It used to be easy to figure out what was a sport/utility vehicle: Whether it was as bare-bones rugged as a Jeep or dripping with high-tech luxury like a Range Rover, an SUV boasted the all-wheel drive and the ground clearance needed to take you places roads didn't go. But as the largest group of contenders ever assembled for a Sport/Utility of the Year shootout - 22 in all - gathered for evaluation at the Emergency Vehicle Operations Center driver training facility in San Bernardino, California, it became clear the segment has rapidly evoloved into soemthing less rigidly defined.
| Heading into this year's Sport/Utility of the Year competition, nary an editor predicted that the all-new Mercedes-Benz GL450 would roll away with the coveted caliper trophy. But following two intense weeks with the GL, it was all sparklers and Roman candles for the biggest Benz ever offered in the United States.
| Audi is one of the last automakers to jump into the sport/utility pool, but it did so with a splash. It's a handsome, luxurious - musclecar like- sport/utility that was worth the wait.
| Piloting the Acura RDX is like driving a hatchback/sport sedan that's 10 inches too tall. You'll wonder why you're not driving a real sport sedan.
| Think of the Dodge Nitro as a butched-up and beefed-up muscular compact SUV, inside and out. The wider stance and bigger wheelflares give the Nitro a substantial look from the side.
| At first glance, the 2007 Lincoln Navigator looks like a clever exercise in "regifting" - same old fruitcake with a new bow. But a closer look reveals some solid changes.
| The Edge made our first-round cut based on significance alone. After driving it, we're not optimistic about Ford's future.
| With strong sales and a sterling quality rep in the bank, Acura is looking for street cred by infusing its mainstream products with more heart, soul, and verve.
| The Suzuki XL7's acceleration and its ability to tug up a hill with a full load will seldom yield complaint.
| The fourth-generation Ford Expedition recieves significant interior, powertrain, and chassis upgrades. And if that's not enough, a longer wheelbase version replaces the love-to-hate, two-years-dead behemoth Ford Excursion.
| It should come as no surprise Toyota has made a vehicle that would be great for 90 percent of sport/utility buyers.
| If we offered a sub-trophy for "most improved", the Suburban might not be going home empty-handed. Inside, outside, and underneath, this vehicle is utterly transformed.
| The Outlander has a lot going for it; striking sheetmetal, competitive pricing, and a bevy of features either unique or rare in its segment.
| Model-by-model, the new big GM's are better designed and more refined than their Ford and Lincoln counterparts, and the Tahoe is no exception.
| The first-generation Escalade was a quick repsonse to the unanticipated success of the Lincoln Navigator. The max Caddy has since become a pop-culture hit.
| If there weren't a single badge in the CR-V's cabin, you'd still know who makes this SUV. The five-passenger layout has been completely redesigned for the 2007 model year, but the interior is inherently Honda.
| Traditional sport/utilities usually have two things in common: blocky styling and a torquey, low-revving powerplant. Mazda's first crossover has none of the above.
| Risk levels have been on red alert for the redesigned Wrangler, which is the Jeep brand's central icon. Fortunately, nobody knows this better than the Jeep engineers.
| Had the FJ Cruiser squeezed into last year's contest, it just might've walked away with top honors. But as the saying goes, timing is everything.
| At first glance, the MKX had all the right elements. But the execution wasn't what we'd hoped.
| Once, being the new Korean automaker on the block meant nobody took you seriously and you didn't get much respect. That should change in the near future.
| GMC's Yukon/Denali and Yukon XL/Denali, may prove to offer the best performance and perhaps the best value for the money.
| Chrysler's new Apsen is a living tribute to the time it takes automakers to bring a product to market. Clearly this one wasn't conceived during the recent gas crunch.