NHTSA: 5 Million Chrysler Vehicles Under Scrutiny for Stalling Problem

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Earlier this month, Cars.com reported that Chrysler was recalling nearly 190,000 model-year 2011 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs due to a problem with the Totally Integrated Power Module that could cause the vehicles to stall suddenly. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it will formally review millions more Chrysler SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans starting with the 2007 model year due to complaints of problems associated with the same module. An Aug. 21 letter from advocacy group the Center for Auto Safety initiated the review, informing NHTSA of 63 complaints pertaining to problems allegedly caused by the module.

Recall Alert: 2011 Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee

"The CAS alleges that TIPM failures have resulted in incidents of engine stall; airbag non-deployment; random horn, headlight, taillight, door lock, instrument panel and windshield wiper activity; failure of fuel pump shutoff resulting in unintended acceleration; and fires," NHTSA said in a statement, also noting that the CAS petition also references a class-action lawsuit that has been filed regarding the alleged module failure.

By Matt Schmitz | September 29, 2014 | Comments (2)

Five Things That Might Make You Spend $40K on a Kia Sedona Minivan

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Despite Kia's recent entrance into the uber-lux car segment with the 2015 K900, a full-size sedan, many of us may still think of Kia as a budget brand. With the launch of the reinvented 2015 Kia Sedona, some families may pause before spending around $40,000 for the fully loaded minivan, which you have to do to get all the nifty features. This puts the Sedona in the same price range as the bulk its competitors; read, no major cost savings here. So why should a family consider springing for the rather pricey Kia minivan? I spent some time with the new Kia in and around Laguna Beach, Calif., at a drive event and found five reasons.

By Kristin Varela | September 29, 2014 | Comments (10)

2015 Chrysler Town and Country: Explaining the Trim Levels

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Busy families know there's no more functional family hauler than the iconic minivan. The Chrysler Town & Country has been a heavyweight in the segment since I used to rollerblade home after school to catch the latest "Full House" episode.

Related: More Minivan News

For today's discerning consumer, the Town & Country adds two new trim levels (the LX and the Limited Platinum), bringing the total lineup for the 2015 model year to six trims. That should assure there's a Town & Country to fit every family and every family's budget, but it also adds some confusion to the shopping process.

The 2014s are still currently on sale alongside 2015s. There are nearly 9,000 new 2014s in Cars.com's national inventory and approximately 5,700 2015 models.

By Kristin Varela | September 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Toyota Sienna Price Jumps $1,680 Over 2014 Model

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With a revised interior and a refreshed front end, Toyota hopes to draw families to its 2015 Sienna minivan. The starting price, however, might have them thinking twice: The 2015 Sienna starts at $29,485, including an $885 destination charge. That's a price increase of $1,680 over the 2014 Sienna L base model ($27,805).

Related: Toyota Releases Details on Updated 2015 Sienna

However, the base Sienna's price is less than the 2015 Honda Odyssey ($29,805) and the 2015 Chrysler Town & Country ($30,990). The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan has the Sienna beat on price, though. The Grand Caravan SE base trim starts at $24,790.

While the Sienna's looks are new for 2015, the engine remains the same as the 2014 model year. The 266-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A 2015 all-wheel-drive Sienna gets an EPA-estimated 16/22 mg city/highway; the 2014 Sienna with all-wheel drive earned 16/23 mpg.

By Jennifer Newman | September 2, 2014 | Comments (20)

Recall Alert: 2009 Volkswagen Routan

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Vehicles Affected: Nearly 19,000 model-year 2009 Volkswagen Routan minivans

The Problem: Road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the Run position, turning off the engine. If the key inadvertently moves into the Off or Accessory position, the engine will shut down, causing a power loss to key safety systems such as airbags, power steering and power brakes, and increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Volkswagen will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will modify the ignition switch for free.

What Owners Should Do: The automaker advises owners to remove all items from their key rings, including the key fob, leaving only the ignition key, until the recall is complete. For more info, owners can call Volkswagen at 800-822-8987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | August 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Toyota Sienna

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Vehicles Affected: More than 260 model-year 2014 Toyota Sienna minivans manufactured between June 17 and 24, 2014

The Problem: The protective cable sleeve of the shift control cable may have been damaged during assembly; this could cause the control cable to bind or separate during gear shift operation, causing incorrect gear selection. If separation occurs while the vehicle is being driven, the transmission gear selection may not match the indicated gear, and the vehicle may move in an unintended or unexpected direction, increasing the risk of a crash. In addition, when the driver goes to park the vehicle, despite selecting the Park position, the transmission may not be in Park, and the vehicle could roll away, injuring exiting occupants or bystanders.

The Fix: Toyota will begin notifying owners early this month, and dealers will inspect and replace the transmission shift control cable for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | August 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

Toyota Releases Details on Updated 2015 Sienna

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Toyota says the Sienna boasts a number of updates for 2015, including a more upscale interior and improved handling thanks to new suspension tuning. We'll see if that's enough for the minivan to get its swagger back, as sales are flat through the first six months of 2014 in a segment that's up 6.9 percent.

Related: 2014 Toyota Sienna: Car Seat Check

Toyota redesigned the Sienna's grille, and the headlights now incorporate available LED daytime running lamps, but the overall look is similar to the minivan's 2011-14 model years. The automaker promises more soft-touch materials inside — a good thing, as the current generation's middling cabin helped earn it a last-place finish during our 2011 minivan comparison. The updated Sienna gets Toyota's Driver Easy Speak system, which is also available in the automaker's redesigned Highlander SUV. It amplifies the driver's voice through a microphone up front to the third-row speakers so parents don't have to shout to anyone in the peanut gallery.

By Kelsey Mays | July 17, 2014 | Comments (12)

Recall Alert: 2009-10 Dodge Journey, 2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 438,000 model-year 2009-10 Dodge Journey crossovers manufactured between June 29, 2007, and June 17, 2010, as well as model-year 2008-10 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans manufactured between Jan. 26, 2007, and June 17, 2010

The Problem: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reporting that a road condition that could jar the vehicle may cause the ignition switch to move out of the Run position, turning off the engine and disabling safety systems like airbags, power steering and power braking. This is an expansion of a previous recall, and Chrysler said the issue has been linked to two rear-end collisions.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the ignition switch for free. NHTSA is cautioning owners to remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key.

What Owners Should Do: Chrysler has not yet announced an owner notification schedule. Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | July 1, 2014 | Comments (1)

Minivan Stigma is Alive and Well

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There is a condition that exists in American suburbs, coast to coast. It is an irrational aversion to that most practical of family vehicles, the minivan.

In the first quarter of 2014, car shoppers voting with their wallets have chosen three-row crossovers over the minivan nearly two to one. Compared with the same time period a decade ago, minivan sales have declined more than 50 percent. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently announced the Dodge Grand Caravan's days are numbered. The automaker plans to shed the Grand Caravan but keep its other minivan, the Chrysler Town & Country. It also plans to replace the Town & Country in mid-2016 with a new minivan as well as a hybrid version.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

If those numbers aren't concrete enough, we have minivan-stigma sufferers on our own staff, including our Chief Mom (and mother of three) Kristin Varela.

Below, she and managing editor (and father of two) David Thomas try to get to the heart of this decline.

By Kristin Varela | May 30, 2014 | Comments (7)

Family Safe After Deer Falls on Minivan

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At last count, Hawaii ranked among all U.S. states as the place where a motorist is least likely to hit a deer, with annual odds of 1-in-6,787. That in mind, the odds of what happened to a suburban Chicago woman and her family must be incalculably astronomical: A deer actually fell from above onto the minivan in which she and her four children, ages 5 to 13, were traveling, crashed through the windshield and came to rest near the middle of the vehicle's cabin.

Odds of Vehicle-Deer Collisions Dip

According to the Daily Herald newspaper, 37-year-old West Dundee, Ill., resident Heidi Conner was driving about 70 mph Sunday afternoon on a toll road near Hoffman Estates, Ill., when a 200- to 300-pound doe jumped from a highway overpass and became a dangerous, uninvited passenger. Conner was able to pull the vehicle over safely with the animal's mangled body lying between her and the passenger seat. The minivan — a 2004 Chevrolet Venture, last produced in the U.S. for the 2005 model year — was destroyed, but she and her 13-year-old son suffered only minor injuries, the newspaper reported.

As Cars.com reported in October, State Farm estimated that 1.22 million deer-related crashes occurred between July 2012 and July 2013, a 3.5 percent dip compared with the previous year. Still, deer-related crashes have increased in frequency by 2 percent during the past five years. Meanwhile, the average property-damage cost of car-versus-deer crashes during the last half of 2012 and the first half of 2013 was $3,414, a 3.3 percent spike from a year earlier.

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By Matt Schmitz | May 28, 2014 | Comments (3)

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