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Northwest auto writers name 2018 Run to the Sun winners after three days of test drives througout Oregon.

DOUG BERGER/NWAPA - The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio was named the Northwest Most Fun to Drive Vehicle and Northwest Most Fun SUV at this year's Run to the Sun event.
The Northwest Automotive Press Association named the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio as the Northwest's Most Fun to Drive Vehicle, following their annual Run to the Sun performance car and convertible event.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio impressed the participating journalists with its powerful engine, nimble handling, and Italian-inspired personality. The compact crossover was also named Northwest Most Fun SUV.

This year marked the 12th annual edition of the event, which included three days of driving 18 different 2018 and 2019 model-year vehicles on some of the best roads in America — ranging from wide open high desert highways to twisty canyon roads. From their base at the Mt. Hood Oregon Resort, they traveled over Mt. Hood to Central Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge.

DOUG BERGER/NWAPA - The Northwest Most Fun in the Sun winner is the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF.

"We had three days of spectacular weather, amazing roads, and many of the best performance cars that you can buy," said NWAPA President John Vincent, a Consumer Advice Writer with U.S. News & World Report.

The competition was admittedly selective. Manufacturers choose which vehicles to enter, if they participate at all. Despite that, this year's entries included a wide range of vehicles, ranging from coupes and convertibles to sedans to SUVs.

Vehicles entered in Run to the Sun competed in four categories: Northwest Most Fun in the Sun (Convertibles), Most Fun Coupe, Most Fun Sports Sedan, and Most Fun SUV. An overall winner— the Northwest Most Fun to Drive Vehicle — was also chosen.

DOUG BERGER/NWAPA - The Northwest Most Fun Coupe is the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt.

Participants were asked which vehicle they would choose as their own based on what they learned over the 527-mile drive route. The course crossed Mt. Hood and traveled as far south as Sisters, Ore. before heading east to the ghost town of Shaniko, Ore., and returning to Mt. Hood. The final day took the group to the historic Mosier Curves in the Columbia River Gorge before crossing into Washington for the return drive to Portland, Ore.

The winners selected by the 18 participating automotive media professionals were:

Northwest Most Fun in the Sun 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Northwest Most Fun Coupe 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Northwest Most Fun Sports Sedan 2018 BMW M5

Northwest Most Fun SUV 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Northwest Most Fun to Drive Vehicle 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

DOUG BERGER/NWAPA - The Northwest Most Fun Sports Sedan is the 2018 BMW M5.

"Sounding a rip-roaring exhaust note, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio announced it was the vehicle to beat in this year's event," said Vincent. "With 505-horsepower on tap, plus a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and an electronically controlled suspension, the Stelvio was well-suited to both the vast straights and twisty canyons on the drive."

Said Tom Voelk of Driven, "Enthusiasts that dismiss crossovers simply haven't driven this Alfa. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio plugs directly into your synapses in a way few sport sedans manage to do."

Added Perry Stern of AutoNXT, "You know it has more than 500 horsepower, but you're still surprised and delighted every time you put your foot down with that resulting growl and blasting acceleration."

All of the other winners were also praised, however.

"As great as all the vehicles were in this event, you always wanted to be in the Miata when the road got twisty. It's so much fun to drive that it always puts a smile on your face," said Perry Stern of AutoNXT.

"Driving the Bullitt Mustang on the very best driving leg of this event was the most fun I've had behind the wheel since driving the Miata on a similar route by myself in my regular vehicle rotation," said Lary Coppola of AutoReviewers.com.

"It's hard to imagine a more perfect sport sedan – seemingly unlimited power and grip in comfortable, stylish four-door," said Perry Stern of AutoNXT about the BMW M5.

"The Bullitt Mustang is the perfect balance of performance, machismo and Americana. You'll feel like Steve McQueen every time you walk toward it," Voelk.

"BMW brought their 'A game' with the M5. It is the perfect embodiment of Grand Touring — a refined vehicle that equally fits in at the symphony or the open track day," said Deanna Isaacs of The Auto Reporter.

"A true tribute to a legend. More manageable and more fun to drive than the GT, and kind of like Steve McQueen...instantly recognizable, good looking and cool no matter what year it is or what generation is buying it," Vinnie Richichi of Drivetime Radio saod about the Ford Bullitt Mustang

NWAPA is a professional organization of automotive journalists and media members from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Southwest Canada. Founded in 1991, it includes 55 voting members representing more than 700 newspapers, magazines, radio stations, media groups, and the internet. Non-voting NWAPA members include representatives from automotive manufacturers and related industry professionals. You can lean more at www.nwapa.org.

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