Land Rover Discovery HSE wins Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year Competition
Shelton, Wash.-The Ridge Motorsports Park, the Northwest’s premier motorsports complex, was the site for the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s (NWAPA) annual Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year Competition, also known as Mudfest. Staged May 3-4, the event involves two days of on- and off-road testing of SUVs, crossovers, and extreme duty pickup trucks.
Twenty-eight automotive journalists from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and British Columbia, all NWAPA members, scored each vehicle in various aspects that included on-pavement ride/handling, powertrain, braking, exterior design, interior comfort and function, application of technology, fuel economy, value, plus off-road handling and capability.
Tested and judged were 27 vehicles in six categories, all 2017 models. The Compact Utility Vehicle category included the Honda CR-V Touring AWD, Jeep Compass Trailhawk, Kia Sportage SX AWD, Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD, Nissan Rogue SL Hybrid AWD, and Toyota RVA4 Platinum AWD.
The Premium Compact Utility Vehicle class included the BMW X4 M40i, Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4, and Volkswagen Golf Alltrack TSI S 4Motion.
Four entries were included in the Family Utility category that included the Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL S-AWC, Nissan Pathfinder SE AWD, Toyota Highlander SE AWD, and Subaru Forester 2.4i Touring.
In the Extreme Capability bracket were the Jeep Wrangler Trailstorm (Unlimited Sport 4x4), Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury, and the Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road.
The Premium Utility Vehicle class included the Acura MDX AWD Advance, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, Lexus GX460 Luxury, Mercedes-Benz GLS450 4MATIC, Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD, and the Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD.
In the (Extreme Duty) Pickup category, the four entries were the Ford F-150 Raptor 4x4 Super Cab, Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition, Nissan Titan Pro-4X 4WD, and RAM Power Wagon Crew Cab 4x4.
Each of the entries had their own strong attributes in the various scoring elements of Mudfest, but when judging was done and all scores were compiled, each category had a winner based on overall on- and off-road points awarded by journalists.
Winners were: Compact-Jeep Compass, Premium Compact-Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Family-Subaru Forester, Extreme-Land Rover, Premium-Jeep Grand Cherokee, Pickup-Ford Raptor.
In addition to winning the Extreme Capability class, the Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury was also named the 2017 Northwest Outdoor Activity of the Year. The all-new Discovery has impressive comfort/convenience and technology features that range from electronic air suspension to a power inner tailgate (exterior gate is also power), a Meridian digital Surround Sound audio system with 16 speakers to a Terrain Response 2 system that sets this unit apart from others.
The ability of the 4WD Discovery to traverse rocks, climb steep inclines, run through mud, drive over logs, or anything else in its path, is astonishing. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system helps control over- and under-steer, subtly supplies the ABS system when needed, and automatically compensates during heavy towing. At Mudfest, it was put to the test, and the Discovery provided exceptional handling and control during extreme off-road conditions. Working in conjunction with the DSC is Land Rover’s electronic Roll Stability Control that maintains vehicle control and balance, as well as reducing possible roll-over.
The two Jeep Trailhawk versions that won categories at Mudfest were also tough competitors in their classes. Both are rugged and offer excellent on- and off-road capabilities. In a compact SUV field with plentiful top performers, the Compass stood out for its versatility and pricing (loaded model tested $42,470). The Grand Cherokee was also named the FourWheeleer’s 2017 SUV of the Year for its safety offerings, unique air suspension system, and off-road performance, among other attributes.
A surprising top competitor, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack was a category winner, likely due to its turbo engine performance, technology applications, fuel economy, and its competitive price (our well-equipped model tested at Mudfest was $27,795).
Not a surprise for winning its category was the 2017 Subaru Forester. It continues to be a self-confident player simply because it has superb safety and handling characteristics, provides lots of cargo space, has top fuel economy, and its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system is a leader in the industry.
In the pickup category (added three years ago at Mudfest), each of the four entries were top competing trucks that handled extreme off-roading extremely well. The Ford Raptor, with its 3.5-L EcoBoost V-8 engine, raged on- and off-road, but its overall handling and capabilities as an off-roader were unquestioned.
For 23 years, NWAPA has been staging Mudfest at various locations in Washington and Oregon. The group moved to its permanent test site at The Ridge in 2015 as the motorsports park offers exceptional on-road and off-road courses for testing a variety of vehicles.