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)

Recall Alert: 2004-2011 Toyota Sienna

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 370,000 model-year 2004-2011 Sienna minivans originally sold in or registered in cold-climate states

The Problem: The spare tire carrier's splash protector could shift or fall off the vehicle allowing corrosive road elements, like salt, to corrode the cable that holds the tire into place. If this happens, the tire could come off the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash. This is an expansion of a previous recall.

The Fix: Dealers will install a splash protector and apply an anti-rust agent to reduce the effects of corrosion for free.

What Owners Should Do: Toyota has not yet provided an owner notification schedule; owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 for more information. 

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

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By Jennifer Geiger | May 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon: First Drive

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New cars are expensive these days, there's just no getting around it. If you have a family to feed and a budget to keep, affording a new people mover to cart around your brood can be increasingly difficult. Ford thinks it has an interesting option for buyers who need the space and functionality of a minivan, but can't afford minivan prices.

2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon: First Look

The new 2014 Transit Connect Wagon is the second generation of Ford's front-wheel-drive compact commercial van. Unlike the previous generation, Ford is trying a new tack with this version. While a cargo van version caters to the commercial market for delivery duty or small business use, the passenger-carrying wagon version will be marketed to retail customers as an alternative, less-expensive, fewer-frills "unminivan." How is this going to work?

By Aaron Bragman | May 16, 2014 | Comments (10)

Recall Alert: 2010-2014 Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan

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Vehicles Affected: About 644,850 model-year 2010-2014 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans manufactured between Aug. 25, 2010, and Oct. 31, 2013

The Problem: The vehicles' vent window switch in the driver's door armrest may overheat, possibly resulting in a fire.

The Fix: Chrysler will notify owners starting in June, and dealers will replace the vent window switch with a newer version for free.

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 visit www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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

New Baby Sometimes Means New Car

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Sometimes babies are planned, sometimes they aren't. In my case, it's a little of both as I went from expecting one to expecting two children this summer.

With twins on the way, my family has entered extreme planning mode. Aside from getting double of everything ready around the house, my current family of three has to figure out how five of us are going to fit in a car this July.

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Big changes mean big challenges. The biggest automotive challenge is fitting three (or more!) child safety seats in a single vehicle, a feat not very many cars can do well. Check out our tips below for getting your car ready for that extra baby.

By Jennifer Geiger | May 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Chrysler's Future Aims at Mainstream

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Investor Day is rolling along, and the company has revealed a complete rethink of Chrysler's brand positioning as well as which brands it intends to view as competitors. Chrysler will now go head-to-head with mainstream brands in the U.S. such as Ford, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet and Toyota; it will no longer be considered a premium brand by the company, but rather its volume brand. Chrysler will be the only midsize sedan and minivan brand at FCA; the Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger sedan will be discontinued, as the company finally decides to stop pitting Chrysler and Dodge brands against each other in its showrooms.

What Jeep's Future Looks Like

This means a rethink of the vehicle lineup at Chrysler as well, banking on North American-made vehicles and an American image that will be spread across more segments. Currently Chrysler participates in only three segments: minivans and full- and mid-size cars. The brand is set to expand by 2018 to include a compact car and mid- and full-size SUVs. Here's what to expect from Chrysler over the next five years:

By Aaron Bragman | May 6, 2014 | Comments (12)

Recall Alert: 2014 Honda Odyssey

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 24,889 model-year 2014 Honda Odyssey minivans.

The Problem: A shorting coupler, an electrical component in the side curtain airbag system, must be replaced. During assembly of the electrical coupler for the side curtain airbag on the passenger's side of the vehicle, it is possible that the shorting terminal, which is used to prevent deployment of the airbag before it is assembled into the vehicle, may have been damaged. This may cause the supplemental restraint system indicator to illuminate and prevent the side curtain airbag from deploying in a crash, increasing the risk of an injury. Honda said no crashes or injuries have been reported, and the problem was discovered through warranty repairs.

The Fix: The automaker will begin notifying owners by mail on May 16, and dealers will replace the shorting coupler for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Honda at 800-999-1009 or visit www.recalls.honda.com for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | May 2, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia Sedona: Up Close

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With its upright grille and angular headlights, the redesigned Sedona looks tougher than the average minivan. The crossover-like styling is on purpose, and it's immediately apparent in that front end and also the hood lines. Overall, the execution is more successful than when GM tried the same thing with its Chevrolet Uplander van.

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The avoidance of traditional minivan cues continues in the cabin as the Sedona gets a large center console between the front seats that houses the gear selector — just like any number of crossovers. This may seem like a small thing, but it significantly changes your perception of the interior; it doesn't feel like you're sitting in the driver's seat of a minivan.

By Mike Hanley | April 23, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia Sedona Photo Gallery (48 Photos)

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Kia's minivan has always been a bit player in the class, but that could change with the redesigned-for-2015 Sedona. Its bold grille with LED accent lights will be sure to turn shoppers' heads.

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Inside, the Sedona is available in seven- and eight-seat configurations, and new Slide-n-Stow second-row seats should appeal to parents; they stack vertically against the front seatbacks to quickly convert the minivan from people-mover to stuff-hauler.

Check out the gallery below; Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

By Jennifer Geiger | April 20, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Kia Sedona Video

Cars.com's Kelsey Mays is tough to impress, but Kia's redesigned minivan earned his praise at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. The 2015 Sedona's comfortable interior boasts pop-out ottomans for the second-row seats, integrated window shades and pillowlike head restraints. Check out the video above and get cozy with Mays in the back of the Sedona.

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By Jennifer Geiger | April 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

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