Best Trucks & SUVs

Insider's Guide to Best Trucks and SUVs for 2015: Ford makes a comeback; Jeep, Ram, CR-V among other big winners


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Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_Oct14_TAWA_TruckRodeo
Photo by Kevin McCauley

It's the time of year again when auto manufacturers tout their latest innovations and unleash their latest trucks and SUVs for competition in the Lone Star State. The 2014 Texas Truck Rodeo, held by the Texas Auto Writers Association, was the largest gathering yet, with 75 vehicles entered and evaluated by 60 members of the automotive media.

After two consecutive years of Ram domination, change was in the air at Knibbe Ranch near San Antonio. The long-anticipated 2015 Ford F-150, a half-a-decade in the making, took the top crown — in addition to shaking up the industry. The F-150 has switched to an aluminum body, and now benefits from a staggering 750 pound weight reduction. In a segment where tradition is held high, Ford has ripped up the rule book that dictates what a pickup truck is supposed to be. It's made things a lot more interesting.

Truck of Texas: 2015 Ford F-150 

 

 

SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee 
Mid-size SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4
Mid-size Luxury SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel 4x4
 
You know the Jeep Grand Cherokee. You love the Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2015 the mid-size SUV receives modest upgrades and new interior trims, while continuing to offer best-in-class fuel economy, all-road capability, an eight-speed automatic transmission and an available EcoDiesel V6. 
 

 

CUV of Texas: 2015 Lincoln MKC
Luxury CUV of Texas: 2015 Lincoln MKC
 
Lincoln's bold entry into the luxury crossover category is probably the smallest Lincoln in ages and represents a newly honed-in focus on offering cars that customers want. The 285-hp turbocharged inline-four packs a punch and the styling is taut and handsome, inside and out.

Truck Line of Texas: Ford

The impact of the radically-new 2015 F-150 was felt in many awards, and it was no surprise that Ford won this category as well.

Compact CUV of Texas: 2015 Honda CR-V Touring
 
Honda doesn't let its popular CUV stagnate, so the CR-V is refreshed for 2015 with updated styling, a new direct-injected engine and new CVT, and driver-assistance features to help it stand apart from the crowd. The LaneWatch feature, which shows your blind spot in the console display, makes its way from the Accord to the CR-V. 
Mid-size CUV of Texas: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
 
The Subaru Outback was tackling the trails and crossing through river crossings with ease, despite being half as tall as some of the pickup trucks, and looking like, for all intents and purposes, a regular car. The Outback is all new for 2015, and with greater comfort, sharper styling and incredible capability, it was an easy choice for the Mid-size CUV award.
Full-Size CUV of Texas: 2015 Kia Sedona SX
 
The Kia Sedona impressed with its muscular looks (yes, in a minivan), lively driving character and interior amenities. 
Compact SUV of Texas: 2015 Jeep Cherokee
 
The Cherokee, which seemed so polarizing last year, has become overwhelmingly accepted, and its unique combination of off-road and on-road performance made it a a natural pick for Compact SUV of Texas.
Full-size SUV of Texas: 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
 
Drive anywhere in Texas, and you'll quickly see that the Chevy Tahoe is one of the most popular vehicles in the state. So it's a big deal with the Arlington-assembled SUV is overhauled. For 2015, the Tahoe gets some updates that were introduced on the Silverado last year, a more efficient EcoTec3 engine and all new styling and interiors.

Compact Luxury SUV of Texas: 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 5 door 

The Range Rover Evoque has been a hugely successful vehicle for Land Rover. The brand has always led the way with off-road driving technologies, but they always keep pushing to continue to develop new ones. The latest is Terrain Response, which uses three active electronic clutchpacks to put power down most effectively for the situation, seamlessly.

Full-size Luxury SUV of Texas: 2015 GMC Yukon Denali
 
Like the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, the Yukon Denali is all new, and aimed at achieving greater capability with greater efficiency.
Off-road Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2015 Jeep Wrangler
 
The Jeep Wrangler is off-road, and always does well at Knibbe Ranch.
Mid-size Pickup of Texas: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab 4WD
 
The Chevy Colorado is all new, and represents the first new activity in the mid-size pickup segment in years. Hopefully some healthy competition will spark some new movement in this overlooked market.

Full-size Pickup Truck of Texas: 2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch 4x4

SuperCrew Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas: 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum SuperCrew

 

Heavy Duty Pickup of Texas: 2015 Ram 2500 Longhorn
 
The Heavy Duty Ram 2500 put an abrupt stop to the Ford landslide. Reviewers appreciated the updates and found the new, and first-in-segment rear air suspension to offer a better ride and handling. 
Off-road Pickup Truck of Texas: 2015 Ram Power Wagon
 
The rugged Power Wagon receives coil-springs at all four corners (updated from leaf springs in the rear) and is the most off-road dedicated pickup truck in the group.
Commercial Vehicle of Texas: 2015 Ford Transit 250 MR
 
The Ford Transit impressed with a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 and tons of innovative storage and ease-of-use features. One example? Magnetic hardware on the rear cargo doors that snap to the bodyside so they stay open when loading and unloading.
Best powertrain: Chrysler 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel
 
 
Chrysler's 3.0 liter EcoDiesel motor continues to impress in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee, and continues to be exclusive in the light-duty pickup segment. 
 

Best connectivity: Chrysler Group's Uconnect Access 

 

Best technology: Ford F-150 Aluminum Alloy Body
 
At the end of the day, the Technology award went to the aluminum F-150. As vehicles comply with changes that force them to become more efficient while remaining just as capable, it was clear to everyone that this was the future. It's commendable that Ford has taken such a massive step and a risk with a vehicle that they sell 750,000 examples of per year.
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