Texas Auto Writer’s Chose Texas’ Best of the Best Trucks, SUVs, and CUVs
Diana Merrill Claussen
On the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas Auto Writer’s Association (TAWA) members gathered to drive and review the best 2012 trucks, SUVs, CUVs, and other off-road vehicles for their annual Truck Rodeo.
The Rodeo featured major manufacturers who brought their best and most adept models to compete in this significant challenge held within the country’s ultimate ‘truck state’, Texas.
Virtually every manufacturer who has trucks or Sport Utility Vehicles entered them in the competition and came to San Antonio to present them the TAWA group. Ford brought a few variations of the F-150 including one model which featured their new FX package along with their LARIAT and King Ranch models. These F-150s featured neutral towing capability (on their 4x4s) which allowed the driver the ability to flat-tow. Another innovation within this year’s F-150s is the revived EcoBoost® and 5.0L engines.
RAM, (last year’s Truck of Texas winner) was also at the Rodeo and brought half a dozen variations of their product along with two new releases. The RAM Mossy Oak and the Laramie Power Wagon were both new models featured in the RAM line-up. The Mossy Oak will likely do well with hunters and outdoor enthusiasts because its styling is accented with camouflage patterned accents both inside and out.
The Mossy Oak model was derived from the RAM Outdoorsman and will be available for a limited time while the LARAMIE Power Wagon (a little more luxurious than the inaugural model) is slated to be sold throughout the entire year. A few of the upgrades within the ‘luxury model’ are wood grain paneling and extra chrome for flare.
During the event there were many other newly released trucks, SUVs, and CUVs brought in directly from many manufacturers. Toyota brought a prototype model of the Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series which is set for official release in May 2012. This soon-to-be-released model is being built at Toyota’s San Antonio plant and is also undergoing final testing for the Tacoma Access Cab and Double Cab 4x4 models. This new series is equipped with a 4.0 Liter V6 and comes with choice of a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.
The Baja is also fully equipped with every important feature any serious off-road enthusiast could ever want such as upgraded shocks, coils, traction control, off-road wheels and tires. Needless to say, the test drive on the dusty, hilly, steep and at times wet and rocky off-road course not only showed super engine response and power it also held its own no matter what obstacle it encountered.
Most of the off-road specific 2012 models entered in the Truck Rodeo listed suspension upgrades on their more well-known models with an emphasis on capable suspension regarding the newer editions such as the Nissan Titan Pro4X.
After two days of grueling testing of the 51 entrants, the Auto Writer’s turned in their ballots and awaited the final results of who would win one of the highest honors in the land - The Truck of Texas award. Within 12 hours the results were in and many of the manufacturers could not have been happier with their brands results.
Nissan claimed titles such as Mid-Sized Truck of Texas for the Nissan Frontier and Compact SUV of Texas for the auto maker’s Xterra Pro-4X. Dodge Durango won first place for Full-Sized SUV, RAM 2500 Mega Cab Laramie Longhorn took second place for Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas while RAM 1500 earned second for Full-Sized Pickup (Toyota Tundra and Chevrolet 1500 both tied for third).
For the winning Truck Line of Texas the Auto Writers awarded Ford F-150 first place in Full-Sized Pickup Truck and Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas (Platinum EcoBoost® model), while the F-250 claimed top place for Heavy Duty Pickup Truck of the Lone Star truck state.
Last month Ford F-150 line was also named as 2012 Truck of The Year by Motor Trend Magazine.
The complete list of Texas Auto Writer's Truck Rodeo winners is as follows:
Truck of Texas: 2012 Ford F-150
SUV of Texas: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee
CUV of Texas: 2012 Ford Edge
Truck Line of Texas: Ford F-150
Full-Sized Pickup Truck: First Place, 2012 Ford F-150; Second Place, 2012 Ram 1500; Third Place, Chevrolet 1500 & Toyota Tundra (tie)
Mid-Sized Pickup Truck: First Place, 2012 Nissan Frontier; Second Place, 2012 Toyota Tacoma.
Luxury Pickup Truck: First Place, 2012 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost; Second Place, 2012 Ram 2500 Mega Cab Laramie Longhorn: Third Place, 2012 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Crew Cab.
Heavy Duty Pickup Truck: First Place, 2012 Ford F-250 King Ranch; Second Place, 2012 Ram 2500 Power Wagon; Third Place, 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD.
Full-Sized SUV: First Place, 2012 Dodge Durango; Second Place, 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee; Third Place, 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe.
Full-Sized Luxury SUV: First Place, Jeep Grand Cherokee; Second Place, Range Rover Evoque; Third place, Mercedes Benz ML350
Mid-Sized SUV: First Place, 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited; Second Place, 2012 Toyota 4Runner; Third Place, 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Mid-Sized Luxury SUV: First Place, Toyota 4Runner
Compact SUV: First Place, 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X; Second Place, 2012 Jeep Compass; Third Place, 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan.
Full-Sized CUV: First Place, 2012 Buick Enclave
Mid-Sized CUV: First Place, 2012 Ford Edge Limited with EcoBoost engine; Second Place 2012 Dodge Journey; Third Place, 2012 Chevrolet Equinox
Compact CUV: First Place, 2012 Toyota Rav4; Second Place, Kia Soul
Full-Sized Luxury CUV: First Place, 2012 GMC Acadia Denali; Second Place, 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 Blue TEC.
Mid-Sized Luxury CUV: 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium.