With an established online presence targeting 30-something consumers, the staff at txGarage spends much of its time evaluating products appropriate to those 30-something needs, wants and/or desires. Whether the txGarage reader is a single male or young couple with a small family, behind the wheel or checking out the backseat or truck bed, the txGarage staff is continuously looking at cars, trucks and SUVs best suited to our target audience.
While txGarage has been online for 7-years, this is our first opportunity to designate a Car, Truck and SUV of the Year. And while we’d admit to being ‘late to the game’, we believe our editorial choices have value to both the audience we share our opinions with, as well as the OEMs providing txGarage with our press product. To be sure, our evaluation was done without a spread sheet, and no track or offroad venue was secured while making our decisions. Notably, there was no entry fee charged to the manufacturers, nor will there be a licensing fee for use of our ‘of the year’ designation. And every car, truck or SUV considered for our annual recognition has been evaluated by our team through the prism of our readership. In short, if it won’t work for you it won’t work for us. Here, then, are our choices…
The txGarage Car of the Year is Dodge’s performance-oriented Scat Pack, an option ‘package’ that can be added to either Dodge’s 2-door Challenger or 4-door Charger. And with the Iowa Caucus just weeks away, it’s worthwhile noting that our COTY designation is one of the most democratic. In a manner similar to many of the muscle cars at the birth of the muscle car era, Dodge’s Scat Pack is among the most affordable of automotive offerings, providing to its customers 485 horsepower, along with 475 lb-ft of torque, for an almost-accessible $40K. And while that figure is somewhat higher, even when considering inflation, than your late ‘60s Roadrunner, it’s relatively chump change when compared to similar performance – if you could find it – from Europe or Japan. And nothing from Europe or Japan provides the old school thrills with a dose of new school efficiency; the Scat Pack achieves a 15 City/25 Highway efficiency estimate from the EPA.
While wishing the Charger/Challenger platform was a tad more contemporary, and the interior plastics were slightly less ‘plastic’, there’s no arguing with the bang for the buck. With Iowa as a backdrop, Dodge’s Scat Pack is a bit like buying Bernie Sanders and, once you’ve returned home, discovering Trump under the hood. With that combustible combo it’s our 2016 Car of the Year.
The market response to Chevrolet’s midsize Colorado would seem to have surprised everyone except Chevrolet and txGarage. Long regarded as a static backwater in the pickup marketplace, with Toyota’s Tacoma dominating, Nissan’s Frontier treading water and everyone else out of the pool, we saw a huge upside for those with a need for little more than a bed and a relatively efficient, urban-oriented footprint. The Colorado package certainly didn’t reinvent the midsize category; it only brought it comfortably – and dynamically – into this century. In 2015, against almost all odds (and Ford’s all-new F-150) it took Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year trophy. Since then its success has almost single-handedly reestablished the segment.
This year the already-attractive Colorado receives a diesel-powered transplant. And while that light duty, diesel-powered mojo is already offered by Ram’s 1500, this is the first domestic application we’ve seen in the midsize category. Displacing 2.8 liters, the all-new Duramax turbodiesel delivers 181 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque and 25 miles per gallon of combined (city/highway) efficiency.
With the turmoil surrounding VW’s emission scandal, ridiculously cheap pump gas and the $3700 surcharge GM is assessing for the diesel privilege, few know what the take rate of the diesel option might be. But with the aforementioned torque, a towing capability of 7600+ pounds and a range of 600+ highway miles per tankful(!) we’d happily put one in our garage. For all of that, Chevrolet’s 2016 Colorado Diesel is the txGarage Truck of the Year.
In any ‘of the year’ judging, SUVs have long deserved their own category. Few use truck-based platforms while seemingly dozens occupy the ever-expanding niche known as crossovers, where two-box designs are mounted atop car-based platforms. And while no one believed crossovers would be a passing automotive phase, the rapid growth of the compact crossover category has rocked the marketplace in a manner not seen since Jeep’s Cherokee and Ford’s original Explorer first ventured out into their respective showrooms.
With a multitude of good, competitive choices, our selection – Hyundai’s all-new Tucson – surprised even us. Given, however, its tasteful exterior, accommodating interior and delightfully precise (within the segment) platform, the nod to Tucson should not have surprised anyone. Add an available 1.6 liter turbocharged four connected to a new, ‘first-in-segment’ 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and you have a sport utility that almost perfectly merges those often divergent descriptives.
Finally, Hyundai offers the Tucson at a price point most of Middle America can manage. We’re left with a compact crossover that is compact only in its footprint; virtually everything else on the Tucson feature menu is oversized. For those above reasons, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson is our txGarage SUV of the Year.
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txGarage is a publication for the Texas automotive consumer. We offer News, Reviews, and Passion, written for Texans by Texans. We know Texas and we know Texans and do real world tests all over the Texas landscape.
Dodge Charger Scat Pack Photo Gallery
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel Photo Gallery
Hyundai Tucson Photo Gallery