• 18 Nov 2020 3:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MAMA Senior Vice President Harvey Briggs has co-authored a lavish new book that provides an insider’s look at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars: Making A Legend is a 296-page hardcover published by ACC Art Books Ltd., and is set to go on sale early next month.

    Harvey and his co-author Simon Van Booy received unprecedented access to Rolls-Royce’s headquarters: the Global Centre of Luxury Manufacturing Excellence in Goodwood, West Sussex, England. There, they interviewed Rolls-Royce executives, designers, and craftspeople, and saw firsthand how these extraordinary luxury vehicles are made.

    The book is a visual feast. It’s filled with breathtaking photography of Rolls-Royce vehicles both new and vintage, as well as original concept renderings and archival photos that provide important historical context. Photographer Mariona Vilaros contributed extensive behind-the-scenes images of Rolls-Royce’s impressive production facility—a place where old-world craftsmanship and time-honored techniques mix with the latest technology and manufacturing processes—and numerous portraits of the dedicated, highly skilled craftspeople and leaders who bring modern-day Rolls-Royce vehicles to life.

    The text covers all facets of how Rolls-Royces are made, from the initial design and the client’s bespoke customization selections to the meticulous assembly procedures—including detailed overviews of the paint and finishing processes, the woodshop and leather shop, final assembly, and testing/validation. The book closes with a brief history of the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and look at the next chapter of the Rolls-Royce story—the new-for-2021 Ghost.

    Congrats to Harvey on this remarkable achievement!

  • 18 Nov 2020 2:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Most of us know Burt Levy as a friend, fellow colleague and, of course, MAMA member. He was even one of the driving instructors for the MAMA Track Driving School, hosted by Dodge. However, many of us weren’t aware that Burt was a stunt driver in the Blues Brothers movie, for example, or that he has penned multiple award-winning books on racing – one of his strongest interests. We sat down (virtually, of course) with Burt to get his full story (though, deep down we know this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface!).

    Q1:  You were a stunt driver in the Blues Brothers movie. That is incredible! How would you best summarize this experience? 

    BL:  A hoot. Didn’t get the gig by anything but serendipity (and some flinty-eyed bean counters in Hollywood!). The producers had the problem of finding enough experienced, high-speed drivers to put in all those seats. They sure as heck didn’t want to pay union stunt money for that, so they asked around and were steered to local car and racing clubs. I’d been racing pretty successfully and serving as a race-driving instructor for our local amateur clubs and it sounded like fun, so I went to the tryouts at the Dixie Square Shopping Mall, which was used in the movie. The whole idea was you got in one of these wheezy, wobbly old cop cars with one of the stunt coordinators and he told you “do what I tell you to do when I tell you to do it and don’t do anything until I tell you.” And then he’d tell you to aim for the far side of this chunked and broken parking lot and floor it. They were tired & beat up but they did have the big, cop-car engines, so pretty soon you’re motoring along at 80 or so—foot still to the floor and the front end hammering and hunting all over the road (not to mention the tree line on the far edge of the lot starting to loom very large indeed!) but if you kept your foot planted until he said “OK, you can back off now,” you were in!

    Q2:  You helped out as an instructor at the MAMA Track Driving School. Many MAMA members received instruction from you...what is your top advice for novice track drivers? 

    BL:  Calm down, don’t hold the wheel in a death grip and RAISE YOUR EYES! One of my instructors many years ago was the late Jim Fitzgerald, who was Paul Newman’s great friend and teammate. He always said that race is more like dancing than anything else, and he was absolutely right. When you’re doing it right, it all becomes a sort of rhythmic flow—not all jerky—and you see far ahead and everything feels like it’s happening in slow motion. I always tell my students it’s like music: the track is the piece of music you have to play and the car is the instrument you play it with. When you’re “in the zone” and you have a really good racecar under you, the car becomes almost invisible and it’s just you and the track…   

    Q3:  What race cars have you driven, or even owned?

    BL:  I haven’t owned many, but I’ve driven and raced a LOT. Started out in 1971 in a real P.o.S. series of self-wrenched Triumph TR3s. Bought a lot of “trick” parts and go-faster goodies from California and wound up with TR3s that went faster and faster for shorter and shorter periods of time. Rarely finished a race. But, I learned, and when I switched to an Alfa Romeo Spider built out of an insurance total, I started winning races and championships. With some backing from the dealership I worked for at the time and Alfa Romeo in New Jersey, I switched to a different Alfa for SCCA National racing in 1983. We ran eight races, won four of them, set two lap records and qualified for the National Championships at Road Atlanta. By then, I’d realized that I couldn’t really afford to continue.

    By then I’d started writing for AutoWeek and On Track magazines, and they’d offered me a gig covering pro races in the Midwest. I told them “no, I’m a RACER, not a writer.” Only I called them back again after the car got rolled into a ball and asked if the correspondent gig was still open? Had no idea how or where I’d ever go racing again. But covering races was a way to stay involved and I made a lot of lifelong racing friends in the pro ranks.

    Did some pro racing of my own thanks to a surprise call from PD Cunningham, who offered me a share of the driving in some endurance races for a fledgling team out of Dayton, MPS Motorsports.

    Serendipity again: Joe Marchetti (who, along with his brothers, used to own and run the famous Como Inn Italian restaurant in Chicago, and also traded in exotic and racing cars…mostly Ferraris) was running a fledgling vintage racing event at Road America (called then the Chicago Historic Races) and wanted me to write a driver’s-eye-view of Road America for his race program (I’d won a few races there and held a lap record). So, I did. And, in return, he put me in a classic 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB (Short WheelBase) Berlinetta at a race at Road Atlanta. I wrote my first “ride mooch” story about the experience for AutoWeek. That led to drives in other classic racing cars, a gig as a track-driving instructor at the Ferrari National Meet and a series of occasionally award-winning stories and columns about racing and test-driving other people’s wonderful cars…the great majority of which I could never dream of affording!

    Q4:  How many different tracks have you raced on? Which was your favorite, and why? 

    BL:  I have raced at almost every road-racing circuit in the United States plus several in Canada and three in the Bahamas. For the sheer joy of driving, I love the flow and elevation changes of the Virginia International Raceway, Road Atlanta and Mount Tremblant in Canada, the scale, sweep and scenery of Road America, Watkins Glen and the fun of Mid-Ohio. If I had to pick a single favorite, it would have to be my home track, Road America, because of its grandeur and presentation, its unique synergy with the surrounding towns and countryside (which I’ve written about in my books) and the way the track management and board keep pouring profits back into the facility to improve and upgrade it. That just isn’t happening anywhere else.

    Q5:  How did you become a book author? What books have you penned?  

    BL:  I’d been writing for the magazines for a while and had this urge to write a novel about racing just because I hated all the fiction about racing that I’d read or seen on the screen. I thought about it for quite some time. I remember I was sitting around the pool one morning with a massive rum hangover during the 1986 Grand Bahama Vintage Grand Prix (where I was driving for Joe Marchetti) and just started hunting and pecking away on my laptop. It took me eight years because I really had no idea how to write a book and I kept giving up or setting it aside when racing season rolled around. It was a coming-of-age story about a 19-year-old New Jersey gas-station mechanic getting sucked into the glamorous, dangerous and occasionally decadent world of open-road sports car racing during the Eisenhower fifties.

    I finally finished it and sent The Last Open Road off, unrequested and un-agented, to just about every major fiction publisher in New York. They all turned it down. A few of them liked it, but told me “There’s no market for ‘car’ fiction.” Or, as one particularly rude and arrogant Manhattan publishing executive told me: “THOSE people don’t read…”

    But I thought she was wrong. So, my wife and I took out a second mortgage, formed a company, published it ourselves and debuted it at the Road America vintage weekend in July of 1994. It earned wonderful reviews in the motoring (and even some of the mainstream) press here and abroad and garnered tremendous word-of-mouth support on the motorsports and collector-car scenes. That book is now in its 10th hardcover printing, is used in several high school and college-level English classes and is on the recommended reading lists at many libraries and book clubs. It’s also spawned five (soon to be six) sequels: Montezuma’s Ferrari, The Fabulous Trashwagon, Toly’s Ghost, The 200mph Steamroller Book One/Red Reign and The 200mph Steamroller Book Two/The Italian Job plus a short-story collection, A Potside Companion. 

    Q6:  If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? 

    BL:  Don’t stop me now, I’m on a roll… 

    Q7:  Any advice for MAMA members who may want to follow a similar path to yours? 

    BL:  Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid of falling down.

  • 18 Nov 2020 2:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MAMA extends a heartfelt thank you to many of our OEM partners who have risen to the challenge over the last few months and lent their support during COVID-19. Since we published our last newsletter in July, MAMA has hosted an additional seven eMeet virtual meetings. That brings us to a total of 11 virtual meetings since April! An average of 40 MAMA members log on to each eMeet. It has been an incredible way to keep in touch and see smiling faces as well.

    One-hour presentations, including Q&A, have provided our members with valuable information and insight. A more detailed summary for each of the following virtual meetings can be found at Here’s a quick snapshot of the latest content:

    • Hyundai kicked off the #MAMAeMeet series with a look at the Venue, an all-new subcompact crossover SUV
    • Ford discussed its popular Transit van and gave more detail on the lineup for 2020
    • Dodge provided an overview of the car market and how “it is not dead”
    • Toyota showcased its all-new 2021 Venza, an urban crossover with a standard AWD hybrid powertrain 
    • Cadillac provided an interesting look into its exciting new virtual showroom, Cadillac Live, and members took a virtual tour of the CT4 and CT5
    • Ford kicked off its meeting with an update on the company’s economic impact on both Chicago and Illinois, and then hosted a walk-around (both virtually and in-person) of the new F-150 Hybrid
    • Lexus featured the latest products from the Lexus brand lineup with a special focus on the 2021 Lexus IS 300 and IS 350 F Sport

    Please keep your eyes open for future MAMA eMeet dates. We are trying to lock in a couple more before the end of the year. If you are interested in a particular topic or have an idea for a MAMA eMeet, please contact MAMA SVP Harvey Briggs.

  • 18 Nov 2020 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Greetings, MAMA Members:

    Well, we’re entering the home stretch of a year I’m sure most of us are anxious to put in the rearview mirror. I still find myself thinking back to our Alfa Romeo MAMA luncheon at the Iron Gate Motor Condos on March 4, 2020—a week and a half before the initial COVID-19 shutdowns began. Though there were storm clouds on the horizon then, that lunch stands out in my mind as one of the last “normal” days before the pandemic hit… and that day feels much longer than eight months ago.

    We’re all looking forward to a better 2021, but it’s tough to say what kind of “normal” we will be able to settle back into. However that normal arrives, I think it will come in stages, and not at the flip of switch or the turning of a calendar page. It’s going to be a gradual process, and we will continue to react and adapt as best we can.

    And we’ve seen plenty of effective adaptation this past year. Despite the myriad challenges and hardships brought on by the pandemic, automakers still managed to launch a bevy of outstanding new vehicles—and many of those vehicles are right in the wheelhouse of our Family Vehicle of the Year and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year awards. Even though we were unable to hold our Spring and Fall Rallies, we are moving forward with our Family Vehicle awards for 2021 (which marks the eleventh year for FVOTY). In-person drive opportunities won’t be possible, but we’re hoping that a good number of our members have been able to test most or all of the candidate vehicles through normal press-loan/event channels and will feel confident in making their picks. We’re still ironing out the details, but stay tuned for a list of candidates and instructions on how to vote in the near future.

    We’re adapting our annual holiday party and business meeting too. We won’t be holding an in-person gathering for either event, but we’re working on a Zoom version of both. Details on those events are forthcoming as well.

    Here’s to better days ahead. All of us at MAMA hope you are staying safe, healthy, and well.

    All for now,

    Damon Bell, MAMA President

  • 05 Nov 2020 3:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The latest presentation in the MAMA eMeet series was conducted by Lexus to share brand updates along with a special concentration on the 2021 Lexus IS, which made its virtual debut in June. Lexus College Senior Analyst Chad Deschenes led the presentation and fielded live questions from MAMA journalists.  

    With a lineage that spans more than 20 years in the U.S., the IS slots in just below the ES as an entry-level rear-wheel-drive sports sedan. Today, the IS expands upon its rich history for the third generation and ties in the new Lexus Driving Signature, which Lexus says will be thenew development standard that every model will reflect moving forward. The Lexus Driving Signature refers to the “seamless transition from deceleration to steering and acceleration during cornering, in all types of driving situations,” according to the brand.

    The 2021 IS is offered in two different trim levels: the IS 300 and the IS 350 F Sport (note: the IS 350 only comes as an F Sport). Let’s dive into the sports sedan’s three most enhanced categories.

    Dynamic Performance

    With the goal in mind to develop the 2021 IS to offer high-quality ride comfort with high-level vehicle control, the IS was honed at Toyota’s Technical Center Shimoyama — a vehicle research and development facility in the Shimoyama area of Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The country-road test course is based on the Nürburgring Nordschleife track in Germany, notorious for its grueling driving conditions.

    First, engineers aimed to enhance body rigidity that starts with the chassis and body structure. Lexus said it finally achieved acceptable levels of rigidity following “countless hours” of testing. The enhanced rigidity helps improve ride comfort, reduce unwanted cabin noise and vibration and provide better overall driving performance/enhanced steering.

    The rear-wheel-drive IS 300 features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter engine is updated for 2021 featuring an adaptive transmission control and delivers 241 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

    While many think of the IS as only a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, all-wheel drive is indeed an option for those who want it. The IS 300 AWD is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 260 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. For those who desire even more power, the IS 350 is offered with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque.

    New for the 2021 IS 300, standard 18-inch wheels replace the outgoing 17-inch wheels and, for the first time, 19-inch wheels are an option. The IS 350 F Sport comes standard with 19-inch graphite alloy wheels.

    Aggressive Styling & Enhanced Interior

    According to Lexus, the IS is “athletically inclined and designed.” With that in mind, the bold new exterior is wider, lower and more muscular with an aggressive planted stance. The roofline tapers quickly to the trunk, creating a coupe-like impression. A new signature grille also accentuates the vehicle’s sportiness.

    The IS now features running daytime LED headlamps that are slimmer and more compact than even those found on the Lexus LC. The taillamps sport an “L” shape blade style and three-dimensional bumper garnishes add to its aggressive look.

    Five new exterior colors are available on the 2021 IS including Iridium, Cloudburst Gray, Matador Red Mica, and Infrared* (*only offered on F Sport model).

    On the IS 350 F Sport, an exclusive “F” mesh pattern can be found along with other unique offerings like grille-bottom air intake, specialized 19-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and a more aggressive rear diffuser.

    The interior was updated to refine the sporty cabin which features standard NuLuxe-trimmed seating, 10-way power driver and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, and an available power moonroof.

    An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard and is now almost 5.5 inches closer to the driver for easier access to the controls. A large 10.3-inch touchscreen (nearly 6 inches closer to the driver than previous models) is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or the Mark Levinson audio system. The new infotainment system also offers Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility as well as Amazon Alexa integration.

    Latest in Lexus Tech Advancements

    The 2021 IS is the first Lexus to come standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5. The most significant enhancement to the system is the pre-collision system, which includes frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian/bicyclist detection. The radar and camera capabilities were updated so the system helps detect both a vehicle ahead and a preceding bicyclist in both daytime and lower light conditions.

    Additional functions include emergency steering assist — supporting the driver and preventing the vehicle from leaving its lane — blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert. The IS comes standard with 10 air bags designed to meet new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) standards.

    Lexus also offers the Lexus Enform Service Connect system, designed to provide vehicle alerts to owners and allow them to send factory recommended maintenance alerts to specified dealers. Additionally, the Lexus app allows owners to start their vehicle remotely, schedule service appointments and lock or unlock their doors right from their smartphone.

    Pricing for the IS 300 begins at $39,000 with rear-wheel drive and $41,000 for the all-wheel-drive model. The IS 350 F Sport starts at $42,900 with rear-wheel drive and climbs to a starting price of $44,900 with AWD. Both trims are expected to hit dealerships late this fall. For more on the 2021 Lexus IS 300 and IS 350 F Sport, click here.

  • 21 Oct 2020 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Ford recently hosted a combined hybrid #MAMAeMeet and in-person event to share the brand’s latest news and vehicle updates with MAMA members.

    To start, Ford shared results from a study by Boston Consulting Group to highlight the company’s tremendous impact on both the Chicago region and entire state of Illinois. According to the study, Ford’s impact on the Illinois economy includes driving more than 60,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributing $6.8 billion in state gross domestic product. Moreover, the Chicago Assembly Plant (Ford’s oldest continuously operating assembly plant), drives economic impact of $2.9 billion in Chicago alone. Beyond its economic impact, Ford continues to give back to local communities in a charitable way. Just last week, Chicagoland Ford dealers donated an additional 200,000 face masks to nonprofit organizations, schools and first responders in their local communities.

    Ford then shifted gears to provide updates on its best-selling truck in America for 43 years—the F-series pickup. The F-150 is also the most popular vehicle on the road in 39 out of 50 states, including Illinois. Ford showed off the all-new 2021 F-150 and F-150 Hybrid virtually and in-person at the Chicago Automobile Trade Association building. According to Ford, the 2021 F-150 delivers best-in-class towing and payload, and is more “connected” than it has ever been before. Some of the major updates include:

    All-new Exterior Design

    • New headlights with “C-clamp” design motif on LED running lights
    • New front bumper with lower accent skid plate
    • New hood’s shape rises to meet the A-pillar
    • New sculpted doors, fenders and box sides
    • New mirrors that echo “C-clamp” design motif
    • New extended-length running boards (for easier pickup-bed access)
    • All-new wheels with larger tires
    • 11 available grille options
    • Tailgate that doubles as a work surface with a built-in ruler, mobile device compartment and new clamp pockets to hold materials down for precise work.
    • Truck bed has an available Pro Power Onboard integrated power generator, featuring more exportable power than any light-duty full-size pickup, giving owners the ability to run power tools and equipment without the need for a separate gas-engine generator. It is available with three levels of electrical output depending on engine choice. According to Ford, the generator can power an entire job site or 28 average refrigerators!
    All-new Interior Design & Technology
    • New instrument panel
    • New center console
    • New door trims
    • New seat foam and fabrics
    • New steering wheel
    • New switches and controls
    • Standard 8-inch touchscreen in all models, available 12.1” touchscreen on XLT trim
    • Instrument-cluster upgrades across the board, including all-digital cluster on Lariat
    • Wireless charging
    • Dual glovebox
    • Rear underseat locking storage
    • E-shifter standard; available Interior Work Surface center console includes shift lever that folds into the console when the vehicle is in park
    • SYNC4 infotainment system including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; an enhanced voice recognition/navigation package is optional
    • Over-the-air software updates and feature upgrades for infotainment system
    Engine Options
    • 3.3L Ti-VCT V6: 290 horsepower, 265 lb.-ft. torque
    • 2.7L EcoBoost V6: 325 horsepower, 400 lb.-ft. torque
    • 5.0L Ti-VCT V8: 400 horsepower, 410 lb.-ft. torque
    • 3.0L Power Stroke V6: 250 horsepower, 440 lb.-ft. torque
    • 3.5L EcoBoost V6: 400 horsepower, 500 lb.-ft. torque
    • 3.5L Power Boost Full Hybrid V6: 430 horsepower, 570 lb.-ft. torque

    Prices start at $28,940 for the base XL trim and can climb as high as $78,490 for the top Platinum SuperCrew Hybrid model. Ford expects the new F-150 to arrive at dealerships shortly.

    The next #MAMAeMeet is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 26 with Lexus. For more details and to register, click here.

  • 14 Sep 2020 2:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Earlier this month, MAMA members had the opportunity to hear about Cadillac’s exciting new platform, Cadillac Live, and take a virtual tour of the CT4 and CT5 with a live product specialist. Back in January—before COVID-19 expanded in the U.S.—Cadillac had the foresight to begin building out a virtual showroom called Cadillac Live. The brand says this virtual experience is not to take the place of a physical event, like an auto show, or even the dealership experience. Cadillac believes the interactive showroom tour will take a shopper’s online interest and launch that into a sales experience that takes place within a dealership.

    Within Cadillac Live, interested parties can book a private experience, take a one-on-one video tour of any Cadillac vehicle, have all of their questions answered by a live agent, and even locate the nearest dealership. The goal is to provide the customer with the full experience they’d receive at a dealership without getting behind the wheel, so when they do visit a dealership, it’s a more seamless process. All of the agents in Cadillac Live are real people; the customer at home can see and hear the product specialist on their computer screen, but the agent can only hear the customer on the other end.

    Cadillac says the experience is perfect for someone who may just be beginning their journey with the brand or embarking on the new-car shopping process, but it’s also used as a great resource for current customers who might want to take a deeper dive into a certain technology in their Cadillac vehicle. The agents are there and available to connect with customers Monday-Thursday, from 8 a.m.-12 a.m., Friday, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., CDT. There isn’t a preset time limit when using the experience, and Cadillac Live showroom can be accessed from virtually anywhere via the internet. Outside of the sessions with available agents, customers can also peruse the showroom and the vehicles as well as listen to pre-recorded sessions.

    The digital online studio allows Cadillac agents to walk customers through the showroom to review vehicles like the CT4 and CT5, for example, to highlight specific features inside and out, such as:

    • High gloss mesh grille and trim all around
    • Brembo brakes
    • Midnight finish on the wheels
    • Rear diffuser and quad exhaust tips
    • Magnetic ride control
    • Heated and ventilated seats
    • Sport seating
    • MyMode customized driving settings
    • Infotainment systems
    • Carbon fiber interior trim
    • Head-up display

    Rick, Cadillac agent who took MAMA members on the virtual tour, said, “This is something no one has ever done before… balancing a camera, having a physical space where other people are moving around, and access to all of this exciting car knowledge. People are shocked when they’re greeted by a real live person. People assume that we can see them; we cannot, as it’s a one-way video screen. This is just such an exciting new way for us to connect with customers.”

    As the world continues to evolve into a more virtual world due to the global pandemic, other automakers are being pushed into creating similar types of digital experiences. Cadillac was ready to take on digital customers at the start of the pandemic, since the Cadillac Live site was already built. Cadillac referenced data from Google’s 2017 Dealer Guide Book, which found that twice as many car buyers start their research online versus at a physical dealership. Cadillac is confident that Cadillac Live will help them generate more qualified leads and then directly match customers with local dealerships immediately following their virtual experience. So far, it has proven to be a success. Cadillac reported the CT4 and CT5 just had their best sales month yet, which they attribute in part to Cadillac Live.

    Check back shortly for more information about upcoming MAMA eMeets.

  • 27 Aug 2020 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week, MAMA hosted a MAMA eMeet with Toyota to review key highlights of the all-new 2021 Toyota Venza. Ryan Matsumoto, Toyota’s vehicle marketing and communications planner, led the product presentation and fielded live questions from MAMA members.

    According to Matsumoto, the Venza raises the standard of what an urban crossover should be. The newest hybrid in Toyota’s lineup, the Venza offers tech, performance, design and standard all-wheel-drive – features that pack a powerful punch and that Toyota hopes will help the vehicle stand out from its competitors. Positioned as the “ultimate urban crossover,” the Venza offers versatility and distinction with a “quiet confidence.”

    The Venza slots between the RAV4 and Highlander in size, and its starting prices range between $32-$40K. Four option packages will be available to best suit customer needs, including:

    • SofTex Package (XLE)
    • Premium Audio
    • Advanced Technology Package
    • StarGaze Fixed Panoramic Roof

    The Venza’s exterior styling is sleek and clean, with dramatic touches such as a full-width LED taillight and, on XLE and Limited models, a full-width center high-mounted stoplight as well. Matsumoto noted the thin taillamps are a fan favorite of the Venza’s design. Exterior colors offered are: Celestial Black, Black, Coastal Gray Metallic, Blueprint, Ruby Flare Pearl, Blizzard Pearl and Titanium Glow.

    Inside, Toyota took a minimalist approach with Venza’s design, adding soft-touch materials that express refinement and elegance. Most importantly, Toyota is proud of its first StarGaze fixed panoramic sunroof, which uses electrochromic technology to enable the driver to switch from clear glass to a “frosted” translucent mode at the touch of a button. This is a brand-first, initially appearing on the Venza.

    On the tech side of things, Venza comes equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen for LE and XLE models; a 12.3-inch touchscreen is optional on XLE and standard on the line-topping Limited trim. In terms of safety, Venza comes standard Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0, the brand’s newest advanced active safety package, which includes lane tracing assist, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicyclist detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and road sign assist.

    In terms of cargo space, the Venza offers 28.8 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats, and 74.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. It also comes with four USB charge ports, two in the front and two in the rear, for those who need a device charge on-the-go.

    Toyota says Venza’s fuel economy is industry-leading; all trim levels are EPA-rated at 40 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined.

    Venza is shipping now and is expected to hit dealerships early next month.

    The next MAMA eMeet is scheduled with Cadillac for Tuesday, Sept. 1, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. CDT via Zoom. Register via the website or contact

  • 06 Aug 2020 2:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Cars aren’t dead; commodity products are.” This was a key theme throughout Dodge’s presentation to MAMA media members during MAMA’s latest eMeet.

    Tim Kuniskis, Global Head of Alfa Romeo and Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America, led the presentation on the new Dodge/SRT performance lineup. According to Kuniskis, while cars only make up 28% of market share, Dodge/SRT performance vehicles attract buyers because they have that “want” versus “need” appeal.

    An example of this is the 807-hp Challenger SRT Super Stock. Dodge says it’s the world’s quickest, most powerful muscle car, capable of sprinting from 0-60 miles per hour in 3.25 seconds and running the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds. Perhaps it’s true that people don’t exactly need this car, but it’s certainly fun to drive.

    New for 2021 is the 710-horsepower Durango SRT Hellcat model, which Dodge says is the most powerful SUV ever. In addition, the entire 2021 Durango lineup gets an exterior-styling refresh for a more aggressive look; a new interior with a Challenger-inspired, driver-centric cockpit; the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system on an available, largest-in-class 10.1-inch touchscreen; and a new Durango R/T Tow N Go package—as well as best-in-class towing across the lineup and more performance than ever.

    Additionally, Kuniskis shared updates on the new-for-2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. It puts out 797 horsepower and is capable of a top speed of 203 miles per hour, which makes it the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.

    “Fast” and “powerful” are key words used to described these vehicles, which tug at the “want” part of the brain versus the “need.” That’s how the brand continues to be so successful in this space, according to Kuniskis. “If you can be the big fish in the smaller pond, that’s good business. The muscle car segment isn’t a big one, so it’s a good segment for a brand like Dodge to do well.”

    Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, people were buying these vehicles. So much so, that inventory was low and orders were put on hold. However, Dodge is now able to fulfill most of the orders that were placed a few months ago.

    Looking to the future, Dodge acknowledges that it will need to grow with the times for its products to remain relevant, adapting to CAFE standards and adding more offerings to its current vehicle lineup. But for now, Dodge’s strategy seems to be working. For example:

    • J.D. Power ranks Dodge #1 for quality and appeal
    • Consumer Reports Top Ten Most Reliable Brands
    • ALG residual value leader
    • #1 segment share
    • Top performance, best-in-industry claims (across all models)
    • Unique customer demographics including young, family-oriented, diverse, loyal and engaged

    MAMA’s next eMeet is with Toyota on the all-new Venza, and will take place virtually on Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 1-2 CDT.

  • 28 Jul 2020 4:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As part of MAMA s ongoing virtual series MAMA eMeets,” MAMA members recently had the opportunity to hear from Ford’s Chief Engineer for Transit in North America, Ray Eyles, regarding Ford’s numerous upgrades to its Transit van lineup for 2020. 

    Among the changes are a new and improved powertrain lineup, smart new technology, advanced driver-assist features and enhanced capability to appeal to a wide range of customers whether they use their vans to carry kids, seek out adventures or deliver cargo.

    Eyles discussed “American’s best-selling van” and its growing importance to larger families and adventurers, making a reference to the online movement #VanLife. Though the Transit was originally designed primarily for commercial needs, Ford sees a definitive shift in how these vans are being utilized.

    To continue to attract this broader audience, Ford worked to improve and enhance the 2020 Transit. Specifically, the vehicle features a new grille with bumper updates, an upgraded 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, 10-speed transmission and a new auto stop/start feature.

    According to Ford, perhaps the most notable and exciting new feature to appear in the 2020 Transit van is available all-wheel drive. Ford thinks this feature alone has potential to attract new customers, especially given this was the most requested feature by Ford s current customer base. The AWD feature on the Transit is always on,” so no need to manually turn it on or off. There is also no increase to the ride and load heights—an important consideration for commercial users who are frequently entering and exiting the vehicle.

    On the interior, Transit receives a new crew van configuration, including a second row bench seat and two rows of seating for up to five people. The 2020 model also features an expanded color palette including softer” colors. Available features include swivel front seats, an 8-inch multi-function touchscreen and a new power-sliding door.

    In terms of tech, Transit comes standard with plenty of new driver-assist technology, including pre-collision assist with auto emergency braking, forward collision warning, post-collision braking, lane-keep assist system with electric power steering, and auto high-beam headlamps. Available technology includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor system with cross-traffic alert and trailer coverage, enhanced active park assist, and front and rear split-view cameras.

    Additionally, the 2020 Transit comes with a new standard FordPass Connect system featuring a WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices, Ford telematics, remote vehicle control, and vehicle diagnostic and trouble code data collection.

    Eyles summarized that Ford is always evolving to do the job right,” which is showcased with the latest Transit model. Moving forward, Ford says it will continue to tailor the Transit to appeal to both commercial and retail customers. An all-electric Transit will also be coming for the 2022 model year.

    Stay tuned for updates on future MAMA eMeets!

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