Combine over 50 vehicles, a great competition, just over 40 journalists, a couple of gorgeous days and a brilliant ranch nestled in the Texas Hill Country, and you have this year’s Texas Truck Rodeo.
WHAT IS IT?
For the last 29 years, the Texas Auto Writers Association has brought together journalists from across the state and some of the best and brightest of vehicles from the major global automakers to test, experience and award several vehicles with the coveted Texas Trophy as they get the honor of being called the Truck and SUV of Texas.
WHERE IS IT?
This year’s event was held at Star Hill Ranch, just outside of Austin, in Bee Cave, Texas. Venue for local events and set location for The Walking Dead and Bobby Flay’s BBQ Showdown, Star Hill Ranch is a pocket retreat in the Texas Hill Country.
Imagine that you set foot in 1850s Texas…. Think a historically, romantic place with wide streets lined with vintage buildings, a tiny Chapel, novelty pit stops standing pretty against the striated Hill Country horizon.
Behind it all a custom-built off-road course with varying degrees of technical difficulty and unique touchpoints designed to test world-class vehicles in a controlled environment.
I knew it was going to be amazing. We, as a Board at TAWA with our Partners, had spent months planning, talking and securing experiences. Turns out, combined together, I couldn’t imagine a better destination to bring together automakers, vehicles, and journalists with the people that know them best.
This year, still under Covid protocols, we had the pleasure of hosting Toyota, Lexus, the Stellantis family of brands including Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Wagoneer and Alfa Romeo, Hyundai, Genesis, Nissan, Infiniti, Mazda, Maserati, Honda, Acura, Volkswagen, Subaru, GMC and Buick.
The experience was enhanced by the generous support of Katzin, Zero-Nox with their outstanding Tuatara and the Houston Auto Show. Also, the dedicated support of our fleet partners made an event of this magnitude possible, the talent, skill and care of DriveShop and Prestige Autos are unmatched.
The votes were close and after the scoring came in, results were announced in perfect 2021-style via a Zoom Red Carpet on the Houston Auto Show page with the trophy ceremony to be awarded at the 2022 Houston Auto Show for the Truck of Texas that went to the 2022 Toyota Tundra.
You can watch the announcement ceremony here.
Vehicles that handled better than expected, off-road surprises or those that came in with delightful updates ruled the day.
That being said, as a human auto-lover, you always have a few favorites that you just can’t quit talking about, looking at pictures of and cannot wait to drive again.
Here are a few of mine.
The Volkswagen ID.4 Pro
Probably one of my favorite EVs on the market, smart, user and family friendly, the 2021 ID.4 Pro delivers a smooth drive with generous range in a package that feels like an elevated everyday experience. It’s definitely one of those that I direct the EV doubters in the world to just try it.
The Nissan Pathfinder
Falling in lock-step with the new upgraded, design-elevated offers from Nissan comes the 2022 Pathfinder. It feels fresh. Without a doubt, the Pathfinder is big-body beautiful, teched-up, solid on the off-road course and elegantly efficient on streets. It bears the hallmarks of luxury, looking a lot like its Infiniti-branded cousins, yet priced in alignment with the lines from Nissan.
The Maserati Trofeo
Pure, unadulterated driving pleasure is how I would describe the Maserati Trofeo. Petro powered, getting behind of the wheel of this one was a gorgeous escape from the ordinary in a noise-dampened bubble. I was reminded once again why Maserati has a cult following. From the steering wheel to the way the seat cradles your body allowing you to feel the purr of the engine and the quality and decadence of the leather and microsuede detailing, this is Italian craftsmanship at its best.
The Genesis GV70
Sporty. Elegant. Modern. Ready. I saw this one in the line-up and the sun glinted off the dash. It wasn’t until I got inside that I realized just how wonderful this one is. Genesis has taken the safety, connectivity and mobility sensibility from Hyundai and added the benefit of luxe textures, fine details and a powerfully efficient powertrain to deliver a sport sedan/crossover that is just as capable on the off-road course as it is running the course of a busy life.
The Honda Ridgeline Sport
I live in the heart of truck country, and when I scope out a truck, I’m looking for very specific capability, durability and a sense of beautiful function. The updated Honda Ridgeline fills a hole in the mid-size truck market. It’s fully equipped with comfort details that buyers that use their truck as a daily driver, people-hauler demand and the safety/connectivity tech that used to require an extra expense to obtain.
To Learn More:
To learn more about the Texas Auto Writers Association’s Truck Rodeo, visit here.