The Northwest Automotive Press Association named the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4×4 as the top vehicle at its annual Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year competition. The all-new 2020 Gladiator came out on top with its excellent on-road drivability, off-road prowess, and its impressive utility. This new pickup truck demonstrated an unbeatable combination of performance, features, capability, and technology during the NWAPA’s 25th annual Mudfest competition.
NWAPA automotive media professionals spent two days driving 22 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 evaluate the capabilities of the sport utility vehicles, crossovers, and pickups.
Entrants in Mudfest competed in six categories: Subcompact and Compact Family Utility Vehicles, Mid-and Full-Size Family Utility Vehicles, Compact and Midsize Luxury Utility Vehicles, Full-Size Luxury Utility Vehicles, Pickup Trucks and Extreme Capability Vehicles. 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 25 NWAPA media professionals who evaluated the vehicles:
- Subcompact and Compact Family – 2019 Subaru Forester Sport
- Runner up – 2019 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
- Mid-and Full-Size Family – 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
- Runner up – 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD PRO
- Compact and Midsize Luxury – 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 4MATIC
- Runner up – 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-SPEC
- Full-Size Luxury – 2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i
- Runner up – 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550
- Pickup Trucks – 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
- Runner up – 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Crew Cab 4X4
- Extreme Capability – 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
- Runner up – 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550
- NW Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year – 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
- Runner up – 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
“The 2019 NWAPA Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year competition featured the most diverse group of vehicles we’ve seen in its 25-year history,” says NWAPA President John Vincent of U.S. News & World Report. “The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator earned its title of Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year with an exceptionally functional blend of SUV and pickup attributes that northwest consumers crave.”
The on-road evaluation venue included portions that tested acceleration, handling, panic braking, rear-view cameras and more. The heart of the on-road testing took place on The Ridge’s go-kart track, complete with elevation changes, sharp corners, and sweeping curves – creating the type of conditions drivers encounter every day.
The vehicles were also evaluated on an off-road course that simulated rough Forest Service roads that northwest drivers often encounter on weekend adventures. Plenty of loose dirt, deep ruts, steep climbs, and dramatic descents 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 testing course featured an optional section for extremely capable vehicles which took these SUVs and pickups 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. Vehicles were required to complete this course to be eligible for the Extreme Capability category.NWAPA (www.nwapa.org) is a professional organization of automotive journalists and media members from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Southwest Canada. Founded in 1991, NWAPA includes 54 voting members representing more than 700 newspapers, magazines, radio stations, media groups, and the internet. Members of the organization have been testing SUVs and crossovers since the advent of the modern sport-utility vehicle in the mid-1990s. Non-voting NWAPA members include representatives from automotive manufacturers and related industry professionals.