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Discussion Starter #1
The Fall/Winter 2005-2006 Issue of Motor Trend picked the Kia Sorento as the Compact SUV Winner over 15 entries.

Just got hold of Motor Trend's 2005/2006 Fall/Winter issue with their Editor's Choice and Best in Class Awards. Here are the picks:

1. Among Compact SUVs (an enigma considering they originally classified the Kia Sorento as midsize), the Kia Sorento is the winner, with the Ford Escape as honorable mention. The category included 15 SUVs, including the Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, Jeep Wrangler, Ford Escape, Land Rover Freelander, Mazda Tribute, Mitsubishi Outlander, Suzuki Vitara XL7, Chevy Tracker (Grand Vitara), Chevy Blazer, Jeep Liberty, Nissan Xterra (2004 model), etc.

2. Midsize SUV was broken down into 3 subcategories:
a. Midsize Under US$35K winner: Toyota 4Runner (Hon. Mention: Chevy Trailblazer)
b. Midsize Over US$35K winner: VW Touareg (H.M: Acura MDX)
c. Overall Winner: Lexus GX 470. (H.M. Volvo XC90)

3. Fullsize SUV winner: Dodge Durango (H.M. Toyota Sequioa)

It's noteworthy that the 4Runner and the GX470 are, really, the same vehicles and is known locally as the Toyoto Land Cruiser Prado. The Lexus, though is the high tech version, with better suspension and variable height adjustment, etc. Of course, the V8 engines make a world of a difference as well.

The Sorento surprises because, first, MT used to classify it as midsize, although by what measure remains a mystery:

If by size, the BMWX3 Mercedes M Class, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Isuzu Rodeo, Lexus RX330 have similar dimensions, but they remain in the midsize category.

If by engine displacement, the Sorento's 3.5 liter V6 is certainly bigger than the X5's 3.0 liter or the Isuzu Rodeo's 3.2 liters or the Lexus LX330 or the Toyota Highlander's 3.3 liters, etc. So why is the Sorento under compact?

The only thing compact about the Sorento is its base price of under US$20 grand (with all the add-ons, it goes up to over US$30,000, however - so this criterion can be deceiving).

In 2003, MT failed to include the Sorento in their Car of the year shootout (was it because they did not get a hold of a test unit in time for the tests?). In 2004, they kind of recognized its performance in a comparo between the Jeep Liberty and Suzuki XL7 (The Sorento came in 2nd for best balance between on- and off-road performance). It didn't qualify for the 2004 COTY because it was no longer a NEW SUV for 2004.

For 2005, they give it "Best compact SUV (see above). What gives?

Other winners, FYI:

1. Ultimate Performance SUV: MB G500 (HM: Porsche Cayenne Turbo)
2. Compact 2WD Ext Cab Pickup: Toyota Tacoma PreRunner (Hilux?)
(Hon. Mention: Chevy Colorado (Isuzu D-Max?)

The only SUVs not represented in the mix are the Nissan Patrol and Nissan Xtrail. Well, if you include the other korean marques, the SSangyong Rexton, Korando pair as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Awesome, indeed. Here's more:

Browsing the net, I also came across offroad.com and the (US) Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) 2005 MudFest, both credible authorities in their own right. Here are their SUV winners for 2005:

1. Under US$25K Category Winner: Kia Sorento
Runner-up: Hyundai Tucson

2. US$25K to $35K Category Winner: Honda Pilot
Runner-up: Subaru Outback

3. US$35K to $45K Category Winner: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Runner-up: none

4. Over US$45K Category Winner: Land Rover LR3
Runner-up: Volvo XC90

For all the details, visit
http://www.off-road.com/events/nwapa/2004m...zapwinners.html

Some observations:
The Kia was NWAPA's Under $25K SUV since 2003; Hyundai's is all new for 2005

The Pilot and Subaru are both of 3 year vintage.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is all new for 2005 and a hands-down winner.

The Volvo has been 2 years running in these annual awards; the LR3 brand new.

Sorry, not quite done yet. Edmunds.com also chooses their category winners. They post their historicals as well , so here goes:

SUV UNDER $25k
2005 Winner: Chevy Equinox
2004 Winner: Kia Sorento
2003 Winner: Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute

SUV UNDER $35k
2005 Winner: Toyota 4Runner
2004 Winner: Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer
2003 Winner: Honda Pilot


SUV UNDER $45k
2005 Winner: VW Touareg
2004 Winner: VW Touareg
2003 Winner: BMW X5

SUV OVER $45k
2005 Winner: Land Rover Range Rover
2004 Winner: Land Rover Range Rover
2003 Winner: Land Rover Range Rover

visit them at
http://www.off-road.com/events/nwapa/2004m...zapwinners.html
 
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