This year I was lucky enough to be invited back to the Texas Truck Rodeo by SMDI (Steel Market Development Institute). There I had the opportunity to drive or ride in many trucks, SUVs, and CUVs out at the Longhorn River Ranch. There were 64 vehicles there and I managed to ride or drive in at least 28 vehicles! Of those 28 there were definitely some that stood out more than others. My favorites include the Volvo XC60, the brand new 2018 Nissan Rogue, the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT, and the 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn.
2018 Nissan Rogue – This brand new 2018 Nissan Rogue blew me away. This Rogue has Nissan’s new ProPILOT assist technology and it’s no surprise that it won the top technology award. What is ProPilot assist you are wondering? I grabbed this explanation off of Nissan’s website:
“ProPILOT Assist combines Steering Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control for use in both heavy and flowing traffic situations. It is a “hands-on” driver assist system rather than a “self-driving” feature.
ProPILOT Assist uses a forward-facing camera, forward-facing radar, sensors and electronic control module to help the driver stay in the center of the driving lane and to maintain vehicle speed (set by the driver) or help maintain a gap to the preceding vehicle if the vehicle speed drops below the driver-set speed. It also can slow the vehicle to a complete stop and holds the vehicle during traffic jam conditions.
While providing steering assist, reducing the need for constant small steering adjustments, the driver’s hands must be on the steering wheel at all times. Hands-on detection is provided by the system’s steering torque sensor. If the driver only grips the steering system with a light touch, the warning system may activate, alerting the driver to apply more pressure or a tighter grip on the steering wheel.”
I drove the Rogue down a country road in Texas near Dripping Springs and it was able to detect the lanes and keep me in the lane. I dropped my hands off the steering wheel and the car started warning me audibly to put my hands back on the steering wheel. When I still didn’t put my hands back onto the steering wheel the car began to apply the brakes. Eventually, it would have come to a stop and turned on the flashers. Now just imagine if you had a health problem like epilepsy or you have a heart attack in the car. This technology is life changing! The car keeps you in the lane and will park the car. I think this will save lives.
2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork Crew Cab 4×4
Ram’s top of the line 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn won luxury pickup truck of Texas. The one we got to drive cost $62,580.
Some of the technology you can have in this Ram is a 4 corner air suspension system that lowers the truck 4 inches and will automatically rise up while driving. Inside the cab is a 8.4 inch touch screen with navigation, 4G wifi, rear backup camera, and Apple car play. You can even have the backup camera on while driving.
Other things to note: coil spring suspension, tows 11,000 lbs, has 9 airbags, and the roll cage is the strongest ever made with galvanized steel, because the Ram 1500 features a steel cab and double-wall steel pickup box.
The truck is gorgeous with all kinds of upgrades like a real leather headliner, real wood and galvanized metal accents. You can even opt for Filigree seats if you like. For 2018 they have added the word Longhorn to the back, since you will have paid around sixty thousand for this truck you will want to show off a little. Also in the back, the Ram Box cargo management system.
2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392
The 2018 Octane Red Dodge Durango SRT 392 is an SUV with truck capabilities like towing up to 8700 pounds. It won the best full size SUV category. What surprised me the most was that it’s a performance car with multiple drive modes that allow you to adapt your driving to different situations like snow. With dual exhaust and a large exhaust note is certainly sounds like a performance car. The one we drove cost $73,360.
The Durango has some nice safety features. It will stop from 60 MPH within 115 feet thanks to bigger brakes and tires than a car. It also has lane keep assist. It is constructed with a steel unibody. A unibody construction means that there is no separate frame from the body of the vehicle (both the frame and body are steel). The steel is stamped with the appropriate cross members and everything is mounted directly to it. This type of construction helps to reduce weight of the vehicle and aids in occupant protection of the vehicle by distributing forces of a crash away from the passengers in the vehicle.
And one last thing I appreciated about the Durango was that there is a 3rd row which is easily accessible since the second row has captain’s chairs. The back row and second row fold flat, allowing you to haul quite a bit inside.
2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription
The 2018 Volvo XC60 was named the SUV of Texas and I fully agree that it deserved to win. It also won best powertrain and connectivity. This is only the second time I have driven a Volvo, but I quickly remembered why I loved the other one so much. If money was no issue I would buy this $71,590 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription. This SUV had upgrades I could appreciate like massaging seats and a power tailgate with programmable height.
This Volvo has so much safety! It has a steel cage that is reinforced with hot formed boron steel. Plus, it has some incredible autonomous tech in it. I took this info off their site, since they certainly summarize it better than I could.
“This new XC60 has adaptive cruise control with Pilot assist. Pilot Assist technology helps you keep a set distance to the vehicle in front and uses small steering inputs to help you keep the car in the center of the lane.
New-generation City Safety in the XC60 uses advanced radar and camera technology to detect potential hazards such as other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals ahead of you. It warns you and can then brakes for you to help avoid or mitigate a collision if you don’t react in time. Volvo Cars’ City Safety technology can also help steer you away from an oncoming car.
Blind Spot Information gives you a visual warning in the door mirror if a vehicle is approaching from behind in the next lane. If you indicate to turn into a lane where a car is approaching, the warning light starts to flash. If you don’t act on the warnings and the car starts to drift into an occupied lane, the new steer assist function gently steers you back into your lane to help avoid a collision.”
2017 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve 4WD Crew Cab
The last time I attended the Texas Truck Rodeo two years ago the Titan won.
My friend Kristin from KristinVShaw.com and I had the chance to off-road two of the Nissan pickups. Pictured is one is the one she drove through the course, the 2017 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve 4WD Crew Cab priced at $56,595 with the ability to tow 11,000 pounds.
The back of this pickup has some great features like the Utili-track Channel System with 4 adjustable tie down cleats, a step that pops out to help you climb into the back, and a spotlight at the top of the cab to light up the entire truck bed.
The back seat has a bench seat that splits 60/40. The bench flips up to reveal storage underneath and a fold flat floor.
As far as safety this truck as a lot of safety features like the Around View Monitor with moving object detection and blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert. Plus, the Nissan Titan is steel-intensive featuring a high-strength steel frame and 58 percent high-strength steel and advanced high-strength steel in its body structure. (Yes, I am mentioning the steel again. Learn why it’s so important.)
The award dinner was held at Star Fall Ranch. Those are some photos from the ranch. It is such a beautiful property.
The 2018 award categories and winning vehicles were:
- Truck of Texas: 2018 Ford F150
- SUV of Texas: 2018 Volvo XC60
- CUV of Texas: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport
- Heavy duty pickup truck: 2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten
- Best commercial vehicle: 2018 Nissan Titan King Cab SV
- Luxury pickup truck: 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork
- Off-road pickup: 2017 Ford F150 Raptor
- Full-size pickup: 2018 Nissan Titan Midnight Edition
- Midsize pickup: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
- Best technology: Nissan Pro Pilot
- Best connectivity: Volvo XC60
- Best powertrain: Volvo XC60
- Off-road utility vehicle: 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Recon
- Sub-Compact SUV: 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk
- Compact SUV: 2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum
- Mid-size Luxury SUV: 2018 Volvo XC60
- Compact Luxury SUV: 2018 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD
- Full-size SUV: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT
- Mid-size SUV: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
- Compact SUV: 2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum
- Full-size CUV: 2018 Mazda CX9 Grand Touring AWD
- Mid-size CUV: 2017 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring GT
- Compact CUV: 2018 Mazda CX3 Grand Touring FWD
- Luxury CUV: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport
Just for fun, I thought I would throw in a video I took earlier in the year off-roading a 2017 Jeep Compass in Texas, not to far from here.