By Bill & Barbara Schaffer
Shelton, Wash. – In NWAPA Mudfest 2016 — Part 1 we reviewed the Outdoor Activity Vehicles from the Compact Utility, Premium Compact Utility and Family categories. In Part 2 we feature the Premium, Extreme Capability and Pickup categories.
This year’s program was held at the Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Wash., which is about 28 miles northwest of Olympia, Wash. Ridge Motorsports Park is only a few years old and the owners are in the process of developing a complex of facilities including a beautiful road course and full complement of racing motorsports racing facilities.
The on-road testing was done on the Ridge’s curvy go-kart track while the off-road testing was done on a special course prepared by Ridge owner’s especially for Mudfest.
This year 26 NWAPA members from several western states drove each of the 28 vehicles on both venues over two-days and then voted for their favorites in each of six categories and for an overall winner which becomes the 2016 Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year.
The vehicles were 2016 models, except the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport which were 2017 models. All vehicles were equipped with all- or four-wheel drive. The EPA fuel economy is listed city/highway/combined miles per gallon. The Base price is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price and the as tested price includes any optional equipment and the destination (freight and handling) charge.
Premium Utility Vehicles
BMW X5 xDrive 40e – Turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline with plug-in hybrid electric motor and 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. EPA 56 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with electricity and gasoline combined and 24 mpg with gasoline only. Base price $62,100. As tested $71,695. The most complex vehicle in the event. It’s quick, quiet and efficient.
Lexus LX570 – 5.7-liter V-8 engine with 8-speed sequential shift automatic transmission. EPA 13/18/15 mpg. Base price $88,880. As tested $97,405. Traditional style big posh SUV with a boat load of features and equipment. Surprisingly good handling and performance on- and off-road. The Lexus LX570 was also categorized as an Extreme Capability vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG – Turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 9-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters. EPA 17/23/20 mpg. Base price $65,100. As tested $82,265. Controversial coupe-like styling. Excellent performance on- and off-road. It’s loaded with the latest technologies, too.
Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E – Supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 8-speed Geartronic transmission. EPA 19/27/22 mpg. Base price $43,350. As tested $52,505. Sophisticated and impressive drivetrain. Handles very well, lots of power from the unique engine. Loaded with technology and advance safety features. Our favorite in this group and was voted the NWAPA Premium Outdoor Activity Vehicle.
Volkswagen Touareg Sport – 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA 17/23/19 mpg. Base price $46,745. As tested $47,655. Good value, performance and fun-to-drive. Stylish design.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 75th Edition – 3.6-liter V-6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. EPA 16/20/18 mpg. Base price $33,695. As tested $48,035. It’s a classic Jeep – not as fancy as most of the competitors, but all ‘Jeep’ with an extra dose of 75th Anniversary equipment. The Wrangler Limited was picked as the Best Extreme Capability vehicle of the event.
Nissan Titan XD Pro4x – 5.0-liter Cummins® Turbo Diesel V-8 engine with Aisin® 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel figures are not required, so unavailable. Base price $50,970. As tested $58,165. Big, powerful, heavy-duty diesel pickup. Nicely outfitted and extremely rugged feeling.
Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 – Turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine with 8-Speed Automatic Transmission. EPA 22/29/25 mpg. Base price $71,450. As tested $84,260. One of our favorites over all, but expensive. Excellent on- and off-road performance and fuel economy. Plush and fun to drive.
PickupsChevrolet Colorado Z71 Diesel – Turbocharged 2.8-liter diesel engine with 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA 20/29/23 mpg. Base price $34,640. As tested $41,905. A nice size and design with very good fuel economy. Noisy engine.
Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve — 5.0-liter Cummins® Turbo Diesel V-8 engine with Aisin® 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel figures are not required, so unavailable. Base price $60,520. As tested $63,270. Nissan’s very big and fancy heavy duty pickup. Powerful engine and rugged persona.
Ram Rebel Crew Cab – 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA 15/21/17 mpg. Base price $45,200. As tested $53,150. The Ram Rebel won the Best Pickup award. It’s agile and responsive demeanor especially for a full size truck. Nicely equipped with new Rebel package. Excellent off-road capabilities.
Toyota Tacoma TRD – 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle V-6 engine with 6-speed automatic transmission. 18/23/20 mpg. Base price $33,730. As tested price $37,610. Impressive off road performance. Very good value.
Winners by Category
Best Compact: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring
Best Premium Compact: 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD
Best Family: 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary Edition
Best Premium: 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Drive-E
Best Extreme Capability: 2016 Jeep Wrangler 75th Anniversary Edition
Best Pickup: 2016 Ram Rebel
Best Overall: 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary Edition
The 2016 Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year event had the best group of vehicles ever. We were impressed by the capabilities, features and values of all the vehicles. Hybrids and diesel-powered vehicles made very strong showings and we expect both to play a significant role in the future of the category.
We have done individual reviews on several of these vehicles already and will review many others in the next few months. Read individual reviews on many of these vehicles at www.iVeho.com.