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Current Charlotte Auto News
04
Top 5
Snazzy Compact Cars for Driving in Charlotte, NC
Driving around Charlotte can be a fun way to spend the afternoon. From the winding country roads out near Union County to the fast paced I-95 that carries you right to the fun spots of downtown, nothing beats a sunny day cruising around the Queen City! One thing for sure is that Charlotte is a big city with lots of fun things to see and do, so if you’re going to enjoy all it has to offer, you better get yourself a fun and sporty compact car that gets great gas mileage! Here’s the Top 5 compact cars you’ll see around town:

Top 5 Compact Cars:

1. Ford Focus Great fuel economy, a sporty look, and a roomier, upscale interior has folks in the Charlotte area loving the Ford Focus. Offering 26/36 mpg city/highway, the Focus gets you to all your favorite places around The Queen City and leaves you with some money in your wallet for some downtown fun. The Focus ST comes with a powerful turbo-charged engine and superb handling, making it a top performer.

2. Chevrolet Cruze - If you’re looking for a high quality and high performance compact car, the Chevrolet Cruze definitely delivers. The interior is roomy and comfortable and the fuel efficient design will have you cruising all the way from the Charlotte Motor Speedway to Carowinds Amusement Park without even thinking about a gas station stop! Tons of options are available including remote keyless entry, rearview camera, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and more!

3. Honda Civic - The Honda Civic is a popular choice yet again this year. The smooth ride and excellent standard features keeps this fun to drive car at the top of reviewer’s lists. It offers a sound resistant cabin for a quiet ride and even boasts a new feature that reads your incoming text messages out loud for you allowing a safe trip to your favorite concert at the Time Warner Arena without missing important messages!

4. Mazda 3 Sporting a powerful engine with a fun to drive sporty feel, the Mazda 3 offers a lot of upscale options drivers will love. Cruise to the Carolina Panthers game in style and be prepared to enjoy the envious looks you will get when you arrive in this new sleek Mazda design! They’ll be even more jealous when they hear it gets 30/41 mpg city/highway!

5. Kia Soul This spunky little car comes loaded with cool features and offers up plenty of room for everything you want to buy at the Concord Mills Outlet Shops! The Soul provides a smooth ride, even on Charlotte’s country back roads and comfy seats for the long haul. Standard features include Bluetooth, satellite radio, steering wheel mounted audio/cruise controls and USB and auxiliary inputs for the tech savvy.

- 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
Charlotte
For The Love of Driving: Charlotte
Located in the southwest region of North Carolina, Charlotte is a beautiful city that boasts a busy economy, lots of tourism destinations and miles and miles of incredible roads to explore. Whether you're grabbing the keys and hopping into your Honda Civic for a little solo excursion or piling a few friends into a Infiniti Q60 with the top down, here are a few of Charlotte's hidden gems and local favorites to check out once your motor's humming:

Carowinds

No visit to Charlotte, NC would be complete without a day of play at the state's most famous amusement park. Filled with coasters, thrill rides and a water park that will cool off the hottest summer day, the park is found right off of the aptly-named Carowinds Boulevard in the south part of the city. Get amped up for a coaster-thon by cruising down 77 on your way in - it gives a "road trip" feel to an outing at this thrill center.

Wing Haven Gardens

Often overlooked for larger parks and public spaces, Wing Haven makes an excellent stop on a warm day - especially if you tuck a picnic basket and camera into the back of your Toyota Prius. The carefully cultivated and curated gardens at Wing Haven offer beautiful blooms, sculpted topiaries and lots more greenery to check out. Spend the day taking in the lush botanical gardens and bird sanctuary, finishing off your visit with a leisurely cruise down Ridgewood Avenue to take in the sunset on your way back home.

Lazy 5 Ranch

If you prefer to get a glimpse of more exotic fauna, the Lazy 5 is a classic tourist stop in Charlotte. Bring the kids, enjoy the drive out to nearby Mooresville and temporarily trade your Honda Odyssey for a horse-drawn carriage ride through a scaled-down savannah. Rhinos, giraffes and more cavort mere feet from the cart, offering an incredible experience for animal fans who want to get up close and personal. If you need a great place to cool off once you've completed your safari, be sure to head west and take a dip in Lake Norman before concluding your adventures.

No matter where you decide to take a drive in Charlotte, you'll find the city a welcoming place for vehicles ranging from Mini Coopers to Ford Edges. If you decide to visit any of these interesting places or new destinations within the city, be sure to get an early start - after all, you certainly won't be the first driver intent on investigating how much charm is packed into this sweet southern city.

Auto.com Editorial Staff
Snowy_road
How to Use 4WD in a 2012 Nissan Frontier
Having a vehicle that allows you to switch into 4-Wheel Drive (4wd) when navigating on slippery or unstable terrain can be a real benefit for drivers. A 4WD equipped 2012 Nissan Frontier comes with 3 drive modes - 2WD, 4WD High and 4WD Low.Knowing when and how to switch among these modes is the best way to get optimal use of this feature. (Note that not all Nissan Frontiers are equipped with 4WD).

Which Drive Modes to Use When:

    1) 2WD - this mode is best used when driving under normal driving conditions on dry, paved roads, streets, and highways

    2) 4WD 4H - this mode provides a driver with more traction in less stable road conditions. It can help the vehicle maintain better control when navigating slippery, snowy, rocky and sandy surfaces. When in 4H, speeds should not exceed 62 MPH.

    3) 4WD 4L - this mode is best used for max traction when navigating the vehicle over steep inclines or declines, or very rough and wet terrain. Note that when in 4L, that speed should never exceed 31 MPH. To shift into 4L your Frontier should be stopped and shifted into neutral.

For more information on using 4WD in your Nissan Frontier, check out this great video from Nissan:



Headlights
Night Driving Safety: Check Your Lights!
Your car’s lights are an extremely important part of vehicle safety and performance. Both you and others rely on your car lights working properly for optimum protection when driving. Head lights, brake lights, turn signals, etc. play a key role in vehicle safety and should be checked periodically to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Keep A Checklist

If you are like most drivers, you use your vehicle day in and day out and simply assume all lights are working properly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, which may lead to unpleasant surprises. If you are not careful, you may discover dysfunctional headlights just as you are getting ready to drive home late from the office or face the loss of turn signals in the middle of a storm. By checking your lights periodically, you can avoid these unpleasant scenarios and others like them. Functional lights can not only prevent accidents, but avoid unnecessary complications and delays.

Get Assistance

Checking car lights is rather simple and requires little time out of your busy schedule. By asking your spouse or older children to help, this routine check can go even faster. With you in the driver’s seat and your spouse or children outside the vehicle, begin turning on each light separately to verify it is working properly. You can start with your headlights, low and high beam, and then proceed to turn signals (front and rear), parking lights, brake lights, emergency flashers, etc.

Your spouse or child can give their report on how each light is faring. If lights are weak or respond slower than usual, your “checker” should let you know. In some cases, you may be able to resolve the problem yourself by replacing a bulb or fuse. In case of electrical failure, you may need to take your vehicle to the shop to correct the problem.

Not Just Headlights

You should also ensure all lights within your vehicle are working properly. This includes dash board lights, roof light, side door lights, etc. For frequent travelers, it wouldn’t hurt to always carry an emergency torch in the car for any eventuality. However, it is still a good idea to check inside lights periodically as well as carry extra fuses and bulbs in the car for when you have need.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Best Car Service Centers in Charlotte, North Carolina
If you live in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina and your car needs a tune-up, quick wash or new sound system, these local businesses will get your car into top shape!

Car Washes

If you live in South End or Dilworth, then your car needs to make a pit stop at Autobell Car Wash on South Boulevard. They offer excellent car washes for quality prices and even have manager's specials that include extras like rain repellent. They usually get you in and out in less than fifteen minutes and offer honest recommendations for upgrades based on your car's needs. Additionally, their customer service goes above and beyond what is expected and required. Autobell Car Wash is the perfect choice for any automobile needing a little tender, love and care.

If you live closer to Starmount and you car needs more attention than just the standard wash, Exclusive Detail and Tint on Chastain will surely please. Brian is friendly, efficient and talented. He comes highly recommended and will always ask for permission before fixing or working on anything extra. Exclusive Detail and Tint also does scratch removal and repair, window tinting and clay bar and custom cleaning. You can also book your appointment online.

Car Repair

Located on Iverson Way in Dilworth, Neighborhood Garage is a family owned business that always leaves customers feeling satisfied. They have fair prices, quality customer service and honest mechanical assessments. The staff here will not up-sell on unnecessary parts or services. The staff will even give you a ride to pick up or drop off your car if you need. Neighborhood Garage definitely goes above and beyond!

Eurowise in Starmount is another high rated car repair shops in Charlotte. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and they have a great deal of experience in foreign cars. They are a trustworthy source for information, quotes and honest opinions. They are also close to the light rail, which makes it convenient for transportation to and from the shop.

Whether you live in Dilworth or Starmount or anywhere in the Charlotte area, these local car washes and car repair shops will leave your car feeling and looking great. Family owned and customer service driven, all of these service centers are a step above the rest.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Reviews

01
2014 Toyota Tundra 2WD Truck Review
The Toyota has surprised a number of truck aficionados by successfully establishing itself as a viable competitor to the traditional favorites of Ford, Chevy and the durable Dodge Ram. The 2014 Toyota Tundra 2WD Truck comes with a number of variations to meet most the needs of truck users.

There is also the option of the short, standard and long bed lengths. On top of this, you’ll find three different engine choices and three wheelbases. From the start, this is a truck that offers plenty of ways to suit your personal tastes and functional needs.

Depending on the cab selected, you get the smaller or the full-sized rear doors. In the Crew Max you can tell it was built for the job with the full-size doors and comfy seating comparable to that in an SUV. The rear seat in this big model both slides and reclines.

You will also appreciate that more safety features come standard on all models than in competitors’ offerings. You get airbags on the front sides, as well as curtain airbags and even a knee airbag for the front seat. Trailer sway control and technology to provide brake override control is a part of the package and gives the driver a lot of control over braking with a trailer attached.

You will also find a number of trim and other options. For the working truck, there is a Deck Rail system that allows you to individualize the cargo compartment. One of the popular engine upgrades is the 5.7L "iForce" V8 that produces 381 horsepower with 401 lb-ft of torque. This powerhouse is available on all models.

When it comes to trim, you can go with the basic Work Truck model or really impress with the Platinum model which incorporates many luxury items from a top-level JBL sound system to a leather and wood grain interior.

When it comes to pricing, you can get the basic model at a MSRP of $25,920 to the full-blown Platinum topping out just over $50,000. Depending on the engine, you will expect 15 to 21 miles, according to Toyota.

The main reason buyers indicate a preference for the Toyota is its hauling capacity, interior design and safety features. The main complaint for the vehicle, common for most trucks, of course, is the desire for better mileage.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
01
2014 Ford Flex Review
There is a lot to look forward to with the 2014 Ford Flex. Purchasing this stylish and bold vehicle with its spacious interior and excellent fuel efficiency can make it a must-have for any family. With features ranging from leather-trimmed seating, the Visa Roof option, and up to three rows of passengers, it really provides for most passenger needs.

There's some key data that all buyers need to consider and compare when buying the Flex or any other model of vehicle. In some ways, the Ford Flex really stands out against the competition. Two engine options are available.

The exterior features an Apperance Package for all SEL and Limited models. Exterior mirror caps, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, and a black, painted roof come with this vehicle. You can choose from nine exterior color choices, too.

The interior is impressive. The Limited model features leather-trimmed front seats with audio and speed controls on the steering wheel. It also features scuff plates. The SEL and Yoho maple found in the Limited edition is featured on the door trim and instrument panel. This vehicle also has plenty of technology built into it. This includes the ability to handle a heavy load, due to the big engine and torque.

For control features, the vehicle includes AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control as well as intelligent all-wheel drive. An available Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link are available. The vehicles also offer MyFord and MyFord Touch options.

Who is right for this vehicle? Though just on the market, without available fuel economy, this vehicle is going to impress on the road both with its overall great look and its strong engine. It's EcoBoost technology also makes it a great investment as well. Overall, there are plenty of reasons to invest in this vehicle over others in the 2014 lineup, especially for a family-friendly car with ample features and lots of legroom.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Charlotte Car Dealers

Top 5 04 Snazzy Compact Cars for Driving in Charlotte, NC The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local Charlotte For The Love of Driving: Charlotte National Snowy_road How to Use 4WD in a 2012 Nissan Frontier Tip Headlights Night Driving Safety: Check Your Lights!