Commentary: What Millennial Consumers Do…

July Driveshafts and Daily Dose
Photo by Randy Stern

Want some demographic information about Victory & Reseda?

It appears that most readers would fall under the category of being a “millennial.” That generation that came after the first wave of Hip-Hop heads and grunge rockers that lead the way into your own rebellion that is beyond music and culture. A rebellion that had this industry very worried for a while.

I keep readuing the same thing: You don’t like cars. You don’t like car ownership. Your appraoch to work and professional development is completely different. Your upbringing is different. Your worldview is different.

I get it – you’re not like me. But, you read this website. Sounds like we’re bucking the trend.

In this work, I get a lot of different press releases about this and that. Continue reading

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Throwback Review: The Wagon for Certain Political and Cultural Types

2008 Volvo V70 3
2008 Volvo V70. Photo by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2008 Volvo V70

There is a balance between stereotyping and iconography. The stereotype for driving a car such as a Volvo is it screams “liberal,” “progressive,” “greenie.” Volvos are now touted as premium European vehicles competing for the same consumer as an Audi or Acura, but still, they attract mainly left-leaning, upper-five-digit to six-digit income earners.

For these consumers and others who buy pre-owned Volvos in the same socio-political standing, the Volvo wagon is an icon. Volvos always sold wagons dating back to the 544s of the 1950’s. The legend grew with the 122 and the 145 wagons. Former Summer of Lovers usually owns an old 240 wagon they still run for groceries or the occasional meeting with nature. The cool kids love the old 740 wagons their parents used to cart them in.

And, how many gay couples do you know own a Volvo XC70?

This is probably why I still have a soft heart for the Ford-controlled (now under Geely and coming back strong) Swedish automaker.

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Commentary: In Search of The True Meaning of Inclusion in Another Realm

2014 MLB All Star Game
Photo by Randy Stern

“For all the things you want to do but are unable to – find other things to do that are equally satisfying.”

This was what I posted on Facebook back on August 2nd ahead of fulfilling an invitation to attend a Diversity Networking Event held by the Minnesota Twins by their diversity marketing team. It would seem odd that an automotive journalist would be invited to attend an event by a Major League Baseball franchise to mingle with a diverse swath of community leaders, movers, and shakers. But, there is a bit of method to this madness.

On top of my duties to publish this website, I also contribute to a magazine that serves one of the communities being brought together by Miguel Ramos, the Twins’ Director of Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. In fact, I was the only one from the magazine to attend this event.

It is not just I was media that I was there in attendance. Continue reading

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In The Path of Harvey

To our readers in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey…

First of all, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I heard that you are safe and sound. You may have sustained some damage from the hurricane’s force and the subsequent flooding. We hope you get the help you need to rebuild, clean up, or do what you can to get these next several days.

I have been watching your social media feeds and is in disbelief. I have colleagues, friends, and fellow enthusiasts telling us what their status is from this devastating weather event. I wish I can comment more of other images from Houston and across South Texas, but it is probably best to understand than react. Rather, to respond with what we can do to assist you and your neighbors in this immediate term.

Now, for the rest of us…we can help.

The American Red Cross is on the ground helping residents across the affected areas with anything they can do. What they will need to money to buy more supplies to help those that are displaced or need some help to get through.

There are two ways of doing so. A text donation of $10.00 can be done by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. That will be charged to your mobile phone bill. Another way is to log on to and make a donation there. As a third option, stop by your local Red Cross office to make a donation or find a way to volunteer to help those in need in the hurricane’s aftermath.

Houston and South Texas is where V&R has plenty of readers and followers. Do what you can to help.

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V&R Stories: I Understand Now

Jeep Rocks and Road Tour 17
2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon on the Off-Road course at the Jeep “Rocks and Road Tour” at the Mall of America, Bloomington, MN. – All photos by Randy Stern

The phrase you’ve seen many times: “It’s a Jeep thing, you don’t understand?” Understand what?

Yes, I’ve driven Jeeps – to mixed thoughts. Still, Americans and others around the world love them. That, I had trouble comprehending.

The attraction to them is simple: They are one of the original off-roaders. They won a major world war on several fronts. Their formula opened up a world of access to the motor vehicle. Willys-Overland, the Rover Company, and Toyota expanded the war-fought formula for a lightweight four-wheel drive transport through jungles, deserts, mountainsides, and farms around the globe. However, it is the cult of Jeep that truly is an undeniably American saga that opened up acres of off-road adventures to feed our wanderlust.

That, I understand. Yet, there is more. A whole lot more I need to experience for myself to truly grasp whether my stomach can take the pounding a Jeep takes on the worst conditions possible.

Since my posts have devolved into love notes about SUVs and crossovers, I figured I better get an education about what it’s all about before I jump behind the wheel of another one.

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We’re on a Race Car!

If you look closer – Photo by Braunscwheig Racing

Our stickers are slowly appearing on vehicles, laptops, toolboxes and other things for the past couple of years or so. V&R is proud to see our friends and readers “fly our colors” wherever they are at!

Never in our wildest dreams have we imagined being on a race car. Nor considering sponsorship of a race car. Or, going into motorsports with our colors flying at speeds attainable by the best drivers and cars.

This is where our friends at Braunschweig Racing come in.

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Commentary: Eclipsing The Moment

Getting eclipse viewing glasses at Daley Plaza, Chicago – Photo by Randy Stern

My friends – you are amazing.

In following social media, I saw what you did. You did not fly “your Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.” Actually, the path of totality never came close to Nova Scotia.

You could be filmmaker Casey Neistat, who flew from New York to Charleston, South Carolina, only to drive further into the state to actually capture this solar phenomenon with five cameras. But, most of you took to the road instead. Kansas City saw an influx of eclipse enthusiasts. So did Charleston, Knoxville, St. Louis, Paducah, and a few other places along the path of totality.

Though it was a scientific phenomenon that piqued the interest of many Americans – more so than what we thought. It was also an opportunity for some marketing strategies to take place.

Mitsubishi saw a golden opportunity to further unveil their upcoming 2018 Eclipse Cross in Salem, Oregon. They brought influencers along while they took photos of the new car with the moon crossing into the sun. Clever marketing, indeed!

Nissan also got into the act with a viewing party near their headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. A few colleagues were invited to this event, which tied into the introduction of the Midnight Editions of the Frontier and Titan pickups. Again, very clever marketing indeed!

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Throwback Review: Once a Hero…

2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser 1
2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited 2.4T – Photo by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback review of the 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser

When the Chrysler PT Cruiser was introduced in mid-2000, it caught a lot of people’s imagination. By the time I left DC, I was still in awe of DaimlerChrysler’s throwback vehicle. That began to wane after coming to Minnesota and driving my last PT Cruiser in 2005. Then I realized how much my driving tastes have changed.

It is not the PT Cruiser became less remarkable in the course of a few years. The design is still iconic to a flock of loyal owners. Other than the MINI Cooper, the PT Cruiser offers plenty of customization for owners to transform their rides into anything they want. Chrysler still offers the limited edition Dream Cruiser with the latest unveiled during last weekend’s Woodward Dream Cruise in the Detroit area.

Back in 2000, I gushed with excitement as I drove my first PT Cruiser. I was just as excited when I tooled around in a corporate wrapped Cruiser from my then-employer around parts of Wisconsin and Illinois two years later. However, the fun stopped. As mentioned before, it was my last PT Cruiser that did it. Still, I resigned to the fact that it still has a purpose in his market as a retro machine on an older platform that still sells to fleets and anyone who’s daft enough to own one.

Hence my trepidation when I picked up my 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited with the 2.4litre turbocharged engine. But, I’m a trooper sometimes, so I went along with the gig.

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Making of a Brand

2018 Genesis G
2018 Genesis G80 Sport – All phtoos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport

Before you read this review any further, let’s talk about nameplates and brands for a moment.

In 2009, Fred Diaz walked on the stage at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills headquarters as the first brand manager for the truck lineup now called Ram. They were once branded as Dodge trucks, but the caretakers from Fiat thought it was a great idea to separate the truck and car business while developing an appropriate brand strategy.

It worked – sort of.

Today, people still call any Ram pickup since 2009 a Dodge Ram. Many times I had to correct these people. It is frustrating that a brand that has built a reputation is still associated with its former brand. This after the success Ram had with their pickup truck and van lineup.

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Quickies: Hyundai’s Two-Fer for 2018

All photos by Randy Stern

The long hard road for Hyundai has paid off in their product offering.

For example, the Elantra and Sonata lines remain their bread-and-butter. Hyundai has been selling at a mix of commercial/fleet and retail, offering solid value for the money. Their SUV products are growing – mirroring market trends.

Hyundai recently announced the end of Azera sales, culminating in the final 2017 model year units. This will leave Sonata as the top of the line for Hyundai’s car lineup. This could spark another trend we might see across many brands in the marketplace, as the large sedan market is on the decline.

All of this leads to a much-needed revision for the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 Sonata. The 2018 model sports an updated look that applies current design trends from the brand along with some upscale touches.

To see the new 2018 Sonata, I was invited out to Oakbrook Terrace, west of Chicago’s Loop for a brief drive. Since this car was a two-time #VOTY (Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year award) winner, my interest was piqued to see how Hyundai’s mid-sized family sedan has been transformed in a mid-cycle refresh.

The 2018 Sonata was not the only Hyundai I was privileged to see. Continue reading

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