The Northwest Automotive Press Association named the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4 as the top vehicle at its annual Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year competition. The completely redesigned 2018 Wrangler came out on top with its improved on-road and impressive off-road prowess. It demonstrated an unbeatable combination of performance, features, capability, and technology during the NWAPA’s 24th annual Mudfest competition.
NWAPA automotive media professionals spent two days driving 26 vehicles through a mix of on-road handling and off-road courses at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Wash. Day one’s activities included on-road handling testing while the second day took journalists through a custom-made off-road course built at The Ridge to determine the capabilities of the sport utility vehicles, crossovers, and pickups.
Vehicles entered into Mudfest competed in five categories: Subcompact, Compact and Midsize, Family, Luxury, Pickup, and Extreme Capability. NWAPA members also selected an overall winner: The Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year.
While the competition was fierce, and the voting was close, there can be only one winner from each category. These vehicles earned the praise of the 26 NWAPA media professionals who evaluated the vehicles:
- Subcompact SUV – 2018 Hyundai Kona
- Compact & Midsize SUV – 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
- Family SUV – 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
- Luxury SUV – 2018 BMW X2
- Pickup – 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel
- Extreme – 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
- NW Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year – 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
“The 2018 Jeep Wrangler has evolved from a uniquely capable off-road-only machine into a thoroughly modern SUV with safety, technology, and on-road ride comfort that makes it an excellent choice for both workdays and weekends,” says NWAPA President John Vincent of U.S. News & World Report. “Amazingly, the Wrangler became a better off-road vehicle even as it gained on-road refinement.”
The on-road evaluation venue included an autocross course that led into The Ridge’s go-kart track. The layout included portions that tested acceleration, handling, panic braking, rear-view cameras and more. The vehicles were also evaluated on an off-road course that simulated rough Forest Service roads that northwest drivers encounter on weekend adventures. The testing course featured optional sections for
extremely capable vehicles. Plenty of dirt, mud, and ruts formed the second day’s route, challenging each vehicle’s four- or all-wheel drive systems. The venue allowed the vehicles to showcase state-of-the-art technologies, including 360-view cameras, hill descent controls, and active traction management systems.
The extreme off-road sections took vehicles through rigorous conditions designed to test their prowess and features, such as low-range four-wheel drive, axle articulation, plus approach, breakover, and departure angles.