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2014 4x4 of the Year

2014 4x4 Of The Year Fleet
Fred Williams
| Brand Manager, Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off Road
Posted November 13, 2013
Photographers: Harry Wagner

Two Trucks vs. Two Wagons

It is time again to test the newest 4x4s. Our 4x4 of the Year test is unusual in that it is not a comparison of similar vehicles but a test of the latest and greatest in 4x4 technologies. It does require that the vehicle be off-road capable, have a drivetrain equipped with low range, be for sale early in the model year, have a minimum production of 2,500, and (most importantly) be significantly changed or improved from prior models with regard to off-road capability (a new paint scheme doesn’t cut it).

For the 2014 4X4 of the Year test we have two trucks and two SUVs (the"wagons”), and these four contenders bring an amazing array of off-road innovation. We have three vehicles with direct injection, three with forced induction, two diesels, two gas, two with fully independent suspension, one solid-axle suspension, and one with some of both. Every vehicle has heated and cooled seats and navigation screens, but only one has leaf springs. There were no driver selectable lockers in the bunch, and the steering ranged from a hydraulic pump and gearbox to an electric rack-and-pinion to one that is half-electric and half-hydraulic.

There were also plenty of dials: dials to choose gearing, to choose terrain, to choose channels, but none to choose phone numbers, thank goodness. The vehicles at times had so many options it was distracting and confusing, and other times it was fun and exciting to see how far we have come with the vehicles we drive. Though we call the 4x4 of the Year a test and a shootout, it is more a technology fair where competitors show up with all their latest, greatest offerings for the off-road market and we determine what really works and what still need some work.

The four vehicles in this year’s test are the Chevy Silverado 1500, Ram 2500 diesel, Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel, and supercharged Range Rover Sport. These contenders may seem like odd opponents in an off-road wrestle mania, but in fact they are all quite capable in their own right and have something not seen before in their market. Our question is, which 4x4 is the best of 2014 and which ones will be sent home to keep training for next year?

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