By Mark G. McLaughlin
Chicago, like most big cities in the U.S., is not a place to drive a sports car. If it doesn’t bottom out in the city’s yawning potholes it will surely get dinged up in its tight parking lots. Nor is Chicago a place to drive a big pickup just for getting around. There are a lot of great cars on display at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, but here are five of the best for getting around the streets of Chicago.
2017 Chicago Auto Show
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
Date: February 11—20, 2017
2017 Smart Coupe For Two – A Sub-Subcompact for a Downtown Driver Plus One
Sure, the 2017 Smart Coupe For Two only has room for two people, and two average sized people at that, but if everyone in Chicago drove this car, it would solve a lot of traffic and parking – let alone pollution and fuel – problems. There is a traditional gasoline powered three-cylinder version, but the true smart car buyer is more likely to go for the environmentally and budget-conscious electric version. Small, agile and efficient, the 80 to 89 hp Smart Coupe can dodge and weave to get through and into tight spots better than almost any other vehicle, and at a suggested base price in the mid-$14,000 range, it is hard to find a more affordable car. Less than nine feet long and only five-and-a-half feet wide, the Smart Coupe can fit just about anywhere in the big city.
Mini Cooper Clubman – The “Largest” Ever Mini-Cooper is Still a Mini
Mini Coopers were designed to get around London and other European cities with streets that were designed for horse and carriage, not vehicles with their own horsepower. Although the designs for the American market keep getting bigger and bigger, even the new 2017 Clubman, which the company touts as their largest ever model, is quite compact by U.S. standards. This Mini seats five nd has six doors, two of which are the split rear doors which are a signature of the brand – and which make for easy loading and unloading in Chicago’s tight parking spaces. The Clubman has a Twin Turbo Engine that allows a driver to take it on the highway with confidence, but for city drivers, its best selling points are its compact size and ease of handling.
Chrysler Pacifica – A Hybrid Minivan for City and Suburbs
The new Chrysler Pacifica is already being called the best family car in America, and as most families live in the suburbs yet often have to drive into the city, the Pacifica is a perfect family car for Chicagoans. The Forward Collision Warning, LaneSense lane exit and lane change assist will come in handy for driving in the city, as will many of the other safety features available for the Pacifica. The car is also economically and environmentally friendly, as the energy efficient hybrid can go 33 miles on electric power alone, or 560 between tank refills when driven in true hybrid mode.
Mazda CX-5 – An Innovative and Affordable Compact Crossover for Chicagoans
Mazda is well-regarded for its innovative designs, and the new CX-5 is a credit to the brand in that and all other regards. Its all-wheel drive will come in handy for winter streets and its many safety features will be put to the test in Chicago traffic – and that is a test it will easily ace, especially if the Smart City Brake Support option is added. he CX-5 has more leg and cargo room than most of the other vehicles in its class, yet remains a compact – which can be a big selling point to those who have to drive and park downtown.