Quantcast

Automobile Safety Archive

2014-2015 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid Video Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety

It’s got a new name and a new available powertrain, but remains one of the best family haulers for your kids.  We previously looked at the Infinity QX60 a couple years ago in our 2013 Infiniti JX35 Review.  Though it has a new moniker, the vehicle is essentially the same.  Our comments from the previous review mostly apply to the current version as well.  So, this quick review will focus on the new hybrid powertrain and briefly cover some carseat related features.  We also have a review of the very similar 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. It offers all the interior flexibility for kids, without many of the luxury-class frills. and without the luxury-class price tag!

Hybrid Fuel Economy:

Fuel economy of the QX60 and Pathfinder models are similar.  The hybrid models all get 26 mpg combined.  My AWD tester is rated at 25 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 26 mpg overall.  In comparison, the standard engine AWD model is rated at 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg overall.  After over 500 miles, I obtained just over 27 mpg in hybrid trim.  Right at 27 mpg around town and just under 28 mpg on a highway trip.

That shouldn’t be difficult to match with a few changes to your driving habits.  You can find some great articles online about maximizing hybrid fuel economy, or “hypermiling.”  Some of these may seem extreme for typical drivers, so I’ll simply give some key things to avoid in order to exceed those EPA estimates:

2014-2015 Honda Accord Review Video: Kids, Carseats and Safety

Top Ten Likes:

  1. IIHS Top Safety Pick+ with Frontal Crash Warning
  2. NHTSA 5-star Overall Rating
  3. Competent handling and braking
  4. Standard backup cam and bluetooth hands-free
  5. LX trim is a bargain with great fuel economy
  6. V6 has good fuel economy and strong performance
  7. Great driver visibility
  8. LaneWatch is an improved side mirror
  9. Good ride comfort and relatively quiet
  10. Roomy trunk

Top Dislikes:

  1. Outboard rear seat side bolsters will be a problem with some carseats
  2. Lower LATCH anchors more difficult than average to access
  3. Advanced safety features only on EX-L and Touring trim
  4. Ho-hum exterior styling
  5. Gauges and controls not the easiest to read
  6. Touch screen system not the most intuitive in Touring trim
  7. Quirks: Collision warning sensor makes front grille asymmetric

Conclusion:

The new Accord (refreshed in 2013) is an excellent midsize family sedan overall.  While not exciting to drive, it is fairly roomy and provides a quiet, comfortable ride.  I particularly like that Honda puts essential features like backup cameras and hands-free bluetooth in the base models that are readily available in dealer lots with great lease and financing deals.  Competitive models often cram these in more expensive packages that can be harder to find.  For fitting kids in back, the Accord will be a good choice for most families, though a few carseats will be problematic with the way the outboard rear seats are designed with side bolsters to improve comfort for adult passengers.

Really, the only major downside might be the styling.  It’s fine if you like conservative looks, but definitely not as sleek as the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata or aggressive like the Ford Fusion we also like.

Honda provided the Accord used in this review.  No other compensation was provided and all opinions are our own.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Preview: Kids, Carseats & Safety

I recently had the opportunity to test drive the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata on a road trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a stop at the 57 Burger Barrel on US Highway12 for a quick burger, fries and homemade root beer.

  2015sonataecof

While I haven’t had a chance to put any carseats into one yet, I definitely got a good feel of the new Sonata.  I had just driven the 2014 Honda Accord the week prior, so some comparisons are in order.  In particular, the back seat is well organized, with no crossover of seatbelt or LATCH anchors. The buckle stalks were fairly short all around and should be reasonable for installation of most carseats.  It’s wide enough to fit 3-across with careful selection.  The side bolsters on the outboard seats appear to be less pronounced than in the Accord, possibly making it easier to fit larger forward facing seats.  These might still be an issue for wider combination booster seats, though.

2015SonataBackSeat

The Sonata is all new and has already received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2015, an improvement over the previous Sonata.  The 2015 model earned an “Acceptable” result in the Small Overlap frontal crash test, while the previous model managed only a “Marginal” rating.   The new Sonata now has a full set of advanced safety features optional, including a frontal collision warning that was previously unavailable.  Lane Departure, Cross Traffic and Blind Spot warnings are also available, as is the BlueLink system with crash notification.  The frontal collision warning system earned a “Basic” level of protection from the IIHS for trims that have this option package.

The improved IIHS crash test result was likely made possible by an increase in advanced, high-strength steel alloys that now comprise around half of the weight of the bare chassis, up from 21% in the previous model.  That also helped Hyundai to increase overall body stiffness to improve ride and handling characteristics as well.  I found it to be as good of a highway cruiser as the Accord in terms of ride and noise.

2015SonatasThe styling of the new Sonata is an evolution of the previous model, with slightly more aggressive front and rear end treatment inherited from the upscale Genesis.  No comparison to the conservative Accord.  For families, size has increased to be one of the largest, if not the largest midsize sedan.  In particular, width is increased another inch that hopefully will help for fitting three kids and/or carseats in the back.  Overall, it has a class-leading passenger volume and front head room and leg room as well, meaning a little more space than Accord all around.

Assuming the NHTSA crash tests earn it a 5-star overall rating like the previous model, the 2015 Sonata should be among any family’s top picks for a midsize sedan.  I was very impressed on the road with the Limited model that is already in showrooms.  I also drove the 1.6L turbo four Eco model (coming in September), which has a budget price tag and great fuel economy as well.  We obtained 38 mpg on the highway during our trip!  Unlike some mainstream auto reviews, we appreciate that budget is a big factor for many of our readers and the Eco trim starts around $24,000 with an estimated EPA 28mpg city, 38mpg highway, 32mpg overall.  Not bad for a model the EPA thinks is a full size sedan!

2015sonataeco 2015sonataecofueleconomy

The main drawback for me is that to get all the safety features including frontal collision and lane departure warning systems, you must spend over $32,000 MSRP on the Limited or Sport 2.0T trim with the Tech AND Ultimate packages.  Meanwhile, the 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan with AWD can be purchased with the excellent EyeSight system in the lower Premium trim for around $25,000.  And for that, you don’t just get collision warning, you get one of the best autobrake collision prevention systems on the road.  I only wish that more manufacturers will start to follow Subaru’s lead and put life-saving advanced safety features within reach of more families in their all-new family vehicles.  Of course, if you ante up for the Sport 2.0T Ultimate model, you get all the goodies and the exclusive Urban Sunset color option, too (below).

Thank you to Hyundai USA for this great media event!

A New Car for your Teen Driver?

My son is 15 and has a permit to drive.  I guess it’s the age of freedom.  For now, his freedom is limited to my wife’s car.  He’s certainly not going to scratch or dent mine!  But what happens a couple years from now?  Our daughter will be driving by then, too.  Maybe they will have part-time jobs or volunteer work.  They’ll need to be driven to go out with friends more often.  They won’t want mom or dad to be driving them all the time and neither do we.  And, they’ll no doubt be wanting their own car, because you know, according to them, all their friends will have their own car.  The IIHS just released a list of vehicles recommended for teens, but most are nearly $10,000 or more.

For many of us, this seems like an appalling idea.  Spoil your teen with their own car?  Spend all that money for someone who likely won’t have any sense of pride in ownership because they didn’t pay for it, or at least not the majority of it?  Provide a vehicle to someone with limited driving experience who is just going to get into a fender bender or worse?  While one or two kids in the area may drive shiny new sports or luxury cars, most seem to be driving old sub-compact cars their parents picked up for under a few thousand dollars, much less than the least expensive IIHS recommended model.  Many kids drive a hand-me-down compact or midsize sedan from mom or dad, who then bought a newer car.  Or maybe the teen did save some money and was allowed to pick out their own car.  Most likely used car, maybe a sporty coupe or hatchback with lots of consideration for horsepower and little about safety.

But is any of those a wise choice?  After all, driving is the single riskiest thing that teens do.  They aren’t experienced.  They are more often distracted by friends and devices.  They have the youtful sense of immortality, leading to very poor choices.  As a reward, we’ve armed them with a lethal weapon, and put them in an arena with road-ragers and distracted drivers who are always in some huge hurry.  Is it really wise to let them use the oldest and cheapest vehicle available?  Or the sportiest and fastest pocket rocket they can afford?

In the child passenger safety world, we often tout a mantra of, “least protected passenger in the most protected seating position.”  Does it then follow that the least experienced driver should be driving the safest vehicle available?  What if no safe alternative is available? It’s not like a carseat checkup event where you might be able to get a free one if yours is old or unsafe!

I’m thinking a little bit in advance.  Do I want my teens to be driving the equivalent of a 1999 Dodge Neon?  A 3-star NHTSA frontal crash test rating, a 2-star side crash rating for the driver and a “Poor” rating in the IIHS moderate overlap frontal offset crash test.  No side curtain airbags.  No stability control.  No hands-free system.  Should I consider even letting them have a car at all if the only option is a veritable death trap? For all I’ve done to keep them safe for 16 years just to say, “Here’s the keys, son, see ya later.”  If it was the last time I ever said that, would I regret not having done more to put them in a safer vehicle?  Or am I being too protective and maybe it is time to start letting go?

What do you think?