2004 Four Wheeler of the Year
Seven-way shootout, one big winnah!
Photography by Four Wheeler Staff
How We Test Them
Putting the latest and greatest SUVs through their paces is lots of fun, but it is also lots of work. First, we get our hands on the vehicles. Then we assemble a competent crew of judges and drivers. After that, we head out on our multi-day affair to determine which SUV will become the champ.
The first day finds us at the dragstrip for acceleration and deceleration testing. From there, we take the twisty back roads up to Lake Arrowhead, California. The next morning we head back down the mountain, across plenty of desert and wind to the dunes of Dumont, California. Then it is back up to Lake Arrowhead. The next morning we hit the trails around Big Bear. The following day consists of more trail time in the mountains around Big Bear, and then the long drive home.
All this time on the highway, twisty mountain roads and the trail gives us plenty of time to evaluate and score each vehicle. Each vehicle is evaluated and scored in a Mechanical category (25% of final score), Interior category (15% of final score), Exterior category (10% of final score), Highway category (20% of final score) and Trail category (30% of final score). In each category the vehicles are scored in various subcategories to give a thorough evaluation. The winner is the vehicle that is well rounded and excels in a wide range of tasks. Since 30 percent of the final score consists of trail performance, the winner is also the vehicle that performs well on the trail.
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