You cant help but notice that in the last few years SUVs have become so popular that theyve all but eclipsed vehicles such as minivans and station wagons. This surprises us not at all. Four Wheeler has always been a believer in the utility, convenience, and ruggedness of these vehicles, has been evaluating them for nearly 40 years, and has been handing out its Four Wheeler of the Year award, or its predecessor, for 27 years.
The idea behind this award isnt at all complicated: Round up the latest crop of new SUVs (and by new we mean just thateither all new, or significantly changed) and compare them against each other during a grueling four-day test session. We dont expect these vehicles to be miracle workers, so we dont take them into places that stock vehicles shouldnt be taken. But we do expect them to live up to the promises, explicit and implicit, that their manufacturers make to intended consumers. And we rate the performances of those vehicles against those promises in an elaborate judges book that covers a long list of categories.
When were done, what weve got is a winner, one thats chosen strictly on the basis of its value, quality, and usefulness as an SUV. Thats not to imply that the rest are losers, however. That all these vehicles went as far as they did, and scored as well as they did, is a testament to their real-truck toughness. Some simply are better than others. And one of them is enough better to be acclaimed the 2001 Four Wheeler of the Year. To find out which one, read on.