The Autobytel 2013 SUV of the Year category sees a pair of traditional sport-utility vehicles facing off against an all-new contender that trades in its original body-on-frame design for a fresh unibody platform. The SUV segment is one that is currently fighting a battle between the hardcore capabilities offered by rugged, old-school designs and the fuel mileage and ride comfort potential provided by more modern interpretations of the concept, and this is perfectly represented by our list of SUV of the Year contenders for 2013.
Read on to learn about the three finalists for Autobytel's 2013 SUV of the Year award.
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler is the prototypical off-road warrior, and for the 2013 model year it continues to offer a very impressive package of all terrain capability matched with a decent amount of daily practicality. The two-door Jeep Wrangler (which features the option of a removable hard top and a removable soft top) features a thoroughly modern 3.6-liter, 285 horsepower V-6 engine that also delivers reasonable fuel mileage for its category, and although its barebones interior isn't for everyone it's impossible to deny that the Wrangler is without a doubt the most capable affordable SUV around when it comes time to tackle the rough stuff. Its variety of four-wheel drive systems, excellent ground clearance, and solid front and rear axles are not to be trifled with on the trail.
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser received a number of cosmetic upgrades for the current model year, helping to revamp the full-size SUV both inside and out. Riding on a full-frame design and featuring a full-time four-wheel drive system and a dynamic suspension system, the Land Cruiser is no joke when the pavement disappears and rocks, sand, and snow are the terrain that the big vehicle has to face down. Its eight passenger capacity and substantial quotient of luxury features, however, coupled with its status as the most expensive Toyota money can buy, places it at the upper echelon of full-size SUVs. 381 horsepower from a 5.7-liter V-8 engine doesn't hurt, either.
There was once a time when the Nissan Pathfinder would have been able to claim roughly the same kind of go-anywhere credibility enjoyed by both the Wrangler and the Land Cruiser, but with its 2013 redesign those days are behind it. Instead, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has been reborn as a family-first, roomy three-row crossover SUV that rides on a unibody platform that has more in common with a full-size sedan than its previous incarnation. 260 horsepower are available from its 3.5-liter V-6, a continuously-variable automatic transmission is standard, and all-wheel drive can be ordered with the Pathfinder as an option.
The editorial team of Autobytel has chosen the previous vehicles as the best of what we have seen in the category for 2013, and while there are many others in this class that probably deserve some kudos as well, we'd love to hear which you would choose for yourself. Let us know on the Autobytel Twitter or the Autobytel Facebook page.
2013 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
2013 Ford Fusion
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Jeep Wrangler
2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
2013 Porsche Boxster S
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2013 RAM 1500
2013 Mazda MAZDA5