MAMA News

  • 31 Oct 2019 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We’re already well into fall, and that means it’s time for pumpkins, apple cider, trick-or-treating, and another MAMA Newsletter. Hope you’re all enjoying the foliage and getting ready for the colder weather that’s on the way.

    MAMA hosted another great Fall Rally at the Autobahn Country Club on October 2. There was just enough rain to make the off-road course nice and muddy, but it seemed to taper off by late morning so we weren’t soaked. You can read our full event recap in this issue; thanks once again to our sponsors for their support and our tireless Rally Team for all their hard work.

    On a sad note, we observed the passing of former MAMA president Bob Kocher at the event; Bob lost his battle with spine cancer on September 13—just a couple weeks before the Fall Rally. Former MAMA president Mark Bilek said a few words in remembrance of Bob at the Fall Rally lunch, as did Marlon Hanson, who made special plans to attend the Rally when he heard of Mr. Kocher’s passing. At the end of lunch, we had hot fudge sundaes for dessert in memory of Bob—read Marlon’s tribute to Bob in this issue for the story behind that.

    On Wednesday, October 23, we had our October monthly luncheon meeting at the gorgeous and historic Lang House in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. The all-new 2020 Lincoln Corsair compact crossover was the topic; Lincoln brought along a pair of Corsairs for our members to drive, as well as Corsair Chief Engineer John Jraiche, who gave an informative presentation.

    A quick note on RSVPing to MAMA events: If you’ve registered for a rally or a monthly luncheon meeting and your plans change for whatever reason and you can no longer attend, PLEASE email us to let us know as soon as you can so we can remove you from the attendee list. Our catering and/or hotel costs are determined by head count, and MAMA and our event sponsors have to eat those costs when members register and then don’t attend.

    Mark your calendars… our Holiday Social is December 9. We’ll again be at The Dawson in Chicago, but this year we'll have the upstairs private room to ourselves. Keep your eye on your inbox for an invite in the near future. Hope to see you there!

    All for now,

    Damon Bell, MAMA President 

  • 08 Oct 2019 2:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Joliet, Illinois (Oct. 7) – The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) recently held its annual Fall Rally, where nearly 80 media members gathered to test-drive more than 50 of the industry’s latest cars, trucks and SUVs. Held at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, the 2019 MAMA Fall Rally was presented by Subaru and offered journalists ample opportunities to put brand-new vehicles – such as the 2020 Cadillac XT6, 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500, 2020 Ford Escape, 2020 Lincoln Aviator and 2020 Toyota Supra – through their paces on track, on street and off road.


    Toyota revved attendees’ engines with a breakfast and an opening presentation on the 2020 GR Supra. Toyota North America Senior Product Specialist Thomas Kretschmann discussed the highly anticipated return of the Supra – after a 21-year hiatus – and highlighted the sports car’s performance, capability and style.

    “The 2020 GR Supra was designed to evoke passion in driving,” said Kretschmann. “Seeing the MAMA members who got to experience the vehicle at the rally with smiles on their faces shows the GR Supra is the complete package – great both on and off the track.”

    The 2020 Supra is now on sale and is available in 3.0 and 3.0 Premium trim levels, as well as an exclusive Launch Edition based on the 3.0 Premium grade. The manufacturer didn’t miss the opportunity to bring not one, but two 2020 Toyota GR Supras for MAMA journalists to experience.

    Following the morning session of driving on track, on street and off road, Honda refueled Fall Rally attendees with lunch and a presentation on the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid, signaling the first electrified SUV from the Honda brand in the U.S. 


    “The Honda CR-V is the best-selling CUV over the past two decades and the updates we've made to the 2020 model, including a new hybrid-electric variant, solidify its position in this highly competitive segment,” said Steve Kinkade, head of Honda brand public relations, American Honda Motor Co. “We were excited to share key details on this important vehicle as well as our broader electrification strategy with the Midwest Automotive Media Association.”

    Throughout the day, journalists also had the opportunity to maneuver 4WD and AWD trucks and SUVs through an off-road course, sponsored by Jeep. Participating vehicles included the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, 2019 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.


    MAMA also encouraged members to test-drive contenders for the MAMA Family Vehicle and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Awards. To qualify, candidates for each category must be four-door, family-capable vehicles and be present at the MAMA Spring or Fall Rallies. Voting MAMA members chose the following Family Vehicle of the Year finalists at the 2019 MAMA Fall Rally: the 2020 Ford Escape, 2020 Ford Explorer, 2020 Hyundai Palisade, and 2020 Subaru Outback. The Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Award finalists are the 2020 Cadillac XT6 and 2020 Lincoln Aviator.


    These vehicles will join the list of finalists from the 2019 MAMA Spring Rally, and a final round of voting will take place online. Both the MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year Award and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Award winners will be announced at the MAMA opening breakfast during the 2020 Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6.

    The MAMA Fall Rally is one of two track events the media association hosts each year. MAMA also organizes monthly meetings for its members; the upcoming meeting event schedule can be found at www.mamaonline.org.


    For more information on the Midwest Automotive Media Association, please visit www.mamaonline.org.

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    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991 and now in its 28th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) comprises more than 250 automotive journalists and industry professionals from approximately 23 states and the District of Columbia. Though based in the Chicago area, MAMA welcomes members from all parts of the country. The organization’s primary purpose is to provide a forum for newsworthy people, current issues and new products in the auto industry.

  • 21 Aug 2019 10:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) hosted MAMA’s August meeting to share an update on the advanced high-strength steel industry, as well as provide attendees a glimpse at what an autonomous vehicle may look and feel like through a virtual reality experience.


    According to AISI, as autonomous vehicles grow in popularity, “traditional” virtues such as performance, value sustainability and occupant protection will become that much more critical. Dr. Jody Hall, vice president, automotive, AISI, shared recent findings with the MAMA group to reinstate why it’s safer, more efficient and more sustainable for manufacturers to build vehicles with steel versus aluminum or carbon fiber, for example. Hall cited aluminum as steel’s direct competition, as carbon fiber is used in niche circumstances.


    Consumer Preferences

    Based on a recent study, AISI found that 90 percent of consumers believe that steel is stronger, safer and more durable than aluminum, and that most consumers prefer a vehicle made from steel versus one manufactured with aluminum. These assumptions greatly impact their purchase decision.  

    Moreover, 71 percent of consumers cite price as being one of the most important criteria when purchasing a vehicle.

    Finally, 60 percent of consumers buy a vehicle for its appealing physical design and ease of entry and exit.


    Cost and Efficiency

    AISI states that the strength of steel allows automakers to design more efficiently and safely to achieve important objectives such as performance. Because of its higher strength, manufacturers can use less of the material to complete the same amount of work. It’s all about input vs. output.

    AISI also argues that, with aluminum, manufacturers have to change a vehicle’s structure to achieve the same objectives, thus driving up the cost to produce the vehicle and being less efficient overall.

    Steel is known for its outstanding formability, interior spaciousness and smaller structural sections, hitting on the aforementioned points regarding consumer preference.


    Steel and the Industry

    A study conducted by Ducker Worldwide in 2014 predicted that seven out of 10 new pickup trucks produced in North America would be aluminum-bodied within a decade. Seven years later, the Ford F-150 is the only pickup that is all-aluminum. AISI lists cost, efficiency and sustainability as the top three reasons automakers have stuck with steel.  


    Steel and the Environment

    Not only is steel safe, cost-effective and efficient, it’s also easily recycled (steel is recycled more than any other material) and low on CO2 emissions (due to its efficiency). Only the greenest cars rely on steel and its light carbon footprint. Dr. Hall reinforced the importance of looking at the entire lifecycle of a product.

    In conclusion, AISI’s stance is that steel continues to be a sound material for automakers. With more than 200 grades of advanced high-strength steel, the steel industry is providing automakers numerous benefits in design capabilities, fuel economy, strength, durability and value for both traditional and, in the near future, self-driving vehicles.

    Media members are encouraged to visit AISI’s press site for additional details and assets: https://www.autosteel.org/press.

    In regards to upcoming MAMA events, registration is now open for the 2019 MAMA Fall Rally, which will be held at the Autobahn Country Club on Wednesday, Oct. 2. If you have questions regarding the rally, registration or sponsorship opportunities, please contact webmaster@mamaonline.org.

  • 01 Aug 2019 1:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    South Haven, Mich. (Aug. 1, 2019) –The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), along with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, hosted the fifth annual MAMA Track Driving School this week at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. CGI Motorsports led 20 automotive journalists in a track training session covering everything from braking techniques, vehicle weight-transfer management, vision instructions and appropriate driving position.


    The real schooling took place outside of the classroom and on the actual track, where MAMA media members were able to put a variety of vehicles through their paces, including an Alfa Romeo Guilia, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Widebody, Dodge Charger Scat Pack, Dodge Durango SRT, Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, Fiat 500 Abarth and a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Since the inaugural track school in 2015, MAMA has provided professional instruction to a total of 102 students.


    “MAMA hosts two signature track events a year, our Spring and Fall Rallies, so it’s imperative that our members are trained on how to properly drive on a racetrack,” said MAMA President Damon Bell.

    Throughout the day, both novice and intermediate drivers were paired with driving instructors from CGI Motorsports to learn how to properly and safely handle these high-powered vehicles on a track.

    “GingerMan Raceway is an ideal track to build the fundamentals of high-performance driving,” said Brad Pines, CGI Motorsports instructor.


    Lesson highlights included: Look ahead (plan for what’s ahead, don’t be reactive); do one thing at a time (only brake, or turn, or accelerate to ensure maximum grip); be smooth (the smoother the input, the greater the tire grip); hands should always stay at 9 and 3 o’clock; use landmarks to guide the path; master weight transfer (every control input changes balance); be aware of surroundings (always scan mirrors); increase corner speed gradually; and leave a margin of safety (don’t compound a driver error by making it worse).

    In between the morning and afternoon training sessions, Dodge Charger Brand Manager Ashton Muñoz discussed the new 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody, which was on display throughout the day.


    “For 2020, we are literally expanding our high-performance Charger models, adding a Widebody exterior to America’s only four-door muscle car,” said Muñoz. “The Charger’s successful formula is in part due to its many personalities; there’s really no other car like it.”

    MAMA members will be able to put their newly acquired skills to use at MAMA’s annual Fall Rally on Oct. 2. Held at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois, the 2019 MAMA Fall Rally will offer track time, street drives and an off-road course, sponsored by Jeep.


    Track driving instructional videos by CGI Motorsports can be found here.

    For more information on the Midwest Automotive Media Association, please visit www.mamaonline.org.

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    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991 and now in its 28th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) comprises more than 250 automotive journalists and industry professionals from approximately 23 states and the District of Columbia. Though based in the Chicago area, MAMA welcomes members from all parts of the country. The organization’s primary purpose is to provide a forum for newsworthy people, current issues and new products in the auto industry.

  • 24 Jul 2019 4:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Article by Christian Lantry, photographer at Cars.com.

    • Know your gear – There’s lots of buttons and endless settings on your camera. It’s hard to know it all. But take the time to read through the manual so you know what your camera can do, and how you can quickly get to that setting. As your technical skills improve you will be able to focus more on making great images. Give yourself little assignments. Don’t know what that button is, or what that setting does? Go read about it, watch a YouTube video and practice doing it with your camera.
    • Polarizing is not just for opinions – If you shoot cars, and your camera can accommodate screw-on filters, you need a circular polarizer. This filter is key for reducing/removing reflections from windows and also increases contrast and saturation. You can even get filter sets for smartphones. This small investment will level up your exterior shots right away. Use it for interiors to dial in reflections on dashboards, too. Just remember it will reduce the amount of light getting to your lens so it will not work in every scenario. Again, practice makes perfect.
    • Go for Gold – The golden hour, or magic hour, is the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the quality of light yields particularly stunning photographs. The reality is, not all the shooting opportunities will happen during these times so look for the light…specifically the lighting ratios. Lighting ratios are the amount of light on the subject (car) versus the light in the rest of the scene. On a soft overcast, cloudy day the ratio will most likely be even or 1:1 with very little contrast. On at sunny day a noon the ratio may be 1:8 resulting in a lot of contrast between the highlights and shadows. Both conditions have advantages and disadvantages but understanding how to use them will elevate the image. Just because it’s a beautiful bright sunny day outside, doesn’t always mean it’s the best for shooting. Don’t be afraid to wait for the right light or wait for that cloud to get out of (or into) your way.
    • Shoot wide – Give yourself wiggle room to crop the image a few different ways. You don’t need to fill the frame with the car. Allow for padding on all sides and crop your image after the fact. You may find that what you saw when shooting can look completely different or better with a different crop. Also, with the rise of Instagram stories and other social media platforms it’s super helpful to shoot a bit wider.  This allows you to crop the image as 3:2, 16:9, or square, without losing vital parts of your shot.
    • Rule the thirds –The “Rule of Thirds” is a basic photographic principle where the image is broken down into thirds both vertically and horizontally into nine parts. Most cameras including smartphones have the ability to turn on different gridlines to give you that overlay to assist in composing your image. By framing the elements of your image on those lines and at the intersection of those lines, it helps create a more balanced and visually interesting image. 
    • Shoot raw When you shoot raw you are getting the most out of your camera’s sensor.  Better yet, any adjustments to the raw file do not affect the original data. It’s also much more forgiving if your original file is over/under exposed. JPGs are compressed and once they’re shot, they’re baked into their look and it’s often not possible to change things like white balance and exposure after the fact. Yes, raw images take up more space, and require using editing software, but if you want better images, start with the most flexible source image.
    • Location, Location, Location– I’m always a bit jealous of our west coast editor(s) because they have so many amazing locations from seascapes to mountains to photograph. But great locations are all around us. Don’t shoot at the same parking lot every time! Put time and research into where you will be shooting a vehicle. Consider context…  a great city skyline or scenic rural road. I do a lot of google map location scouting and have files I can reference to match the car/truck to either my vision and/or the story. You can also save pins in the Google Maps app, making it very easy to see if you’re near one of your favorite spots.
    • Get Low, or high – Don’t shoot everything from standing, eye-level position. Shooting from a low angle will help create a “hero” image.  Finding different vantage points, help show off details from unique perspectives. I often pick a location that has a bridge or walkway if I know I want to capture the car from above.
    • Create a narrative This is often overlooked in automotive photography. Remember to look for details (badging, interesting materials, unique features) and create a visual story that compliments the written content. Much like a great story or song there should be a visual rhythm that keeps the viewer engaged from start to finish. 
    • Capture the speed When shooting the car in motion utilize what is called the panning technique. If you have it, set your camera to shutter priority mode (S on Nikon Cameras, Tv on Canon Cameras) and set your shutter speed from 1/15th to 1/125th. This allows you to keep the car in focus while capturing the motion behind it. Keep the camera level and fluid as possible as you follow the movement of the vehicle and shoot in high-speed continuous or burst mode. It’s easier to pan in a horizontal line but with practice you can master multiple situations. This will take some practice to get right and is a marriage of mastering the technology and using your body to physically move the camera while the shutter is open.
    • Practice I can’t stress this enough! After 15+ years of shooting, I’m always learning something and evolving my shooting style. Shoot as much as you can in multiple situations.  Be willing to learn from your mistakes and take chances. As you become more comfortable you can find your unique perspective and style and truly elevate your images.
  • 24 Jul 2019 4:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At the recent 2020 Ford Explorer launch program in Washington State, MAMA member Gary Witzenburg played the role of good Samaritan. While on the drive, which was a hot, dry day, he came around a curve but drove through a big cloud of dust. He was curious why there was so much dust as he didn't see any other cars on the road. Wondering what had caused it, he turned around, pulled over and walked along the road looking for a vehicle off down the hill. He didn't see one at first but instincts kicked in. When asked for more detail, Gary said "I thought I heard someone crying for help, so I kept walking, then spotted the car way down the hill. I could hear a woman crying and screaming for help." He proceeded to call 911 and waited at the top of the hill for them to arrive. After quite some time, the woman, who had also called 911, was pulled to safety.

    Gary is an award-winning automotive journalist who has been writing about automobiles, auto people and the industry in general for 30 years. A mechanical engineering graduate of Duke University, he is a former U.S. Navy officer, auto engineer race driver and advanced technology vehicle development manager who has authored eight automotive books.

    Gary has been a MAMA member since 2017. The MAMA Board wants to extend our kudos to him for being a good character and reminding all of us how important it is to help others!

  • 24 Jul 2019 4:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hyundai hosted MAMA’s July meeting with a special program to introduce the 2020 Palisade, the brand’s new flagship SUV, to media members. The morning kicked off at Hyundai’s regional headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, with a breakfast and presentation led by Mike O’Brien, vice president, product, corporate and digital planning, and Trevor Lai, manager, product planning for Hyundai.

    Following the presentation, 25 media members were able to test drive the Palisade via a road trip to Starved Rock State Park, a scenic wilderness area located in LaSalle County, about an hour and a half drive from Hyundai’s offices. Prior to the drive, O’Brien and Lai highlighted the features they’re confident will set the Palisade apart from its competitors in the already crowded 3-row midsize SUV segment.

  • 24 Jul 2019 4:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Greetings MAMA members,

    Welcome to the first edition of the MAMA Newsletter! We’re planning to send out these updates on a quarterly basis going forward, to keep you up to date on the latest MAMA news.

    MAMA was formed in the fall of 1991 to bring together journalists and public relations professionals involved in the automotive industry. Today, we are proud to be one of the premier media associations in the country, with 250 members.

    The MAMA Board was delighted to welcome a new Vice President to our team in mid-June. Harvey Briggs has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the automotive media business, and he is showing no signs of slowing down. MAMA will benefit greatly from his skill set and energy.

    The MAMA Spring Rally Team put on another successful Spring Rally at the Road America course in Elkhart Lake, WI, this past May, and we’re thrilled with the strong attendance and the excellent content that our members generated from the event.  Nearly 100 journalists attended and had access to 80 vehicles from 25 different brands, with driving opportunities on track, street, off-road, and autocross.  The team recently held our debrief meeting to compare notes, and look for ways to make next year’s event even better.

    Our July meeting, hosted by Hyundai, took place on July 11. Hyundai brought a small fleet of its new Palisade three-row SUVs for a driving excursion that took participants to Starved Rock State Park and back, providing a great opportunity for a detailed road-test evaluation. More information is posted below on this new vehicle entering into the midsize SUV segment.

    Our next monthly luncheon meeting is scheduled for August 14, and will be hosted by the Steel Market Development Institute. Don’t miss it—the meeting will feature a virtual-reality experience that will provide a glimpse of what a ride an autonomous vehicle may look and feel like.

    We’re also gearing up for this year’s Fall Rally, which will once again be held at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL. October 2 is the date for that event, so mark it on your calendar and stay tuned for more updates in the near future.

    That’s all for this time… see you next time around!

    Damon Bell

    MAMA President

  • 16 Jul 2019 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hyundai hosted MAMA’s July meeting with a special program to introduce the 2020 Palisade, the brand’s new flagship SUV, to media members. The morning kicked off at Hyundai’s regional headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, with a breakfast and presentation led by Mike O’Brien, vice president, product, corporate and digital planning, and Trevor Lai, manager, product planning for Hyundai. Following the presentation, 25 media members were able to test drive the Palisade via a road trip to Starved Rock State Park, a scenic wilderness area located in LaSalle County, about an hour and a half drive from Hyundai’s offices. Prior to the drive, O’Brien and Lai highlighted the features they’re confident will set the Palisade apart from its competitors in the already crowded 3-row midsize SUV segment.


    The Palisade name references a line of high cliffs, and also signifies the strength of a fortress—and the Palisade’s bold exterior and strong profile are in keeping with its moniker. The standard second-row bench seat provides eight-passenger seating, but second-row captain’s chairs are also available for seven-passenger capacity and easier access to the third row. The color palate choices are subtle and reserved, which underscores the Palisade’s upscale positioning. The long wheelbase offers good ride quality, and 20-inch wheels give the midsize SUV a planted stance.

    The Palisade’s interior has a high-end look; the top-line Limited model includes luxury features such as quilted Nappa leather seats, ambient lighting, Harmon Kardon premium audio system, and a surround-view monitor. Cargo space abounds; there’s 18 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seats, growing to 86.4 cu. ft. with the second- and third-row seats folded. The Palisade also offers loads of convenience features, including one-touch third-row access (where the second-row seat folds and slides with a press of a button when entering or exiting the vehicle) and available power-folding third-row seats.


    In terms of tech, the Palisade features an all-new digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch widescreen navigation system, available “driver talk” in-car intercom (to broadcast the driver’s voice through the rear speakers) and a “quiet mode” feature (which mutes the speakers in the back so parents can listen to music/podcasts while kids sleep, for example).

    Hyundai’s SmartSense safety technology also comes standard on every Palisade, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, driver attention warning, safe exit assist, highway drive assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, ultrasonic rear occupant alert and lane following assist.


    The Palisade comes in three trim levels, with the SE starting at $31,550, the SEL at $33,500, and the Limited at $44,700.

    Please save the date for MAMA’s August meeting with the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI): Wednesday, August 14. SMDI will give attendees a first-hand glimpse of what a ride in an autonomous vehicle may look and feel like through a virtual reality experience. Members may register here.

  • 29 May 2019 4:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin – May 29 – The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) hosted its annual Spring Rally last week at Road America, one of the world’s premier road racing tracks. Over the course of two days, nearly 100 media members from across the country had the opportunity to put nearly 80 vehicles through their paces in a variety of driving opportunities, including on-track, street, off-road and autocross.

    Automakers from 25 different brands selected the 2019 MAMA Spring Rally to showcase their latest cars, trucks, SUVs and CUVs to top-tier automotive journalists. A handful of the attending manufacturers also provided detailed overviews of their latest products.


    Photo Credit: Cars.com

    Lexus officially opened the MAMA Spring Rally with a breakfast presentation featuring the 2020 Lexus RC lineup—particularly the high-performance RC F model. Bob Gleich, senior product trainer for Lexus, said the 2020 RC F is lighter and more capable than before. He also reiterated that the F is highly capable on the track as the vehicle relies on a variety of technologies to help make its performance accessible to drivers of varying skill levels.

    Refreshed and redefined for 2020, the RC F receives enhanced performance (with weight reduction) and an updated, aggressive design. Taking advantage of the reduced weight, RC F engineers also retuned the chassis to give the car a more responsive feel. Under the hood is a 5.0-liter V8 engine that puts out 472 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque.


    Photo Credit: Cars.com

    The RC F also comes in a Track Edition, a limited production model intended for hardcore enthusiasts. Both the 2020 Lexus RC F and the RC F Track Edition are in production and will be available at dealerships shortly. Pricing for the 2020 RC F starts at $64,750, and the Track Edition starts at $96,650.  


    Photo Credit: Cars.com

    Following a morning of track touring laps and street drive evaluations, Nissan’s Karen Long discussed the brand’s commitment to sedans, the overall state of the sedan market and the company’s latest reveal, the 2020 Nissan Versa.

    Despite the growing SUV and crossover market, a recent survey – conducted by third-party research firm Edelman Intelligence – found that 78 percent of respondents would consider purchasing a sedan. Moreover, U.S. sedan owners are just as satisfied with their cars as non-sedan owners.

    Long discussed the continued importance of the sedan market, highlighting the 2020 Nissan Versa, the brand’s smallest and most affordable sedan. The 2020 Versa embodies the Nissan Intelligent Mobility philosophy; it’s fully equipped with safety and connectivity features such as standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, and available intelligent cruise control, which can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if needed.

    Inside, drivers can stay fully connected with seamless smartphone integration and a tablet-like 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Heated front seats and customizable gauges (such as music playlists to fuel economy history) are also a bonus.

    “The MAMA Spring Rally was a great event for Nissan to showcase the all-new 2020 Versa and speak about our commitment to the sedan market,” said Karen Long, senior manager sedans, CMM, Nissan North America. “We’re thankful to have had the opportunity to engage with such a great and influential crowd and to have them drive some of our latest vehicles.”

    The 2020 Versa will arrive at dealerships later this summer. Pricing has yet to be announced but Nissan said it will be priced competitive in the segment. 


    Quite literally shifting gears, Hyundai put its Veloster N in the spotlight by bringing five models for journalists to drive on track, on street and in the autocross. Mike O’Brien wrapped up the first full Rally day with a dinner presentation on the Veloster N, highlighting the three key pillars of the vehicle’s “fun-to-drive” theme: Corner Rascal (with precise control through corners); Race Track Capability; and Everyday Sports Car (easy to control from urban commutes to track driving).

    The “N” in its name both represents Namyang, Korea (where Hyundai’s engineering center is based and where the vehicle was born), as well as Germany’s Nürburgring, one of the longest, most tradition-steeped, challenging and busiest race tracks in the world (where the vehicle was honed). Also of note, the letter “N” represents a chicane. Built for the track, the Veloster N features a 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, N corner-carving differential, electronically controlled suspension, N “grin control” drive modes for precision and control, and a variable exhaust system.


    Photo Credit: Cars.com

    Racing attributes aside, the Veloster N offers the following as standard equipment: 8-inch audio display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, premium audio, LED headlights and taillights, Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Car Service, proximity key with push button start, and automatic temperature control.

    “The Veloster N is another example of Hyundai’s capabilities, offering a comprehensive degree of exterior and interior features and thrilling dynamics in an exciting sports car,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, product, corporate and digital planning, Hyundai. “The Veloster N represents Hyundai’s highest performance vehicle ever for the U.S. market. We were thrilled to share our fun-to-drive Veloster N at the Midwest Automotive Media Association's Spring Rally.”

    The Veloster N begins at $26,900; the available Performance Package bumps the starting price to $29,000.


    Volkswagen kicked off the second day of the 2019 MAMA Spring Rally with a presentation and overview of the Jetta GLI, which was also available for evaluations on the street, the track, and the autocross.

    New for the 2019 model year, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is a sedan with the heart and soul of the Golf GTI. Now featuring a 228-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a sophisticated limited-slip differential, and front brakes from the Golf R, the GLI is all new and presents a great value in the sport-sedan segment, according to VW.

    “I’m really pleased that we had the chance to present the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI to our friends at MAMA,” said Mark Gillies, senior manager, product and technology communications, Volkswagen of America. “The Spring Rally is a highlight of the media association year and I’m delighted that MAMA members were able to experience the vehicle at Road America, one of my favorite tracks on the planet.”

    The 2019 Jetta GLI begins at $25,995 – $1,000 more for the 35th anniversary edition – and is currently on sale.


    Following an action-packed morning of off-road, autocross, and street driving, Mopar, the service, parts, and customer-care brand of FCA, hosted the final event and presentation of the MAMA Spring Rally. Kim Mathers, head of accessories and performance parts, Mopar, walked attendees through the brand’s evolution over 80-plus years in serving customers throughout the ownership experience.


    Photo Credit: Cars.com

    Mathers highlighted the brand’s emphasis on offering a large menu of accessories right at launch for new vehicles, such as the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator and 2019 Ram 1500.

    “The MAMA event is a great opportunity to share the Mopar brand’s mission with a large group of key journalists and media outlets,” said Mathers. “We were able to put journalists behind the wheel and let them experience a Ram 1500 Big Horn loaded with Mopar accessories and also share with them a behind-the-scenes video of a Mopar Custom Shop to demonstrate how we can accessorize vehicles even before they reach the dealership. The event was a great opportunity to interact with media and build relationships.”

    Finalists for MAMA’s annual Family Vehicle of the Year (FVOTY) and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year (LFVOTY) Awards were also announced. During the event, journalists had the opportunity to evaluate 13 MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year contenders and six MAMA Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year contenders. Out of these vehicles, 70 MAMA journalists cast their votes and selected the following finalists.

    FVOTY Finalists:

    • 2020 Jeep Gladiator
    • 2020 Kia Telluride
    • 2019 Honda Passport
    • 2019 Mazda3

    LFVOTY Finalists:

    • 2019 BMW X7
    • 2019 Lincoln Nautilus
    • 2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53 Coupe

    To qualify for the awards, the vehicle must have four doors and be new or significantly updated within a year of the Spring Rally. These vehicles will join another round of finalists that will be selected during the 2019 MAMA Fall Rally this October. A final round of online voting will then take place to determine the overall winner in each category, both of which will be announced during the MAMA breakfast that opens the 2020 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview in February. 

    “MAMA developed the Family Vehicle and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Awards to help car-shopping families make a wise decision when they’re ready for a new vehicle, and who better to evaluate these vehicles than the high-caliber group of automotive journalists who attend our rallies?” said Damon Bell, MAMA president. “We look forward to sharing the final results during the 2020 Chicago Auto Show.”


    The MAMA Spring Rally also served as a venue for the presentation of the 2019 Chicago Auto Show’s Best of Show Awards. In voting conducted over the 10-day public run of the Chicago Auto Show, consumer voters selected their favorites in five categories. Mark Bilek, senior director of communications and technology for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, which produces the Chicago Auto Show, was on hand to distribute the awards to attending automakers. Jordan Wasylyk of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles accepted Jeep’s awards for Best Exhibit and for the 2020 Gladiator, which was voted Best All-New Production Vehicle. Bob Gleich of Lexus accepted the Best Concept Vehicle award for the Lexus LC Convertible. The 2019 Audi e-tron was also voted Best Green Vehicle and the 2019 Bugatti Chiron was selected the “Vehicle I’d mist like to have in my driveway.”

    For more information on the Midwest Automotive Media Association, please visit www.mamaonline.org.

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    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991 and now in its 28th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) comprises more than 250 automotive journalists and industry professionals from approximately 23 states and the District of Columbia. Though based in the Chicago area, MAMA welcomes members from all parts of the country. The organization’s primary purpose is to provide a forum for newsworthy people, current issues and new products in the auto industry.

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