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2002 4x4 of the Year

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2002
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road and Jp Staffs
Jeep Liberty.  <br>Want to go behind the scenes of our test?  <br>Click here for video>>> Jeep Liberty.
Want to go behind the scenes of our test?
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p125328 large+2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland+Front Passenger Side
p125329 large+2002 Nissan Xterra XE SC+Front View
p125330 large+2002 Ford Explorer XLT+Front Driver Side
p126052 large+2002 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab XLT+Rear Driver Side
p126053 large+2002 Nissan Xterra XE SC+Rear Passenger Side
p126054 large+2002 Chevrolet Avalanche+Front Driver Side
p126055 large+2002 Isuzu Axiom+Front Driver Side
p126056 large+2002 Suzuki XL7 Touring AT+Front
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p126058 large+2002 Nissan Frontier+Front End
p126059 large+2002 Chevrolet Avalanche+Rear Passenger Side
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p126062 large+2002 Isuzu Axiom+Front View
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p126064 large+2002 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab XLT+Wheel
p126153 large+2002 Nissan Xterra+Rear Passenger Side
p126154 large+2002 Chevrolet Avalanche+Rear View

Of all the tests in all the world that really matter, the 4-Wheel & Off-Road 4x4 of the Year is the one that counts. As both our readership and the automotive industry know, our test is the hardest-hitting, no-holds-barred test of a 4x4’s real worth. For our readers, this information is priceless when determining your buying preferences. That’s why for the 20th year straight, our staff of pros took nine eligible vehicles out to the boonies and wailed on them ’til they whimpered.

Our 4x4 of the Year test isn’t just an extended testdrive like some other magazines do. Instead we put these rigs through their paces on the road, track, trail, and a few places you’d never expect to see these stockers tread.

But not every vehicle can win, and only a select few are even eligible. First, the vehicle must either be all new or have major mechanical changes from the previous version. The vehicle must be available to the public by January 15, and at least 2,500 must be produced to eliminate any one-off ringers. Also, the manufacturers must provide us with the vehicles in time for the test regardless of the introduction date. Most importantly, each must be a 4x4 with a two-speed transfer case, not an all-wheel-drive station wagon.

For this year’s test we received a stable of nine vehicles which met these standards: the Chevrolet Avalanche, the Ford Explorer, the Dodge Ram 1500, the Isuzu Axiom, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, the Jeep Liberty, the Nissan Frontier Crew Cab Longbed, the Nissan Xterra, and the Suzuki XL-7. If your favorite new vehicle wasn’t in the test, it’s because it wasn’t available or eligible, or the manufacturer declined to participate. It was a very close race for some of the contestants this year, with more than a few surprises to keep us guessing until the last figures were tallied up. Check out what we did and how we came to our conclusions and greet the 2002 4x4 of the Year.
—Rick Péwé

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