2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review

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When it comes to family-hauling duties, “the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport offers a happy medium of more overall room than a compact SUV but with a price lower than larger, three-row vehicles,” said Cars.com reviewer David Thomas.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

Recall Alert: 2012-2013 Dodge Durango

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 338,000 model-year 2012-13 Dodge Durango SUVs

The Problem: The fuel-pump relay inside the Totally Integrated Power Module may fail, preventing the vehicle from starting or causing it to stall without warning, increasing the risk of a crash. This is an expansion of a previous recall. “Of the two scenarios, the no-start condition is the more common. FCA US is unaware of any related injuries or accidents,” the automaker said in a statement.

The Fix: Dealers will install new a relay circuit that improves fuel-pump relay durability for free.

What Owners Should Do: FCA has not yet provided an owner notification schedule. Owners can call FCA at 800-853-1403 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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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

2014 Ram 2500 Review

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“The Ram 2500 with the 6.4-liter Hemi is a great-looking pickup with lots of capability, and it has one of my favorite interiors on the market. It certainly provides buyers with an efficient, powerful gasoline alternative to the Cummins diesel at a huge cost break,” said PickupTrucks.com reviewer Tim Esterdahl.

2014 Ram 2500 Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Tim Esterdahl

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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

2015 Nissan Sentra Named IIHS Top Safety Pick

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Structural improvements were among the changes that helped the 2015 Nissan Sentra earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award.

Related: 2015 Nissan Sentra: What’s Changed

Nissan modified the compact car’s front structure, A-pillar and doorsill, allowing the Sentra to earn the top score of good in the small overlap frontal crash test, which replicates a car’s front corner hitting a another vehicle or tree. The 2013-14 Sentra received the lowest score of poor in that crash test. The 2015 Sentra also has a longer side curtain airbag to better protect the driver’s head in a crash.

In addition to the good score in the small overlap test, the 2015 Sentra also earned the top score in front moderate overlap, side-impact, roof-strength and head restraints and seats crash tests. To earn a Top Safety Pick award, a car must receive the top score of good in those four tests and a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap test.

IIHS photo

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Written by: Jennifer Newman

Recall Alert: 2015 Chrysler 200

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 22,000 model-year 2015 Chrysler 200 sedans equipped with the V-6 engine

The Problem: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it is recalling the affected vehicles to resolve manufacturing issues that may prevent the vehicles from shifting into Park, increasing the risk of an accident.The automaker said five customers have reported being unable to shift the vehicle into Park, but FCA is unaware of any injuries or accidents related to this issue.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and, if needed, replace the nine-speed automatic transmission for free.

What Owners Should Do: FCA has not yet provided an owner-notification schedule. In the meantime, the automaker says drivers should activate the vehicle’s parking brake before shutting off its engine. Owners can call FCA at 800-853-1403 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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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

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:

J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study

  • Lexus: 89 problems per 100 vehicles
  • Buick: 110
  • Toyota: 111
  • Cadillac: 114
  • Honda: 116
  • Porsche 116
  • Lincoln: 118
  • Mercedes-Benz: 119
  • Scion: 121
  • Chevrolet: 123
  • GMC: 123
  • Acura: 124
  • Nissan: 128
  • Ram: 134
  • Audi: 138
  • Mazda: 140
  • Mitsubishi: 140
  • Infiniti: 144
  • BMW: 146
  • Industry average: 147
  • Subaru: 157
  • Kia: 158
  • Volkswagen: 165
  • Chrysler: 173
  • Volvo: 174
  • Ford: 188
  • Hyundai: 188
  • Dodge: 192
  • Mini: 193
  • Jeep: 197
  • Land Rover: 258
  • Fiat: 273

Note that Jaguar is unranked due to a small sample size. J.D. Power tweaked this year’s surveys, so the numerical results (e.g., Lexus’ 89 problems per 100 cars) can’t be directly compared to last year’s numbers, but the rankings and awardees can.

Award recipients

Cars
Small Cars: 2012 Scion xD
Compact Cars: 2012 Toyota Corolla
Multi-Purpose Vehicles: 2012 Scion xB
Midsize Cars: 2012 Chevrolet Malibu
Large Cars: 2012 Buick LaCrosse
Compact Sporty Cars: 2012 Scion tC
Midsize Sporty Cars: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro

SUVs/Minivans
Compact SUVs: 2012 GMC Terrain
Midsize SUVs: 2012 Nissan Murano
Large SUVs: 2012 GMC Yukon
Small SUVs: 2012 Kia Sportage
Minivans: 2012 Toyota Sienna

Trucks
Midsize Pickups: 2012 Honda Ridgeline
Large Light-Duty Pickups: 2012 GMC Sierra
Large Heavy-Duty Pickups: 2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD

Luxury Vehicles
Compact Premium Cars: 2012 Lexus ES
Midsize Premium Cars: 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Compact Premium SUVs: 2012 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
Midsize Premium SUVs: 2012 Lexus GX

J.D. Power notes that consumers increasingly report “design-related” problems they simply don’t like — an unintuitive multimedia system, for example — rather than things that objectively break. This trend was observed in last year’s study and is a long-standing criticism of the IQS. But J.D. Power says consumers still see a design defect as a problem.

“If a light bulb goes out in the car, I go to the dealer and 10 minutes later it gets fixed,” Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, told Cars.com. But if your car’s voice recognition consistently garbles commands, it can’t be fixed.

“I have my car the first few days [and] I can’t really figure out the voice recognition properly,” Sargent said. “Three years later, I’m still struggling with it. It still misinterprets my commands, or I’ve just given up on it and stopped using it. The system hasn’t really changed from day one … [but] that’s going to be a source of great frustration to consumers.”

Poor voice recognition and faulty Bluetooth pairing remain stubborn reliability issues, in fact. But catastrophic problems are largely past us, as “vehicles don’t break anymore, for the most part,” Sargent said.

That’s led to the prevalence of reported dislikes. Problems went beyond in-car tech; consumers still reported many engine and transmission problems, with nearly 30 percent relating to rough or hesitant shifting from the automatic transmission. The largest category of reported problems still involve the exterior — issues like excessive wind noise, squeaks and rattles, paint fade and more, Sargent said.

Manufacturer image

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Kelsey Mays

2015 Dodge Charger Review

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“The redesigned 2015 Dodge Charger is a capable family sedan that looks better than previous Chargers and, with the addition of a 707-horsepower, supercharged V-8, it’s a blast to drive on a racetrack,” says Cars.com reviewer Bill Jackson.

2015 Dodge Charger Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

GMC Adds Parent's Secret Weapon to 2015 Yukon

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Most of us grew up with parents joking about having eyes in the back of their heads, and many of us in turn have used this “threat” on our own kids. Several car manufacturers help make this superhero power real with conversation mirrors — a separate flip-down mirror specifically designed for a quick sneak peek on backseat shenanigans. The GMC Yukon is the latest vehicle to add one to its standard features list, thanks to the brand’s heavily mom-centric design team.

Related: Mom Must-Have: Conversation Mirror

On this superpowered GMC mom team is Kay Jarboe, product manager for the 2015 Yukon and Yukon XL. “As a mom, when it came time to design the next-generation Yukon and Yukon XL, I wanted to give our customers a better way of keeping tabs on their kids without forcing them to turn around and take their eyes off the road,” she said in a statement.

According GMC, “Roughly 30 percent of all Yukon and Yukon XL customers are parents with kids under the age of 16.” If you think toddlers are the only ones requiring an extra set of eyes while in the car, I’m sorry to inform you that is not the case. My three daughters ages 10, 12 and 14, seem to need more parental mentoring every year, and that doesn’t stop just because we get into the car.

Well, we at Cars.com are grateful for this fabulous family feature. With many new and well-seasoned parents on staff, conversation mirrors are a feature we took to immediately.

What about you? Does your car have a conversation mirror in it, and if so, how much do you use it?

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Written by: Kristin Varela

2015 Chrysler 300S: Car Seat Check

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Chrysler’s stylish flagship got an update for 2015 that makes it stand out even more; according to the automaker, the 300’s grille has been pumped up by 33 percent this year. Inside, the sedan will stand out for families because it’s again one of a handful of sedans that can comfortably accommodate three child-safety seats.

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The backseat may be roomy, but parents will find it tough to install car seats in the sporty 300S model; its stiff leather seats made connecting to the Latch anchors difficult, and the model’s heavily bolstered seat cushions impacted car-seat fit.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Three

What We Like

  • We had enough room to install three child-safety seats across the backseat, an uncommon feat in a sedan.
  • There are three sets of lower Latch anchors in the backseat, one more set than is common.
  • We did not need to move the front passenger seat forward to accommodate the rear-facing infant or convertible seats. There was plenty of room for these seats.

What We Don’t

  • The Latch anchors sit about a half-inch into the seat bight, which isn’t too deep, but access was still difficult. The 300S model’s stiff leather seats were unyielding, making Latch connection difficult for all of our car seats.
  • The sedan’s fixed head restraints and heavily bolstered seats made the forward-facing convertible sit at an awkward angle.
  • The outboard buckles are on stable bases, making it easier for children in boosters to buckle up, but the booster did not fit well on the seat due to the large back and bottom seat cushion bolsters and fixed head restraint.

Latch-B

ISS-B

RFC-B

FFC-C

Booster-B

Grading Scale

A: Plenty of room for the car seat and the child; doesn’t impact driver or front-passenger legroom. Easy to find and connect to Latch and tether anchors. No fit issues involving head restraint or seat contouring. Easy access to the third row.  

B: Plenty of room. One fit or connection issue. Some problems accessing third row when available.

C: Marginal room. Two fit or connection issues. Difficult to access third row when available.

D: Insufficient room. Two or more fit or connection issues.

F: Does not fit or is unsafe.

About Cars.com’s Car Seat Checks

Editors Jennifer Geiger and Jennifer Newman are certified child safety seat installation technicians.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 infant-safety seat, a Britax Marathon convertible seat and Graco TurboBooster seat.  The front seats are adjusted for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The three child seats are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver’s seat, and the infant and convertible seats are installed behind the front passenger seat.

We also install the forward-facing convertible in the second row’s middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit; a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. If there’s a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible. To learn more about how we conduct our Car Seat Checks, go here.

Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat, and that Latch anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds, including the weight of the child and the weight of the seat itself.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Jennifer Geiger