2023 Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year Announced

MudfestAfter two days of on- and off-road evaluations, the automotive media professionals of the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) named the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV as the Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year. This marks the second time — in a row — in the 28-year history of the event (fondly referred to as “Mudfest”) that a plug-in vehicle has won the overall title.

Members of the NWAPA spent two days evaluating 22 crossovers, SUVs and pickups on specially prepared courses at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington. The first day of testing consisted of on-pavement courses designed to allow evaluation of acceleration, braking, road manners, and handling. The second day was all about off-pavement performance, with challenges crafted to evaluate traction, clearance, articulation, and the latest in off-road technology.

MudfestIn keeping with industry trends, the 2023 field included three plug-in electrified vehicles, including a pair of plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and the first fully-electric vehicle (BEV) to be entered into the competition. In addition, four traditional hybrid electric vehicles competed in the event.

“Outdoor activity vehicles balance work and play for people who live in the Pacific Northwest and take advantage of recreational opportunities. Competition for the 2023 award shows that the market is evolving as fast or faster than any other automotive segment, offering more choices than ever before,” said NWAPA President and Event Chair Nik Miles.

MudfestAwards were earned in seven categories, including a new “Best Value SUV or Pickup” category, in addition to the overall winner.

2023 NWAPA Mudfest category winners:

  • Two-Row Family SUV —
    2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe 20th Anniversary Rubicon

    • Runner up — 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD
  • Three-Row Family SUV —
    2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    • Runner up — 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
  • Luxury SUV —
    2023 Genesis Electrified GV70

    • Runner up — 2023 Wagoneer Series II 4×4
  • MudfestPickup Truck —
    2023 Ford F-150 Raptor 4×4 SuperCrew

    • Runner up — 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • Electrified Utility Vehicle —
    2023 Genesis Electrified GV70

    • Runner up — 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Extreme Capability Vehicle —
    2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe 20th Anniversary Rubicon

    • Runner up — 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R
  • Best Value SUV or Pickup —
    2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium

    • Runner up — 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • NW Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year —
    2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    • Runner up — 2023 Genesis Electrified GV70

Mudfest“The victory might be a surprise for some, but not for those that tested the all-new Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid,” said Miles. “It is well-equipped, extremely capable, and is loaded with features not seen on other plug-in hybrids.”

Day one of evaluations took place entirely on paved surfaces. The on-road testing courses included a slalom for handling, a straightaway for acceleration and braking, and a small track to quickly evaluate overall performance. On-road testing opportunities were also available on public roads to help evaluate road manners and better provide overall vehicle impressions in a real-world environment.

The primary off-road course included gravel, muddy two-track, and a test track that included off-camber sidehills, steep hills on and off a log bridge, and an articulation course. All vehicles competed on that entire course. Additional, more severe capability testing, was performed on a handful of vehicles with the addition of two steep and deeply rutted muddy hill obstacles and a deep rocky bottomed water obstacle.

The new Best Value SUV or Pickup category balanced affordability with on- and off-road abilities for budget-minded buyers. The winning 2024 Subaru Crosstrek was not only the least expensive vehicle tested but had the highest EPA mileage ratings of any non-electrified vehicle.

Photos and videos of the event are available at this link. Please note that additional photos of all vehicles tested will be available at this link in the coming days.


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 45 voting members representing 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.