This is one of those stories that causes the biggest arguments every year at Truck Trend. What is a sport/utility vehicle these days? Where should we draw the line between SUVs and crossovers? And how can we make sure the categories within the Best In Class framework ensure a fair comparison between vehicles in each class?
This year, we had some questions to answer, and things we wanted to address. For that reason, we've changed the way we define sport/utilities. Last year's story included three winners in the Midsize SUV category, based on price; an AWD Crossover category; and a Compact SUV category. Yet the lines between these categories continue to blur. For this year's story, we have new categories, and instead of basing them on wheelbase as we did in 2011, for 2012 we're basing them on towing capacity. We're splitting the entire class between those that can tow up to 3500 pounds and those that can tow more. We're splitting those two classes again between vehicles offering luxury amenities and valet cachet and those that don't. We figure that buyers either want to buy capability, cachet, or maybe both.
Some things haven't changed. The truck categories remain the same, as do Hard-Core 4x4, Full-Size SUV, Passenger Van, and Factory Power Runner. All vehicles here are from the 2012 model year and all specifications are from the manufacturers' media sites, accurate as of press time. Prices reflect the specific models listed in each category, and in some cases include optional equipment.