When I came to the realization that traveling to my new job only 3 miles away took 45 minutes to arrive via the CTA+walking, I knew I needed a car asap. When considering buying new items, bigger is almost always better (unless you're in Texas). This goes for Chicago too with its deep-dish pizza, disappearing skyscrapers, and luxury condos--but not cars! Between fitting in parking garages, paying for overpriced gasoline, and fitting in tight parking spots while parallel parking, smaller is simply better in my book. I considered many compact cars including the Fiat 500 Pop, Mazda2, Honda Fit, Mini Cooper, Chevy Spark, and the Ford Fiesta (my dear Joyce Ford in Chicago closed). Since I hadn't yet begun my new job, my budget was tight. After performing all the research possible via the Internet, I decided that the Fiat Pop 500 fit my criteria best. Being a Chicago resident, I searched for the closest Fiat dealership and came across the Fiat of Chicago. I was skeptical at first based on the poor Yelp reviews and lack of DealerRater reviews, and considered just scheduling a test drive at the Chicago dealership (since it is closer to my house), but buying at the Fiat of Highland Park due to their high reviews and positive buyer experiences---Little did I know that Fiat of Chicago had only been open about 5 months, not near long enough for consistent reviews to be written. This Chicago location couldn't be any more perfect, right off Randolph Street and Interstate 94. The general sales manager, Phil DeLozano, has endless experience in the automotive sales business, not to mention that the Italian Fiat president, Antonio Scalzo and his son Carmelo, have successfully sold Fiats in the US for over 17 years.
When I walked in, the dealership was very modern and spacious with only a few dividing walls for offices. It is complete with a full showroom (the largest in the Midwest), a Fiat cafe (serving complimentary coffees, espressos and bottled water), a Fiat lounge displaying Fiat fan accessories, and various dealer offices. In the near future, they will offer a full service center with a car wash which is under construction. Until then, they offer a loaner vehicle and transport your Fiat to their Forest Park location when service is required.
I worked my dealer Mohamad who was not in the slightest pushy or carried on the "evil" reputation car salesmen possess. Mohamad and I shared several correspondence via email prior to my visit regarding their current specials, inventory and a test drive. I originally planned on leasing a 2013 Fiat with their special of $199/month with $999 down. That was until I became aware of all the great financial deals they offered: $50 Visa gift card for scheduling a test drive, $500 discount for graduating graduate school within the last 6 months (just bring a transcript for undergrad or grad school), and a great interest rate by working with their bank thanks to my good credit score. With a deal I couldn't pass up, I ended up buying a 2012 Fiat Pop outright, who I named Icicle due to his awesome blue color. For being 5 days after the New Year and with only 18 miles, he was in perfect condition. This was the smoothest and least stress negotiation process my partner and me had ever experienced at a car dealership. Phil and Mohamad were willing to meet in between our two price goals. Phil helped take care of all the endless paperwork (he had it all down pat!) and later took the time to sit in the car and show me how to take advantage of all the bells and whistles the car offered---even the base Fiat model has cruise control, a USB port (for charging and music) and Blue&ME, their bluetooth voice capabilities. Overall, it was a great experience.
I absolutely love Icicle and hope this review will allow those during their perfect car search give Fiat of Chicago a chance.