Off-road OEM competition coming to Arizona

An expanded media day program at this year’s Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year competition in Arizona will feature a full day of driving, including off-road courses intended to demonstrate the capabilities of all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.

ALV is the only vehicle-of-the-year program that combines the input of professional automotive journalists with elite and area athletes to determine which cars and trucks currently in production best meet the needs of buyers with active lifestyles. This year’s event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22.

The media day begins with an on-road drive from the San Marcos Hotel in downtown Chandler, Arizona to lunch at Eagle Mountain golf club in Fountain Hills. After lunch, participants head northeast to the Butcher Jones Recreation Area in the Tonto National Forest for the off-road event. During the off-road program, journalists can continue to drive on-road vehicle entries through scenic nearby Bush Highway.

Automotive engineer and ALV jury panel member Eric Noble is overseeing the off-road program along with his colleagues at CARLAB, monitoring traffic flow and acting as a second set of eyes in challenging areas on the 20-minute out-and-back course. The out-and-back format facilitates driver swaps so all journalists will have adequate time behind the wheel of vehicle entries.

“As the sales of models with AWD increases, so does the interest in off-pavement exploration among adventurous buyers,” says Noble.  â€śThis feature of ALV is intended to bridge the gap between normal pavement testing and the sort of extreme crawling that requires spotters and is prone to damage vehicles.”

The all-wheel drive course includes moderate elevation gain and a variety of surfaces including loose sand and rock. OEMs can tailor the course to show the specific capabilities of their vehicles by adding more challenging spurs off the main route.

The media program is the first day of ALV, with the athlete’s ride-and-drive and awards lunch on Saturday. A jury panel of twelve nationally recognized automotive journalists vote with the athletes to award vehicles in seven categories. 

Cars and trucks will compete for the following awards: Best Value On-Road: Cars and trucks priced at or below $35,000 intended primarily for on-road use; Best Value Off-Road: Cars and trucks priced at or below $35,000, with true off-road capability.
Luxury On-Road: Cars and trucks priced above $35,000 intended primarily for on-road use; and Luxury Off-Road: Cars and trucks priced above $35,000 with true off-road capability.