MAMA Fall Rally Picks
If you followed social media during the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Fall Rally last week, you may have enjoyed our hyperlapse videos of the cars zipping around the track or saw the mud-stricken tires on the Wrangler straight from the off-road course. Each fall, approximately 70 MAMA members flock to Autobahn Country Club of Joliet for the chance to jump behind the wheel of more than 70 vehicles. With so many vehicles to choose from, our team split up to try to cover as much ground as possible.
Street Pick: For the Working Parent
Split up into three test drive opportunities -- street drives, off-road and, perhaps arguably the most fun, the racetrack -- we've selected one vehicle from each terrain that stood out. Recently launched, the MKC was hard to get our hands on as it was always out for a test drive (and the manufacturer reps brought two!), but we finally snagged one. The Lincoln brand is heating up overall (could Matthew McConaughey have something to do with this?) and the price is right -- the base model starts just under $34K -- for a compact SUV that provides all of the bang for not a lot of the buck. Compared to its luxury counterparts, the MKC is a great option and really stacks up against the competition.
Some of the Premiere level features include: power heated driver's and passenger's seats; MyLincoln Touch with an eight-inch screen, a media hub with two USB ports, an SD card reader, and RCA input; keyless entry and push-button start; cruise control; active noise control; programmable MyKey system; speed-sensitive intermittent wipers; remote start; HID headlamps; reverse sensors; heated mirrors; and many more features that prominently place it in the luxury category. Even with all the bells and whistles, the MKC should still come a few grand below key competitors, making it a great option for the working mom or dad who wants a safe yet luxurious vehicle for toting tots or clients around town.
Bonus pick: Dodge Journey Crossroad
With the fully-loaded model netting out around $35K, the Journey is a great option for the mainstream buyer; however, this vehicle is anything but mainstream. Touted by Dodge as the most versatile midsize crossover in its class, the Journey Crossroad is actually larger in size than its competitors. Additionally, it offers a smooth ride and good control for a family vehicle. The built-in child booster seats come standard, and the Journey is one of just a few of the options on the market that offer this convenient feature at this price point. Visitors of the 2014 Chicago Auto Show were able to see this vehicle in person for the first time.
Off-road Pick: The All-American
We earned our badge on the off-road track with the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition. The iconic all-American Wrangler handled beautifully as we literally climbed through the river and over the woods. The Wrangler offered ample power as we scaled small hills with embedded rocks and superior suspension on the descent. Based on Jeep's best-selling Sport model, the limited-edition is available as a two-door Wrangler or four-door Wrangler Unlimited model and is offered in six colors; we opted for Flame Red.
It sounds like Chrysler doesn't have any plans to build the Wrangler outside of the United States. A recent USA Today article hints that the next Wrangler will be built out of aluminum, and some worried that would mean manufacturing the vehicle overseas. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne negated the claims and reassured everyone that the Wrangler will continue to be made right here in the U.S.
Racetrack Pick: The Obtainable Exotic
The Alfa Romeo 4C marks the brand's first big return to the U.S. market, and this vehicle has already made a big splash. Compared to much of its competition, the 4C is an affordable option (starting at $55,195) but it doesn't fall short in quality with its dynamic handling and lively turbo soundtrack. The two-seat, mid-engine coupe is assembled for Alfa Romeo by Maserati and has a roaring engine -- did we mention there's no muffler? The transmission is a slick-shifting six-speed dual clutch automatic.
What would be your picks within these categories? Comment below or tweet us @ ChiAutoShow!
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