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Top 5
Top 5 Cars for Secret Agents
Secret agents do drive the best cars. These vehicles afford excitement, pizzazz and a little something extra. With a wide field of possible entries, here are the top five cars for secret agents.

1. The 2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione was made with a Ferrari 450 hp engine. The bad guys will never outrun this car. The extremely sporty body and its powerful 8-cylinder engine can outgun everything else on the road. It also has the ability to hug the curves while tailing after the enemy.

2. On the television show “Get Smart,” Agent 86 always looked his best in a classic convertible. While people argue as to the exact make and model, you must agree that the 1967 MG Roadster is the consummate spy car. It has the sleek lines that attract the ladies and can also tear down the road at a good clip.

3. “Mission Impossible: 4” gives you a thrilling look at the 2013 BMW 650ci. This car is sure to keep the good guys safe. You will get an adrenaline rush that is rare to find in a vehicle. Cameras mounted on the bumper send you tingles of pleasure when you watch the car move.

4. You may concede that these showy cars are a bit conspicuous for most real life spies. A car that blends in with the others like a Toyota Camry, might be what is needed. The trusty engine of this automobile and virtual anonymity gives a secret agent the ability to watch you unnoticed.

5. No list would be complete without mention of James Bond’s car, the Aston Martin. In “Goldfinger,” this well appointed 5-speed reached over 140 mph. The supple leather interior adds a bit of luxury to the reliable handling.

Bonus car: For honorable mention, you have to respect the Batmobile. It has every conceivable contraption, even nitro boosters, to send it soaring. This sexy automobile is great for going to the theater, chasing criminals or sending Robin to the store for a gallon of milk.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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The Smart Car Buyer
What to Bring With You When Car Shopping
If you are getting ready to buy your first car or to replace your current car, you have a lot of things to consider, including the make, model and color, and how much money you are willing to part with. Before you head on over the dealership, there are some items that you should bring with you to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly.

It almost goes without saying, but you need to remember to bring your valid driver’s license. This is something people forget sometimes, especially if they have been relying on other people to take them places. If you don’t have your license, you won’t be able to take any cars for a test drive or drive your new car home. You should also bring proof of insurance.

DO YOUR RESEARCH Unless you are fabulously wealthy and don’t care about losing money, you will need to do some research before going out car shopping. Looking up information online about the types of cars you are interested in will help you narrow your focus when you are out looking at available vehicles.

If you have a particular car in mind, research and print out the dealer’s invoice price and take it with you. This is invaluable information to have when you are negotiating with the salesperson. Put your printouts in a folder, along with the details of any incentives or rebates that you have discovered.

REVIEW THE REVIEWS Another useful thing to bring is a printout of trustworthy reviews of the cars you are most interested in. You can consult these pages while looking at particular cars, to refresh your memory about why you were interested in buying them.

If you don’t feel confident in your ability to properly evaluate a car, you should consider bringing a friend or family member who knows something about cars. If the dealer senses that you have no idea what you are looking at, there is a temptation to take advantage of you.

It’s also a good idea to bring the phone number of a trusted mechanic, in case you want to make an appointment to get a used car checked out. Your mechanic may even be willing to meet you at the location to do an inspection. This is particularly useful when you are considering buying a used car from a dealership you’ve never been to before or when you are evaluating a car being sold by a private party.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
Richmond
Driving in Richmond, VA 101!
Richmond is one of America's historic cities, nestled along the James River in Virginia and easy to drive to. It is very car friendly to navigate with a number of major roadways and plentiful roadside parking places (but watch for signs). The many diverse neighborhoods are fascinating to drive through and the grid street system is easy to figure out. The older parts of Richmond do have the narrow streets and one-way restrictions common in towns of this age.

Interstate 95 goes north-south right through it, and Interstate 64 runs east-west through the city. When you look at a map, you see that there are several highways and parkways looping around the area and it really makes driving easy. That's good, because there are a lot of places you'll want to drive!

Outside the city, the suburbs are rural and rolling. There's a lot of green space and many campgrounds even though it isn't a wilderness area. It's pretty, with the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains to the west and the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean to the east: easy day trips and lots to explore.

There's a lot to explore within Richmond, too. The James River Park System is a string of parks along the river (check their website about parking spaces) and you can see whitewater rafters quite often. The city was the capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War and suffered a lot of damage but came back from the ashes with vigor. Drive through the Richmond National Battlefield Park and visit the Museum of the Confederacy. Visit Maymont, a 100-acre Victorian estate that is still the way it was planned to be.

Every neighborhood in Richmond has a distinct identity and you might feel like they are separate towns. Driving through the streets, you will see a lot of forged ironwork and unique homes. Be sure to visit Hollywood Cemetery, where over 18,000 Confederate soldiers are buried. There's a Civil War prison site on Belle Isle, the original Confederate White House, and St. John's Church, built in 1739 and the site of the Second Constitutional Convention in 1775. If it is summer, you can hear a re-enactment of Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech.

The variety of offerings in Richmond mean you can find what you are looking for, and the logical road system means it is going to be a good experience driving there. This is a good destination for a road trip!

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Out of the Flames: How the US Auto Industry Rose from the Ashes
The auto industry is a heavy contributor to ripples in the US economic landscape. When the auto industry gets a cold, the US economy suffers. Despite many critics eager to ring its death knell, the US auto industry has taken flight with impressive phoenix-like zeal in recent months.

BACKGROUND OF THE DOWNTREND

In addition to the housing collapse in 2008, the US auto industry was a key component in the much-publicized financial crisis. By 2009, the US auto industry had gone into a deep depression, with sales plummeting 44% in the first 4 months of that year. GM and Daimler/Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and were assisted in their restructuring efforts by the US Federal government; all in all, it was a very tough time for the industry, essentially the culmination of a 5 year string of losses amounting to well over $100 billion between GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Despite record high industry sales of 16.3 million units in 2007, by December 2008, GM, Ford and Chrysler needed to go to the US government and plead for a bailout. GM would be insolvent within a few weeks. Ford did not take a bailout since they had refinanced long term debt 18 months earlier and had the reserve to manage the storm.

THE SIGNS OF LIFE

After much restructuring and a wave of new offerings, GM posted a 2012 net profit of $7.6 billion, the most ever reported by the firm. Chrysler announced a profit of $183 million, its first net profit since its bankruptcy. Apparently, the U.S. government's bailout of the auto industry proved effective; GM and Chrysler paid back billions of dollars in government loans ahead of schedule. The website investopedia.com (accessed 10/29/13) claims the comeback by 2012 was miraculous, and while that may seem a tad far-fetched, it is true that “Help Wanted” signs are ubiquitous in Detroit right now. They cannot seem to hire quickly enough, and the comeback is indeed impressive.

Here are the details for sales of cars and light trucks by the millions:

US Auto Industry Comeback - Sales in Millions

Americans love and need their motor vehicles…for work, business and pleasure…and the US automakers were given a valuable chance to restructure and learn many lessons. As of fall 2013, the US automakers seem to have “leaned-out” their operations, while simultaneously offering appealing new products. The US auto market is extremely competitive, which in turn is very good for consumers, making it a very good time to buy a car or light truck. The level of competitiveness in the market is unlikely to diminish, as forecasts are for the industry to reach a peak of about 16 million before leveling out.

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE

Let us hope that the US auto industry decision-makers keep their eye on two critical goals:

  • 1. Factor consumer needs and wants into the vehicle design from the very beginning of its development, and
  • 2. Skillfully manage both capital and labor productivity for the long term without succumbing to “irrational exuberance”

  • Ideally, by keeping these goals in mind and a firm grip on the bottom line, the US auto industry will continue its impressive growth into 2014 and beyond.


    About the Author

    John Weber-Author

    John Weber
    Offering a true insider’s perspective, John has provided automotive-related insight to the corporate conference rooms of General Motors Corporation, Isuzu Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, J.D. Power and Associates and others, covering a wide range of topics involving product policy and strategy, product development, quality, manufacturing and customer satisfaction.

    A member of the Society of Automotive Engineers boasting degrees in both mechanical engineering and business, John is additionally recognized as an automotive industry expert by the US Department of Energy. When not providing valuable expert content to Auto.com, he enjoys traveling with his wife around the globe.
    Tire
    Remember to Rotate Your Tires
    If all four tires on your car performed the same function and accumulated wear and tear at the same rate, there’d be no need to rotate your tires. However, different tires are affected by different forces every mile you drive. In order to even out the effects on tread wear and overall service life, tires need to switch places on a regular basis.

    Front tires bear the brunt of turns. Every time you turn the steering wheel, resistance and friction are generated between your tires and the road. This causes tread wear and generates heat, which shortens the life of the tire. These effects can be mitigated by switching your front tires with your rear tires on a regular schedule.

    Rear tires experience different forces and wear rates. However, they are less intense than front tires. In most vehicles, the rear wheels are the drive wheels and receive the most traction demand, especially when driving is aggressive with lots of quick starts and stops.

    Most experts recommend rotating tires every 5,000 miles for even tread wear and maximum service life of the tires.

    To rotate your tires, you’ll need four jack stands to support all wheels. Engage the parking brake and pre-loosen the lug nuts on each wheel. Jack up the vehicle one wheel at a time and support each with a jack stand. Remove all four tires, keeping track of each tire’s original location by writing it on the inner sidewall with chalk.

    Re-install the tires in this configuration: Move the two rear tires directly forward to their corresponding locations on the front: left rear tire to left front and right rear tire to right front. Move the front tires to the opposite rear locations in an X pattern: left front to right rear and right front to left rear.

    Give the lug nuts a preliminary tightening and lower the vehicle, removing the jack stands one at a time. Once all four tires are on the ground, tighten all lug nuts to the manufacturer’s recommended torque found in your owner’s manual.

    - Auto.com Editorial Staff
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    Solid Car Service Center Options in Richmond, VA
    Richmond, Virginia is a large metropolitan complex of cities and towns surrounding the city of Richmond itself. Like everywhere else, residents of the Richmond area want to keep their cars running a little longer, but they don't want to break the bank doing so. If you live in or near Richmond, you can take your car to a dealership and will normally have excellent repair work done, but you'll pay a premium for that "factory service" you'll receive. You can also obtain the same level of excellent auto care by taking your car to an independent neighborhood auto car center.

    Axselle Auto Service is one of those independent shops that will give you fair prices and couple it with helpful and friendly service. They are a full-service auto repair facility that services most makes and models. They provide most auto repair and maintenance services such as brakes, suspension repairs and alignments, and tire sales, service, and repair, including tire inflation using nitrogen where called for by the manufacturer. Axselle Auto service has been in business since 1951, so you know they treat their customers well and give great prices.

    Halls Tire & Auto Service is another local independent auto repair shop that has generated a great deal of customer loyalty over the years. Located at 2111 Dickens Road, they're pretty easy to find and you'll be glad you took the time. Customer reviews found on the Internet range from the simple "These guys are great!" to "These guys treated me like mine was the only car there."

    Looking to upgrade the quality of the beats in your ride but not looking to spend an arm and a leg? Take your car to Car Toys, at 11525 Midlothian Trunpike and you'll get the best stereo system your budget can buy, without paying for extra bells and whistles you really don't need. Car Toys also does window tinting at great prices, great service and quality and a turnaround that will amaze you.

    It's a traumatic and trying experience for many when they need to have body repair or paint work done to their car. There is no need to add to that trauma by having insensitive and uncaring people work on your car. This isn't going to happen when you take your car to family-owned Connor Brothers Collision Centers, located at 1008 North Sheppard Street. You'll get fast friendly service from very knowledgeable and skilled technicians. Many customers also get a nice little thank you note in the mail a couple weeks after picking their car up.

    - Auto.com Editorial Staff

    Reviews

    01
    2014 Lincoln Navigator L Review
    When it comes to finding a luxury SUV, the 2014 Lincoln Navigator L should be something you think about. There are some things you should know about the vehicle. Looking at this will help you know if it is the right choice for your next vehicle purchase.

    The 2014 Lincoln Navigator L has a 5.4 liter V8 engine with an automatic transmission. This allows the SUV to crank out 310 horsepower. The vehicle also has multi-link rear suspension to help make your ride as smooth as possible on the rear wheel drive option. If you go with the four wheel drive SUV then you will have the Control Trac®â€‹ 4 Wheel Drive System which helps with control, traction and towing on this model.

    Inside the Navigator L you will feel the luxury. There are three rows of seating and you can take advantage of the heated and cooled front seats to ensure that the seats are just the right temperature for you. The first and second row offer bucket seats while the third row in this SUV is a bench seat that folds down flat.

    Voice activated navigation system is standard on all Navigator models and also has built in satellite radio capabilities with a 6 month trial subscription. The audio system is THX II certified 5.1 surround system. You will find all the comforts that you are looking for in this vehicle including three coat hooks and even a cigar lighter with a light.

    Safety is something that the 2014 Lincoln Navigator L takes seriously. You will have the airbags you want throughout the vehicle, including third row side curtain airbags. The vehicle also offers roll stability control to help keep the vehicle from rolling over. If you are in an accident there is even a system that will flash the lights to help first responders find you quicker.

    There are child locks on the rear doors so you do not have to worry about children opening the door. You will have illuminated entry to help you to get into the vehicle safely. On top of this you will also have keyless entry and can even start the car remotely. There is even a passive anti-theft system on the vehicle which includes a perimeter alarm.

    The 2014 Lincoln Navigator is 14 MPG in the city and 20 on the highway. This gives the vehicle an average of 16 MPG.

    This beauty of a vehicle starts at $60,040 though the price is dependent on the extras you have added on.

    - Auto.com Editorial Staff
    02
    2012 Toyota Prius Review
    The popular hybrid 2012 Toyota Prius has three versions with nine trims available for the model year 2012. The limited edition plug-in hybrid (PHV), mid-sized hatchback Prius v, and subcompact Prius c give you plenty of choices. With a total of three trims available for the v, four available for the c, and two available for the PHV, there are nine total choices to pick from.

    You can get your hands on the PHV for a mere $32,000 to $39,525, while the v Two, Three and Five will run you between $26,550 and $30,140. The Prius c models (Two, Three, Four and Five) have relatively economical MSRPs of $18,950 to $23,230. This creates a range of over $20,000 between the cheapest and most expensive options, so there's close to something for everyone.

    Gas mileage also varies considerably between the options. The Prius v models all get 44 and 40 miles to the gallon, city and highway. The Prius c is rated at 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway. The PHV can get as much as 95 mpg, but is rated at 50 for 'typical use'.

    Two plug-in models, the Plug-in Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Advanced, are the most expensive options. They feature a range of 11 miles in electric-only mode, and take 1.5-3 hours to recharge in 120 or 240V outlets. Both PHV models have AM/FM radios with CD players, Bluetooth, satellite radio and navigation.

    The Prius v is essentially the same car as the PHV without plug-in capability. The smaller c is a subcompact four-door hatchback with space for five-- if the five are not too big. Fuel economy is significantly better than the v, however, which makes it a great choice for a commuting car or similar uses.

    Pros and cons for the PHV and model v include great fuel economy but little acceleration capability. Both feature large amounts of storage space in the trunk, and have a comfortable ride. Some may not appreciate the extreme exterior stylization. The smaller c is an economical option, but underpowered like many other small hybrids.

    Richmond Car Dealers

    Top 5 File2341277050172 Top 5 Cars for Secret Agents The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local Richmond Driving in Richmond, VA 101! National File0002138899307 Out of the Flames: How the US Auto Industry Rose from the Ashes Tip Tire Remember to Rotate Your Tires