Automotive News

The 2015 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium has a lot of things, such as comfort, flexibility, and safety technology.  But does it truly have swagger like Toyota wants you to believe?  With gas prices lower once again and demand for crossovers and SUVs higher… uh, once again, do the minivan’s responsible capabilities still outweigh its domesticated stigma?  Or is the current-gen Toyota Sienna, with all its bells and whistles, actually a chic ride?  Watch as Chris foregoes his own “swagger wagon” on a family trip and tries to remain cool during his time in the Sienna.

Contact for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.  LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and by all means SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. Thanks!

We all have memories and impressions of the Honda Civic.  It will forever be remembered as a small car that many of us experienced initially as a first car that provided reliable transportation to wherever we needed to go.  If it wasn’t your first car, then maybe it was a friend’s or family member’s.  Either way, it was rarely, if ever, a car that many aspired to own if money were no object.  We’d even venture to say that those with $25k-$30k might very likely choose something other than the Civic to spend that hard earned cash on.

Well, we’re here to tell you to forget all that you thought you knew about the Civic, because while it is still a small(-ish) mode of reliable transportation, it is also now much more than that.  And dare we say, worth that $25k+ price tag, too!  Don’t believe us?  Then check out AutoAcademics’ video review below and see for yourself.

Contact for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.  LIKE AutoAcademics on Facebook, FOLLOW AutoAcademics on Twitter, and by all means SUBSCRIBE to AutoAcademics YouTube channel.  Thanks!

Let’s Talk Cars! Watch as AutoAcademics runs through the 7 best cars at the 2016 Atlanta International Auto Show.

Categories Judged:
Best Luxury Vehicle
Best Truck
Best SUV/Crossover
Best Green Vehicle
Best Performance Vehicle
Biggest Bang for the Buck
Judge’s Choice

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2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

ATLANTA — Journalists from the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association (GAAMA) previewed the 34th annual Atlanta International Auto Show and selected the best of show in several categories.

More than 400 new 2016 import and domestic cars, light trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles are on display at the Georgia World Congress Center, as well as several preproduction vehicles, cool cruisers and exotic and high performance cars.  The show runs through Sunday, March 13.

“It was a very exciting, diverse and eclectic selection of vehicles,” said incoming GAAMA President Christopher Lawrence, CEO of AutoAcademics, an automotive consultancy that aims to educate and assist consumers in making intelligent, unbiased, and logical automotive choices. “Every year we are excited and impressed by the new technology, sleek designs and powertrain efficiencies. The judges had a tough job and after much discussion, we selected the best in each category.”

The 2016 winners are:

Green:  2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Luxury: 2017 Lexus LC 500

Performance:  2017 Acura NSX

Biggest Bang for the Buck: 2017 Hyundai Elantra

Truck:  2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty

SUV/Crossover: 2017 Infiniti QX30

Judges Choice: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio


The objective of GAAMA is to further professionalism of the automotive media, provide a forum for newsworthy people and products connected with the automotive industry and to bring together people whose activities are related to the field of automotive journalism, public relations and related fields for the mutual benefit of all parties.

As you know, we at AutoAcademics love car shows and the season for exploring new products from auto manufacturers around the world is well under way!  Check out the latest from AutoAcademics’ friends at Automotive Rhythms:

What’s headed down the road at the 2016 Washington Auto Show? Well, Kimatni Rawlins, Leeann Brzozowski and Automotive Rhythms invite you behind the scenes to witness the latest technologies, luxuries and necessities shaping your new ride. We hope you are looking forward to next month when the best of international engineering convenes in the nation’s capital. So gear up and rev your emotions for the auto show in D.C. January 22nd via the 31st.



Kimatni D. Rawlins: Pres. & Pub.

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Photo courtesy Mazda Motorsports.

I finally got the opportunity to attend my first banquet for the Mazda MX-5 race series winners.  While standing on a podium and accepting a trophy for 1st place at Road Atlanta has been a dream of mine, that’s not exactly how this dinner event played out.

Marking the culmination of another year of competitive racing, the 2015 Battery Tender MX-5 Cup / Skip Barber Mazdaspeed Pro Challenge Banquet acknowledges and awards skilled drivers, comprised of both women and men who this year ranged in age from 16 to 42, for their consistency and improvement during the 2015 season.  Over the years, the race series has trained and propelled aspiring racers from “zero to hero” status, with many proving successful in top-tiered professional motorsports, such as NASCAR, Indycar, NHRA, and even Formula 1.

During the award ceremony, the mood was lighthearted and joyous, as attendees cheered for those who, just hours earlier, were considered tough competitors during the months of March through October, but who now have become “family,” a term that was used often, yet purposefully, during the evening’s speeches.  Two of the top competitors this season were John Dean, who won the 2015 SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires title (pictured, right) and Robby Foley (left), winner of the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge.

John Dean / Robby Foley

2015 Mazda MX-5 Cup Winners

While, in my eyes, the accomplishments of Dean and Foley are nothing short of impressive, I am also amazed by the accessibility of the Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development program.  From engineers and body shops to amateurs and pro racers – all are welcomed to take part in one capacity or another.  It is truly a grassroots program that is supportive, yet challenging enough to prepare participants for the next level.  Teams are even offered discounted stock (OE) Mazda parts and competition parts, as well as technical support.

For those of you considering a foray in the world of racing, and requiring only a ride for each weekend, Mazda has just announced its 2016 Global MX-5 Cup race car pricing.  For a very reasonable (for racing) introductory price of $53,000, racers can go to and order a turnkey, ready-to-race car.  Each identically-built race car is based on the all-new 2016 ND chassis street car, with motorsports specific modifications and safety equipment engineered and installed by Mazda.  Deliveries are expected to begin by late 2015.

And in case you are worried about the lack of corporate sponsorship for your racing dreams in 2016, Mazda states that privateers in the Cup Series can expect to spend about $7000 per weekend, assuming you already have a tow vehicle, trailer, and the aforementioned race car.  Brown-bagging it and sleeping in your rig can knock off a little extra from that bottom line.

Feel your racing skills are a little past their prime?  Or maybe your self-preservation kicks in a little sooner than it used to?  Well, I also had the opportunity to speak with Christian Tetzlaff, Motorsports Vehicle Technology Instructor and Program Coordinator at Lanier Technical College that evening.

“There is a need for skilled technicians that work on race cars,” he said.

To put it plainly, the older guys are retiring, moving on and need to be replaced.  Tetzlaff is also a professional race car driver in the2015 Mazda MX-5 Cup Tropies SCCA Pro MX-5 Cup, allowing him to see, first hand, the needs and trends on the track and in the pits.  Lanier Tech’s partnership with Skip Barber race school also affords students not only classroom training, but hands-on, trackside experiences, too.

With all of that being said, probably the best take-away from the evening, for me, was realizing the fact that my own racing dreams may not be over, as car racing is a great equalizer, no matter your gender, physical stature, or in my case – age.  So who’s with me?  Now if I can only convince my banquet +1 (i.e.- my wife) that this is as good an idea as I’ll envision tonight while I’m asleep.

Check out more of AutoAcademics’ Mazda coverage here – 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review.

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2017 Ford GT rear

AutoAcademics may have officially crossed over to the technology side of journalism.  Not because we’re techies (even though some of us are), but because of cars, themselves.  What many fail to realize, is that automakers are arguably as invested in software and technology as companies such as Apple and Microsoft when it comes to the products that they create.  Everything from bio-metrics and entertainment to remote control and autonomous capabilities are being developed.  Ford wanted to share some of its new discoveries with us, so it flew AutoAcademics out to sunny, at least during our visit, San Francisco, CA, where we were given the opportunity to experience some of the company’s latest technology.

Raj Nair, Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford, shared some of the technical highlights that might be available in future Ford vehicles.  Among other things, his presentation included Enhanced Active Park Assist, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, and Remote Parking Assist.  All of these are active vehicular technologies and each was on display for us to experience and test out for ourselves.  See video below for a more in-depth look.

Ford wearable tech integrationWhile some of the technologies, such as the remote parking, are still just tech demos used to show the direction that Ford is heading toward, others are very close to implementation on production vehicles.  As for the present or at least very near future, Ford has been developing apps for wearable tech, such as your smartwatches, that allow you to monitor and interact with the driving range, charge management and parking location of your plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles.  There is also a new version of SYNC, called SYNC 3, that was recently launched in the 2016 Escape and will be coming soon to a Fiesta, F150, Mustang, and Transit near you.  See SYNC 3 demonstration video below.

Ford also shared some of its behind the scenes technology that assist in bringing new vehicles to the market.  Renewable Ford Renewable Materialsmaterials have been used for a number of years now, as Ford has been experimenting with rice hulls, soy beans, wheat straw, cellulose, and natural rubber to make everything from seat cushions, head restraints, and headliners in the Mustang to consoles in the Lincoln MKX to electrical harness brackets in the F150.  Not only do these renewable materials reduce waste, but they are also lighter than conventional plastics and metals – saving weight, which ultimately reduces fuel consumption while simultaneously improving performance.

Virtual reality is used to integrate or swap out parts, both inside and outside of Ford’s vehicles, in real time.  Then those components can be created using a groundbreaking 3D printing technology that prints 25x-100x faster then conventional 3D printing.  This allows engineers to experiment with and develop new parts faster and more efficiently.

Finally, Ford’s Smart Mobility program has shifted from strictly research to the implementation stage, meaning that the company is working to make the sensing and computing tech feasible for production while they continue to tweak the processes necessary to make it all work.

Ford MoDe:Pro eBike

Ford is obviously not the sole automaker pushing the envelope of automotive technology, yet it is one of the few willing (and courageous enough) to share it with us.  Such an experience sheds a new light on the direction of the company and has us looking forward to the next vehicles coming off the assembly line.  And who knows?  Maybe next we’ll get a call with an offer to test the latest from Google.  They are making cars, you know.

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