Ford Escape Again Walks Away With 'Most-Stolen' Title

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As stolen SUVs go, crooks are still most likely to abscond with the Escape. Once again, the Ford Escape topped the National Insurance Crime Bureau's list of most-stolen SUVs and crossovers. The Des Plaines, lll.-based nonprofit today released the 2014 SUV hot list, which examines model-year 2011-13 SUV and crossover thefts that occurred between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2013.

Ford Escape Tops List of Most-Stolen SUVs

According to the NICB, a total of 21,711 SUVs and crossovers were reported stolen in that time; that's up from just less than 20,000 on the list released in February 2013. The consistently coveted Escape did its share in making up the difference in the increase. At 1,421 thefts, the Escape logged 407 more thefts than reported in the 2013 list, a nearly 29 percent spike. Ford also dominates the balance of the top three, with 1,140 Edge thefts and 958 Explorer thefts.

By Matt Schmitz | June 16, 2014 | Comments (2)

2014 Kia Sorento: Family Checklist

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I recently read the novel "Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter, which features a small hotel nestled in an uncelebrated town along the northern Italian coast. This hotel's name translates to "Hotel Adequate View." This seems like an unflattering name, but the hotel's existence and merits are simply overshadowed by the posh hotels in the surrounding towns.

The 2014 Kia Sorento could be similarly called "Midsize SUV Adequate Performance, Price and Looks." In a crowded market segment that's full of superstars, the unassuming Sorento deserves a look. It offers solid satisfaction and is acceptable for most people's daily needs.

My test car, a Sorento EX, came with the available 3.3-liter V-6 engine that produces 290 horsepower. It also had available all-wheel drive that directs power to the tire with the most traction. The ride quality, acceleration and handling were all agreeable. I was able to maneuver in and out of tight city spots and pass others on the highway without too much struggle. The Sorento even handled a winding canyon climb without hesitation. The only thing that's not entirely satisfactory about the V-6's performance is its EPA-estimated 18/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined.

By Courtney Messenbaugh | October 2, 2013 | Comments (0)

For $24,000, Is The Kia Sportage or Kia Optima a Better Deal?

"For $24,000, is the Kia Sportage or Kia Optima a better deal?"
Dawn B., Plano, Texas

By Rick Popely | September 21, 2013 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Kia Sorento

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Kia is recalling 9,345 model-year 2014 versions of the Sorento crossover due to a problem with the front axle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The affected vehicles are front-wheel-drive versions equipped with 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines and were manufactured between Jan. 7 and March 12, 2013 (check your vehicle's build date on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb). A manufacturing issue could cause the right front axle to fracture, resulting in a loss of power to the front wheels. This could lead to a crash.   

The automaker has reported one customer complaint and 10 warranty claims related to the issue, but no accidents have been caused by the defect.

Kia will notify owners beginning in September, and dealers will replace the front axle shaft assembly for free. Owners can call Kia at 800-333-4542 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more info.

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By Jennifer Geiger | August 21, 2013 | Comments (1)

What Hyundai-Kia's Latest Strike Means to Car Shoppers

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Hyundai-Kia's troubled home-turf labor relations continue. The latest chapter has Korean labor unions voting to strike over wage and benefit disputes with the South Korean automaker. The result could mean a production stoppage in its home country.

Hyundai-Kia, which together rank fifth in global sales, is the sixth on the U.S. sales pole, with year-to-date sales down 0.3%. Still, the automaker builds popular cars like the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata, as well as the Kia Optima and Soul. All four rank in the top 35 best-sellers so far this year — and although the automaker operates two assembly plants in the U.S., all Soul and a significant chunk of Optima, Elantra and Sonata vehicles hail from South Korea. A production stoppage could hamstring dealer supply in a matter of weeks.

By Kelsey Mays | August 15, 2013 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 270,000 Hyundai, Kia Vehicles

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Hyundai and Kia are recalling about 270,000 vehicles in three separate actions, according to the Chicago Tribune. Hyundai is recalling 240,000 model-year 2006-10 Sonata sedans and 2006-11 Azera sedans due to a corrosion problem that could affect rear-wheel alignment. Meanwhile, Hyundai is also recalling 20,300 model-year 2013 Santa Fe midsize SUVs and Kia is recalling 9,345 model-year 2014 Sorento crossovers, both due to a potential problem with the right front axle.

In the largest of the recalls, the affected Sonatas were manufactured between March 1, 2005, and Jan. 21, 2010, and the Azeras from Sept. 27, 2005, to Nov. 22, 2010, the newspaper reported. Check your vehicle's build date on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. Road salt used in 20 cold-weather states and the District of Columbia can lead to rust on the underside of the affected vehicles; this could lead to misaligned rear wheels. The states include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Hyundai said it is unaware of any crashes or injuries resulting from the corrosion issue, the Tribune reported.

By Matt Schmitz | August 15, 2013 | Comments (0)

What is the Most Affordable Compact SUV with a V-6 Engine?

"What is the most affordable compact SUV with a V-6 engine?"
Sam, New York

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The least expensive V-6 SUV we could find using the Cars.com Vehicle Recommender is the two-door Jeep Wrangler Sport at $23,390 with destination charge. The Nissan Xterra X is close behind at $23,785, though that is with rear-wheel drive; four-wheel drive is standard on the Wrangler. Adding four-wheel drive to the Xterra increases the price to $25,835.

If a two-door SUV like the Wrangler isn't what you had in mind, the four-door Wrangler Unlimited Sport model starts at $26,990, also with standard four-wheel drive. Both Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited come with manual transmissions at their entry-level price; an automatic transmission is optional. Other V-6 SUVs at the lower end of the price spectrum are the Dodge Journey SXT with optional V-6 at $25,990 for the front-wheel drive model, and the Kia Sorento LX. Base prices are $26,550 for the front-drive Sorento and $28,350 for the all-wheel-drive model.

The Vehicle Recommender can assist you in your search by finding vehicles that offer the features that are on your must-have list in addition to a V-6.

Have a car question you'd like us to answer? Send us an email at tips@cars.com.

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By Matt Schmitz | August 4, 2013 | Comments (1)

The Top 10 Biggest Recalls of 2013

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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)

The $38,000 Midsize SUV Challenge: State of the Midsize SUV

2013 Midsize SUV Challenge Overview

A lot has changed in the midsize SUV segment in the last 10 years. What once was a class dominated by truck-based models has given way almost entirely to car-based versions with a high seating position and styling that helped make SUVs popular, but offer improved ride and handling, fuel economy and interior space.

The class took a hit to its popularity around the first time gas prices reached $4 a gallon, but lately sales have been roaring back. Jeep's Grand Cherokee is Chrysler's second-best-selling vehicle this year after the Ram 1500 pickup truck, and it's a reason the joint venture with Fiat is booming. Ford's Edge, while not as successful as sister SUVs Explorer and Escape, still outsells Ford's largest and smallest cars, the Taurus and Fiesta.

By Mike Hanley | July 8, 2013 | Comments (11)

The $38,000 Midsize SUV Challenge: Meet the Family

2013 Midsize Challenge

The family testers arrived at our Challenge with a history with one of the competing automakers, but they left choosing a different automaker's SUV. But it wasn't an easy or quick decision.

Midsize SUVs are all about family friendliness, so we called in a family of four to help us evaluate six SUVs in the Cars.com/USA Today/"MotorWeek" $38,000 Midsize SUV Challenge. Brian and Melissa "Missy" Brown live in the Chicago suburbs with their kids, Zachary, 7, and Taylor, 6. Missy is an elementary school teacher, and Brian is a technical support engineer for Panasonic's biomedical division.

Along with our experts, Brian and Missy evaluated the 2013 Ford Edge, 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2014 Kia Sorento, 2013 Nissan Murano and 2013 Toyota Venza. Their evaluation scores helped determine the competition's winner.

By Joe Bruzek | July 7, 2013 | Comments (1)

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