2013 MAMA Fall Rally - New Venue; New Cars

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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.

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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.

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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 Airstream.

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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 reach.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Get complete specifications on these vehicles:

Complete specifications on these and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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