SUV designs tend to stay around for many years but the finalists for Autobytel 2012 SUV of the Year show how a classic SUV can become timeless, comtemporary and even get a radical facelift and still perfom like a utility vehicle.
Read on to see which three SUVs make the grade and topped the list for the Autobytel 2012 SUV if the Year.
Autobytel 2012 SUV of the Year Winner: 2012 Jeep Wrangler
When it comes to tackling any terrain put in front of it, the go-anywhere Jeep Wrangler has always been the ultimate SUV, but with the addition of a new powertrain for 2012, this iconic off roader was an easy choice for the Autobytel 2012 SUV of the Year. Available in two- and four-door configurations, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler now comes with a more powerful Pentastar V-6 engine that gives drivers a good mix of power and fuel economy. Whether its equipped with the hard or soft top, the Jeep Wrangler allows for easy open-air driving, and, like its predecessors dating back to 1941, the 2012 Wrangler can still be enjoyed with the windshield folded down and the doors removed.
Autobytel 2012 SUV of the Year Finalist: 2012 Dodge Durango
After taking a year off, the Dodge Durango returned for 2011, and it now offers an improved ride and handling to go along with its spacious interior and ample towing abilities. All 2012 Dodge Durango models feature an eye-catching exterior design, but for those looking for a sportier appearance, be sure to check out the aggressive Durango R/T model. Like many other Dodge models, the Durango can be equipped with an abundance of luxury and technology options helping it stand out even more from the crowded SUV segment. Chrysler's impressive Pentastar V-6 engine comes standard, but for peak performance and towing, the proven Hemi V-8 is the way to go. Although the Durango can seat up to seven passengers, one of the biggest changes for the 2012 model is the addition of second-row captain's chairs for optimal passenger comfort.
Autobytel 2012 SUV of the Year Finalist: 2012 Ford Explorer
As one of the biggest influences to spark the SUV craze back in the 1990s, the Ford Explorer is still one of the top-selling examples on the road, and the latest design brings one of the best combinations of size, efficiency and technology to ever carry the Explorer nameplate. The biggest news for the 2012 Ford Explorer is the addition of the 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four which helps improve fuel economy and performance, but it still carries over the V-6 as a standard engine. The optional MyFord Touch infotainment system continues to deliver easy connectivity, but the most notable feature on the new Explorer is the inflatable seat belts for second-row outboard occupants which helps to reduce head, neck and chest injuries during a collision.
Autobytel wants to hear from you
The editorial staff of Autobytel has chosen the previous three SUVs as the best of what we have seen for 2012, and while there are many others in this class that probably deserve some kudos as well, we'd love to hear which one of the previous three you would choose for yourself.
See More of Autobytel's Picks for the Year:
Autobytel 2012 Compact Car of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Convertible of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Sedan of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Luxury Car of the Year
Autobytel 2012 SUV of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Luxury SUV of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Crossover of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Sports Car of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Alternative Fuel Car of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Pickup Truck of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Van/Minivan of the Year
Autobytel 2012 Wagon of the Year