Best Hybrids for the Money 2014

Hybrid-for-money

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 (11)

Recall Alert: 2003-2004 Toyota Avalon

2003ToyotaAvalon

Vehicles Affected: About 119,000 model-year 2003-2004 Toyota Avalon sedans.

The Problem: Certain circuits within the airbag control module may be susceptible to damage if exposed to electrical noise from other electrical components. In some instances, front airbags or seat belt pretensioners could inadvertently deploy. This is an expansion of an earlier recall.

The Fix: Toyota will notify owners by mail and dealers will add an electrical noise filter to the airbag control module for free. The automaker did not specify a timeframe.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or go to www.toyota.com/recall for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 27, 2014 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 800,000 Toyota Vehicles

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 803,000 model-year 2012-2013 Toyota Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza vehicles in the U.S.

The Problem: The affected vehicles have a problem with the air conditioner condenser unit housing. According to the automaker, water from the condenser unit housing could leak onto the airbag control module. This could cause a short circuit and if this happens, the airbag warning light will illuminate and the airbags will either become disabled or deploy inadvertently. Toyota also warns that, in "limited instances," the power steering assist function could also become inoperable, leading to increased steering effort.

The Fix: Dealers will apply sealant and install a cover to the air conditioning condenser unit housing for free.

What Owners Should Do: Toyota has not provided an owner notification schedule but will contact affected owners by mail. Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or visit www.toyota.com/recall for more information.

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By Jennifer Geiger | October 17, 2013 | Comments (6)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Toyota Sedans

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 10,000 model-year 2013-14 Toyota Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid and 2014 Corolla sedans.

The Problem: Certain components of the wiper switch assembly could have been improperly manufactured. A potential short circuit could occur if the wiper is moved from the Off position to the Mist position. This could cause the wipers to break, increasing the risk of a crash.   

The Fix: Dealers will replace the affected wiper switches for free.

What Owners Should Do: Toyota has not provided an owner notification schedule, but will notify owners via mail. Customers can visit www.toyota.com/recall or call 800-331-4331 for more information.  

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By Jennifer Geiger | October 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

$38,000 Full-Size Sedan Challenge: Golf Bags

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When you put seven of the biggest sedans on the market into one contest one thing comes to mind ... those gigantic trunks.

All seven boast large dimensions on paper ranging from 14.2 cubic feet to a whopping 20.1 cubic feet in the Ford Taurus. That's the largest trunk on the market by the way.

But sometimes specifications on paper don't live up to reality. To test the true cargo capabilities of these cruisers we gathered 10 golf bags to see which car could haul the most drivers, irons and putters.

We were a bit surprised at just how many actually swallowed all 10 sets, and those that fell short still proved that car shoppers likely won't have to worry about cargo when cross-shopping these seven.

Here is how the contenders stacked up with animation of the process.

By David Thomas | September 8, 2013 | Comments (3)

$38,000 Full-Size Sedan Challenge: Results

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First, a quick reminder about whom our judges are:

  • Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor at Cars.com
  • Jennifer Newman, assistant managing editor at Cars.com
  • Kristin Varela, senior family editor at Cars.com
  • Fred Meier, automotive editor at USA Today
  • Brian Robinson, producer at "MotorWeek"
  • Bill Wegner of Skokie, Ill., our real-life family judge

Here's how the score broke down: The experts' scores accounted for 75% of the total score; 15% came from the family's scores; and 10% was based on fuel economy. To help you make your own comparisons of these sedans, we've pulled together a list of what you get for $38,000.

By Patrick Olsen | September 8, 2013 | Comments (23)

$38,000 Full-Size Sedan Challenge: Mileage Results

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A mileage drive with full-size sedans is the 200-mile trek editors have been yearning for, because if we're going to spend all day in cars evaluating gas mileage, they might as well be large, comfy, feature-laden sedans.

Our route west of Chicago consisted mostly of highway driving with slower stoplight-to-stoplight traffic driving sprinkled in. We observed average speeds of around 40 mph, according to various onboard computers.

Surprises were minimal.

By Joe Bruzek | September 8, 2013 | Comments (4)

$38,000 Full-Size Sedan Challenge: Overview

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If the new-car market is a Big Mac, full-size sedans would amount to only the sesame seeds. They're a sliver of the auto market, accounting for just 3.5% of new-car sales in the first seven months of 2013. Still, automakers believe in big cars. Seldom does a comparison see so many redesigned or new entrants. From April 2012 to April 2013, four new or redesigned full-size sedans hit dealerships. Through the first seven months of 2013, those four nameplates accounted for nearly half of full-size sedan sales.

By Kelsey Mays | September 8, 2013 | Comments (3)

Most-Read Car Reviews of the Week

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Both the 2014 Infiniti Q50 and the 2014 Jeep Cherokee remained in their perches at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, this week on our list of the most-read reviews. Newcomers to the roster included the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which clocked in at No. 3, and the 2013 Chrysler 300, debuting in eighth place. Check out what else was popular:

1. 2014 Infiniti Q50
2. 2014 Jeep Cherokee

3. 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

4. 2013 BMW 328i

5. 2014 Subaru Forester
6. 2013 Toyota RAV4

7. 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

8. 2013 Chrysler 300

9. 2013 Toyota Avalon

10. 2013 Nissan Altima

By Matt Schmitz | September 8, 2013 | Comments (0)

Most-Read Car Reviews of the Week

2014JeepCherokee

There was very little movement of note on this week's list of most-read reviews, as the 2014 Jeep Cherokee retained the No. 1 spot. The lone newcomer was the 2013 BMW X1, the smaller sibling of the X3 that Cars.com reviewer Joe Bruzek called "downsizing done right." Bruzek's X1 review checks in at No. 9. Check out what else was popular:

1. 2014 Jeep Cherokee
2. 2014 Infiniti Q50

3. 2013 BMW 3 Series
4. 2013 Toyota RAV4
5. 2014 Subaru Forester
6. 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

7. 2013 Toyota Avalon

8. 2013 Chrysler 300

9. 2013 BMW X1

10. 2013 Ford Fusion

By Matt Schmitz | August 25, 2013 | Comments (0)

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