Vehicles Archive

2016 Kia Sorento Video+Photo Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety


2016 Kia Sorento SUV Review

2016KiaSorentoThe all-new 2016 Kia Sorento is a great option for families who want a slightly smaller vehicle with a third row of seating.  It’s bigger and safer than the previous Sorento.  That gives it a big advantage over compact SUVs, and it’s more maneuverable with better handling than the larger midsize models.  Perhaps best of all, it gets top crash test results.  That means a “Good” score in every rating from the IIHS and a “5-star” rating in all 5 crash test results from the NHTSA.  It earns an impressive 5-star overall NHTSA rating AND a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS*.  The 2016 model would have qualified as a Top Safety Pick+ on Limited models with the Technology package under previous year’s IIHS requirements, but their new ratings require a front crash prevention system with “advanced” performance to qualify for the “Plus” award.  The optional system on the Sorento Limited only earns a “basic” performance rating.


*Correction: Sorento Limited w/ Tech package does NOT earn a Top Safety Pick+ award

As for carseats, there are a couple quick takeaways.

News: Acura Earns Highest Safety Ratings on ALL 2015 models. Two Dorel Boosters Re-Evaluated by IIHS.


Acura Safety v3.0We commend Acura for achieving top overall ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA on every current model!  We awarded the Acura MDX honors as the safest 2015 SUV in a recent article, and would like to acknowledge vehicle manufacturers that place an emphasis on safety.  Acura claims to be the first and only auto manufacturer to earn a 5-star Overall vehicle score from the NHTSA NCAP program, AND a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS across its entire 2015 model line (IIHS TSP+ rating when equipped with collision mitigation braking systems).  Congrats!

CarseatBlog emphasizes crash test ratings and advanced safety features in all our auto reviews.  We strongly encourage other manufacturers to put safety first and to make crash test ratings a top priority for ALL vehicles, as Acura has done.  To put it simply, an NHTSA “5-star” overall rating and IIHS “Top Safety Pick” rating is something every buyer should require in a vehicle.  No new vehicles today should earn anything less than a “4-star” rating from the NHTSA or less than an “Acceptable” rating from the IIHS in any individual crash test result.  Period.

We also encourage all auto makers to equip advanced crash avoidance technologies as standard whenever possible, especially on top trim levels and luxury vehicles.  On economy models and lower trim levels, these features should be readily available in a relatively low cost options package.  All too often, collision mitigation braking systems necessary to qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick “+” aware are a hard-to-find option and only on the most expensive trim level.  Then you must tack on thousands of dollars more for a safety technology package, if you can even find one at all on dealer’s lots!  That type of obsolete marketing is NOT putting customers and safety first.


booster_safety-1st_summit-65In other news, the IIHS is correcting two “BEST BET” booster recommendations from 2014.  The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65 were given the top rating in error.  The revised rating is “Not Recommended”.  According to the IIHS:

The concern about the Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65, both manufactured by Dorel Juvenile, is that while the shoulder belt crosses the child’s body at the middle of the shoulder, it is positioned too far forward. In that position, the shoulder belt would be less effective in a crash.

The IIHS states that these models were inadvertently evaluated to the protocol used prior to 2014.  They also note that these ratings only apply to these models in booster mode, and DO NOT apply when used with the 5-point harness system.  Below, you can see the difference between a Good (left) and Poor (right) shoulder belt fit in regard to contact at the shoulder (courtesy of IIHS):

Booster-GOOD-FIT-IIHS (00000002) Booster-POOR-FIT-IIHS

2016 Honda Pilot Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety


It’s Bigger, it’s Better, and it’s no longer Boxy.  For some, the more rugged appearance of the previous Pilot was a nice departure from most crossover SUVs on the road today.  For most, the sleeker styling of the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is a long-awaited improvement.  And the changes only start there.  Almost everything else is also improved in this re-design, borrowing various enhancements from the Acura MDX that was introduced for 2014.


Starting with the inside, it’s more spacious than before and is now among the leaders in the midsize class.  Honda added 3.5 inches to the new Pilot, helping to increase both legroom and cargo space in back.  That’s great for carseats and kids.  Thankfully, Honda didn’t change one of the best things about the Pilot: Four of the 6 rear seats have the LATCH carseat attachment system, while all six have top-tether anchors.  That makes it one of the most flexible SUVs for carseats in back.  Most trim levels seat eight, with only benches available in back, but the Elite trim is only available in a 7-passenger version with an aisle between two second row captain’s chairs.

Other improvements include a cabin that is much more refined and competitive than before, with softer materials all around.  The access to the third row is improved, so even adults can get back there more easily than before.  Cargo space behind the third row is 1.3″ longer than before, and even more spacious when you flip the stowable lid covering the deep storage area below.   If you have a lot of stuff to put behind the third row, the Pilot has more room than almost any midsize competitor.  You’d have to go to a minivan or huge full size SUV to do much better.  And there are lots more charging outlets for all those devices, too!


Update: The 2016 Pilot earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, and a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with the Honda Sensing Package.  In addition, it earned the top “Good” rating in every individual crash test and a “Superior” front crash protection score.  The NHTSA rated the 2016 Pilot “5-stars” overall, and it earned 5-stars in all individual tests except for the Frontal Barrier Crash Rating for the Female Passenger and the Rollover Rating, both of which were 4-star results.  Very impressive overall.

As for features, there are a full array of airbags and standard safety features, like a multi-angle backup camera and hands-free bluetooth for taking calls on the road.  Only the base LX trim lacks optional advanced safety features. On the EX and EX-L, the Honda Sensing package offers a great array of safety enhancements as an option.

Kids Left in Hot Cars: What Can We Do?



In recognition of National Heatstroke Prevention Day 2015, we are re-running this article in hopes of bringing awareness to the problem of children being left in hot cars. It can and *does* happen to anyone–even the best parents who think it can’t happen to them. Please take the time to share this blog article with your friends so they can understand how it happens, and so they can understand how it can happen to them too. Then head to Facebook and Twitter to participate in today’s campaign. Thanks!

As my daughter and I dodged shredded tire treads on the freeway on the way to her oboe lesson, they reminded me that warm weather is here to stay and we should be cognizant of who is in the car at all times. As temps go up outside, they can climb even faster inside and anyone who is vulnerable—child, elderly person, or pet—can succumb to heat stroke in a short amount of time. Even moderate outside temperatures can produce deadly vehicle interior temperatures and cracking a window isn’t enough to air out the car.

When a vehicle is in the sun, it starts to heat up. We’ve all felt this when we’ve sat in a car with the engine off. What happens is the sun shines through the transparent windows and heats the surfaces in the car. The radiation from the sun touches the dashboard, steering wheel, and other solid objects, as well as floating air molecules we can’t see. Conduction works to heat the interior surfaces of the vehicle up quickly and convection moves the air molecules around faster and faster, causing them to heat at a rapid rate. Even leaving the windows down a crack doesn’t help because of the conduction heating the surfaces; the surfaces heat up, which cause the air inside to heat as well. What about a cloudy day where the sun’s rays aren’t shining through the windows? Let me tell you about the worst sunburn I ever got—on a cloudy day. The radiation from the sun still comes through the clouds and can heat that vehicle up.

The SUV in the picture below was left in the sun on a very pleasant morning for about a half hour. During that time, while the outside temperature was 66º, the inside temperature rose to 128º. The vehicle was set up for my Safe Kids coalition’s press conference and rescue demonstration kicking off our Heatstroke Awareness Campaign.

SUV in sun ready for rescue

A child left in the vehicle is at serious risk for heat stroke or death. Heat stroke is when the body’s temperature rises above 104º. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s and symptoms of heat stroke include red, hot, moist or dry skin, lack of sweating (their bodies have reached a point where they can’t cool down on their own anymore), headache, dizziness, confusion, and nausea. When a child’s body reaches 107º, their organs will shut down and death most likely will occur.

As much as we try to educate parents not to leave their children in vehicles, last year there were 30 children who died left in vehicles. Some of these deaths were accidental and some were intentional. It’s the accidental deaths where we can make an impact by making a few changes in our habits. But habits are hard to change and we have to be intentional in changing them. Can you imagine being this guy, who accidentally left his sleeping child in his SUV at the train station parking lot and remembered her when he got into the city? That had to have been the longest train ride back out to get her.

Time and again, a break in routine has been the reason a child has been left behind in a vehicle. The parent with the child is doing something out of the ordinary and forgets that the child is in the car or a daycare provider is overwhelmed with the number of children in the van and forgets the quiet one. From 1998-2014, 53% of children who died from heatstroke in vehicles were forgotten about by their caregivers. During that same time period, 29% were children who accidentally locked themselves in a vehicle while playing, and adults intentionally left 17% in the vehicle.

How can we address this problem and prevent it from happening again? First, we can stop blaming the victims and recognize everyone has the potential to forget their child. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem at some point for everyone who has a child and it can make your brain act in ways it normally wouldn’t. Laws may help dissuade caregivers who casually leave their children in vehicles as they run errands or get manicures, but they aren’t going to make a difference for those who forget their children. If you forget a child, you’re not going to remember them because of the threat of going to jail. Nineteen states have laws regarding unattended children in vehicles. Second, let’s be proactive, both as parents driving our children and as community members. Look in the car next to you as you get out to make sure a child, pet, or elderly person wasn’t left behind. Look in your business parking lots on broiling hot days AND teeth-chattering cold days. Safe Kids Worldwide gives us this handy acronym to help us remember to ACT to save lives:

A: Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child alone in a car and by locking your vehicle so a child can’t get trapped inside accidentally.

C: Create reminders for yourself by putting your cellphone or wallet in the back seat next to the carseat. Also have your daycare provider call you and your significant other when the child is late or absent from daycare.

T: Take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle. This is an emergency and emergency personnel want you to call 911. Be cautious about breaking a vehicle window because you or someone else could be injured.


If you determine that you cannot wait for First Responders and you have to break the window yourself to get the child out immediately – break the window that is furthest away from the child. Hit the window in the corner, not in the center. The corner is the weakest point. The center is the strongest. Having a window breaking tool makes the job a lot easier. An Automatic Center Punch tool is ideal if you happen to have one. If you don’t already own a glass breaking tool you may want to consider purchasing one. They are fairly inexpensive and come in different styles and sizes.