2010 Subaru Outback is Motor Trend Sport Utility of the Year

Posted: Oct 15, 2009 10:35 a.m.

The best SUV you can buy, apparently, is a wagon.  Motor Trend has named its 2010 Sport Utility of the Year, and the news has Subaru loyalists smiling again. No, it's not a repeat for last year's winner, the Forrester.  This year, the 2010 Outback has taken the crown.

"Some vehicles arrive at our annual "Of the Year" competitions (car, sport/utility, truck) staking early claims to a win via bulging engine muscle, beguiling gizmos, fashion-runway sheetmetal," Motor Trend writes. "The Outback isn't one of those.  Instead, the Outback won by "melding the multi-mission prowess of true SUVs with the driving refinement, fuel-frugality, and easy access of wagons and sedans."

The fact that the Outback, marketed more as a wagon than an SUV, won this year's contest has not been lost on the automotive press.  Truck Trend notes that only one of the contenders, the -- 2010 Toyota 4Runner, "came anywhere near what might be considered the archetypal SUV."  The emergence of crossovers - tall, wagon-like SUVs built on the same chassis as many family cars - has meant that "the Sport/Utility of the Year field is now almost as diverse as that of Car of the Year, where sports cars and minivans vie for the award against family sedans and luxury limos."

Consumers have stretched their definitions of the SUV, and the automotive press is racing to catch up.  Motor Trend editor-in-chief Angus MadKenzie told Reuters that the Outback "boasts car-like refinement, drivability and gas mileage on the road, yet is as capable in the rough stuff as all but the most off-road focused sport utilities."

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.