It was a dark and storm night as the four lone writers rode into the Texas Hill country with only the headlights of their trusty rides to cut through the unknown of the Texas Hill Country. Little did they know the challenges that awaited them as they found washouts that were washed-out with flowing water that simply glared back at the adventurers, almost daring them to step into the unknown.

Well, ok, maybe is was a stormy Monday morning with the cold front dropping temperatures close to 30 degrees and the Gulf of Mexico supplying a steady stream of moisture that created record rain fall with lowland flooding.  And maybe it was a pair 2018 4×4 rides that made their way through the off-road course of the 2018 Texas Truck Rodeo being held at the Longhorn River Ranch outside of DrippingSpringsTexas.

The uphill portion of the course was a bit of a challenge in the Texas mud, and the scenic loops that look down on part of the 1600 acre ranch were passable even if the only thing to see was the stormy night.  However, the last challenge of the course was a downhill exercise designed to demonstrate hill decent systems as well as braking and suspension action.  Under the cover of darkness, the truck began an uncontrolled slide to the wrong side, actually any side instead of forward down the hill was wrong, and it only took a brief second of considerations to determine it was much too dangerous.

Then it really started to rain…

The Texas Auto Writers Association was able to quickly adapt to another off-road layout that was not as challenging, but did provide a 4×4 driving experience.

2018 TAWA Truck Rodeo

Then it decided to rain hard.

It was a magnificent team effort to pack up the entire event and move it to the Sonesta Hotel, the host hotel that became center of the event.  Journalist were given vehicles to transport, the support teams from Motus1 and Drive Shop and every OEM attending the event pitched in to pack it up and then set it up at the new location.  Because of that great effort, the event was able to continue that first afternoon and then on Tuesday morning with evaluation of the vehicles on the streets around Bee Cave, Texas.

The winners are…

 

 

TRUCK OF TEXAS

Winner: 2019 Ram 1500
Runner Up: 2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Ram 1500

 

 

SUV OF TEXAS

Winner: 2019 Maserati Levante GTS
Runner Up: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Maserati Levante

 

 

CUV OF TEXAS

Winner: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Runner Up: 2019 Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX9

Category Awards

nissan Kicks

 

 

COMPACT CUV

2019 Nissan Kicks SR

Nissan Murano

 

 

MID-SIZE CUV

2018 Nissan Murano Midnight Edition AWD

Mazda CX9

 

FULL-SIZE CUV

2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

Alpha Stelvio

 

 

LUXURY CUV

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Hyundai Kona

SUB-COMPACT SUV

2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

Toyota Rav4

 

 

COMPACT SUV

2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

 

Wrangler Sahara

 

 

MID-SIZE SUV

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Dodge Durango

 

 

FULL-SIZE SUV

2019 Dodge Durango SRT

Volvo

 

 

COMPACT LUXURY SUV

2019 Volvo XC40 R-Design

 

Grand Cherokee

 

 

MID-SIZE LUXURY SUV

2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

Maserati Levante

 

 

FULL-SIZE LUXURY SUV

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

 

Maserati Levante

 

OFF-ROAD UTILITY VEHICLE

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

 

 

Toyota Tacoma

 

MID-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

 

 

Ram 1500

 

FULL-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK

2019 Ram 1500 Limited

 

 

Ram Power Wagon

 

 

HEAVY DUTY PICKUP TRUCK

2018 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

 

 

Ram 1500

 

 

LUXURY PICKUP TRUCK

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

 

 

 

Ram Rebel

 

 

OFF-ROAD PICKUP TRUCK

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

 

 

 

Nissan Titan

 

 

COMMERCIAL VEHICLE

2019 Nissan Titan XD Single Cab

 

 

 

all photography:

Kevin McCauley / @capturingthemachine