Story and photos by Sue Mead
It’s the Year of the Ram in Texas! When the dust settled at the Knibbe Ranch in Spring Branch, Chrysler’s all-new 2013 Ram 1500 was voted the Truck of Texas, and Ram was tapped as the Truck Line of Texas at the 20th annual Texas Truck Rodeo. These accolades were given by a collective of 50 automotive journalists from the Lone Star state and across the U.S. who are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association.
Although the climate was moderate during this two-day event, the competition was one of the most hotly contested as Ram, Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Toyota, Nissan and Honda entered pickups. First-, second- and third-place winners were awarded in Full-Size, Mid-Size, Luxury, Heavy Duty and Off Road categories, as well as the two most coveted awards: Truck of Texas and Truck Line of Texas. Other categories included numerous classes of SUVs and CUVs. This year’s event drew 58 vehicles, along with four display vehicles, and close to 180 participants.
“Automotive reporters have reacted extremely favorably to the new 2013 Ram 1500, and our research tells us that resonates with truck buyers,” said Ram President and CEO Fred Diaz, who is a San Antonio native. “Texas is Ram’s biggest market, and we’ve worked relentlessly to build powerful trucks with best-in-class fuel economy and capability for our customers. The pickup market is fiercely competitive, and we are proud the Texas Auto Writers have awarded Ram trucks with these coveted titles.”
Texas boasts the largest pickup market in the U.S. and worldwide, so every truck brand covets the awards garnered at this event. In fact, new special-edition models are built specifically for Texas buyers, and an ever-growing number of manufacturers, their truck teams and their new models show up for this annual rite of passage. Pickups go head to head over rugged and rough terrain that includes rock climbs, water crossings and a variety of off-road ranch track and paved roads. Judging occurs over two full days of rigorous vehicle comparison, evaluating features that range from interior and exterior styling to off-road capability and the entrant's overall utility, value and fuel efficiency.
“Our members overwhelmingly chose the 2013 Ram 1500 as the Truck of Texas and the truck for Texans. The new Ram 1500 is amazing,” said Michael Herzing, Texas Auto Writers Association president. “The new technologies in this truck are true game-changers and raise the bar for the competition. You’ve got to love how tough, capable, comfortable and fuel efficient this new truck is, especially for Texans, who frequently drive long distances. Until we drove it, we couldn’t believe a truck this nice and capable could achieve 25 miles to a gallon like the Ram does. It blew our members away.”
Notable is the ever-growing number of high-end and limited-edition models from Ram, GMC, Nissan, Honda and Toyota, joining Ford’s King Ranch, Super Duty Platinum and Ford Raptor models. Ford’s 2013 F-250 Super Duty won the Heavy-Duty class, and the 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor won the Off-Road class.
"We’re proud that Ford F-Series is the best-selling truck line in Texas and America's best-selling truck for 30 years and its best-selling vehicle for 35 years. We are pleased TAWA agrees with what our customers have been saying for years — that Super Duty and Raptor are the industry's best heavy-duty and off-road trucks," said Mike Levine, Ford Truck communications manager.
Toyota was also happy with their trophy win. “We are pleased to win the mid-size truck category in the Texas Truck Rodeo with the Toyota Tacoma,” said Gene Brown, vice president of marketing, Gulf States Toyota. “The Tacoma is by far the category leader in sales as well as performance in mid-size trucks. We appreciate the recognition from the Texas Auto Writers as well.”
Not to give too much away, but next year looks to be a pretty good show as well and likely to be another tough competition. “The venue we had at the Knibbe Ranch is a real Texas setting, and it’s the perfect location to say 'trucks' and 'Texas' because they’re synonymous,” said Herzing, referring to the 22,000-acre picturesque cattle ranch near San Antonio. We look forward to the new GM twins and possibly several new heavy duty models.
Winners of the 20th annual Truck Rodeo are below.
Truck of Texas: 2013 Ram 1500
Truck Line of Texas: Ram trucks
Mid-Size pickup truck: 2013 Toyota Tacoma
Full-Size pickup truck: 2013 Ram 1500
Luxury pickup truck: 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn
Heavy-Duty pickup truck: 2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Off-Road Truck: 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor