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01
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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The Evolution of Ferrari in Less than 650 Words
Just hearing the name Ferrari evokes strong emotions in some people. It is an iconic name, and every car loving fanatic must have wanted one at some point in his or her life. Producing its first sports car in 1947, the company continued to grow even after the death of its founder, and now the phenomenal sports car has been around for over six decades and still maintains its appeal. And it all started with just one car.

Enzo Ferrari first released the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 in 1940. It was the automaker’s first road car. The very first car to have Ferrari name, however, was the 125 Sport, produced in 1947. It contained a 1.5 liter V12 engine as did several other Ferrari’s, but the successor to the Ferrari 125 S was the Ferrari 159 S. It did not perform as well while racing as its predecessor so the following season saw the Ferrari change into the Ferrari 166 S.

GOING STRONG
By the 1960s the Ferrari brand was going strong. It was a sports car that proved its worth on the race track, but it had problems within the company. Sales manager Girolamo Gardini did not like the fact that Ferrari’s wife had so much influence over the company, so Gardini eventually told Ferrari that if the tensions continued at work he would leave.

Ferrari, not one to stand for insubordination, fired Gardini along with several other people. It was a hit to the company and the ousted ones formed their own company called ATS to be in direct competition with Ferrari, but the Ferrari brand ultimately recovered and survived.

A HISTORIC LEGACY
Also in the early 1960s, the Unites States introduced competition with the Shelby Cobra, created by Carroll Shelby. In addition, Ford offered to buy out Ferrari. There was never an agreement reached for a buyout, but Ford did manage to end the reign of wins held by Ferrari with the Ford GT40. The Ford prototypes continued to dominate the races for the next few years, and after the Ford V8 engine did so well in the 1967 Le Mans that the Fédération Internationale de l¢Automobile (FIA) banned prototypes that were over 3000cc. This applied to the Ferrari 330P models as well.

In 1969 Fiat gained 50% of Ferrari, which meant there was an immediate increase in the amount of investment funds available so that more money was placed in new model development funds. Also, a factory extension began to be constructed that would allow the production of the Fiat Dino, which featured a Ferrari engine, to be moved from the Fiat’s Turin plant. Fiat began to greatly influence the sales and production of the Ferrari sports cars, but he did not have as much influence over the racing aspects of the company.

THE 1970'S AND BEYOND
In the mid 1970s, Ferrari stopped sports car racing in order to participate in Formula 1 racing. Ferrari did fairly well in the Formula 1 realm, and in 1982 Gilles Villeneuve died in Belgium and Didier Pironi nearly died in Germany that same year from an accident. Near the end of that decade, in 1988, 90-year-old Enzo Ferrari died. His last commissioned model was the specialist F40.

The 1990s saw Luca Cordero di Montezemolo become President of the company in 1991. In 1993 Jean Todt became the Sporting director, and in 1996 Michael Schumacher brought back the F1 team. He did not win during the 1997 through 1999 seasons, but he did win again from 2000-2004.

Today, Ferrari is still going strong, though the majority of it is no longer owned by the Ferrari family. Fiat group maintains control of the company with an 85% ownership, while Mubadala Development company has 5% ownership and Piero Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari’s second son, owns 10% of the company.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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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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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

01
2013 Toyota Tacoma Review
If you live in the West you can't turn around without seeing at least one Toyota Tacoma. If nothing else sells you on this best-selling truck, the way Tacoma owners talk about their trucks should. Tacoma owners tend to have a lot of pride in their rides. Some people get these vehicles past the 300,000-mile mark.

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma looks to be continuing the tradition from earlier years. There are no big changes from last year, just some extra touches. You'll be able to pick from the standard options for the cab: Regular Cab, Access Cab and Double Cab. Each upgrade will add about $2,500 to the base sticker price of $17,500.

You'll get pretty good mileage considering the muscle behind it: 21 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway according to Toyota, and 18 MPG in the city and 21 on the highway according to Motortrend. Your engine options are between a 2.7-liter DOHC 16-Valve 4-cylinder engine and a 4.0-liter DOHC 24-Valve V6. Toyota also gives you four ways to go on the transmission: 5 or 6 speed manual, or 4 or 5 speed automatic. All Tacomas have four-wheel drive.

If you're going to tow stuff, get the V-6 Tow Package. It will come with a Class IV towing hitch plus a 7-pin connector with converter. The Trailer-Sway Control (sometimes called "TSC") should give you some piece of mind, too. The off road package will include all that, plus juiced up Bilstein® shocks, 16 inch alloy wheels, electronically controlled locking rear differential, a front tow hook, fog lights, and a whole laundry list of other add-ons that are nice to have once you've left the road behind.

Inside the cab, the 2013 Tacomas have a USB for your iPhone or another gadget, plus a nice AM/FM CD player that has MP3/WMA playback capability. You'll also get seven JBL speakers and a subwoofer. Even the steering wheel can have audio controls. That's a little fancy for a truck, but you'll manage. If you like that kind of stuff, look into the Limited Package. It includes heated seats (awfully nice if your back tends to complain by the end of the day), 18-in. chrome-clad alloy wheels with P265/60R18 tires, and chrome everywhere - from the bumper to the front grill to the truck's dashboard.
Check out the Toyota Tacomas available in some of our top cities!

Rochester Toyota Tacomas

Chicago Toyota Tacomas

Kansas City Toyota Tacomas

Louisville Toyota Tacomas

Orlando Toyota Tacomas

03
2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid Review
The 2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid is one of the first substantial challengers of the frontrunner Toyota Prius. Just like the Prius, C-Max is a dedicated hybrid -- Ford's first. It's a strong contender, offering as much (or more) driving enjoyment as the Prius.

In terms of size and shape, some say C-Max blends the best of the Prius Liftback and Prius V wagon. It's built on Ford Focus underpinnings so it feels a lot like a tall-wagon version of the Focus. The front of the C-Max has the trapezoidal grille now used in the Ford lineup, along with window angles and accent lines that convey a small mini van or a tall, upright 5-door hatchback. However, the inside of the C-Max is distinctly Focus-like, featuring a rich, stylish dashboard and high-end options that result in a premium effect.

Complete with a 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor system, C-Max's powertrain has 195 hp combined -- that's 54 hp more than the Prius. While C-Max weighs several hundred pounds more, it still feels zippier to drive than the Toyota. The C-Max has an EPA rating of 47 mpg combined, only slightly less than the 50 mpg Prius Liftback; however, it's better than Prius V's 42 mpg combined.

C-Max's steering is precise and evenly-weighted, similar in feel to the Ford Focus. Weight is 3,700 base and 3,900 pounds in plug-in Energi so it won't be quite as agile as the Focus, yet still respectable. C-Max Energi is considerably more compelling than the Prius Plug-In Hybrid; it offers a longer all-electric range of 21 miles. Key to this is a large 7.6 kWh battery vs. 1.4 kWh in the C-Max hybrid. However, that battery pack will cost you a substantial amount of cargo space.

Ride quality is firm but pleasant, with active noise cancelation and sound-insulation to help keep the noise at bay and riding enjoyment high. As for safety, the federal government gives C-Max an overall four-star rating (four stars frontal plus and five for side impact.) A driver's side knee bag is also included in the safety equipment.

All of the C-Max Hybrid models come with standard 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, illuminated glove box, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat heater vents, the Sync voice-controls system, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, USB & auxiliary input jacks and a SmartGauge digital display system w/InfoGuide screens that allow the driver to configure information about the car's energy consumption and operation. A number of C-Max packages and a la carte options are available. They include features like heated side mirrors, MyFord Touch, power liftgate and an automated Parking Technology package.

- 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 File0001404120104 The Evolution of Ferrari in Less than 650 Words Tip File0001179211670 Car Window Tinting Basics