FCA’s Beautiful Child Continues to Excel – Alfa Romeo in All Its Glory

I grew up in a large family by today’s standards, my parents in even larger ones.  Often, genius runs in families.  We see this in the Olympic athletes that are second or third generation and as talented or more than their parents or grandparents.  Whether nature or nurture or both has shaped us, it shows up in what we become.

When Fiat and Chrysler merged in 2014 to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) the Italian and the American came together as one and the ensuing plethora of children resulting from the union ensued.  Abarath, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati and Ram Trucks blended like the Brady Bunch.

I was especially taken with two of the siblings at the Chicago Auto Show just a couple of weeks ago.  While cruising the Concept and Technology Garage, formulated for the media to get a head start on the show by getting up close and personal with both the cars and their product specialists, I was stunned by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio sitting before me in Alfa Rosso.  Starting at $41,995 and $37,995 respectively, the Stelvio, like the Giulia, have entered their classes by storm.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio frontAlfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (1)

Photos by Jules Stayton

Four trims complete the Stelvio lineup:  base AWD, sport AWD, Ti AWD and Ti Sport AWD.  One might also choose the Lusso package on the Ti for those wanting luxurious touches and Lusso-exclusive light walnut accents in the cabin. The race-inspired Quadrifoglio bumps up the horsepower, handling and price ($79,995 plus a $1,595 destination fee) but still boasts the Q4 AWD system.  Whether it’s the Quadrifoglio’s 505 horsepower or the 280 horsepower yielded from the Stelvio it’s balanced 50/50 weight distribution manages the eight-speed transmission nicely with available steering column-mounted paddle shifters.  The Stelvio is the consummate Italian as it is produced at the Cassino plant in Frosinone, Italy.

Berj Alexanian, my product specialist, was eager to have me set eyes on the Giulia Quadrifoglio as well after we took our walk around the Stelvio drooling all the way.  I remember first setting eyes on the Giulia in 2016 at the Chicago Auto Show. Jules needs a Giulia I thought…

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio full

Photo by Jules Stayton

I still think that today…Jules needs a Giulia Quadrifoglio! The “halo” would look great in my driveway.  I would have to settle for the show floor to visit with my future this day.

I guess Jules knows how to pick em’.

Praise overflows for the Giulia in the form of Motor Trend Car of the Year®, Car and Driver’s 10 best, and most recently the Best New Luxury Compact Car Award from Good Housekeeping Magazine in cooperation with Car and Driver.

The Giulia’s all-aluminum 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo with an eight speed automatic transmission is a class leader with 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft. of torque charting it’s zero-60 in 5.1 seconds at its top speed of 149 mph.  Should the Quadrifoglio’s motor sport DNA be in your future like mine, 505 horsepower screams 3.8 seconds in zero-60 mph.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio front R panelAlfa Romeo clover emblemAlfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Photos by Jules Stayton

The Chicago Auto Show was the perfect setting for FCA to showcase this branch of the bunch.  The Stelvio and the Giulia, each with its own praise and slot in the market that even Alice would approve.

Large or small, blended families don’t always find harmony as FCA has…hopefully it will last.

At least everyone played nice at CAS, making their parents proud…



Fifty and Fabulous – Subaru Marks Anniversary with Special Edition Reveal at The Chicago Auto Show

Fiftieth birthdays can be fun, frustrating, fitful and/or fantastic.  Subaru jumps to Fifty and Fabulous with their Anniversary Edition line in Heritage Blue unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show last week.

Thomas Doll, President and COO of Subaru of America, Inc. was the leader of the festivities that started with his keynote address at the Midwest Automotive Media Association‘s (MAMA) breakfast on day one of media days at the Chicago Auto Show.

MAMA Breakfast

Photo by Jules Stayton

MAMA President Jill Ciminillo offered the introductions as President and COO of Subaru of America, Inc. Thomas Doll took the podium.  Doll outlined many of the points that have been key for Subaru.

Subaru’s successful 10 year run of overall sales increases is staggering given the mood of the market at times over that same span of years.  Riding their high, they’ve given 50 new 2018 Subaru Crosstreks to Meals on Wheels that will aid in delivering over 53,000 meals to 3,700 seniors in 39 states.  Crosstrek sales have lifted the numbers for Subaru as well as the Impreza.

Having reviewed both models in the past year, which are posted here on JulesOnWheelz.net, I can see why they’ve triumphed.

lake shade 2018 Crosstrek
Subaru Crosstrek, Photo by Jules Stayton

Subaru Impreza, Photo by Jules Stayton

Marketing campaigns drawing on emotions have been gold for Subaru.  The “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru” focus and making pets part of the advertising, Doll revealed the three-row Ascent by bringing the ever popular canine family, the Barkleys, on stage with him for emphasis at the Los Angeles Auto Show.  The Ascent will be built at the Lafayette, IN plant.

Not to be outdone in LA, Subaru revealed a lineup of Heritage Blue models all at once at the Chicago Auto Show.  Darkness, spotlights, stars, sheets, oohs and ahhs flowed as the lights came up on Subaru’s sparkling diamonds.

Photos  and video by Jules Stayton

According to Marilyn, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”.

Maybe turning 50 isn’t so bad after all…




Volkswagen Builds Its Presence at The Chicago Auto Show

The days of our youth are scattered with experiences that few but us recall.  Many times though, those youthful experiences are remembered for a lifetime.   Their impact surfaces during our adult lives often to mold and shape our futures.  This was so for President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Hinrich J. Woebcken.

As CEO of the North American Region as well, Hinrich was an exchange student in high school.  He went to the prom, perfected his English. and spent time in the American culture.  His tenure in America shaped the essence of his desire to bring German engineering to the U.S. market through Volkswagen and its offerings.

Hearing him recollect his days as a teen in America and the profound influence it had on him for a lifetime was one of the subjects he touched upon at the Economic Club of Chicago Luncheon at the first of two media days at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

ECC luncheon

Photo by Jules Stayton

Re-living days gone by isn’t something any Volkswagen executive would like to do given VW’s woes surrounding the emissions issue.  When asked by David Snyder, COO of Chicago CRED, Woebcken said that one of the most important aspects of getting through that or any other business crisis is transparency.  Sounds familiar.

Volkswagen is steaming ahead with multiple platforms and models made just for the American market.  Bigger is better in America and the addition of a mid-size SUV fits the bill.  The Atlas has been named Good Housekeeping Magazine’s 2018 Best New Midsize SUV for its “exceptional handling, spaciousness, and practicality”. With almost 100 cubic feet of cargo space, the Atlas boasts room for just about anything, I would also be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there are 17 cup holders too.

VW Atlas

Captain’s chairs are available in the second row and car seats don’t have to be removed to access the third row seat.  A rocker lever positioned on the shoulder of the chair initiates the forward movement so passengers can enter the third row. I’m 5′ 10″ and I had no trouble in and out of the third row and sat comfortably.  Volkswagen had a clever display, seen here, right next to the Atlas with all of the “stuff” that would fit into that 100 cubic feet of space.  My product specialist Sheila was happy to tell me of the Atlas and its popularity and if you would like to know more click here. The Atlas is manufactured by the German automaker in Chattanooga, Tennessee at its Volkswagen plant.

Another big moment on day one of the Chicago Auto Show for the VW brand was the release of a new member of the team replacing the CC, the Arteon.

Billed as a luxury sedan for a mid-size price, the Arteon is longer and sleeker than the CC with 268 hp from a 2.0-liter TSI® engine that carries an eight-speed automatic transmission.  4Motion® all-wheel drive is an available option. In a crowded mid-size class Volkswagen hopes that the exterior styling and cab-backward design will give more room and status to hungry buyers hoping for a sedan that stands out from the crowd.

Journalists are hungry for more than just the story and a free breakfast drew all of us to the Volkswagen corner again on day two to discuss the newly re-invented Jetta.  Designers were going for the “elegant, yet athletic” look for this 2019.

VW Jetta

Photo by Jules Stayton

VW’s best-selling model is set to dazzle more than just 20 something females.  It’s strong lines and front grille are undeniably Volkswagen.  This compact sedan will surely make a splash in the busy class.

Not to be outdone by the Atlas, Arteon or Jetta, the Tiguan has also been re-designed. Fresh off its Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award when equipped with driver safety Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking.  The Tiguan garnered a “Superior” as well on the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) test.

VW Tiguan

Photo by Jules Stayton

Unique to its class, the Tiguan is the only compact SUV to offer an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. It is crafted on the premise that most collisions are not one single event, but multiple events after initial impact.  As soon as the airbags detect a collision, the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System engages and hopefully prevents more events as it disrupts the kinetic energy of the initial crash.  It is standard across all trim levels.

Whether the Atlas, Arteon, Jetta, Tiguan or any other Volkswagen product is on your radar, know that VW’s presence at the Chicago Auto Show media days was significant.  Multiple contact points and food win favor among journalists.  Easy to access and open, honest conversation about issues facing the brand are helping move Volkswagen forward.

Volkswagen offered answers, predictions, plans, lattes and hope for the future.

I wonder if Hinrich knew just how important going to the prom in America would be all those years ago…

Start It Up – Concept and Technology Garage at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show Media Days

The Chicago Auto Show has already begun for some.  Prepping for any event involves careful planning and follow through in order to make it successful. #CAS18 gave it’s media the opportunity to rev-up their experience by hosting the Concept and Technology Garage on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.  

Those of us who were able to defy the odds and arrive on time come plane, train or automobile to Chicago in February, were treated to driving experiences, in-depth chats with manufacturer representatives and a few surprises as you will see…

For me, I rolled in after one cancelled flight and a day long train ride…but I made it! Registration complete and media credential hanging around my neck like a gold medal, I was off.

**NOTE:  One important thing to know about attending The Chicago Auto Show is footwear.  You will be hoofing it all over creation.  Get out those comfortable shoes.

Upon entering, what does my wandering eye see? The KIA Stinger GT Federation Concept car in a most stunning shade of orange.  Some oranges…not so much…this orange…YES!  KIA rep Neil Dunlop was more than happy to give me the low-down of the specs and specials that make this KIA tick.  Waiting in a short line was worth it to take this concept for a spin around the garage.

Video by Jules Stayton

What a dream.  Handling, acceleration, braking…all A+.  Designer and engineer influence surface in the skin of this Stinger.  Body hugging bolstered seats provide stability and feel like a firm hug from a high school sweetheart as the well-appointed interior reflects necessities within easy reach.

I reluctantly give up my seat of comfort and allow the next person in line to light-up their life.

My eye turns to the next kid on the block…the Lexus Black Panther inspired LC Concept Coupe.  Highly anticipated, the movie releases on February 16, 2018  and if the car has anything to do with it’s success…brace yourself for a box office bash!  

Photos by Jules Stayton

Claws on the side view mirrors, panther on the hood, ground effects, WOW. What a statement in “deeply saturated, iridescent Structural blue”. An eight month process takes place for this “first-of-its-kind” paint.  There is no blue pigment, instead, a reflection of blue light.  The Black Panther LC Concept Coupe is part of the limited-edition 2018 Lexus LC Inspiration Series.  Collaborating with Marvel Studios, this Lexus is special.  Only 100 will be sold in the U.S.

Fresh from being voted “Best in Show” at the L.A. Auto show by Cars.com…looking beautiful in Alfa Rosso…comes the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brought multiple models from some of their various platforms…Alfa Romeo,  Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram Trucks .  Alfa Romeo rep Berj was friendly and well versed in his brand.  He encouraged me to stop by the floor of the show to see interiors and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio,  I did and they are spectacular.

Photos by Jules Stayton

Being in the market for an SUV myself, I welcomed a chat with FCA rep Jordan about the all-new Jeep Cherokee.  Having been a Cherokee owner in the past…this is not the Jeep I remember.  Luxury seating, leg room galore and functionality…accolades abound.  Four inches wider in the cargo area will fit my golf clubs nicely, thank you.  I’m liking the re-design very much.

Jeep Cherokee

Photo by Jules Stayton

Why wouldn’t a Concept and Technology Garage include a snow monster concept like the Nissan  370Zki (Ski)?  After all, it IS February in Chicago.  It’s presence almost guaranteed the snowstorm that hit on day two of the media preview.  Complete with American Track Truck front skis and Dominator® Tracks on the rear, it forms the biggest souped-up snowmobile you’ve ever seen.  Hauling the 370Zki was a loaded Nissan Armada complete with the Snow Patrol concept trim package that will tower you three inches higher than the production model.

Photos by Jules Stayton

The Leaf came equipped with Pro Pilot Assist Technology, Nissan’s flagship semi-autonomous feature.  The Kicks took its place in the garage as well as the Star Trek inspired Rogue and 2018 Special Forces TIE Fighter Altima.  

Photos by Jules Stayton

Whew, glad I wore those comfortable shoes.  

The thrill of the day, driving some “old” technology the 1950 Ford F1 truck.  My Ford rep in tow, we cruised the room in the three speed manual transmission.  No power steering, giant steering wheel…what a way to end the event with the opposite of “technology” but innovative in concept.  The F1’s current day counterpart receives “Truck of the Year” year after year, I guess it succeeded as a concept in its day.

The million feet of show space and over 1000 cars wait patiently for the media to descend…we are revved up thanks to the Concept and Technology Garage…more Chicago Auto Show coverage to come…goodnight for now you beauties.

Waiting Patiently

Photo by Jules Stayton


#CAS18 Solace — Part Three

With the Chicago Auto Show ready for race day, the third and final thoroughbred is in the starting gate as a new premiere sponsor, Wintrust.

Since 1991, Wintrust has provided a hometown bank to the Chicagoland area.  Big bank function with small community bank feel makes Wintrust stand out from others.  Knowing their customers and valuing local businesses are its hallmark. Growing to over 150 locations, what better premiere sponsor for #CAS18.

The Super Car Gallery is Wintrust’s gem this year as well as providing vouchers for discounted tickets at their locations.  The Chicago Auto Show’s longtime presence and the prestige it has garnered over the years makes the perfect match for sponsorship.

Additionally, Wintrust continues its involvement with the 27th Annual First Look for Charity Gala held on the eve of the official show opening.  Friday, February 9th will surely be the black-tie event you don’t want to miss this winter.  Proceeds for the #FLFC18 will go to local charities.  In the past, over $2.5 million has been raised annually for an estimated $50 million+ since its start in 1992.

A big thanks goes out to the Chicago Automobile Trade Association as the producer of the Chicago Auto Show with an event that never disappoints year after year.  For more information head to http://www.cata.info

#CAS18 Solace—Part Two

Continuing with the great events available at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show…lets talk favorites.  Parents say they don’t have favorites, but the kids know different.  Identifying a favorite can be frustrating because “they all taste good”.  Your favorite vacation spot?  Usually the beach or the mountains…maybe even Chicago in the winter?  Nah…

Recalling favorites make certain times of our lives richer.  Premiere sponsor of the Chicago Auto Show, State Farm, is tapping in to those memories to bring attendees  to their interactive “State Farm Garage” exhibit.


Engrave your own custom key-chain.  Share your favorite memories of cars.  Snap a car photo of yourself and add it to a giant “mosaic” screen.  Favorites galore…thanks State Farm!

Finally, the Grand Concourse will be home to the State Farm “Here to Help Center” staffed with State Farm representatives available to answer questions as well.

Making the Chicago Auto Show as interactive as possible brings consumers out of the shadows and into the spotlight.  State Farm is following suit…it may just end up being one of your “favorite” stops!

Find Mid-Winter Solace at the Chicago Auto Show 2018

Winter in the Midwest brings its own set of rules.  Must warm up the car. Must shovel the snow. Must salt the sidewalk.  Must wear layers upon layers of clothing to survive outside.  Must make-up snow days.  Well…add to that…Must have some indoor fun!

The perfect venue is coming up in less than two weeks.  The Chicago Auto Show 2018 is gearing up to be the mid-winter event everyone will be attending.  Other shows have “warmed-up” consumers for the nation’s largest auto show that has been entertaining and informing attendees for over 100 years.

36 manufacturers and over 1000 vehicles are making their way towards McCormick Place, the Chicago Auto Show’s longtime home, as we speak.  Get ready for over-the-top displays, drive experiences, and social media blitzing February 10-19, 2018.

Cars.com is a premier partner and will power BUZZHUB which is a 21ft wall of social media genius that will track trends on Twitter, provide photo opportunities with the show’s hashtag #CAS18 and enlarged Instagram frame.  It will feature live radio broadcasts and voting kiosks for “Best in Show”.  (NOTE:  If you don’t know anything about what I’ve said in this paragraph, just find a teenager, they’ll explain it.  Bring them to the show!)

Attachment-1 (1)
Photo courtesy of The Chicago Auto Show

Plan on spending some time at the show.  Don’t rush.  Spend the day(s) enjoying all the things that transportation and technology have to offer.  You’ll be surprised every time.

Take it from a longtime attendee and now a media member…its an experience you won’t forget…and you don’t have to wear a coat or shovel snow while you’re there!

More to come from your favorite blogger soon…tune into my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts…JulesOnWheelz