2012 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
In the enthusiast's dream, all sports cars have manual transmissions and all SUVs are body-on-frame. But as so often is the case, reality does not intersect with our fantasies. Ferraris -- save for one -- no longer have manual transmissions, and car-based crossovers are rapidly pushing traditional SUVs to the brink of extinction. In a world that appears increasingly hostile to an all-SUV brand like Land Rover, adaptation is the only option. Some adaptations are failures. Others are Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year winners. The Range Rover Evoque is most certainly the latter.
But how? The Evoque is, after all, based on the Land Rover LR2, a vehicle many of you would be surprised to learn is still on sale today. Just as the LR2 was an impressive improvement on the Freelander, the Evoque is an evolutionary leap over the LR2. Though we can confirm that Land Rover did not consult us on the Evoque's development, you'd be forgiven for wondering if the R&D team used our six criteria as guidelines, as the vehicle satisfies each one so completely.
2011 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Porsche Cayenne
We realize this looks bad. A bunch of unabashed car-loving adrenaline junkies invite a high-clearance sports car to an SUV contest and go all wobbly-kneed with excitement, crowning it champ. We can hear the hate mail composing itself from here: "That high-falutin' Porsh is an even stupider pick than last year's Scooby-doo station wagon! Cancel my subscription! (Again!)" We beg your indulgence as we build our case around the six key criteria.
It's that breadth of performance capability, combined with the Cayenne's roomy and comfortable interior and reasonably capacious cargo hold, that helped it nail our performance of intended function criteria. With strong showings in the engineering excellence and efficiency areas, attractive exterior and thoughtful interior design, a full roster of active and passive safety gear and the value rating fig leaf of the V-6's affordable opening price, the Cayenne won over the thoughtful adults as well as the boy-racers to win by a supermajority. Of course, it's the boy-racers who are helping spec out our long-termer.
2010 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Subaru Outback
It's right there in the photo: a spacious, tough, thoroughly modern, exceedingly capable sport/utility vehicle. You're forgiven if all you can see is a svelte station wagon. There's magic at work here.
For the first time since any of us can recall, an automaker has claimed the Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year title two years in a row. Last fall, deftly balancing efficiency and size, the all-new 2009 Subaru Forester went home with the Golden Calipers trophy. For 2010, fighting off several tough adversaries -- and undoubtedly some unspoken but very real bias among our judges against repeat winners -- Subaru's new, fourth-generation Outback scored a decisive 10-1 victory in the final voting.
2009 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Subaru Forester
It would be easy to say that this year's winner is a knee-jerk reaction, that the editors of Motor Trend responded to the skyrocketing cost of gasoline like the rest of the driving public by abruptly abandoning the traditional SUV formula for something smaller, more fuel-efficient, greener, more, well, forest-y. It would be easy to categorize our selection of the Subaru Forester as Motor Trend's 2009 Sport/Utility of the Year as a choice made solely at the pump, but it wouldn't be true.
Sure, our Subaru Forester 2.5XT contender posted the best observed fuel-economy numbers (16.0 mpg) for an all-wheel-drive SUV in this year's competition, but that's not the whole story.
2008 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Mazda CX-9
You've heard Mazda's marketing spiel before. From "Zoom-Zoom" to the "Soul of a Sports Car," the brand's ad gurus have pushed harder than starving telemarketers to convince shoppers that Mazda's cars and trucks are sportier and more fun to drive than the competitions'.
Generally, those slogans hold true, as Mazda's vehicles-from the rotary-powered RX-8 and the exuberant MX-5 to the minivan-esque Mazda5 and the rakish CX-7-indeed deliver quick, agile (okay, zoomy) sensations that are akin to, well, a sports car. As the only Japanese car company to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, Mazda knows a thing or two about sports-car DNA and, more important, how to inject it into just about everything it slaps the winged badge on.