The nitty-gritty on the 70-plus vehicles at TAWA’s Truck Rodeo

By now you’ve probably read how the 2017 Ford Super Duty was crowned the Truck of Texas and that the 2017 Nissan Armada won the SUV of Texas. But the Super Duty and Armada were far from the only winners at this year’s Truck Rodeo put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association.

More than 70 journalists and social media influencers descended upon the 1,623-acre Longhorn River Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas to test approximately 71 pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and commercial vehicles in TAWA’s annual event.

A total of 17 categories grouped the vehicles with their competition, ranging from compact crossovers and full-size SUVs to Off-Road pickups. Other categories included best connectivity, best technology, and best powertrain.

Keep reading for the full results.

Continue reading for more information.

Crossover Of Texas

2017 Volvo XC90

The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners - image 650189

For the second consecutive year, the Volvo XC90 has taken the top honors in the crossover segment. Just like last year, My TAWA colleagues and I came away impressed with the Volvo’s beauty, power, and functionality. Finished in the new range-topping Excellence trim, the XC90 boasts real wood and aluminum trim, the massive iPad-like infotainment system, full-length center console with cooler box and HVAC touch screens, and just about every conceivable luxury item imaginable.

Power comes from Volvo’s T8 Twin Engine powertrain that combines a plug-in hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making use of both turbocharging and supercharging to make a combined output of 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque when matched with its electric drivetrain. Despite the power, the drivetrain delivers 59 MPGe and up to 25 miles on electric-only driving.

All this luxury does come at a price, however. The Excellence trim pushes the XC90 to a starting price of $104,900.

Categories, Competitors, & Winners

Besides the major awards of Truck, SUV, and Crossover of Texas, each vehicle was ranked in its category. Myself and the other TAWA members ranked each vehicle by its exterior, interior, performance, value, and personal appeal relative to a class average. The rankings includes below class, class average, above class, and class leading.

The results are shown below, with the winner of each category listed first and highlighted in bold.

Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle

2016 Jeep Renegade Review - image 666128

2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4x4
2016 Fiat 500X Lounge AWD
2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD
2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SEL
The Jeep Renegade made its debut at last year’s Truck Rodeo, winning the compact crossover category. Even with newcomers to the segment, the Jeep held its own, showing it could hang with more traditional off-roaders on the most difficult trail. The Renegade’s Trailhawk package brings a smart 4WD system, improved underbody skid planting, and better tires for tacking the tough stuff.

Mid-Size Crossover Utility Vehicle

2016 Nissan Murano – Driven - image 687622

2016 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0-T Ultimate FWD
The Murano defended its title as the mid-size crossover winner, taking home the award for a second year. The Nissan proved to be a practical choice for families thanks to its comfortable seating, tons of storage space, and a peppy yet efficient powertrain.

Full-Size Crossover Utility Vehicle

2017 Mazda CX-9 - image 656343

2016 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring FWD
2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD*
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate FWD
2017 Toyota Highlander SE AWD
Mazda came out swinging with the new CX-9. Both the Grand Touring and Signature trims were on hand. Regardless of trim, the CX-9 proved itself a great three-row crossover with its high-class design, nicely appointed interior, and room for seven. Its 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder with Skyactive technology makes 227 horsepower but feels more peppy than it sounds. It can also get 28 mpg on the highway.

Luxury Crossover utility Vehicle

2017 Volvo XC90 Excellence
2017 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance & Entertainment
2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD
2017 Infiniti QX60 AWD
The XC90 is an amazing crossover with luxury and stylings far exceeding what most think Volvo capable of. The XC90’s interior would seem at home in a modern art museum. Its massive infotainment system feels like a cross between Apple and Tesla and is extremely intuitive to use. It’s plug-in hybrid powertrain gives all the benefits of a plug-in combined with the power of a V-8, mixed with the freedom from hybrid stigmas.

Compact Sport Utility Vehicle

The 2016 Truck Rodeo: The Full Results - image 692094

2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Active Drive Lock
2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4x4 Active Drive II*
2017 Ford Escape SE FWD
2017 Ford Escape Titanium FWD
2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD
2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
The Jeep Cherokee continues to impress with its unique looks, thoughtful cabin, Uconnect infotainment system, and available 4WD. Opting for the Trailhawk trim brings even more off-road capability, while the Overland is geared toward luxury. Regardless of trim, it’s the Cherokee that takes the compact SUV segment. This makes the Cherokee’s second year for winning this category.

Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

The 2016 Truck Rodeo: The Full Results - image 692093

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
2017 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4x4
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a big winner at the Truck rodeo over the years. In 2014, it took home the top honors of SUV of Texas. This year, it beat out the Pathfinder for the mid-size SUV category. It’s combination of off-road capability, utility, luxury, and efficiency gives it a huge leg up on Nissan’s unibody crossover.)

Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

2017 Nissan Armada Unveiled - image 664992

2017 Nissan Armada Platinum 4x4
2017 Dodge Durango Citadel Anodized Platinum AWD
2017 Dodge Durango GT Brass Monkey AWD
2017 Toyota Land Cruiser
The Nissan Armada is all new for 2017 and borrows the majority of its parts form the global Nissan Patrol and U.S.-spec Infiniti QX80. Because of this, the Armada has a great combination of luxury and utility that is priced well within the full-size SUV segment. Its 5.6-liter V-8 and available safety technologies are highlights of this traditional, body-on-frame SUV.

Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven - image 683529

2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t R-Sport
2017 Jaguar F-Pace S*
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD
The Jaguar F-Pace proves JLR can build other SUVs besides Land Rovers. This SUV puts more emphasis on sport than utility, giving its driver a great experience behind the wheel. Both trim levels come with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, though the F-Pace S gets 40 more horsepower. An intelligent AWD system gives this cat a sure footing.

Full-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class - image 654033

Ford’s 2017 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6
Ford engineers clearly did their homework with the new, second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Impressive power gains push the engine to 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque while still getting an EPA-estimated 22 mpg highway on a crew cab truck with 4WD.

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