ELKHART LAKE, Wis.; The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) held its annual Spring Rally last week at Road America – one of the world’s premier road racing tracks. Over the course of two days, more than 80 media members from across the country had the opportunity to put more than 90 vehicles through their paces in a variety of driving opportunities, including on-track, street, off-road and autocross.
Automakers selected the MAMA Spring Rally to showcase their latest cars, trucks, and SUVs, and a few even gave the assembled MAMA journalists in-depth presentations on the hottest new or soon-to-be-released vehicles in their lineups.
Nissan kicked off the MAMA Spring Rally with a breakfast presentation featuring the official unveiling of the Altima Edition ONE, a limited-production launch edition of the all-new 2019 Nissan Altima sedan. The presentation marked the first time the sixth-generation Altima has been seen outside of an auto show.
The Edition ONE features exclusive 19-inch dark gray aluminum-alloy wheels, rear spoiler, external ground lighting, illuminated kick plates and Edition ONE badging and floormats. In addition, buyers have access to the new Edition ONE Nissan Concierge, an exclusive premium service that features 24/7 live assistant access (dinner reservations, event ticket purchases, etc.) that can be reached in-vehicle or through a compatible smartphone, smartwatch or smart speaker apps. The service is no-charge for the first three years of Edition ONE ownership.
Nissan announced that reservations open June 15th for the Altima Edition ONE and other 2019 Altima models, all of which are slated to go on sale this fall.
The redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 is lighter, more aerodynamic, more spacious, and more fuel-efficient than the previous-generation model, and MAMA members got a detailed overview of this groundbreaking new full-size pickup—as well as on-road and off-road driving opportunities. Highlights of the all-new Ram include an overall weight reduction of 225 pounds, towing capacity of up to 12,750 pounds, and an available UConnect 4C infotainment system with a massive 12-inch touchscreen.
“As we introduce the new 2019 Ram 1500, we were thrilled to give more than 80 journalists the opportunity to experience the no-compromise truck that is changing the way truck buyers view strength, efficiency, capability, technology, and luxury,” said Jim Morrison, Head of Ram Brand – FCA North America.
Hemi-powered Ram 1500 Quad Cabs and Crew Cabs are in dealerships now, with a starting price of $31,695 plus $1,645 destination fee; regular-cab and mild-hybrid “eTorque” models are due later this year.
MAMA Spring Rally attendees were among the first journalists to drive the all-new, third-generation RDX. Acura’s popular compact SUV is redesigned for 2019, gaining an A-Spec performance model, a more spacious cabin, an innovative “True Touchpad” remote-interface infotainment system, and all-new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that puts out 272 horsepower. Designed, developed, and manufactured in America, the 2019 Acura RDX is slated to arrive in dealerships this summer.
Volkswagen opened the second day of the MAMA Spring Rally with a breakfast highlighting its redesigned Jetta compact sedan, which was also on-hand for journalist test drives at the event. Based off Volkswagen’s award-winning MQB architecture, the 2019 Jetta dons a new sophisticated coupe-like exterior design, offers impressive interior space, competitive fuel economy and upscale technology features, from available automatic cruise control to available 10-color ambient lighting.
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is arriving in dealerships now, with a starting price of $18,545.
2018 Hyundai Kona
Hyundai helped close the two-day MAMA event with a presentation on its new entry into the subcompact crossover market. The 2018 Kona offers eye-catching “urban smart armor” exterior styling, a choice of a 147-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder or a 175-hp turbocharged 1.6 four, and a host of available advanced safety features.
“Hyundai Motor America was pleased to showcase the all-new Kona at the MAMA Spring Rally. A crossover for ‘Urban Adventurers,’ the new CUV offers youthful design, sporty driving character, leading safety technology and advanced infotainment features in an affordable, compact footprint, appealing to consumers with active lifestyles and adventure-oriented driving environments,” said Michele Tinson, Midwest Communications, HMA.
The 2018 Hyundai Kona is on sale now, with a starting price of $19,500; the pure-electric 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric is slated to join the lineup late this year in select states.
FVOTY and LFVOTY Finalists Announced
MAMA has expanded its Family Vehicle of the Year award this year by adding a new luxury vehicle division, and an impressive roster of 16 FVOTY candidates and 11 LFVOTY contenders were available for test drives at the Spring Rally. To qualify for the awards, a vehicle must have 4 doors and be new or significantly updated within a year of the Spring Rally. MAMA members digitally voted for their choices via an online survey at the event, and those votes were compiled to produce the following finalists:
Family Vehicle of the Year:
- 2018 Buick Regal TourX
- 2018 Ford Expedition
- 2018 Hyundai Kona
- 2018 Mazda6
- 2019 Ram 1500
- 2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year:
- 2019 Acura RDX
- 2018 Kia Stinger
- 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar
- 2019 Volvo XC40
These vehicles will join another round of finalists that will be chosen at the 2018 MAMA Fall Rally this October. A final round of online voting will determine the two winners, which will be announced at the MAMA Breakfast that opens the 2019 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview.
About the Midwest Automotive Media Association
Founded in 1991, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) is one of the most prestigious automotive press associations in the industry. MAMA's mission is to provide a forum in the Chicago area for newsworthy people, major issues, and new products in the automotive industry.
For more information, please visit www.mamaonline.org