I recently spent a long weekend with nearly 50 other auto journalists from around the state of Texas to drive many of the trucks and SUVs available on dealer lots. While some auto manufacturers didn’t send their vehicles to be reviewed – Ford and GM vehicles were notably absent – I did get to drive several dozen different vehicles. While I normally get to spend a week with a single vehicle, it was great to get to drive several competitors back-to-back over mild off-road terrain or on some curvy roads.
The big winner for this year was the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel, which was named the “Truck of Texas.” I know what you’re thinking, if Chevy and Ford weren’t there, it wasn’t really a fair fight. I’ve driven both the new Silverado and the F-150, and I would have still voted for the Ram 1500 and I think it’s currently the best overall truck. The Rebel is the beefy off-road trim level, and while it wouldn’t be my first choice between the numerous trims, I can see how it would be very appealing with a factory lift, beefy tires and a special red and black two-tone interior.
This year’s “SUV of Texas” was the Kia Telluride SX. The Kia Telluride, along with its cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, are the best deal when it comes to buying a three-row SUV. The Telluride starts at just $31,690 and provides some incredible value. The SX is about $10,000 more and provides some luxury niceties such as a digital cockpit, 20-inch wheels, dual sunroofs, leather seats and all of the new-age safety tech. Combined with Kia’s top-tier warranty, it creates a very alluring package. While some buyers may not consider buying a car from a Korean manufacturer, that could be a costly mistake when shopping in this class.
The third major award was won by the Jeep Gladiator for the “Mid-size Truck of Texas.” I wrote extensively about the Gladiator recently, and the easy summation is that it’s the best Jeep that you can buy. It’s been quite a few years since Jeep has offered a pickup truck, and it’s a slam dunk. While it’s nearest competitor, the Ford Ranger wasn’t there, again, I would have still voted for the Gladiator. The Tacoma TRD Pro was in attendance, and while they’ve done a very good job with it, the Jeep takes the cake. Toyota does get a special mention for the new TRD Pro line exclusive color – Army Green, which really looks great.
Honorable mentions from vehicles that I drove go to:
- 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec: It has one of the best interiors of any car and the SH-AWD system was extremely capable off-road. I love that you can get a metallic blue paint job with a red interior. A bit gaudy, but wonderful.
- 2020 Nissan Titan: Mid-cycle refresh brings standard cutting-edge safety tech to all trims, which gets a gold star in my book.
- 2020 Volkswagen Atlas: Loved the design of the interior and how capable it is. I know that there currently isn’t a VW dealership in the northeast Houston area, but if you want something a bit different, then this is worth checking out.
- 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Pro: The ubiquitous RAV4 is getting the TRD Pro treatment and it’s actually pretty good! Don’t expect the raw capability that the Tacoma or even Sequoia provide, but it does look cool.
Truck of Texas: 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel
SUV of Texas: 2020 Kia Telluride SX
Mid-Size Pickup Truck of Texas: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland
Subcompact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2019 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
Compact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road
Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Kia Telluride SX
Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
Compact Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec SH-AWD
Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription
Full-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Lexus GX 460 Luxury
Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas: 2020 RAM 1500 Rebel
Heavy Duty Pickup Truck of Texas: 2019 RAM 2500 Laramie Longhorn
Luxury Pickup Truck of Texas: 2020 RAM 1500 Limited
Off-Road Pickup Truck of Texas: 2019 RAM 2500 Power Wagon
Commercial Vehicle of Texas: 2019 Mercedes Sprinter Passenger 4x4
Off-Road Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Best Infotainment System: RAM Uconnect System and Touchscreen Display
Best Powertrain: RAM EcoDiesel
Best Towing: RAM Rear Air Suspension
Best Safety Feature: Toyota Safety Sense P
Best Driver Assist System: Toyota Panoramic View and Multi-Terrain Monitor