2017 Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Truck Rodeo

Discussion in 'In the News' started by xcel, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Lexus RX350 F-Sport

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    Anyone ever hear about the brand called Lexus? The one who entered the country with a runaway luxury hit called the LS 400 back in 89 or 90.

    In the Luxury CUV of Texas category, they Lexus has a contender. I still have to get into the Infiniti and MB GLA250 4MATIC CUV to make sure but...

    If there is one thing that defines luxury it is the action and low noise of the electric motors to open and close the windows. Lexus has this down pat. When closing, there is barely a sound and just before full close, a second slow speed lift begins to seal the window into the rubber strip.

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    This is the 2017 Lexus RX350 F-Sport meaning luxury with an attitude. Digital gauges, soft leather touchpoints, a suede like headliner and A-pillar covering, and central analog clock are all classy additions to the RX lineup. Lexus sells a ton of these and is it any wonder?

    Shortfalls include the seats. The lower seat bottoms are to short and the bolstering impinge on my outer thighs. I miss the Lexus ES seats and their lower cushion extension right now...

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    Why include a shot of the fully extended sun visors? Because if Lexus can do this, Toyota certainly can. Toyota fix this item that should have been fixed over a decade ago across your entire lineup. $14k Hyundai Accents come with this and so should you.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  2. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    The RX350 F-Sport was the last vehicle I was allowed to drive on Day 1. Interestingly enough, the VW Tiguan, Alfa Romeo Stavio, and Subaru XV Crosstrek were the three most driven vehicles at the Truck rally on Day 1. Even in truck country the marketplace is speaking volumes.

    Wayne

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  3. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk

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    Day 2 begins with another sleeper in the form of the Jeep Renegade Deserthawk.

    A lifted B-segment with a pricing range from high $17s to low $30s fully loaded. Competing in the B-segment with cars like the Honda Fit/HR-V, this little beaut offers towing and true go anywhere capability with all of Jeeps 4WD lock and condition/terrain selection. Nobody in the segment offers that.

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    In addition, the 2017 and 18 MYs offer cladded steel rocker panel covers, - exclusive to the Deserthawk and a Mopar accessory for the rest of the model lineup - not just plastic cladding. That is serious off-road equipment.

    Second row is too tight for me as us all B-segments so nothing new there.

    [​IMG]

    Sales are just under 10k/This morning begins with another sleeper in the form of the Jeep Renegade Deserthawk.

    Sales are just under 10k/month here in the States and I will be watching this one a little closer from now on.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
    BillLin likes this.
  4. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    But these are journalists, right? ;) Or was the general truck-buying public present?
     
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  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Bill:

    There were just journalists at this one as all events like this. This was my first TAWA Truck Rodeo and I thought for sure the Texas Auto Writer natives were going to focus on Pickups.

    I learn something new everyday. ;)

    Wayne
     
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  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Honda Ridgeline

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    The next one has been one of my own most controversial trucks on the market today. That being the 2017 Honda Ridgeline. Why? I am a traditionalist when it comes to work trucks. Body on frame, RWD, tow cap of 7.5k+ and a large bed. A Trar or is it a caruck?

    After a short stint, I can see where they were heading now. The Ridgeline offers the most car like ride of any truck here at the TAWA Truck Rodeo. Given most owners drive routine does not include hauling livestock or metal work, wouldn't we all rather have the drive comfort of a car for the next 100k+ miles?

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    Refined car like ride and handling, dual gate open options, bed mounted audio and lower under bed storage are the plusses we all know about. I delivered three cups of hot coffee to a DriveShop employee without a spill and there were three cup holders within the drivers reach to do just that!

    Negatives include no tune/vol knobs, the bed volume is small, and truck tow and bed cap are short.

    For a long distance excursion with a bed, you would be hard pressed to find better.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  7. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

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    Next up in the shooting gallery is the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. This is the Truck that owns the small truck segment. While the Colorado and Canyon have taken share, the segment continues to grow with the Tacoma stll topping the segment and selling at 15k+ units per month after month and year after year.

    As a daily driver however, I would lean to the full sized truck for much better driver confort, more work truck capability, and in many cases, a lower cost...

    I am only leaving you with a frontal because it is one of its best attributes. It looks great. It just does not light my hair on fire...

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  8. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Range Rover Discovery

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    A full luxury SUV with a little something special. That being the availability of the 3.0L Ingenium Turbo Diesel mated to a smooth shifting 8-speed AT. 40+ is a gimme. ☺

    At ~ $65k with the TD, it offers a large array of wonderfully soft and recycled material touchpoints and an adjustable ride and handling quotient.

    The Meridian audio is excellent and "if" the infotainment is workable, it has world class exclusive features. I say "if" because of a shortfall in interaction and operability in an early model Jag XE almost two years back. We will take one out again in the future to make sure the bugs have been worked out.

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    Not only is the A-Pillar covered with a foam backed cloth like texture, the door seals are too! Best in the business shown in a simple pic.

    In my realm, Land Rover is heading to 100 percent renewable/CO2 neutral production by 2025. One of their UK plants is already 100 percent on a solar.

    All in, expensive but not ridiculous and completely technology laden. Good stuff Land Rover.

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Nissan Titan King Commercial

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    Pricing for all the Titans of all form factors are on the website. Why this One? Rear seat delete!

    In std. Cab trim with the S Convenience and utility ($800) - receiver, 4/7 pin harness, spray in bedliner, and overhead console, ones in at just $30.6k incl. D&H.

    390/394 hp/lb-ft V8 Endurance with 7-speed AT and 2.9 rear end provides just under 10k tow cap as shown.

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    Of all the Titan trims in Crew Cab config we have driven, the Commercial std. S trim just makes so much sense...

    This is my kind of truck! 100 percent work, no BS.
     
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  10. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 RAM 5500 Chassis Cab

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    Since we are in the Commercial space, how about the RAM 5500 with a 4 yard Monroe dump. Under the hood is 325 hp and 750 lb-ft of torque 6.7L Cummins running through a 4.88 rear end. This is brutal work with a GVWR 19,500 and 30,600 lbs. without the box. Combined is 38,500 lbs.

    It starts in the high $40k range as a base Tradesman with the Cummins in chassis cab config and no options.

    The 4500/5500 together sold 7,500 units last year and this Class 4 and 5 Commercial config has been growing at 5 or so percent since 2009. A guesstimate on my part but the reason why so much emphasis is placed on this space over the last decade...

    [​IMG]

    It is a brutal monster for true commercial work duty.

    The reason for the detune from the 3500 with the 930 lb-ft Cummins is weight and emissions.

    Great to see it here.
     
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  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD

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    How about a small change of pace as we move back into the luxury CUV space.

    This hour’s ride is the 2017 Infiniti QX 30 which is based on the well-received Mercedes-Benz GLA.

    Retailing at $46.4k as driven including all the option boxes checked, it offers owners an interior of a $100k car at less than half the price. Meaning a suede like headliner and a-pillar covering, wood accents and satin chrome bezels around everything. Classy and like all Infiniti's, the interior is award winning before lighting off the 2.0L turbo.

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    Where the bloom comes off the rose...

    Getting in requires me to duck. In and out 20 to 30 times a week would get tiresome real quick.

    Startup and the 2.0T adds a bit more NVH to the experience than I would want. The mill is plenty capable, but it is a noise maker.

    Boy those lower seat cushions are short. This might be a fit for my wife Marian at just over 5' but a 6' tall male is going to lose a lot of lower thigh/leg support.

    Given its low center of gravity and strong linear braking, the fun factor is there as intended.

    All in, it is eye catching, fun to drive, and the interior is worthy of double the price tag. Its short stature however would be tough for me to overcome as a daily driver...

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  12. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 Ford Raptor vs 2017 Ram Rebel

    The last two hours were spent completing my first off-road jaunts with two super trucks and leads to a “Battle of the Titans” in their own right. No offense to Nissan here.

    2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

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    There are three levels of progressively tougher courses with 3 being the toughest. With PR/Comms and Engineering sitting alongside as guides and information dissemination machines, I chose 3. ;)

    Neither of these trucks are in my roundhouse as they are professionally designed off-road trucks. From the clearance and suspension bits to custom 4WD selection, they can run the Baja in stock config and survive.

    Raptor brings to the table the Ford's F-Series brands decades of heavily modified off-road experience. In doing so, it offers approach and departure angles, suspension articulation, and solid 3.5L EcoBoost performance right off the show floor that nobody in the industry can match. Adding, an excellent 1.5 mph or so Hill Descent Control (HDC), and a live, real time front camera that can show rocks, ledges, and terrain in front of the bumper even if the only thing you can see out of the front windscreen is clear blue sky is a huge benefit!

    One of the loose rock and dirt ascents was 23 degrees up and a rock ledge lip at the top. The Raptor took on that challenge in 4WD High with only two minor wheel slips that I could hear or feel. On a 19-degree descent, the HDC never wavered allowing a complete confidence inspiring drive down a slope you could not walk down If your life depended on it.

    Incredible that a F-Series truck could do all if that and more with a base price under $50k. $61,685 as equipped.

    Moving off the mountain onto the asphalt again showed how refined the F-150 Raptor is on the road. Solid steering manners and a quiet ride...

    2017 RAM Rebel

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    The Ram Rebel is a bit more of a driver’s vehicle lacking some of the automated on or off-road assist systems yet felt equally capable on the steep ascent and descents. I did not tackle the steepest sections as I did not know they existed until the second drive with the Raptor.

    What the Rebel brings to the table is a lower priced truck that can go about 99 percent of the places a Raptor can.

    All-in, these are not work trucks so they will probably never reach my drive. Never say never and you never know if an opportunity avails itself. ;)

    In any case, in the strictly Off-road pickup category, I give that award to Ford's Raptor. And I barely touched the Raptors true capabilities...

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork

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    The last vehicle taken out during the last hour of the last day was the latest and highest trim RAM 1500 ever offered to the public.

    The Southfork trim adds new, Canyon Brown and Light Frost Beige 100 percent full-grain leather seats, leather wrapped around the A- and B-pillar grab handles, and a real Walnut-trimmed wheel.

    Overhead is a suede headliner with visors of the same material. The glove box badge notes “Longhorn” as do matching floormats with metal badging.

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    Is your forward center console stowage cover real wood if it even has one?​

    The center stack features the latest Uconnect 4C 8.4-inch touchscreen with NAVI, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus 4G WiFi.

    The Ram 1500/2500/3500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork is available in Crew and Mega cabs with a long or short box. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork edition MSRP starts at $51,220 plus $1,395 D&H. MSRP for Ram 2500 Heavy Duty models is $55,620, plus $1,395 D&H.
     
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  14. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    HI All:

    With more than $4-million dollars worth of trucks and SUV/CUVs at the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Truck Rodeo in the background, a lone 2017 Toyota USA Prius Prime Advanced Plug-in takes a bow.

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    Its 25-miles of all-electric range and a 54 mpg combined rating on gasoline makes a statement all its own as the fading light dims into night.

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    While somewhat out of place in the heart of Texas truck country, the Prius Prime pays homage to the thousands of automotive engineers and designers whose focus was to make transportation more sustainable and less costly for the average consumer. In this regard, those hard working men and woman have suceeded in not only achieving automotive excellence, they have done humanity a great service in pointing towards an even better and more sustainable tomorrow.

    [​IMG]

    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    2017 TAWA Truck Rodeo Award Winners

    With the driving and evaluation completed, almost an hour to fill out the numerous vehicles scoring tabulations handled online via an app, the big kahuna to the OEMs are “Truck of Texas”, “SUV of Texas”, and “CUV of Texas”. The breakout categories are almost as important and where the scoring is separated by hundredths of a point.

    And the final results are … Drumroll please … The 2018 TAWA “Truck of Texas” is the new 2018 Ford F-150!

    2018 Ford F-150

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    The 2018 TAWA “SUV of Texas” is the 2018 Volvo XC60

    The 2018 TAWA “CUV of Texas” is the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport

    2017 TAWA Truck Rodeo Category Winners
    • Heavy duty pickup truck: 2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten
    • Best commercial vehicle: 2018 Nissan Titan King Cab SV
    • Luxury pickup truck: 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork
    • Off-road pickup: 2017 Ford F150 Raptor
    • Full-size pickup: 2018 Nissan Titan Midnight Edition
    • Midsize pickup: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
    • Best technology: Nissan Pro Pilot
    • Best connectivity: Volvo XC60
    • Best powertrain: Volvo XC60
    • Off-road utility vehicle: 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Recon
    • Sub-Compact SUV: 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk
    • Compact SUV: 2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum
    • Mid-size Luxury SUV: 2018 Volvo XC60
    • Compact Luxury SUV: 2018 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD
    • Full-size SUV: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT
    • Mid-size SUV: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
    • Compact SUV: 2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum
    • Full-size CUV: 2018 Mazda CX9 Grand Touring AWD
    • Mid-size CUV: 2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring GT
    • Compact CUV: 2018 Mazda CX3 Grand Touring FWD
    • Luxury CUV: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport
    #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  16. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    With the SUVs and pickups on transporters, the tents and support structures taken down and packed away, there were only two...

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    A Suzuki and my Prius Prime press loaner are all that is left after a fantastic event called the 2017 Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Truck Rodeo driving activity concluded.

    All Automotive Press Associations could learn a thing or two from the leaders of TAWA as it was easily on par with and better in some respects than the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI I always enjoy.

    Thanks go to the TAWA staff and organizers, OEMs that participated with vehicles, team members, and financial support, auto journalists from across the U.S., and both DriveShop and ESI for taking care of the vehicles we all had the opportunity to drive.

    While just my first, I hope to attend many more in the future.

    Wow, what an event! :)

    This is the #TXTruckRodeo
     
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  17. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    Congratulations on completing your first TAWA event. Maybe you'll get to do the Baja 1000 in a stock Raptor. :D
     
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  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Bill:

    Should I contact Ford regarding that request to drive a stock Raptor across the Baja? :D :D :D

    My hope is that the individual posts above provided another look into the Auto Journalistic world as well as my own thoughts through impressions of vehicles I have only moderate experience with. The raw impressions for each vehicle were written up immediately after each drive which in some cases did and in many cases did not match up with the overall winners.

    Wayne
     
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  19. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    Sure, but only if YOU are willing to do it. I only live vicariously. :)

    These posts about the TAWA truck rodeo do indeed provide some insight. It is interesting to see how off-road vehicles have changed and improved over the years. I have experienced the manual locking hubs of yesteryear and the simple 4x4 systems. When the traction is too good, the engaged 4x4 system would bind up. All wheel drive these days is so much more convenient on the road. Nothing as civilized and capable as the trail rated Jeeps' command systems and the hill descent assistance in many vehicles today. I imagine the limited slip and/or locking differentials work better now and transparently and on-demand.

    I wonder how the Jeeps would have performed relative to the Raptor in the hill climbing and cresting and descents. Was there any rock crawling? It used to be short wheel-based vehicles had an advantage on tight terrain and trails. They probably still do. I don't imagine the Raptor has a short wheel-base?

    One impression from the vehicles sampled above is that aside from the raw brawn of these trucks, luxury sells. And the best selling one seems to be riding on all-season highway tires. Is my impression correct? It would have an extra advantage in the nice ride and low NVH levels you experienced, too. It isn't surprising that those with the means would buy a fully loaded pickup for their daily driver. It's a very comfortable environment to spend their hours on their daily commutes and it also gives them a good vantage point from which to view the traffic around them.

    Thanks for sharing this experience with us.
     
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  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Bill:

    I am amazed about the same the technology as well. Except for dropping into 4L in which some require Park or Neutral, in most of these serious off-road vehicles, you hit a button or turn a knob and they go into 4WD on the fly.

    If their was one over reaching feature about all of these vehicles is an attribute you touched on. That being Hill Descent Control. I cannot tell you how easy it is to maintain .5 to 2 mph - depends on the vehicle and some with 4 different CC settings, while negotiating an off-road descent of 20+ degrees. 20 degrees may not seem much but it is about the point where you cannot slide down on your own two feet without tumbling.

    Regarding the std. Pickups with non-off-road tires, indeed those all-season radials really improve ride comfort and reduce road noise. And they can still be taken to about 50 percent of the where the serious trucks and Jeeps go with the touch of a switch.

    You touched upon another point with regards to the radials on these super trucks. The 1/2-Ton trucks on the open road are as and in many cases more compliant than a std. sedan. Quiet, controlled, and very very comfortable. The 3/4 and 1-tons w/ the big Turbo Diesels are a bit more raucous from an NVH and ride comfort perspective but they are truly built for AG/Industrial/Commercial work. All of the pickups and SUV/CUVs are not as well controlled in a transient as a sedan and will to roll far easier in a fast transition but for cruising the Interstates, you would be hard pressed to drive better. I just wish they were all more efficient is all.

    And finally the fully loaded trims. High end trims account for more than 50 percent of Ford's Super Duty sales. The high end trims are over the top in terms of purpose - I like the strippers myself - but wow are they comfortable inside.

    Wayne
     
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