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2006 Four Wheeler Of The Year - The Staff

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on February 1, 2006
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Photographers: The Four Wheeler Staff

Editor Douglas McColloch: I'll take the Land Cruiser. The biggest and heaviest vehicle in our group, it was also the quietest, the smoothest, one of the most maneuverable, and offered the best visibility of this year's test crop. If ever a 6,000-pound truck can be called a "driver's car," this is it. Think of a Lincoln Town Car with low-range and an adjustable suspension, and you get the idea. And while it is the most expensive of this year's entries, in this case you do get what you pay for, every cent of it.

Senior Editor Ken Brubaker: Let's see if you read the story. I like the one with the rear locker, the best approach and departure angles, 33-inch tires and 69:1 crawl ratio. I'm also jazzed that it's the 2nd least expensive of the group and returns a rated 20 mpg on the highway.

Tech Editor Sean P. Holman: I may be in the minority here, but I love the H3. I wasn't as bothered with the lack of power as some of my counterparts, because in everyday driving it is quite adequate (just don't go racing for pinks). The Range Rover and Toyota are both amazing vehicles, but they are also large and expensive, whereas I felt the H3 was better suited for the trail and is something I could conceivably afford on my feeble staff editor salary. Plus, the interior accommodations are some of the best from GM. The H3 is well protected for the trail, and I was never worried about incurring an expensive repair bill just because I kissed a rock the wrong way.

Feature Editor Robin Stover: You can't argue with how solid Toyota builds 'em. The Land Cruiser is one of the finest automobiles ever constructed, in my opinion. Everything is tight. The dash. The sheetmetal. The door seals. The steering. It all feels like a million dollars was spent getting it all right. And though it doesn't shine above the rest in any one particular area, it scores above average across the board. I dig the '90s styling, and I hope they never get rid of the manual low-range shifter. And though I'll never afford one, I'd definitely consider buying one of these before anything else we tested this year.

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Art Director Greg Smith: Truthfully, it's a tough choice with this strong group, but the Land Rover won me over. It's such a solid performer and in my opinion has the best interior ergonomics of any vehicle we've ever tested. Comfort, decent power, a proven 4x4 system, good looks ... this one's for me.

Publisher Steve VonSeggern: Land Rover. Contributor Ned Bacon: I like the Hummer a lot, but it has to have better visibility and more power before I could live with it everyday. So the Land Cruiser gets the nod. It does everything asked of it with no fuss and no computer trying to out-think the driver. The old-fashioned seating position is also something I would never get tired of.

We may be professionals, but we aren't perfect (nor are we stunt drivers). Case in point: While doing a multi-vehicle photo shoot for this story, we had a mishap between the Hummer H3 and Suzuki Grand Vitara, which resulted in material for our next "Worst Stucks" article. While the H3 drove away nearly unscathed, our fun little 'Zuk had some serious problems. Despite the severity of the impact, we were able to pull the upper radiator core support out with a tow strap, and once we realized no fluids were leaking, we drove it over 100 miles back to our hotel. What a tough little truck.

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