In a face-off between Ram’s 1500 and Ford’s F-150 seemingly too close to call (sound familiar?), the Ram team took home the Truck of Texas trophy at the 20th annual presentation of the Texas Truck Rodeo. Hosted by the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) and supported by most OEMs participating in the truck-centric Texas marketplace, the decisions by this regional media association typically prove a reliable indicator of what’s hot – and not – in the Texas marketplace. And while California may know its imports and New York hosts its Fashion Week, few can speak to trucks with the same sense of authority as Texas truck buyers.
As participating journalists we knew going in that this year would be ultra-competitive. While Ford and Ram remain cosmetically similar to their 2012 iterations, both had recently tweaked the recipe. Ford’s mods were arguably less ambitious, while Ram elected to cloak significant chassis and engineering updates beneath what is essentially carryover sheetmetal. And to support their arguments both companies emptied their headquarters of engineers and marketing execs.
With some sixty trucks, SUVs and CUVs gathered at the historic Knibbe Ranch (some thirty minutes – and 100 years – from San Antonio), roughly fifty autowriters took iPads in hand for the evaluation process. Those vehicles that could go offroad did (including Honda’s transgender Ridgeline), while roughly half of the entries were confined to pavement or those trails cut into the ranch for visiting ‘city folk’.
At the end of roughly eighteen hours of evaluation Chrysler Corporation had walked away with three of the Big Four awards: Truck of Texas (2013 Ram 1500), SUV of Texas (Grand Cherokee) and Truck Line of Texas (Ram trucks). The vote for CUV of Texas (which seems like such an oxymoron) went to Buick’s refreshed Enclave. And if you have to vote on something with front-wheel drive bias and a unit body the Enclave seems as good a choice as any – and a better choice than many.