It's already late summer, and increasingly your day revolves around trolling sports websites for the latest news on training camps, preseason college football power rankings, alma-mater rivalries and so on. Alabama or LSU? Steelers or Ravens?
The season of pigskin bliss is upon us, and the truly serious fans have tickets, and many of those serious ticket holders tailgate. Which brings us to Cars.com's annual Top 10 Tailgaters — our top picks for cars to hit the stadium lots and pregame 'til the brats run out.
As always, please tailgate responsibly, and check out our list below.
A host of 2014 vehicles have earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's five-star rating in crash tests, perhaps most notably the redesigned-for-2014 Cadillac CTS.
Both the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the CTS got an overall score of five in NHTSA's safety ratings. Both earned fives in frontal-crash tests and side-crash tests, and fours in rollover tests. Meanwhile, its compact sibling, the 2014 ATS, earned fives across the board for both the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. Both the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the 2014 XTS also earned an overall five-star score, with fives in frontal- and side-crash ratings and fours in rollover tests.
Other 2014 models joining NHTSA's five-star club earned fives in frontal- and side-crash ratings and fours in rollover tests. They included:
Right, we get it: You wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan but need the space for your family. The GMC Acadia, updated for 2013 with a new massive grille, continues to be a big, spacious, maneuverable three-row crossover that will comfortably accommodate your spouse, kids and all that comes with them, says Cars.com reviewer David Thomas. But noting par-for-the-course acceleration, ride and interior, as well as subpar gas mileage, Thomas thinks that before you pay the Acadia's premium price, you may want to consider similar crossovers — or even, gulp, a minivan. Read Thomas' review below.
GM's updated-for-2013 people movers just earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's top score. The 2013 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia were awarded an overall rating of five stars.
The large crossovers, which share a platform with each other, earned five stars in frontal and side tests and four stars in rollover tests; front- and all-wheel-drive versions were tested. The upscale GMC Acadia Denali received the same scores.
GM's seven-passenger crossovers got refreshed for 2013 with updated styling, more safety features and a new multimedia system.
For 2013, GMC's people-mover got a face-lift with updated exterior styling and a freshened interior. We recently tested its corporate cousin, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse, and found it roomy enough for a couple child-safety seats, but pesky Latch anchors complicated installation. Did we have the same problem with one of GM's other three-row crossover, the GMC Acadia?
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.
Automakers won't report December sales results until later today, but we have data on the month's fastest and slowest sellers. The redesigned Toyota Avalon hit dealerships in the first week of December, and it stormed the fastest-selling list, with regular and hybrid versions averaging just eight days apiece on dealer lots. Shoppers moved toward the Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup truck, too. That’s likely a result of an improved construction market; November housing starts hit their second highest rate since mid-2008.
The redesigned Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, which hit dealerships in September, spent its third month among the fastest sellers; the new-for-2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek also marked its third month on the list. Of the 18 fastest-selling cars, 10 were repeat performers, with such regulars as the redesigned Subaru Impreza and new Scion FR-S. The Kia Soul's severe mileage downgrade doesn't seem to have sapped demand, and neither has the popular hatchback's age. It debuted way back in early 2009, but in December it placed among the fastest sellers for the third month in a row.
I recently test-drove a luxurious, comfortable car that got decent gas mileage and came standard with a roomy third row. However, there was a problem: My son had to vault over the second row to get to his car seat in the third row. Because I had my girls' child-safety seats installed in the second-row outboard positions, this car's slick one-touch flip-and-fold feature was rendered useless.
For better or worse, my son's vault training didn't start with this car. Many cars on the market require athletic skills to access the third row once you have car seats installed in the second row. This is definitely something to consider if you — like me — have more than a couple of children in car seats and need a three-row vehicle.
A minivan is an obvious solution, but there are other options. One of the best ways to avoid this third-row-access debacle is to opt for captain's chairs in the second row, creating a little pathway to the third row. Several savvy automakers offer this option. While this may knock your second-row seating capacity down a notch, it also increases your possibility of getting children and even adults into the third row without resorting to vaulting.
Consider the Dodge Durango (photo above): It's long been popular for families, but it lacked practicality for those of us with three or more children because of the crossover's bench-only second row. For the 2013 model year, the Durango will offer second-row captain's chairs for the first time.
In a conference call minutes ago, GM confirmed a redesigned GMC Canyon will roll off the assembly line at the automaker's Wentzville, Mo., plant at some point down the road. Officials at Buick and GMC also confirmed nine new or refreshed products coming from the brands by the end of 2013.
We've already seen the refreshed GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, as well as the new Buick Encore. But GM confirmed updates, as expected, on GMC's full-size trucks and SUVs: the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs, as well as the Sierra and Sierra HD pickups. Expect significant updates or full redesigns to the Buick Regal and LaCrosse, too.
"The Terrain and Verano will be the oldest non-commercial models for each brand in the showroom at the end of 2013," Buick and GMC marketing chief Tony DiSalle told reporters.
The substantially refreshed 2013 GMC Acadia has a starting price of $34,875, including an $825 destination fee.
That’s a fairly substantially $1,215 increase for what is essentially a mildly refreshed vehicle. Still, you’re getting more standard equipment. For 2013, the Acadia comes in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels.
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