Toyota, GM Top J.D. Power Dependability Study; Fiat Chrysler Rounds Out Bottom

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If you're shopping a late-model used car, a new study might nudge you toward Toyota or GM. Both automakers dominated J.D. Power and Associates' influential 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, released today. Toyota's Lexus luxury division topped the VDS' 31-brand dependability rankings, while the Toyota brand itself ranked third. GM was close behind, with its Buick and Cadillac divisions ranking second and fourth, respectively. The automakers' remaining brands — Scion, GMC and Chevrolet — were well above average.

Related: Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Shoppers should pay attention to the VDS, which this year surveyed more than 34,000 owners of 2012 model-year cars in late 2014 to gauge how many problems they experienced in the first three years of ownership. Don't confuse it with the firm's Initial Quality Study, which measures problems in the first 90 days.

Jeep and Fiat were recent losers in both studies, but most Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands fared poorly in the VDS. Fiat, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler accounted for four of the bottom nine brands; FCA's Ram truck division was the sole bright spot, landing above average.

Lexus remains the highest-ranked VDS brand for its fourth consecutive year. The brand's 89 problems per 100 cars were the lowest of all brands by a significant margin. By contrast, Land Rover and Fiat both had more than 250 problems per 100 cars — the industry average was 147 problems per 100 cars.

The 2015 VDS analyzed 177 specific problems across eight categories. Here are the full rankings:

By Kelsey Mays | February 25, 2015 | Comments (3)

Trucks' Tether Anchors Are Often Tricky to Find, Use

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Tether anchors, a critical part of a car's Latch system, often go unused by parents and caregivers. In sedans, where the tether anchors are easy to find on the rear shelf behind the head restraints, they're used only 52 percent of the time, according to one study. In pickup trucks, where the anchors are difficult to locate, that number drops significantly.

Related: Five Things Families Should Look for in Pickup Trucks

In a 2014 study of tether anchor use and misuse conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it found that parent volunteers with car-seat-installation experience had the most problems correctly using the loop-style tether anchors found in some pickup trucks. These volunteers installed the tether strap correctly only 11 percent of the time in the trucks. In other cars, volunteers used the tether anchor correctly 57 percent of the time.

While many may not consider a pickup truck a family vehicle, the full-size versions make easy work of hauling three kids in car seats. To help truck-owning parents, caregivers and prospective parents, we've combed through owner's manuals and crawled through pickup trucks to show the different styles of tether anchors and how to correctly use them.

By Jennifer Newman | February 23, 2015 | Comments (0)

2016 Toyota Avalon Video

Toyota updated its full-size sedan for 2016. Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says the 2016 Toyota Avalon got a grille that brings it in line with the updated Camry in terms of styling. Minor interior changes inside round out the car's light refresh this year.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Check out the video for more.

Watch on YouTube

By Jennifer Geiger | February 16, 2015 | Comments (0)

The Concept Cars of the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

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Car shoppers at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show will be able to get an up-close look at the year's newest vehicles, but it's not all business. This year's crop of concept cars is sure to catch a few eyes, from Buick's stunning and stylish Avenir sedan to Kia's hybrid off-road-ready Trail'ster.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show News

This year's show starts Feb. 14 and continues until Feb. 22 at the McCormick Place convention center. Click here for tickets and times and here for a show floor map. Check out some of our favorite concept cars ... and a couple new production models that sure look like concepts.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 13, 2015 | Comments (0)

How New Is the New 2016 Toyota Avalon?

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Toyota shoppers looking for something a bit bigger and more upscale than the Camry have the Avalon sedan as their premium midsize sedan option, and for 2016 the brand has updated its flagship with some mild changes to keep buyers happy ... very mild changes you can read about here.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show Coverage 

Hopefully those buyers were already happy with the look of the Avalon, as the changes basically amount to flipping the front grille upside-down and adding some new headlights — and that's it. You'll be hard-pressed to visually identify anything else that's changed about the new Avalon, as most of the rest of the changes are limited to trim package combinations and a new base model interior color.

By Aaron Bragman | February 13, 2015 | Comments (4)

Just How Special Is the Toyota Corolla Special Edition?

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Let's be honest, nobody buys the Toyota Corolla because it's the most stylish option available. Its reliability, comfort, quality and price tend to sway legions of loyal buyers, but Toyota is hoping an injection of style couldn't hurt and has released a new Special Edition appearance package model at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show News

The changes are limited to trim, seats, special paint colors and wheels, but the overall effect looks especially good on the Corolla, despite the odd ride height that makes the compact car look like it's been fitted with a lift kit. We've applauded Toyota for using color in the Corolla's interior, and the black seats with red contrast stitching on the Special Edition looks equally sporty and fresh.

Check out what the Special Edition includes for the Corolla below.

By Aaron Bragman | February 13, 2015 | Comments (5)

Just How Special Is the Toyota Camry Special Edition?

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Family cars aren't always the most exciting things to buy and own, but they really aren't meant to be — you generally buy one for its transportation virtues, its resale value, safety, quality, etc. But Toyota is hoping that 12,000 people would like to get a little more stylish with their Camry sedan and has unveiled a new Camry Special Edition at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

More 2015 Chicago Auto Show News

While the Corolla went toward warm colors, the Camry is staying cool — blue interior stitching and seat panels compliment either white or blue exterior paint. The package has more content than the Corolla's Special Edition, including a moonroof, Entune multimedia audio and wireless mobile device charging, but the appearance items liven up the Camry a bit as well.

By Aaron Bragman | February 12, 2015 | Comments (1)

2016 Toyota Avalon: First Look

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Competes with: Ford Taurus, Kia Cadenza, Hyundai Azera, Chevrolet Impala

Looks like: Toyota turned the grille from a smile to a frown

Drivetrain: 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 or 156-hp, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder hybrid, six-speed automatic transmission or two-speed CVT (hybrid), front-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Fall 2015

Toyota wowed crowds when it unveiled the last version of its Avalon large sedan at the New York International Auto Show in 2012, turning the big sedan from something frumpy and boring into a classy, emotionally styled cruiser. It's time for an update, so Toyota is trotting out the refreshed 2016 Avalon at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, giving the car a very, very mild makeover inside and out — good thing the current model already looks appealing.

More Chicago Auto Show News

By Aaron Bragman | February 12, 2015 | Comments (1)

Heat Up Valentine's Day With These Cars

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It's Valentine's Day, and you're looking for an automotive way to tell your significant other how you feel. We surveyed our fellow editors, all of whom are known to be world-class romantics — just ask them! — for some advice:

By Patrick Olsen | February 11, 2015 | Comments (0)

Toyota Camry and Corolla Special Editions, 2016 Avalon to Debut at Chicago Auto Show

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Along with a refreshed Avalon (above), Toyota will trot out two special edition models at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show next week: the midsize Camry and compact Corolla sedans. The 2016 Toyota Camry Special Edition and 2016 Toyota Corolla Special Edition pair a unique feature package with aesthetic upgrades both inside and out; both models will have a limited production run.

Related: More Chicago Auto Show News

By Joe Bruzek | February 5, 2015 | Comments (7)

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