$40,000 3-Row SUV Car Seat Challenge: the Highs and Lows

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Large families basically have two choices when it comes to what to drive: a three-row SUV or a minivan. Both have their merits and handle cargo and passenger room differently. During Cars.com's recent $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, I spent a few days getting to know seven of the contenders in the midsize crossover class, driving them, climbing in and out of them, and installing car seats in their second and third rows.

Read the Full $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Although they all have to offer a large amount of room in order to fit that third row, it's obvious that not all SUVs are created equal. When it comes to car seats, there were some very clear winners and losers, with the Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe leading the pack, and the Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9 bringing up the rear.

By Jennifer Geiger | April 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge: What the Judges Said

Chris Woodyard and Joe Bruzek

Here are our judges for this Challenge:

  • Joe Bruzek, Road Test Editor, Cars.com
  • Jennifer Geiger, Assistant Managing Editor, Cars.com
  • Kelsey Mays, Consumer Affairs Editor, Cars.com
  • Chris Woodyard, L.A. Bureau Chief, USA Today
  • Brian Robinson, Producer, "MotorWeek"
  • LadyAnn and Ed Sabalburo, a Southern California couple with a young daughter and a second child on the way; they own an Acura MDX currently and are thinking about moving up to a bigger SUV.

We set a maximum price of $40,000, including a destination charge, and a minimum EPA combined city/highway mileage rating of 19 mpg. There were eight SUVs that met our criteria:

By Patrick Olsen | April 6, 2014 | Comments (7)

Which 3-Row SUV Gets the Best Mileage?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge Mileage Results

Squeezing fuel economy out of the three-row SUVs tested for Cars.com's $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge is no easy task for automakers. Large people-and-cargo haulers capable of carrying eight and towing up to 5,000 pounds or more aren't really conducive for saving gas.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | ResultsWhat the Judges Said

Efforts to raise fuel-economy numbers mean there are a variety of fuel-saving technologies in the seven SUVs we tested. Our mileage drive put these features — including efficient transmissions, cylinder deactivation, Eco modes, sleek aerodynamics and weight savings — to the test.

By Joe Bruzek | April 6, 2014 | Comments (3)

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

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Family-friendly SUVs are still a big business: There are plenty of kids to cart around, groceries and sports equipment for kids of all ages to carry.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Drive

We focused this Challenge on three-row SUVs that cost less than $40,000, including a destination charge, and achieved at least 19 mpg in EPA combined city/highway fuel-economy ratings. We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for SUVs that came with the features we know are popular with families. After four days of testing by experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (18)

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Photo Gallery

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The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe finished first in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "Loads of features, a premium cabin and pleasant road manners. Just make sure you pack wisely," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the Santa Fe's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

Cars.com Announces Its Best of 2014 Nominees

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Whenever we give out our Best of Award, we focus on quality, innovation and value, and all six of these nominees performed well in all three of those arenas. It's never easy to pick this award; the voting this year was particularly contentious. I can personally vouch for that. Here are this year's nominees:

The nominees for the Best of 2014 are (in alphabetical order):

  • Acura MDX
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Kia Forte
  • Mazda3
  • Mazda6

We will reveal the winner at our annual awards event on Jan. 14 in Detroit during the North American International Auto Show, and of course, here on Cars.com.

By Patrick Olsen | December 9, 2013 | Comments (4)

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Video

Cars.com Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen says that compared with the three-row SUV it replaces — the Veracruz — the spacious 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is a considerable upgrade, but there's still room for improvement. Aggressive, non-family-like exterior design and driving dynamics nicely contrast a full-on family-friendly interior with abundant cargo space and a multitude of convenience features for passengers in every row. However, the firm ride could get old on longer drives, and the absence of blind spot monitoring feels like a cheap-out. Watch the video above.

Related
Cars.com Reviews the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: Photo Gallery
More Hyundai Santa Fe News on Cars.com

By Matt Schmitz | November 19, 2013 | Comments (1)

What is Hyundai's Blue Link 'Community Average'?

Hyundai_blue_link

Like many telematics systems, Hyundai's Blue Link is chock-full of features. One of them, dubbed Eco Coach, is sure to interest efficiency-conscious drivers. It shows recent mileage and uses a point system dubbed Eco Rewards to incentivize efficient driving. Automakers from Ford to Toyota have similar systems (including Ford's dashboard shrubbery), but Blue Link also reports something called a Community Average of mpg.

We noticed it in an Equus sedan and Santa Fe SUV in the press fleet, so we asked Hyundai to explain. Is it some sort of average based on owners of the same Hyundai model? It's plausible, given the automaker could collect mileage data via telematics.

By Kelsey Mays | November 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

Designer Dreams up Zombie-Slaying Santa Fe

ZombieSurvivalMachine

While you're still trying to decide what to go as this Halloween, a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is all dressed up and ready to scare the living daylights out of the walking dead. Just in time to get into the spooky spirit, the midsize SUV has been outfitted in a trim level that, well, let's just say you won't find in the Cars.com Research section: the Zombie Survival Machine.

Designed by a fan of AMC's "The Walking Dead" TV show and brought to, um, life by Southern California-based car-customizer Galpin Auto Sports, the Zombie Survival Machine is equipped with everything one might need to survive that "zombie apocalypse" everyone is prophesying these days. Indeed, it looks like something author Max Brooks might like to drive to a "World War Z" book signing. The undead-assault vehicle, designed by "The Walking Dead" watcher Anson Kuo, was chosen from more than 82,500 fan submissions and revealed earlier this month at New York Comic Con.

By Matt Schmitz | October 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

Most-Read Car Reviews of the Week

2014MercedesBenzCLA-Class

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan returns to the top of the heap for its third week in a row, landing at No. 1 on our list of most-read reviews. The only other movement of note on this week’s list came courtesy of debuts from the 2013 Volkswagen Passat sedan and 2013 Fiat 500e electric car. They could only muster Nos. 8 and 10, respectively, but rest assured, the Passat did so without offending anyone with its tastefully un-showy style and the 500e with zero emissions. Check out what else was popular:

1. 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
2. 2014 Subaru Forester

3. 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
4. 2014 Jeep Cherokee
5. 2013 Toyota RAV4

6. 2014 Mazda3

7. 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

8. 2013 Volkswagen Passat

9. 2013 BMW 328i

10. 2013 Fiat 500e
By Matt Schmitz | October 20, 2013 | Comments (0)

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