With this past year being a rare exception, winters in New England are a serious business. So, when the New England Motor Press Association gets together to award the best winter vehicles of the year, the industry takes notice.
Although the typical winter’s day this year was more hospitable than during the past few years, the official winter testing day for NEMPA’s auto experts was still a bitterly cold, windy affair – complete with weather service advisories instructing people to stay inside (just check out our Infiniti QX50 impression for proof). Undeterred, we gathered at Bugsy Lawlor’s Automotion garage to test the best winter rigs of the year.
The sports car class is arguably the most exciting for journalists and shoppers. This year, the Jaguar F-Type took the crown. Whether it was due to the shouty cat’s all-wheel-drive system or the burbling V6 is anyone’s guess.
For the more logical consumer, the best-in-class all-weather sedan or wagon winners were the Subaru Outback, Dodge Charger, and a tie between the BMW 750i xDrive and Mercedes-Benz S550 for the under $30,000, $30,000-$40,000, and luxury segments, respectively.
In the crossover/SUV category, the Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler tied unsurprisingly for first place at the $24,000-$40,000 range. The Hyundai Tucson took home honors for the under-$28,000 range, and the Infiniti QX60 and Range Rover HSE impressed at the top of the spectrum, taking home the win for the Best-In-Class Luxury SUV ranging from $40,000-$60,000 and Best-In-Class Premium SUV. For any city-dwellers hoping for a winter rig providing both ground clearance and a compact package, the Mazda CX-3 was declared the Best-In-Class Subcompact SUV/Crossover.
Truly unique to NEMPA, the Yankee Value Award went to the Mitsubishi Outlander, and the Chevrolet Suburban earned the NEMPA Heritage Award. These two unique accolades are saved for vehicles that fill sometimes-overlooked niches. The Outlander’s impressive capability and low starting MSRP make it a great deal, while the Suburban’s storied history (it is the longest continuously used model name in production) made it a shoe-in for the Heritage Award.
On the polar opposite end of the 15-mpg-city Suburban sits the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid and its 34 city mpg— winner of the Green SUV/Crossover award.
So many cars earned well-deserved accolades, but only one could close out the night as the Overall Winner of the 2016 NEMPA Winter Vehicle Testing: the 2016 Honda Pilot. With great safety ratings, an impressive technology suite, and a capable all-wheel-drive system, the Honda stands tall as 2016’s champ.
What car would you pick for a harsh New England winter?