MAMA News

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  • 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!

  • 07 Jul 2020 2:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In these changing times, car manufacturers have adapted quickly to e-communication and have thus jumped at the opportunity to host MAMA eMeets, a virtual e-meeting series MAMA launched at the start of COVID-19 to help keep our members connected and “up to speed.” The latest in the #MAMAeMeet series was a presentation led by Hyundai on its all-new 2020 Venue subcompact crossover SUV.


    Hyundai Senior Manager of Product Strategy and Planning Michael Evanoff kicked off the virtual presentation. The Venue slots just below the Kona terms of size and powertrain, and offers plenty of standard safety and connectivity features. The Venue marks the seventh addition to Hyundai’s SUV lineup.

    Evanoff talked a bit about the vehicle’s positioning to the market, adding that its primary target buyers are aspirational, single females. He said the Venue is perfect for those with a “side hustle,” as it’s nimble to get around in but has a surprising amount of storage space—such as a modular underfloor cargo area—for a subcompact SUV. Secondarily, Hyundai is targeting empty-nesters who are looking to downsize from their current vehicle.

    Related to the exterior design, Evanoff described the Venue as iconic, modern, and stylish. It’s solid and portrays a sporty image, with a simple yet distinctive rear design. Extroverted two-tone color options for roof, mirrors and trim are optional. Also available are LED taillights with a unique light signature, for buyers seeking some additional customization.


    Inside, Evanoff described the Venue as “stylish” with an “emotional robustness.” Interior features include a leather steering wheel and shift knob, 8-inch floating display, drive mode select with a snow mode option, and automatic climate control. The Venue was named a top pick in Wards 10 Best Interiors list, which Evanoff noted was a great accomplishment as other winners included luxury brands such as BMW and Lincoln.


    In terms of safety, the Venue offers some great standard features, including forward collision-avoidance assistance with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and driver attention warning. Blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic alert is available.

    The Venue comes with a new Smartstream powertrain: a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that puts out 121 horsepower and 113 lb.-ft. of torque. The Venue gets great fuel economy too; its EPA rating is 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving.


    C.J. Eckman, Hyundai Manager of IoT and Connected Car, further expanded on the Venue’s in-vehicle connectivity. He highlighted the vehicle’s standard 8-inch display audio with a color LCD touchscreen, rearview camera, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration. Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system—featuring remote start and auto climate control—is included on all Hyundai models for three years. Alexa and Google Assistant integration are also available.

    In terms of packaging, Hyundai offers the Venue in three trim levels: SE (includes standard safety features), SEL (most popular trim with premium features), and Denim (top-line model with exclusive exterior and interior trim).

    Venue pricing starts at $17,350 for the SE and ranges to $22,050 for the Denim. The Venue is currently available at dealerships nationwide.

  • 20 May 2020 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) members were among the first to learn of Nissan’s 2020 Frontier pricing, which was announced this week during the association’s latest eMeet, a virtual meeting series. More than 50 MAMA members, comprised of automotive journalists and related industry professionals, were able to ask live questions of Nissan’s Senior Marketing Manager Michael Yarger and Senior Manager of Engineering Melaina Vasko.

    Pricing for the refreshed-for-2020 Nissan Frontier pickup, which was first unveiled this past February during the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, will begin at $26,790 for the Frontier S King Cab 4x2 model. The top-line model, the Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab 4x4, will be listed at $37,490. Across the model lineup, the 2020 prices represent an average increase of less than $2,000 from 2019.

    The 2020 Frontier features a new 3.8-liter direct-injection V6 engine paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The new engine is rated 310 horsepower (best in class, according to Nissan) and 281 lb.-ft. of torque, and helps the 2020 Frontier achieve its 6,640-lb. towing capacity.

    A host of additional upgrades will be offered for the 2020 model year, including standard push-button start, a leather shift knob, manual tilt steering, power door locks and power windows with the auto-down feature on the driver’s side.

    The 2020 Frontier is available in King Cab, Crew Cab Short Wheelbase and Crew Cab Long Wheelbase bodies, and comes with a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations. Additionally, two previous option packages have been added to 2020 Frontier Crew Cab SV grades at no additional charge: the Midnight Edition—featuring special black exterior treatments and 18-inch gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels—and the Special Edition Package—featuring a trip computer, Satin Chrome grille, body-color rear bumper and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

    The 2020 Frontier is scheduled to arrive at dealerships this July.

    For more information on the 2020 Frontier, please visit NissanNews.com. For more information on MAMA and upcoming MAMA eMeets, visit MAMAOnline.org.


  • 01 May 2020 2:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As part of MAMA’s ongoing #MAMAeMeet series, FCA hosted a discussion this week surrounding its all-new Uconnect 5 infotainment system that will first appear on the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica. Leading the virtual meeting was Jin Palmer, FCA’s Head of Infotainment and Feature Planning, and Vince Galante, Chief Designer of User Experience for FCA.

    Palmer noted FCA’s shift to the new software is driven by consumer demand. According to market research, 51 percent of consumers report that technology sways their decision when selecting a new vehicle. An even higher 64 percent are loyal to their in-vehicle tech systems and, moreover, 78 percent of shoppers choose a new vehicle based on a simple and easy-to-use infotainment system. With this in mind, FCA takes a holistic approach to stay ahead of the industry transformation curve by uniting the key elements that are important to consumers.

    Backed by a new Android operating system, FCA claims Uconnect 5 is five times faster than its outgoing system and has three times the resolution when displaying on-screen graphics. The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica will be one of the first FCA vehicles to get the Uconnect 5 system; it will offer a large 10.1-inch touchscreen, which is nearly 20 percent larger than the screen it replaces.


    Aesthetically speaking, everything is laid out in a logical fashion keeping in line with these four pillars:

    • Aligns with a digital lifestyle
    • Keeps vehicle fresh
    • Improves customer care
    • Allows for future tech applications

    The technology features are enhanced, including:

    • Familiar gestures such as swiping
    • Ability to connect two phones simultaneously using Bluetooth
    • Presets are not limited to bands (Sirius XM, FM and AM can coexist in the same line)
    • New TomTom navigation experience adds popular features for a built-in solution with natural voice capability and Maps Over The Air (MOTA)
    • Uconnect pioneers personalization with up to five user profiles plus valet mode, reestablishing vehicle preferences and settings with the touch of a button
    • Exclusive and customizable home screen allows quick access to frequently used features with one-touch operation
    • Uconnect expands Alexa "Home to Car" functionality to include in-vehicle Alexa virtual assistant with natural voice capability and “Car to Home” features
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration


    FCA’s design challenge with its new Uconnect 5 system was for owners to have one-touch access to frequently used controls. Some additional noteworthy new features include the ability to mix and match content to build a personalized interface and the access to create up to five custom interfaces.

    While the Uconnect 5 system will first debut on the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica, it will eventually roll out to Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Fiat vehicles.

    The MAMA Board is planning two additional #MAMAeMeet virtual meetings for May; invitations are forthcoming.

  • 14 Apr 2020 10:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week, Hyundai hosted MAMA’s first “virtual” online monthly meeting via Zoom web-conferencing software. Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, MAMA is focused on providing relevant content to our media members while continuing to serve as an effective outlet for MAMA affiliate members to present new products and news to a relevant and engaged audience.

    Scott Margason, Director of Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America, opened the Zoom meeting with an update on Hyundai’s sales momentum throughout 2019, where the brand saw an increase even when the rest of the industry experienced sales declines. Margason attributes the brand’s growth to an overall surge in SUV sales; Hyundai’s SUV sales are up 56 percent. However, even though Hyundai’s SUV sales have increased, he noted the continued demand for sedans, especially alternative fuel vehicles. According to Hyundai research, 33 percent of people polled would consider purchasing a hybrid as their next vehicle.


    The initial announcement of the 2020 Sonata Hybrid made waves at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, where the vehicle made its worldwide debut. Jerome Gregeois, Senior Manager, Hyundai Technical Center, discussed the many new features of the 2020 Sonata Hybrid, including:

    • Best-in-class highway fuel economy on Blue trim level
    • Class-leading combined fuel economy on Blue trim level
    • EPA estimated 52 mpg combined fuel economy rating and 686 miles of driving range on Blue trim level
    • Solar Roof System can increase driving range – Hyundai says people can think of it as up to 700 “free” miles per year
    • Hyundai Digital Key technology as an option
    • The top front-seat leg- and headroom in the segment
    • Unique eco-friendly design cues improve aerodynamics
    • Active Shift Control technology makes shifts 30 percent faster and smoother

    The Sonata Hybrid is offered in three trim levels: Blue (well-equipped, price-leading model with high level of standard safety features); SEL (value-driven core model with popular equipment; and Limited (fully loaded model with advanced safety and convenience features). The vehicle is now hitting Hyundai dealerships.

    Margason wrapped up the presentation by sharing his belief that Hyundai has the best fuel cell tech on the market. He said while a full transition to electrification will take time, Hyundai wants to be ahead of the curve and ready to share its wide portfolio of multiple technologies with the marketplace.

    MAMA is in the process of planning its next virtual meeting for later this month, so members should stay tuned for more details.

  • 10 Mar 2020 11:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfa Romeo hosted the MAMA March meeting at a new-to-MAMA venue, Iron Gate Motor Condos – the Chicago area’s first exclusive residence for classic, collector and exotic vehicles. This unique motor-condo facility spans a 45-acre campus and brings together passionate car collectors to gather in a community and celebrate their hobby.

    Ben Lyon, Head of Alfa Romeo, Operations and Customer Experience, led the presentation to spotlight the new 2020 Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV, both of which are just hitting dealership showrooms this quarter. Lyon discussed the highlights of both freshened vehicles “keeping what’s great and improving on the rest.” The updates include new standard content, an enhanced premium interior, advanced safety features and a new 8.8-inch touchscreen display.


    Also new for 2020 is a host of standard and available connectivity features, including Wi-Fi Hotspot, Mobile App with Remote Operations, SOS Call (Private) and Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Finder, Stolen Vehicle Locator and Assistance, as well as select Firmware Over the Air updates.

    At the forefront of the Giulia’s refined cabin is the new center console, which provides an updated design featuring a machined-knurled aluminum-look rotary dial, upgraded knob materials and increased storage capacity. Rounding out the enhanced Giulia interior environment are larger cup holders and a new phone storage area with available wireless charging.


    The 2020 Giulia and Stelvio mark the debut of a full set of available advanced driver-assistance systems, including Level 2 semi-autonomous capabilities that enable the vehicle to control acceleration, braking and steering in certain driving conditions – providing the driver with the perfect balance between driving pleasure and autonomous control. These include:

    • Highway Assist System
    • Traffic Jam Assist System
    • Traffic Sign Recognition
    • Lane Keep Assist
    • Active Blind Spot Assist
    • Driver Attention Alert
    • Standard Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus

    Verde Visconte Metallic (green), Lunare White Metallic and Anodized Blue are newly available metallic-paint colors for 2020. Lyon noted that the most popular color choices for Alfa Romeo models are something bold – especially blue and red hues.


    Also announced was the introduction of the new Giulia GTA, a limited-run model that is technically and conceptually inspired by the Giulia GTA of 1965: the “Gran Turismo Alleggerita” developed by Autodelta and based on the Giulia Sprint GT that racked up sporting successes worldwide. Based on the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Giulia GTA is fitted with special lightweight components and a more powerful version of the Alfa Romeo 2.9 V-6 Bi-Turbo engine that puts out 540 horsepower instead of the Quadrifoglio’s 505 hp. Only 500 GTAs will be produced, and there’s no word on yet on the car being sold in the United States.

  • 10 Feb 2020 5:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chicago, Illinois (Feb. 6, 2020) – The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) announced today at the Chicago Auto Show that the 2020 Kia Telluride has been named the winner of its 10th annual Family Vehicle of the Year award, and the 2020 Lincoln Aviator has been named the winner of the second annual Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year award.


    MAMA is a nonprofit group of automotive journalists and public-relations professionals, and it developed the awards to help car-shopping families make a wise decision when they’re ready for a new vehicle.

    To qualify for the award, vehicles had to have four doors, appear at one of MAMA’s two annual rallies, and be new or significantly updated within a year of the 2019 Spring Rally, which took place last May.

    Voting took place at both the Spring and Fall Rallies, which narrowed down the field of contenders. Mainstream finalists were the Ford Escape, Ford Explorer, Honda Passport, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Gladiator, Kia Telluride, Mazda 3, and Subaru Outback. The finalists in the luxury category were the BMW X7, Cadillac XT6, Lincoln Aviator, Lincoln Nautilus, and Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53 Coupe.

    In each round of voting, three points were awarded for a first-place vote, two points were given for a second-place vote and third-place votes were valued at one point each.


    MAMA’s journalist members then voted in one final round. The 2020 Kia Telluride was selected as Family Vehicle of the Year with 205 points, ahead of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, which garnered 174 points. The 2020 Subaru Outback placed third with 69 points.

    The 2020 Lincoln Aviator was crowned Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year with 192 points, edging out the 2019 BMW X7, which netted 148 points. The 2020 Cadillac XT6 rounded out the top three with 108 points.


    Voting for the 2021 FVOTY awards will begin at the 2020 MAMA Spring Rally, which is scheduled for May 20-21 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

    For more information, please visit www.mamaonline.org

    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991, and now in its 29th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association comprises 258 automotive journalists and public relations professionals from 22 states and DC. 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, major issues, and new products in the auto industry.

  • 02 Feb 2020 8:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nissan’s Keith St. Clair, director of product planning, Nissan USA, was the speaker at the January MAMA meeting to discuss the all-new 2020 Sentra.

    Since the car’s introduction 37 years ago, more than six million Sentras have been sold—spanning eight generations. St. Clair discussed all the ways this sedan is Nissan’s best-selling nameplate.


    First, why sedans? St. Clair said that while the industry has certainly seen a big shift to SUVs and CUVs, sedans are still very popular. In fact, more than four million sedans have been sold here in the U.S., and 78 percent of folks who don’t own sedans noted they would consider buying one. Furthermore, 86 percent of 18-34-year-olds who don’t own a sedan would consider buying one.

    And, according to St. Clair, this sedan is one that’s changing the way people think of sedans.


    Expressive style, an emotional driving experience, value, efficiency and ease of maneuverability are all characteristics of the vehicle. Exceeding expectations in the compact segment, the Sentra offers style, craftsmanship, safety, technology, performance and value.

    “The only thing we’re carrying forward is the name – everything else is brand new,” said St. Clair of the Sentra.

    In terms of tech, the Sentra receives an all-new infotainment system with a standard 7-inch high-definition screen. St. Clair explains that this is a key factor of the upgraded sedan because it makes drivers more comfortable and confident.

    Safety also comes standard on this car, including Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 (a suite of six advanced driver-assist systems), ten air bags, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Driver Attention Alertness.


    The vehicle is also agile and exciting to drive, according to St. Clair. This is the first time that Nissan is offering a new platform with a multi-link independent rear suspension on the Sentra. Wider and lower, the new platform offers improved NVH. Standard active ride control (which helps improve handling when driving over a bumpy environment, smoothing out the ride and ensuring driver’s confidence), intelligent trace control and vehicle dynamics control.

    Additionally, the Sentra has an all-new powertrain with 149 horsepower—20 percent more than before.


    St. Clair refers to a “simple grade strategy:” Good, Better and Best (S, SV and SR). Overall, he says the Sentra is fun-to-drive, offers advanced technology, has unmatched safety features, high-level craftsmanship and expressive design. “It’s not just another compact car; it’s really a midsized car masquerading as a compact car,” he said. It’s the new era of sedans.

    The Sentra is set to go on sale in early February.

  • 16 Jan 2020 9:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), an organization comprised of automotive journalists and related industry professionals, elected its 2020 board of directors during its annual January business meeting.

    Secretary Kelley Enright, treasurer Larry Nutson and communications director Jennifer Morand were all re-elected to serve two-year terms.

    Damon Bell continues to hold the role of MAMA president, Harvey Briggs continues as MAMA senior vice president and Jennifer Newman continues as vice president, membership.

    Jill Ciminillo, who served a two-year term as MAMA president from 2017-2018, will carry out her second-year term as president emeritus.  

    During the annual business meeting it was reported that the association currently maintains a membership of 253 automotive journalists and industry professionals serving in the automotive industry or related fields.

    It was also announced that MAMA will continue to host the opening breakfast at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview on Thursday, Feb. 6, where the association will announce its 2020 Family Vehicle of the Year Award and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Award recipients.

    The Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Subaru Outback are the finalists for the MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year Award, and the BMW X7, Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator are the finalists for the luxury category. Following the award ceremony, Toyota North America’s Group Vice President Edward Laukes will present a program.

    For more information on the Midwest Automotive Media Association and upcoming events, visit www.mamaonline.org.

    ###

    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991, and now in its 29th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association comprises 253 automotive journalists and public relations professionals from across the country – though based in the Chicago area. The organization’s primary purpose is to provide a forum for newsworthy people, major issues and new products in the auto industry.

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