Sixty-nine members of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), including Latino Traffic Report, recently set out on a dark and stormy morning for the Long Horn Ranch in Dripping Springs, TX to attend the twenty-fifth annual Texas Truck Rodeo. While the 57 vehicles set for off- and on-road test drives were up for the challenge, the event was eventually relocated to the Sonesta Hotel in Bee Caves, TX out of concern for the ranch and the damage that soggy off-road courses would inflict. After two days of on-road testing, the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, 2019 Maserati Levante GTS, and 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio were named the 2018 Truck, SUV, and CUV of Texas, respectively, as well as winners in 18 categories.
“It’s clear that TAWA journalists know their trucks, and they picked the new 2019 Ram as the clear winner,” said Fabian Campos, TAWA vice president and events chair. “The overwhelming feedback from our members was that the truck performed well during some of the most challenging weather conditions during the historic Hill Country floods.”
New products tend to excel at the Truck Rodeo but there were noticeable absences, including the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and 2019 Ford Ranger as well as the Ford F-150 that won the title of Truck of Texas last year. Both manufacturers offered budget concerns for opting out of the event.
Still, the completely redesigned Ram bears a radical transformation. Gone is the crosshair grille, the last vestige of its connection to the Dodge brand. Powered by a V6 or V8 engine, it also offers increased fuel efficiency on both with the new eTorque mild hybrid system, and new capability with a maximum towing of 12,750 lbs. and payload capacity of 2,300 lbs. On the inside, the test model featured the available 12-inch UConnect touch screen (left), a first in its class and winner of the Best Technology award at the rodeo.
“Being named the Texas Auto Writers Association’s Truck of Texas is the highest honor in the world’s largest pickup market,” said Reid Bigland, head of Ram brand and U.S. Sales, chairman, president and CEO, FCA Canada Inc. “Winning this award is a challenge, but the Ram 1500 is well suited to the hard-working needs of Texas truck buyers.”
Volvo brought the all-new 2019 Volvo XC40 to defend Volvo’s three-year reign of winning top honors at the rodeo. While the XC40 did win its category, Compact Luxury SUV, it was supplanted by the Maserati Levante GTS as SUV of Texas. The six-figure Levante offered exceptional exterior styling and performance with a 550 peak horsepower and 538 lb.–ft. of torque, but the interior, with its carbon fiber accents, was lackluster, particularly considering the price tag. Of all the competitors, only the Alfa Romeo successfully defended its title of CUV of Texas.
Toyota also made an extra effort to bring the all-new 2019 RAV4, including the hybrid version, to the rodeo. With a sportier exterior and new technology like the camera in the rearview mirror, it also won its category, becoming the Compact SUV of Texas. For a full list of winners, go to https://www.texasautowriters.org/news.
“As a whole, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) swept all the overall awards at this year’s competition, a very noteworthy accomplishment for their multi-brand lineup,” said Campos.