Dodge sponsors May 2012 luncheon and presents the new 2012 DART

May 15, 2012 @ Wynwood Kitchen - Midtown Miami.

Over 50 SAMA members gathered at the Wynwood Walls/The Wynwood Kitchen and Bar in Miami’s Wynwood district for the May meeting, continuing a run of full houses for our monthly luncheons in 2012.

Dodge was the sponsor and showed off the new 2013 Dart, which is the first Chrysler group vehicle built on Fiat Group architecture and fills a key spot in the company’s portfolio in fitting into the compact sedan segment.

“The compact car segment in the United States is the largest retail segment in the marketplace,” said Product PR Manager Kathy Graham, who was one of the presenters. “It’s roughly 15 percent of all retail sales and before we came out with the Dart, we did not have a player as a sedan.

“We had the Caliber, which is a hatchback, but that’s only about 15 percent of the sales.

“So we’re really excited about the Dart and what it brings for sales.”

She noted that the Dart comes in five trim levels starting with the SE at $15,995. The SXT starts at $17,995, the Rallye at $18,995, and the Limited at $19,995. The R/T, which has a sportier suspension, will start at $22,495 when it comes out in the fall.

Three different four-cylinder engines are offered, and a six-speed manual transmission is standard with an automatic as an option. Fuel mileage goes up to 39 mpg highway with a MultiAir Turbo engine expected to deliver at least 41 mpg. (They’re still tinkering to get more.)

Joe Dehner, head of Dodge and Ram Exterior Design, pointed out the features on the exterior of the Dart.

“We wanted something very sexy, very daring,” Dehner said. “We actually created this term ‘aero-dramatic.’ There’s obviously a big fuel economy play here that influences the design.

“We wanted it to be aerodynamic, but ‘aerodynamic’ can be boring. So we came up with ‘aero-dramatic.’ ”

There are slight differences in the grille with the different models, each staying true to the split crosshair theme Dodge introduced in 2011. The body side is very clean and simple, and the rear features the C-pillar “flying buttress” inspired by Dodge Charger.

Ryan Nagode, chief of Dodge, Ram and Fiat Interior Design, went over details for the Dart’s interior, who noted the use of high quality materials throughout the model lineup.

“Every single class has that attention to detail and material uses,” he said.

The display model featured an impressive black interior, but the Dart is available in 14 different interior color combinations.

We want to thank all the presenters, Kathy Graham, Joe Dehner, and Ryan Nagoda, and to our good friend Lisa Barrow of Chrysler for making it all happen.

After the presentation and before lunch was served family style, President Jaime Florez conducted the business session.

Florez encouraged members to give coverage of the upcoming SAMA events in their publications and outlets, and secretary Tony Lesesne pointed out that sending links to Pepe Delfino for the SAMA website (, can increase exposure for members’ own publications and sites.

Vice President Bill Adam noted that plans are coming along for the annual Rides-N-Smiles event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and it promises to be even bigger than ever.

This year’s event, which will be on Nov. 10, will include increased participation by veterans in the Wounded Warrior program at the VA hospital.

Several veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan took part last year by escorting the children through the pits and to the cars, and the number is expected to rise to 50 vets this November.

Baptist Children’s Hospital also promises to have even more children to take part, and members of the car club at Ocean Reef in Key Largo are looking to bring their vintage cars to the track for display.

“Let’s try to keep building to make this the biggest event possible,” Bill said.

Our next event is coming up soon. SAMA’s second annual convertible competition, Topless in Miami, will be June 14 at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne.

This is a later date than was originally announced, but will allow for more manufacturers to take part. Event Chairman Paul Borden said we are looking at adding another class, “Exotic Luxury,” to the categories we gave awards for last year, which were Convertible of the Year, Best Luxury Convertible, Best Family Convertible, Best Sports Car, and Best Small Convertible.

Ron Beasley, who tabulates the scoring, reminded all of just how important it is for members to score all the vehicles, just as they did a year ago. We had a big turnout for judging last year, which made for an impressive event.

The day will be topped off by a reception an awards dinner that evening to be sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.

This event will take the place of the regular June monthly meeting, so be sure to mark your calendars now.

Treasurer Marcello Serrato had two significant announcements. Melissa Galarza is taking over for Stephanie Camargo as our GM contact for the Axis Agency. We look forward to working with her and with Araba Dowell of GM.

And in a great bit of news for our members, it was announced that Maria Ravani and Ady Coutinho of Sobre Ruedas Magazine had received two significant national awards, one for the Most Original Cover and Interview and the Gold Medal for the magazine’s 10-year anniversary.

Congratulations to Maria and Ady for those accomplishments!

If any member has news of personal or business achievements, don’t be shy. Please let us know of them so you can be recognized.

Again, we want to thank Lisa Barrow and all the folks from Dodge for sponsoring what was a delightful luncheon and very informative presentation.

And a final reminder: Mark your calendar for Topless in Miami on June 14! More details will be coming in to your email box!


Photos & Videos by Pepe Delfino - Click on photos to enlarge