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Top 5
Top 5 Compact Cars for Austin
For a fun town like Austin, TX—populated by vibrant locals and guests ready for music, art and film—you need a car that fits into some tight spaces in The Lone Star State's capital city. The nation's 11th largest city that is also one of the fastest-growing cities, Austin is full of activity and vitality.

As the economic, political and social center of the metropolitan five-county Austin-Rock Round, Austin features a population that hovers around 1,834,303, so compound that with out-of-towners in for their first visit to the state capitol, Austin City Limits or the springtime South By Southwest (SXSW) festival of music, art and film, you need a car that is compact and features good city gas mileage.

Take a look at the top 5 compact cars for driving in Austin, TX to see what works best with your busy lifestyle in the city on Lady Bird Lake.

1. Mazda Mazda3. Whether you are heading out for a hike or bike along Lady Bird Hike and Bike Trail or you have some city errands to do, the Mazda3 ranks number one among 41 compact cars in its class. With a hatchback, it is simple to stow your extra running gear, extra water bottles and more into the rear. With excellent gas mileage at 30 miles per gallon and 41 on the highway, you can spend more of your hard-earned cash while out seeing your favorite band.

2. Kia Soul. College students at the University of Texas at Austin, which is the main campus for the University of Texas college school system, can enjoy this fun and practical car that features a style somewhat like a compact SUV. Trips to the library or to the airport to pick up parents for a visit are a breeze with the Soul.

3. Hyundai Elantra. Since most Austinites—73 percent, in fact—drive rather than carpool or take a form of public transportation, wise drivers in Austin look a compact car they can rely on. The Hyundai Elantra fits the bill. With plenty of passenger space, good fuel ratings and a comfortable ride, the Elantra is a solid choice.

4. Toyota Corolla. Drivers who want to keep things simple should explore the Toyota Corolla. Revamped from previous models, this reliable car is short on flash but high on dependability. Whether Austin residents are taking a trip to the Texas Memorial Museum or the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum to see LBJ's recreation of the Oval Office, the Corolla is safe, reliable, even if it isn't the most flashy.

5. Volkswagen Jetta. For Austinites who want a little more flash and are willing to pay more at the pump, the Volkswagen Jetta might prove as a workable option for you. With plenty of cabin and trunk room, the Jetta is perfect for trips to San Antonio to visit the Alamo or to other major Texas cities before returning to your Austin wonderland.

- 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
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Car Clubs, Auto History and More In Austin, TX
A state the size of Texas could never be explored in just a day. To get a taste of what Texas has to offer, you’ll need to divide your car tour into individual cities and look for points of interest within each. Car buffs will find Austin and surrounding areas of great interest when it comes to antique cars and auto history. A driving tour of this region will take you to a number of car “hotspots” you're sure to enjoy.

See the Classics

Dick’s Classic Garage in San Marcos, TX, is just a short 35 minute drive south from the capital city on I-35. You’ll get a view of Texas plain country and pass by the quaint townships of Buda and Kyle along the way. Dick's Classic Garage is well known for preserving and displaying vintage vehicles dating back to the 1930s through the 1950’s – what most car buffs consider the “Golden Years” of American auto history.

The main museum, Central Texas Museum of Automotive History, is located in the community of Rosanky, TX, about an hour drive from Austin taking 71 East. The rural town of Bastrop is along the way and you may want to meander around town, get a bite to eat or stop off at the Bastrop State Park for some fun activities before continuing to your destination. The Central Texas Museum of Automotive History hosts an impressive collection of American and European vehicles, representative of the 20th century. Included in the mix are Duesenbergs, Stanley Steamers and Jaguars.

Round 'em Up

As far as car shows and events go, Austin hosts a number of automobile happenings throughout the year to include the Lonestar Roundup and Texas Heat Wave. The Lonestar Roundup is an annual outdoor auto show and music festival, all wrapped up into one. People come from across the country to display their custom cars and vintage hot rods as well as to enjoy lively music, hearty food, fun games and races and more. Texas Heat Wave is a custom car and truck show where vehicle owners compete for special awards and prizes.

More More More

Both these events take place at the Travis County Expo Center on Decker Lane. As you drive through the city, take time to enjoy some of the local sites on your way. Austin is an extremely interesting and attractive city with much to see and do. Decker Lane itself meanders along Walter E. Long Lake and Municipal Park, putting some pretty scenic views along your path.

Last, but not least, don't leave the city without checking out the Circuit of Americas car racing facility, located in the southeast part of the city. Home of the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix, Circuit of Americas is an amazing world class facility hosting stimulating car racing events your whole family can enjoy.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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When the Customer Leads, the Automakers Follow: The SUV Market
SUV’s are very popular in the US market but most do not know that they were virtually non-existent for the first 80 years of the evolution of the auto industry. The following is backstory about their sudden emergence, followed by some practical tips for those considering purchasing an SUV.

IN THE BEGINNING

By the early 1980’s, very few consumers owned an SUV. The vast majority of vehicles sold were sedans (4 door cars), coupes (2 door cars), sporty cars and full-sized pick-up trucks. So what changed since then? SUV sales result in 6 out of every 10 ten trucks and 3 out of every 10 cars and trucks combined; needless to say, this has been a dramatic shift in the auto market. Are there signs of further dramatic shifts ahead? Let’s explore.

Fuel Economy Laws
With the advent of fuel economy laws, new smaller cars could not provide the functionality consumers needed; thus, automakers began to design new light-truck concept vehicles with “passenger car-like” comforts. This window of opportunity (some say ‘loop-hole’ in the law) allowed new light-trucks to be designed that appealed to passenger car consumers, while still ‘technically’ being classified as a light truck and thereby subject to much less stringent fuel economy requirement.

Incidentally, the catalyst for the lower light-truck fuel economy law was due to the recognition that many pickup trucks and vans were used for small businesses, thus there was a desire to avoid economic penalties to small business owners.

New Designs
The first of these new designs to appear in the market was a compact SUV developed off the Chevy S10 pickup truck in 1983. It was fairly limited in capability, being released with only two-wheel drive and two doors. Very soon other automakers followed with new concepts that had broader appeal, such as being a little wider (Ford Explorer) and also offering four-wheel drive.

Eventually, this emerging market started seeing compact trucks with extended cabs, short and long pick-up boxes and four-doors. From here an explosion of development emerged that saw mid-sized trucks, SUV’s and large trucks boasting a proliferation of features for broad consumer appeal.

Luxury SUV’s
Some luxury brands were a bit skeptical, at first, about associating their brand with a truck image. One good example is Cadillac, who chose not to offer Luxury SUV’s for fear that it may somehow weaken or diminish their luxury image and uniqueness within the marketplace. Only after the Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes ML, and the Lexus RX300 were in development did Cadillac finally start working on an SUV. Today there are close to a dozen luxury automakers offering forty-five SUV models. Although many factors are taken into consideration when a new product is offered, there is one overriding concern – profit margin. Simply put, luxury vehicles bring in much higher profit margins to the automaker than common four-door sedans.

Overall, there are twenty-five total automakers offering SUV’s, with over one hundred different models to choose from in the US market including several specialty offerings and hybrid models. So how do you know what is best for you?

SOME CONSIDERATIONS

Car-Based vs. Truck-Based
Car-based SUVs, sometimes referred to as a CUV, or crossover utility vehicle, generally provide attributes associated with cars, like better handling, higher fuel economy, a quieter, more comfortable ride and more interior room. Truck-based sport-utility vehicles are sturdier and heavier and can tow more weight and generally provide better off-road mobility.

Fuel Economy
Compact SUVs offer both four- and six-cylinder engines. The midsize versions usually come standard with six-cylinder engines, with optional four- and eight-cylinder engines as well. Full-size SUVs feature V8 engines. The most economical four-cylinder SUVs can usually achieve combined mileage figures in the low-to-mid 20s, while most six-cylinder models average in the upper teens. Full-size vehicles generally get between 12 and 20 mpg. A new class of SUV is also emerging, using gas-electric hybrid technologies that offer the highest fuel economy yet.

Luxury SUV’s
Many luxury brands offer automatic climate control, heated seats, iPod interfaces, navigation systems, and keyless start systems. Other perks such as Bluetooth capability, rear-seat entertainment systems, flat-folding third-row seats, special storage bins and rear seats that slide and/or recline are also fairly common. Today, a large cross-section of luxury automakers offer an SUV, including Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Porsche and Volvo.

Passenger Capacity/Interior Space
All but a few SUVs are designed to carry at least five passengers. Most compacts provide enough rear legroom for full-size adults, with several offering seat adjustments to extend either passenger space or cargo capacity. The same goes for larger SUVs, but these wider vehicles are more likely to accommodate three-across seating.

Many larger SUVs and even some midsize ones offer the option of adding a third-row seat for additional passenger capacity. Such seats are generally best suited for kids, but a few full-size SUVs have third-row seats that can comfortably fit adults.

Cargo Capacity
Every sport-utility allows you to fold or remove the rear seats for more cargo capacity. When the rear seat is folded, compacts can provide as much as 70 cubic feet of capacity, while midsize SUVs can expand to almost 100 cubic feet. Full-size SUVs offer cargo areas in excess of 100 cubic feet.

2WD/4WD/AWD
Two-wheel drive (2WD) means that only the front or rear wheels provide power to the vehicle. Four-wheel-drive vehicles allow the driver to select either two- or four-wheel drive, and the four-wheel-drive (4WD) system sometimes features dual-range gearing for even more traction and mobility while off-roading.

All-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles automatically distribute power in varying degrees to the wheels with the most traction, and they are typically best suited to all-weather driving rather than pure off-roading. All-wheel drive generally weighs far less than a 4WD system, but there is typically an impact on fuel efficiency. Part-time 4WD and AWD systems attempt to minimize fuel-efficiency compromises by permitting two-wheel drive.

Operating Costs
Since compact SUVs are generally smaller, lighter and have less complex four-wheel-drive systems, maintenance and fuel costs are generally lower. With broader size and larger engines, midsize and full-size SUV’s by and large get worse mileage and are more costly to insure. This is especially true of truck-based models.

Initial Quality:
J.D. Power and Associates conducts routine surveys of thousands of auto consumers to determine their views of quality after the first 90 days of ownership. Their study is called APEAL, which stands for Automotive, Product, Execution and Layout. For 2013 they show the top vehicles in the following SUV categories:

  1. 1. Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicles - Kia Soul
  2. 2. Compact Premium CUVs – Audi Allroad, Audi Q5, Land Rover Evoque
  3. 3. Large CUVs – Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia, GMC Yukon
  4. 4. Large Premium CUVs – Land Rover Range Rover, Mercedes Benz GL, Infiniti QX56
  5. 5. Midsize CUVs – Nissan Murano, Buick Enclave, Honda Crosstour
  6. 6. Midsize Premium CUVs – Porsche Cayenne, Audi A7, BMW X5
  7. 7. Subcompact CUVs – Buick Encore, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucsan

The quality of vehicles in general has jumped considerably since the advent of the SUV, yielding the emergence of this new and highly competitive marketplace.

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.

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Car Window Tinting Basics
Window film is a thin sheet of plastic that is attached to a sheet of glass. It is routinely used on the windows of buildings and automobiles as an aftermarket addition, after the base product has already been built. The window film used on automobile glass is typically tinted, and is therefore known as window tint.

Construction:

Window tint consists of several different layers, each of which serves a specific purpose. The primary part of window tint is a polyester substrate. The side facing the glass has an adhesive layer that allows the window tint to adhere to the glass. A release liner initially covers this adhesive layer to prevent it from drying out. The installer peels the release liner away from the window tint before installing it on the interior surface of the glass.

Benefits:

The general purpose of installing window tint on your car is to reduce the amount of light that enters your car. This feature provides several benefits, depending on the specific type of light that the window tint blocks. Window tint that blocks infrared light reduces the heat that enters your car. Tint that blocks ultraviolet radiation reduces the risk of skin cancer and extends the life of the car’s upholstery. A reduction in the visible light that passes into your car cuts down on glare and provides added privacy.

Grades:

Window tint manufacturers have several different grading systems. The most common method of grading window tint for cars is visible light transference, which the ratio of visible light that passes through the tint to the total amount of visible light that reaches the tint. Visible light has a wavelength between 380 nanometers and 780 nanometers for this purpose.

Manufacturers typically express VLT as a percentage, such that window tint with a VLT of 25 percent allows 25 percent of visible light to pass through the film. A lower VLT indicates darker tint, so a VLT of 0 percent refers to film that is completely opaque while a VLT of 100 percent refers to tint that is completely transparent. Ultraviolet transmittance (UVT) is a similar measure to VLT, except that UVT measures the percentage of UV light that passes through the window tint. UV light has a wavelength between 300 nanometers and 380 nanometers.

Laws:

A vehicle with dark tint can prevent law enforcement officials from seeing the occupants within that vehicle. Most countries place restrictions on the VLT of window tint for this window. The laws on window tinting vary greatly by state, so window-tint installers need to know the specific laws in their state. Rear windows can typically be much darker than the front window, and the tinting requirements for the side windows are usually between that of the rear window and front window. As always, consulting an auto professional is the best idea when gearing up for window tinting!

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Austin's Hidden Gem Car Service Superstars
Whether looking to get a new paint job, interior detailing or a new sound system installed, Austin has got you covered with a myriad of locally owned car service options. Our editorial team has taken a dive into the Austin area to bring you a few of the hidden gems that stand out for getting your maintenance needs met.

Car Repair Capital City Automotive is the top choice for car repairs in Austin. Not only are the owners and employees knowledgeable, they also offer fair prices for repairs. Mechanics are trustworthy and explain issues in easy to understand terms. Capital City Automotive, located on Congress Avenue is a great choice for any repair.

Another great choice for repair service is Sam's Auto Care in South Austin. This locally owned shop not only repairs cars but also details and restores car to prepare to sell. They offer full body paint, tune ups and tire service and you can even book an appointment online. While you're there you can also check out their inventory of fairly priced used cars. This is a one-stop-shop for all of your auto needs.

Car Wash One of the best car washes in Austin is Wash & Run Auto Detail in Tarryton. They are only open Monday through Friday, but it worth the trip midweek for their excellent service and spotless washes. The two twin brothers that run this shop are dedicated to quality service and promptly clan any spots that may have been missed. They meticulously clean and detail your car Another great aspect of Wash & Run Auto Detail is that you can make an appointment ahead of time, an excellent option for a busy professional or on-the-go mom.

Above and Beyond Mobile Detailing Service is truly a unique car washing experience. Donavin prides himself in a thorough detailing and car washing along with quality customer service. His customers are loyal and boast about Donavin's honesty and hard work ethic. He will work until the job is done, ensuring that you are satisfied with the wash and detail.

Audio and Alarm Installation Pro Car Audio is a fantastic choice for car stereo installation. The staff here are experts at speaker and amp installation. They are friendly, fast and focused on pleasing their customers. Prices are reasonable and the staff is knowledgeable to guide you to make excellent decisions on upgrading or repairing your current audio system. You won't be disappointed by the quality at Pro Car Audio.

Regardless of what car service you are looking for, Austin has a variety of locally owned businesses with excellent reviews that provide quality and professional services for a fraction of dealer costs.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Reviews

03
2014 Chevrolet Traverse Review
The Traverse gets a minor facelift for 2014, as well as an upgraded interior that offers better finishes than in the past. The station wagon-on-steroids delivers 8-passenger capacity, AWD for traction and decent fuel economy for a vehicle of its size. It's a comfortable people mover that goes everywhere except off-road. The Traverse is perfect for those who have to wear different hats on a daily basis and needs their vehicle to do the same.

Safety is the word for the Traverse. The body itself has multiple crumple zones that absorb impact while keeping it away from the occupants. A rear-vision camera comes standard in all models, eliminating the most dangerous blind spot of all. An optional alert for the side blind zone is also available, covering both passenger and driver side. There are a total of six airbags that provide for the driver and front passenger in front and on the sides.

There is no denying that the Traverse is a heavy vehicle. Yet, it manages to generate 17 mpg in city conditions and 24 mpg on the highway. This is due to weight reducing efforts such as using aluminum for the hood and the control arms, magnesium for the instrument panel and plastic for the intake manifold. The use of low rolling resistance tires reduces gas-eating friction without losing any of the traction. Direct fuel injection technology also increases gas mileage by injecting fuel into each cylinder on demand as opposed to the older technology that sprayed gas at a set rate into the engine.

There is also a green element built in to the vehicle with 85 percent of it being recyclable, keeping most of it out of a landfill and reusing its resources. It's built in a LEED Gold certified facility and the engine and transmission facilities send nothing to the landfill. This is about as green as an SUV can get without being a hybrid while allaying the fears of those who need a larger vehicle, but concerned about its environmental impact.

A total of seven trim packages are available, which may seem excessive at first. Each trim package is available on the front wheel drive and all wheel drive, giving as many options as possible to buyers. There is only one engine available and that is the 3.6 liter V6. It puts out 281 hp with 266 ft. lb. of torque to draw the Traverse along. The engine provides ample power for the SUV, giving the driver the feeling that there is something there under the gas pedal.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
02
2013 Volkswagen GTI Review
The 2013 Volkswagen GTI comes in several different trims and models, you have a choice of 2 door and 4 door, hatchback and Autobahn models, trim options include optional sun roof, and navigation systems.

The standard engine is a 2.0L 200 horsepower with turbo and a 6 speed manual transmission. It gets excellent fuel mileage, a whole 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway mileage. This vehicle is easy at the gas pump, you can spend more time enjoying your work commute and family trips and less time worrying about the price of fuel. The 18 inch classic alloy wheels add to the great design and sporty look of the GTI.

You get standard safety features such as 6 airbags set through out the vehicle, stability control, traction control, and among many others. You will enjoy top notch safety when you travel in the city or a long trip by yourself or with your family. There is plenty of leg and head room in the front and adequate leg and head room in the back. You will ride in comfort in the 2013 Volkswagen GTI.

The sporty interior includes a leather wrapped steering wheel, a high quality sound system with an in dash CD player and able to play with your MP3 player, WMA adaptable, and an AM/FM radio. All models come with a SIRIUS XM Satellite radio and a 3 month trial subscription for you to try out. It comes with standard Bluetooth capabilities, and Ipod cable and audio streaming. You will love this standard entertainment system as you cruise in your new GTI.

When you buy a new GTI you get a standard 3 year or 36,000 mile, which ever comes first, no charge scheduled carefree maintenance package. The suggested MSRP is $23,995 on the standard base model. You have to see this vehicle face to face to appreciate all the extra standard features.


Check out the Volkswagen GTIs available in some of our top cities!

Austin Volkswagen GTIs

Miami Volkswagen GTIs

Charlotte Volkswagen GTIs

Seattle Volkswagen GTIs

Memphis Volkswagen GTIs

Austin Car Dealers

Top 5 02 Top 5 Compact Cars for Austin The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local Car_clubs_new_2 Car Clubs, Auto History and More In Austin, TX National Img_0713 When the Customer Leads, the Automakers Follow: The SUV Market Tip File0001179211670 Car Window Tinting Basics