New Laws Ban Smoking With Kids in Car

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I was having a conversation with someone recently whose 80-year-old father is currently sick with lung cancer. He smoked much of his youth, and when his son asked him why he even started smoking, he replied that it was simply culturally acceptable during that era: You'd sit down to talk to your doctor during your checkup, and the first thing he'd do was offer you a cigarette. It's shocking to hear that today when we're all too aware of the health dangers of first- and second-hand smoke.

Many drivers, however, haven't gotten the memo, or simply need some extra motivation to keep from lighting up in cars when children are present.

Related: More Family News

Virginia is the latest state to take anti-smoking laws one step further; it's trying to protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke in cars. If the law is enacted, it would fine a driver $100 for smoking in a car with a passenger younger than 8. That money would go directly to help fund literacy efforts in Virginia. Cars are private property; is the state going too far?

By Kristin Varela | January 22, 2015 | Comments (6)

2015 Lexus ES 350: Car Seat Check

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For 2015 Lexus' midsize sedan now has new standard equipment every parent will appreciate: a backup camera. Families will also like how the 2015 Lexus ES 350 handles child-safety seats. Its copious amount of room and easy-to-access Latch anchors helped the sedan earn straight As across the board.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Geiger | January 22, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 GMC Yukon XL: Car Seat Check

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When families shop for a three-row SUV, many parents worry that they'll have to sacrifice cargo-hauling ability for a usable third row. Not so with the 2015 GMC Yukon XL. Both the Yukon XL and the somewhat smaller Yukon were redesigned for 2015 and feature a new exterior look with a more comfortable interior. The Yukon XL measures 224.3 inches long, making it 20.4 inches longer than the Yukon. That extra length translates to a roomier third row: The Yukon XL has 34.5 inches of legroom while the Yukon has 24.8 inches. Our test car had optional captain's chairs in the second row and could seat seven passengers total. The Yukon XL can haul up to nine people when equipped with bench seats in all three rows.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | January 20, 2015 | Comments (1)

Tablet-Addicted Kids Spawn Car Trend

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There's a trend we've been starting to pick up on recently, and it's more apparent than ever here at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit running through Sunday. Automotive manufacturers are starting to pick up on the fact that our kids, from toddlers to teens, are tablet addicted.

More 2015 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Expensive entertainment systems built into cars' rear seats are being replaced by universal tablet holders like those in the Volvo XC90 and Kia Sedona. Rear-seat passengers can mount their own personal technology devises into these brackets, secured on the back of the front seats. Music, movies, games, apps and research for homework (as if) are just an arm's length away.

By Kristin Varela | January 19, 2015 | Comments (0)

Study: Many Parents Too Quick to Turn Car Seat Around

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, car crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for kids, but many of these catastrophes can be prevented with the proper use of child safety seats. The CDC reports that car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants younger than 1 by a whopping 71 percent, and to toddlers 1 to 4 years old by 54 percent. Keeping your child in a rear-facing child safety seat until at least his or her second birthday is the safest place for him or her in the car, ensuring fragile heads and necks are protected in an impact, but a new study suggests that many parents aren't following this rule.

Related: NHTSA Recommends Kids Stay in Car Seats, Boosters Longer

In a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study, close to 75 percent of parents reported they turned the seat around before their child was 2 years old. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new recommendation that children stay in rear-facing seats until their second birthday or they reach the weight/height limit of the seat, but parents cited several reasons for making the switch earlier: the perception their children are too large, the desire to see their children when driving and a greater ease of removing their children from a forward-facing seat.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 9, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia Soul EV: Car Seat Check

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Kia's quirky box probably doesn't immediately jump to mind when you think of a family vehicle, but the Kia Soul has more room for kids and cargo than its compact dimensions suggest. The gas-powered Kia Soul, which was redesigned for the 2014 model year, performed admirably in our Car Seat Check, but what about the new-for-2015 electric version? Although the 2015 Kia Soul EV gives up some interior space to make room for the battery and has unique seats, small families won't have any problems installing two child-safety seats in the backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Geiger | January 8, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Lincoln MKC: Car Seat Check

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It appeared with actor Matthew McConaughey in Lincoln's heavily discussed and parodied TV ads, but the 2015 Lincoln MKC should have been the star of the commercial. Based on its sibling, the Ford Escape, this five-passenger compact luxury crossover is good looking both inside and out. Did it perform in our Car Seat Check as well as McConaughey did in "True Detective"?

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | January 6, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia Sedona: Car Seat Check

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After years as one of the most uncompetitive and underwhelming minivans in the class, Kia's Sedona is completely revised for 2015 as a boldly styled, comfortable, capable family hauler. By definition, minivans are purpose-built family vehicles, so they should have no problem accommodating a slew of child-safety seats. The 2015 Sedona isn't an exception except when it comes to the third row, where space is tight and the seat belt buckle worked against our booster seat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two

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By Jennifer Geiger | December 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Car Seat Check Report Card

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Child-safety seats take up a lot of backseat real estate, especially if you’ve got to make room for more than one of them. Vehicles accommodate cars seats differently in terms of fit, available space and ease of use, and no one knows this better than Cars.com editors and moms, Jennifer Geiger and Jennifer Newman. We spent 2014 installing car seats in more than 65 new cars, trucks and SUVs.

Related: More Car Seat Checks

All stars include the A-list 2014 Nissan Pathfinder three-row crossover and redesigned-for-2015 Hyundai Sonata sedan. Rounding out the bottom of the report card are the cramped 2014 Mini Hardtop and a midsize sedan that will likely surprise you: the 2015 Ford Fusion — its awful Latch anchors earned it low marks. Below is a full list of the GPAs, from the over-achieving 4.0s to the un-family-friendly 2.2s.

By Jennifer Geiger | December 29, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Kia Sedona Real-World Cargo Space

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The minivan segment hasn't received much love in recent years; image-conscious consumers who'd rather buy SUVs mean many minivans in the segment haven't been redesigned in some time. That hasn't stopped Kia from reviving its Sedona for 2015, now with crossover-SUV-infused styling and that hard-to-beat cargo functionality of a minivan. Inside the Sedona's 142 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume are some trick features.

Related: Five Things That Might Make You Spend $40K on a Kia Sedona Minivan

Cars.com reviewer Kristen Varela writes in her first drive of the Sedona, "Kia's Slide-N-Stow second-row seats do a nifty jig to fold, slide up and lock against the front seats when more cargo space or third-row access is needed; this process is easy and can be done single-handed, though I still think Chrysler's Stow 'n Go seats take the cake."

Then there's the Sedona's nifty power liftgate that brings a new twist to the hands-free power tailgate.

"With Kia's power liftgate (standard on the upper three trims), you stand within the 1-foot detection-range around the minivan's rear with the key fob in your pocket or purse. The Sedona will beep for 3 seconds, letting you know you're within range, and then it will beep faster to alert you that the liftgate is opening. You step out of the way, load up all your stuff and then once your hands are free, press a button to close the liftgate. The height of the open liftgate is easily programmable by simply pulling it down manually," Varela said.

See how well common cargo items fit in the Sedona below.

By Joe Bruzek | December 26, 2014 | Comments (4)

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