Once a year, Texas Auto Writers Association members gather at the Kinnibe Ranch outside of San Antonio. Here, truck manufacturers’ offer up their latest creations for us to test on just about every kind of terrain the Texas Hill Country has to offer. And the 2012 winner was the Ford F-150.

Not much was changed on the 2013 model from the 2012 except new grilles, wheels, a few accoutrements and some minor shuffling of equipment packages along with an all-new Limited trim level.

There is a carryover engine option that I’m sure you’ve heard about, Ford calls it EcoBoost. The twin-turbo, all-aluminum 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, with its 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, provides best-in-class towing capability of 11,300 lbs along with up to 20 percent fuel economy savings over the V-8. The EPA rates the EcoBoost in the 2-wheel drive model at 16-city and 22-highway. We highly recommend it, if it fits into your hauling and towing requirements.

Naturally, Ford gave us the high-end King Ranch model to drive around the Island for a week and I can see why it’s so popular among the drug store cowboy set. Here is the proverbial lap of luxury that starts with its Texas born-and-bred moniker. But it is just one among several upper trim levels that begins with the Lariat and also includes the Platinum and the all-new Limited models, each with their own special badging and trim combos.

New for the 2013 King Ranch is a 3-bar grille, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, ambient lighting, Sony Radio with HD and single CD player and the new 8-inch touch-screen. To make it easier for the REAL cowboys, buttons below the touch-screen are designed to be used with work gloves.

Ford marketing folks named the hides on the seating “Chaparral Leather.” You can call it anything you like, but you are sure to use adjectives like “fine” and “beautiful.”

Although we didn’t punish the suspension with pasture ruts, ant mounds or piles of dried gumbo clay, I’m sure every cowboy in the state has done just that and Ford knows how to build them for a decade of service without a trip to the shop.

On the road, the F-150’s manners are well healed – almost limo-like – so your trips to the mainland and back will be just like an easy bay breeze.

The F-150 does have competitors, namely the Ram 1500, the Chevy & GMC 1500’s and, to a lesser extent, the Toyota Tundra.

We would highly recommend driving each one for at least a day before plunking down your hard-earned cash. Of course, there are those cowboys & girls that are either brand loyal or are swayed by friends, family or ads. Just drive ‘em all so when asked, you can at least say you did.

The F-150 King Ranch starts at $42,825 and gets a 5 out of 5 stars rating.

Listen to Don Armstrong’s In Wheel Time radio show every Saturday morning 9 AM to Noon on Yahoo! Sports Radio 1560 am