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Top 5
Top 5 Autos For Touring Musicians
You've finally mastered the art of air guitar and singing into a microphone in front of the mirror, so once you take the leap into actually joining a real band the odds greatly increase that you'll be forced to come face to face with the mistress every musician knows all too well - the road. Naturally, when planning to travel the highways and biways of the nation for weeks at a time, choosing a travel vehicle is a tad important. Lucky for you, we’ve assembled a top five of options for those gearing up to be ‘an American band’.

 

5. Toyota Prius: While it may not scream ‘rock god chariot’, touring in this green-friendly hybrid may be the most economical way to go. Boasting insanely great gas mileage (50 MPH?!), added perks like a solar powered moon roof (wait…what?), and plenty of deep truck space for that band merch, hitting the road in a Prius will seem like a great idea once cash starts to get tight.

 

4. Subaru Impreza: Again, you may lose a few cred points for the ‘Brady Bunch’ vibe of the design, but you’ll be the one laughing all the way to the gig when Captain Sunglasses at Night and the Rockin’ Coolmobile blows a gasket due to lack of coolant at the Arizona border. With a low starting price (around $17K for a 2012), room for five, a convenient hatchback area ideal for storing gear, and impressive highway gas mileage (averaging around 30), one could make the argument that the Impreza should have been named ‘the Impess-ya’.

 

3. Toyota Corolla: With a compact size that makes it easy to park outside those crowded rock clubs, this impressively reliable sedan has quietly become a fave of the musician set with good cause. Starting at around $16 K for a brand spankin’ new 2012 model, standardly equipped with a bevy of safety features, and a mind-blowing towing capacity of 1500 lbs (outdrawing much larger vehicles such as the Avalon by almost 500 lbs!), the Corolla offers a great way to haul a trailer full of gear while maintaining plenty of leg room for your drummer.

 

2. GMC Savana Cutaway: An ideal box truck that can easily double as a hotel on wheels once cash for lodging gets tight, this lengthy travel truck offers a drop step bumper with aluminum walk ramp. There’s even a trailer hitch option should you need to haul even more gear behind you. Hire a handy pal to install some bed bunks in the back and catch some shuteye post gig as your roadie sits behind the wheel drinking coffee and navigating towards Utah.

 

1. Ford Econoline Van: Simply ‘the van’ for touring bands of all stripes, the Econo is as perfect a traveling ship as man has ever crafted. Heavy-duty tires grip the road as you road to your next show, with a mighty V10 engine capable of climbing hills while loaded down with band members and bass amps. The standard anti-lock brakes are ideal in less-than-stellar weather (“hello Seattle!”), and it can comfortably seat seven (including a huge storage area in the rear). Simply put, when Henry Rollins says “get in the van!”, you can rest assured he’s talking about a Ford Econoline.



- 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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The SUV Story - Thank Goodness for Government Regulation
When consumers speak, automakers listen. While this may seem a simple concept, many success stories in today’s auto market got their start from consumer reactions to automotive blunders rather than from design or executive genius. The SUV, or Sport Utility Vehicle, is a perfect example of this.

In the mid-1970’s, ‘SUV’ choices were essentially limited to the International Scout, Ford Bronco, Chevy Blazer and Suburban. These were low volume, niche products largely lacking broader consumer appeal. Now – the SUV has become a major component of the US automotive market.


DEFINING THE SUV & THE CROSSOVER

Currently, SUVs and Crossovers account for nearly 30% of all vehicles, and over 60% of the entire light truck market in the US. But what, precisely, do these vehicle terms refer to?

A Sport Utility Vehicle is designed off of a truck chassis. It is rear-wheel drive, with optional four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive capability. The engines are typically larger and the vehicles heavier. Sturdiness, strength and stability, both on and off the road, are critical design criteria for SUVs.

Crossovers, on the other hand, are designed off of a passenger car body-frame structure. Front-wheel drive cars lack frames similar to rear-drive truck, so they achieve structural integrity by integrating floor, sides and roof together with a short stubby “frame”, yielding the front-wheel drive engine and transmission. This is called a “body-frame-integral” design, or ‘BFI’ for short.

In 1980 the vast majority of the market consisted of full-sized pickups and vans, full-sized cars, mid-sized cars and some sporty rides such as Mustangs, with only a small number of larger gas-guzzling Ford Broncos, Chevy Blazers and Suburbans on the road.


NEW REGULATIONS FOR AUTOMAKERS & THE BIRTH OF THE LIGHT TRUCK

In the late 1970’s, the government passed strict new fuel economy and emissions standards that initiated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets, and also required automakers to report current and future year anticipated compliance.

Car and trucks each had an average fleet fuel economy goal, based on sales. For example, in a given year Ford would calculate a single CAFE number, based on the sales for each type of truck in the Light Truck category. The same held true for passenger cars. The government required an accurate calculation not only for that sales year but for four years into the future as a forecast. It was illegal not to plan to meet the aggressive future goals.

Leading into the 1980s and faced with CAFE targets, gas shortages and rising prices, automakers jumped on the bandwagon and promptly downsized the bulk of their passenger cars. ‘Land Cruisers’ were largely discontinued, with passenger cars converted to front-wheel drive and designed lighter and smaller. New compact cars were also designed from scratch, the GM J-car being most notable.

The Light Truck market responded much differently choosing to diversify and add new product segments. The new small truck (GM creatively named theirs the S/T Truck) and the Chrysler minivan were thus created. These smaller vehicles would then offset the bigger ones and allow the CAFE for Light Trucks to be met with room to spare.


A NATURAL EVOLUTION

While the new government standards for passenger cars had been met, the new smaller lighter front-wheel drive cars had lost significant towing and storage capability without a significant gain in fuel economy. This oversight cost billions of dollars and took several years to correct, as many consumers reacted negatively to the under-performing “look-alike” cars in the mid 1980’s.

This resulted in a wholesale shift of consumers from passenger cars to light trucks, including SUVs, compact/mid-sized pickups and minivans. The light truck CAFE number had plenty of wiggle-room, so the automaker could meet growing consumer performance criteria while still fulfilling the government’s CAFE requirements - and thus the truck-based passenger utility vehicle was born.


THE SUV TODAY

Today, all SUVs (Explorer, etc) and Crossovers (Lexus RX350, etc) that meet a minimum height, width and interior volume spec are legally “light trucks”, providing the automakers with great flexibility to meet a strict single light truck standard. Without this we would undoubtedly not have the robust ‘SUV’ market we currently enjoy.

The Lexus RX300 was a breakthrough product example in this category that ultimately every automaker wanted to emulate and has led to wide proliferation of luxury crossovers today.

So – the next time you hop in an SUV and go for a spin, give thanks to new governmental rules that ultimately allowed the utilitarian needs of consumers to be met within the overall fuel economy improvement strategy by the development and evolution of the small truck, SUV, and Crossover.


About Author John Weber

John Weber-Author

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.

Where was John during the development of the SUV?
"I was working in GM Corporate Product Planning at GM headquarters so I had insights and input in many high level issues impacting the industry. For the small truck project my job was to develop the best plan for manufacturing the future volume of trucks contained in the sales forecasts." - John
Wax1
Regular Car Waxing Benefits
As a car owner and lover, you know the feeling of awe that comes over you each time you see a freshly waxed car driving past you. You automatically know that the driver has a healthy appreciation for value and for taking care of their car. Doing the same for your own car isn't always as simple as it seems, but regular car waxing benefits outweigh the effort involved. The driver of that shiny car with professional detailing would probably give you some pro tips, given the chance.

In lieu of that car aficionados' meeting, consider some of the following benefits of regularly waxing and detailing your car. Soon, unbeknownst to you, some other driver will be ogling your fresh detailing job and wondering just how you do it.

• Car Wax Protects Your Paint Job. When you apply that coating of wax, you protect your car's paint job. Instead of your car incurring nicks and dings each time a rogue grocery cart barrels its way into your car door, the wax takes the brunt of the impact. While your car might receive small dings, you immediately defray the potential damage each time you take your car in for professional detailing. Technicians might specifically coat your car with a protective layer of sealant then add a coat of professional-grade carnauba wax for maximum protection against scratches, as well as helping extend the life of the car's paint job, overall. The wax and sealant help your car's paint retain essential oils and other elements that help it keep its lustrous shine and glow.

• Car Wax Acts as a Sunscreen. Just like your own skin, your car's paint job is susceptible to possible damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. As you would do with your skin, you need to protect your car against these damaging rays. Car owners who do not wax in sunny zones often see quickly progressing discolorations and peeling on their car's paint job. Detailing professionals will know the best types of professionally recommended car waxes to help minimize the damage.

• Detailing and Waxing Help Keep Your Car Cleaner. Between the lingering effects of rain drops cascading over your car's paint job and any splashes of mud you might encounter during a normal day's drive, your car will get dirty. However, another one of the regular car waxing benefits includes a cleaner car, in general.

• Waxing Helps Save on Fuel Costs. As far-fetched, and fantastic, as it might sound, regular trips to an express detailer will help you keep your gas prices down. The wax on your car helps repel the mud and grime that attach to your car, adding weight to it, which increases your need for gas.

• A Sleek and Well-Maintained Car is Good for Pride of Ownership and Resale Value. Basically, going in for regular express detailing appointments makes your car look good for as long as you want to drive it until you plan to move on to your next car.

- 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

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2014 RAM 1500 Review
The 2014 Ram 1500 makes the competition heat up by pushing the envelope once again with the addition of the turbo diesel to the lineup. Never before has a diesel engine been available in any 1500 of any make. The challenge has been clearly made, but can the other automakers meet it?

The overall exterior changes little for 2014, but some additions have been made such as foglamps, headlamps with a twin-beam projector pattern and LED running lights. All of the signal lights are now lit with LED as well, leaving behind the old incandescent bulb for good. Many touches have been put into the cabin of the Ram, making it much more refined than in years past.

The center console stack has an 8.4 inch touchscreen that hosts the Uconnect Touch system for radio, navigation and more. Uconnect also ties with Uconnect Access, a service that brings in Sprint's cellular WiFi for connectivity. The Uconnect Access gives access to applications, voice recognition commands and turns the truck into a WiFi hotspot. Other touches include slots for a USB drive, SD card and auxiliary-in ports.

The engine is where it's at for the 2014 Ram, what with the addition of the EcoDiesel. It's a 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6 that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine itself creates 420 lb-ft of torque, puts out low CO2 emissions and can consume B20 biodiesel. Gas mileage is estimated to be more than 27 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in stop and go conditions. Its only drawback is that it tows a few hundred pounds less than a similarly equipped Chevy Silverado.

Gasoline-powered engine aficionados can still get the HEMI 5.7 liter V8 engine that generates 395 hp with 407 lb -ft of torque. It has fuel economy touches such as variable valve timing and cylinder shut-off at speed. The 5.7 liter's fuel economy is similar to the diesel with 25 mpg on the highway and 18 in city conditions. Also available in some models is a 4.7 liter V8 which creates 310 hp and 330 ft-lb of torque.

Other details for 2014 include electric power steering that eliminates feedback from the road, stability control that includes an anti-trailer sway system, and hill-start assistance. A rearview camera is available, and rear parking sensors are available for order. Front parking sensors are also available.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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2014 Kia Cadenza Review
The 2014 Kia Cadenza is a stylish sedan with a 3.3L V6 engine. The Cadenza comes with a 6-speed automatic design that is easy to use and smooth during the ride. The shiftable 6-speed automatic is paired with great gas mileage; the Cadenza gets approximately 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

The 2014 Kia Cadenza has seating for up to five people and comes in a plethora of enjoyable colors, from satin metal to metallic bronze. The base model of the Cadenza starts around $35,900- and you have a variety of choices for upgrades and unique touches that will make it the perfect car for you. The Cadenza comes with enough power to speed you down the highway or over rougher terrain. It has 293 hp @6400, and the torque is listed as 255 ft-lbs. at @ 5200 rpm. It has a MacPherson strut front suspension, multilink rear suspension, stabilizer bar, and four-wheel independent suspension, so you can count on a smooth ride.

Inside, the front has multilevel heating for the passenger and driver's seat, a 10-way power driver seat, lumbar support that adjusts on the driver's seat, and a four-way passenger seat. The driver's seat is also height adjustable, so you can be in the most comfortable position for your drive. Bucket front seats round out the comfortable front seating area, and all seats are leather for a luxurious feel.

The 2014 Kia Cadenza comes with a clock, trip computer, and compass to make your trips, whether they're long hauls or just to a nearby store, comfortable and easy to complete. The Cadenza also has cruise control for longer drives, so you can take your foot off the gas, and there is overhead storage for small items. Electric-powered steering and 12-volt power outlets in the front make it easy to charge your GPS or other device while you drive.

A rear-view camera and roadside assistance are available with this model, and you can also select to have a universal remote transmitter for your security system, garage door, or other electronics. Turn-by-turn navigation is an upgrade you can choose, and there is a remote trunk release, so you can open your trunk without taking your keys out of the car.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Richmond Car Dealers

Top 5 File3231342551278 Top 5 Autos For Touring Musicians The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local Richmond Driving in Richmond, VA 101! National File901261245164 The SUV Story - Thank Goodness for Government Regulation Tip Wax1 Regular Car Waxing Benefits