Honda Trucks in Top 5

Old 02-19-2003, 09:56 PM
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Honda Trucks in Top 5

There's nothing like an awards program with distinct categories to highlight the hot segments of the market. Just look at the differences in the number of nominees for our 2003 5Best Trucks.

As every marketing analyst and homemaker will tell you, vans aren't what's happening. There's no sales growth in that category, and the new Chevy Express and its GMC cousin, the Savana, were the only new entries to challenge the reigning champion Honda Odyssey.
The pickup-truck category was also short of new entries the all-new Ford F-150 and full-size Nissan entries aren't due until the 2004 model year. But we did see three usefully upgraded entries, along with the quirky Subaru Baja it does have an open bed to take on the excellent Chevy Silverado.

The Honda CR-V, which copped the Small Sport-Utility Vehicle class trophy last year, didn't face many new contenders, either, although the two that appeared were serious. Mitsubishi's Outlander took dead aim at the heart of the segment, and Honda's own Element rewrapped the CR-V mechanicals in adventurous and clever bodywork.

Large and Luxury Sport-Utility Vehicles, however, were a different matter. Both categories were brimming with sizzling new entries, reflecting the strong interest and high profits in these classes.

In Large SUVs, the defending Honda Pilot faced eight challengers, ranging from the all-new Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Nissan Murano, and Toyota 4Runner to its close cousin, the Acura MDX, now with 260 horsepower. More competition came from the Isuzu Ascender, a variant of the Chevy TrailBlazer family, and the uprated Land Rover Discovery and Mitsubishi Montero.

In the Luxury SUV segment, the year-old Land Rover Range Rover faced a fierce onslaught, with four entries that are additions to their makers' lineups: the Lexus GX470, the Lincoln Aviator, the Volkswagen Touareg, and the Volvo XC90. We also took a look at the Cadillac Escalade ESV, the new extended version of the hot-selling "Slade."
We love evaluating such competitive fields, but establishing the dividing line between the Large and Luxury SUVs was a real brain twister. Last year, the wall of separation came at the $40,000 threshold, applied to the lowest base price available in the model lineup.

Unfortunately, with this year's field, that dividing line would have lumped an obviously upper-crust machine, the Lincoln Aviator, in with the more proletarian large models. Furthermore, at the time we conducted our 5Best evaluations, we lacked firm base prices on several of the vehicles, including the Lexus GX470 and Volkswagen Touareg.

Making matters worse, the only examples of a GX470, a Touareg, and a Volvo XC90 we were able to pry from their manufacturers were fully loaded, top-of-the-line models luxury sport-utes in anyone's eyes.
With no opportunity to evaluate the more spartan versions of these machines, we decided to change the dividing line between Large and Luxury SUVs to $39,000 and apply it to the base prices of the actual vehicles that were made available to us. The resulting split strikes us as eminently logical.

With these organizational details out of the way, we proceeded to the task of evaluating our fleet of 25 various and sundry trucks. Each of our 11 jurors drove them on a variety of urban, highway, and country roads surrounding our headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We evaluated their numerous seating positions, learning the necessary third-row-seat shuffle in a few cases.
And since these are trucks, we placed heavy emphasis on their versatility and hauling capacity humans, cargo, and various combinations thereof. With Car and Driver readers in mind, however, we also paid due consideration to the behind-the-wheel satisfaction offered by these trucks.

After examining and experiencing all the nominees, each editor gave every vehicle a score from 1 to 100. Behold the 5Best Truck winners for 2003
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Old 02-20-2003, 01:31 AM
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hey thats at least a week old

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