What to Look For in a Winter Vehicle

2017 Subaru Outback - Photo by Matt Smith

Winter may have taken its sweet time arriving in the Northeast, but after this past weekend, our city of Boston is a certifiable wonderland. The storms came just in time, too, as CarGurus headed down to Bugsy Lawlor’s headquarters for the annual New England Motor Press Association’s Winter Vehicle Testing. Last year, we made do with dry, frozen ground to judge the 2016 Winter Car of the Year, but after a winter storm strong enough to convince Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to declare a snow emergency, we were able to enjoy fresh snow on our favorite trail.

But what exactly should you be looking for in a winter vehicle? If television commercials are to be trusted, the only winter cars worth their salt are those capable of 4-wheel drifts down the back bowls of Colorado’s highest peaks. Blasting through fresh snow, rather than traveling up the I-95 corridor, may make for more attractive marketing materials, but most folks in the market for a winter vehicle are more interested in one that can reliably take them to work during the week and to the mountains on the weekend. If you’re looking for a car primarily to handle winter roads, there are a few details worth your attention. Continue reading >>>

The Best Family Cars of 2016

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Imagine driving across the country with a carload of children. Now imagine doing that twice, every year. CarGurus surveyed families to determine which cars best meet their needs, and among other findings, 1 in 3 parents reported driving his or her kids at least four hours per week. Cumulatively, that equals two round trips between Boston and San Diego per year. We’ve all lusted after a Mazda MX-5 Miata or Dodge Challenger at least once in our lives, but if kids are in the picture, the shortcomings of a sports car become readily apparent. Continue reading >>>

Car Safety 2016: Warnings, Assists, and Autopilot, Oh My!

Car scanning road ahead

We love cars, but find the fact that it took almost 1.6 million U.S. motor-vehicle fatalities to make wearing a seat belt mandatory in America troubling. Happily, annual fatalities have declined fairly steadily since their early-‘70s peak, despite the fact that Americans now drive well over one and a half times the number of miles they did then, often while using a smartphone. And with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing and rating vehicles for safety and crashworthiness, we have to admit it’s getting better.

Smartphones can, of course, pose huge risks to drivers, so much so that NHTSA partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create the distraction.gov website, and “distracted driving” now has its own Wikipedia entry. But the connectivity and processing power of smartphones can also be used to help drivers avoid accidents and to make sure authorities get alerted quickly and with all the information they’ll need to respond to an accident. And those capabilities will definitely be required for any future “self-driving,” “autonomous,” or Autopilot-equipped cars. As we learned at NEMPA/MIT’s recent panel on the intersection of technology and design, a whole new world of car safety and driver-assistance technologies is available–and evolving–so we’re going to take a look at some of the more important and effective new tech.

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New England Motor Press Announces 2016 Winter Cars of the Year

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With this past year being a rare exception, winters in New England are a serious business. So, when the New England Motor Press Association gets together to award the best winter vehicles of the year, the industry takes notice.

Although the typical winter’s day this year was more hospitable than during the past few years, the official winter testing day for NEMPA’s auto experts was still a bitterly cold, windy affair – complete with weather service advisories instructing people to stay inside (just check out our Infiniti QX50 impression for proof). Undeterred, we gathered at Bugsy Lawlor’s Automotion garage to test the best winter rigs of the year.

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The 10 Best Cars for Driving (and Sitting) in Traffic

2016 Subaru Outback

Memorial Day is a time for remembrance and an opportunity to honor the men and women who lost their lives serving in the armed forces, but for many it’s also the symbolic start of summer. The upside: many Americans will be enjoying cookouts, baseball games, and getaways during the long memorial weekend. The downside: anyone residing in a major urban area will become all too familiar with the harsh realities of miles-long traffic jams that all started because that guy couldn’t be bothered to merge properly.

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Can a Car Go Too Far? Our Highest-Mileage Cruisers

1989 Lincoln Town Car

Summer’s just around the bend, which means many of us have long weekend drives in our near future. Leaving the day-to-day for a beautiful summer weekend away can definitely heal many wounds, but some of us will need to cover a lot of miles to really get away from it all. We polled our used-car listings to find those vehicles with the highest mileage per year, but weren’t surprised to find the top end of our list packed with cargo vans and large pickup trucks.

You don’t want to leave work on a Friday for a long drive to your summer getaway with your honey in a cargo van, do you? No, so we’re going to show you the sedans and wagons that have covered the largest average number of miles per year, in order to to find some comfortable highway cruisers. These vehicles aren’t generally fast and luxurious, but any one should fit the bill if you need a vehicle to get yourself and your loved one(s) a long way from your home base for some relaxation.

Please make sure you prepare for any long drive by getting plenty of sleep beforehand and turning off your cell phone or giving it to a passenger to avoid distraction. We’re not sure where you’ll cover lots of miles for relaxing weekends away this summer, but here’s a list of great road trips. Wherever you go, we hope you return safe and refreshed, and we hope you enjoy the drive.

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10 NHTSA 5-Star Safety Picks for Any Lifestyle

2016 Volvo XC90

Cars and safety have had a long and difficult relationship, but it became way more complex with the arrival of the smartphone. A Pew survey last year determined that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and anyone who’s spent any time on American roads within the last couple of years knows many people use those phones while driving. In fact, we’re just concluding April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.

We strongly urge everyone reading this post to take NHTSA’s recommended steps to minimize their distractions while behind the wheel and avoid getting pulled over–and not just in April, but year-round. Unfortunately, there’s very little any driver can do about to prevent other drivers from getting distracted. So here are ten 2016 cars that should meet the needs and budgets of a wide variety of drivers, all with 5-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA. We hope none of you will ever have to test your car’s safety features, but just in case….

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Mazda Steps Forward to Take on the Subaru Outback

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The original Subaru Outback ultimately changed the landscape of the auto business. That first Outback was just a Legacy wagon with a lift and some body cladding, but it ultimately resulted in a whole new class of vehicle.

The irony here is that Subaru is the only automaker to see major commercial success with the sedan-like crossover. Others have tried, but so far the Outback is the only car of its kind to routinely sell in large volumes year after year, and it has evolved today into one of the best all-wheel-drive family wagons/crossovers that money can buy.

It’s a lucrative market but no one else has succeeded with an Outback-like wagon because no one else can do it like Subaru.

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Top 10 Most Dramatic Redesigns of the Last 25 Years

X4 Sketch

The next time you find yourself leafing through your copy of Wikipedia, take a close look at some of the antique car pages. The early days of the automobile were undoubtedly exciting, but change was actually very slow for individual makes and models. The car synonymous with brass era automobiles, the Ford Model T, ran its course for 19 years with hardly any cosmetic changes. Beyond some tweaks to the hood, cowl, and fenders, a ‘27 Model T can be easily confused with a model 10 years older. Think of it as the Porsche 911 design philosophy.

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The 10 Cleanest Gas-Powered Cars

2008 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500

If you’ve turned on your TV, logged onto the Internet, or picked up a newspaper in the past week, chances are you’re at least generally aware of what’s currently happening with Volkswagen. But if you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a summary: Volkswagen made an amazingly efficient, clean diesel engine…that ended up not being so clean. By using a defeat device, VW’s 2.0-liter diesel engine was able to pass the EPA’s emissions tests while actually polluting at a rate of up to 40 times the tested numbers. The audacity of the transgression is shocking enough, but now that the investigation has begun to expand beyond VW’s 2.0-liter TDI 4-cylinder, the entire future of diesel-powered cars may be in question.

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