By Special Contributor Andy Stella
Spring is almost here in Chicago, and you know what that means: people forget that they just spent six months acting surprised every time it snowed. With snow comes decreased street width, huge banks plowed against our cars, and mounds of Honda Fit-sized snow piles taking up precious parking space.
Once the snow clears, we must not forget to let some practicality guide our summer car shopping!
What is my experience, you ask? Well, before I lived in Chicago, I endured even colder, snowier winters in Minnesota while attending college, and before that, I was born and raised a Yooper from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
A Yooper? You know them as those friendly, hard working folks from that often-forgotten chunk of land attached to the top of Wisconsin, egh?
Now that you know a little about where I’m coming from, on to my short list.
Jeep Wrangler. With a length of not quite 160 inches and almost 9 inches of ground clearance, minimum, this thing ought to be a street parking pro, winter or summer. And with the removable hard top (get the hard top for insulation and security), it’s the cheapest all wheel drive, four seat convertible on the market.
Mini Cooper, Mini Cooper Countryman. Coming in at around 147-162 inches long, depending on model, you won’t have a ton of competition for parking spaces. Opt for the Countryman All4 for ultimate snow bank ability, or grab a shovel and some decent all seasons for the hardtop, which is coming with a fresh redesign for the 2015 model year! Yay!
BMW X1. Moving up the food chain a little, this car looks like a great street parker. In addition to an available panoramic sunroof, it offers a rear view camera and park distance control. Speaking of parking aids, one friend of mine had an Infiniti with surround-view cameras mounted in the mirrors. A side-swipe (keep in mind the narrow winter streets!) took that puppy off. It was $1,200 to replace. Another friend had a dent in his Audi A6’s bumper, which, due to the need to remove the parking sensors to remove the bumper, cost around $900 to fix. They’re nice to have, but if you’re able to turn your head to park, I’d suggest the old fashioned method.
Chevy Spark. What the hell, why not? With 10 airbags and a length under 145 inches, this should fit in any parking space, or that questionable area near a sidewalk or hydrant. And if you have the budget and a place to plug it, go with the EV version and you’ll have 400 pounds of torque. That’s only 60 less than the 2014 Corvette Stingray!
Old-ass Jaguar. I’ve seen this battering ram wedge its way into the tightest of all spaces. Sure it might be rear-wheel drive and require some extra forethought while parking in snow, but who cares?
Maybe you should be staying home on the worse snow days, or taking the train or bus to work. Maybe you shouldn’t have a nice car if you’re street parking.
But if you’re reading this, we know you will!