BY MARLON HANSON
Focus Daily News
Texas Auto Writers Association
The results of the Texas Truck Rodeo are in and winners are already preparing to tell the world about their wins, capturing some of the most coveted awards in the trucking and SUV industry.
An aggressively gorgeous Ford F-250 Amarillo took the top trucking crown: the Truck of Texas. In a crowded field of SUVs, the drive toward elegance and fuel economy was evident in the choice of the SUV of Texas, the Lexus RX 400h.
The award for Top Design of a pickup went to the Nissan Titan and to the Mercedes ML 500 for an SUV. The award for technology in an SUV went to the Lexus RX 400h while the Honda Ridgeline and the Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab shared the top honors for pick up truck technology with an (unusual) exact tie.
The Ford F-150, winner of the Truck of Texas award for the last two consecutive years (something no vehicle has ever accomplished before), came back to take the full-size pick up truck category in the 2005 Rodeo. Ford also captured the Truck Line of Texas crown, something it has done every year since 1999.
The Volvo XC90 has won at least one category in the Rodeo since the vehicle was first introduced and entered 2002 as a 2003 model. That year it turned the world upside-down by winning the overall trophy, the first “crossover” (SUV built on a non-truck platform) to do so.
That model was a turbocharged inline five. The XC90 lineup has expanded since then to offer V8s as well and has captured successive Crossover SUV, Low-Priced Crossover SUV, and Luxury SUV categories in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Rodeos.
GMC has taken top honors in various categories throughout the 13-year history of the Texas Truck Rodeo and this year was no different.
The GMC Sierra Heavy Duty Duramax captured the title as Heavy Duty Truck for the 2006 model year at the 2005 Rodeo. From the GMC Yukon to the GMC Sierra Quadrasteer, the General has built a long and solid history of winning categories in the Rodeo with its “Professional Grade” products.
The Volkswagen Touareg captured its third title since its introduction at this Rodeo as well, notching a victory in the Mid-Size Luxury SUV category. Last year the limited-edition V10 TDI was voted Luxury SUV of Texas and the year before the original Touareg took the top SUV title.
Land Rover has traditionally captured best-in-class awards at the Rodeo as well. This year the new Supercharged Range Rover was voted Full-Size Luxury SUV of Texas. Last year the economical LR3, a vehicle which provides full off-road capabilities second to none took the overall SUV of Texas category.
As with other vehicles, the LR3 went on to win numerous other national awards, proving that this year’s Rodeo winners will likely see other accolades heaped on as the model year enters full swing.
The Hummer H1 won the Ultimate SUV category, a title it had previously captured way back in 1999, just before General Motors finalized the deal to acquire the marketing rights to Hummer from AM General.
I first saw the Honda Ridgeline at last year’s SEMA show. Honda communications officers told me then that the first Honda truck that would be sold in the country would be a contender for Truck of Texas and it proved to be an accurate forecast. The Ridgeline tied with Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab for Best Use of Technology in a pick up truck at this year’s Rodeo.
The Ram is only one of many new innovative vehicles introduced by the Chrysler Group this year. They have posted the largest sales gains of any American manufacturer for the past 18 months and promise more of the same with a dozen new introductions promised over the next year.
Another of this year’s new vehicles from the Chrysler Group, the Jeep Commander SUV, was recognized as the top SUV in the Full-Size SUV category. This is Jeep’s first offering in the 7-passenger category.
The Mid-Size SUV category was captured by the Hummer H3, an impressive, but much smaller, version of the Hummer which offers the rugged capabilities of its bigger brethren. Compact SUV honors went to the Mercury Mariner hybrid, one of the first in Ford Motor Company’s impressive drive to offer the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the planet.
In the crossover category, the Compact Crossover of the Year is the Subaru Forester XT while the Mid-Size Crossover winner was the Toyota Highlander.
The winner of the Luxury Pick Up Truck category was the Lincoln Mark LT, a truck that was designed with Texans in mind. It successfully provides the pinnacle of luxury while still being able to haul big loads and tow them to boot.
The winner in the Full-Size Van category was a Chevrolet Conversion van that offered every comfort of home within its full-size body
Ford F-250 Amarillo at the Rodeo
Lexus RX 400h