2006 RMAP Best of the Rockies

Rocky Mountain Auto Writers Name Best Vehicles for 2006

By Vince Bodiford
Automotive Editor

DENVER, COLO. – Rocky Mountain Automotive Press has announced the 2006 “Best Vehicles of the Rockies” presented by Bridgestone Blizzak®.

“There are many choices in vehicles today, and the driving conditions of the Rocky Mountain region presents unique challenges for drivers. As auto writers, we drive on these same roads in the newest vehicles on the market, and we’re happy to see our members have selected some very exciting and capable vehicle this year,” said awards chairperson Isaac Bouchard.

Since I’ve driven all of the vehicles that were honored by the press awards, the list is below, with some brief impressions of mine of each.

2006 Best Vehicles of the Rockies:

rmap_ravBest Crossover SUV of the Rockies: Toyota RAV4 V6
This award is greatly deserved, as the Rav4 V6 is one of the finest small SUV’s I’ve driven. I first drove this car in Texas at the launch, and I was very impressed with its power and handling. It’s like a BMW X-3 on a budget. Car Enthusiast full review is here.

Best Hybrid Vehicle of the Rockies: Toyota Prius with Synergy Drive rmap_prius
The Synergy-drive equipped Toyota Prius has won many well-deserved accolades and awards, and in the environment-conscience Rocky Mountain region, this is a superb choice that offers size, comfort and real hybrid qualities. Synergy drive is now available on other Toyota and Lexus models as well. I’ve driven several models, and recently drove the Prius, so check back soon for our full reviews.

rmap_gsBest Sports Sedan of the Rockies: Lexus GS300 AWD
The all-new Lexus GS with all-wheel is, in a word – spectacular. There was a heavy snowstorm in Colorado for my recent weeklong drive of the AWD model, and it never faltered. This is a true sports sedan that is a pleasure to drive. Sporting sedans are among the most popular, and without a doubt, the Lexus leads the entire pack in the mountains with the GS all-wheel drive. (Our full review is here)

Best Lifestyle SUV of the Rockies: Jeep Commander rmap_com
I’ve driven this “big” Jeep on Interstate highways, in dense urban traffic, and on long isolated country drives. It’s comfortable, capable and very drivable every day. Its engine and all-wheel drive system, plus creature comforts, earned it this award. (Check back soon for our full review).

rmap_tahoeFull-Size SUV of the Rockies: Chevrolet Tahoe – GMC Yukon
I first drove the new generation Tahoe at the press review in Arizona, and was immediately impressed by its engine – which provides displacement on demand and reducing the use of cylinders from 8 to 4 depending on need. Its exterior styling is modern and clean. (Check back soon for our full review).

Best All-Wheel Drive Car of the Rockies: BMW 530xi AWD Sport Wagon rmap_bmw
Probably one of the most coveted awards for the region (all wheel drive), the BMW earns this award with ease. BMW’s famous X-drive is likely one of the best systems in the world, and mounted to the venerable 5-series wagon, life is good. Add BMW’s luxurious and sporting interiors, full compliment of accessories and equipment, and this vehicle is a must-have if you find yourself trekking up the mountains with ski’s attached to your roof. (Check back soon for our full review).

rmap_roverBest Luxury SUV of the Rockies: Range Rover Sport Supercharged
A truly remarkable upscale and sporting SUV. I drove this vehicle from Aspen, Colorado to Moab, Utah – completely off-road on a sometimes-challenging dirt road. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and with the luxury and amenities of the Sport, it was a sheer joy. Great finish, interior, engine and styling. (Our full review is here)

Best Luxury Car of the Rockies: Mercedes-Benz S550 rmap_s550
Best described as a “personal limousine,” the S-class Mercedes-Benz has again risen to the top of the luxury car world. So full of content – including messaging seats – that your every need is fully tended to. Incredible level of luxury in a beautiful new package. The good news: it’s also available with all-wheel drive. If you own one, give your drive the night off and take to the drivers seat yourself as often as possible. (Just driven – check back soon for our full review).

rmap_c70Best Fun Car of the Rockies: Volvo C70 Hardtop Convertible
Where do we begin? Volvo’s exceptional record of safety? Perhaps the value story of high trade-in and residual value? How about just plain fun! This car is truly deserving of this award, and it is indeed a fun and drivable car. We drove it at the very beginning, and every encounter it just gets better. If you’re looking for a great convertible that also will seal up and keep out the harsh winter, look no further. This is the world’s only affordable retractable hardtop. (Our full review is here)

Best Sports Car of the Rockies: Chevrolet Corvette Z06 rmap_z06
Thirsty for power in a sports car? How about over 500-hp in America’s legendary sports car, the Corvette? When GM invited me to drive this car on the isolated backroads of California’s Mohave Desert, it took about 1-second to accept. More than just raw horsepower, the Corvette is refined, articulate and fits like a glove. I’ve often said this is a car you wear, not drive. Kudos’ to GM on the likely the finest – and most powerful – Corvette ever. (Check back soon for our full review).

rmap_f150Best Full-Size Pickup of the Rockies: Ford F150
It’s possible that Ford Trucks has invented the perfect pickup in the venerable F150. This is the 4th year in a row that this pickup has earned this award. I’ve driven it everywhere you can imagine – in the snow, off-road, on highways, towing, you name it. I’ve talked about it on television, in reviews and in Detroit. Plain and simple – just as Henry would prefer – F150 is a great pickup. (Just driven – check back soon for our full review).

Best Mid-Size Pickup of the Rockies: Honda Ridgeline AWD rmap_ridge
The modern, suburban lifestyle requires something just a bit different that the traditional pickup, and the Honda Ridgeline fits the bill. Part car, part SUV, part wagon and part pickup, the Ridgeline is under it all a really capable and flexible mid-size pickup. It has neat features like a hidden trunk in the bottom of the pickup bed, four real doors and all-wheel drive. When I drove it, I hauled everything from groceries to kids to building materials. You will too. (Check back soon four our full review).

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