The weather was beautiful. The Texas Hill Country was challenging. The historic Knibbe Ranch in Bulverde, near Canyon Lake, was the site of this year’s Texas Truck Rodeo. The Truck Rodeo is major event in the vehicle award circuit and recognized globally. The Rodeo has been held in the Fort Worth and Dallas area several times, including the rodeo arena at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Other locations have been in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Granbury, Grapevine, and Decatur. This year’s Truck of Texas is the 2012 Ford F-150, unseating last year’s winner, the 2011 Dodge Ram Longhorn. The Ford F-150 was named overall winner after an extensive weekend of competition that began on Thursday. The 2012 Ford follows in the footsteps of many other great vehicles that have received the honor in the 25-year history of the Texas Auto Writers Association. The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) was founded by automotive journalists for automotive journalists. The Texas Truck Rodeo is an automotive event unique to Texas and denotes the character of the award. More trucks are sold in Texas than anywhere else. The Texas Truck Rodeo pits various manufacturers’ vehicles side-by-side in both off-road and on-road testing. It includes two and four wheel drive models trucks, SUV’s, and CUV’s and winners are named in various categories. The overall winners receive the well-known and prestigious large silver “traveling trophy.” Winners of the individual categories receive custom-designed rodeo belt buckles for award display. Other top awards went to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge, and Ford’s Eco-Boost system. Vehicles were arranged by categories, such as heavy-duty trucks, compact crossovers, or luxury SUV’s. Competition was intense, with each manufacturer bringing their best of the best. Workers were present all day, wiping the dirt and dust off. Individual winners were named for each category. Fifty-seven automotive journalists gathered for the long weekend of testing and evaluating approximately 60 trucks, SUV’s, and CUV’s in off-road and on-road areas. . The test drive route took the journalists up and over steep rocky areas in the famed Texas Hill Country, through small ranch creeks, and along the gravel riverbed edge of the well-known Guadalupe River. There were a few mishaps, including some cut tires on the sharp rocks and at least one vehicle bogging down in the swift-flowing waters of the Guadalupe. Due to the drought, the flowing waters were less challenging than the 2011 contest. Mike Herzing, current President of the Texas Auto Writers, commented, “This years' Rodeo was filled with excitement, surprises, and extraordinary emphasis on products. Manufacturers all represented themselves with great vehicles and knowledgeable people.” Manufacturer representatives were more numerous than the journalists due to the coveted awards. The awards translate into more sales and more sales translate into more money for the car companies. Public Relations representatives, engineers, designers, planners, and even executives were present to attempt influence in the evaluation and voting process. There were plenty of ball caps, tee shirts, key chains, and other small items handed out to the voting journalists in attempts to remind them of the various products. The trophies, custom-made belt buckles, and other awards will be presented at a special ceremony at the Houston Auto Show in January 2012. The Truck of Texas is the 2012 Ford F-150. Ford had various models of their F-150 entered for test-driving evaluation, including the King Ranch edition and the Raptor. The SUV of Texas is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Jeep’s popular SUV has had significant changes made to this popular vehicle in the last few years. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has received many, many awards. The CUV of Texas is the 2012 Ford Edge. This small Crossover is based on a car platform but performs like a small SUV. The Truck Line of Texas is Ford Motor Company, maintaining its significant emphasis on providing a wide variety of products for the buying public. The Most Outstanding Feature award also went to Ford Motor Company for its Eco-Boost engine technology. “Texan consumers put their trust in TAWA’s automotive journalists,” said Mike Herzing, president of TAWA. “But the real winners here are Texas’ truck buyers.” Fred Diaz, Present of Ram Trucks, was present at the Truck Rodeo, and thanked the journalists for their votes in the 2011 contest which named the Dodge Ram as last year’s winner. Although he has attended in previous years, Mark Fields, Ford’s President of The Americas, could not be present. He commented, “These honors show Ford trucks still reign supreme in Texas, and it is rewarding to see that the truck-savvy Texas auto writers appreciate just how innovative our F-Series pickups are.” He continued, “These awards validate what our customers have been telling us about our ‘Built Ford Tough’ F-150, and we are honored by their recognition of the strength of our truck lineup as well as our crossovers and EcoBoost engines.” The 2011 Truck Rodeo Category awards included: Full-Sized Pickup Truck First Place: 2012 Ford F-150, Second Place: 2012 Ram 1500, Third Place: Chevrolet 1500 & Toyota Tundra (tie) Mid-Sized Pickup First Place: 2012 Nissan Frontier, Second Place: 2012 Toyota Tacoma. Luxury Pickup First Place: 2012 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost, Second Place: 2012 Ram 2500 Mega Cab Laramie Longhorn, Third Place: 2012 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Crew Cab. Heavy Duty Pickup First Place: 2012 Ford F-250 King Ranch, Second Place: 2012 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, Third Place: 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD. Full-Sized Sport Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 Dodge Durango, Second Place: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Third Place: 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe. Mid-Sized Sport Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, Second Place: 2012 Toyota 4Runner, Third Place: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Compact Sport Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X, Second Place: 2012 Jeep Compass, Third Place: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan. Full-Sized Luxury SUV First Place: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Second Place: Range Rover Epoque, Third Place: Mercedes-Benz GL350BTC Mid-Sized Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle First Place: Toyota 4Runner Full-Sized Crossover Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 Buick Enclave; Mid-Sized Crossover Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 Ford Edge Limited, Second Place: 2012 Dodge Journey, Third Place: 2012 Chevrolet Equinox Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 Toyota Rav4, Second Place: Kia Soul. Full-Sized Luxury Crossover Utility Vehicle First Place: 2012 GMC Acadia Denali, Second Place: 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 Blue TEC. Mid-Sized Luxury Crossover Utility Vehicle 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium.