What Does This Button Do?

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If the illustration on the 2015 Volkswagen GTI's key fob is any indication, the automaker wants us to prepare for an impending alien death-ray attack. VW's counterattack strategy? Honking the horn and flashing the turn signal lights really fast. Man, who would have thought defending Earth would be that easy?

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Really, this particular button isn't much of a surprise as much as an interesting way to illustrate the common panic button, which should be used in real emergencies and will honk the horn and flash the exterior lights to alert passersby. Or as we often encounter, scare the crap out of you when your smartphone accidentally hits the button in a pocket.

Cars.com photo by Joe Bruzek

By Joe Bruzek | July 8, 2014 | Comments (18)

Confounded by Car Technology? It's Time to Embrace It

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Today's technology-laden cars, SUVs and even trucks can be challenging for older drivers as well as car buyers who have been out of the market for several years. I'm among the many mature drivers who don't replace vehicles until they've been driven into the ground — my husband and I often go a decade or more between car purchases. Our current vehicles are of 2004 and 2006 vintage, and they lack much of the technology that's rapidly becoming common, often standard, on today's new cars.

Related: AAA Recommends Car Features for Older Drivers

As a Cars.com's copy editor, I'm encouraged to drive the test vehicles we receive at our Chicago offices so that I can experience the things I read about when I edit articles. I enjoy this part of the job, but it's proven to be a challenge due to unfamiliar technology. I often find myself communing with the owner's manual before I can leave the parking garage with one of our test cars.

Here are a few things other potentially overwhelmed car shoppers of any vintage should prepare to encounter:

By Jen Burklow | July 7, 2014 | Comments (11)

2014 Volkswagen Beetle Gains Features With Premium Package

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Volkswagen has announced a new Premium Package for the 2014 Beetle hatchback and convertible. Available in July for 1.8T and TDI diesel trim levels, the Premium Package includes features not previously available for the Beetle, as well as content that had only been offered on the R-Line trim until now.

Volkswagen Beetle Dune Photo Gallery

The package's all-new features include automatic headlights, automatic climate control, the RNS 510 navigation system with satellite radio, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a cradle for the iPhone 5. Also included are bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a sport suspension for 1.8T models, gray mirror caps, R-Line bumpers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a Fender premium stereo and contrast stitching. Three exterior colors are offered: white, gray and black.

The Beetle 1.8T hatchback with the Premium Package costs $28,175 while the TDI diesel costs $30,175. The 1.8T and TDI convertibles are priced at $31,575 and $33,575, respectively. All prices include an $820 destination charge.

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Manufacturer images

By Mike Hanley | June 27, 2014 | Comments (13)

Cars.com's Top 10 Fun-to-Drive Fuel Sippers

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When I was 10, my dad set me and a go-kart loose in an abandoned parking lot, free to zip around the blacktop. At that age, you don't give a thought to how much gas costs; it's all about the fun. At this age, however, fuel economy is a big consideration when it comes to buying a car, but it doesn't have to trump the fun-to-drive factor.

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There are plenty of cars that offer both fun and fuel savings, from affordable subcompacts and gas-electric hybrids to pricier luxury cars and diesel-powered vehicles. To qualify for this list, a car has to have an EPA combined rating of 30 mpg, while bringing out the inner go-kart-loving kid in all of us:

By Jennifer Geiger | June 9, 2014 | Comments (9)

2015 Volkswagen Golf, GTI Named IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus

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Volkswagen redesigned its Golf and related GTI hatchbacks for 2015, and aside from lower prices and more standard equipment, drivers can also expect a safer car according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

2015 Volkswagen Golf, Golf TDI: First Drive

The agency awarded both compact hatchbacks its top honor, the Top Safety Pick Plus award, for earning good scores in all areas of testing, including the small front overlap test. This test, which is proving difficult for automakers to master, simulates a crash in which 25 percent of a vehicle's driver's side front end strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

"The driver's space was maintained well and injury measures recorded on the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity. While the dummy's head nearly slid off the left side of the airbag, the side curtain airbag deployed to protect the head from contacting side structure and outside objects," IIHS said in a statement.

By Jennifer Geiger | June 3, 2014 | Comments (5)

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan Real-World Cargo Space

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The Volkswagen Tiguan is one of those small SUVs that's deceivingly large on the inside compared to how compact it looks on the outside. The Tiguan is 7.5 inches shorter and 2 inches narrower than the 2014 Jeep Cherokee but has very similar cargo dimensions with 23.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the backseat and a total of 56.1 cubic feet when the backseat is folded. That rear seat also slides forward 6 inches and reclines.

Research the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Cargo users also have the option to maximize the cargo area by folding the front passenger seat flat — objects around 98 inches long can fit on the passenger side, according to VW. One of the Tiguan's tricks on models with the optional stereo and subwoofer is to hide the subwoofer in the spare tire area instead of in the cargo area, which doesn't impact cargo space, unlike the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport's subwoofer setup. See how well cargo fits in the Tiguan in our animation below.

By Joe Bruzek | May 29, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Volkswagen Golf, Golf TDI: First Drive

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Volkswagen has a problem. The idea of a premium compact hatchback isn't top of mind with consumers, and its venerable Golf needs to attract a new audience to help sales in the U.S.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Starts at $18,815

Thanks to a lower price and more of the standard equipment shoppers expect these days, the 2015 Golf has a chance to rebound in a big way. After driving manual and automatic versions of both the basic Golf, called the TSI, and the diesel-powered TDI, it seems driving fun is also in the mix.

By David Thomas | May 20, 2014 | Comments (10)

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan: Car Seat Check

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Volkswagen's compact crossover is at the smallest end of the class, so it's no surprise that the Tiguan didn't exactly excel in accommodating child-safety seats. During our Car Seat Check, Latch access wasn't the best and backseat room was an issue for one of our two rear-facing child seats. The Tiguan's stable seat belt buckles, however, helped earned it an A in the booster category.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Geiger | May 15, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Volkswagen Golf Starts at $18,815

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Volkswagen today announced pricing for the redesigned-for-2015 Golf. The seventh-generation of the hatchback will start at $18,815, including an $820 destination charge — $2,000 less than the 2014 version. The 2015 model's starting price is for the limited-availability two-door Golf Launch Edition with a five-speed manual transmission. Volkswagen says all of the eight available trim levels offer more standard equipment and better interior space than outgoing models. The longer, wider, lower and lighter 2015 Golf is expected to arrive at dealerships in August.

2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI at the 2013 New York Auto Show

Two new powertrains will be available; both use turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engines — one gas and one diesel. Golf versions with the 1.8-liter gas engine are mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, and will be available in five trim levels. The 2.0-liter TDI version pairs with either a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic transmission, and will be offered in three trims. Volkswagen says interior space in the new model is up slightly, and the automaker claims the Golf now offers more trunk space than any midsize sedan in the U.S. Newly available safety equipment includes forward collision warning and VW's Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.

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

2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen: Up Close

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Let's get this out of the way: The Golf SportWagen you see here is an R-Line sport version with a diesel engine, manual transmission and all-wheel drive that's only a concept at the moment. It's an attention-grabbing debut sure to entice wagon lovers with its dream-team powertrain combined with the sporty R Package.

More 2014 New York Auto Show Coverage

The striking blue exterior combined with a low stance and multispoke wheels set off the long, sleek exterior as much more proportional and attractive than the outgoing Jetta SportWagen. The Golf SportWagen goes on sale in early 2015 with less flash than the concept, but not any less usability considering it's longer and wider than the outgoing Jetta with more passenger and cargo room.

By Joe Bruzek | April 25, 2014 | Comments (2)

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