Jeep Grand Cherokee received Phoenix Automotive Press Association’s first Best of the Southwest award as part of the Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year program last month in Chandler.
This is ALV’s fourth year in Phoenix bringing together hikers, kayakers, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts along with automotive journalists from around the country to select vehicles in various categories that best fit their lifestyles.
Best of the Southwest was conceived as a vehicle suited to the region’s lifestyle, including day-to-day needs and the ability to take friends and their gear safely along unpaved forest roads and desert trails, PAPA founding President Larry Edsall explained to members. It also is a vehicle that you feel good in whether out in the boonies or handing off to the valet at a fancy restaurant in Scottsdale.
“Grand Cherokee offers the best combination of class and off-road capability,” according to one ballot comment. Another said, “The Grand Cherokee is fully off-road capable with room for a family and styling for a night on the town.”
A PAPA jury narrowed the field of 20-some ALV finalists with all PAPA members eligible to vote on the final six. The five other PAPA finalists were: Dodge Durango, Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG, Ford Edge, Toyota Tacoma and Audi Q3
ALV award winners
It was our biggest event ever, said event co-founder Nina Russin, an automotive journalist from Phoenix.
With a new venue, expanded media day, new awards and more participants the ALV program took place over two days at the Crown Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort in Chandler.
The awards are unique with both automotive press and outdoor enthusiasts participating, Russin said. It was good to see so many returning athletes, both recreational and professional. “I fell strongly it’s an important thing to do to mix end users and journalists to see which vehicle works.”
Vehicles were judged on city, freeway and off-road routes with consideration for features including seating, cargo capability and versatility for activities such as camping, sports and road trips.
Winners in the six ALV classes were:
* Best Value Off Road: 2015 Ford F-150
* Luxury Off Road: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee
* Luxury On Road: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450
* Best Value On Road: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander
* Best Value Family: 2015 Ford Edge
* Urban: 2015 Kia Soul