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Grand Cherokee “five-peats” as SUV of Texas

by Bill Cawthon on

Jeep-GC-TTR-Ranch-Web
The Texas Auto Writers Association’s (TAWA) 2014 Texas Truck Rodeo has ended and the votes have been cast. While Ford, as expected, was named Truck of Texas and Truck Line of Texas and Lincoln came in with CUV of Texas, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was named SUV of Texas for a record fifth consecutive time. Actually, the Grand Cherokee set the record a couple of years ago with its third win; it’s now just padding its lead over everything else.

“Once again the Chrysler Group brought an extraordinary product lineup to the Texas Truck Rodeo,” said Michael Marrs, TAWA president. “The performance and quality of the Jeep and Ram products at the Rodeo were impressive with powertrain and technology innovations that are tough to beat. The Jeep Grand Cherokee especially continues to outshine the competition by once again winning the SUV of Texas title.”

Chrysler Group actually won the most awards of any automaker, finishing at the top in nine categories, compared to eight for Ford Motor Company. Jeep brand was second only to Ford brand in the winnings, with Ford getting six and Jeep getting five. Ram brand was third, with three awards.

With a lot of pride and profits at stake, competition in the pickup segment is fierce: this is especially true at the upper end of the market. It’s amazing to consider the price of some of the top trim lines would easily get someone in any one of a number of luxury cars. Ford’s new aluminum-bodied F-150 and GMC’s Sierra Denali are formidable opponents for the Ram. The Sierra Denali’s magnetic suspension offers a nice ride and good control, comparable to the Ram’s outstanding suspension system. On the other hand, the Ford rep was trying to be persuasive about the joys of leaf springs. However, the F-150 drove well and the EcoBoost engine was very responsive.

Ram-2500-TTR-Rocks-Web

“Exactly five years ago Ram Truck became its own brand and we set out to design and engineer the best trucks you can buy with fuel economy and capability top of mind,” said Bob Hegbloom, CEO of Ram Truck Brand, speaking of the Ram 2500’s repeat as Heavy Duty Truck of Texas. “Winning back-to-back awards from the Texas Auto Writers Association affirms our direction in the truck market.”

The new Chevrolet Colorado seems to have the right stuff to bring new customers into the mid-size pickup market. The big question now is where those new buyers will come from: the Toyota Tacoma or the Chevy Silverado? Or will there be enough people switching from a different type of vehicle for real market expansion.

The SUV/crossover market is at least as cutthroat as the pickup segment. Last year’s models have a hard time going up against newer products. The new Honda CR-V and Lincoln MKC are good examples. That being said, Jeep won all five categories in which it was entered.

“We are extremely delighted and proud that for the fifth consecutive year, the respected and influential Texas auto writers have named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the SUV of Texas,” said Jeep brand CEO Mike Manley. “Even more impressive is the fact that Jeep vehicles won every single category in which they were entered, and were recognized for their unmatched 4×4 capability, fuel economy, luxury and overall performance.

Chrysler’s Uconnect system was voted the best connectivity system and one of the Ram’s three awards was the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine/8-speed transmission combination as Best Powertrain.

2014 TEXAS TRUCK RODEO RESULTS
Category Winner Chrysler Entry (if not winner)
Compact Crossover 2015 Honda CR-V None
Mid-Size Crossover 2015 Subaru Outback 2014 Dodge Journey
Full-Size Crossover 2015 Kia Sedona None
Luxury Crossover 2015 Lincoln MKC None
Compact SUV 2015 Jeep Cherokee* Winner
Mid-Size SUV 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee* Winner
Full-Size SUV 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 2014 Dodge Durango†
Compact Luxury SUV 2015 Range Rover Evoque None
Mid-Size Luxury SUV 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit* Winner
Full-Size Lusxury SUV 2015 GMC Yukon Denali None
Off-Road Utility 2015 Jeep Wrangler* Winner
Mid-Size Pickup 2015 Chevrolet Colorado None
Full-Size Pickup 2015 Ford F-150 2015 Ram 1500†
Luxury Pickup 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn†
Heavy-Duty Pickup 2015 Ram 2500 Longhorn* Winner
Off-Road Pickup 2015 Ram Power Wagon Winner
Commercial Vehicle 2015 Ford Transit 250 2015 Ram ProMaster†
Best Connectivity Chrysler Uconnect* Winner
Best Powertrain 2015 Ram 1500 3.0L EcoDiesel V6* Winner
Best Technology 2015 Ford F-series Aluminum Body Ram 2500 5-Link Coil Suspension†
CUV of Texas 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Jeep Cherokee†
SUV of Texas 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee* Record 5th Consecutive Win
Truck Line of Texas Ford F-Series Ram Trucks†
Truck of Texas Ford F-150 Ram 1500†
*Repeat Winner   †Winner in 2013
Source: Texas Auto Writers Association

Chrysler was strong even in categories it didn’t win. The 2014 Dodge Durango was just 12 points behind the Chevy Tahoe in the Full-Size SUV category and it beat the revised Ford Expedition EL. The Ford F-150 was the overwhelming favorite for Full-Size Pickup, winning by 46 points, but the Ram 1500 came in second, scoring twice as many points as the third-place Chevrolet Silverado. The margin was close in Luxury Full-Size Pickup with Ford up 25 points over the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn which came in 56 points ahead of the GMC Sierra Denali. The Ford Transit took the Commercial Vehicle honors by just 14 points.

In terms of total points in the voting, it was no contest. Chrysler’s tally was 1,577 points to 1,293 for Ford and 1,068 for General Motors. Chrysler didn’t rack up that point total on also-rans: Chrysler got 836 first place points compared to 807 for Ford and 335 for GM.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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