2015 Toyota Prius Gains Special Edition

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Toyota is adding a little extra spark to its hybrid Prius for 2015. The Persona Series Special Edition ties in a few unique interior and exterior components to the midlevel Prius Three trim, including 17-inch wheels with a dark metallic finish — 15-inchers are only available otherwise — plus the special edition adds a new Absolutely Red exterior color and the front occupants' footwells feature blue lighting.

Related: 2014 Toyota Prius: Car Seat Check

The Persona Series tacks on $1,235 to a Prius Three, so it starts at $27,810 with destination for the Absolutely Red exterior. Prius Three trims come equipped with navigation, a 6.1-inch touch-screen and keyless access. Add an additional $395 for the available Blizzard White exterior, which is the only other color option in the Persona Series. On the inside, this special edition pairs Toyota's black imitation leather SofTex with gray accent stitching along with chrome highlights on the shift knob ring and door handles.

The 2015 Prius Persona Series goes on sale in September. Information on updates to the rest of the Prius lineup will be released later this week.

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By Joe Bruzek | July 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

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)

Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

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Every year hundreds of new-car models are introduced and enter the research process for millions of car shoppers. The dizzying number of choices sometimes shrouds from the masses what are good cars.

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Here are 10 cars that Cars.com's editors agree are overlooked due to no fault of each vehicle's own substantial merits.

 

1. 2015 Mazda6

The Mazda6 is one of the rare family sedans that is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient; it's rated as high as 28/40/32 mpg city/highway/combined with an automatic transmission and the optional GT Technology Package, which includes regenerative braking and active grille shutters. But even the base automatic gets 38 on the highway. Good cabin quality, intuitive controls, comfortable seating and a striking design also fall into the Mazda's favor.

By David Thomas | July 23, 2014 | Comments (9)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Acura ILX, ILX Hybrid

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Vehicles Affected: Nearly 14,100 model-year 2013 Acura ILX sedans manufactured between Jan. 16, 2012, and March 1, 2013, and model-year 2013 ILX Hybrids manufactured between Jan. 12, 2012, and Feb. 7, 2013, and model-year 2014 ILX sedans manufactured between May 2, 2013, and May 31, 2014, as well as model-year 2014 ILX Hybrids manufactured between Oct. 18, 2013, and Feb. 19, 2014

The Problem: Excessive heat around the headlight bulb and reflector unit may diminish the output of the headlight and cause smoke, melting and fire. The diminished light output may decrease the driver's visibility, increasing the risk of a crash, while excessive heat coming from around the bulb and reflector could cause the headlights to overheat, increasing the risk of a fire.

The Fix: The automaker will notify owners starting July 28, and dealers will replace the headlights for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Acura at 800-862-2872, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov for more info.

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

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By Matt Schmitz | July 8, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Chevrolet Volt Review

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"Although the Chevrolet Volt has received a big price cut, it still retains its novel extended-range electric car abilities — as well as its poor visibility, questionable touch-sensitive panels and cramped interior," said Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman. Check out Bragman's review for more.

2014 Chevrolet Volt Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Aaron D. Bragman

By Matt Schmitz | July 2, 2014 | Comments (0)

How Ohio State University Won the EcoCar2 Student Hybrid Challenge

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The EcoCar2 Hybrid Challenge is over, and the winner has been declared: Ohio State University took the overall title, winning the three-year-long student program sponsored by General Motors.

But what does it take to capture such an award?

The EcoCar2 program is a student challenge started by the Department of Energy back in 1988 as the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition designed to foster partnerships between private companies, universities and the government to boost fuel-efficiency tech.

By Aaron Bragman | June 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Real-World Cargo Space

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Toyota's redesigned 2014 Highlander performed respectably in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, finishing third behind the 2014 Dodge Durango and the winner, the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe. One area where the Highlander desperately needed to impress families with its redesign was in cargo room behind the third row.

What's the Best 3-Row SUV for $40,000?

A puny 10.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row was increased to 13.8 cubic feet for 2014. For those hoping to get into a Highlander Hybrid, they'll be happy to hear that cargo room isn't sacrificed for the hybrid system's battery. Even with the newfound cargo space, the Highlander is still on the smaller side compared to many of the SUVs we tested in our SUV Challenge. See the animation below for how well common items fit into the Highlander Hybrid's cargo area.

By Joe Bruzek | June 19, 2014 | Comments (2)

Reduced MPG in Six Ford Models Matches Cars.com's Results

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If Cars.com editors' observed mileage is any indication, more drivers should see real-world fuel economy figures that match the new EPA numbers on six Ford models.

Ford Lowers Fuel Economy Ratings on Six Cars, Will Reimburse Owners

Ford announced June 12 that it would reduce EPA mileage on six vehicles – the 2013-2014 C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013-2014 Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the 2014 Fiesta – because of an error in EPA mileage tests. The revisions, which downgrade EPA combined mileage as much as 7 mpg on the hybrids, will appear on new-car window stickers this week.

We've tracked mileage in four of those six cars, and our results fall a lot closer to the revised numbers than what they used to be. We haven't spent enough time behind the wheel of the Fusion Energi or MKZ Hybrid to report on mileage yet, but here are the rest:

By Kelsey Mays | June 16, 2014 | Comments (7)

Ford Lowers Fuel Economy Ratings on Six Cars, Will Reimburse Owners

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Ford announced today that it is revising fuel economy ratings for six models and compensating owners of about 200,000 vehicles after internal testing revealed errors in its evaluation process. Vehicles affected include the 2013-14 C-Max Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids, and the gas-only 2014 Fiesta; the 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is also affected. Ford said it notified the EPA after learning of the discrepancy, and it worked with the agency to retest the vehicles and determine the correct ratings. The automaker said it has reviewed its entire lineup to determine which models required further testing, and that no further adjustments are planned.

Amid Complaints, Ford to Drop C-Max Hybrid to 43 MPG

The testing error was specific to a component of engine-power testing called Total Road Load Horsepower, a measure of resistance. Ford said it has validated the revised TRLHP for affected vehicles through physical testing and put checks and balances in place for future testing. The automaker also said it has notified its dealers and new fuel economy labels will be available in about six days; vehicles will continue to be sold in the interim. Customers can call Ford at 866-436-7332 for more info.

Ford said it will pay owners of the affected vehicles the difference in estimated fuel costs between the old and revised ratings; lease customers will be reimbursed at a lesser rate than owners. The specific differences in fuel economy and the amount to be paid in reimbursement to owners, are as follows:

By Matt Schmitz | June 12, 2014 | Comments (4)

Cars.com's Top 10 Fun-to-Drive Fuel Sippers

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When I was 10, my dad set me and a go-kart loose in an abandoned parking lot, free to zip around the blacktop. At that age, you don't give a thought to how much gas costs; it's all about the fun. At this age, however, fuel economy is a big consideration when it comes to buying a car, but it doesn't have to trump the fun-to-drive factor.

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There are plenty of cars that offer both fun and fuel savings, from affordable subcompacts and gas-electric hybrids to pricier luxury cars and diesel-powered vehicles. To qualify for this list, a car has to have an EPA combined rating of 30 mpg, while bringing out the inner go-kart-loving kid in all of us:

By Jennifer Geiger | June 9, 2014 | Comments (9)

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