The results of the 2010 Texas Truck Rodeo have been released and this year the Texas Auto Writers Association has bestowed top honors on the Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn along with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Juke

Gas prices stabilize and truck sales are back in the game

It’s no secret that many of us here at find the idea of the average family riding around in a heavily-optioned, leather-lined, extended cab four-by-four pickup truck to be close to the ultimate in absurdity. The nearest thing most of these “air haulers” will come to off-roading is accidentally jumping a curb and riding over a well-manicured flower bed at the local shopping mall. But with the price of a gallon of gas averaging less than $3.00, many urban cowboys are once again thinking of parking a pickup in front of their own suburban Ponderosas.

What’s more, the domestic automakers desperately need the profits they reap from truck sales to fuel their R&D efforts in what they see as the soon-to-be burgeoning small car segment. And with the Asian automakers re-trenching after a very much less-than-successful assault on the full-size truck segment, the American manufacturers are poised to regain a significant share of the truck market.

Finally, to reiterate what we stated last year, there still are, and will continue to be, legitimate markets for pickups in the U.S., which is also why Dodge’s latest award is so important: the biggest market for pick-em-ups in America is Texas.

2010 Truck of Texas

Everybody knows that Texas is big. But few living outside the state understand just how big it really is. Travel from Beaumont in the east to El Paso in the west and you’ll cover almost 840 miles. That’s further than Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and only 50 miles less than driving from Rome, Italy to Paris, France. And remember, the whole time you’re covering that entire prairie; you’re still in the same state!

Texas is also big into oil drilling, oil refining, cattle ranching, farming and construction. Knowing that, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (although if it did there are plenty of those to be found at the Johnson Space Center south of Houston) to see why most pickup owners in Texas are serious about their trucks. Texans, in fact, are so big on trucks that in 1992 the Texas Auto Writers Association™ founded the “Texas Truck Rodeo. ™”

Once again, the “Truck Rodeo” was held in October at the famous Knibbe Ranch, a Texas Century Heritage Ranch in San Antonio. For three days more than 40 members of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA™) drove 44 trucks and SUV’s in a true “working ranch” setting. In addition to the journalists, more than 60 automotive industry executives attended the event. Winners are honored in various categories, with the overall winners receiving a silver cup “traveling trophy” along with the honor of being named either “Truck of Texas” or “SUV of Texas.”

According to TAWA past president Harold Gunn, “’ Truck of Texas’ is really the most important award of its type in the industry. We love trucks down here, and we really use these vehicles everyday. And since we spend so much time in our vehicles, for us it’s not just about how the horse feels being towed, but how your butt feels sitting in the truck, too.

Results of the 2010 Texas Truck Rodeo

Taking the crown away from Ford, a Ram truck took top honors – this year it went to the 2011 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. Another Chrysler vehicle, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, took home SUV of Texas honors.

Ford, meanwhile, had to settle for Truck Line of Texas (which it also won last year) as well as Outstanding Feature for its My Ford Touch technology, although both the 2011 Ford Edge Limited and the Lincoln MKT won in the mid-size SUV and full-size luxury CUV categories, respectively.

Here is a complete list of the winners:

Truck of Texas – 2011 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

SUV of Texas – 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

CUV of Texas – 2011 Nissan Juke

Truck Line of Texas – Ford

Outstanding Feature – Ford/My Ford Touch
Full-Size Pickup Truck – 2011 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4

Mid-Size Pickup Truck
– 2011 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x2 Texas Edition

Luxury Pickup Truck – 2011 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

Heavy Duty Pickup Truck – 2011 Ram Power Wagon Crew Cab 4x4
Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle – 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle – 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

Compact Sport Utility Vehicle – 2011 Subaru Forester

Full-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle – 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 4x4

Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle – 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Full-Size Luxury Crossover Utility Vehicle – 2011 Lincoln MKT

Mid-Size Luxury Crossover Utility Vehicle
– 2011 Cadillac SRX Turbo

Full-Size Crossover Utility Vehicle – 2011 Chevrolet Traverse AWD

Mid-Size Crossover Utility Vehicles – 2011 Ford Edge Limited

Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle – 2011 Nissan Juke

The scorecard

If you’re keeping score (and Chrysler certainly is), of the 19 categories awarded, Chrysler took 7 (4 for Ram and 3 for Jeep), Ford took 4, General Motors 3 Nissan 2, while Toyota, Volkswagen and Subaru each had 1.

Our thanks to Lynn David Cole at the Texas Auto Writers Association for his help on this article.