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Top 5
Top Pulse-Raising Autos for Cross-Country Road Trips
Cross-country road trips make the best adventures and the right vehicle can take you anywhere you want to go. The number of people going on the trip will determine the size of the vehicle needed. The vehicle needs to be able to seat everyone comfortably and carry all of the luggage and extras many people take on long distance vacations.

Chevy Cruze:

Known as one of the best cars available for quietness and smooth riding, the Cruze is available for around $25,000. It is easy on the gas with average mileage running between 25 city/36 highway.

Honda Odyssey:

The Honda Odyssey is ideal for family travel. It has ample leg room for all of the passengers and extra area in the back to stow almost everything a family on the go would ever need. It rides well producing little road noise. The Odyssey sports several perks that make traveling long distances interesting instead of being a chore.

Toyota Camry:

The Toyota Camry is consistently ranked as one of the top ten for cross-country rides. Not only does it have a spacious interior, it can also make a tank of gas stretch close to 600 miles. The Camry has received numerous awards for its drivability and cost effectiveness.

Jetta Sportwagon

The VW Jetta Sportwagon is an ideal choice for a road trip. Not only is it easy on gas, it also has a spacious interior suitable for hauling everything a family would need for a long distance trip. Volkswagen is known for producing durable vehicles that can hold their own in almost any type of weather and road conditions.

Chevy Silverado Crew Cab:

The Chevy Silverado Crew Cab is one of the best trucks on the market for traveling long distances. It offers a smooth ride, low road noise and, if equipped with a tow package, can haul a trailer, boat or camper with little problem.

If you are looking to take a road trip, check into a variety of vehicles before making your final choice. Finding the right vehicle will not only enhance the trip but can make it more pleasurable as well.

- 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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Advancements in Car Seat Technology
In times past, a car seat was simply that - a seat for a person to sit in and drive a car. However, new advancements in car seat technology aim to make car seats safer and more comfortable than they were in recent history.

GOT STRESS? Ford is currently working on developing a car seat that will monitor a driver for signs of stress. This seat will have temperature and heart rate sensors, a respiration sensor and sonar, radar and cameras that keep an eye on traffic levels. If the car seat determines that a driver is overly stressed out, then the seat will automatically shut off one's cell phone and increase collision alert warning times. The technology is set to be used in Ford vehicle models in five to ten years.

Cadillac has recently manufactured a seat that will vibrate to alert a driver to a potential threat. This seat can now be found in the Cadillac XTS Luxury Sedan and in the future may be added to other Cadillac vehicle models. The goal of this particular feature is to prevent crashes caused when drivers are visually distracted and/or listening to loud music.

ZERO GRAVITY Nissan has recently created a zero gravity, fully ergonomic car seat which can now be found in several 2013 Nissan vehicle models and may be incorporated in later models as well. The goal of this seat is not just to provide a person with a very comfortable car seat but also promote vehicle safety. The company notes that one of the main reasons why drivers get into a vehicle crash is that they are tired or stressed out while driving. The new zero gravity car seat is said to help a driver stay alert for a longer period of time than would have otherwise been possible.

END GOAL While each of these car seat advancements comes from different manufacturers, the end goal is still the same - to provide a driver with a safer, more comfortable driving experience. If you intend to buy a new car this year or a few years down the line, you may want to consider various new seat options, especially if you drive for long periods of time on a regular basis. The right kind of seat can help to make your driving experience not only more pleasant but also safer than before.
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Dents and Scratches - An Auto Lover's Tip Guide
Car lovers are notorious for noting every flaw in a vehicle. Even tiny dents and miniscule scrapes and scratches can turn a buyer off from purchasing a used car. Smart car buyers, however, will take advantage of imperfections on a vehicle to get a reduced price and then look into inexpensive body repair to enhance the vehicle's appearance. The following tips offer some insight into fixing dents and scratches on your car at reasonable costs.

Scratch, Scrape and Gouge Repair

You may be able to cover up simple scratches with touch up paint and leave it at that. However, deep scratches that expose your car’s primer color may need to be filled with scratch filler and sanded down before painting. Fine sandpaper (400-grit) works best for initial sanding. Afterward, you can work your way up to 800-grit sandpaper to finish the job. After painting, add a coat of wax to bring out the shine.

Scrapes and gouges on plastic bumpers can be repaired in much the same way using fillers and touch up paints to recover your bumper’s attractive look.

Dents

Dents may be trickier to repair on your own, especially if you’ve never done this type of minor auto body repair work before. If you’re lucky, you may be able to pop the dent out from behind. Otherwise, you could try filling in the dent with body filler and repainting the entire surface. You may need to revise your work several times before getting it just right. Another option would be to do the body filling yourself and have an expert paint the area for a more professional touch.

Selecting Paint

Most auto part shops carry touch up paints in a wide selection of colors. By perusing through your vehicle owner’s manual, you should be able to find the code for the color of paint you need. For large touch up jobs, custom mixing your paint for a better match and spray painting the area may be more effective in getting the job done.

With the cost of new vehicles at an all-time high, purchasing a quality used car makes for a wise investment. Minor auto body repair can help restore the beauty of your used vehicle without overextending your budget.

- 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

03
2013 smart fortwo Review
Featuring a nomenclature that is as small in size as is the car itself, the 2013 smart fortwo takes smart, small cars to the ultimate level. At an MSRP starting at $12,490, this rear wheel drive compact car is quite affordable. Add in the 34/38 city/highway fuel economy, and you've got a real money saver.

Note that the small stature of the fortwo measures in at 8.8 feet in length, while providing up to 12 cubic feet of trunk space. As in the title, this car will seat two passengers in it's generous cabin area. Expect, pleasantly, to find plenty of room for your legs and head thanks to offset seating position. Dash controls are arranged in an intuitive manner, thereby allowing you to keep your eyes on the road rather than scouring the car for the radio dial.

Note the automated manual, three-cylinder transmission will generate up to 70 horsepower that has ample get-up and go power. Zip through city streets with ease and find parking in the most hard to reach spaces. Dart down the highway as you make your way from Point A to Point B without creating a large carbon footprint.

Set your mark on your choice of two trim levels – base line Pure and premium Passion. Go with the Pure model if you are searching for a bare-bones vehicle. Upgrade to Passion for air-conditioning, power windows, power locks and a radio. The Passion model also features 15 inch alloys, a leather steering wheel including paddle shifters, and USB/AUX inputs. Other options include LED running lights, heated seats, a navigational system, and a stereo with surround sound.

As for safety, a key feature of the 2013 smart fortwo, extra precautionary measures have been put into place. Note the heavy-duty steel tridion cabin cell, as well as airbags along the sides, front and knees. You'll also appreciate the stability control system and traction system, in addition to ABS brakes.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
02
2014 FIAT 500L Review
When the Fiat brand returned to the United States in the year 2011, the manufacturer had to alter the ultra-compact European flavor of the vehicle to be a more useful car for American drivers. Enter the 2014 Fiat 500L: 2014 is the first model year for this new Fiat design.

The 2014 Fiat 500L is a four-door compact utility wagon. With 2 feet of added length, two more doors and as much interior space as many full-size cars, the 2014 500L is very different from the classic Fiat 500. This new model a compact wagon close in size to a lot of American compact crossovers. High front seats, a wider body and plentiful rear head and leg room are a pleasant surprise in the new Americanized Fiat. There's over 23 cubic feet of capacity behind the rear seats of the vehicle, as compared with only 9.5 cubic feet in the European Fiat 500.

To move this extra size, the 500L comes with a standard 160 hp, 1.4 L turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. Acceleration is good, except when the car is full of passengers and cargo. Overall, the 2014 Fiat 500L gracefully combines the elan of a standard Fiat 500 with the utility of a crossover vehicle.

The 2014 Fiat 500L is sold in four trim levels: base level Pop, Easy, the Trekking package and top trim level Lounge.

Base-level Pop offers 16-inch steel wheels, power windows and locks, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise, 6-way manually adjustable cloth front seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel plus audio controls, 6-speaker CD stereo w/5-inch touchscreen display, USB and iPod integration, auxiliary input and voice control audio functions, 60 / 40 split folding rear seats that recline, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

Easy adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel & shift knob, body-colored exterior mirrors, upgraded seat fabric, premium 520-watt audio system w/6 speakers and front seat center console and armrest. For 2014, Fiat offers an optional Premier package with rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a larger 6.5 in. touch screen interface and navigation system free on Easy, Trekking and Lounge models.

Trekking trim has all the options of Easy plus 17-inch wheels, unique front and rear body panels & trim, foglights, two-tone interior trim plus premium cloth upholstery. Top of the line, you'll find the Lounge model, with just 16-inch wheels but added chrome exterior mirrors & trim. There are also heated leather front seats, six-way power adjustments for the driver, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone automatic climate control. You can order 17-inch wheels for this package if you wish.

Other optional add-ons include a Popular Equipment group with dual-zone automatic climate control, 6-way power driver's seat, a rear armrest, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and 115 volt power outlet. There's also the Beats audio group, providing an upgraded audio system amplifier and subwoofer plus satellite radio. Sunroof, compact spare tire, heated seats and a black or white painted roof are also add-on options.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Richmond Car Dealers

Top 5 Tunnel-driving Top Pulse-Raising Autos for Cross-Country Road Trips The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local Richmond Driving in Richmond, VA 101! National File000346334958 Advancements in Car Seat Technology Tip File000790994019 Dents and Scratches - An Auto Lover's Tip Guide