The Rocky Mountain Driving Experience 2021

Just about every year, the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) holds a driving event in which journalists from the region can experience vehicles from various manufacturers in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains during the summertime. This year, the event was held in August of 2021 and took place in the mountain town of Morrison, Colorado. Several vehicles were available for us to drive.

I drove down from Cheyenne, Wyoming to a point just outside of Denver, Colorado to attend the event. My trip down reminded me why I don’t live in big cities, as the traffic and subsequent drivers doing stupid things took their toll on my psyche. I arrived rattled, but intact, and got ready for some prime time driving and socializing with some of my long-time automotive colleagues. We had a driver’s safety meeting and then headed up to Morrison for the day.

I present the vehicles at the event here in the order that I drove them along with a few impressions of each. Whenever I can, I’ll link to relevant information or full reviews for vehicles if you’d like to get more information.

2022 Genesis GV70

Genesis is a newcomer to automotive brands, but its parent company Hyundai has been around for quite a while. The Genesis luxury brand has been on point with every vehicle I’ve tried so far and the GV70 was no exception. A beautiful and beautifully-done SUV.

2021 Ford Bronco

The Bronco is a serious contender in the off-road and overland markets. It’s removable roof and doors, huge tires and ground clearance, and aggressive capabilities are just what customers demanded. My full review of this Bronco can be found here.

2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport

The Ridgeline gets no respect and should. (Yes, I get the Rodney Dangerfield reference.) It’s re-opened a market for car-based pickup trucks and that market is poised to continue growing as more and more people realize how capable and useful a truck like this can be. My full review of the Ridgeline Sport is here.

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

The Wrangler 4xe (pron. “four by E”, shown below left) is a plug-in hybrid Wrangler available in several configurations. In this case, it’s the Rubicon extreme off-road model. The “Wrangler with a plug” is smooth driving and feels great in the dirt. I didn’t get to seriously off-road it, but that will be coming soon as I’ve been promised more time with this rig and am looking forward to it.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

The Grand Cherokee L is the newest generation of the Grand Cherokee, adding a third row and more capability alongside more comfort and luxury. While not as huge or pricey as the upcoming Grand Wagoneer, the Grand Cherokee fills the “family who wants to get there” role very well. Click here for my full assessment of this new Jeep after a week with it.

2021 Kia Sorento

A surprise entry not on the official list of cars to be in attendance, the all-new Sorento is a fine example of how a well-done family two-row SUV can be. It’s a solid entry in the segment and we’ll be seeing more of it soon. I wish the sun had come out when I snapped the above photo so we could see the shimmer of the green paint.

2022 Honda Civic

This all-new Civic is a replacement for the edgy generation of Civic that came before it. That edginess proved to be a little less popular with consumers than Honda had hoped, prompting a move to a less aggressive design. A good thing, in my opinion, and one well-served by the beautiful paint on our test model.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

As VW goes all-in on electric vehicles, the ID.4 is where a lot of the company’s hopes for continued sales in America hinge. And that’s why it’s great to drive the ID.4 and find that it’s smooth, wonderfully done, and just odd enough to be quirky. I look forward to getting a longer run with the ID.4 and its smooth-lined presence soon.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

The lines on the new Tucson are breathtaking, a bit bold, and very, very eye catching. All in good ways. I’m glad to see Hyundai stepping away from the “blah is beautiful” motif that’s plagued the company in recent years and go all-in with sharp designs. The Tucson Hybrid feels as good on the road as it looks. A tribute to continued improvements for this crossover.

2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport

Lexus did a little more than just take the ES 300h and slap the F-Sport package on it. Well, OK, that’s exactly what they did, but it really works well for this car. The 300h is the hybrid variant of the ES lineup and it was ready for some pizazz, which the F Sport packaging adds just the right amount of.

2022 Nissan Frontier

The Frontier’s previous generation had a long, long life and was very ready for a change. But not too much change. My greatest fear was that the Frontier would become less than it was in a new generation. Thankfully, the rough-and-tumble little Frontier remains all of those things: rough, tumble, and little. It also drives very well thanks to its improved drivetrain. I’ll have more on these details when we spend a little more time with the Frontier soon.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

We spent a lot of time with the Pathfinder a couple of months ago and I was glad to see it so well-received at RMDE. The all-new Pathfinder is a great family vehicle with a lot of excellence at its core. The move from a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to a nine-speed automatic was also a good one, providing more capability and (probably) longevity to the powertrain. We did a full review here.

2021 Acura TLX Type S

Sadly, this is the one vehicle at the event that I neither drove nor took pictures of. It was so popular among the attendees that it was difficult to get into. All reports from others were that it was well worth the effort to get into and I’m now sorry that I didn’t. I am assured, however, that it may come to us as a loan soon.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid

We drove the Sienna as a people hauler for a week at home and then, at RMDE this year, drove it as a people hauler again, taking those who needed a ride back to a hotel as a test run. Whether with three kids and their parents inside or with six grown men and their gear, the Sienna does very well. Now it’s a hybrid by default, boosting fuel economy as a result. Here’s our full assessment of the van.

And That’s A Wrap

That was the 2021 RMDE and all of its vehicular attendees. It’s worth noting that without the great contributions and volunteer time of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, this event would never have happened. Many thanks to the manufacturers, volunteers, and fleet managers who made this happen for us.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at