Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

Consumer Reports

older | 1 | .... | 372 | 373 | (Page 374) | 375 | 376 | .... | 384 | newer

    0 0
  • 02/23/16--09:41: Safety at Any Prıce
  • Safety at Any Prıce

    Mike and Linda Hanson had just finished lunch on a long road trip home to Glen Rock, Pa. Once back on the highway, Mike set their Dodge Durango’s cruise control to the speed limit and was pleased to note the clear skies and light traffic that day.

    The next thing he remembers was Linda screaming his name. As he awakened from what he called “zoning out,” they were barreling toward a concrete bridge abutment at 65 mph.

    But before he could slam on the brakes, the SUV did it for him, automatically slowing the car and granting him enough time to avoid what could have been a terrible accident.

    Shaken and cursing himself, he pulled over to the side of the road to calm down.

    Until that moment, the Hansons had no idea their 2014 Durango came equipped with a safety option called forward-­collision warning (FCW) and a secondary level of protection in the form of automatic emergency braking (AEB). They engage when the car detects an impending collision.

    Now both Hansons are convinced that safety technology embedded in their car saved their lives: “There is no question in my mind about that,” Mike says, adding, “I would never buy another car without it.”


    More on Car Safety

    • The Truth About Car Recalls
    • Autonomous Cars Get Boost From Government
    • Major Car-Safety Initiatives Coming Soon From NHTSA
    • 
    Automakers and NHTSA Agree to Collaborate on Car Safety Improvements



    FCW is a system that uses built-in laser, radar, and/or camera technology to anticipate a collision and warn the driver in real time—via flashing lights on the instrument panel or windshield, beeps, and other sounds­—to take immediate action. AEB goes a step further and slows the vehicle without any driver input at all.

    Though neither feature can fully prevent a collision, together as a one-two strategy they have been shown to reduce the number and severity of accidents.

    Consumer Reports sees FCW and AEB as the most promising safety breakthroughs in the automobile industry since the advent of electronic stability control almost two decades ago. We are urging automakers to make those features standard on all cars, from luxury to economy models, as quickly as possible.

    We feel so strongly that this level of safety should be available to everyone, no matter their income level, that starting this year our new vehicle Ratings are being adjusted to award bonus points—and thus a higher Ratings score—to vehicles that offer those safety features as part of the car’s base sticker price. Bonus points will be given for FCW, low-speed AEB, and high-speed AEB in vehicles that are equipped with the features as standard across all trim levels. Cars that offer them as an option, or only include them on top trim levels, will not receive the bonus.

    Over time, that effective technology could become as ubiquitous as stability control and as prevalent in the minds of consumers as seat-belt use.

    Vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of death and injury in the U.S., with more than 32,000 people on average dying every year. And driver choices and human error contribute to more than 90 percent of all crashes.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that tens of thousands of injuries could be prevented annually if every car had automatic emergency braking.

    When comparing vehicles with and without forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking, the combination of FCW and AEB has proved to reduce bodily injury insurance claims by up to 30 percent and reduce rear-end crashes by about 40 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Even when a car has only forward-collision warning, rear-end crashes are cut by 23 percent. Translated, that means fewer people got hurt and the injuries weren’t as severe.

    And yet many consumers are unaware those valuable features exist—even when they’re built into the cars parked in their own garages.

    In Consumer Reports’ Advanced Safety Systems Survey, which included 630 vehicles with standard AEB, 35 percent of the car owners did not know their cars had the feature. Turns out the Dodge salesman who sold the Hansons their Durango never mentioned that it had that capability.

    But those who do have the equipment certainly value it.

    A 2015 Acura TLX owner who participated in our survey explains, “It keeps me alert. It’s like having a driving partner that doesn’t yell at me.”

    Ron Olson, a 2014 BMW 4 Series owner, commutes on California Route 17, a winding, cresting mountain road with frequent sharp turns and sudden traffic stops. He said his BMW “reacts to brake sooner than I can get my foot on the brake pedal.”

    Those technologies have been in place and evolving in some form in the U.S. since 2004. But not enough has been done to market them, and explain how they work and why they are so beneficial to drivers—whether at low or high speeds.

    It’s clear from our survey that many car owners are underinformed and a bit confused.

    Many respondents said that although they knew their car was equipped with those safety features, they were still fuzzy about how they worked and under what circumstances they would activate.

    A Subaru Forester owner said, “I think any questions about the reliability of this system is probably related to a misunderstanding on my part as to what speeds or conditions it will engage.”

    The technology in the Forester is significant, even if it is misunderstood by owners. A study out of Japan found that Subaru’s EyeSight system, with FCW and AEB, decreased frontal collisions between cars by 80 percent.

    Not all of the features operate in the same way. Some have a collision warning at all speeds, but no AEB. Others might have AEB at speeds below 30 mph, but no warning. The ideal is both systems working together in one package. And still other automakers offer an adaptive cruise control system that can slow down a car in traffic to a complete stop, without any driver input.

    So it’s no wonder that even the people paid to promote the technology might not understand how it works.

    Video of an incident at a Volvo dealership went viral on the Internet last year. A salesman reportedly thought he was demonstrating the automaker’s Pedestrian Detection System, not realizing he had chosen a model that didn’t contain the safety feature. Instead of automatically braking during the demonstration, the SUV struck two people standing nearby. Neither person was seriously injured.

    When Allan Alaspa, a retired engineer living in Austin, Texas, went to purchase a 2014 Buick Regal, he had no interest in paying an additional $1,695 for its Driver Confidence Package that included FCW and AEB along with adaptive cruise control. But thanks to a special at the dealership, he wound up with it anyway, just without the high add-on price tag.

    It wasn’t long before he started gaining confidence in his new car’s safety features. “On two or three occasions, the car actually started braking for me,” he says, describing one encounter with an erratic driver in a parking lot. If not for Alaspa’s automated system, he may well have been in a costly collision.

    “I was going for the brake when the car automatically started braking, as well as the alarm sounding,” he says. Getting the system, “was cheap compared to what an accident like that might have cost.”

    Now he’s an admitted convert, saying: “Didn’t want it. Now I won’t buy another car without it.”

    Adds survey respondent Trisha Jacobson, owner of a 2015 Hyundai Sonata: “It gives us a good feeling of security in the event it is ever needed.”

    Room for Improvement

    Of the 6,600 owners surveyed by Consumer Reports whose cars had FCW with AEB, about 32 percent—or 2,100 people—reported that they had personally experienced the system activation and were able to avoid an accident, and the injury or damage that could have resulted.

    Of course, the systems are not perfect. False alerts do occur. In our survey many owners said their FCW system activated when it wasn’t warranted. Those with AEB had similar experiences when the brakes clamped for no apparent reason.

    Mike Lemoine, owner of a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, realizes the safety features could save his life—but says they can also be irritating on occasion.

    “It works very well, but does falsely detect collision risks when a car in front of you enters a turn lane and slows down while you are continuing on in the straight lane. Sometimes it’s due to the other car being close to the line or gradually exiting,” Lemoine says.

    Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, says the features will improve as they evolve.

    “While some people could get frustrated with the warnings, we have heard from thousands who have had the system prevent a crash,” Fisher says. “They’re willing to put up with a few false alerts to get the greater safety benefit.”

    Making Safety Standard

    Roughly 60 percent of all new 2016 cars are expected to have some version of those technologies available as an option. But the features are too often bundled with add-ons such as sunroofs or infotainment systems.

    Historically when new technologies are developed, they are expensive for a manufacturer to introduce and roll out. That’s why luxury and premium vehicles have usually seen the safety systems first.

    But NHTSA has taken big steps to encourage the technology. And over time economies of scale allow emerging innovation to be rolled out industry-wide, and the cost comes down.

    “Bundles of safety features can cost between $500 to $3,000, depending on what’s included,” says Mel Yu, Consumer Reports auto analyst. “We will soon see those features come as standard, without raising the price of the vehicle.”

    The DOT recently announced a collaboration between the government and 18 automotive manufacturers to prompt the auto industry to be more proactive in identifying safety issues and finding solutions for them.

    In the past, automakers have been proprietary about new technologies, even in the safety area, competing to develop those features and get them into vehicles. Consumer Reports believes government and industry should work together in the new venture to further encourage adoption by setting uniform standards for the technologies.

    Even the automakers’ most fervent backers believe it will take seven or eight years for widespread adoption of AEB throughout the industry, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said at a recent industry event.

    Though the regulatory agency he leads has taken important steps to push for AEB, it stopped short of flexing its rule-making authority and establishing a set deadline for that to happen.

    Nevertheless, Rosekind said regulations may come if automakers are “still struggling” to offer AEB.

    “Automatic braking saves lives,” said William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We’re glad that some automakers have committed to making this technology standard—so that anyone who buys a new car can benefit from it—and it’s time for the remaining companies to get onboard. If they don’t, or if automakers lag in rolling out this technology across their whole fleet, NHTSA shouldn’t hesitate to require it.”

    A recent Consumer Reports survey shows that safety tops the list of factors buyers value most when they are considering new cars. And when vehicles like the Scion iA, which sells for $16,695, now come with standard low-speed AEB, it’s clear that price should no longer be a barrier where safety is concerned.

    Though Consumer Reports is reserving judgment on other new safety technologies—such as lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist—we believe FCW and AEB stand out and already have been proved to save lives.

    Those advances may offer financial advantages, too. Several insurers have said that they will offer a pricing break for vehicles that have AEB.

    One day cars will be able to drive themselves; AEB is one of the prerequisites that will allow for that kind of self-driving car technology.

    Meanwhile, Volvo, a leader in automotive safety, is taking its own steps to improve the safety of its fleet. Using technology such as FCW, AEB, and self-driving software, Volvo has set what appears to be a utopian, if not outright impossible, agenda for itself.

    The automaker wants to eliminate all deaths or serious injuries in all new Volvo vehicles beginning in 2020. Other automakers are also making investments toward a similar outcome. They just haven’t been as bold or as public about it.

    “Targeting zero deaths is problematic because you have to look at all cases, and outliers,” says Erik Coelingh, Volvo’s senior technical leader tasked with reaching the goal.

    Volvo is looking into the types of accidents most prone to kill or injure people—including intersection collisions, scenarios where vehicles drive off the road, and those that involve large animals, such as deer and moose. And then figure out the safety antidotes. Why aim for zero, he was asked? Because, Coelingh says, “It’s the only acceptable number.”

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Cars That Owners Would Buy Again

    These models won—or broke—hearts, according to our Owner Satisfaction Survey, which asked people whether they would buy the same car again. 

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0
  • 02/23/16--09:41: Ready for the Road Ahead
  • Ready for the Road Ahead

    At Consumer Reports, the road we’ve traveled with consumers these past 80 years has been marked with historic safety victories, from seat belts in the 1960s to airbags in the ’80s to electronic stability control in the 2000s. This month we’re setting our eyes on the road ahead—and the next groundbreaking milestone in auto safety.

    As technology advances, it brings with it the opportunity to save countless lives. But that opportunity can’t be seized unless consumers spur action from manufacturers and policymakers. That’s why, today, we’re standing with you by calling for two landmark car-safety innovations, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, to become standard in all new vehicles. These technologies—already helping to measurably lower injury and death rates in a number of high-end cars—represent the next evolution in safety. Because of their proven effectiveness in guarding against obstacles on the road ahead, they belong in every new car, regardless of the buyer’s budget. Your family’s safety is too important to exclude these lifesaving features from any model.

    Until those innovations become standard industrywide, Consumer Reports is rewarding automakers who have already done right by consumers by including forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking in all vehicles, as a standard feature across all trim levels. Cars that come equipped with those technologies receive bonus points in our brand-new Overall Score—our latest innovation designed to make it easier for you and your family to come to an informed decision about the car that’s right for you. As always, your support makes it possible for us to partner with you to ensure that the road ahead is safe and clear. 

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0
  • 02/23/16--09:41: The worst of the worst
  • The worst of the worst

    These 2006-15 models have a record of below-average overall reliability. They’re listed alphabetically by make and model. The worst used cars are shown in bold italics; they’re models with much-worse-than-average overall reliability based on multiple years of data. We recommend skipping all of them.

    Use the pull-down menu to view car models by brand.

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0
  • 02/23/16--09:41: Selling It
  • Selling It

    Marketers want their products and services to be noticed and applauded, but sometimes the attempt backfires. When it does, our eagle-eyed readers let us know, submitting examples of ripoffs, poorly worded ads, half-empty packaging, outlandish claims, and goofs that have made them laugh out loud.

    Call Roadside Assistance

    These ads are in need of repairs. 


    High Maintenance
    By the time this reader gets home from his “closest Pep Boys,” he’ll need another oil change. (Submitted by Brian Fong of Sacramento, Calif.)


    Fully Loaded
    It’s reassuring to know that the Fiat featured in this ad comes with a steering wheel. Let’s hope they throw in four tires, too. (Submitted by Joseph Bertrand of Springfield, Ill.) 


    Two Strong Helpers Included?
    We certainly hope they mean a keyless ignition. (Submitted by Terry Evans of Kitchener, Ontario.) 


    Wheeling and Dealing
    Looks like this “sale” filtered out any savings. (Submitted by Peter Drivas of Bedford, Mass.) 


    Share the Silliness With Us

    Be on the lookout for goofs and glitches like these. Share them with us via:

    • Email: SellingIt@cro.consumer.org
    • Mail: Selling It, Consumer Reports, 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703
    • Social media: #CRSellingIt

    Send us your funny ads and we might publish it here.

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Putting More Muscle Into Auto Safety

    In January 2016 the Department of Transportation announced two initiatives: One is the government’s proposed infusion of almost $4 billion into the development of autonomous cars over the next decade; the second is a collaboration between automakers and the government to improve safety and communication regarding recalls.

    Though the declarations are proactive, they may not go far enough. Consumer Reports is advocating for safety improvements that we believe could be implemented sooner rather than later, especially if regulators and automakers can work together and come to an agreement on effective standards. (Learn more about car safety.)

    Below is our list of priorities for car safety:

    Forward-Collision Warning With Automatic Emergency Braking

    Features such as forward-collision warning (FCW) with automatic emergency braking (AEB) can reduce bodily injury insurance claims by up to 30 percent. The severity of an accident can be greatly reduced if a car is equipped with those features.

    CR’s take: Consumer Reports urges all manufacturers to include those features as standard equipment. In parallel, the government can pursue regulations to require the features.

    Seat-Belt Reminders for All

    When cars have advanced seat-belt reminders—meaning the alerts that prompt seat-belt use get louder or more frequent—research has shown that occupants will wear their seat belt. But those audible alerts are currently installed in very few backseats, neglecting the high number of backseat passengers who are less likely to wear a seat belt in the first place.

    CR’s take: Except for children who are required to be in safety seats, backseat passengers are often left behind in terms of safety developments. Installing seat-belt reminders for every seat in every car is an effort that Consumer Reports believes would benefit the safety of all occupants, including post-booster-seat children and adolescents. The alerts were to be made mandatory, but governing bodies have failed to greenlight industry-wide compliance.

    Consistent Seat-Belt Laws

    In 1967 the first federally mandated seat-belt law required all motor vehicles to have seat belts installed as original equipment. But as of this writing, there are still 16 states in which police cannot stop and fine those who choose to not wear a belt as a primary offense. New Hampshire doesn’t have an adult seat-belt law.

    CR’s take: Universal seat-belt use can reduce traffic deaths by as many as 2,800 people per year. Proper use of a lap and shoulder belt by front-seat occupants can reduce the risk of fatal injury in light trucks by 60 percent, and by 45 percent in cars. It’s time that all states have consistent, stringent seat-belt requirements for adult drivers and passengers.

    Automatic Headlights When Wipers Are On

    Many cars now have daytime running lights. But when weather is inclement, turning on the headlights significantly improves the ability of other drivers to see a car and reduces the chance of an accident. Only 19 states currently have laws that require drivers to turn on their headlights when the windshield wipers are in use.

    CR’s take: Automakers could decrease visibility dangers for all motorists by installing headlights that automatically turn on when the windshield wipers are activated. It is an inexpensive and potentially lifesaving investment.

    Rear-Seat Safety

    Front-seat passengers are at an advantage in terms of protective safety technologies, assuming everyone is belted in. Data show that belted backseat passengers—with the exception of young children who have the protection of child restraints—may fare poorly in crashes compared with those in the front seat.

    CR’s take: More attention needs to be paid to increasing safety in the backseat, especially because it affects those who sit there most often: children and adolescents. Technologies such as seat-belt pretensioners—which tighten the belt in anticipation of impact—and additional frontal and side airbag protection are key. Consumer Reports believes that rear-seat passengers require protection with the same vigilance as front-seat passengers.

    Alcohol-Detection Systems

    NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has said the agency is working toward finalizing technology for alcohol-detection systems in cars and commercial vehicles. The system would be able to detect alcohol either on the breath of a driver or through a laser scan of the driver’s finger.

    CR’s take: Alcohol-fueled crashes kill almost 10,000 people per year, according to NHTSA. And more than 1 million arrests were made in 2012 for driving while impaired by alcohol or narcotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using technology to keep a drunk driver from taking the wheel is a smart next step for road safety.

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    The Most and Least Reliable Cars by Class

    Whether you drive a family hauler, commuter car, or performance sedan, your goal is the same—to avoid the repair shop. This list is based on our Annual Auto Survey. 

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Which Brands Make the Best Cars?

     One great car—or clunker—doesn’t define a whole brand. Neither does its reputation (good or bad) relieve you of the need to examine a vehicle carefully. But our long-standing and comprehensive analysis of car brands reveals that you can glean important information by knowing a brand’s output over time.

    To determine which car brands consistently deliver vehicles that serve consumers well, we tabulate the overall score, road-test score, and predicted reliability results for each tested model of a brand. We then average those scores at the brand level. This average overall score is used to rank the car brands as an indicator of who makes the best cars. Topping our Ratings are the luxury brand Audi and mainstream marque Subaru. Only vehicles that are on the market and that we tested factor into the equation. The rankings don’t account for corporate practices or brand perceptions.

    Hence, Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles that have been pulled from dealerships—following their recall and stop-sale last year for cheating on EPA emissions tests—are not included in our car brands scoring. Consumer Reports strongly believes that Volkswagen AG, the maker of VW and Audi vehicles, should be held accountable for manipulating emissions testing with its vehicles.

    In creating the car brands Report Card, we aggregate road-test performance, reliability, safety performance and active safety aids, and owner satisfaction. Brands with a lineup of mature, incrementally updated vehicles tended to rise to the top.

    For instance, Toyota’s middling road-test score was balanced by strong reliability; Mercedes-Benz’s strong road tests were offset by below par reliability. And Honda, Nissan, and Chrysler suffered due to problematic new transmissions.

    Note that car brands must have at least two models with test and reliability data to be included. Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Maserati, Ram, Smart, and Tesla lack sufficient data. (Download a PDF of this car-brand information.)

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0
  • 02/23/16--09:44: Top Cars in Our Tests
  • Top Cars in Our Tests

    Each vehicle is put through a battery of tests at our track to determine its performance and some models stand out while others do not. Our list highlights the overall top-scoring vehicles in our Ratings and those at the bottom of the pack.

    You can create your own custom lists based on the factors you find most interesting by using our interactive Car Selector tool (available to online subscribers).

    Overall test scores are based on more than 50 individual Consumer Reports tests and evaluations, and they are presented on a 100-point scale.

    Top scoring cars in our tests

    Make & model Overall road test score
    Tesla Model S P85D 100
    BMW 750i xDrive 99
    BMW M235i
    98
    Mercedes-Benz S550 (AWD)
    96
    Porsche 911 Carrera S
    95
    Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec 93
    Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3LT
    92
    Audi A8 L 91
    Chevrolet Impala 2LTZ 91
    Audi A6 (3.0T) 90
    Infiniti Q70 90

    The lowest scorers

    Make & model Overall road test score
    Jeep Wrangler Limited
    20
    Mitsubishi Mirage ES
    29
    Mitsubishi i-MiEV 35

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Subaru & Mazda Keep Pace with Luxury Brands in Consumer Reports 2016 Annual Brand Report Card

    Audi, Subaru, Lexus, Porsche, BMW lead the pack

    April 2016 Cover [Hi-Res Version]YONKERS, NY— Consumers don’t always have to spend top dollar to get a great car. The Consumer Reports 2016 Brand Report Card reveals mainstream brands like Subaruand Mazda can often deliver as much quality as more opulent luxury brands.

    The highest overall brand scores in Consumer Reports’ annual indicator of which brands make the best cars went to Audi (80) and Subaru (78). Consumer Reports currently Recommends 100 percent of each brand's models that it has tested. Luxury brands Lexus (76), Porsche (76), and BMW (76) rounded out the top five in CR’s rankings. 

    Mazda finished just outside the lead pack in sixth place, with GM’s premium brand Buick in seventh place. Consumer Reports is currently Recommending 100 percent of the Mazda models and 80 percent of the Buick models it has tested. 

    Which Brands Make the Best Cars“It's not enough to make cars that drive and handle well. Consumers are best served when those vehicles are also highly reliable and safe,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing.

    In total, 30 brands were included in CR’s 2016 Brand Report Card. To determine which marques consistently deliver cars that serve consumers well, Consumer Reports tabulated the overall score, road test score, and predicted reliability results for each tested model of a brand. Then CR’s auto experts averaged those scores at the brand level as an indicator of which brands make the best cars.

    CR’s rankings are based only on vehicles that are currently for sale on the market and that the organization has tested at its 327-acre Automotive Test Center in Connecticut. Audi and VW diesel vehicles that have been pulled from dealerships—following their recall and stop-sale last year for cheating on EPA emissions tests—are not included in the scoring. The rankings do not account for corporate practices or brand perceptions, and despite Audi’s score, Consumer Reports strongly believes that Volkswagen AG, the maker of VW and Audi vehicles, should be held accountable for manipulating emissions testing with its vehicles.

    Scores for all 30 brands included in the Consumer Reports 2016 Brand Report Cards are available in the Annual Auto issue of Consumer Reports or by visiting the Consumer Reports 2016 Autos Spotlight on ConsumerReports.org.

    Along with the Korean brand Kia (9th place), the largest Japanese brands rounded out the top 10. Toyota’s strong reliability score was enough to balance its middling road test score and secure eighth place.  Honda finished in the 10th spot with Consumer Reports Recommending 88 percent of its tested models.

    Other domestic brands didn’t fare as well as Buick. Ford, Lincoln, and Chevrolet finished mid-pack and were largely bogged down by their inconsistent reliability scores. All Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brands finished in the bottom third of the rankings, with Fiat coming in last. 

    This is the ninth consecutive year Consumer Reports has compiled and published its Car Brand Report Card. However, changes in the scoring methodology preclude comparing results from the 2016 report to information from any of the previous years.

    This year, Consumer Reports does not have Brand Report Cards for Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Maserati, Ram, Smart, and Tesla, because the organization has fewer than two currently tested models from those makes. Ratings on individual models from those brands are available at ConsumerReports.org

    The complete 2016 Brand Report Card is available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports and online at ConsumerReports.org starting February 23, 2016.  Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. 

    Connect with us for live coverage of the Autos Spotlight, on Facebook.com/ConsumerReports and on Twitter: @ConsumerReports and @CRCars. Full coverage of the 2016 Autos Spotlight is available at ConsumerReports.org.

    About Consumer Reports
    Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936 Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50 plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Consumer Reports’ 2016 Annual Top Picks: Kia Sorento & Lexus RX Are Best SUVs

    Ford F-150 named top pickup truck for first time in 17 years

    April 2016 Cover [Hi-Res Version]YONKERS, NY — Seven new vehicles made Consumer Reports’ 2016 Annual Top Picks list—the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Kia Sorento, Toyota Sienna, Toyota Camry, Lexus RX, Honda Fit, and Ford F-150¬—in each of their respective categories. 

    The redesigned Ford F-150 was named best Pickup Truck, thanks in part to its fuel economy, quiet and spacious cabin, and much-improved infotainment system. It’s Ford’s first win in the category since 1999 and its first overall Top Pick honor since 2012.

    Consumer Reports’ 2016 Top Picks list, Car Brand Report Cards and more from the Annual Auto Issue were released at a press  conference today before the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) in Washington, D.C. For more details and videos of the Top Picks, visit ConsumerReports.org.

     “This year several automakers have really hit the mark with their redesigned vehicles,” said Mark Rechtin, Consumer Reports’ Cars Content Development Team Leader.  “This year’s Top Picks include refreshed models, like the Lexus RX, that have vaulted back to the top of their respective categories after lengthy absences.” 

    The Toyota Camry notched its fifth Top Pick honor in the 20-year history of the list in the Midsized Car category, and its first in four years. There was a time when Honda Accord had a solid edge over the competition in this ultra-competitive category, much of the past decade, but this marks its second straight year out of the top spot.

    Subaru’s Forester and Impreza models are Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for Small SUV and Compact Car, respectively.  It’s the fifth consecutive award for the Impreza, and the second in a row for the Forester. Both are noted for their reliability, ride comfort, and suite of available safety technology.  

    The Chevrolet Impala repeated as the Top Pick in the Large Car category, proving that an American automaker knows how to make an outstanding car for the masses. The Impala joins the Ford F-150 as the only domestic winners this year. 

    Consumer Reports’ Top Picks must rank at or near the top of their respective classes in CR’s road-test score. Models must also have an average or better predicted reliability rating based on problems reported by subscribers  for  the  740,000  vehicles  in  CR’s  2015  auto  survey.  Also  taken  into  consideration  is  owner satisfaction, which CR obtains by surveying subscribers about their happiness level regarding the 230,000 vehicles in their garages. Finally, and importantly, Top Picks must perform effectively in crash or rollover tests conducted by the government and insurance industry (if tested). 

    Consumer Reports’ 2016 Top Picks By Category:

    MIDSIZED CAR: Toyota Camry ($24,089-$32,603) The Camry’s no-fuss driving experience – great outward visibility, controls that fall easily to hand, a roomy interior – may not be the most thrilling in its class, but it’s far from plain. The solid Camry delivers year after year of outstanding reliability, which when combined with impressive crash-tests results, make it a near-perfect sedan.

    SUBCOMPACT CAR: Honda Fit ($19,025) The Honda Fit is thrifty with fuel, returning a competitive 33 mpg overall, and its nimble handling beats expectations. It has remarkable interior space for such a tiny footprint, with second-row seats that elegantly stow away or flip up to hold more cargo. Road noise does boom in, and its rough ride can be tiring on long drives. Still, its crash-test scores have improved over its predecessor.

    COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza ($21,345-$22,345) Despite its compact size, the Impreza’s ride and comfort will surprise. It has expansive window glass, lots of interior space for a car of its size, intuitive controls, a suite of available safety technology, great crash-test results, and an available hatchback version to haul bulky cargo. And with the added benefit of superb all-wheel-drive traction, the Impreza is a smart, practical car.

    LUXURY SUV: Lexus RX ($51,630-$57,565) Lexus created the luxury crossover segment almost 20 years ago, and its dominance hasn’t diminished since. Though the exterior now features origami styling and a new “Predator” grille, it still boasts a quiet and comfortable cabin, effortless power delivery, a smooth ride, and a tastefully done interior fit and finish. The hybrid version gets an impressive 29 mpg overall.

    SPORTS CAR <$40K: Mazda MX-5 MIATA ($29,905) The MX-5 Miata combines lithe, precise handling with a crisp manual stick and a zoomy engine—that gets an enviable 34 mpg—to create the perfect car for the enthusiast driver and weekend racer. It’s reliable, too. With its jumpy, firm suspension, loud cabin, and tight quarters for taller drivers, the Miata isn’t a commuter car. But given a sunny day and a winding road, none of that matters.

    SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester ($27,145) The Forester is roomy, rides comfortably, and handles unflappably. Its AWD system routed the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in CR’s snow-driving evaluations. Fuel economy is among the class leaders. It also has the best sight lines from the driver’s seat of any model on the market.

    MIDSIZED SUV: Kia Sorento ($37,915) The Sorento is a great SUV hiding in plain sight. It offers class-above elegance at mainstream prices. It’s a shade smaller than its midsized competitors, but that allows it to be city-friendly while still offering the space and features of a larger vehicle.  

    MINIVAN: Toyota Sienna ($35,810-$38,201) The Sienna is super-reliable transport with all of the modern features an active, connected family would want. Its spacious and multifunctional interior, with available seating for eight, mates well with the Sienna’s magic carpet ride and energetic powertrain.

    PICKUP TRUCK: Ford F-150 ($45,750-$46,755) By eschewing traditional steel body panels, Ford created a pickup that weighs less, enabling it to be quick off the line and fuel-efficient. The cabin is extremely quiet and spacious. The intuitive Sync 3 infotainment system is a welcome update from the MyFord Touch. The F150 has the best predicted reliability of any domestic truck.

    LARGE CAR: Chevrolet Impala ($39,110) The Impala is dynamic and comfortable, combining a cushy ride with responsive handling, beating some elite luxury sedans at their own game. The controls are refreshingly intuitive, without resorting to overcomplicated interfaces. There’s enough cabin space to fit five comfortably.

    Complete details on Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2016, Car Brand Report Cards, Best and Worst Lists and other key findings are available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands March 1stor visit Consumer Reports’ 2016 Autos Spotlight page on ConsumerReports.org.

    Consumer Reports’ testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Roughly 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process. CR buys all its test cars anonymously from dealers. Other reviewers base their evaluations on press cars that are hand-picked by the automakers.

    For live coverage of CR’s breaking news, connect on Twitter at @ConsumerReports and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConsumerReports.

    About Consumer Reports
    Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50-plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Straight Talk on the Best New Cars

    One of the highlights of Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue coverage is our Top Picks list, featuring the best choices across 10 vehicle categories. This episode of our “Talking Cars with Consumer Reports” video podcast dissects those selections, highlighting why some cars make the grade while others fall short.

    This year features one of the biggest changes we've ever made in our scoring system. Our new Overall Score factors in not only road test score, based on over 50 tests conducted at Consumer Reports’ dedicated test track, but also reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. Everything that the conscientious car buyer cares about is wrapped up into this one-stop number. We explain changes to how we predict reliability, and why vehicle scores will change much more frequently than in the past.

    Overall, it's a year of change, with only three Top Picks—the Chevrolet Impala, Subaru Impreza, and Subaru Forester—carrying over from last year. It's no surprise that the new Overall Score changed some of this year's standouts. Superior reliability helps put the Toyota Camry over the Subaru Legacy, the previous winner, for midsized sedan honors. Same goes for the Toyota Sienna besting the Honda Odyssey among minivans. Several recently redesigned cars—the Ford F-150, Honda Fit, Kia Sorento, Lexus RX, and Mazda MX-5 Miata—take their place among the best.

    Even though Toyota is well-represented in our roster of Top Picks, one long-time winner is missing: the Toyota Prius. With its 2016 redesign having just gone on sale, we haven't been able to fully test the Prius in time to determine if it qualifies to make the list. But we have been racking up miles on our new test car, which reveals a Prius that's improved in many, many ways. We discuss the gains made by Toyota's ground-breaking hybrid, as well as the car's few setbacks. 

    As with the other "Talking Cars," this episode on popular cars is also available free through the iTunes Store. Subscribe to the video or audio. You'll also find the video on YouTube.

    Share your comments on this show below, and let us know if you need any advice for choosing a car.

    Popular Cars and SUVs, episode 87
    Self-Driving Cars, episode 86
    2016 Detroit Auto Show, episode 85
    2015 Automotive Year in Review, episode 84
    Debating Two Thrilling Mercedes-Benz AMG Cars, episode 83

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    'The Big Short' and Other Great Money Movies

    Eight movies are vying for Best Picture at the 88th annual Academy Awards presentation on February 28th. One of them, The Big Short, provides a great service to moviegoers. It explains how unchecked fraud by Wall Street and big mortgage lenders created the economic collapse of 2008.  

    The Big Short tells the true tale of hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale), who was one of the first to discover, in 2005, that Wall Street investment banks were selling AAA-rated bonds comprised of lots of subprime mortgage loans. But this is no eye-glazing film. Director Adam McKay shows how Burry made $800 million in profits by figuring out how to beat the investment banks at their own game.

    The film explained that even our most trusted bedrock financial institutions can defraud you and that smart investors should never blindly follow the crowd of experts. Instead, they must protect themselves by conducting their own due diligence and independent research. Borrowers, the movie advises, should never get in over their heads with too-easy credit, because, ultimately, borrowers are the ones on the hook for repaying their loans.

    Hollywood movies may not be the first place you look to for personal financial advice. But the silver screen has long offered financial wisdom. So we put together a list of movies that we think provide valuable financial lessons over the last 70 years of filmmaking.

    Moneyball

    Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, overcomes his club's low-budget league disadvantage by revolutionizing the method of finding great players at a bargain salary. Beane and statistical wiz Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) use "sabermetric" computer analysis of ballplayer data to find undervalued talent, in place of the instincts and expertise of human baseball scouts.

    Financial lesson: This 2011 Best-Picture Oscar nominee offers contrarian investing advice. It suggests that small investors should root out under-appreciated stocks and other assets that the professionals don't yet recognize. It also explains that to do this, investors need to study the fundamentals of stocks carefully before buying shares and not simply make investments based on wisdom gleaned from newspaper articles.

    The Pursuit of Happyness

    Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a great salesman who made a poor investment in tough-to-sell medical scanning devices, and ends up homeless. Dogged by parking tickets and the Internal Revenue Service, Gardner determines not to give up. He lives in a homeless shelter, sells his blood, and works hard in a six-month unpaid internship to earn a full-time job as a stockbroker. This 2006 film, with its intentionally misspelled title, is a cautionary tale about how a reversal of fortune can put you in really bad financial stead. But it also inspires by demonstrating how hard work, persistence, and a positive attitude can pay off.

    Financial lesson: Before betting the farm—and the security of your family—on a business plan designed to make you rich, make sure you have a fallback financial strategy in case things don't work out.

    Slumdog Millionaire

    In this 2006 Best Picture Oscar-winning film, Jamal (Dev Patel), a contestant on India's version of the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" game show, is one question away from the 20 million rupee top prize when he is falsely accused of cheating. In explaining his innocence to police, Jamal recounts his upright life, including justified childhood thievery as an orphan in the slums of Mumbai, his honest work as an adult in an international customer service call center, and his quest to rescue his childhood love, Latika (Freida Pinto), from prostitution at the hands of a gangster.

    Financial lesson: Money doesn't necessarily buy happiness; it can also lead to evil. And while essential for survival, money is not as important as other things in life, such as true love. 

    Maxed Out

    Producer-director James Scurlock walks us through everything consumers need to know about the big business of lending, from credit scoring and penalty fees to foreclosure and bankruptcy. This 2006 documentary could have been as deadly as the required disclosure on the back of a credit card statement, but Maxed Out uses wit and entertainment to expose how Washington politicians weakened bankruptcy protections to help creditors take fullest advantage of consumers by lending them more than they should and punishing them when they failed. Senator Elizabeth Warren, then a Harvard Law professor, shines by revealing that credit card companies love borrowers who went through bankruptcy, because they can't file for bankruptcy again and they're willing to make minimum monthly payments forever.

    Financial lesson: Don't borrow more than you really need. 

    Wall Street

    Directed by Oliver Stone, Wall Street epitomizes the excesses of the economically booming 1980s in the characters of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) and protege Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) who profit lustily from illegally trading stocks based on inside information. After The Big Short, this 1987 film seems almost quaint, since the bad guys actually get caught and appear to be headed to jail.

    Financial lesson: Ordinary investors should forswear the fantasy of making a killing on Wall Street, which is typically reserved for wealthy and well-connected players.  

    It's a Wonderful Life

    In director Frank Capra's 1946 masterpiece, an angel shows George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a responsible building and loan president, how the world would not be better if he got his irrational wish to have never been born. This Twentieth Century version of A Christmas Carol illustrates the benefits of almost every aspect of responsible money management, from hard work, thrift, and family budgeting, to homeownership, ground-floor investing, and charity. Mortgages are underwritten by assessing honesty, income, and the character and creditworthiness of the borrowers. A Best Picture Oscar nominee in 1946. 

    Financial lesson: There are many financial lessons in this movie, but one stands out. While George Bailey was careful about his spending, he was never able to create an emergency fund. As a result, when he ended up with a financial shortfall, he had almost no spare cash set aside to protect his job and his family.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Smart Tax Deductions to Lower Your Tax Bill

    It’s not too late to lower your tax bill for 2015. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you may be able to reduce your adjusted gross income by up to $6,500. These tax deductions, in turn, reduce the amount you owe Uncle Sam.

    There are three options to lower your tax bill, all of which take the form of a contribution, either to your retirement account or a health savings account. All can be funded up to this year’s tax deadline of April 18 (April 19 for Massachusetts and Maine): 

    Contribute to a traditional IRA. The easiest way to lower your adjusted gross income is by adding to your retirement savings through an IRA. You can contribute up to $5,500—$6,500 if you’re over age 50—and the deduction will apply to your 2015 taxes if you make the contribution before this year’s tax deadline.

    Something to keep in mind: Your deduction from an IRA contribution could be reduced or eliminated if you or your spouse is covered at work by a retirement plan like a 401(k), and your income exceeds certain limits

    Note, too, that this tax break only applies to a traditional IRA—one in which your contribution comes from pre-tax income. While you can still open or add to a Roth IRA to apply toward tax-year 2015 (if your earned income is less than $193,000 for married couples filing jointly or $131,000 for singles and heads of household), contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible. The result is that it would not lower your tax bill for 2015. 

    Contribute to a SEP IRA. If you made money from self-employment last year, you can lower your tax bill by contributing to a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement (SEP) IRA. The SEP IRA allows you to put aside up to $53,000 or 25 percent of your income—whichever is smaller—regardless of whether you’re covered by a retirement plan at your main job.

    While you may contribute to both a SEP and a traditional IRA in the same tax year, because of their tax-advantaged nature, the amount of the traditional IRA contribution that you can deduct on your income tax return may be reduced or eliminated if you contributed the maximum allowed to your SEP IRA.

    Contribute to an HSA. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are accounts that you can create and fund in conjunction with high-deductible health insurance plans. An individual can allocate up to $3,350 for 2015, which must be contributed before this year’s tax-filing deadline; families can fund their account up to $6,650. You can draw on the account to pay for out-of-pocket health care costs. The money in the HSA is yours to keep and use, even if you switch plans. 

    There are three ways to fund an HSA and lower your tax bill. Your employer may have elected to contribute directly to your 2015 HSA; that contribution is not tax-deductible. You might have made pre-tax contributions, deducted from your own income, up to December 31, 2015. And if you haven't reached the contribution limit, you can make post-tax contributions directly to the HSA, up to the 2016 filing deadline. 

    Whether pre-tax or post-tax, your contributions are eligible for a 2015 tax deduction if your health plan meets certain criteria. For a plan to be HSA-eligible, it must not cover any health care costs (except preventive care) before the deductible is met. If your plan covers doctor visits with a copay before the deductible is met, it's not HSA-eligible—and you won’t be able to take advantage of the tax-deductible contribution. 

    To contribute post-tax dollars, you'll need to send a check or arrange for an electronic transfer directly to the company managing your HSA account, indicating that it's for tax-year 2015. Tax software or a tax professional can guide you to ensure that the additional contribution counts toward your deduction on your tax return. 

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    My Pillow Faulted for False Health Claims

    Claims for My Pillow professed to alleviate ailments from head (temporomandibular joint disorder) to toe (restless leg syndrome). Sound too good to be true? That’s what the group Truth in Advertising thought when it discovered the health claims made by My Pillow in its ads and on its website. The watchdog group warned My Pillow that it would file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the unsubstantiated claims were not removed and the pillow seller quickly put them to rest.

    “While My Pillow is doing the right thing by taking down these unsubstantiated health claims, they never should have been there in the first place,” said Bonnie Patten, executive director of TINA.org. “I’m certain that there were consumers who relied on these deceptive marketing claims in making their purchases.”

    Pillow Talk

    This isn’t the first time that My Pillow has made claims that seem over the top. In addition to saying the pillow could lessen the effects of anxiety, migraines, acid reflux, menopause, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and post traumatic stress disorder, among other ills, visitors to the website were greeted by the logo of The New York Times, implying an endorsement. In fact, Penelope Green’s article in the newspaper actually said, “It’s a good thing that My Pillow has a 60-day guarantee and a full-refund policy (save for shipping), because its patented foam stew—swollen, lumpy and bulgy—was no happy cocktail, but a recipe for a very stiff neck.”

    The logo has now been removed from the My Pillow website along with the benefits section. But the “Buy One Get One Free” offer still remains, something that consumers have questioned. The cost of the BOGO offer is $99.97 but many retailers and websites sell one My Pillow for almost half that.

    Consumer Reports bought three My Pillows to test and examined them inside and out. One tester described it as “kind of lumpy, but comfortable.” We also polled staffers who bought My Pillow on their own in hopes of getting a better night’s sleep. Half said the pillow helped them sleep and one-third said it didn’t help at all. To find the right pillow for you read, "The Best Pillow for a Good Night's Sleep."

    More on Sleep

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    The Benefits of a True 4-Door Refrigerator

    If you want your kitchen to look like no other, adding a true 4-door refrigerator to the design will be a leap in the right direction. Although the 4-door refrigerator category has been around for years, most models feature French doors on top, a pullout middle drawer, and a bottom freezer. True 4-door models are just that—a refrigerator with four hinged doors that form a perfect quadrant.

    In addition to altering the overall look of the appliance, this new configuration often changes the interior layout and, as a result, the way you interact with your refrigerator. That’s especially true with two newcomers from LG, both of which rival the best models in our refrigerator Ratings of hundreds of tested models.

    LG LPCS34886C
    The 4-door LG LPCS34886C, $6,000, is the most interesting of the new fleet of true 4-door models. For starters, it has the most usable capacity—24.4 cubic feet—of any refrigerator we’ve ever tested. So if you live in a big household or entertain a lot, this behemoth is sure to please.

    The two upper doors for the fresh-food section are loaded with features, including twin door-in-door compartments that let you grab beverages and other everyday items without reaching all the way into the refrigerator’s main compartment. And it comes in a unique luminous black finish.

    As for performance, which after all is what matters most in a refrigerator, the LG LPCS34886C is a top scorer for the category (alongside the Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4), thanks to its superb temperature control, energy efficiency, and quietness.

    LG LPXS30866D
    The LG LPXS30866D performed nearly as well as the LG LPCS34886C, and at $3,900 it’s a relative bargain next to its brandmate. The black stainless steel finish is one key difference with this 4-door refrigerator, and it’s one you’ll appreciate if you have kids or pets, since it’s much more resistant to smudges and fingerprints. In terms of features, it has a single door-in-door compartment (which, quite frankly, might be enough) and a through-the-door ice and water dispenser. Six storage compartments and six door bins help keep the freezer well organized.

    Blomberg BRFD2650SSN
    Our latest tests also include a true 4-door refrigerator from Blomberg: the Blomberg BRFD2650SSN. At $2,700, it’s the least expensive of its kind, though it also landed near the bottom of our Ratings. That was largely due to its subpar energy efficiency; it was also a bit noisier than some of the recommended 4-door refrigerators. Temperature control on the Blomberg is very good, and this fridge has some nice convenience features, including an external water dispenser and touchpad controls. And like any true 4-door refrigerator, it will help give your kitchen a truly original look. 

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Coming Soon: 10 Cars Worth the Wait

    Even though it’s still early in 2016, the 2017 models are almost ready to roll out of factory doors. So if you’re not in a hurry to buy a new vehicle, consider waiting to test drive one of the newest of the new. The intriguing coming attractions include Chevrolet’s new approach to the electric car, the return of a Honda pickup truck, the reincarnation of Lincoln’s Continental, and a new crossover from Buick.

    All sound promising, but streamers and fireworks aside, we usually recommend holding off purchases for a year or so after the launch of a redesigned or brand-new model. Even historically reliable vehicles can have teething problems during a redesign.

    Remember, the outgoing version may be a bargain—thanks to big incentives designed to free up space in dealership inventory for the new model.

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0
  • 02/25/16--03:00: Spinning Your Wheels
  • Spinning Your Wheels

    nullThe full article is available to ConsumerReports.org subscribers. Sign in or subscribe to read this article.

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    Forward-Collision Warning Systems Are Not All Created Equal

    Forward-collision warning (FCW) is an advanced safety feature that Consumer Reports highly recommends. In fact, we have revised our car Ratings system to provide a single Overall Score, combining road test score, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety, and we now give bonus points to cars that have the alert as a standard feature in all trim levels.

    But the sensitivities of the systems that allow them to react to a potential crash sometimes yield false alerts that can be an annoyance to car owners. Despite the false alerts, responses to the recent Consumer Reports survey on advanced safety systems indicate a clear majority of drivers still appreciate having the feature. The survey also shows that some automakers’ systems strike a better balance between alerting drivers of actual danger and notifying them when there is no hazard.

    By using laser, radar, or cameras, forward-collision warning systems monitor driving speed and objects ahead. If a collision may be imminent, the system gives the driver a warning that allows them time to take action and hopefully prevent an accident. But how well the system is designed determines the reduction in the frequency of bogus alerts that may make drivers less likely to react or to shut the systems off.

    False alerts can happen for a variety of reasons, including harsh sunlight, wet or snowy conditions, or even confusing shadows. 

    Survey Says...

    We asked 3,127 responding readers with 2014 model year cars equipped with FCW about the their experience with this active safety system. According to our survey responses, the majority of people are satisfied with the systems—and 36 percent said that the systems saved them from accidents.

    We also found that some brands do a better job of offering reassurance to owners without the annoyance of too many alerts. Subaru topped the list of brands with owners who had the fewest false alerts—with less than 1 percent of Subaru owners experiencing frequent false alerts. Rounding out the list of the top five brands with the least amount of false alerts are Nissan, Toyota, Ford, and Audi.

    Forward-collision warning is an accident prevention alert; by their very nature, those kinds of alerts are intentionally startling. They are meant to grab attention, with the goal to improve safety. More than 90 percent of all auto accidents are directly due to human error and driver choices. FCW counteracts that risk that by making the driver aware of an impending collision.

    Even within a single car company, systems can be manufactured with differing levels of sophistication. Consequently, even from the same company, the frequency of false alerts can be different from model to model and trim level to trim level, depending on the types of camera and/or laser-based systems installed. Customizable distance alerts may reduce the frequency of alerts.

    Bottom Line

    Consumer Reports believes strongly that even with false alerts possible, FCW is an essential safety component that should be standard in every car sold, along with automatic emergency braking (AEB). We don’t want consumers to be deterred from having these systems in their cars because of the chance of false alerts. (Read "10 Ways to Avoid a Car Crash.")

    For those automakers with systems that are more prone to frequent false alerts, Consumer Reports urges them to improve and standardize FCW systems. A balanced setup with logic that is sensitive enough to alert a driver when real danger is imminent, yet not so sensitive that they’re desensitized to frequent false alerts, offers the best potential for reducing injuries and saving lives. And based on the survey responses from owners, that balance can be readily made. Until then, we still find value in all systems that can provide forward-collision warning and thereby lessening, or even avoiding, injuries due to a collision.  

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

    0 0

    The Dangers of Winter Coats and Car Seats

    As temperatures start to dip we bundle our children up to prepare them for the elements, but even with good intentions, a bulky coat and a car seat is a dangerous combination.

    We all want to keep our children warm while traveling in the car, but there are ways to safely transport children in the cold weather while still keeping them warm.

    As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. A bulky coat under a child seat harness can result in the harness being too loose to be effective in a crash. Here is a simple way to check if your child's coat is too big and bulky to wear under their harness:

    • Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
    • Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat.
    • Take the coat off, and put your child back in the child seat and buckle the harness straps, which are still adjusted as they were when he was wearing the coat.
    • If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.

    See our complete car seat buying guide and test-based ratings.  

    If you find that the coat can not be safely worn under the harness, here are a couple things you can do to keep your child safe and warm in his/her child seat:

    • After securing your child in his/her child seat, turn the coat around and put it on backward with their arms through the arm holes and the back of the coat acting like a blanket
    • Lay a blanket over your child to keep him/her warm.

    One of the most common misuse conditions seen in child seats is that the harness is too loose and wearing a big winter coat under the harness is just one of the potential causes.

    It is very important that the harness is tight enough that you can't pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Extra slack in the harness can be very dangerous; it can lead to too much excursion or even ejection during a crash.

    These tips should help keep your precious little ones safe and warm this winter.

    Michelle Tsai Podlaha

    Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2016 Consumers Union of U.S.

    Subscribe now!
    Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org for expert Ratings, buying advice and reliability on hundreds of products.
    Update your feed preferences

                    submit to reddit    

older | 1 | .... | 372 | 373 | (Page 374) | 375 | 376 | .... | 384 | newer