Behind the Scenes: 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year Testing

Join the editors of Motor Trend Magazine as they hit the road to discover which of these seven contenders deserves to win the 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year award.

Editors of Motor Trend
Oct 27, 2004
Come behind the scenes with the editors of Motor Trend Magazine, as we spend several days wringing out the competition for the 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year Award. From the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Ford Freestyle, to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Infiniti QX56, and Nissan Pathfinder, each vehicle was given a chance to show its strengths and weaknesses. We took them all deep into the shadows of the earth and far out into the desolate desert in order to find the one SUV worthy of the award.

Click on any image to see its enlargement.

Read about the winner at Motor Trend Names 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year Winner.

For dowloadable wallpaper images of each of the contenders, check out our 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year Wallpaper Gallery.
Photo 2/23   |   The official judging began with a group walkaround of each vehicle, lead by the most knowledgable editor on a particular vehicle. In all cases, staff members had driven the vehicles prior on manufacturer events, where days had been spent with the development and marketing teams.
Photo 3/23   |   Truck Trend Editor Mark Williams discusses the six-cylinder powerplant found under the hood of Equinox, as he relays points about the vehicle's structure.

Photo 4/23   |   Long days on the road necessitate a ready supply of caffeine. Senior Editor Ron Sessions and Technical Editor Kim Reynolds agree a good cuppa joe starts a day of testing off right.
Photo 5/23   |   The previous Sport/Utility of the Year winner, Volkswagen Touareg, served as mobile craft services. From experience, we knew this impressive machine could tackle the planned off-road route.

Photo 6/23   |   The editors analyze each and every aspect of the vehicles, including sitting in each seating position.
Photo 7/23   |   Editors regular confirmed the VW's cargo capacity while endulging in the mobile buffet.

Photo 8/23   |   Once again, trail boss John Kiewicz mapped an entertaining route, complete with the prerequisite mines. The Ford Escape Hybrid's quiet engine silently led our way deep into a massive tunnel.
Photo 9/23   |   Sport/utilities are all about exploring our world. In this case, we were able to experience it from the inside.

Photo 10/23   |   The Chevy Equinox leaves daylight behind to join the other vehicles in the cave's depths.
Photo 11/23   |   So long as there is a hint of light, a shutter will be tripped. Savoring the beautiful sunset light lead to a slow drive back to civilization in the dark.

Photo 12/23   |   After a day of exploring deep, dark caves, it was time to play in the sand.
Photo 13/23   |   After all, sport/utilities are meant to get dirty.

Photo 14/23   |   Jeep Grand Cherokee Front Grill View
Photo 15/23   |   Nissan Armada Rear Trunk View

Photo 16/23   |   Our photographers took hundreds of photos over the course of testing. Here, John Kiewicz sets up the sunset shot seen as the lead image on our wallpaper page.
Photo 17/23   |   Photo intern Jeremiah Scott takes his turn behind the lens.

Photo 18/23   |   Motor Trend Online's Video Editor Marti Matulis sets up his shot atop the same massive sand dune that has exhausted lesser shooters in the past. Seriously.
Photo 19/23   |   It's a contest: Which vehicle is best? Which videographer is tallest?

Photo 20/23   |   We just left the range of the apathetic, hibernating bears behind.
Photo 21/23   |   Yep. It's official. Randsburg, California, is the end of the trail. As proof, a speeding police car took out a windshield with a tire-flung rock. No justice here.

Photo 22/23   |   Evidence of what happens if you stay out too long in the sun.
Photo 23/23   |   Motor Trend Magazine's new Editor-in-Chief, Angus MacKenzie, made this his first road test with his staff. Welcome to our new Angus!



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