If you’ve been following txGarage for any amount of time you’ll probably already know a little about our annual Truck Rodeo. This year was the biggest, longest, and most difficult to judge. We had 75 vehicles to drive over a 2 day span and over 60 journalists comparing every detail and toiling over what’s best for the Texas consumer. At the end of it all we sit down and vote on all sorts of categories with the most prestigious being the Truck of Texas.
Below is a list of categories and their respective winners. We’ll also be posting up individual reviews about some of the vehicles or categories as a whole in the coming week.
Truck of Texas: 2015 Ford F-150 »
With a slew of new technologies and features including a whole new body comprised of high-strength aluminium it’s no surprise that the new F-150 walks home with this award. It wasn’t without a fight though. The Ram 1500 is a formidable competitor and when paired with the EcoDiesel powertrain it’s really one of the best trucks Texans can buy. The new Colorado is also giving the truck market a shake up being the first compact truck in the running for Truck of Texas. We’ll have reviews on all three of these great trucks coming soon but after all the deliberation was done the 2015 F-150 just stood up above the crowd for the majority of journalist involved.
SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Grand Cherokee has won this prestigious award many times now and it’s easy to see why. This vehicle can do it all and do it while keeping you in complete comfort and luxury. Not even the Grand Cherokee was fully safe this year though with the new 2015 Ford Expedition and 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe in the running. The new Expedition is going to be a great value for many large Texas families. The Tahoe is a beautiful and massive vehicle that we’ve reviewed and loved.
CUV of Texas: 2015 Lincoln MKC
It’s been a while since we’ve had the opportunity to review a Lincoln SUV on this site but hopefully that’ll be changing after this massive win. The MKC blew us away with it’s refinement, powertrain, and design and we’re looking forward to giving you guys a more in depth review soon. This category also had stiff competition like the all new 2015 Lexus NX200 which we really loved and we’ll be bringing a review on soon. The 2015 Acadia Denali which we also love and have reviewed many times here. You also had great vehicles like the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mitsubishi Outlander, Dodge Journey, Toyota Highlander, and Jeep Cherokee. This is a packed field and Lincoln should be very pleased to have risen to the top.
Truck Line of Texas: Ford
Obviously the with the F-150 being named the Truck of Texas it only makes sense that Ford would be named the Truck Line of Texas but it doesn’t always work out that way. To win this category you can’t just have the newest and coolest truck, you have to have the full range of trucks that are all competitive and fit with all Texas truck buyer. This is a great win for Ford and definitely not their first.
Compact CUV of Texas: 2015 Honda CR-V Touring
Getting down to it we had some great entries into the Compact CUV category. These include the 2015 Toyota Rav4, 2014 Nissan Juke, 2015 Honda CR-V, 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, and 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander. We spent a lot of time in all of these great compact crossover’s and it really came down to 3 for us. The Mitsubishi Outlander just isn’t cutting the mustard in my opinion anymore although they’ve done some great work with their CVT’s. The Juke is too specialized of a vehicle to ever really be a mass appeal for Texas consumers. For me it was between the new Rav4, CR-V, and Santa Fe. The Santa Fe won this category last year and still has a great offering with its 2.0turbo engine and nice interior. The Rav4 was easily one of the nicest Rav4’s I’ve driven to date and they’ve made some great improvements to the interior. The new Honda CR-V came out on top and I can’t say we’d argue with that. The new CR-V had a great driving feel with a very nice interior. It’s also offered at a great price which means it will be a great seller here in Texas.
Mid-size CUV of Texas: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
It happens every year when the winner of a category just doesn’t quite make sense with our direct picks. In this category we were to choose between the new Outback, Journey, and Highlander. To me, when looking at Texas families and what the midsize CUV segment has to offer, the Journey really stands out here being the cheapest 3-row CUV on the market today. It’s not just cheap but also well built with a great powertrain and nice interior. They are also offered in many different styling configurations to fit your families style. The Toyota Highlander was definitely my second best choice. After reviewing it and spending a full week hauling the family around in this ride it really impressed me. It’s much nicer than the previous generation on the inside and out. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Subaru Outback and that’s proven by the fact that the majority of journalist named it Mid-size CUV of Texas. It has a great ride on the road and can handle 80-90% of the off-roading most Texans will ever need to tackle.
Full-Size CUV of Texas: 2015 Kia Sedona SX
This wasn’t the most crowded field and as a matter of fact there were only two entries. Some would argue too that a minivan doesn’t quite fit in the segment either but here we go. The Chevrolet Traverse is a great vehicle for Texas families as it’s big and has many clever amenities that make it easier to use everyday. We’ve reviewed it many times and the only criticism we’ve ever had was the outright quality of the interior. The all new Sedona though really shines. It has an exterior style that doesn’t automatically scream minivan. It has one of the best interiors I’ve seen from Kia and that’s saying something these days as Kia is making some great stuff. It was also one of the most quiet and comfortable vehicles in the entire field to drive on the bumpy back roads around the Knibbe Ranch.
Luxury CUV of Texas: 2015 Lincoln MKC
Obviously we’ve talked about the MKC already as it won CUV of Texas but let’s take a look at what it beat out to really show you how great of a victory this was. First off you had the 2015 GMC Acadia Denali. This is a great vehicle that we’ve reviewed as well and really enjoyed our time in. This does everything that the Chevrolet Traverse does well but also has a world class interior and great looks. You also have the all new Lexus NC200 F-Sport which really wow’d me. It’s basically like driving a IS F-Sport with more room and a taller seating position. This is definitely a vehicle I could see buying myself.
Compact SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Cherokee
This was another slim category with only two entries, one being the 2014 Nissan Rogue. The Rogue was a great little SUV and comes at a great price for everything you get but it’s just hard to compete these days with the Jeep lineup. We reviewed the Cherokee earlier this year after taking it on a road trip to Houston from Dallas and back. The new Cherokee is comfortable, has a great interior, and can do anything; it’s a true Jeep.
Mid-size SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4
We’ve talked about the Grand Cherokee over and over again here on txGarage and it’s easy to see why this vehicle continues to rise to the top but lets also take a look at what it beat out. Again this was a category with only two entries and the second although it’s a good SUV it just didn’t match up. The 2015 GMC Terrain Denali is the SUV that brought boldness and style back to GMC. I’ve always loved the design and like that everything since its launch has mimicked the design. Being a Denali the interior is obviously great as well it’s just hard to compete with what the Grand Cherokee has to offer.
Full-size SUV of Texas: 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe »
The Tahoe is one great vehicle for any large Texas family. We’ve spent a lot of time in the new Tahoe, Suburban, and Yukon but competing here was also the new 2015 Ford Expedition and Dodge Durango. I’ll have to say the new Durango has been appealing to me for a long time and having that HEMI V8 under the hood is a great option. The new Expedition is really nice but really the only thing new about it is the front-end and the addition of MyFord-Touch. Not too exciting. This was a hard choice for me based on price though. I really liked the Tahoe the most but it’s also the most expensive choice which puts it out of reach for the majority of large families in Texas. In the end though the majority of journalist agreed that the new SUV from Chevrolet just can’t be stopped.
Compact Luxury SUV of Texas: 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 5 door
With only two vehicles offered up in this category and both being beautiful premium SUVs it was hard to choose once again. The all new 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 is an SUV that’s new to the Mercedes lineup. It’s compact and luxurious with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from its brand. We’ll have more on this in the coming weeks but in the end the Range Rover Evoque won the day. This is probably mostly to do with its immense capabilities as it would take the off-road course just as well as any other SUV in the competition. On top of capability the Evoque is a beautiful vehicle with a world class interior. It’s also a company doing more and more for the environment using hundreds of recycled plastic bottles to make up the interior yet still having a luxury look and feel.
Mid-size Luxury SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel 4×4
We’ve already talked a lot about how great the Grand Cherokee is and we’ve touched on how great the new EcoDiesel powertrain is, the combination of the two is a clear winner. This segment also included the 2014 Range Rover Sport and the Lexus GX460. Both of these are great vehicles but when you’re talking about a SUV you’re wanting to own in Texas the Jeep just can’t be stopped.
Full-size Luxury SUV of Texas: 2015 GMC Yukon Denali »
We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to sing the praises of all the new GM big SUVs. We took the Yukon Denali on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio then down to the coast hitting Port Aransas and this big SUV handled the trip with ease. There’s not another full-size luxury SUV I’d rather make that trip in which makes it easy to recommend. My only standing gripe with the Yukon is the fact that it’s an extremely expensive vehicle. With that in mind we really took a close look at the competition in this segment including the 2015 Infiniti QX80 and the 2015 Lincoln Navigator. The Navigator suffers from the same shortfall as the new Expedition as it was only a mild refresh and still needs so much more. The QX80 is a nice luxury vehicle but after spending a week in one last year the family just agreed that it’s not as comfortable day to day as they expected. In the end, the Yukon won out once again.
Off-road Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2015 Jeep Wrangler
It seems like every year the Wrangler just can’t be beat and for good reason, the Wrangler just can’t be killed. For myself and many other Texans I know it’s always been a dream to one day own a Wrangler and take it wherever you want with the doors pulled off and the roof down. This is what makes it such a great vehicle. It’s competition was great as well though as one of my favorite SUVs on the market is the 4Runner and Toyota brought us the new TRD Pro 4Runner to play around with. This is a vehicle that would be easier to live with everyday and still has the power to take you just about anywhere you want. It was a hard choice but in the end, once again the Jeep won out.
Mid-size Pickup of Texas: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab 4WD
It’s great that this segment continues to grow after it seemed to be fading away only a few years ago. In this segment you have the 2015 Toyota Tacoma, 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, and the 2014 Nissan Frontier. The Tacoma is usually the winner of this segment but with the new-kid on the block it’s always hard to stand out. The new Colorado is a great looking and driving truck that we’ll be posting a review on soon.
Full-size Pickup Truck of Texas: 2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch 4×4 SuperCrew »
Now we’re getting down to it. The Truck of Texas is usually won out of this and the next categories and it was a tough decision this year. With competition like the new Silverado, Tundra, and Ram 1500 it was a hard fight to win for the F-150. The Ford is no stranger to winning here in Texas but ever since the Ram went under major changes a few years back it’s kept the title of Truck of Texas. You can check out our review over the Silverado and we’ll soon have some more detailed reviews of over the other trucks.
Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas: 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum SuperCrew »
Luxury trucks are something that Ford really started and has been pushing hard for years. Last year the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn swept up this title and this year it was easily still a contender. We also could choose from the Toyota Tundra 1794, which is a truck that I really enjoyed driving, and the GMC Sierra Denali which we’ve reviewed and has been one of my favorite trucks on the market. Again, Ford pulling off a victory here comes down to all their new technology and weight savings and when it comes to luxury trucks, they just know what they’re doing.
Heavy Duty Pickup of Texas: 2015 Ram 2500 Longhorn
This might be a surprise as Ford didn’t sweep the truck lineup and we’re seeing the Ram 2500 take the top spot for heavy duty truck. Although Ford had all new half-ton trucks available they have yet to announce or show off anything really new with their heavy duty lineup. Once we see these powerful changes in the Ford I’ll bet it’s able to sweep this segment as well. Not to take anything away from the great Ram 2500 or the GMC Sierra Denali 2500 as they are both great HD trucks as well.
Off-road Pickup Truck of Texas: 2015 Ram Power Wagon
This was sort of an easy pick for most people but still an important one. First off the 2015 line of trucks for Ford doesn’t include the Raptor anymore, which is the truck that has won this category for the past few years. So Ford entered the 2015 F150 XLT 4×4 and Chevrolet entered the 2015 Silverado 1500 Z71. These are both great trucks in their own right but man this Power Wagon is one amazing truck. With a huge lift, off-roading tires, and a factory installed winch; it’s not hard to see how this takes the cake.
Commercial Vehicle of Texas: 2015 Ford Transit 250 MR
There were only two entries into the commercial vehicle category but both are great steps forward for workers in the US. The 2015 Ram ProMaster is a great vehicle living on the platform of the tried and true Fiat. This vehicle has been around the world as a working truck for years and it’s great that Ram has brought it over to the US market. Not to be outdone Ford has decided to bring it’s full European Transit to the US market as well, so what’s the distinguishing factor? The driving position in the Transit was much nicer than that of the ProMaster and the EcoBoost engine packed into this van just made the most sense.
Best technology: Ford F-150 Aluminum Alloy Body
There’s no doubting that this is the technology that was able to swing most of the votes for Ford as the Truck of Texas. Adding a fully aluminum body means they were able to save 700-lbs on every single truck. This makes them better to drive, better off-road, better to haul stuff with, and gives them better fuel economy.
Best connectivity: Chrysler Group’s Uconnect Access
We’ve had lots of experience with Chrysler’s Uconnect and we’ve sang its praises many times from our Jeep Cherokee review to our Dodge Charger and Chrysler 200 reviews. The Uconnect is great because it’s easy to use, easy to read, and it just works when you need it.
Best powertrain: Chrysler 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel
Although Ford took all the glory with their trucks there’s no denying that the new EcoDiesel engine by Chrysler is here to make waves. We’ve driven the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and averaged just over 26-mpg in the full-size truck. We also had the opportunity to drive the Grand Cherokee with the EcoDiesel, both on and off-road, and the power this engine puts out along with its economy savings makes it a very formidable powertrain.
All-in-all we’re very happy with the results of the Truck Rodeo and had a great time. The event went off without a hitch and everyone seemed to have a great time. We’re already planning and looking forward to the next year’s rodeo so be sure to connect with us for feedback and what you think about the event. Let us know if you end up buying one of these trucks or SUVs on the list and why. Or if you choose one that didn’t win, or wasn’t on the list we’d really love to hear about it as well.