2013 MAMA Fall Rally - New Venue; New Cars
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor – New York Bureau
The Auto Channel
The non-profit Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) was
formed in the fall of 1991 to bring together journalists and public
relations professionals involved in the automotive industry. MAMA’s
membership, mostly from the Chicagoland area, has grown to more than 200
and includes print, broadcast and online journalists, and media relations
professionals who support the automotive cause. The membership also
includes engineers, classic-car buffs and racing enthusiasts.
The early-October MAMA Fall Rally is a day-long event that affords
members the opportunity to drive and experience a wide variety of new model
year vehicles. Previously held in a Chicago suburb with driving limited to
public roads, for the first time this year the Fall Rally was held at
Autobahn Country Club.
Autobahn Country Club (www.autobahncc.com) is an auto racing themed
country club located in Joliet, Illinois. Autobahn is fifty miles from the
Chicago Loop and in the shadows of NASCAR-sanctioned Chicagoland Speedway
and NHRA-sanctioned Route 66 Drag Strip. The facility includes a
configurable main track with a 1.50-mile north track, a 2.06-mile south
track, a full track of 3.56 miles, skid pad, and a 0.8-mile kart track.
There is also a wooded area for off-road driving.
This year’s fall rally event provided an array of about 70
different vehicles for on-road, off-road and on-track evaluation. My plan
was to pick and choose a few unique opportunities to drive new and somewhat
special vehicles that hadn’t come my way as of yet. So, I drove what
was at hand and here they are in no particular order.
2014 Dodge Durango R/T
, MSRP $38,995. R/T makes me think Race Truck.
With a 360HP 5.7-L Hemi engine this hauler will certainly get you where you
are going very quickly. The interior is gorgeous and the seating
configurations allow for soccer-practice carpooling or weekend drives with
another couple. Or, it can tow up to 7400lbs of beautiful boat, or a sleek
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel,
MSRP $51,006. This might just be the
smart choice SUV. The 30mpg EPA highway test rating for the 4x2 and the 25
gallon fuel tank quickly calculates to over 700 miles of driving range.
With a bit of careful driving I bet 1,000miles on a tank is within easy
2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport,
MSRP $59,070. The CTS has been redone for
2014 and is more beautiful than ever. This midsize luxury sedan is looking
for bragging rights among the well-know luxury makers. With 420hp coming
from the turbo 3.6-L V6, rocketing down the road in the Caddy is lots of
fun and very stylish.
2014 Audi A7 TDI
, MSRP $66,900. This high-style four-door coupe
version of the A6 will turn heads. The 38mpg EPA test highway rating that
can easily be exceeded will get you many miles down the road. The large
rear hatch provides a bit more versatility over the A6 sedan. The low rear
roofline might be a challenge if you play in the NBA. The rear seat does
now hold three.
2014 MINI Cooper Paceman ALL4
, MSRP $35,500. Entertainment and
practicality in one package. This 2-door version of the Countryman is a
nice urban-sized crossover with its unique style and personality.
2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo
, MSRP $43,020. I loved the ease in playing
with the Z on the track at Autobahn. Precise steering, balanced turn-in,
and excellent handling. If two-seats are all you need, the 370Z Nismo is
one fun car.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray,
MSRP $51,000. All the world loves
the new C-7. One of the contenders for North American Car of the Year. A
great sports car with 455HP and yet a 29mpg EPA test highway rating. Now
with a much-enhanced interior, good cargo room, and loads of electronics.
Only offered as a coupe for now. The convertible will come later.
2014 Nissan Juke Nismo,
MSRP $22,990. This 197HP sport cross is
offered in a choice of front-wheel drive with 6-speed manual transmission
or all-wheel drive with NISMO-tuned CVT transmission. A fun urban hauler.
If you are interested to compare any of these vehicles to others you
can do that right here on TheAutoChannel.com. Search TheAutoChannel.com for
full road test reviews. For more detailed information on these vehicles a
quick look at the manufacturer’s website is a good place to start.
Also, download the free TheAutoChannel smartphone app. The “My
Test Drives” app for both the IPad and iPhone is available for free
on The Auto Channel app found in the Apple App Store. The Auto Channel's
free "My Test Drives" app gives serious car shoppers the help they need to
make test drive evaluations accurate, effective and meaningful.
The new location for the Fall Rally at Autobahn Country Club proved
to be a significant improvement to this event. Media participants and
manufacturer representatives alike made use of the opportunity to drive a
variety of vehicles in varied driving situations.
© Larry Nutson