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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.

- 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
Chicago
For the Love of Driving: Chicago
Chicago, also commonly known as "The Windy City," is the third most populous city in the country, with a current estimated population of around 2.7 million residents in the city alone and an additional 9.5 in the surrounding "Chicagoland" suburbs. Because of its large size, huge skyscrapers, and robust shopping district, Chicago is a very popular stop among tourists. Whether you're planning a short visit in the near future or are even a nearby resident, there's plenty for you to see and do in this busy city without necessarily even having to leave your car.

Landmarks

Michigan Avenue is a must-see stretch of shops and restaurants if you plan on visiting The Windy City. Famous for its "Magnificent Mile," here you can peruse a wide range of shops, boutiques, department stores, restaurants, and more. This is a great place if you love to shop, as there's truly something for everybody here. Enjoy an afternoon of window shopping with your family from the comfort of your Dodge Caravan as you cruise down Michigan Avenue. Stop at any of the city's ample public parking spots to explore some select shops on foot.

If you cruise down to the area of Grant Park, you'll find another attraction that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car: the Buckingham Fountain. The Beaux-Arts style design of this fountain is an eye-catching centerpiece and a great place to take photos with family and friends as well. On some nights, there are even special water and light shows for passersby to enjoy.

Natural Attractions

Since Chicago is located right off the shores of Lake Michigan, this is a great place to visit and just a short drive from downtown in your Jeep Patriot. Cruise down to Lake Michigan for a great view of the water. On nicer days, you can get out and enjoy beaches such as Oak Street Beach and Montrose Beach. Pack up your Patriot with plenty of beach towels, sunscreen, buckets and shovels for a fun day with family and friends by the water.

More To See

Another must-see attraction located in downtown Chicago is that of famous Navy Pier. Just a short ride in your Hyundai Accent down East Grand Avenue, this beautiful pier is a great place for shopping, dining, and all-around fun. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can even enjoy a scenic ride on the pier's famous Ferris wheel. During the summer, you can catch a fireworks show off the pier at the end of the night. On rainy days, you can find a full IMAX movie theater and plenty of shops inside the adjacent mall. Navy Pier is an absolute must-see for both tourists and full-time residents alike.

As you can see, there's plenty to do and see in the large city of Chicago. Explore the city and check out the attractions listed above for yourself; you'll be glad you did!

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Night Time Driving Tips
Driving is challenging enough, but when you drive at night, the challenge increases substantially. You may suffer from limited visibility, slower reaction times and the danger of sleepy drivers sharing the road with you. These nighttime driving tips will help you stay safe on the road, even if traveling after dark.

Be Careful with the High Beams Failing to turn off your high beams is a common mistake. Make sure that they are off when you approach an oncoming car. However, there is another mistake that many drivers make, and that is flashing their high beams at an oncoming driver who did not turn his off. While this might seem like a good idea, it actually can be quite a distraction to the oncoming driver. Instead, focus your eyes away from the oncoming high beams, and otherwise ignore them.

Improve Visibility with Clean Windows Your side windows and windshield need to be clean. If they are not, the lights you see when driving at night can cause a glare and prevent you from focusing on the road in front of you. Dirt on the side windows can also keep you from utilizing your mirrors, and you will need them more than ever when driving after dark.

Focus Ahead of Your Car Learn to focus your eyes ahead of your car when driving at night. Try to watch at the edge of your headlight beams. This will give you plenty of warning to react in time if an animal or vehicle is blocking your path, even if your reflexes are a little tired because you are driving late at night.

Line up Your Headlights Make sure your headlights are lined up where they should be. Many drivers are not aware that the headlight on the driver’s side should be aimed lower than the one on the passenger’s side. This prevents your lights from shining directly in the eyes of an oncoming driver, which could limit her ability to see and put you at risk.

Driving at night is riskier simply because the sun is not helping you see well. You can keep yourself and those around you safe by paying attention to these important tips when you head out after dark.
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Cleaning Your Car CD-Player
The whole experience of traveling in the auto changed with the introduction of the CD-player. For the previous generation, a similar experience came about with the introduction of cassettes and the infamous 8-track players. These products represented the first time someone could tailor their listening pleasure in the auto.

Technology continues to evolve, of course, and people have many ways to enjoy their own tunes while on the move. The CD-player is in millions of cars, however, and many individuals continue to use it as a daily source of pleasure. There is the issue of both the CD and the player getting dirty and needing periodic cleaning to get the best music quality.

PERIODIC MAINTENANCE Taking a few moments for periodic maintenance will extend the life of the CD while improving the listening experience. Some players are mounted in a manner that requires professional cleaning. If, however, you can easily unmount the player you use, the process is simple and follows a series of steps that anyone can use. For the project you need WD-40, Q-tips, ethanol and some dry rags. The steps to follow include:

- Remove all CD's from the player and carousel. Once the trays are empty, extend the tray and remove the fuse. This leaves the optics accessible for cleaning.

- Depending on how the player is mounted, remove it and unscrew the cover. Make sure you place the screws in a safe place.

WD-40 AND BEYOND - Spray some WD-40 on a Q-Tip. Use this to lubricate the laser rails. Never use excessive force, but you can gently remove the laser by moving the plastic cog wheels. This allows the entire rail to be lubricated.

- Put some ethanol on a fresh Q-tip. Use one of the dry rags to squeeze out the excess, you want the swab to be damp but not dripping.

- Very gently clean the lens of the laser optics with the damp swab. Use a steady, soft stroke to cover the surface several times.

LET IT DRY - Allow the lens to dry. Check from several angles to ensure that there is not smearing or streaking.

- Once dry, replace the lid and tighten (but don't over tighten) the screws.

- Once the player is back in place, replace the fuse but don't insert a CD. Power the unit up and listen for the laser and optics to re-seat and slide into place. If there is any problem, don't force anything. In some cases, you may need to remove the fuse and unit and reseat the laser optics on the rail. Repeat as above.

FINISHING TOUCHES - Select a freshly-cleaned CD and insert it on the rack.

- Turn on the system and enjoy fresh quality sounds.

The journey is always more enjoyable when you have your favorite tunes playing along. Taking care of your CD-player will give you many years of musical pleasure.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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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

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Reviews

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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
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2014 GMC Savana Cargo Van Review
The 2014 GMC Savana Cargo Van comes in ten different trim options. No matter what features or amenities you are looking for in a van, you are likely to find that there is a 2014 Savana Cargo Van that suits your needs as well as your budget. The going price of this van ranges from $26,710 - $44,365, depending on which vehicle model you opt for.

While features and amenities vary a lot depending on which trim you pick, there are some standard features that you can expect from any one of these vehicle models. These include a six speed automatic transmission, top quality suspension system, anti-lock braking system and seating space for five people.

The engine specifications vary from vehicle to vehicle. Some 2014 Savana Cargo Vans have a diesel engine but most use regular gasoline. Fuel economy also varies, but it should be noted that this particular model is not very fuel efficient and a person should not expect more than 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 miles per gallon on the highway.

The exterior will have either three or four doors. The outside is classy in style and you can expect the vehicle to be good looking no matter what color you pick. The inside is spacious, comfortable and has numerous useful features and amenities. These include Bluetooth, rear park assistance, a rear vision camera, remote entry and start and satellite radio.

The 2014 GMC Savana Cargo Van also has many great safety features that help to keep you, your family and your cargo safe as you travel in town or out in the countryside. Some of the many safety amenities that you can expect to get with one of these models include head curtain side air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, automatic locking rear differential and a link to emergency services.

The 2014 GMC Savana Cargo Van is a safe, relatively economical van. It has numerous features and amenities, is comfortable and easy to drive, looks good and has a sturdy body and uses top quality components. While the van does have some downsides, these are relatively few in comparison to all that it has to offer. In short, those who are looking for a good van that is likely to last for many years may find that a 2014 Savana Cargo Van is one of the best options currently on the market.

- Auto.com 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 Chicago For the Love of Driving: Chicago National Night-driving-2 Night Time Driving Tips Tip File00058871808 Cleaning Your Car CD-Player