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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
01
Top 5 Mini Vans for Driving in Charlotte, NC
Nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlotte, NC offers more than a great view. Driving enthusiasts will appreciate the scenic byways, historical sights and natural beauty of the roadways in Charlotte. Take a drive in one of the top five minivans best suited for the nature of the roads in Charlotte.

2014 Kia Sedona

Driving through Crowders Mountain State Park in Charlotte offers plenty of pit stops. From hiking on mountain trails to climbing up natural rock walls, drivers who love an offroad adventure should drive along Route 1125 to Pinnacle Road where Montonia Road becomes 2292 and 1104. Drive along Route 2292 to Route 161 that heads north until you reach I-85 on exit 8. For such an adventurous drive, opt for the powerful yet sporty Kia Sedona. Featuring a V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, you'll be able to navigate the mountain roads with ease.

2014 Honda Odyssey

Take Route 1306 to the small town of Ophir on Lovejoy Road for a weaving drive through Uwharrie National Forest. Pass a cliff called Jumping Off Rock over blue waterways on your way into the old gold mining town of Ophir hidden in the mountain side and covered by majestic green trees. In the Honda Odyssey, spacious seating and an oversized cargo area will grant you the freedom to spend the day driving through this mountain village while having everything you need on hand. Combine that with the clever features of the interior, which include an optional vacuum cleaner, and you have a minivan that is built for function, as well as fun.

2014 Ford Transit Connect Van

Take the Grassy Island Crossing Byway for a historical haunt in the Pee Dee Lakes and Uwharrie area. Once you pass the Grassy Islands north of Blewett Falls Lake, you'll be in the remote and protected wildlife habitat of Pee Dee. Watch for waterfowl and enjoy fishing at Blewett Falls Lake before heading back onto the road. In the Ford Transit Connect Van, appreciate the wondrous beauty of the Grassy Island Crossing Byway while maintaining an affordable drive thanks to 21/29 mpg city/highway. A six-speed shiftable automatic keeps this minivan fun to drive.

2014 Nissan NV200

Continuing on the Uwharrie Scenic Road will take you along Carolina's Slate Belt full of geological history. Situated in the Uwharrie National Forest, a drive on this road will afford you plenty of scenic charm and road side stops. Check out Lake Tillery and Badin Lake located along Pee Dee River. Pack up the entire family along with picnic supplies and geo cashing equipment in the Nissan NV200. This spacious and stylish high end van affords drivers a 24/24 mpg city/highway. The front wheel drive capability of this compact cargo van will give you both space and functionality in one minivan.

2013 Chrysler Town and Country

If you are interested in the native American history of Charlotte, make the drive along the winding Pee Dee River. Stop at local haunts to learn about the local legends of the river and community. Follow the river all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina if you are feeling froggy. Along the drive, you'll have maximum entertainment options for any passengers thanks to the recently upgraded rear seat system featuring a Blu Ray player and USB ports. Tack on a trailer with ease thanks to the trailer sway control and you'll have everything you need for a sporty and entertaining ride.

Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Offbeat Car Facts
Many people mistakenly think of Henry Ford as the father of the automobile. While he did revolutionize the industry with the assembly line, the first car was made much earlier – in 1806, to be exact. These cars ran on fuel gas, which is a fuel that exists in the gaseous state. Cars that ran on gas, as in gasoline, didn't arrive until 1885.

The first true commercially-produced automobile, defined as a vehicle specifically designed to be propelled by a motor, was the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Prior cars had been modifications of horse-drawn carriages and other such conveyances.

NOT SO MODERN? Despite the seemingly sudden appearance of electric cars, the idea is actually very old. The first electric cars were made in 1828! Unfortunately, these cars could not keep up with gasoline engines. Only recently has the technology been able to compete with the standard car.

The windshield wiper was invented by a woman. Mary Anderson made the first working model in 1903. These wipers were manually moved back and forth via a lever mounted inside the car.

Intermittent wipers were invented by Robert Kearns after the motion of standard automatic wipers bothered his ailing eyes. He showed the design to the Ford Motor Company, which put them on Mercury cars in 1969. The surprising part is that Kearns eventually had to sue the major automakers to get his royalties.

WHO NEEDS GLASS? Early cars didn't use glass for their windows. Instead, the windows were made of thin sheets of mica – a mineral – which was called isinglass when used in this manner. This material has also been referred to as Eisenglass in a reference to General Eisenhower, who is said to have preferred it for military vehicles.

These are just a few of the odd facts about automobiles and their history. Check around and you're sure to find many more!
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Changing Your Windshield Wipers
Having good windshield wipers is essential for safe driving when it rains. Old and worn wipers will not clean your windshield properly during rainy weather, making it difficult for you to see. Old and faulty wiper blades should be replaced immediately so you can be prepared for driving in adverse weather conditions.

NO TOOLS NEEDED Changing windshield wiper blades requires no special tools. Rubber gloves and a screw driver may come in handy, but that may vary from person to person. First, you will need to purchase new blades. If you are not sure what kind to buy, you can always check your vehicle manual. Once you have obtained quality new blades, you can begin the process of removing your old ones to replace them with the new.

ACTIVATE! You will need to turn your vehicle on momentarily to activate the wipers so they can be positioned in the middle of the windshield. This makes them easier to access for changing the blades. Using rubber gloves, lift one wiper arm off the windshield so that it suspends in the air. Taking the blade assembly in your hand, rotate it on its axis until it is almost at a right angle to the windshield wiper arm. You will notice a small clip attaching arm and blade together. Using your screwdriver, press on the clip to release the old windshield wiper blade from the arm and place it aside.

USE CAUTION Carefully put the windshield wiper arm back on the windshield while you prepare to install your new blade. It is always a good idea to check the length and features of your new blade with the old to ensure you have the right size and model before installing. This takes less than a minute and can save you the hassle of redoing the entire procedure in the event you accidentally bought the wrong blade. Once you are sure your blades match, attach your new wiper blade to the windshield wiper arm and clip into place. Now repeat the procedure with the other wiper.

Finally, turn on the engine and test both wipers to make sure they are working properly. The installation of new wiper blades will enable you to face any kind of weather with adequate safety measures and proper protection.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
Charlotte2
Car Clubs, Auto History and More in Charlotte, NC
Charlotte, NC, best known to drivers as the Home of NASCAR, is located along the southern edge of North Carolina and the border of South Carolina. As a result this is a popular city for drivers cruising along the mountain roads of the southeast. As the largest city in North Carolina, and one of the least walkable metropolitan cities in the U.S., expect to find an elaborate maze of roads, bypasses and highways with plenty of pit stops along the way.

A visit to Charlotte for a driver should begin with the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This museum gives honor to the best NASCAR drivers with an induction into the Hall of Fame. Just a few of the drivers to achieve this status include Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bill France Sr., Junior Johnson, Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett. Drivers in Charlotte are most likely to see NASCAR officials and hosts eating lunch on a weekday or cruising home from work as offices of more than 75 percent of NASCAR employees are located here.

If you prefer to experience drag racing, either as an amateur performer or a bystander, take note of the NHRA dragstrip and zMAX Dragway in and around Charlotte. Enjoy a restful night sleep at an upscale hotel located in the Metrolina Speedway and Sports Center. In addition to accommodations, this speedway rebuild includes an outdoor racing track, roof top state park and shopping opportunities. You'll be surrounded by all things speed with a stay at this Sports Center.

Consider taking a drive over to the Universal Technical Institute branch of the NASCAR Technical Institute. Located in the bordering town of Mooresville, which is best known as Race City USA, this educational institution regularly hosts campus events. Check out their calendar on your ride into Charlotte to see if you can catch programs, such as the Monster Jam Open House featuring the Grave Digger monster truck or the Top Tech Challenge in which high school students compete in automotive tests to win scholarships to the school. With some luck, some of the institute's supporters, such as NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, may be at a NTI event.

After a long day of driving through the racing city of the southeast, if you want to fill your stomach check out the local food trucks. Ideal for eating on the run, simply park your car and walk up to these gut busting and tasty restaurants on wheels. If you are in town for the weekend, take note of Food Truck Friday and Sizzlin' Saturday that are regularly held throughout the year. On these evenings, you can experience the heart of Charlotte culture while rubbing shoulders with the locals. In addition to a wide range of food options from spicy barbeque to fried foods worthy of fairs, you'll enjoy live entertainment that will keep you going long after you are weary from a day of driving.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Reviews

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2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Subaru offers a fuel-efficient crossover with the new 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Two models are available, the 2.0i Premium and the 2.0i Limited. Crosstrek combines solid off-road ability with a vehicle that is fun to drive on regular roadways.

Engine and power train: The Crosstrek use the Subaru 2.0-liter DOHC BOXER® engine. The engine and drive train are mounted in-line with each other. The pistons move in a horizontal direction and Subaru’s technology creates a smooth running engine with maximum efficiency. The 4-cylinder engine produces 148 horsepower.

Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) senses the input from the brake and steering systems for stability control. An Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) system distributes the force when braking depending on how the vehicle is loaded.

A Lineartronic® Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is designed to maximize fuel efficiency. The transmission uses a stepless gear ratio that adjusts immediately to the vehicle’s acceleration.

Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive provides balance and maximum traction. The system eliminates the temporary slip before the wheels grab. Drivers will find faster response and more stability in wet road conditions.

Standard features: The Premium edition comes with a five-speed manual transmission. The CVT is optional but comes standard on the Limited version. A windshield wiper de-icer and heated mirrors offer additional safety and convenience. The Limited model adds automatic climate control, automatic headlights and leather trim to the standard features. A sunroof is also available.

The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a roomy vehicle. With the rear seats in passenger position, the Crosstrek provides 22.3 cubic feet of storage. When the seats are lowered, owners can make use of 51.9 cubic feet of storage area. The flat load floor allows owners to maximize the available cargo space. MSRP for the 2.0i Premium model is $21,995. The Limited starts at $24,495. Both 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek models get 25 mpg city and 33 mpg on the highway.
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2014 Infiniti Q50
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 sedan lineup is the closest thing to a driverless car that the automobile industry currently has to offer. The entry-level luxury sedan replaces the former Infiniti G37 model and comes with a optional technology bundle that enables the car to drive almost on its own under the right conditions.

Some of the new technologies on the car include an optional Direct Adaptive Steering System for nimbler steering and an Active Lane Control function that helps keep the car inside its lane over changing road surfaces and during high crosswinds and other disturbances. Also noteworthy on the Q50 is a collision-prevention system that helps the car always maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it even when the vehicle is in cruise control.

Complementing the Q50’s technology smarts is a lot of pure muscle. For a compact executive sedan, the Q50 packs a lot of power under the hood. The car comes standard with a powerful 3.7–liter V6 engine that delivers a cool 328 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet of torque. The Infinity Q50 is rated at 20 miles per gallon under city driving conditions and 23 miles on the highway. A hybrid version of the Q50 squeezes out a very respectable 36 miles per gallon while still managing to deliver over 360 horsepower.

Like many modern cars, the Q50’s exterior design is heavily back-weighted with most of the visual emphasis placed on the rear of the vehicle rather than the front. From the front, the car presents a sleek, low-slung profile with its multi-spoke alloy wheels, Infinity’s familiar chrome-plated grille and muscular lines running across the hood. Customers can choose from eight different colors for the vehicle’s exterior. Choices include a stylish Graphite Shadow option and a daring Venetian Ruby option.

Consumers are unlikely to need a lot of options considering all the standard features that come available with the Q50. Examples include adaptive steering, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, adaptive steering, a moonroof and a manual shift mode for those who like a sportier ride.

The 2014 Infinity Q50 is available in five different trims starting with an executive sedan priced at $36,700. Next in line is an Premium edition that retails at $39,550 and then a sports model with an entry tag of $43,200. Rounding out the lineup are two hybrid versions featuring slightly smaller 3.5-liter V6 engines.

- 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 01 Top 5 Mini Vans for Driving in Charlotte, NC National File0001826375811 Offbeat Car Facts Tip File0001468132436 Changing Your Windshield Wipers