special event at the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The crossover moves to a new platform that also underpins the latest Ford Fusion and gains an all-new suspension, two new engines and a host of safety and convenience features to make the midsize SUV one very technologically advanced family vehicle.

By Aaron Bragman | June 24, 2014 | Comments (14)

2015 Hyundai Genesis: Car Seat Check


Hyundai's luxury sedan, the Genesis, has been redesigned for the 2015 model year. While its wheelbase grew by nearly 3 inches, rear legroom has decreased from 38.6 inches in the previous generation to 35 inches in the 2015 Genesis. Both of our rear-facing child-safety seats had plenty of room in the Genesis' smaller backseat, however.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | June 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

Small Wagon Syndrome Makes Families Feel Cramped


If you're of a certain age, station wagons may make you think of the three-row variety known for its kid- and cargo-hauling abilities, as well as towing capabilities. While there's still a three-row wagon in the market — the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon with the optional jump seat — today's wagons offer two rows of seats, and some of the compact ones don't do so well on kids and cargo duties.

Is the BMW 3 Series Wagon the Ultimate Car for Dads?

I refer to this as small wagon syndrome. Many of these smaller wagons are European and not always as voluminous as expected. Smaller families can make them work, but it takes effort, more than just tossing everything into the back of an SUV, minivan or a full-size sedan without consideration. The advantage of a small wagon is it's nimble when you're just transporting people and a normal amount of cargo.

By Sara Lacey | June 23, 2014 | Comments (2)

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