15 Best Family Cars of 2015 – Kelley Blue Book #rental #car #insurance

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15 Best Family Cars of 2015

Posted: 2/4/2015 8:20:13 PM

Determining the best family car depends largely on what kind of family you have. For example, if you and yours are the outdoorsy types, an SUV may be the best way to go. Urbanites might benefit from a minivan or sedan. Those in between, well, that’s what crossover SUVs are for. The good news is that the days when station wagons were the only choice for families are long gone. The market has responded to these different circumstances with a plethora of shapes and styles to suit virtually any need. Of course, determining the best of these choices is what we do, so we gathered together 23 of the latest and greatest different vehicles from a variety of manufacturers to determine which made the cut. We started with last year’s finalists, and culled those that were either due for imminent replacement, or which had been clearly surpassed by newer vehicles in the segment. To that, we added new vehicles that had come out since last year — including a couple of redesigns — voted on candidates, narrowed the field, carried the one, and ultimately landed on the vehicles you see here.

The final field included three minivans, four compact SUVs, four midsize SUVs, two full-size SUVs, two full-size sedans, and three midsize sedans, the kinds of vehicles that usually come to mind when thinking about family cars. However, this year we also included cars from other categories. First were two full-size pickup trucks, unconventional choices to be sure, but roomy, comfortable, and with seemingly endless cargo space, they were definitely worthy of consideration. On the other end of the spectrum were three compact cars, often the first choice of anybody on a budget.

It came as no surprise that two minivans — the 2015 Honda Odyssey and the 2015 Toyota Sienna — made the family car final cut. The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder and new 2015 Toyota Highlander midsize SUVs also appear on our list of finalists. The Honda CR-V was joined by the new Subaru Outback on our list of small SUVs, and all three midsize sedan candidates — the 2015 Honda Accord, 2015 Hyundai Sonata, and 2015 Toyota Camry — made the cut. The 2015 Chevrolet Impala full-size sedan makes its second appearance, too. In the realm of small cars, both the 2015 Honda Civic and surprisingly flexible 2015 Kia Soul won out. On the other end of the size spectrum, both the 2015 Ram 1500 and new 2015 Ford F-150 full-size trucks we tested were deemed worthy of family duty. Finally, the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe made the list.

It’s important to note that the eight runners up in our test are still solid choices for family haulers, otherwise we wouldn’t have considered them in the first place. However, as family cars, they were outpaced by others in the field, either due to a lack of features, less than ideal packaging, or by simply being too old. Still, if none of our finalists tickles your fancy, our runners up are still worth a look.

Comfort and Driving

Comfort plays a key role in any car, and it goes double for a family car. After all, if you, your spouse and your kids aren’t comfortable, it’s going to be a long, long drive to Grandma’s, no matter how nifty the features may be. We sat in all the seats, took a close look at interior quality, considered how easy it was for everyone to get in and out, and also listened carefully to see how quiet each car was at speed.

Similarly, we paid close attention to how each car felt on the road. Granted, this is a little subjective, but a family car with a smooth and well-controlled ride is less likely to bring on Timmy’s motion sickness, and anything that prevents that is a winner. There are also other more practical considerations, such as how maneuverable a vehicle is in a parking lot, how easy it is to see out the windows in traffic, whether it had enough power, handling and braking to get out of emergency situations, and lastly, if it was any fun.


Virtually every car on our list boasts very good crash test scores. More importantly, active safety systems are becoming commonplace on more and more vehicles, and at more reasonable prices. That means things like collision and blind-spot alerts, backup cameras, lane-keeping assists, and other computerized systems were an important consideration. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where if features like backup cameras and blind-spot alerts aren’t standard, we’re a little surprised.

Child Seats

While not every family needs to carry baby seats everywhere, how well they fit is an important consideration for many buyers. After all, they’re mandatory for smaller kids, and frankly, what kind of parent wouldn’t use one anyhow, regardless of the law? We chose popular child seats from Graco and Safety 1st, and installed them using the available LATCH points in all the vehicles, and like last year, the results were surprising. Remember that if you’re shopping for a new family car to bring your child’s boosters along with you. How well they fit could make or break your decision.

Cargo Space

There’s more to cargo space than cubic feet of storage, and we went well beyond looking at simple volume measurements. Instead, we stuffed the cargo areas with all manner of items, from golf bags to big coolers to even a bike. We looked at how easy it was to get items in and out, how high off the ground the cargo floor was on SUVs, how easily seats folded down to make more room, and ultimately, how much stuff we could cram inside.

Rear-Seat Entertainment

This is an interesting category, as some on staff think that stand-alone rear-seat entertainment systems will soon go by the wayside as more cars adopt 4G LTE and wireless hotspot options. Still, there’s something to be said for plugging in your family’s Wii on a long road trip, and the inclusion of a built-in rear-seat screen is still an advantage. Beyond simply existing, we also checked out what could be plugged into the system, how easy it was to use, if the screen blocked the rear view, and more.

Extra Features

Most every vehicle on this list nails the basics, and often what separates winners from runners-up is the little things. How easy it is to fold seats to access the third row, for example, or a cleverly designed storage can make or break similar vehicles. Advanced electronics like adaptive cruise control or an all-around-view camera can put a smile on a buyer’s face, and a signature on the dotted line. We pushed every button, pulled every lever, and stuffed every storage compartment to see what made each vehicle special.

The 15 Best Family Cars of 2015

A very modern take on the classic full-size family sedan.

A family workhorse freshly updated for 2015.

The best-selling vehicle in the country, radically rethought for 2015.

A perennial family favorite of owners and editors alike.

A smaller, more affordable take on the prototypical family sedan.

An incredibly well-rounded and versatile solution for many families.

Purpose-built for families on the go.

Hyundai’s midsize sedan has been redesigned for 2015, and it’s more impressive than ever.

Beneath the youthful sheet metal lies an impressively affordable and versatile little family car.

A midsize SUV with three rows of seats and a rich interior.

A full-size truck that seats six and rides like a sedan.

For more exceptional new cars check out our handy roundup of annual awards and 10 Best lists. From there you can check out more than 50 new or redesigned models debuting for the 2015 model year, our helpful New Car Buyer’s Guides, and plenty of 10 Best lists highlighting everything from the Coolest Cars Under $18,000 to the Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000.

10 Steps to Leasing a New Car #car #deals

#leasing cars

10 Steps to Leasing a New Car

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Step 1: Get Acquainted With Leasing

Car leasing is really just like a car rental, but for a longer time period and with some extra fees. Many people prefer leasing to buying because it allows them to drive a new car for less money than if they purchased it. You should have a good idea by now which car to lease, thanks to “10 Steps to Finding the Right Car for You.” If you are still undecided, review that article and then come back after you have made your choice. And in this first step, it also might be helpful to review some of the other pros and cons of leasing to make sure it is the right financing method for you.

Also, if some of the terminology you encounter is confusing, consult our leasing glossary. Finally, if you’re in a hurry, read our “Quick Guide to Leasing a New Car.”

The next steps will tell you how to locate and negotiate a good monthly payment for the car you want to lease. It will also introduce you to Edmunds Price Promise Lease Offers, which will make the process much faster and stress-free. And if you have any questions along the way, please reach out to the Edmunds Live Help team for free assistance. The team will work hard to make your leasing experience a breeze. You also can be paired with an Edmunds car-leasing expert  who can help you wherever you are in the car-leasing process. This service also is free from Edmunds.

Step 2: Design Your Lease Deal: Years, Miles and Insurance

Edmunds.com recommends that people lease for no longer than three years so your car will always be protected by the manufacturer’s three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. Some people are tempted to extend their leases to four and five years to reduce the monthly lease payment. But this means you’re investing more money in a vehicle that will never be yours and might need costly repairs.

You should also know that most lease contracts include 12,000 miles a year. So if you drive more than 36,000 miles in three years, you will be charged 10-15 cents for each additional mile. You can buy extra miles up front, usually for 5 cents per mile and have this rolled into your lease payment.

Lease contracts usually call for an up-front payment called “drive-off fees.” Often, advertised leases list high drive-off amounts. However, we recommend you pay only about $1,000 to start the lease. So to summarize, the Edmunds.com recommended lease is: three years, 12,000 included miles per year and about $1,000 in drive-off fees.

One last thing: It’s smart to ask your insurance agent for a coverage quote. Lease companies require higher levels of coverage for leased cars than many individuals carry for cars they’ve bought. The lease company’s liability is higher, and it passes this extra expense along to you.

Step 3: Estimate Your Monthly Lease Payment

It’s a good idea to estimate a possible lease payment yourself so you can spot a good deal as you continue shopping. The formula is complicated, but with a little patience, it is possible to calculate your own lease payment. You also can use the Edmunds.com lease calculator to generate a payment and adjust it based on different parameters, such as mileage and down payment. To use the calculator, you’ll first need to get the residual amount for the car. Call the finance manager at a local dealership and ask for the three-year residual value of the car you want. Put this figure into the calculator along with the mileage, down payment and trade-in to see your estimated monthly payment.

Step 4: Check for Manufacturer Lease Deals

Many carmakers periodically offer highly discounted lease specials. However, the advertised specials might have additional costs in the fine print of the lease ad. You should always check to see if the promised monthly payment includes sales tax and fees and if it also requires high drive-off fees, which are similar to a down payment when you buy a car. Check Edmunds’ Incentives and Rebates section for current offers.

Step 5: Look for Price Promise Lease Offers

Another way to get a great deal is to look for Edmunds Price Promise Lease Offers. Go to the Edmunds.com home page, select a vehicle by clicking on the year, make and model, and you will see cars that are available in your area. Look for the box that says “See Lease Offer,” provide your e-mail address and phone number, and you will immediately see the vehicle’s monthly lease payment, drive-off fees and number of included miles. Call the salesperson listed on the offer to confirm the car is still available, then print out the certificate to take with you to the dealership.

Step 6: Find the Exact Car To Lease

If a Price Promise Lease Offer isn’t available for the car you want, you can locate other cars to lease by going to the Edmunds home page and selecting the year, make and model. After you click “Go,” the next screen displays several sample cars for sale at local dealers. In the upper left corner of the screen, click the link that lists the number of cars available, followed by “Cars for Sale” for a much longer list of cars in your area. If you are interested in one of these cars, contact the dealer to make sure it is still available. If there are several dealerships offering the same car, you may be in a better position to negotiate an even better lease payment.

Step 7: Solicit Quotes Through the Internet Department

We strongly suggest that you shop through the dealership’s Internet department. which offers many advantages over the traditional car shopping experience. Using Edmunds.com, you can simultaneously send requests for price quotes from the Internet managers at local dealerships. After you receive the car price quote, you’ll need to follow up with an e-mail or phone call to get a lease quote (using the factors of three years, 12,000 miles per year and $1,000 in drive-off fees) so you can do an apples-to-apples comparison. Now, compare the quotes you get to your own calculated lease payments or those you received from Price Promise lease offers.

Step 8: Review the Dealership and the Car Salesperson

As you call dealerships to locate your car, you should also test-drive the car salesperson. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable dealing with this person. Does he or she return your phone calls and answer your questions in a straightforward manner? Also, you should take a moment to read any available reviews of the dealerships you are considering.

Step 9: Negotiate Your Best Lease Payment

You now have a handful of price quotes (or even a Price Promise lease offer) and an idea of the level of customer satisfaction at the dealerships you contacted. If you want to try to improve the deal, take the lowest offer, call the other dealers and see if they can beat that price. If no one budges, you are at rock bottom.

Although we highly recommend using the Internet department, many people still go to the car lot in person to make a deal. If you do so, make sure to take along your lease payment estimates and price quotes. Also, download Edmunds.com’s mobile car buying app for any last-minute pricing and inventory research. Then, if the salesperson’s on-the-lot price is too high, you can show the prices you’ve gotten from other dealerships. But make sure you accurately compare quotes by matching the down payment, the length of the lease and the annual mileage allowance.

Whichever method you choose, it is a good idea to ask the salesperson for a worksheet showing all the numbers in the deal. This will reveal any hidden fees and allow you to compare this offer to the quotes you have. And make sure that the quote lease includes sales tax to see what your full monthly payment will be.

One more thing: Before you say yes to the deal, tell the salesperson you are willing to lease if the dealership will have the car delivered to your home or office. This will save you time and allow you to skip the step of visiting the finance office to hear about additional products, such as alarm systems and fabric treatments.

Step 10: Review and Sign the Paperwork

Whether you close the deal at home or at the showroom, the dealership will ask you to sign a contract and an array of documents. At the dealership, this will probably be done in a separate office by the finance and insurance (F

11 Cool Import Cars You Can Finally Buy in the U. S. #race #cars #for #sale

#import cars from japan

11 Cool Import Cars You Can Finally Buy in the U.S.

In the United States, you have to wait 25 years to import a car that was never sold here. That means the hot Japanese and German cars of the late 1980s that weren’t available in North America then are available now, and there are some cool ones you can get your hands on in the U.S. despite the red tape.

1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

Sean Baertsch runs Zen Auto Works in Calgary, Alberta, and, as the name implies, he specializes in importing Japanese gray-market cars—models that were either never imported into Canada or that were so scarce when new they may as well be exotics today. The same goes for Jamie Orr, who runs Orchid Euro in suburban Philadelphia, whose company focuses primarily on European makes. What the two have in common is not only hard-won expertise in the nuances of foreign models but also a huge degree of patience for the painful challenges of red tape, both domestic and international. So, they became our guides for navigating what’s hot in the gray market.

Baertsch says he has a fair number of customers who “crystal-ball” cars for the coming year, trying to figure out which autos will see high demand. That may well be the case with R32 Skylines. The eight-generation Skyline was the first new GT-R in 16 years, and this edition of “Godzilla” brought with it an extraordinary dominance in racing—never losing a single race in a series called the All Japan Championships. So there’s a pedigree.

Canada’s 15-year rule means that the lowest-hanging fruit long ago landed at port in Vancouver. Still, Baertsch thinks you may be able to find decent buys on R32s if you look hard enough. This car was built all the way through 1994, so you’ve got some time to keep up the search. We’d suggest looking for the even more unique NISMO editions (debuted in early 1990), which were homologated so that Nissan could qualify in Group A racing.

The R32 is a lot like original Quattro Audis, bred first and foremost for racing. And even street-going models were hardly meant for refinement. Its six-cylinder inline DOHC engine wasn’t huge at 2.6 liters, but it put out 276 hp sent to an electronic AWD system that also featured all-wheel steering. (In Group A racing, this car made a stunning 600 hp.)

Spinnanz at en.wikipedia

12 keys to a good deal on a rental car #car #parts #finder

#best rental car rates

12 keys to a good deal on a rental car

Cost-conscious travelers, whether on the road for business or pleasure, know that one place to shave trip-related expenses is at the rental car counter.

Michael Taylor, senior director of travel services for J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information and services firm, s ays people are looking closely at their rental car bills and shopping around more.

In many cases, these careful consumers discover rental car agents are eager to play “Let’s Make a Deal.”

But if you want to drive off with a real bargain, you need to know the rules of the renting game. These dozen tips will help you get the best deal.

1. Shop the Internet.

Internet sites sometimes have better deals because they are cheaper for the company to operate, says Jack Gillis, public affairs director for the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Look at multiple independent travel sites (three popular ones are Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz) and then review three car rental Web pages, says Gillis, author of “The Car Book.” Because of special arrangements, says Gillis, you’ll often find that one of the travel or car company sites will have a better deal.

2. Ask about discounts.

Frequent-flier programs, credit cards, hotels, national clubs and some companies and government agencies have negotiated discounts. Two popular groups that regularly offer membership breaks for renters are AARP and AAA. To be sure you don’t miss out on anything, Gillis says to always ask what discount plans are available.

3. Time your reservation.

Everything’s a trade off. By reserving early, you lock in your car and your rate. But if you rent your car before you book your airline or hotel, you might miss out on a reciprocal deal. So do a little research and ask a few questions before you book.

That said, several industry experts recommend booking your car as soon as possible. “It’s unlikely you’ll get burned [on rates],” says Justin McNaull, spokesman for AAA. “But if you wait, there is a significant chance you will not get the same choice of cars.”

If you want to book during peak periods, such as long holiday weekends, reserve six weeks ahead or you’ll be blocked out, says Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group Inc. a consulting and market research firm specializing the auto rental and fleet industry. At other times of the year, the lead time varies with the company, he says. “I would say a couple of weeks is fine.”

4. Consider how long you need the car.

Although you need the car for only two days, you might get a better price if you rent it for longer. “Don’t be afraid to look at a weekly rate,” says McNaull. “It’s sometimes cheaper than a four- or five-day rental.”

Online renters should play with the date pairs and see if that extra day will net a better rate, he says, adding that sometimes travelers have to hook into a weekend or weekday to get “the deal.”

5. Look beyond the big guys.

Be willing to investigate lesser-known agencies, says Abrams. “There are many secondary brands that deliver a quality car at a competitive rate that are not necessarily household names.”

And if you like the staff or cars at one agency and the prices at another, ask your preferred agent to match a competitor’s price. The worst that can happen is a “no” and you lose nothing.

10 of the Best Seven Seater SUVs #value #of #used #car

#7 seater cars

9) 2015 Nissan Armada

The 2015 Nissan Armada is one seven seater-plus-one SUV that lives up to its name. The Nissan Armada is an enormous behemoth of a vehicle, with slab sides and macho hard angles helping to define its road presence. Generous exterior proportions translate into a great big interior that can accommodate 97 cubic feet of cargo if required. Low-range four-wheel drive and a rugged suspension system make the Armada a decent off-road option, and power is provided by way of a 5.6-liter V-8 that throws down 317 horses and 385 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission comes free of charge with the Nissan, which can also tow up to 9,100 lbs.

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10) 2015 Chevrolet Suburban

The Chevrolet Suburban, which is all new for 2015, is a mainstay of the seven seater or more SUV segment. With the ability to handle as many as nine passengers in its extended wheelbase version, the Chevrolet Suburban might seem more like a bus than a sport utility vehicle when viewed from the inside. This impression is further backed up by its 121.1 cubic feet of storage space. The Suburban comes with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine that develops 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, the option of four-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity maxes out at a hefty 8,300 lbs.

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