Southwest Lifestyle Vehicles of Year picked by auto journalists

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The fast 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye won Car of the Year – Luxury/Performance | Dodge

Rugged desert trails, steep mountain grades, wide expanses crossed by high-speed highways, the Southwest offers an endless array of driving challenges.  For driving enthusiasts, this can be a playground for testing out the mettle of today’s cars and trucks.

Arizona automotive journalists gathered last week for back-to-back test drives of 17 cars, trucks and SUVs to choose the winners of the inaugural Southwest Lifestyle Vehicles of the Year.

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The 2019 Subaru Ascent won SUV/Crossover of the Year — Best Value | Subaru

Held at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, the event brought together vehicles from Chevrolet, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Kia, Infiniti Lexus, Ram, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen to be run through their paces by the 15 professional auto journalists, both on the highway and, for the 4X4 contenders, on a specially designed off-road track.

The journalists drove each of the vehicles and evaluated them on such criteria as performance, ride and cabin comfort, cargo capacity and fuel economy.

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The 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn was picked as Truck of the Year | Ram

“The average length of vehicle ownership is 79.3 months,’ Becky Antioco, event director and founder of Southwest Lifestyle Media, said in a news release. “So, we want to talk about features that will suit drivers’ lifestyles for the longest period of time.”

Winners and runners-up were picked in five categories.  They are:

Car of the Year – Best Value: 2019 Kia Forte EX; Runner Up: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

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The 2019 Kia Forte EX was named Car of the Year — Best Value | Kia

Car of the Year – Luxury/Performance: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye; Runner Up: 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

SUV/Crossover of the Year – Best Value: 2019 Subaru Ascent; Runner Up: 2018 Kia Niro PHEV

SUV/Crossover of the Year – Luxury/Performance: 2018 Lexus LX 570; Runner Up: 2019 Infiniti QX50

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The 2018 Lexus LX 570 won SUV/Crossover of the Year – Luxury/Performance | Lexus

Truck of the Year: 2019 Ram 1500 Longhorn; Runner Up: 2018 Ford F150 Platinum Diesel

“With so many excellent entries in each category, it was a difficult task to choose the winners, but each of these is really suited to our lifestyle here in the Southwest,” Antioco said.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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