Automotive journalists associated with the Northwest Auto Press Association (NWAPA) have gone through the harrowing trouble of testing out the best SUVs of 2016. This annual Mudfest gathering pits vehicles against the environment and vehicles against each other.
Over two days, automotive experts pitted 28 vehicles against a paved go-kart course to test on-road handling and an off-road track full of mud, gravel, and all sorts of outdoorsy fun at the Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA.
This year’s category winners are as follows:
2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring – Best Compact Utility Vehicle
The 2016 Mazda CX-3 offers predictive all-wheel drive that works marvelously in muddy and rocky conditions. This $26,240*-MSRP SUV ($27,640* as tested) offers 146 horsepower from a 2.0L SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine connected to a 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission with sport mode.
Most of our tidbits were standard, too, including the all-wheel drive (standard on Grand Touring models), the heated 6-way adjustable front seats, and 7-speaker Bose-connected, Bluetooth-enabled Mazda Connect infotainment system with navigation.
If you’d like to test drive the 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD, then please call or visit your local AutoNation Mazda retailer today!
2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD – Best Premium Compact Utility Vehicle
Volvo isn’t just a maker of safe vehicles- they know their way around an SUV and it shows in the 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD. Powered by a 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, this SUV offers 250 horsepower and 266-lb.ft. of torque. The 6-speed automatic transmission easily conquers the off-road due to the Instant Traction system.
Add-ons included the heated seats (Climate package $1,550), blind spot monitoring (BLIS package $915), a Harmon Kardon infotainment system, and a slew of safety systems such as adaptive cruise controls with forward collision warning, pedestrian/cyclist detection with automatic braking, and lane departure warning (Platinum package, $3,650).
Please call or visit your local AutoNation Volvo dealership to test drive the 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary Edition – Best Family Utility Vehicle
This brilliant off-roading machine offers the 4×4 capability of Jeep and the refined interiors of something befitting the Grand Cherokee label. The standard Quadra-Trac II 4WD Selec-Terrain systems are connected to the Off-Road Adventure II Package’s Quadra-Drive II 4WD and Quadra-Lift Air Suspension systems for rugged capability that will help you tackle any road. The 3.0L V6 EcoDeisel engine puts down an impressive 420-lb.ft. of torque with 240 horsepower. Go more than 720 miles per gallon on a single tank of gas or tow up to 7,400 lbs.
While you’re off-roading with one of the best 4×4-equipped SUVs on the market, you’ll sit in leather-trimmed heated bucket seats and be listening to tunes or navigation from the UConnect 8.4 system. Light streams through the power sunroof and illuminates a bronze-accented 75th Anniversary Edition interior.
To test drive the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition, please head over to your nearest AutoNation Jeep dealership today!
2016 Volvo XC60 T5 AWD Drive-E – Best Premium Utility Vehicle
Volvo did it again for the Best Premium Utility Vehicle class win. The combination of sumptuous interiors, available technology, price, and performance is the reason the 2016 Volvo XC60 T5 AWD is the best in class, according to NWAPA. A 2.0L supercharged and turbocharged engine offers 302 horsepower and 205-lb.ft. of torque to a competent all-wheel drive whose Instant Torque system can tackle the muddiest of Mudfests.
The interior is leather-filled with 8-way power adjustable front seats, a 7-inch infotainment system sporting 8 speakers, and plenty of comfort for all occupants. Volvo has included standard safety systems and the model tested had the Technology Package featuring adaptive cruise control with queue assist (stop/start), collision warning with full autonomous braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection, distance alert, active high beams, road sign information, lane, departure assist, and more.
To see why the 2016 Volvo XC60 T5 AWD Drive-E was rated best in the Premium Utility Vehicle class, please call or visit your local AutoNation Drive Volvo today!
2016 Jeep Wrangler Ultimate 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition – Best Extreme Capability
It seems like no surprise that Jeep has conquered the Best Extreme Capability class since their entire lineup has off-roading capabilities. The model tested had all of the off-roading capability that you can option on a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Ultimate 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition. There was the Freedom Top, Tru-Lok differential with 3.73 front and rear axle ratios, a Next Generation Dana 30 solid front axle and a Next Generation Dana 44 heavy duty rear axle, a 22.5-gallon fuel tank, transfer case and fuel tank skid plates, and so much more.
The interior leather seating with Moroccan Sun interior accents, a 6.5-inch touchscreen connected to a GPS-enabled Alpine Premium audio system sporting an all-weather subwoofer, and more. This is one serious off-roading machine and a seriously comfortable off-roader.
The dealership probably won’t let you take one off-roading, but call or visit your local AutoNation Jeep retailer to test drive a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Ultimate 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition.
2016 RAM 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4 – Best Pickup
RAM makes some serious pickup trucks with the 2016 RAM 1500 Rebel being one of the zaniest and baddest pickups out there. This ‘Flame Red’ 4×4 is eats up the road with a 5.7L HEMI V8 creating 395 horsepower and 410-lb.ft. of torque, channeled through an 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s a 26-gallon fuel tank, 4-corner air suspension, a 3.92 rear axle ratio, an anti-spin rear axle differential, transfer case and front suspension skid plates, and more.
On the inside, you’ll have tire tread-patterned seats, a 6-speaker Uconnect 5.0 system, red accent stitching, a heated steering wheel, and muck more. Since this is a big truck, you even get the ParkView rear park assist system with ParkSense.
To test drive the wild 2016 RAM 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4, please head over to your local AutoNation RAM dealership today!
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition – Best Overall
And, the Overall Best SUV and off-roading machine at Mudfest 2016 is the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition!
This vehicle really proved itself over the two days of testing. It can handle pavement with gleeful abandon and nearly all of off-roading (if not all) is at its beck-and-call, and offers an elegant interior that you’ll never want to leave.
Whether it was tackling the tiny corners of the go-kart track or the slippery slopes of the off-roading course, the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 75th Anniversary Edition was over-qualified and always comfortable.
Check out the 2016 Best Overall SUV according to NWAPA by visiting your local AutoNation Jeep store right now!