Each year, the Texas Auto Roundup—held under the auspices of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA)—provides a unique look at the country’s top vehicles, while also unleashing a stampede of wacky cowboy metaphors from the rest of the press. The recent 2012 Roundup was no different, except in terms of who took home the most hardware: The Chrysler Group lassoed eight of 18 honors this year.
“With 58 vehicle entries competing in 18 different categories, our members were clearly impressed with the Chrysler Group vehicle line-up,” said Michael Herzing, president of TAWA and host of Yahoo! Sports Radio's “In Wheel” Time radio show. “These accolades speak loudly about the design, capability and versatility of Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and SRT products.”
2012 TAWA Roundup Winners: Chrysler
The Chrysler division corralled three awards at the Roundup, including a double dip from the Chrysler Town & Country, which was named both Minivan of Texas and Family Car of Texas. But it’s clear that the folks at TAWA aren’t the only ones who think the T&C is a winner, as U.S. customers spurred sales of the minivan higher by 22 percent in April; with 10,773 deliveries last month, the Town & Country outsold both the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey.
TAWA was bullish on the Chrysler 300 Luxury Series, too, naming it the Full-size Luxury Car of Texas. By far the most upscale—and fuel-efficient—flagship ever sold by the brand, the 300 Luxury Series can wring up to 31 mpg highway out of its 292-hp Pentastar V6 engine or, for those who want to really hoof it, deliver a 5.7-liter HEMI that makes 363 hp.
The Chrysler 300 Luxury Series also is a member of the 2012 Ward’s 10 Best Interiors list.
2012 TAWA Roundup Winners: Dodge
Although still a bit wet behind the ears, the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart garnered three separate honors at this year’s TAWA Roundup, including Compact Car of Texas, Best Value and Best New Feature. The latter recognition was for the Dart’s seven-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) gauge cluster—the only one in the Dart’s segment. The TFT setup allows drivers to personalize the Dart’s dash displays for mph, mpg, engine speed and other vehicle systems, leveraging a wide range of colorful and stylish graphics.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is in production now at the Chrysler Group’s Belvidere Assembly complex in Illinois, and will wear a high-value MSRP that starts at $15,995. And it, too, earned a roster spot among Ward’s 10 Best Interiors of 2012.
2012 TAWA Roundup Winners: Fiat
Providing a Sergio Leone-ish spin on the 2012 Roundup, the Fiat 500c earned a tip of the ol’ Stetson as Sub Compact Car of Texas. The 500c—aka, the 500 Cabriolet—is the drop-top version of Fiat’s fun-to-drive entry and boasts a lightweight, power-retractable cloth top that allows drivers to enjoy the thrill of open-air driving while still maintaining best-in-class interior sound quality. Making the top even more practical: It can be retracted back to the 500c’s rear spoiler at speeds of up to 60 mph and can be fully opened with the car going as fast as 50 mph.
This was the third TAWA title in two years for the 500; the car also was awarded both the Best Value and Best New Design prizes in the 2011 event.
2012 TAWA Roundup Winners: SRT
The Chrysler Group is working to establish its ultimate high-performance vehicles under the SRT brand, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 no doubt is helping matters. Clearly not attending its first rodeo—the Grand Cherokee is the most-awarded SUV ever, according to Jeep—the Grand Cherokee SRT8 galloped off with the title of Performance SUV of Texas at the 2012 TAWA Roundup. And why not, considering the vehicle holsters a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that delivers 470 hp, 465 lb.-ft. of torque, a top speed of 160 mph, a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds and 60-0 braking distance of just 116 feet.
TAWA also chose the Jeep Grand Cherokee as the “regular” SUV of Texas in both 2010 and 2011.