Video: Don't Leave Kids in the Car

We're not kidding: Don’t ever leave your kids in the car. Dozens of children in the U.S. die each summer from being left in cars. In the video above, our own Joe Wiesenfelder talks with our friends at USA Today to offers some tips on the best ways to keep parents and their kids from experiencing a truly horrific and tragic situation: kids dying in overheated cars. 

By Patrick Olsen | August 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: Car Seat Check

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The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport earned Cars.com's Family Car of the Year award for 2014, and it's easy to understand why after spending some time in it. With roomy backseat, sizable cargo area and family-friendly touches such as an optional panoramic sunroof and rear sunshades for the side windows, the Santa Fe Sport has a winning combination of features that appeal to families.

We found this two-row crossover easy to work with in terms of child-safety-seat installation. While we have some gripes with the seat belt bases, we seemed to have less trouble with our car seats' impact on front passenger legroom with this year's model as compared to the 2013. Read on to find out how the current model measured up.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | July 31, 2014 | Comments (0)

Bench Seats Versus Captain's Chairs

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I'm on a quest for a new family car, one with three rows to accommodate my three tween/teen daughters and the occasional friend or grandparent. My pool of available options is quite limited by one hard fact: We must have captain's chairs.

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While many families may think they want the extra seating capacity that a second-row bench seat allows, I'm here to save you from making that mistake.

While offering room for three passengers, bench seats can create problems in family cars. If you have kids in child-safety seats, you're most likely to put them in the outboard position of the second row, where you have the easiest access to help them climb in and out and get buckled and unbuckled. The problem is that in most three-row SUVs, the only access to the third row comes by sliding, folding and/or flipping one of the outboard seats in the second row. That's difficult to do when a child-safety seat is installed there, though there are a few SUVs (like the Infiniti QX60, formerly the JX35), that work around this problem. Most, however, do not. This leaves limited options.

By Kristin Varela | July 30, 2014 | Comments (5)

2014 Toyota Prius: Car Seat Check

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When Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder critiqued the 2012 Toyota Prius, he called it "an exceptionally efficient car at a relatively low price for people who care more about conservation than the act of driving. Given its success, the formula seems to have worked just fine." Evidently, that formula has continued working so well that the popular hybrid has changed little in the past two model years. That comforting sameness extended to child-safety-seat installation, which remained relatively easy, garnering just a couple of minor complaints from us with regard to the head restraints and seat belts.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | July 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

Kids Headed Back to School? Get Ready With Our Tips

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I know I'm not the only parent counting down the days until school starts again. As wonderful as summer is, can we all admit that having a more regimented schedule is a huge relief?

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While we may look forward to some extra peace and quiet when the kids are finally back in school, keeping things peaceful means heeding some basic back-to-school-zone safety tips. Some of these may seem like common sense, but just like kids and multiplication tables, we could all use a little review.

By Kristin Varela | July 23, 2014 | Comments (3)

Small Trunks in Midsize Hybrid Sedans Limit Usefulness

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Family-friendly hybrids are still more elusive than you'd think. My test of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid proved that hybrid midsize sedans can be a great option for small families that don't haul a lot of stuff in the car's trunk. Alternatively, they also merit careful consideration if those families carry around a lot of gear.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Review

In the Accord Hybrid, as in its competitors, the hybrid system's batteries take up some quality trunk space. But how does its cargo space compare to other Accord models? And what about its competitors?

By Sara Lacey | July 21, 2014 | Comments (3)

2015 Mazda CX-5: Car Seat Check

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Since its debut for the 2013 model year, the Mazda CX-5 has proved itself a formidable contender among compact crossovers. It particularly distinguished itself in the fun-to-drive category, where the CX-5 only improved when it returned for the 2014 model year with a more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine option. Not a lot has changed for 2015: The CX-5's base price has increased a mere $150, including destination, and for the purposes of car seat installation, all backseat passenger-room dimensions remain identical to the outgoing model.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | July 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

IIHS: These Used Cars Are Safer for Teen Drivers

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Teen driving statistics are scary: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens and in 2010 seven teens died every day from crash-related injuries. What's worse is that according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, many teens drive vehicles that don't protect them very well in an accident. Since the IIHS estimates that 83 percent of parents who buy a vehicle for their teen purchase a used car, the agency just released its first list of used vehicles that cost less than $20,000 and are recommended as safe for teen drivers.

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IIHS suggests that parents choose lower-horsepower larger vehicles that are equipped with electronic stability control. The cars on its list range in price from $4,000 for a 2005 Saab 9-3 to $19,900 for a 2011 Buick Enclave. Click here for more from our friends at USA Today and check out the IIHS's full list of recommended vehicles here.

Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

By Jennifer Geiger | July 16, 2014 | Comments (10)

What Our Kids Like: Games

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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

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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)

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