Mudfest puts SUVs to a true Northwest test

Kids aren’t the only people who play in mud, but when adults do it their toys are way more expensive.

“Mudfest” is the name of the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s (NWAPA) annual Sport Utility Vehicle of the Year competition, in which automakers are invited to enter their newest SUVs to compete in a two-day event that tests the vehicles on a skidpad, on paved roads, and off-road. Participating NWAPA members do the driving and scoring, then turn in their individual ballots for tallying at the end of day two. A winner is selected in each of five different categories, and one vehicle is declared the overall winner.

To reflect consumer and industry trends away from true SUVs in favor of crossover vehicles, this year the competition’s explanatory title was changed to the Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year competition.

Mudfest 2013 took place April 17-18 at the 310-acre DirtFish Rally School site in Snoqualmie. This was the third consecutive year at DirtFish and the 19th year for Mudfest, which has been held at various locations in Washington and Oregon throughout its history.

Twenty-three vehicles were entered this year, and 31 NWAPA members participated. The five vehicle categories were Compact Class, Luxury Compact Class, Family Class, Luxury Class, and Off-road Class. Vehicles were evaluated for their on-road ride and handling, powertrain, braking, exterior design, interior comfort and function, application of technology, off-pavement handling and capability, fuel efficiency, and value.

A moderate off-road course with bumps, ruts, gravel and tight turns was created for vehicles in the first four categories. Vehicles entered in the Off-road Class competed on a much more difficult course designed specifically for evaluating axle articulation, approach angles, 4×4 technology, and general ability to soldier on regardless.

Both off-road courses also included lots of mud. I’ve participated in 17 Mudfests, and have loved them all. But too much rain, or no rain and therefore no mud, cuts into the fun. For Mudfest 2013, conditions were ideal: some rain before the event and some rain overnight during the event – ensuring plenty of mud – but mainly dry skies and even full sunshine while we drove and tested.

As it is every year, competition was fierce, with near ties in a couple of categories. But the scoring system prevents ties by having all drivers list their first, second and third choice in every category.

And now for a wince-worthy cliche: The envelope, please.

The category winners are:

  • Compact Class: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T
  • Luxury Compact Class: 2013 Acura RDX AWD Tech
  • Family Class: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Premium CVT
  • Luxury Class: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
  • Off-road Class: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 10th Anniversary 4×4

And the overall winner, the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s 2013 Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year: the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland.

More in Herald Business Journal

Disney buying large part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Before the buyout, 21st Century Fox will spin off the Fox network, stations and cable channels.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Angel of the Winds pays $3.4M for Everett arena naming rights

The casino replaces Xfinity as the lead sponsor for the publicly owned downtown Everett events center.

Delta orders 100 Airbus A321neo jets valued at $12.7 billion

The airline said it will use the 197-seat jets to replace smaller planes.

Tulalips break ground on new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel

A 150-room hotel was added to what is now a $140 million complex expected to open in spring 2019.

What can be learned from the optimism of Churchill, Elon Musk

A new movie, “The Dark Years,” depicts Winston Churchill during the perilous… Continue reading

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

Teddy, an English bulldog, models Zentek Clothing’s heat regulating dog jacket. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Everett clothing company keeps your dog cool and stylish

Zentek uses space-age fabrics to moderate the temperature of pets and now humans.

Bombardier promotes its C Series airliner as American made

It says more than half its all-new jet is made in US factories with final assembly near Montreal.

Most Read