2017 Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Truck Rodeo

Discussion in 'In the News' started by xcel, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] A fantastic Texas venue to drive the latest trucks and SUV/CUVs back to back and head to head.

    Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Oct. 17, 2017

    1948 Ford F1 Pickup with a Texas Longhorn

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    This first Ford F-Series and its 6.5’ all-encompassing bed is still on the road today.​

    Longhorn River Ranch, Dripping Springs, TX -- Do you know what the second “largest state” by physical area or the second most “populace state” in the U.S. is? Do you know what state has 6 of the 20 largest U.S. cities by population? If you guessed Texas, you are correct.

    A few other tidbits about the Lone Star State worth noting.

    Texas’ fiercely independent streak can be traced to the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. “Remember the Alamo” was the battle cry heard across the state after 180 brave Texans battled between February 23 and March 6, 1836 against 6,000 Mexican Army soldiers before finally succumbing and inspiring the rest of Texas to fight for their independence.

    The state’s economic prosperity can be traced to early 1901 when a rudimentary drilling rig on a hill called Spindletop began spewing mud, gas and oil more than 100 feet into the air taking Texas from an agrarian economic base to an energy one.

    Have you ever heard of the Texas Longhorn? A descendant of the first cattle to set foot on American soil almost 500 years ago, the Texas Longhorn is the true end product of "survival of the fittest". Shaped by a combination of natural selection and adaptation to the environment, the Texas Longhorn is the only cattle breed in America which - without aid from man - adapted to the American landscape.

    Fourthly, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” Having driven across the Panhandle on I-40, to the far northwest border with NM and OK, I-35 from the OK/TX border to Laredo, I-10 from El Paso through San Antonio, Houston, to the TX/LA border, and the entire Gulf Coast from Brownsville to Beaumont, I can tell you there is no state that you will spend more time driving across than Texas. Do not take that as a negative as there are more places to see than lifetime of driving could take in and this is just within its almost 270,000 sq. mile area!

    There is one other item Texas is known for and it is also related to the automobile. The Lone Star State accounts for more than 20 percent of all pickup trucks sold in the U.S. This volume is far ahead of the second, third, and fourth states pickup truck sales COMBINED!

    Ford F-Series Trucks

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    Lineup at Leif Johnson Ford in Austin, TX.


    RAM Trucks

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    Covert Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Austin, TX.


    Toyota Tundra Pickup

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    AutoNation Toyota, Austin, TX.​

    2017 Texas Truck Rodeo

    The 2003 Corolla Truck intro and Sonesta in Bee Cave, Texas Luxury Accommodations were simple features to the main event as the TAWA Truck Rodeo is all about trucks. 75 automotive journalists from across the U.S. converged on the famous Longhorn River Ranch outside of Austin in Texas Hill Country to evaluate 64 different makes and model Pickups, SUVs, and CUVs over a two-day period. The reason was to drive and then vote for the “Best in Class” across 21 separate categories. The vehicles on hand were evaluated on their interior, exterior, value, performance and personal appeal both on local paved roads and over very rough off-road terrain.

    Mysteriously missing from the 2017 TAWA Truck Rodeo was the U.S.’ largest automobile manufacturer. I am still not sure why?

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    With the table set, I was able get into 25 of the 64 vehicles on hand over the course of two full 8-hour days, many of which I have also driven at various Automotive Media Association Rally’s or weekly review vehicles in the recent past.

    The next tens of posts are my immediate after drive impressions of a given vehicle before getting onto the next one. The TAWA Truck Rodeo Winners have already been announced and I will provide that detail after the individual vehicle impressions. There were more than a few that I did not get into including the very busy 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport. More on that vehicle in the awards section to come. ;)

    Some of the vehicles driven including quick impressions
    If you want to skip to this years winners - not recommended, the following link provides the entire list of this years TAWA Truck Rodeo Award Winners.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  2. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    First up, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

    2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

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    Mazda's patented excellent ride and handling is in force. Tight steering...

    Great infotainment control through the command controller but it is to far under the armrest for ease of use. Love the frameless rear view.

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    Three big chinks. The interior is loaded with hard plastics, the front seats bolstering makes larger drivers wince after just a few miles, and not a chance in hell I can get into the back seat with the front adjusted for me...

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    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  3. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Next up is the 2018 Subaru XV Crosstrek.

    2018 AWD Subaru XV Crosstrek

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    I can see why people love this vehicle. Nice interior, functional controls, comfortable seating, eyesight safety, room, utility, and even some efficiency.

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    Only real nit is the $30.6k price tag in full boat Limited trim and the sun visor extensions kind of suck.

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    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  4. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    But probably less efficiency than the Impreza hatch , which has reasonably-sized wheels and tires.
     
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  5. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2012 Pip and 2017 Prime

    I chuckled at the white sign on the grass in front of the CX-3. "Compact Luxury SUV" Wow.

    I'm surprised to see these CUVs duking it out with the big boys. Next thing you know, there'll be a Corolla truck being shown. :D Just take the back half of the roof off and it might serve as a pickup.
     
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  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Yup! :D :D :D
     
  7. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

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    Mazda's bread and butter is easily outselling the 3 and 6.

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    Wonderful on-center feel, Infotainment Command Controller, interior soft touchpoints, and look.

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    Lows are cheap vents, cup holders are oddly laid out, the brakes were mushy but that was probably a one-off, and it "Ain't" cheap as discounts are minimal...

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    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  8. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hanging out at the Longhorn Ranch with a friend of mine named Emu.

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    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum

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    How about a 17 Nissan Murano in Platinum trim. An Infiniti quality interior, cloth textured A-pillar, great V-Motion signature grille, wide ratio CVT allowing great highway efficiency, soft seats front and rear, and lots of room!

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    $44k fully loaded is steep but $6 to $7k off retail is not out of the question.

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    Fixes needed: Longer extension sunvisors, real map lights vs the focused LEDs, Android Auto on all trims coming - Apple CarPlay sucks going forward, and longer lower front seat cushions.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  10. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 VW Atlas SEL w/ 4-Motion

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    The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas 7-Passenger SUV in SEL trim has the best damn seats for larger drivers in the industry. Softer ride and handling characteristics than VW owners are used to but feels good for a vehicle of this size. Best Auto Start/Stop in the industry while I wait for the 2.0 TSI for some efficiency runs. Good infotainment with App Connect and Android Auto std. Ok interior with massive center console storage. Cup holders in line and ahead are good too.

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    Love the large seats!

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    Misses: Plastic A-pillar covering, molded upper dash stitching while parts of the lower dash use actual stiching, plain interior, and 3.6L V6 is not that efficient.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

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    The all-new RAV4 Adventure Trim has some things going for it. Plusses include its reliability and the $28k retail price in AWD config. That is a good deal.

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    Minuses, seating ergo is tight, too much mix of soft touch and hard plastics, and it does not include a Hybrid drivetrain. Infotainment needs a lot of work as well.

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    When the all-new 2018 Camry and Camry Hybrid drivetrains go in, look out!

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
    BillLin likes this.
  12. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL

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    2018 Volkswagen Tiguan - 2.0L TSI mated to an 8-speed AT with the brands excellent auto Start/Stop. Ride and Handling feels like a lifted Golf and that is a very good thing. Std. App Connect with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are good too. As is the embedded Navi Elev. and Elev. delta detail. Full digital display is a nice addition to the high-end Tiguan as well.

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    Misses: Plastic A-pillar covering, 7-seater is far too tight for the 6th and 7th passenger, fully loaded almost $40k price, and front seat bolsters for larger guys is slightly impinging. Drive without your wallet and you will be good.

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    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  13. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    3" extra ground clearance (impressive) and 1" of extra "dead cat space"... the price?

    $2000 and 4 mpg highway (37 to 33).
     
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  14. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    The dealership can help you with that.
    /sorry, but dang .... 40k?​
     
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  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Jeep Compass

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    Tallest seating of the compact and midsize CUVs is a plus as is the 4 mode AWD control and easy to read displays. Front seats would be ok if the seat track slid another 2" to the rear.

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    That A-pillar is thick!!! The $34k retail price feels a little high but than again, nothing in this comapct segment offers the off-road capability of this Jeep.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  16. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

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    In the midsize do everything SUV segment, there can only be one...

    The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee is that do it all SUV. With a caveat of course.

    This Jeep has room to grow, seating is scrumptiously comfortable, ergonomics are first rate, and the award winning UConnect infotainment system is even better for the 2018 MY with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Like the 2018 Jeep Compass, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee with NAVI animates streams and rivers. I thought that was over the top cool too.

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    Let's talk drivertrains... The best SUV and half-ton pickup truck motor is hands down the 3.0L EcoDiesel mated to the 8-speed AT. It just is, PERIOD!

    While this motor was re-released as a confirmatory engine per the EPA, they only certified it for the 2017 MY despite it being the exact same drivetrain from the harnesses to driveshaft as the 2017. Meaning you cannot buy this super SUV with the Super Diesel. WTF EPA, get off your collective @$$es and get the most efficient big vehicle drivetrain for the SUV and Pickup segments certified YESTERDAY!!!

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    While we are waiting, the 3.6L Pentastar with Auto Start/Stop mated to the smooth shifting 8-speed would be the next most efficient choice in the segment.

    And let us not forget that the Jeep Grand Cherokee arrives with an award winning AWD system w/ 4-wheel lock from a button and 4-modes of operation for various conditions and terrain.

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    It is hard to beat a vehicle that does so many things well. It is even harder to beat a Jeep that does all of that and more.

    The Pickups are coming...

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  17. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty

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    First pickup out of the gate is the 17 Ford Super Duty in top of the line Limited trim for a chart topping $80k.

    What do you get for that kind of scratch? How about a full Suede headliner which is the interior highlight. Numerous hi-res digital information screens and analog speedo/tach have been and continue to be a Ford Strength.

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    Under the hood is the 440 hp and 925 lb-ft 6.7L Power Stroke V8. This is a fricken monster. In back to back efficiency testing, only Ram's Cummins tops it.

    Drive comfort and low NVH is top notch with the windows closed. It offers the best refinement in the segment and the luxury is stupid good.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten

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    Meet my choice for Luxury Truck of Texas. In fact, I think I will add 2 pics for this one as the devil is in the details. When it comes to luxury, RAM checked more boxes than boxes available.

    At $77K, the 2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten addition is the fully loaded trim incl. the 370 hp and 800 lb-ft 6.7L Cummins.

    The latest award winning UConnect 8.4 now includes higher resolution, faster processing, pinch to zoom, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

    The following shows just some of the luxurious appointment highlight details. Look at the wood trim and leather insert with stitching in the doors, the mats with pop out carpet inserts for mud work, and map pockets that are actually saddle bags with buckled enclosures. Just an incredible amount of ornate detail.

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    How about the highlight stitching in the upper seat bolster, and center console top stitching!!!

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    The 1/2-ton 1500 and 1-Ton 3500 can be equipped the same trim incl. the 385 hp and 930 lb-ft 6.7L Cummins with 30k+ 5th wheel tow cap. 3500 that is. It was just weeks ago at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas that RAM showed off its super truck hauling a 29,000 lb. GVWR triple axle trailer. The MOPAR 30k 5th wheel accessory alone is massive!

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    Luxury Truck of Texas is earned by sweating the details. In my book, RAM is doing just that.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  19. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Ford F150 Limited

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    If there was an award for the "Most Refined Truck of Texas", this hot seller would be it.

    Meet the 2018 Ford F-150 Limited with the twin turbo 3.5L V6 EcoBoost mated to the all-new 10-speed AT.

    In fully loaded Limited trim, it lists north of $63k and what it brings to the segment is the lowest Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) of any truck I drove at the Truck Rodeo. 9th can be manually shifted into above 50 mph and 10th above 54 mph. 10th will hold into the high 40s if there is no grade ahead. Either way, smooth, quiet, and a joy to drive. In its 25 mpg rated base trim, 35 mpg is doable too!

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    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Back to the SUV/CUV realm and next up is a real sleeper...

    2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum

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    I have been bitching about Nissan's infotainment for years. The day after this drive, Nissan announced that the 2018 Rogue will receive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto!

    Bigger news is the brands all-new ProPilot advanced driving assist system will be available on the 2018 model as well.

    The Radar system is located behind the large Nissan Badge in the grille and the visual camera is inside just ahead of the rear view.

    Because of ProPilot, the 2018 Nissan Rogue received my vote for the TAWA Truck Rodeo "Most Advanced Technology" award.
     
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