SUV's Still Rule ... Mudfest Proves It!
SEATTLE, Feb. 6 -- In the great Pacific Northwest where you can drive from the rain forest through the snowy mountains and into the desert all within two hours, SUV's rule. The geography and climate of the Northwest creates unique demands on daily transportation, so SUV's caught on early to meet the challenge. Over the past decade the Northwest Auto Press Association (NWAPA) has sponsored Mudfest, a grueling two-day event to see if the automakers live up to their claims and consumers are getting what they think. The big news from Mudfest 2002 was the agile Kia Sorento, winning both its category, under $25,000 and Best Overall Value. Surprisingly, the Sorento was chosen best value from all the category winners Choosing the best vehicles from a list of 25 is the job of automotive journalists. Each year has brought more reliable, safer and creative SUV's to the forest with better capabilities and more interesting designs and features. There were four price categories in the competition, the next category up was the $25-35,000 and the winner was the totally redesigned 2003 Toyota 4Runner. The winner in the $35-$45,000 category, the Volvo XC90, also took top honors as the best overall SUV. As the first ever SUV from Volvo, the XC90, has many inventive features including anti-rollover sensors and very flexible seating arrangements. In the top category, over $45,000, it was the Range Rover HSE, a truly amazing and capable vehicle that could be seen almost perpendicular to the ground during the testing portion of Mudfest. The soul of Mudfest, has got to be the mud, several inches deep and deeper still by the end of the day. "Each of the auto writers makes over 50 vehicle switches driving over many different wet and dry, hard and loose roads and plenty of mud," says Ashly Knapp, Mudfest Chair, reporter for Boardroom Reports' Bottomline and CNBC contributor. "And scoring is kept simple and to the point." Two scholarships have being established from the proceeds of Mudfest. One will go to an automotive journalist at the University of Washington and one to the University of Oregon. The Northwest Automotive Press Association dates for next year's Mudfest; will be October 9th, 10th and 11th, 2003.