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2003 Four Wheeler of the Year

129 0302 Fwoty 01 Z
Craig Perronne
| Brand Manager, Dirt Sports & Off Road
Posted August 21, 2003
Photographers: Four Wheeler Staff

Seven Different Ways to Wheel

Just when we get to thinking that factory-fresh four-wheelers can't get any better, they get better. This is a pretty good deal. When you improve on an already high standard of excellence, everybody benefits. Quantifying those benefits, and apportioning kudus where they are deserved, is the point of Four Wheeler of the Year.

The point of the exercise is to find the new vehicle that offers the most balanced performance to the four-wheeling enthusiast public. That's a careful definition, because if we were looking for the vehicle that provided the best trail performance, or the most hauling capacity, or the best highway manners, well, that would greatly narrow the focus of what we're trying to accomplish. If we focused on trail performance only, for instance, it would mean that a Jeep might win every year. As much as we admire Jeeps of all stripes, that would not serve our interests, or yours.

When we select pals--either male or female--we tend to look for someone with a balanced personality. Same deal here. We're looking for the vehicles that do it all well, that present a terrific balance of trail and pavement manners and with the fewest tradeoffs or compromises in either direction. When manufacturers approach four-wheelers from that direction, we all benefit. When they don't, we don't.

This year we had a terrific crop of contenders. This crop was composed of the Hummer H2, the Toyota 4Runner, the Kia Sorento, the Lexus GX470, the Ford Excursion, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and the Mitsubishi Montero. To make it into this field, each vehicle had to be either new or substantially revised. All were. And frankly, all were, in their own ways, really excellent. We'd be happy to own and wheel any one of them. But we go about this methodically, by the numbers, and only one of the seven gets to be Four Wheeler of the Year. Which one is it? Read on, dear reader, read on.

-Jon Thompson

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View Photo Gallery
  • Ford Excursion

  • Hummer H2

  • Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

  • Kia Sorento

  • Lexus GX 470

  • Mitsubishi Montero

  • Toyota 4Runner

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