It’s all about trucks at State Fair of Texas

*If there ever was any doubt about the manufacturers giving Texas its due as the truck capital of the U.S, all you need to do is reaffirm it at this year’s State Fair of Texas.  The new and improved Big Tex shares space with new product from Chevy, Ford, GMC, Ram and Toyota in the wide open area dedicated to these hard working, hard playing delights.  Many of the vehicles are new — badged for 2014 or 2015 model year– and if there is a new truck on your horizon (or your wish list) this is the auto show for you.

Big Tex greets visitors at the State Fair of Texas

Big Tex greets visitors at the State Fair of Texas

One of my long-term journalist friends said to me, “Where are the crappy old trucks we used to see with butt-ugly interiors, lousy mpg, and no great features?”  I was thinking the same thing.  The bar has been raised by the consumer and all of the truck makers have listened.  Fuel efficiency is better across the board.  Who would have thought that in less than 12 years the Crew Cab (which didn’t exist back then) would rival luxury vehicles.  I don’t think anyone could have foreseen that, yet today they do.

My suggestion for your day at the Fair, spend the entire morning in the truck area outside before you just can’t stand the heat and check out everything else in the afternoon.  Many manufacturers are offering the opportunity to drive in their vehicles — trucks and cars, so leave time for that.

The weeks leading up to State Fair and the fair itself are  a very popular time for sharing new trucks with the media and, of course, attendees.  On Thursday, automotive journalists were invited to attend a full day of press conferences highlighting the latest and greatest.  Here are some of the highlights to look for if you go.

New 2015 Silverado Heavy Duty

New 2015 Silverado Heavy Duty

Chevrolet and GMC unveiled their heavy duty trucks for 2015.  These have the highly improved appearance and features that have captured the attention of both legacy buyers and others.  More on these in upcoming posts.  I suspect I will have a chance to drive them soon, and within the month of September have driven the top-of-the-line editions — the Silverado High Country and Sierra Denali.  This week, I have a 5.3L Silverado and will also be reviewing it.  With upcoming introductions of both the Colorado and Canyon mid-sized trucks, GM will have updated or added entirely new and praise-worthy trucks across the board. In the 1500 class, Consumer Reports rated them best within the last month, also.

2015 GMC Heavy Duty

2015 GMC Heavy Duty

Ford unveiled new heavy duty trucks, as well.  They are outstanding examples of what has made the company’s trucks the #1 selling vehicles in Texas and North America for more than 35 years.

Raptor holds up the world at Ford outdoor display

Raptor holds up the world at Ford outdoor display

I know you love these gorgeous monsters. The appearance, performance and functionality will not disappoint and the updated product, including a brand new F-Series King Ranch edition will have you wishing it was time to purchase a new truck, even if you have to find ways to justify it.

The new King Ranch F-Series

The new King Ranch F-Series

The upgraded F-450 has more towing capacity, and there have been engineering improvements to boost the performance, durability and capability of the Ford-built 6.7L Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel.  I get into Ford trucks very frequently and have never been disappointed yet.

New Ram 1500, now available with EcoDiesel engine

New Ram 1500, now available with EcoDiesel engine

EcoDiesel interior

EcoDiesel interior

Ram continues to delight with its newest heavy duty, 1500 EcoDiesel and ProMaster line of commercial vans.  I had a chance to drive the EcoDiesel, as well as the full line of other Ram trucks, again within the last month, and was impressed as to what it offered for light-duty truck advocates who want or need diesel.

The ride/drive event that I attended on a ranch in California did a great job of mirroring our Texas conditions and taking the Ram trucks on and off road was allowed for plenty of evaluation time.  Consumer Reports named Ram 1500 closely behind the GM 1500s, but added a comment that for daily drivability it was best.

Too bad this Toyota Tundra won't tow

Too bad this Toyota Tundra won’t tow

Toyota did a great job of bringing its new 1500 Tundra trucks to the Fair.  Texas-built in San Antonio, these are 2014 models and are in showrooms now.  The three engines and power trains are virtually unchanged, but the appearance has been dramatically improved, as have the interiors.

Tundra 1794 Edition

Tundra 1794 Edition

From grille to tailgate, these are excellent. Interiors will cause current Toyota lovers and others to celebrate the improvements.  I have driven and reviewed them for you in a previous post, but once I have one of these babies for a week of real-world action, I will share more of my observations.

There is, of course, the entire auto portion in both the Auto and Centennial, and there are a number of new SUVs in all sizes on the show floor.  Among them, a new Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Denali and Yukon, Dodge Durango (redesigned and offering a just-for-Texas Heat edition), Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee (particularly the Trail Hawk edition), Toyota 4Runner and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Enjoy!