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Ford F-150 Named Truck of Texas at 2014 Texas Auto Writers Assn. Truck Rodeo

20141009_083515[1]I spent a few days in San Antonio last week living a dream for most every truck fan in the world.  Sixty fellow auto journalists and I had the duty of driving trucks, SUVs and CUVs up-and-down hills, through flowing streams and mud, and dirt and paved roads while judging them across 17 categories.

The annual Truck Rodeo organized by the Texas Auto Writers Association convened at Knibbe Ranch.  This event gives us one-on-one time with teams of manufacturers including designers and engineers.  Even better we had the opportunity to drive the trucks with these reps so we could experience the drive by the men and women who gave birth to these vehicles.

Below is the press release that touts the winners.  Congrats to them all.  Now it’s your turn to test drive them…at your local dealer.

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Ford F-150 Named Truck of Texas at 2014 Texas Auto Writers Assn. Truck Rodeo

The all-new Ford F-150 was named Truck of Texas at the 2014 Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Truck Rodeo.

“This year, the Texas Truck Rodeo had a record number of vehicles on hand for our members to evaluate,’ said Michael Marrs, president of TAWA, “We want to thank all of our partners in the automotive industry as well as sponsors for making this such a great event.”DSC_9469

Sixty auto writers drove 75 vehicles on and off road for two days (Oct. 9-10) at the Knibbe Ranch outside San Antonio to choose the prestigious Truck of Texas. This year’s Texas Truck Rodeo, which was sponsored by the Steel Market Development Institute, also saw the 2015 Lincoln MKC take the CUV of Texas; the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee capture the SUV of Texas title for an unprecedented fifth straight year; and Ford being named the Truck Line of Texas.

Doug Scott, marketing manager of Ford’s truck group, said, “This is a significant honor, one of the three big ones along with the Motor Trend and North American Truck of the year awards. Our entire truck team is proud and honored to win the Truck of Texas trophy.”

Winning the Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) title was the 2015 Honda CR-V Touring; the 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium was named the Mid-size CUV; the 2015 Kia Sedona SX was named Full-size CUV; and the 2015 Lincoln MKC was named Luxury CUV.

Stephane Cesareo, Lincoln Global Communications Manager, said, “It’s been a long time since Lincoln participated in the TAWA Truck Rodeo and we will definitely keep coming back. I had never been to Texas and have really enjoyed meeting the friendly members of TAWA and seeing some of the Hill Country of Texas.”

20141009_141932[1]The 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk was named Compact Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV); the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 was named Mid-size SUV; the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD was named Full-size SUV; and the 2015 Range Rover Evoque 5-Door was named Compact Luxury SUV.

“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 Mike Manley, president and CEO of Chrysler Group’s Jeep Brand.

The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel 4×4 was named Mid-size Luxury SUV; and the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali was named Full-size Luxury SUV. The 2015 Jeep Wrangler was named Off-road SUV.

Mid-size Pickup Truck title was won by the 2015 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab; and Full-size Pickup Truck was the 2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch. Luxury Pickup Truck was the 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum; and Heavy Duty Pickup Truck was the 2015 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn. Off-road Pickup Truck was the 2015 Ram Power Wagon.

Commercial Vehicle was the 2015 Ford Transit 250. Other winners in the competition included: Best Connectivity, Chrysler Group’s UConnect Access; Best Powertrain, Chrysler Eco Diesel Engine; and Best Technology, 2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch high- strength military-grade aluminum body.20141009_103032[1]

The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) was founded in 1987, with a mission to promote quality and accuracy in automotive journalism and disseminate information about the industry through news related print, online and broadcast media. For more information, please visit www.texasautowriters.org. TAWA’s communication are powered by PR Newswire.

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Media contact: Communications@texasautowriters.org; 469-363-7371

GMC and Chevy Slim Down Their Trucks

Trucks are supposed to big, right?  This is Texas and we like rolling around in trucks where we have to use a ladder to step inside.  Large enough to have a bed that can fit an actual king-size bed.  Side mirrors that rival the size of a chicken-fried steak.

But Texans – and residents of the other 49 – now have new options in truck size from GM.  Two of its brands have rolled out vehicles in the mid-size range that are squarely gunning for the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier and a soon-to-be-released model from Honda.

I spent some time in Del Mar, California, a seaside community just north of San Diego, putting the 2015 GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado through paces in traffic, hills, parking and, yes, a beautiful sunset.

2015 GMC Canyon

These trucks come in a wide variety of configurations but the basics are upfront for the GMC and Chevy models.  A four-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive and an extended cab with rear-hinged doors are standard features.  Options include a V-6, crew cab and four-wheel drive.

While the inside of each vehicle are identical in most features (save for the nice upgrades in the Canyon), the aesthetics on the outside stand out with nods from each brand.   The Colorado’s nose and front end is classic Chevy with a sportier design, hard-molded matte black plastic and lots of color.  GMC styling can be seen immediately on the Canyon with the larger, bolder nose; metal grill and wide headlights.

2015 Chevy Colorado

The technology in the trucks makes driving and comfort easy on everyone.  The driver information center in between the speedometer and tachometer is controlled by some clever switches and buttons on the turn-signal stalk.  Buyers who opt for the Canyon SLT or Chevy Z71 trims equipped with the navigation system get color and even more information.  GM also offers full Wi-Fi hotspot capability with its OnStar 4G LTE offering that will allow up to seven different devices to connect simultaneously.

Setting up the hotspot can be as simple as using your voice and the connection speed was as fast as driving in the speed lane.  I can imagine my kids enjoying trips a bit more by burying their heads in their portable devices streaming music, watching YouTube and giving me directions of the nearest bathroom via their own GPS.

A standout interior feature in the extended-cab and crew-cab versions is the storage space – seemingly every inch is useful.  From the door pockets and small cutout in all the doors to the extra space underneath all the seats, little interior space was wasted.

GMC Canyon console

All Canyon and Colorado models come with six air bags, a locking tailgate that hydraulically lowers slowly and a backup camera.  I tested some models with lane departure and collision warning systems, text-messaging alerts (so much for my Samsung smartwatch) and a feature for iPhones that allow Siri to control some features.

I hereby declare the mid-size truck category war to be reignited.  The GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado are the first out of the gate and have a head start over the new Toyota and Honda versions.  It’s a great start and I would be happy to ride off into the sunset with one of them.

 

VIDEO: Keep Your IZON On Your Home With WiFi Monitor

I’ve covered the tech industry a long time now and I have been amazed how simple home monitoring and security has become.  Years ago if you wanted to have cameras set up around your house you would call a contractor to have expensive, wired ones installed.  But now this industry segment has become “do-it-yourself” with small cameras connected to your wireless network.

I have several around my home including the new Izon 2.0 Wi-Fi Video Monitor.   It looks like a large lipstick tube which means you can place this most anywhere in your home or office.  The device ingeniously sits on a magnetic base so it can be tilted or mounted at almost any angle.  It only needs to be powered up, which is done by plugging in a USB connector to an electrical outlet or a computer.  Boom, you’re done.  At that point all you need to do is download the app to your smartphone, connect to your WiFi network and you can now monitor and listen to anything.

The Izon 2.0 allows for live streaming of audio and video to your iPod, iPad or iPod Touch.   It also has settings for motion and noise detection that can alert you through your smartphone.  And if that’s not enough the audio and video can be recorded automatically to a free, private account with the touch of a button.  $129.95

Click the video image below for my video review from WFAA-TV in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

VIDEO: Thinnest Charging Cable Goes Wherever You Go

The last thing I want to do is to schlep around an extra battery pack or a cable to recharge my phone when I am out. I found two new little gadgets that can go with you wherever you go as the USB cables fit securely inside the form of a credit card and a house key.   Check it out by clicking the video below.

VIDEO: Make It Rain (In Your Yard) From Anywhere

The remote controlled home just got a little smarter.  Take a look at this WiFi-enabled device to control your lawn sprinklers.  It’s a gadget called “Rain Commander” and allows you to schedule your sprinkler system from anywhere in the world. Click the video below to watch.

VIDEO: Smart Watch or Fitness Tracker? Which Is For You?

The smart watch and fitness tracking industries are growing rapidly but do you really need one?  I have been testing a few of these and found out that some work, some are tough to figure out and some you can’t live without.  Click the video below to “watch” my thoughts.

VIDEO: Household Tech Items For Spring Cleaning

How can a vacuum cleaner be high-tech?  Here is one that not only charges via USB but you can monitor how many calories you expend while cleaning your home. Plus a few tips on how to clean laptop and smartphone screens safely. Watch me get down and dirty in the video below.

VIDEO: PS4 vs Xbox One. Which one gets my thumbs up?

This edition of High-Tech Tuesday is sandwiched right between two big video game console releases.  Last week we got the PlayStation 4; this week the Xbox One is unveiled.  Here’s my take on which console you may want to go with.    Catch my segment on WFAA-TV (ABC) in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

VIDEO: Tech makes outdoor activities safer

It’s getting dark outside a lot earlier now, but if the lights are going out before your outdoor activities, no worries! There are new options to make sure you are seen and safe.  Catch my segment on WFAA-TV (ABC) in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

VIDEO: Beware Ransomware

“Ransomware” is the latest type of virus infecting computers all over the world.  Here are things to watch out for and how to prevent.  Catch my segment on WFAA-TV (ABC) in Dallas/Ft. Worth.