Recall Alert: 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango

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Vehicles Affected: About 644,354 model-year 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs manufactured from Jan. 5, 2010, through Sept. 8, 2013.

The Problem: A brake booster's center shell may corrode and allow water to get inside, which could freeze and limit the braking ability of the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners starting in May, and dealers will add a water diverter shield to the booster after the booster has been tested to confirm that it can hold an acceptable amount of vacuum pressure. If the booster inspection confirms an unacceptable loss of vacuum pressure, the booster will be replaced for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can contact Chrysler at 800-853-1403, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | April 2, 2014 | Comments (7)

Real-Life Test: 3 Car Seats in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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So, you have three kids in child-safety seats, and you're not quite ready for a minivan? Welcome to the club. As a former member of the "there's no way in hell I'm driving a minivan" club, I feel your pain. I remember while pregnant with my second child, glaring at the used-car salesman when he brought me over to a minivan just to "check it out," and I'm pretty sure the only reason I drove off in a Toyota Prius that day was to spite him.

Which Cars Fit Three Car Seats

Now that I have three children in car seats, I've joined the "Minivan Lover" club, but I know some parents haven't. Many are fighting the good fight, steadfast in their anti-minivan stance. For the strong-willed ones, I'm determined to find you some minivan alternatives, like the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

By BreAnn Ahara | April 2, 2014 | Comments (4)

Recall Alert: 2012-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango

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Vehicles Affected: About 18,700 model-year 2012-13 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs

The Problem: Chrysler received complaints about the performance of a component that accommodates Ready Alert Braking, a safety system that primes the brakes for optimal response when making a sudden stop. An investigation found brake-fluid flow was being overly restricted. "Brake function was neither lost nor out of compliance with regulation, but pedal feel was not consistent with customer expectations," the automaker said in a statement, noting that no injuries or crashes have been reported.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update software to optimize brake-fluid flow and restore appropriate brake-pedal feel. The automaker has not specified a timeline for the recall notification.

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 go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

The Cars That Beat This Winter

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If it seems like we're covering the winter weather all the time that's because there hasn't been much of a break in the snow and cold to write anything else. Luckily, we've been able to pilot some true foul-weather standouts in our test fleet in Chicago and Detroit this season.

By David Thomas | February 20, 2014 | Comments (37)

The Top 10 Biggest Recalls of 2013

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Back in July, we did a midyear check-in on the biggest recalls of 2013 up to that point. Now, six months later, we’re bringing you last year’s final tally, nearly half of which are new to the list.

Latest Recalls

The biggest addition to the list isn't a vehicle recall but a tire recall. In December, about 1.2 million Michelin LTX M/X tires, size LT225/75R16, were recalled. The affected tires were used as original equipment on certain Ford vehicles and as replacement equipment on various-brand commercial light trucks, full-size heavy-duty vans, small recreational vehicles and some large pickup trucks. In affected tires the tread could separate, leading to rapid air loss and possibly leading to a loss of vehicle control.

By Matt Schmitz | January 29, 2014 | Comments (1)

Which Cars Fit Three Car Seats?

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UPDATE 10/15/2013:
Parents are often searching for the automotive holy grail: a car that's not a minivan and can fit three child-safety seats across the backseat. It's a short list.

In the more than three years that Cars.com editors have been installing car seats into test vehicles, we've come across several vehicles that can hold three car seats across a backseat.

The newest vehicle to make our list is the 2014 Honda Odyssey. The minivan has loads of room and plenty of accessible Latch anchors.

As we come across more cars that fit three child-safety seats, we'll add to this list. For now, here are the cars from our Car Seat Checks that can fit three car seats in the second row:

By Jennifer Newman | October 15, 2013 | Comments (92)

Top 10 Most-Improved Cars from the Past 15 Years

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If you read our series on the business of redesigns, you know that reimagining a car from the ground up can be a billion-dollar feat to implement the industry's latest technology, keep up with ever-improving competition and ultimately (hopefully) increase sales. They usually do just that: In Cars.com's analysis of 61 redesigns from 2009 to 2012, sales for the average remake saw an increase of 32.6% in the months following.

Why? Just look at their predecessors. Some undertakings replace a onetime star that lingered well past its freshness date (see the Volkswagen New Beetle), while others are the successor to a product doomed from the get-go (see the Dodge Caliber). Whatever you call it, the most improved overhauls can sometimes create butterflies out of automotive caterpillars. An important note: Sometimes the changes go beyond just interiors and drivetrains, and sometimes the car being replaced was so poor that the automaker gave the new version an all-new name.

The last time we named the most-improved cars, we considered models that showed progress through successive generations in the 2000s. This time, our editors nominated the most improved single redesigns from the past 15 years.

By Kelsey Mays | October 14, 2013 | Comments (12)

Recall Alert: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Vehicles Affected: 91,559 model-year 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. 

The Problem: The Detroit News is reporting that the automaker is recalling the SUVs to address random warning-light illumination and instrument-cluster blackout. "Engineers discovered an issue in the vehicle's antilock braking system module that affects the instrument cluster display. The issue also has implications for the vehicle's ABS and electronic stability control systems, but Chrysler Group is unaware of any reported problems involving either," the automaker said in a statement.

The Fix: Dealers will update the instrument cluster and ABS module software on all affected vehicles for free.

What Owners Should Do: Chrysler will begin notifying owners in November. Owners can call the automaker at 800-853-1403 for more information.

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By Jennifer Geiger | October 1, 2013 | Comments (158)

Latest NHTSA Crash Tests Yield Mixed Results

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Of a dozen 2013 and 2014 models vying for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's five-star safety club in the latest round of testing, less than half made the cut. NHTSA's crash tests examine vehicles' safety performance in frontal and side collisions, as well as roof strength in rollover accidents.

Both the 2014 Buick Regal with eAssist and Verano front-wheel-drive sedans made the grade. The Regal received fours in both frontal and rollover ratings and a five in side-collision tests for an overall score of five. The Verano, also finishing with an overall score of five, received fives in both frontal and side collisions, and a four in rollover tests.

By Matt Schmitz | September 17, 2013 | Comments (6)

Does a Car's Shape Impact Off-Road Capability?

Most off-road cars are boxy, but does a car's shape have anything to do with its all-terrain capability?

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The rugged, square-jawed look of off-road vehicles has a long history and was inspired by the original military Jeep of World War II. Since then, Jeep has maintained some of the original look in all of its vehicles, and competitors have largely followed suit.

There is no reason that a four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle couldn't have a rounded, jelly-bean look and still be as capable as a Jeep, but the boulder-bashing crowd would probably reject such a vehicle for not being macho enough. No one wants to show up at an off-road event in a wimpy-looking vehicle. The result: SUVs in general and off-road models in particular have a boxy look and upright face that conjures images of being able to knock down walls to go wherever you want.

More than the styling, what counts in all-terrain capability are the four-wheel-drive system, the suspension, ground clearance, and approach and departure angles. The latter two are enhanced by shorter overhangs in front and back so the bumpers don't get hung up on steep inclines. The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee, for example, has a TrailHawk off-road trim level with a different front bumper to enhance the approach angle.

Off-road-capable vehicles also have to be maneuverable so they can steer around obstacles in tight spots. Because we live in a fashion-conscious world, the off-road crowd demands the right look as well as the right stuff in their 4x4s.

Have a car question you'd like us to answer? Send us an email at [email protected].

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By Rick Popely | August 10, 2013 | Comments (0)

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