Best Hybrids for the Money 2014

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Gas prices remain historically high and volatile, and one of the most successful ways automakers and American motorists have adapted is by embracing hybrid technology. Though a few full-size hybrid trucks from GM have been discontinued, 2014 sees as many models as ever. No matter why you may want a hybrid, you might want to know how well it meets its mission.

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To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating. It's simply the EPA's combined mpg rating divided by the base price (meaning MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that result by 1,000. This formula can be applied to any type of vehicle, hybrid or not. A high mpg rating and low price provide a high efficiency-cost rating. A higher score is the better score.

We don't account for equipment levels, quality judgments, cost of ownership or any variances from EPA mileage estimates. The goal here is to pay the least for the most mileage, barring all other considerations.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | April 14, 2014 | Comments (10)

2015 Lexus NX: First Look

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Competes with: Infiniti QX50, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, BMW X1

Looks like: Lexus developed a design around the grille

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or hybrid powertrain

Hits dealerships: Late 2014

If there is one sure trend in the luxury-car marketplace, it is the development of the compact luxury SUV. Lexus is officially joining the club with the just-introduced production model NX.

The company has debuted concept versions of the NX a few times, with the most recent being a radical-looking design at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013. The 2015 Lexus NX 200t and NX 300h are toned down from the concept but signify a big move by the brand.

The NX is debuting at the Beijing Auto Show next week and will not be at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, which is running at the same time.

 

By David Thomas | April 11, 2014 | Comments (12)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Ford Fusion, Escape, C-Max, Lincoln MKZ

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Vehicles Affected: About 42,972 model-year 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, and Ford Escape SUVs and C-Max Energi and Hybrid vehicles

The Problem:The vehicles' seatback frames do not comply with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, according to the Detroit News. Certain driver and front passenger seatback assemblies may have been produced with substandard welds joining the seatback recliner mechanism to the seatback frame. This could increase the risk of injury in a collision, the newspaper reported. No crashes or injuries have been reported as a result of the faulty frames.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the seatback frames for free. Ford has not yet listed an owner notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | April 7, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Lexus ES 300h Review

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Lexus' midsize hybrid sedan was new for 2013 and got some minor updates for 2014, but they didn't really make the ES 300h more likable, says Cars.com reviewer Mike Hanley. Hanley says the sedan is still disappointing this year, with a firm ride, distracting controls and uncompetitive fuel economy.

2014 Lexus ES 300h Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Jennifer Geiger | March 21, 2014 | Comments (6)

More Electric Cars Than Ever, Still Not Available Everywhere

Where the electric cars are

As more manufacturers introduce electric cars, these battery-powered vehicles are becoming something people see on the road every day. At least in some parts of the country, they are.

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The number of purely electric vehicles offered in the U.S. will grow to a dozen by the end of this year. Many of those EVs are available only in a small number of states, however, with California being the epicenter of electric-car sales.

By Rick Popely | March 11, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Mazda3, Toyota Highlander Earn NHTSA's Top Safety Rating

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Two redesigned-for-2014 vehicles have joined the ranks of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's five-star safety club. Both the sedan and hatchback versions of the Mazda3 compact car made the grade, as did regular and hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander three-row crossover.

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Both versions of the Mazda3 received scores of five stars in frontal- and side-impact tests and four stars in rollover tests for an overall score of five. The newly redesigned Mazda3's safety ratings compare favorably to those of its predecessor; the 2013 models both received an overall score of four stars, including five for frontal crashes, three for side-impacts and four for rollovers.

The 2014 Highlander models got four stars in frontal-impact and rollover ratings and five stars in side-impact tests for an overall score of five stars. The 2013 Highlander got an overall score of four stars.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Hyundai Announces 2014 Sonata Hybrid Pricing

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The 2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will start at $26,810 for the base model and $31,560 for the Sonata Hybrid Limited, both including an $810 destination charge. Prices are only up slightly compared to the 2013 model, but the 2014 version adds more standard features.

2014 Hyundai Sonata: What's Changed

Both versions of the Sonata Hybrid use last year's 35-kilowatt electric motor and 47-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack, powering a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s good for 199 horsepower and an electric-only top speed of 74 mph; the engine pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid drivetrain uses all-electric mode during less strenuous driving and the gas engine for startup and more demanding conditions, enabling an EPA-estimated 36/40 mpg city/highway for both models, unchanged from the 2013 version.

By Matt Schmitz | March 6, 2014 | Comments (2)

Report: Honda Discontinues Insight

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Say goodbye to the Honda Insight. Its claim to fame was its low starting price and distinction as the least-expensive hybrid among 2014 model-year hybrids. That nod will soon go to the Toyota Prius c as Bloomberg News is reporting that Honda will discontinue the Insight by the end of this month.

Best Hybrids for the Money 2013

The 2000 Honda Insight was the first gasoline-electric hybrid for sale in the U.S. The then-two-seater production ran until the 2006 model year, where it vanished until a redesigned 2010 debuted in its more traditional four-door hatchback form, with seating for five. However, being inexpensive wasn’t enough to compete with the modern Toyota Prius brigade.

By Joe Bruzek | February 26, 2014 | Comments (12)

Kia Introduces 2014 Optima Hybrid at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show

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Korean automaker Kia has taken the wraps off of its updated 2014 Optima Hybrid at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show this week, revealing a barely restyled sedan whose changes are limited to slightly different front and rear bumpers. Kia says that the updates work to improve the car's aerodynamic efficiency and fuel economy, but the 2014 Optima Hybrid is mechanically unchanged from the 2013 model. The 2014 Optima Hybrid features identical fuel economy of 36/40/38 mpg city/highway/combined for the LX model and 35/39/37 mpg for the uplevel EX trim.

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New 16- and 17-inch wheels are included for the LX and EX, respectively, and they're complemented by new badges. The interior is largely untouched. It still offers a standard 4.3-inch touch-screen or optional 8-inch navigation touch-screen, optional White Leather Package, UVO multimedia system and more.

Kia did not specify when the new 2014 Optima Hybrid will be on sale.

By Aaron Bragman | February 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

Honda Boosts Civic Hybrid MPG for 2014

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After a 2013 refresh, model-year 2014 is not starting quietly for Honda's compact car. An updated coupe joined the Civic lineup this year, and both body styles got a host of new features. But wait, there's more. Honda announced Tuesday that the Civic hybrid's fuel economy is improved for 2014.

Honda Announces New Display and Connectivity Systems

The model now gets an EPA-estimated 44/47/45 city/highway/combined mpg rating, up from the 2013 version's 44/44/44 rating. The hybrid's powertrain carries over this year, a 90-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 4, 2014 | Comments (1)

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