The Cars That Beat This Winter

SnowRubicon

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

2004JeepGrandCherokee

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 (99)

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 (13)

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.

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | October 1, 2013 | Comments (174)

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?

Mona, Wilson

Jeep

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 tips@cars.com.

Related
Research the 2014 Jeep Cherokee
2014 Jeep Cherokee: Trim Level Breakdown
Find the Right New SUV

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

Chrysler's Special Editions: The Hits and Misses

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Few automakers embrace the special edition like Chrysler and its Dodge and Jeep brands. With most automakers, a sprinkling of special editions turn up on performance cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition, but Chrysler's examples span from economy to sports cars. Seemingly dozens of PT Cruiser special editions almost made that weird car interesting. Almost.

Fast forward to today and special editions of various Dodge, Jeep and Chryslers continue to grow. At our count, there are roughly 25 unique special editions called out across each brand's website. All use specific exterior and interior features to create a limited-edition package that stands out.

Each special edition ranges in execution from a colored grille and special wheels to a complete reimagining of the car's purpose; names like Glacier, Core, Freedom, Blacktop adorn each one. We dug into all 20-plus Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler special editions — check out our most and least favorite models: 

By Joe Bruzek | July 25, 2013 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Chrysler is recalling 4,458 model-year 2014 versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee due to a problem with the headlamps, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The affected vehicles were manufactured from Jan. 14 through March 20, 2013, (check your vehicle's build date on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb) and are equipped with premium headlamps. Switching between daytime running lights and parking lights could lead to electrical spikes, which may cause the parking lamps to malfunction. The faulty lights fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Chrysler will notify owners beginning in August, and dealers will update the affected software for free. Owners can call Chrysler at 800-247-9753 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more info.

Related
Research the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
More Safety News
Check out Other Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | July 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

The Top 10 Biggest Recalls of 2013

2004JeepGrandCherokee

Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues recalls on millions of vehicles. In 2012, NHTSA recalled just shy of 18 million, and 15.5 million in 2011. While some recalls affect just a handful of vehicles, others impact millions.

So far this year, the biggest recall is technically not a recall at all. In June, we reported that NHTSA had requested Chrysler fix 2.7 million Jeep SUVs — 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Liberty models — due to a potential fuel-system problem that could cause fires in a rear-end crash. Jeep initially refused, insisting the vehicles "met and exceeded all applicable requirements" of federal standards pertaining to fuel-system integrity. NHTSA then gave Chrysler a June 18 deadline to either issue a recall themselves, or be ordered to do so.

On the day of its deadline, Chrysler announced it would launch a campaign to inspect and, if necessary, fix the 2.7 million Jeeps — never officially referring to the action as a "recall." Still, that's what it was, and therefore it earns the distinction of being the biggest one this year.

According to research, the biggest recalls affecting the U.S. market in 2013 are:

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

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