Best Hybrids for the Money 2014


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)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Car Seat Challenge: the Highs and Lows


Large families basically have two choices when it comes to what to drive: a three-row SUV or a minivan. Both have their merits and handle cargo and passenger room differently. During's recent $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, I spent a few days getting to know seven of the contenders in the midsize crossover class, driving them, climbing in and out of them, and installing car seats in their second and third rows.

Read the Full $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Although they all have to offer a large amount of room in order to fit that third row, it's obvious that not all SUVs are created equal. When it comes to car seats, there were some very clear winners and losers, with the Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe leading the pack, and the Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9 bringing up the rear.

By Jennifer Geiger | April 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

What's the Best 3-Row SUV for $40,000?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Family-friendly SUVs are still a big business: There are plenty of kids to cart around, groceries and sports equipment for kids of all ages to carry.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Drive

We focused this Challenge on three-row SUVs that cost less than $40,000, including a destination charge, and achieved at least 19 mpg in EPA combined city/highway fuel-economy ratings. We picked the price based on's listings for SUVs that came with the features we know are popular with families. After four days of testing by experts from, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (18)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge: What the Judges Said

Chris Woodyard and Joe Bruzek

Here are our judges for this Challenge:

  • Joe Bruzek, Road Test Editor,
  • Jennifer Geiger, Assistant Managing Editor,
  • Kelsey Mays, Consumer Affairs Editor,
  • Chris Woodyard, L.A. Bureau Chief, USA Today
  • Brian Robinson, Producer, "MotorWeek"
  • LadyAnn and Ed Sabalburo, a Southern California couple with a young daughter and a second child on the way; they own an Acura MDX currently and are thinking about moving up to a bigger SUV.

We set a maximum price of $40,000, including a destination charge, and a minimum EPA combined city/highway mileage rating of 19 mpg. There were eight SUVs that met our criteria:

By Patrick Olsen | April 6, 2014 | Comments (5)

Which 3-Row SUV Gets the Best Mileage?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge Mileage Results

Squeezing fuel economy out of the three-row SUVs tested for's $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge is no easy task for automakers. Large people-and-cargo haulers capable of carrying eight and towing up to 5,000 pounds or more aren't really conducive for saving gas.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | ResultsWhat the Judges Said

Efforts to raise fuel-economy numbers mean there are a variety of fuel-saving technologies in the seven SUVs we tested. Our mileage drive put these features — including efficient transmissions, cylinder deactivation, Eco modes, sleek aerodynamics and weight savings — to the test.

By Joe Bruzek | April 6, 2014 | Comments (3)

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Photo Gallery


The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder finished fourth in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "The ride is great, and it offers just about anything most families need as far as comfort and convenience features," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the Pathfinder's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Nissan Pathfinder and Pathfinder Hybrid: Car Seat Check


Nissan redesigned its Pathfinder for 2013 and added a hybrid model for 2014. This seven-passenger family-friendly crossover has a comfortable, inviting interior full of impressive available features like a second-row seat that provides a clear path to the third row even when a forward-facing child-safety seat is installed.

More 2014 Car Seat Checks

Both gas and hybrid versions of the Pathfinder have the same dimensions, and since the hybrid model's lithium-ion battery is under the third-row seat, it doesn't impact cargo space or interior room. Thanks to plenty of passenger room and accessible Latch anchors, we had no trouble installing child-safety seats in the Pathfinder's second and third rows.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 25, 2014 | Comments (3)

2014 Nissan Pathfinder: Family Review Checklist


Parenthood necessitates trade-offs in the name of practicality. For example, Manolo Blahnik shoes are not practical on the soccer field sidelines, and a tiny sports car isn't practical with three young children and a husband in tow. For me, a car must be able to fit many and much, offer entry and exit that doesn't elicit complaints and generally make my life easier. It's a tall order, but possible, and one need look no further than the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder to find all of these elements.

The 2014 Pathfinder is a practical three-row crossover that comes at an affordable price, which makes it even more likable. Of course, the trade-off is it isn't glamorous, but neither am I (anymore), and both the Pathfinder and I get the job done.

This seven-seat Pathfinder has the ubiquitous crossover curves. It's powered by a 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine and offers a perfectly acceptable, albeit uninspiring, ride. With all-wheel drive, the Pathfinder gets an EPA-estimated 19/25 mpg city/highway. The Pathfinder Hybrid with all-wheel drive gets a slightly better 25/27 mpg.

By Courtney Messenbaugh | November 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder


Vehicles Affected: Approximately 2,310 model-year 2014 versions of the Nissan Pathfinder crossover; only vehicles with almond-colored interiors built between July 25 and Sept. 5, 2013, are affected.

The Problem: An improperly manufactured seam on the instrument panel could cause the front passenger airbag to deploy incorrectly, increasing the risk of injury.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the affected instrument panel assemblies for free.

What Owners Should Do: Nissan will notify owners in early November. Owners can call Nissan at 800-647-7261 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

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By Jennifer Geiger | November 5, 2013 | Comments (2)

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid: First Drive


I'm a big fan of Nissan's latest Pathfinder — a roomy, quick-handling seven-passenger crossover-type SUV with decent fuel economy, slick looks and a healthy dose of usable technology. What's not to like? Well, good as the gas mileage is, Nissan figures it could be better.

The 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid is nearly 20 percent more fuel efficient than it's gas sibling, but to find out how it performs Nissan invited me to drive a production-intent prototype on a short loop through the streets of downtown Nashville, Tenn.

By Aaron Bragman | October 31, 2013 | Comments (0)

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