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)

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)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Fiat 500e

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Vehicles Affected: About 4,141 model-year 2013-14 Fiat 500e electric vehicles manufactured between Sept. 24, 2012, and April 4, 2014

The Problem: Cooling plates for the Power Inverter module may leak coolant into areas of the high-voltage circuitry, resulting in a short circuit that could cause the related service fuse to blow. This could cause a loss of vehicle propulsion while driving, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners starting this month, and dealers will replace the Power Inverter module for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403 or 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 | June 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

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.

More Top 10s

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)

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Video

Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says Subaru's first hybrid, the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, offers rugged exterior styling and an effectively utilitarian interior to match. But should anyone pony up an extra $4,000 for an unimpressive fuel economy boost over the gas-only version? Watch the video.

By Matt Schmitz | June 5, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Review

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"The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a likable little wagon with comfort and utility, but paying a premium for the inefficient, unrefined hybrid version doesn't make sense," said Cars.com reviewer Jennifer Geiger. Check out Geiger's review for more.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Matt Schmitz | June 4, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 2014 Toyota Highlander

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Vehicles Affected: About 50,000 model-year 2014 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid SUVs

The Problem: Improper software may have been installed in the airbag electronic control unit for the operation of the front passenger seat belt force limiter. As a result, the force limiter may use the restraint setting designed for smaller occupants, such as those who weigh about 110 pounds, regardless of an occupant's actual size. This could prevent a larger front seat passenger from being properly restrained, increasing the risk of an injury.

The Fix: Toyota will begin notifying owners in mid-June, and dealers will install a software update in the airbag electronic control unit for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call the automaker at 800-331-4331 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to 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 | June 4, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Nissan Leaf

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 211 model-year 2014 Nissan Leaf electric cars manufactured Feb. 28 through March 12, 2014

The Problem: A welding problem could reduce the structural integrity of the vehicle if it’s involved in a crash. This increases the risk of injury.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the affected parts for free.

What Owners Should Do: Nissan will notify owners starting in mid-June. Owners can call Nissan at 800-647-7261 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

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

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By Jennifer Geiger | May 20, 2014 | Comments (2)

2014 Cadillac ELR Review

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Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman says that Cadillac's range-extending hybrid has stunning good looks and impressive fuel economy, but the ELR's price tag will stun in a different way. Check out the review below for more.

2014 Cadillac ELR Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Jennifer Geiger | May 7, 2014 | Comments (5)

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