Chicago Auto Show Blog

MAMA Family Vehicle and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Contenders Selected

Posted by: Jennifer Morand

The Chicago Auto Show team had the opportunity to attend the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally a couple weeks ago at Road America -- one of the world’s premier race tracks -- in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Over the course of two days, approximately 100 automotive journalists (who are also MAMA members) had the chance to put nearly 80 vehicles through their paces in a variety of driving opportunities. The first event day consisted of track touring laps and street driving, whereas the second and final day swapped on-track activities for off-road and autocross courses. 
 
Journalists were also able to evaluate MAMA Family Vehicle and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year contenders throughout the two-day event. To qualify for the awards, the vehicle must have four doors and be new or significantly updated within a year of the Spring Rally, which is held annually in May. These vehicles will join another round of finalists that will be selected during the 2019 MAMA Fall Rally in October. A final round of voting will then take place to determine the overall winner in each category, both of which will be announced during the MAMA breakfast that kicks off the Chicago Auto Show Media Preview in February 2020.
 
During the Spring Rally, a total of 13 MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year candidates were available for test drives and six Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year contenders were evaluated. From these vehicles, 70 MAMA journalists selected the following finalists for the categories: the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, 2020 Kia Telluride, 2019 Honda Passport and 2019 Mazda3 (FVOTY), and the 2019 BMW X7, 2019 Lincoln Nautilus and 2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53 Coupe (LFVOTY). 
 
Here’s the rundown regarding what makes these vehicles stand out as award contenders:
 
FVOTY
2020 Jeep Gladiator
Gladiator-Blog
Building on the success of its iconic Wrangler, Jeep recently introduced the all-new 2020 Gladiator -- what the brand refers to as the “most capable midsize truck ever.” The Jeep Gladiator made its Chicago debut during the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, where the open-air pickup truck was voted “Best All-new Production Vehicle” by show attendees. 
 
Advanced technology and safety features are packed into the Gladiator. A 7-inch (or an available 8.4-inch) touchscreen infotainment system allows the driver to configure information in more than 100 ways including media (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration), tire pressure gauge, tire-fill alert or digital speed readout. A removable Bluetooth wireless speaker is available so drivers and their family or friends can listen to their favorite music even while outside of the vehicle. 
 
Available safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, forward-facing off-road camera, standard ParkView rear backup camera, adaptive cruise control and electronic stability control.
 
2020 Kia Telluride
Telluride-Blog
2019 Chicago Auto Show attendees were among the first to experience the Telluride, Kia’s all-new three-row SUV, on an indoor, off-road course called the Torque Track. The auto show track featured off-camber turns, hill ascent/descent and an articulating rock crawl. 
 
Ruggedness aside, the Telluride offers a host of family-friendly features including Driver Talk -- a microphone that transmits what the driver is saying to the second- and third-row passengers -- as well as Quiet Mode, which only plays music through the front passengers’ speakers. Additional notable available features include a 10.3-inch touchscreen and a self-leveling rear suspension. Most notable is the Telluride’s low MSRP for its abundant features, starting at $41,690.
 
2019 Honda Passport 
Passport-Blog
Honda recently launched the Passport to offer buyers a two-row version of its Pilot, which has three rows, but an option larger than its compact CR-V. Honda said that when designing the Passport, it looked at the segment and found that some of its competitors (such as the Nissan Murano) lean heavily toward carlike driving manners and others (like the Toyota 4Runner) offer added off-road capabilities. With the Passport, Honda aimed for the best of both worlds: a cool urban vibe, but also able to go on an off-road weekend adventure.
 
For the adventure-seeking family, a dealer-installed Adventure Package is also available which includes a trailer hitch, running boards, roof cross bars, fender flairs and cargo tray. {Photo credit: Cars.com}
 
2019 Mazda3 
Mazda3-Blog
In short, this vehicle has appeal to a parent or a gearhead (bonus points if you’re both). The Mazda3 is fully redesigned for the 2019 model year and it checks all of the boxes for a comfortable ride, engaging handling, upgraded interior for a luxurious feel and efficiency -- all with an athletic driving spirit. 
 
Tech features include a revamped infotainment system with an 8.8-inch touchscreen and standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. A host of safety features are also available including a standard rearview camera on the sedan. Hatchback models add standard automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, driver attention and drowsiness monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. For the first time, the 2019 model is also available with AWD.
 
LFVOTY
2019 BMW X7
BMW-X7-Blog
The 2019 BMW X7 is the largest BMW sold in the U.S., offering standard 7-passenger seating on three-rows. The X7 better accommodates larger families than the X5 (the X7 is 9 inches longer than the X5). It’s available in two models: the X7 xDrive40i (with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine) and the X7 xDrive50i (with a 4.4-liter V8).
 
Both models come equipped with an abundance of standard tech and safety features. Offering a significantly expanded array of driver assistance systems, the X7 supports the driver through a variety of interconnected sensors by processing camera images and data acquired by radar. The X7 xDrive40i comes standard with active protection and active driving assistant including blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear collision warning, frontal collision warning and pedestrian warning with city collision mitigation (including cyclists), cross traffic alert rear and speed limit information.
 
The X7 xDrive50i adds standard parking assistant plus offering top view, panorama view and 3D view. The xDrive50i also includes head-up display and active driving assistant professional with active lane keeping assistant and extended traffic jam assistant for limited access highways. AWD comes standard on both models.  
 
Also, helping busy families stay on track, the X7 offers BMW’s “open mobility cloud” which connects with the driver’s digital devices (including smartphones, smartwatches, Alexa-compatible smart devices and Google Home). For instance, the app can import appointments and addresses from the driver’s calendar straight into the navigation system. {Photo credit: Cars.com}
 
2019 Lincoln Nautilus
Nautilus-Blog
The Nautilus aims to fill the gap between Lincoln’s large three-row SUV, the Aviator, and its compact Corsair. Key features include a roomy cabin, an array of standard tech features and more cargo space than competitors in the segment. In terms of tech, all Nautilus models come standard with a 2.3-inch digital gauge display with a secondary 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. Additionally, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, an 11-speaker audio system and 4G LTE-powered WiFi hotspot all come standard. Navigation and a wireless smartphone-charging pad are also offered on upgraded models (Select, Reserve or Black Label trims). Appealing to families with younger children, Lincoln also offers an optional rear-seat entertainment system on all trim levels.
 
In terms of safety, all Nautilus models come standard with Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assistance features including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning. Available on all models is adaptive cruise control with lane-centering adaptive steering.
 
Another perk for the overscheduled family, Lincoln helps to preserve precious time by picking up and delivering the vehicle for all service and maintenance needs (it will also provide a loaner Lincoln until the service is completed and vehicle returned). {Photo credit: Cars.com}
 
2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53 Coupe
Mercedes-Blog
SUVs aren’t mutually-exclusive when it comes to family vehicles, and for those seeking something a bit more unique in appearance with heightened performance levels, the AMG CLS 53 Coupe may scratch that itch. Power comes from a turbocharged in-line six engine that puts out 429 horsepower and 384 lb.-ft. of torque. To help manage that power is a nine-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
 
The AMG CLS 53 Coupe touts a luxurious feel with a large infotainment display, massaging front seats and ambient interior lighting. Standard safety features include active brake assist, active blind spot assist and Mercedes-Benz’s car-to-x technology feature, which warns the driver of potential dangers in real-time and helps to make traffic more efficient and safer. {Photo credit: Cars.com}
 
The MAMA FVOTY and LFVOTY Awards were developed to help car-shopping families make a wise decision when they begin research to either purchase or lease a car, truck or SUV. The Chicago Auto Show’s Media Preview continues to serve as an ideal venue for MAMA’s award announcements as more than 400 top-tier automotive journalists and industry representatives attend MAMA’s Chicago Auto Show opening breakfast annually. 
 
The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), producer of the Chicago Auto Show, and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), have a strong history and partnership. Former CATA President Jerry Cizek and longtime Chicago Tribune automotive journalist Jim Mateja (who, unfortunately, has since passed away due to a battle with cancer) together decided that there should be an automotive press association based in the Midwest. Mateja was a very well-respected automotive journalist and Cizek, as CATA president, had many industry connections. Hence, the Midwest Automotive Media Association was born. (Watch this video for the full story.
 
Which vehicles are your top picks for the MAMA Family Vehicle and Luxury Family of the Year Awards? Comment below or tweet us @ChiAutoShow
 
 
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