2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (© Perry Stern)

With their rugged looks and utilitarian appeal, SUVs are among the most popular vehicles in America, but the demands put on these vehicles have changed over the years. No longer trucklike, ladder-framed behemoths capable of all kinds of off-road antics, today's SUVs are mostly the car-based crossovers that have replaced the minivan or station wagon as the typical family transportation.

But SUV buyers still expect their vehicles to be capable enough to slog through mud, traverse unpaved roads and even climb the occasional mountain. So every year, the Northwest Automotive Press Association gathers the latest examples of crossovers and SUVs to test them not only on the pavement, but to take them where many will never venture — off the road and into the mud — to see which SUV is the best. This is the event known as Mudfest.

View Pictures:  SUV of the Year

Twenty-three vehicles from 13 manufacturers were tested at the 310-acre DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Wash. Each vehicle was tested for handling and braking on wet pavement, general drivability on public roads and off-road ability on a trail designed with plenty of ruts, gravel, deep puddles and mud. A more difficult route requiring greater ground clearance, locking differentials and steep approach angles was created for the vehicles specifically designed to handle the toughest terrain.

Ranging in price from a $22,790 Subaru XV Crosstrek to a $118,155 Mercedes-Benz G550, the vehicles were divided into five classes.

Here are all of the vehicles that participated in the event. Click to page two for the list of winners.


Ford Escape
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Mazda CX-5
MINI Paceman
Subaru XV Crosstrek

Luxury compact

Click to enlarge picture2013 Land Rover LR2 (© Perry Stern)

2013 Land Rover LR2

Acura RDX
Land Rover LR2


Click to enlarge picture2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD (© Perry Stern)

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

Honda Crosstour
Hyundai Santa Fe
Kia Sorento
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Pathfinder
Subaru Forester XT
Volkswagen Touareg TDI


Buick Enclave
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Mercedes-Benz GL450
Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid


Click to enlarge picture2014 Land Rover Range Rover (© Perry Stern)

2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Land Rover Range Rover
Mercedes-Benz G550