Best New Truck Features

Coolest features on the best new trucks, SUVs and crossovers tested on the road — and off


News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct13_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley

Every October, members of the Texas Auto Writers Association converge at Knibbe Ranch, near San Antonio, to evaluate the latest trucks and SUVs from leading manufacturers. The testing pits machine against Texas Hill Country nature and automaker against automaker. Who came out on top?

2013 Texas Truck Rodeo results

CUV of Texas
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
 
SUV of Texas
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
 
Truck of Texas
2014 Ram 1500
 
Truck Line of Texas
Ram Trucks
 
Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle
2013 Nissan JUKE Midnight Edition
 
Mid-Size Crossover Utility Vehicles
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD
 
Full-Size Crossover Utility Vehicle
2014 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4X4
 
Luxury Crossover Utility Vehicle
2014 Acura MDX Advance
 
Compact Sport Utility Vehicle
2014 Jeep Cherokee
 
Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Diesel 4x4
 
Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
2014 Dodge Durango
  
Compact Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle
2013 GMC Terrain Denali AWD
 
Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle 
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Diesel 4x4
 
Full-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle 
2013 Land Rover Range Rover
  
Off-Road Utility Vehicle
2014 Jeep Wrangler
 
Mid-Size Pickup Truck
2013 Nissan Nissan Frontier PRO4X
 
Full-Size Pickup Truck
2014 Ram 1500
 
Luxury Pickup Truck
2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn
 
Heavy Duty Pickup Truck
2014 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty
 
Off-Road Pickup Truck
2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
 
Commercial Vehicle
2014 Ram Promaster Cargo 136 WB - High Roof
 
Best Powertrain
Ram Truck/Jeep 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6
 
Best Connectivity
Ram Truck/Jeep/Dodge Uconnect Access Via Mobile
 
Best Technology
Ram Five-link Coil Rear Suspension
 
 

The 23rd annual TAWA Truck Rodeo was held Oct. 11-2 at Knibbe Ranch in Spring Branch. The location provided a perfect mix of roads, trails, rocks, creeks and local flavor. 

New to the 2013 event was a towing challenge, which allowed evaluators the chance to drive each half-ton pickup entrant with a tow load of over 5,000 pounds. The towing test really lets you see some of the differences between the vehicles and appreciate the capability of a modern pickup.

Knibbe Ranch is a 1,000 acre ranch that dates to 1852. It's an active cattle ranch, and historically, home to some of the world's most distinguished longhorns.

In past years, we've shown you the winners and most notable vehicles at the Texas Truck Rodeo. This time, we wanted to give you an insider's look at the coolest features we discovered on the best trucks, SUVs and crossovers on the market.

2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

Ram officials say their customers wanted added storage, and they've delivered. Compartments abound —  some hidden and some right in front of you. This surprisingly spacious nook is under a rear floor mat.

2014 Toyota Tundra

While not exactly a 'hidden' feature, the brakes on the Tundra are world class: 13.9" front rotors with monobloc, four-piston calipers. It makes a difference.

2014 Ford F-150 Limited

The electronic side-step that retracts when you open the door is a touch of luxury but offers the best of both worlds — ease of access, without sacrificing ground clearance.

2014 Cheverolet Silverado 1500

Not all innovations are filled with electronic wizardry. The CornerStep on bumper of the new Silverado is a smartly integrated feature that we didn't even know we needed until we saw it. 

2014 Acura MDX Advance

Clever LED headlights similar to the ones on the Acura RLX sedan have made their way to Acura's popular crossover. The offer brighter, cleaner light and use less energy than HID.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT

It was a fantastic year for engine innovation, with more efficiency throughout the field. Clean diesels from Volkswagen, Jeep, Ram and Mercedes-Benz showcased. But an unexpected surprise was the 250-horsepower 2.0L boxer engine in the new Forester. It offers value, usability and punches above its weight in performance. This is one we'll be recommending.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has many things going for it, but two of them are the brilliant 8-speed transmission and open-pore wood interior trim.

2014 Nissan NV200

The rear doors on the Nissan NV200 commercial van open with a 40/60 split, so that the left rear door can be open at 180° while parked on a street and still not be sticking out into oncoming traffic. Smart.

2014 Toyota Rav4

Toyota redid everything on the Rav4, and it was overdue for it. But they didn't simply update the interior, they created something interesting. They took the common materials that everyone uses for interiors and arranged them in a refreshing way and made it a better place to be.

2014 Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler features little "Easter eggs" of Jeep history and iconography hidden throughout the exterior. It's a nice little nod to its enthusiast fan base.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The interior of the Range Rover Sport is perfect. No other superlative will do. Anything that looks like metal? It's actually metal. Soft-touch? It's probably leather. This is among the finest interiors you can buy, in any segment, at any cost. And this is just one of the tricks up the Rover's sleeve.

2013 Toyota Tacoma

When asked about the most compelling features on the Tacoma, a Toyota representative said earnestly, and without hesitation, "I'm not sure how you can take a picture of residual values." So there you have it.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

We drove the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport earlier this year, and really warmed up to this striking crossover. The rear captain's chairs, especially in leather, offer exceptional comfort.
 

2013 Nissan Juke

The most unusual feature on the Nissan Juke? The manual transmission, of course.

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