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Top 5
Stylish Compact Cars for Driving in Chicago, IL
Nestled on the bank of Lake Michigan, Chicago is both the third largest city by population and the third most-visited city in the U.S. While the city has earned its place as a world-class city in which to live and visit with its exquisite lake views, impressive architecture, and interesting, sometimes brutal history, its popularity also makes it a busy city in which to drive. Going compact in Chicago makes merging in the heavy traffic easier, those high city gas prices less painful, and parking far easier to find.

Honda Fit

Sporty, sleek and coming in at a respectable 33 highway/27 city mpg, the Honda Fit offers multiple seating and cargo configurations ideal for going crazy on Chicago’s famous shopping street, The Magnificent Mile. Paddle shifters put control of the transmission back in your hands and make the Fit fun to drive, and some bright color options help you find your small ride in a sea of parked cars.

Scion tC

Though it doesn’t offer the sweetest gas mileage for a compact, if you want to make a splash on the Chicago club scene, the Scion tC will help you do it. One of the best cars for resale value in 2013, according to Kelley Blue Book, the tC comes standard with some very high-end features, including sport front bucket seats, leather trim and a moon roof.

Kia Soul

Billed as an urban hatchback, the Kia Soul has a boxy presence like no other. A bigger grill on the 2014 model with slightly more cargo space makes this car even more pleasing to look at and provides more room for hauling luggage. If you’re driving in for Lollapalooza, the Soul’s quieter ride will let your music be heard over the street noise.

Volkswagen Golf

Not the most sporting compact, the Volkswagen Golf has a lot to offer by way of space. When you haul the kids in to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field, the Golf provides more legroom than its counterparts, and split seat configurations give you additional space if you need to add cargo to the mix. Coming in at only 23 city/30 highway mpg with the base engine, the Golf is not the best compact option when it comes to fuel efficiency. An upgrade to the TDI clean diesel engine makes a major difference, bringing the Golf’s fuel consumption in at a much better 30 city/42 highway mpg.

Mini Cooper

Though Chicago lacks some of the pretension of cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami, a little eye candy won’t hurt when choosing your ride. Despite its more prominent presence on the American car scene, the Mini Cooper is still a bit of a novelty that will get you the right kind of attention when pulling up at the Chicago International Film Festival or one of the city’s trendiest eateries, like Restaurant Beatrix or the CH Distillery.

- Editorial Staff
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.

- Editorial Staff
Impressive Mini Vans for Exploring Chicago, IL
Driving a minivan in a big city with limited street parking may not seem like the best decision, but Chicago is a top-notch family destination and a city of many festivals, where the space of a mini can prove just right for the trip into town. Downtown Chicago is peppered with parking garages, so there is no need to worry about where you’re going to park when you get there. Just pile everyone into one of these top minivan options and hit the Windy City for a day of educational fun.

Dodge Grand Caravan

With a reasonable price point, multiple seating and cargo configurations, and some striking color options, the Dodge Caravan is the best-selling minivan of all time, and the Grand Crew is the best of the best for driving the family into Chicago. Seat up to seven peolpe in comfort for a day at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Then, after walking the Pier and chowing down on some famous deep-dish, everyone will have space to sprawl on the way back home.

Volkswagen Routan

No longer being made for the consumer market, the Volkswagen Routan is still available used in models from 2012 and earlier, and it could score you a savings if you’re in the market for a minivan on a used-car budget. Based on the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, you’ll find many similarities between the three, with optimal comfort in seating in the Routan, making it a good ride for drives beyond the city limits along Lake Michigan.

Nissan NV200

Designed for cargo, not for people, the Nissan NV200 is the perfect mini for getting the gear you need into Chicago to take part in one of its many music or food festivals throughout the year. Haul your band’s instruments to Lollapalooza or the equipment you need to set your local restaurant up for Taste of Chicago in this cargo mini designed with narrow city streets and limited parking in mind.

Kia Sedona

Built for safety and accessibility, the Kia Sedona offer a spacious ride with seating for seven, or can be converted to a high-capacity cargo van by removing the second-row seats. In its standard configuration, there is plenty of room to get the kids and the grandparents to Downtown Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, which offers free admission every day of the year.

Nissan Quest

Sleek and unimposing, the Nissan Quest is a ride perfectly fitted to the Chicago streets. Large enough to fit the entire gang, small enough to help with parking, and boxy enough to give you room to carry your cargo along with your family, the Quest is a good choice for hitting Wrigley field. The Quest has room for seven full-grown Cubs fans, and the storage well adds additional space for keeping cargo out of the way.

- Editorial Staff
Is Supreme Fuel Really That Much Better
Considering the price difference between grades of gasoline, it stands to reason that many people think that premium, super or supreme grades are better. This, however, is not the case at all. The fact is that each grade is actually optimized for a different type of engine. Mismatching the grade and engine type results in problems – even if the mismatch involves a more expensive grade of fuel.

The key factor in choosing a fuel type is actually the compression ratio of the engine. High performance cars have engines with high compression ratios, so they burn fuel at hotter temperatures than their standard cousins. Therefore, they need fuels that will burn properly under these conditions. The necessary fuels are those typically sold as "premium" or "supreme" grades. The octane in these fuels slows down the burn rate so that the high engine temperatures don't burn it away before the cycle ends.

What about regular cars?

Regular cars, on the other hand, need regular gas. Regular unleaded gasoline burns at a faster rate, and this works best with the lower combustion temperatures of a standard engine.

Using a premium gasoline in a regular engine will actually damage it. This is because the premium won't be completely burnt at the end of the combustion cycle. Therefore, carbon will build up inside the engine and spark plugs. The fouling of the spark plugs will cause the engine to need more frequent tune-ups to keep it running well.

Your owner's manual will tell you the best fuel type for your car, and this will hold true as long as the vehicle has its stock engine. If you upgrade the engine, either by modifying it or by switching it to a more powerful model, you should consult with the mechanic to learn the best fuel type.

What about Premium?

One thing to note when reading your owner's manual is whether it "recommends" a premium fuel or "requires" it. The difference between the two is important: a recommendation is just a suggestion, while if there is a requirement, it means that a lower grade may cause damage.

With these things in mind, you should be able to get the proper fuel for your vehicle. You may even find that dropping down to a lower grade will be better for your engine as well as your wallet.

- Editorial Staff
Car Emergency Kit Basics
Taking a road trip is almost always fun, but what if something goes wrong? If you're in an un-populated area, simply walking to a gas station or store may not be an immediately available option. To ensure that you're prepared in such a case, you should always have an emergency road kit in your car. Here are a few things that make up a good basic kit.

A cellphone is a basic requirement for a modern road kit. Since cellphone batteries lose their charges even when not in use, your best bet is to take your normal cell with you wherever you go instead of leaving one with the kit. You want to know that the phone will have a charge when you need to use it.

KEEP THE ESSENTIALS Flashlights are another essential item. These should be left with the car, but be sure to test their batteries every so often. A lug wrench and jack help ensure that you won't be stranded by a spare tire. If you're out in the middle of nowhere, you may find yourself out of cell phone range to call road service. Most cars have spare tires, but those spares are only helpful if they have air. Make sure your spare is properly inflated.

SAFETY FIRST A first aid kit will let you handle injuries that happen while traveling or working on your car. It should have equipment for initial treatment of burns and cuts. Flares are a standard item in car emergency kits. These help warn road traffic of the fact that your car is disabled.

FIRE WITH FIRE A fire extinguisher rounds out a basic road kit. While it's always best to run away from a large car fire, an extinguisher can put out a small flame.

With these items, you will have the equipment needed for basic breakdowns and minor emergencies. Keep your kit in the trunk or back seat so you always have it handy.

- Editorial Staff
Tip Top Car Service Options in Chicago
Chicago, AKA The Windy City, is a Midwest mecca and one of the most populous and famous cities in the U.S. Learn when the locals go when their cars need some love in this roundup of top Chicago car service centers.

Albany Auto Inc., located at 4030 N. Rockwell Street in Chicago's North Center neighborhood, has been a family-owned and operated business for more than 30 years. This shop offers auto repair, body work, and maintenance. Customers are fans of Albany Auto's quality work at fair prices, and praise the shop's honesty and great customer service.

Down the road, at 3044 W. Montrose Avenue in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago, is ABM Auto Repair. This shop prides itself on being reputable, honest, and professional, and customers agree. Customers cite Adeel's friendly manner and knowledge of cars, and mention how reasonable this shop's prices are. The technicians at ABM are all ASE certified.

Another option for auto repair is Joe's Expert Auto Service, located at 2740 N. Elston. Avenue in Bucktown. Joe's specializes in imports but will also happily service all domestic cars. Services offered include preventative maintenance, oil changes, differential repair, factory-recommended inspections, and parts and repair. This shop is noted for its honesty, professionalism, fair prices, and excellent work.

Norm's Automotive Clinic is another well-known Chicago gem, located at 5943 N. Lincoln Avenue near West Rogers Park. This auto repair shop is hailed for its fairness, honesty, and quality.

Auto Detail Chicago, located at 1628 S. Prairie Avenue near Southside, was voted Best of Chicago in 2012 by the Chicago Award Program. Owners Jay Phillips and Jesse Arellano have been in business since 2010 and offer both interior and exterior detailing, washing, and waxing. Customers are pleased with the professional detailing results Auto Detail Chicago offers.

Another option for auto detailing, just to the north, is West Loop Auto Spa, located at 850 W. Washington Boulevard, near the West Side and the West Loop. This detailer offers hand washing, interior detailing, buff and wax, and window tinting and dent removal. West Loop is known for excellent-quality service at a great price, along with friendly, quick, and professional service.

Nearby, you'll find Euro Collision, located at 2232 S. Wabash Avenue near Southside. This shop offers auto body work, auto repair, and detailing. Many customers note that Euro Collision called them daily while their cars were in the shop for progress updates. This shop also is known to clean and detail your car, even if it's in for body work

- Editorial Staff


2013 Hyundai Elantra
Excellent gas mileage make the 2013 Hyundai Elantra a winner for those seeking a car with quality features that doesn't compromise other areas. This car is noted for its array of features and a comfortable ride.

This car contains a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that is available in 145 horsepower and 148 horsepower models. Drivers can choose from an automatic or manual transmission ride with six speeds to shift between. The car gets 29 miles per gallon when driving through the city and 50 miles per gallon highway.

In terms of trim, buyers can choose between three different types, a sedan, a coupe and a hatchback. Passengers can enjoy a comfortable drive due to a spacious cabin, which is packed with plenty of features to keep one occupied. All seats are heated, including the back passenger seats. Interior features are noted for style and class. When inside, drivers can listen to music via MP3 capability, while switching controls via the steering wheel mounted interface.

This is a front wheel drive vehicle that has dual airbags in the front, overhead and side. Other safety features include traction control and a built in security system. It also features brake control and ABS brakes. The beauty of this car is the steering and handling system, which contains speed sensing steering, power steering front wheel suspension.

The car hit the market with a price tag that ranges between $17,000 and $21,000. It features a variety of trunk space and storage that is ideal for road trips and convenient, every day use.

People have come to appreciate this line of Hyundai vehicles and the 2013 rendition will deliver more of the same while improving upon each feature. Those who enjoyed the previous line will enjoy the 2013 Hyundai Elantra due to its safety features and control. If this release is any indication, the car company is continuing upon its tradition of quality vehicle releases each year.

Check out the Hyundai Elantras available in some of our top cities!

Los Angeles Hyundai Elantras

Houston Hyundai Elantras

Fort Worth Hyundai Elantras

New York Hyundai Elantras

Portland Hyundai Elantras

2014 Audi S4
The Audi line of S models have a reputation for understated luxury plus a generous dose of performance. The Audi S4 is no exception; it is an even sportier version of the A4 basic luxury sedan. New in 2014 are standard selectable driving settings on all models as well as a Black Optic package, sleek high-gloss black trim on the exterior and eye-catching 19 inch smoke-colored wheels.

A stylish, neatly laid-out interior makes the 2014 Audi S4 a competent compact luxury sedan. It also includes a 333-horsepower supercharged V-6 engine that's even faster than the Audi sedan upon which it is based. Standard all-wheel drive helps it handle like a pro in wet or icy climates.

The 2014 Audi S4 is offered in a single Premium Plus trim level with an available Prestige option package. Standard features of Premium Plus include summer performance tires, 18-inch wheels, Audi drive select, sunroof, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, LED daytime running lights, tri-zone automatic climate control, automatic wipers, heated 8-way power front sport seats that have a 4-way lumbar adjustment, leather and simulated suede upholstery, driver memory settings, aluminum interior accents, auto-dimming mirrors, 60/40-split-folding rear seat, dash-mounted MMI (Multi Media Interface) electronics controller with 10-speaker sound system and CD player, Bluetooth phone connectivity, an iPod interface and satellite radio.

Adding the Prestige package will give you adaptive xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, rearview camera, voice controls, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a center console-mounted MMI controller, a navigation system, Bluetooth audio connectivity, HD radio and Audi Connect smartphone integration. The navigation system and Bang & Olufsen sound system can also be purchased separately if the entire Prestige package is not needed; however, a Driver Assist package with adaptive cruise control and enhanced steering as well as a power rear sunshade and manual side shade requires Prestige package purchase.

The 3.0-liter V-6 engine produces 333 hp with 325 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive are standard, and a seven-speed automated manual S tronic transmission is available. Sport rear differential is available and offers limited-slip differential to regulate torque between back wheels so that the car corners even better.

The car comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, hill launch assist as well as front side airbags plus side curtain airbags. Back seat side airbags are an option that can be added, and the Prestige package add-on includes car rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and blind-spot warning system. Adding adaptive cruise control to the Prestige package includes collision warning and mitigation, which will prime the brakes if a possible frontal crash is detected.

- Editorial Staff

Chicago Car Dealers

Top 5 01 Stylish Compact Cars for Driving in Chicago, IL The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local 04 Impressive Mini Vans for Exploring Chicago, IL National File6071284660910 Is Supreme Fuel Really That Much Better Tip Cone Car Emergency Kit Basics