The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4x4 was the big winner at Mudfest
Shelton, Wash.-The Ridge Motorsports Park, a 170-acre site near Shelton and Hood Canal, was the setting for the 25th Anniversary Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year Competition, affectionately called Mudfest. It is one of three annual events presented by the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) for its members.
Over two days of on- and off-road testing on May 1-2, 26 NWAPA members, automotive journalists from Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona, tested 22 SUVS, crossovers, and pickups on a combination of paved on-road and rugged off-road courses to determine performance levels and use of technologies that enhance vehicle driveability.
On Day One, vehicles were tested on a coned course, as well as on the Ridge Grand Prix kart track that offers sharp corners, sweeping corners, and elevation changes. Each vehicle was scored for ride/handling, acceleration and powertrain capabilities, panic braking, design characteristics, interior comfort and function, and application of technology. Fuel economy and value (based on MSRP) were also considered in scoring.
Day Two testing involved two off-road courses designed specifically for Mudfest. Most SUVs and crossovers were tested on a course that included sharp corners, rough terrain, a dynamic uphill climb and steep downhill descent, mud holes, high turns on dirt, and uneven roadways. An extreme course for six entries included deep ruts, massive rocks, 15-percent descent driving, logs, mud, and water aspects. Each vehicle was scored on Day Two for off-pavement handling and capability based on its four- or all-wheel-drive system and how each handled the demanding conditions and applied such systems as hill descent controls, axle articulation, low-range driving, departure angles, exterior cameras, and more.
Winners of the six categories at Mudfest included:
- Subcompact & Compact Family – 2019 Subaru Forester Sport
- Mid- & Full-Size Family – 2020 Kia Telluride SX V-6 AWD
- Compact & Mid-Size Luxury – 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 4Matic
- Full-Size Luxury – 2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i
- Pickup Trucks – 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4x4
- Extreme Capability – 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4x4
- 2019 Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year – 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4x4
“Mudfest 2019 featured some of the most diverse group of vehicles we’ve seen in our 25-year history,” said NWAPA President John Vincent, automotive writer for U.S. News & World Report. “The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator earned its title as the Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year with an exceptionally functional blend of SUV and pickup attributes that Northwest consumers crave.”
The new Gladiator, with a 3.6-L V-6 engine and a long list of off-road features, is what Scott Brown, FCA’s West Region manager, refers to as “100 percent truck, 100 percent SUV.” It was without doubt the winner in the Extreme Capability category as it traversed rocks, steep downhills, sharp turns, and more with panther-like competence, yet it also performed extremely well on-road, mastering corners with ease, and providing notable comfort and technology features.