25 Journalists, 22 Pickup Trucks and SUVs and Acres (and Acres!) of Mud: Mudfest 2023 Determines The Best

These journalists put new pickup trucks and SUVs to the test, on road and off road driving, to pick the best new vehicles for your daily, and adventure, driving. Which are the best? Keep reading!

Nwapa.org Mudfest
The off-roaders ready to go off-road. Photo: NWAPA

The title of Northwest Outdoor Adventure Vehicle of the Year is at stake here.

And the winner is … the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (didn’t want to make you wait for that). And while we drove the new Outlander earlier this year and its dominance at Mudfest is not a surprise, the stakes are high and the field of competitors is daunting. Here are the other trucks and SUVs that competed:

Related: Buick Has Something Cute and Luxe to Show You: Meet the Buick Envista Compact SUV

Mudfest 2023

25 Journalists with 22 Adventure vehicles tested during the two day Mudfest. Photo: NWAPA

What is Mudfest?

An annual gathering of the Northwest Automotive Press Association automotive journalists from the Pacific Northwest, Mudfest is held in the spring when the rain is predictable, snowmelt is expected and mud season is in full swing. This is the type of weather in which all of us need our cars to perform their best to keep us safe, dry and moving.

During the two day event, journalists drive and evaluate every car in the field. Vehicles are entered by their manufacturers based on the event criteria: new-to-the-market all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive trucks and SUVs designed for comfortable on road on road driving and more challenging off road driving.

The event starts with on-pavement testing. We take each vehicle through a slalom, then a 0-60 mph and hard-brake test, and then on a small go-kart circuit track to get a feel for braking, acceleration and handling on regular pavement driving.

I adore this part because you really get to slam on the accelerator and then slam on the brakes. You feel the car swerve, squeal, and corner through the entire day. You feel in control over the car, yet you test its limits, especially with bigger SUVs. You get the sense of how they will perform in real daily life with your family.

You can easily see what it’s like to drive these family adventure cars every day, and also possible emergency situations like hard braking and cornering quickly.

Related: 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy: This Upscale, Affordable 3-Row SUV Has Me Smitten


Half of the adventure vehicles on hand at Mudfest. Photo: NWAPA

The Adventure Continues on Day Two

The second day is all about gravel, mud, rocks, hills and more. Adventure trucks and SUVs are built to be taken off-pavement, and so we did. All 22 vehicles have to complete the obstacle course, and the more extreme off-roaders get to do some bigger, more challenging mud, water and hill climbs.

I will say, not one of these disappointed me. They were all capable of taking me through the course effortlessly.

A few even surprised me, including the Honda Pilot, the BMW X7, and the Subaru Crosstrek.

Ford F-150 Raptor

The F-150 Raptor eating up the off-road obstacle course. Photo: NWAPA

Adventure Can Be Had at ALL Price Points

There was a huge price range among the vehicles tested at Mudfest, which I appreciate. After all, your budget shouldn’t dictate how capable your family adventure vehicle can be.

The least expensive drives at Mudfest:

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium – $29,685
2023 VW Tiguan – $38,615
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro – $38,815
2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid – $39,845
2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian – $41,620
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruise – $41,825

The most expensive drives at Mudfest:

2023 Rolls-Royce Cullinan – $452,725
2023 BMW X7 M60i – $122,545
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor – $111,935
2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe 20th Anniversary Rubicon – $81,150
2023 Wagoneer Series II 4×4 – $81,105
2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro and 2023 Toyota Sequoia RRD Pro – $80,291

2024 Subaru Crosstreck

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek scored Best Value. Photo: NWAPA

Related: The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 SUV Feels Like Sunday Brunch on a Sunny Patio

And the Winners Are!

In addition to Adventure Vehicle of the Year, we evaluate each entrant in one of 7 additional categories. Those categories, and the winners, are:

Two-Row Family SUV

2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe 20th Anniversary Rubicon
Runner up — 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD

Three-Row Family SUV

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Runner up — 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

Luxury SUV

2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Runner up — 2023 Wagoneer Series II 4×4

Pickup Truck

2023 Ford F-150 Raptor 4×4 SuperCrew
Runner up — 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Electrified Utility Vehicle

2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Runner up — 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Extreme Capability Vehicle

2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe 20th Anniversary Rubicon
Runner up — 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R

Best Value SUV or Pickup

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium
Runner up — 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Genesis Gv70 Electric

The Electrified Genesis GV70 is the first fully electric car at Mudfest. Photo: NWAPA

Even after driving each entry, it’s hard to pick just one that I might want to drive every day. On road and off-road they are fun and capable; I really did have a hard time choosing my favorites at the end of each day. And not wanting to take all of them home with me!

Car Shopping

Need a new car? Whether shopping for a new car or a used car we recommend using our car shopping service

Tire Shopping

Need new tires? We recommend Tire Rack

Car Repair

Need to get your car repaired? We recommend Repair Pal. Exclusively just for Girls Guide to Cars readers, call (877) 323-1708 to speak to RepairPal Car Genius for FREE automotive repair advice and if needed to find the right shop for you!

Connie Peters is a mother of 3 girls in suburban Vancouver, Canada and has been an online entrepreneur since... More about Connie Peters