Field Trippin’ with the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The end of the school year brings many rewards.  Field trips are one such luxury.

Volkswagen has scheduled their rewarding field trips via JETTAHAUS.  Hosting this weekend are Chicago and Miami.  Next week New York and Los Angeles get the nod.  No matter the venue, taking the All-New 2019 Jetta for a spin scores high on any test.

I had the honor of motoring in the Jetta during its Chicago event.  Holding an innovative release at the Zhou B Art Center was genius. Art and automobiles, what a combo!  

Jetta at Zhou B

Photo by Jules Stayton

Arriving, I was greeted by Mark Gilles, representative for Volkswagen. Salutations were exchanged as we waltzed toward the lineup of 2019 Jettas on hand.  It’s always important to know who’s the boss on a field trip. 

Standing in a straight line, like any good field trip attendee, the Jettas came in a rainbow of colors and trim packages. Mark and I agreed that the “classic line” of this re-design hit it out-of-the-ballpark in the crowded compact car segment.  

2019 Jetta lineup

Photo by Jules Stayton

The S model starts at a conservative $18,545 so I chose a beautiful Tornado Red to make my debut through the Chicago field trip route.  30 city/40 hwy mpg never looked so good. 

Red Jetta line

Photo by Jules Stayton

Options are added to round-out the SE, SEL, SEL Premium and R-Line trim levels. Larger tires, panoramic sunroof, leather, blind-spot monitor, Beats Audio® and the VW Digital Cockpit are just a few of the available luxuries that customize the Jetta to each customer’s vibe.  Click here for a full list of trims and options. 

Jetta SEL

R line with art 2019 Jetta

R line emblem 2019 Jetta

R line interior 2019 Jetta


Photos by Jules Stayton

The “People First” limited warranty draws consumers with a 6 Year/72,000 mile security blanket that is Bumper-to-Bumper and Transferable.

VW People First Warranty

Photo by Jules Stayton

Driving down Lake Shore Drive amidst the museums and sporting venues was a dream with the support of the 1.4 -liter turbocharged direct injection TSI™ four-cylinder engine.  It is designed to allow higher torque at lower RPMs that adds up to more power and leaner fuel consumption. 

The ride was smooth amidst the pot-holes left over from the recently shed Chicago winter. 148 hp was more than enough in the 8-speed automatic transmission of the Jetta in tow, also available in a 6-speed manual. 

The “driver focused” interior boasts 10 settings in the ambient light package for just the right mood.  Settings for up to 4 drivers can be stored.  8 and 10-inch navigation screens, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make each Jetta like home for its owner.

My first car was a Volkswagen.  Memories were recalled as I put the Jetta through its paces around the Shedd Aquarium, Benton Harbor, Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum.


Photos by Jules Stayton

Like any good student, the Jetta was a winner and behaved beautifully under my tutelage.  It was responsive to demands and efficient in its handling and quickness in and out of parking areas.

A wonderful treat was where the JETTAHAUS event was held.  The Zhou B Art Center went all out with not only Jetta displays, but pinball machines, vintage video games, music, food and fun.  Sure to be a success, cars mingled with admirers young and old.

I’d like to say I’m somewhere in the middle…boy was it fun coloring on a car!


Go drive a Jetta for yourself this weekend in Chicago and Miami.  Next weekend jet to New York or Los Angeles for your fix. Details can be found at

Sign me up for a trip with the all new 2019 Jetta anytime, it was pure joy, even in the rain…unlike some end-of-the-year field trips.

Alfas Galore…and More

There’s no denying its prom season.  Limousines, tuxedos, beautiful dresses, flowers, dinners out and dancing ’til dawn.

Alfa Romeo displayed all its finery in prime prom style at the inaugural 2018 meeting of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).  MAMA Secretary, Kelly Enright, outdid herself with beautiful tables and centerpieces complete with information about the Alfa Romeo “Prom King”, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

MAMA Alfa Romeo centerpiece

Photo by Jules Stayton

The venue was chosen carefully for this shindig, Collectors’ Car Garage in Chicago, IL. Preserve your treasured auto in a climate controlled, dustless environment.  Members enjoy social events, coordinated drives and breakfast events…sounds like prom!  Should your baby need detailing, an in-house staff is in place upon request. Locations in New York and Chicago provide patrons with shelter from those severe winters the Big Apple and Windy City are known for.

Alfa Romeo lineup

Photo by Jules Stayton

Pictures are a big prom deal.  The flashes were flying when classic Alfa Romeos were gracing the display area.  Appetites were whet with a 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV and 1986 Alfa Romeo Duetto present.  The bevy of historical Alfas brought realism to the fact that current day Alfa Romeo models are award-winning and as popular as their grandfathers were.

Photos by Jules Stayton – 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV

Photos by Jules Stayton – 1986 Alfa Romeo Duetto

Introduced by the MAMA principal/president herself, Jill Ciminillo, Ben Lyon, Head of Product Marketing for Alfa Romeo spoke highly of the “Prom King”.  The Stelvio was named after a twelve-mile pass in the Italian alps.  The fastest production luxury SUV around the Nurburgring is another jewel in the crown of the “King”.   A 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and 505 horsepower add to the sparkle and finish adorning the crown with all the other added amenities of the Quadrifoglio. The “Queen” was present, Alfa Romeo’s Giulia, but bowed to the “King” at this meet-up.  She was glorious in white by the way…


Photo by Jules Stayton

Not to be left out, the luxury interior of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio…Alcantara 12-way front seats with thigh support and cockpit-like console and dash.

Photos by Jules Stayton – Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio interior

Signs of spring abound.

If you have an adolescent attending a prom, you know how important this rite of passage is in the life of a teenager.

The significant moments don’t end because of age.

Just ask those in attendance at the festivities in Chicago. Seeing fifty years of Alfas…that ranks right up there with prom.

The Stelvio is assembled at the FCA Cassino Plant, Cassino, Frosinone, Italy.

Stelvio pricing starts at $79,995.

The Quadrifoglio,  as pictured above, hovers near $93,000.

The Bullitt Goes to Washington

The original 1968 Bullitt Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the police drama “Bullitt” makes its way to Washington next week.

Much like Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, Sean Kiernan’s treasure has the potential to bring people who wouldn’t normally be “car people” to their knees on the National Mall next week with an idealistic view of history as seen through the eyes of car lovers everywhere.

April 17-23 marks the calendar for east coast dreamers to see their dream car under Plexiglas along with four other iconic cars that have made their appearance at this years 2018 edition of Cars at the Capital display in the month of April.

A 1985 Modena Spyder California from the movie “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” kicked off the celebration.  You might remember it as I do as Cameron’s Dad’s car that was “borrowed” for the day to deliver three precocious teens to the City of Chicago for a day of playing hooky.  It was made for the movie modeling it after the Ferrari.

The fifteen-millionth Ford, a 1927 Model T shows a bit of history itself on the Mall with its hand-stamped 15000000.  As one of the last off the line, Edsel and Henry Ford drove it off to signal the end of production and celebrate its success.

So far, none of the above mentioned history-makers have I had the privilege of riding in or any like them…but this next one…sign me up!  The 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan in all it’s wood-paneled glory graces the stage too.  Dodge Caravan joined the family as well.  It’s original 12,000 miles dating from the release in 1983 make this one unique Plymouth and very familiar to visitors.

Giving a nod to our military, a 1918 Cadillac Type 57 may help some hearken back to the days before the Jeep became the standard military vehicle.  As the only remaining Type 57 it is sure to thrill car enthusiasts at the end of April on the Mall as the last entry into “Cars at the Capital” for 2018.

For me, the Bullitt is the draw if I make my way to DC next week.  Ford has released a “new” 50th Anniversary Bullitt for 2019 pictured above as seen at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

The Kiernan Bullitt is estimated to be worth over 4 million dollars in its un-restored original condition with movie modifications and all.

The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Limited-edition will be throwing back 480 horsepower when it is released later this summer.  The only wonder in this buy is whether to go with Highland Green or Shadow Black.  Its Shelby GT350 intake is a no-brainer and top speed of 163 mph cements the deal.





Photos by Jules Stayton

Clean lines and hardly a patch adorns the body, save the faux fuel tank cover.  The 2019 Bullitt makes its own “new” statement.  Power, performance and history rolled together to make the next generation of  Mustang lovers proud to drive an icon, be it fifty years old or current day.

Thank you Steve McQueen for making history with that memorable green monster.

An even bigger thanks to Sean Kiernan and his dad for preserving a legendary automobile that means so much to so many.

Go to Washington next week with the same eyes as Mr. Smith did…open and willing to see the best…this time in the shape of a Mustang…and the cherry blossoms aren’t bad either.


The Bullitt will sell for $46,595.  Destination and delivery – $900.



Access by BMW Launches in Nashville

Today BMW launched its automobile subscription service Access by BMW.

Nashville, TN is the headquarters for the pilot program that will include two levels to choose from that allows unlimited switching of vehicles during any given 32-day membership cycle.

A $575 joining fee applies unless you are one of the lucky 50 to sign-up for the service first.  Insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance are included in the membership fee that will be fulfilled by local dealerships.

The Legend tier chimes in at $2000/month and includes the following:

Sedans:  530e xDrive iPerformance and 540i xDrive 35i

SAVs:  X5 xDrive 35i

Coupes/Convertibles:  440i Coupe, M2 Coupe, 440i Covertible


$3700/month moves you up to the BMW M tier including:

Sedans:  M5

SAVs:  X5M, X6M

Coupes/Convertibles:  M4 Convertible

Ian Smith, CEO of BMW Group Financial Services USA and Region Americas (Photo courtesy of BMW)

Ian Smith, CEO of BMW Group Financial Services USA and Region Americas stated,  “As customers continue to explore the growing mobility market, service-related offerings are becoming more in demand. With Access by BMW, our members will enjoy the freedom of personal mobility with access across a broad range of our highly emotional vehicles” .

In addition he commented,  “Subscription-based services are of emerging interest for our customers, and we’re excited to be offering a mobility service to meet their individual and evolving needs.”

Find out more at:



Making Music With the Audi TT

Audi strikes a chord with fun-loving consumers via its symphony of speed in the Audi TT.

The four-ring symbol for Audi AG is an aria in itself that represents the 1932 merge of four manufacturers: Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer.  From the Type K to the TT the decades-old German manufacturer has been a leader in innovative ideas from left-hand drive to turbo-charged.

One such feature is the quattro® four-wheel drive system. Developed over thirty years ago for the racing branch of Audi, the quattro® has withstood the test of time and brings crisp handling and smooth performance to all Audi models.  Even sunny weather is a treat when the all-wheel-drive system is constantly updating.  Drive-selectable controls give an even more personalized experience.

Audi TT RS

Photo by Jules Stayton

The TT oozes racing as one takes the controls.  Firmly bolstered sport seats anchor and allow full performance driving for the conductor of this concert.  The focus is the road and what’s ahead.  What better place to be…

Speed courtesy of a four-cylinder TFSI®  (Turbocharged Fuel Stratified Injection) turbocharged 2.0 liter engine producing 220 horsepower with 258 lb-ft of torque drives the Audi TT.  Click the link above to see it in action via YouTube video. Developed in 2001, see the evolution of the TFSI® in this video from Audi.

A lean 26 mpg is music to the ears of potential drivers.  Whether around town or on the racetrack Audi brings a product worth consideration.

The base TT records a $43,950 price tag that includes an automatic transmission, LED tail lights, dual exhaust, adaptive rear spoiler and 18″ wheels.  Twelve-way adjustable seats with a three-spoke flat bottom sport-steering wheel and paddle shifters rounds out the cockpit.

Other trim levels include the TTS coupe $52,950, TT RS Coupe $64,900, and the TT Roadster $47,450. Add a $975 destination fee to each.

The RS Coupe is the most powerful TT with an all new five-cylinder engine producing 400 horsepower.  Joining Audi’s Sport model line, the 2.5-liter TFSI® delivers. 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph make it a challenging competitor to the 2019 Mercedes A-class just revealed in Amsterdam this spring.

Audi TT

Photo by Jules Stayton

The TT I drove on the closed course at the Autobahn CC just outside Chicago,  was an ultra-responsive speed machine that fulfilled the needs of the track at hand.  Littered with cones, the race was against the clock and the car’s capabilities to maneuver the staccato course before me.  Dismissing the brake and managing the surge of power revealed where  skill unfolded.  Of the ten participants, I managed to be in the top three…another great place to be.

Audi TT front

Photo by Jules Stayton

Audi TT fuel

Photo by Jules Stayton

Audi TT rear

Photo by Jules Stayton

The track, highway or open road is your oyster and can be directed by one of four driving modes:  comfort, auto, dynamic or individual.  Manual transmissions provide an even more personalized experience. MacPherson struts and an aluminum sub-frame paired with a four-link rear suspension equal a lighter and balanced drive.

All the bells and whistles you can imagine are available via Audi’s MMI® (Multi Media Interface).  The Audi Virtual cockpit’s digital instrument cluster displays squarely in front of the driver via a 12.3 inch high-resolution screen.

Audi TT RS interior

Photo by Jules Stayton

24 hours of Le Mans isn’t a race most of us will ever experience either in-person or on television but you can have a taste of Le Mans through the Audi TT and it’s TFSI® engine right out of your driveway…drift away with the sounds of performance…it will be music  to your ears.

Its Cool to Own a Volvo Again…

You couldn’t miss it. It was green. A long box with windows. I jumped into the rectangular wonder many times on my way home from school.  Babysitting for a little boy who just loved the new movie “Star Wars” and playing with storm troopers my lot in life at the time.

I noticed a few other Volvos in town as the diagonal line across the grill stood out along with its strong styling.  Cars were very important at my house…quizzes about cars were given before, during and after trips to the Jewel-Osco or Eagle Foods or anywhere for that matter.  The men in my family kept little sister busy with polishing chrome bumpers and Turtle Wax runs on two wheels.  That Volvo showing up in the driveway across the street where the “new” neighbors lived sparked quite a discussion.  Words like safe, square, sturdy, green, and strange were exchanged.

As the person who rode most often in that car I remember it being roomy and brand new…something that didn’t happen over at our house.  The constant rotation of beaters and beauties that my four brothers and father ran through the driveway was, I’m sure, the talk of the neighborhood just as the Volvo was.

As I cruised the Chicago Auto Show during media days all those memories came flooding back after one look at that grill.

Volvo XC60 front

Photo by Jules Stayton

Once again the Volvo brand is the talk of the town as it makes a resurgence through its XC40, XC60, XC90 SUVs and S series sedans.  The XC60 has claimed 2018’s North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.  This win follows the XC90’s in 2016 in the same category.

Showcased at the Chicago Auto Show, Volvo makes an impact.  Each model’s attention to detail in both the interior and exterior is significant.  With production of these SUVs in both China and Sweden, Volvo recognizes that the American market is one of value and plans on investing in a new billion dollar production plant in South Carolina that will provide over 3900 jobs when it starts production of the S60 in the fourth quarter of 2018.  The XC90 will follow in 2021.

Safety continues to be a hallmark of Volvo via its City Safety System.  Steer Assist has been added.  Oncoming Lane Mitigation uses steer assist to temper head-on collisions. Lane changes are abated with Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).

Volvo XC60 headlight

Photo by Jules Stayton

Signature “Thor’s Hammer” headlights will be just a blur as the new 407 horsepower T8 Twin-hybrid engine races zero – 100 Km in just 5.3 seconds in the XC60.  If diesel is your preference the D4 and D5 engines bring 190 and 235 horsepower to the table, respectively.  The T5 and T6 are equipped with a turbo and supercharged gasoline engine and push horsepower to 254 and 320 all in the luxury compact SUV class.

Volvo XC60 rear view

Photo by Jules Stayton

The XC60 in my hands a couple of weeks ago was a true pleasure to drive.  Supple leather seating and that wonderful minimalistic Scandinavian design shouts comfort as the center console headquarters all necessary functions.

Volvo XC60 interior

Being in the market for a new SUV myself, this Volvo tops my list. I admit I am a sucker for the wood elements trimming out the inside of the XC60.

Smooth-as-silk acceleration with speed-on-demand characterizes this Volvo and one can see why it is raking in the accolades.  A crowded class is narrowed when looking for genuine luxury and performance. It’s not limited to this model, however.

Fresh off its 2018 European Car of the Year award at the Geneva Auto Show this past week, the XC40 is nothing to scoff at.  President and CEO of Volvo Hakan Samuelsson, 2018 World Car Person of the Year, remarked that “winning this award with our new XC40 is perfect timing”.  The third SUV is not just the little sister to the XC60 and XC90.  Taking a share of the small SUV market is Volvo’s goal with the XC40 and plans on the United States and Chinese markets taking significant shares.

Leading the charge, consumers can elect to join the “CARE by Volvo” subscription service to explore options other than ownership or leasing that includes multiple drivers and ride share features. One flat fee garners use, insurance, maintenance, and repairs via a two-year commitment. Patrons have a choice of the XC40 or the new V60 estate (that’s station wagon to you and me) just released last week by way of suburban Swedish driveway event. Multiple drivers can be accommodated by exchanging a digital key via “Volvo On Call”.

Future Volvo cars in the 40 series will be built on the new compact modular vehicle architecture (CMA) including a hybrid and electric option utilizing multiple engine types adding even a three-cylinder format. The three-cylinder is a first for Volvo in its 91-year run. 2019 is the ambitious goal the company has set for itself for all Volvo models to be “electrified”.

Photos by Jules Stayton

Saying that I’m considering a Volvo to just about anyone and they respond with an eye roll and “really”?  That’s when I come back and start listing all of the award-winning models in the line-up and harken them back to the days-gone-by when everyone wanted a Volvo for safety.

Now everyone wants a Volvo for safety AND style!

Its one way to again be the talk of the neighborhood.

BMW – The Brand Making Waves

We’ve all wished for it.  The eternal hope that we might someday sit in a fine specimen of automotive greatness feeling the rumble under us as we motor down an infinite highway of pleasure…

Hello, Hello!  This is reality…remember me!  Rarely do mere mortals commence on a path to this dream, but one can get pretty close…it’s called The Chicago Auto Show.

Hundreds of cars descend each February, near icy Lake Michigan, upon McCormick Place to the delight of those mere mortals to put a little spice in their winter by making some of those dreams come true…almost.

Having been an attendee for years, I know exactly how you feel.  Its cold.  It’s a pain getting there. Its…its…glorious once you head up those escalators and see the globe waiting for you.  You’re almost there!


Photo by Jules Stayton

Check that winter coat, by golly, and get in there!  Never has such care been taken to display all that each manufacturer holds dear this model year.  Well, maybe, there is Detroit (a close second especially with that Bullitt move this year), L.A., New York, etc.  but being the true Midwesterner…Chicago all the way baby!

I was able to live a dream this year by attending as a member of the media.  Up close and personal just got real.  The drama, excitement and the sheer love of cars bubbles up like champagne during media days.  We all took a long drink for two days and I especially savored sipping the bubbly at BMW.

BMW i8 with Jules
Jules Stayton in BMW i8

See that smile on my face…dihedral, scissor, butterfly, batwing, gull-wing or falcon, sliding, suicide, canopy, swan, etc.  Doors, doors I love them all for they are the portal.  The BMW i8’s scissor doors are very functional and give a wider entry point for taller drivers like myself.  Sliding into the seat and swinging the legs around  into the cockpit is effortless.  I believe my BMW product specialist said I was “the most graceful so far today” which I wore like a badge of honor.  Closing and opening the doors was a breeze with the smooth mechanics and use of carbon fiber by BMW.

BMW i8 butterfly doors

BMW i8 interior

BMW i8 nose

Photos by Jules Stayton

The i8 combines electric and combustion engines through BMW’s  eDrive technology for 369 horsepower and a 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. This roadster in E-Copper is meant to play with the big boys, nicely.  Four driving modes COMFORT, SPORT, ECO PRO, and eDRIVE, add to the allure of the i8 as a car of the future made for the present.

BMW i3

Photo by Jules Stayton

The i-Series drives the electric revolution for the brand.  One hundred i3s were leased by LAPD in 2016,  beating out Tesla, to conserve emissions/carbon footprints. At half the cost of Tesla per unit, the three-year contract between BMW and LAPD allows for technology improvements and lays the groundwork for use as a possible patrol car sometime in the future.  The infrastructure needed to supply charging stations for the plug-ins is growing in California thanks to the LAPD investing in charging stations for the bevy of i3s.

BMW Laurel Motorsport M2 Edition art wrap

Photo by Jules Stayton

Lastly, as I roamed the BMW corner this Laurel Motorsport M2 art wrap edition caught my eye that was provided by Laurel BMW of Westmont, IL.  Ever popular, the M-Series’ newest member is a hit with those wanting high performance in a smaller package.

BMW conducted extensive tests of its mettle at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and winding roads 5000 feet higher at Mount Charleston.  Living in Las Vegas for 20 years, I know these areas well and working some magic as the elevation increases incrementally towards Mount Charleston is a challenge for many autos but the rewards are worth it!

Mount Charleston, Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo by Jules Stayton

The Chicago Auto Show is definitely the place to go for winter dreamin’. It is the one show where most attendees are actually shopping for their next car.

I’ll put BMW on my “brands to consider” list from this year’s show, as a good Midwesterner would.

A little bit of February-in-Chicago dreamin’ is good for the soul.

Why should California get all the glory…