Best Hybrids for the Money 2014

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Gas prices remain historically high and volatile, and one of the most successful ways automakers and American motorists have adapted is by embracing hybrid technology. Though a few full-size hybrid trucks from GM have been discontinued, 2014 sees as many models as ever. No matter why you may want a hybrid, you might want to know how well it meets its mission.

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To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating. It's simply the EPA's combined mpg rating divided by the base price (meaning MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that result by 1,000. This formula can be applied to any type of vehicle, hybrid or not. A high mpg rating and low price provide a high efficiency-cost rating. A higher score is the better score.

We don't account for equipment levels, quality judgments, cost of ownership or any variances from EPA mileage estimates. The goal here is to pay the least for the most mileage, barring all other considerations.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | April 14, 2014 | Comments (10)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Ford Fusion, Escape, C-Max, Lincoln MKZ

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Vehicles Affected: About 42,972 model-year 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, and Ford Escape SUVs and C-Max Energi and Hybrid vehicles

The Problem:The vehicles' seatback frames do not comply with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, according to the Detroit News. Certain driver and front passenger seatback assemblies may have been produced with substandard welds joining the seatback recliner mechanism to the seatback frame. This could increase the risk of injury in a collision, the newspaper reported. No crashes or injuries have been reported as a result of the faulty frames.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the seatback frames for free. Ford has not yet listed an owner notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | April 7, 2014 | Comments (0)

Which Luxury Cars Don't Recommend or Require Premium Gas?

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Want a luxury car without having to pay for premium gas? We can't blame you. As of March 21, a gallon of premium averaged $3.87 nationwide, according to AAA. That's 35 cents more than a gallon of the cheap stuff. Drive 15,000 miles a year at 25 mpg, and the premium, er, premium adds up to $210.

Premium Gas: Do I Have to Use It?

Luxury brands often charge extra — sometimes absurd amounts — for premium extravagances, and gas is no exception. Most luxury-car owners are accustomed to paying extra for premium fuel, which higher-compression engines often prefer. Still, most engines today can adapt ignition timing to account for less-than-premium gasoline at a slight cost to performance. That's why makers of many luxury cars that take premium gas merely recommend it for full power. Unless yours requires it — something that relatively few stipulate, even in the luxury crowd — you won't damage the engine by filling up with 87-octane.

But what if you want a luxury car that makes all its advertised power without any premium preference? We talked to company representatives, combed through specs and downloaded more owners manuals than we can count. And yes, we found a handful of luxury cars that actually recommend the cheap stuff.

Here they are:

By Kelsey Mays | March 31, 2014 | Comments (3)

2015 Lincoln Navigator Photo Gallery (23 Photos)

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A few exterior styling details aside, it wouldn't be hard to lose the redesigned 2015 Lincoln Navigator in a crowd of the luxury SUV's previous generation. We got a close look as the Navigator found its way this week to the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. The main exterior differences are a new grille, bumpers, hood headlights and taillights, all in line with the current Lincoln aesthetic, while the fenders, doors, windows and roof resemble those of the outgoing model.

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The even-more-mildly revised cabin offers a new dashboard covered in stitched leather and the latest version of the MyLincoln Touch multimedia system with Sync and an 8-inch touch-screen. The powertrain receives the biggest change, dropping to a 3.5-liter V-6 from a 5.4-liter V-8, but it gains horsepower and torque. Check out the gallery below. Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

By Matt Schmitz | February 7, 2014 | Comments (5)

2015 Lincoln Navigator: First Look

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Competes with: Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX 570

Looks like: The old Navigator with a new grille and headlights

Drivetrain: 370-plus-hp, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6; six-speed automatic transmission; optional four-wheel drive.

Hits dealerships: Fall 2014

There isn't a rabid large-luxury SUV following begging for new products, but with Cadillac unveiling the heavily revised 2015 Escalade late last year, those in the market may have wondered when the next Lincoln Navigator, the Escalade's main rival and the original American luxury truck, would arrive. Lincoln has just revealed its new 2015 Navigator ahead of the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, where the SUV will make its public debut, and we have the details.

By Aaron Bragman | January 22, 2014 | Comments (23)

Recall Alert: 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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Vehicles Affected: Ford's luxury arm is recalling approximately 7,153 model-year 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sedans manufactured between April 26, 2012, and Sept. 24, 2013.  

The Problem: The transmission range sensor could fail, allowing the car to be shifted out of Park without the application of the brake pedal. If a driver does this unintentionally, the car could roll away, increasing the risk of a crash. 

The Fix: Dealers will update the powertrain control module software for free.

What Owners Should Do: Ford will notify owners in January. Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information. 

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By Jennifer Geiger | December 30, 2013 | Comments (0)

Ten Cars That Won't See 2015

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Automakers give all sorts of reasons for canceling a model. Sometimes it comes from a deliberate one-and-done cycle, as Scion often employs. Other times a car too similar to its corporate siblings — compare the ultra-luxury Maybach brand to an optioned-out Mercedes-Benz S-Class — and allowed to age without a redesign can spell doom. And some cars just plain stink: Four of our 10 Worst Cars of the 2000s sputtered out with no direct replacement.

Whatever the cause, cancellations often coincide with lackluster sales. Consider former Volvo spokesman James Hope, whose eulogy for the now-defunct S40 and V50 was short and sweet. "The S40 and V50 are great cars," Hope said. "Our focus, however, needs to be on our [sales] volume vehicles."

More than a dozen models were discontinued in 2013. We polled our editors to see which cars we think will meet their end next year.

By Kelsey Mays | December 18, 2013 | Comments (28)

2015 Lincoln MKC Starts at $33,995

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Most people who see Lincoln's new compact crossover think that it could be a hit for the ailing luxury brand, but many also agree that it all depends on the MKC's price. Well that piece of the puzzle just fell into place. When the 2015 MKC goes on sale in the summer, it'll start at $33,995, including destination.

The brand's first premium compact crossover will be available in three trim levels: Premiere, Select and Reserve. The base price applies to the Premiere version, and its turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost powertrain. The 240-horsepower 2.0-liter is also standard on the Select ($37,225) and Reserve ($40,930) versions, but the 275-hp 2.3-liter EcoBoost is available on both as a $1,140 option. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission; front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available across the model lineup for $2,495.

By Jennifer Geiger | December 17, 2013 | Comments (4)

2015 Lincoln MKC Photo Gallery (22 Photos)

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Ford luxury division's entry into the bustling compact crossover segment, the 2015 Lincoln MKC, debuted at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a concept and now comes to us in very much the same production-ready package at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. Slotting in size below the MKX, exterior styling cues include a winged grille, sculpted body, LED-accented headlamps and full-width LED taillamps with wrap-around liftgate. Inside are a panoramic sunroof, leather seats with French stitching and real wood trim, as well as an 8-inch touch-screen that uses Ford's Sync with MyLincoln Touch.

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Under the hood is a standard turbocharged 2.0-liter that makes 250 horsepower or an available turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 275 hp. The MKC is available with standard front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is optional. Check out the gallery below; photos by Cars.com's Evan Sears.

By Matt Schmitz | November 21, 2013 | Comments (3)

2015 Lincoln MKC Video

Lincoln's new compact crossover, the 2015 MKC, looks like it could be a hit for a brand that desperately needs one, says Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays.  Although the MKC shares its platform with the Ford Escape, it's more upscale in every way.

More 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage 

The MKC's prominent, winged grille and plenty of chrome trim give it an upscale air on the exterior; inside, cabin quality is a high point, Mays says, and the MKC has plenty of creature comforts that luxury shoppers demand. Check out the video for more.

By Jennifer Geiger | November 20, 2013 | Comments (0)

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