2013 Active Lifestyle Vehicles Award winners reflect sportsmen’s values, too

While they don’t receive the recognition that they deserve, the Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards are a strong reflection of many of the same values that sportsmen and womenh look for in vehicles other than pickup trucks..

Held annually in Arizona, the award winning vehicles are selected by about 100 athletes and outdoor enthusiasts who participate in sports like marathon running, bicycling, soccer and kayaking.  Off-road vehicles are challenged on a course designed to mirror their regular usage under off-road conditions.

Unlike so many competitions, these sportsfolk and athletes evaluate things like the ability to sleep in the vehicle since it is important for some, particularly for long-distance events.  The judges are accompanied on their drives by a few seasoned auto journalists who can suggest some things to look for as they assess each vehicle.

Auto journalist and long-time distance runner Nina Russin, a co-founder of the awards program, said the event is designed to educate automakers about the features that active people want and need in their vehicles.  Since the judges are participants in a range of sports and are regular consumers — often with families — they are sensitive to the need for multifunctional capabilities.

It is worthwhile to include the info on the ALV award winners in making your list of family and sport-ready vehicles that could be your other car, crossover or SUV, particularly if your vehicle regularly hauls gear, team members, .

Winners in the eight categories are:

Luxury Family Vehicle* (3 rows of seating)– 2014 Acura MDX

Best Value Family Vehicle** (3 rows of seating) — 2013 Mazda CX-9

Luxury Off-Road* *** — 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Luxury On-Road* – 2014 Audi SQ5

Green (alternative fuel and/or hybrid powertrains) – 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel

Best Value Off -Road** ***  – 2014 Toyota 4-Runner

Best Value On-Road** — 2014 Jeep Cherokee

Best Urban (under $20,00 MSRP) 2014 Kia Soul

*Luxury vehicles have MSRP of $40,000 for family and $35,000 in other categories

** Best value vehicles have MSRP of less than $40,000 for family vehicle and $35,000 in other categories.

*** Off-road approved by the manufacturer and tested by the judges for performance

First new Active Lifestyle Vehicle product introduced

In addition to applauding successful vehicle design, XPEL, the maker of automotive protection films based in San Antonio, has introduced a lifestyle product to shield the vulnerable parts of bike frames from trail debris and chips and scratches from pedals and chains.

I have XPEL film on the grill and hood of my Jeep, as well as on the door edges and can attest to its propective properties.  This extension of its product line to mountain bikes and road bikes makes sense, and — as with the award winning vehicles — the development of the product was spurred by input from Active Lifestyle Vehicles participants.