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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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Family Car Camping Tips
Car camping affords families a great deal of luxuries while in campgrounds. Camping by car allows families to park closely to a camp site, which makes camping easily accessible and more convenient. By planning ahead with the following family car camping tips, you can make the most of your vehicle and next family vacation.

Storage Counts

Pack everything in large plastic bins for easy access when packing and unpacking. Clear totes give you full view of the contents, making it easier to find cooking utensils, water toys, and clothing. Also, by packing your items in lockable containers, you reduce the likelihood that thieves on four legs will break into your stash of peanut butter, beef jerky and fruit cups.

Planning Ahead for Meals

One of the biggest conveniences afforded by car camping is the ability to bring everything but the kitchen sink. Pack according to the meals you will be preparing to make food prep easier. Separate items in plastic containers according to dry goods, those that need refrigerated, and foods to remain on ice. Write out a meal plan and attach a copy to the top of each food storage container. This keeps everyone on target with the meals, so that those grazing guests won’t end up eating the items needed for meal times.

Keep It Quiet

Just because you are car camping, it doesn’t mean that you should take advantage of the radio system in your vehicle. Keep things peaceful and quiet by turning off your car radio. By tuning out of music while on your camping trip, you get an ear full of the bugs and the bees that make camping so enjoyable. This also means killing the music while driving through your campground and park areas. As a bonus, by cutting out the commercialized sounds, you increase the chances that you will experience a real life encounter with some wild animal.

Reckoning the Rainy Days

Rainy days can dampening the spirit of any camping excursion. Of course, when car camping you can always resort to spending the night in the dry cabin of a car. Let this be the last resort. As you are camping by car, you have the space to bring along plenty of toys, games and activity ideas. Add a container of toys and games that are ideal for any possible weather to make the best of your family car camping adventure.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Car Care Tips For The Garage-less Owner
Parking your car in a garage offers protection from sun, wind, rain, hail and dust. However, many people don't have access to this convenience. Vehicles parked outdoors are more likely to suffer damage from the elements, but there are steps you can take to avoid wear and tear.

1. Look Above Your Car

Make sure there are no tree branches or other hazards hanging above your car that could fall on your vehicle in the event of a wind or ice storm. If branches are obvious, cut them down yourself or have a professional tree service do the work for you. Also, if you must park beneath a tree that produces fruit or nuts, you might want to park elsewhere or think about cutting the tree down.

2. Invest in a Metal Carport

If you live in an area that's prone to hail storms, you could consider purchasing a freestanding metal carport. The structure can protect your vehicle from being damaged from hail stones. The investment can save you money in the form of repairs or insurance deductibles. Carports will also offer some protection from the sun's damaging rays that can fade interiors and ruin the clear-coat finish.

3. Consider a Weatherproof Car Cover

A specially made cover will protect your car from the weather as well as from bird droppings, tree sap and UV rays. These are usually made from a specialty material that's resistant to water and mildew. Make sure the cover sits snugly to provide ample protection.

4. Keep it Waxed

A coat of wax on your vehicle will keep debris from sticking to it, thus damaging the paint job. Apply wax on a regular basis according to the manufacturer's instructions.

5. Use a Windshield Visor

Not only will this handy device keep you vehicle cooler, but it will protect the dash from cracking and warping. You might even consider using a visor on the front and back windshields to protect both areas.

If you don't have a garage, you can still keep you vehicle looking great. Just use these helpful tips!

- 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 Infiniti Q50 Review
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
03
2014 Chevrolet Spark Review
Chevrolet's sleek, snappy-looking Spark arrives for 2014 in a variety of trim levels and price points. Both the LS and 1LT trims are available as manual or automatic, while the 2LT represents the model's "luxury" version, complete with plenty of leatherette touches, special front fascia, a roof rack, and aluminum wheels. The 2LT is also available as a manual or automatic.

Prices (MSRP) for the six different trims range from $12,170 for the LS manual to $16,385 for the 2LT automatic. All six trim levels feature an 84-horsepower, 1.2-liter, inline 4-cylinder engine. Transmission types are manual 5-speed or CVT 2-speed automatic.

The mini-car is a size smaller than a Chevy Sonic and features very stable handling, a multimedia system, 10 airbags, and a surprisingly generous amount of cargo space. All versions achieve either 30 or 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

Chevy makes an all-electric Spark, but that car is currently only available in two states. The EV retails for $26,685, but after federal and state financial incentives typically costs well under $20,000. The Chevy Spark EV, as it is called, has a total driving range of 82 miles. It looks nearly identical to the gasoline Spark, except for badging and minute style flourishes.

The size and efficient styling of the Spark makes it an ideal choice for consumers who are searching for economy, simple handling, good looks, and dependable safety. Those who want more high-tech amenities can get them on the top trim levels, while even the least expensive Spark offers numerous features and plenty of space for passengers and cargo.

As long as buyers remember that the Spark is not intended to compete with Lexus or Mercedes-Benz SUVs, the value to price ratio is clearly commendable. A short list of standard features includes bucket, adjustable front seats; clock and trip computer; 12-volt outlets; adjustable tilt steering; air filtration; MP3 jack; rear defogger; and alloy wheels.

Consumer reviews of the car repeatedly mention the unique, fun colors, miniature sports car feel, and the diminutive Spark's ability to handle longer road trips as if it were a larger sedan. Some owners claim that the Spark achieves a sort of optical illusion; from the outside it appears to be tiny, but from the inside it is obviously an average-sized vehicle.

- 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 File4181348049281 Family Car Camping Tips Tip 1397946688amheg Car Care Tips For The Garage-less Owner