The well-regarded Arizona-based Active Lifestyle Vehicle (ALV) competition was held this past weekend in and near Chandler, Arizona. Now in its 13th year, the event brings together a variety of current year vehicles that are suited to enhance active lifestyles for individuals and families. Judging the event are a combination of professional automotive journalists and active lifestyle professionals who bring their unique perspective to evaluating vehicle suitability for their respective activities.
Each year, retired NFL players are invited to serve as judges as well. They represent the Arizona Legends organization (a beneficiary of the event) which supports youth programs and assists retired players with medical expenses participate in the evaluations.
The 2016 winners selected from the 28 vehicles entered were:
- Best Value Family – Ford Explorer SUV
- Best Value Off-road – Ram 1500 Rebel Pickup
- Best Value On-road – VW Golf Compact Hatchback
- Extreme Off-road – Nissan Titan XD Pickup
- Luxury Family Vehicle – Nissan Armada Luxury SUV
- Luxury On-road Vehicle – Kia Cadenza Luxury Sedan
- Green Vehicle – Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel SUV
For 2016, the ALV competition was expanded to two days to facilitate more drive time and the inclusion of a more challenging off-road segment representative of many active lifestyle activities. The off-road drive route included significant stretches of sand, rock and lots of dust as part of a moderate hill climb to a remote ridge and return. For the vehicles in the ‘extreme’ category, an additional leg was added that included steep hillside trails strewn with ugly boulders and assorted holes requiring careful navigation by the driver – aided by a spotter.
Headquartering in Chandler at the downtown San Marcos hotel, the first day included both highway and the more challenging off-road drives. Driving locally and the interstates, the vehicles ended up at the Butcher Jones Recreation Area in the Tonto National Forest to drive the off-road trail and/or the scenic Bush Highway. A shorter second day featured local drives in the Chandler area to evaluate vehicles in terms of everyday use followed by lunch and the awards announcement.
Some of the interesting entrants included the Fiat 124 Spider two-seat roadster; new Acura NSX Sports Hybrid AWD with its 573 horsepower twin-turbo hybrid power plant that is top speed rated at 191 mph and the Lexus RC 200t F-Sport. Now some may say these are not ‘active lifestyle vehicles’. However, for active lifestyle people like a swimmer or a tennis player, vehicles such as these just might be the ticket.
We would also add a very big tip of our Texas Auto Writer Association (TAWA) hat to member and ALV co-founder Nina Russin for organizing and directing this year’s program. Other TAWA members participating in various capacities included Jill Ciminillo, Sam Haymart, April Ockerman, Jim Preuter, Jim Nelson, Linda Water Nelson and Nicole Wakelin. Russin, Haymart, and Preuter all hail from the Phoenix area. Ciminillo is from Chicago, Ockerman from Houston, both Nelsons from Austin and Wakelin is from New Hampshire.