It’s that time again. Next week, more than 50 automotive journalists who specialize in trucks and SUVs will be getting together with 17 manufacturers at the Knibbe century ranch near San Antonio to evaluate the vehicles that manufacturers consider their most competitive. There, they will name the Truck of Texas, Heavy Duty Truck of Texas, Truck Line of Texas, SUV of Texas and more. Held annually, it is sponsored by the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), a well-respected organization that evaluates and awards excellence in the industry each fall.
I have been a member of TAWA since coming to Texas nearly a decade ago, and I can attest to the ferocity of the competition, as well as the quality of the journalists. Current president is Mike Herzing, who has a weekly radio show on Saturday mornings in Houston, and past president is Harold Gunn, a Broadcast Hall of Famer who has both automotive and outdoor radio shows in Houston, as well. At the Truck Rodeo, new officers will be elected.
Last year the winner was Ford in the three big truck categories: Truck of Texas, Heavy Duty Truck of Texas, and Truck Line of Texas (an award that they have won every year since I have been a TAWA member).
While no manufacturer will actually quote me numbers as to the value of the Truck of Texas award, or any of the others, winning it is covetable. The winner creates dealer signage and point of purchase materials; it is mentioned on regional and some national TV ads, and anyone who has heard Sam Elliot as the narrator of the RAM Truck ads, creating a halo for the RAM 1500 Truck of Texas award in 2010, and Power Wagon award as Heavy Duty Truck of Texas. still remembers it.
This year I am expecting the big pickup competition to be between both of these two truck makers yet again, since both have introduced new vehicles or major refreshes on virtually all of their pickup models. The winners could, of course, be anyone with a vehicle in these categories, including Chevrolet, Nissan and Toyota. While it won’t there be for the 2012 competition, journalists are also thinking forward to GM’s introductions of new trucks for the 2014 model year, and — perhaps — getting a better sense of what is coming.
SUVs and crossover categories are hugely competitive, and they could be where some of the most heated battles are fought. The biggest challenge for the journalists is getting into as many vehicles as possible so that they can provide fair and unbiased competition.
Participating manufacturers in all categories include (alphabetically): Audi, Dodge, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and VW.
The Texas Truck Rodeo also brings out a huge number of designers, engineers and marketing people from each of the manufacturers are brought in to San Antonio in order to satisfy our insatiable thirst for wisdom, and they will be there to answer any questions that you might have.
If you want to know anything from the manufacturers about their sport vehicles, or your own vehicle, please drop me a comment via this column and I will wrangle the people with the answers. I will then get the responses back to you and answer them in an upcoming column.
I will also be reporting on all of the category winners as soon as they are named so that you can beat me up, as usual, if you don’t agree with the results.