The Chrysler Group’s Jeep brand lassoed some serious attention in the Lone Star state recently, as the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was named SUV of Texas for the second straight year, the range-topping Grand Cherokee Overland Summit took home the inaugural luxury suv of Texas honors, and the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited earned its second consecutive nod as Mid-size SUV of Texas. And that was just for starters: The Dodge Durango was named Full-size SUV of Texas, and the Ram brand announced two new versions of the Ram Power Wagon along with a limited-run Mossy Oak edition of the Ram 1500. It was all part of the 2011 Texas Truck Rodeo, hosted each year by the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA).
This year, the Rodeo brought together almost 60 automotive journalists and 48 of the top players in the truck segments for an intensive, two-day event that included both head-to-head competitions and comprehensive driving tests—on the road and on the trail.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee: SUV of Texas and Luxury SUV of Texas
Already positioned by Jeep as “the most-awarded sport-utility vehicle in history,” the Grand Cherokee added to its trophy collection after it “once again demonstrated its superior levels of performance, quality, interior craftsmanship, and reliability,” according to TAWA President Mike Herzing, who also added that the "Grand Cherokee is a tremendous value for consumers.”
The Grand Cherokee lives up to that value reputation by giving out plenty of bang for the 27,490 bucks that represent its starting MSRP, as well as offering a strong range of vehicle configurations. Three different 4X4 setups, two engine choices—the robust Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 and a powerful 5.7-liter V8—and a full spec list of standard equipment, including 45 safety and security features, have all combined for a vehicle that is highly capable, efficient and popular.
And offering the best of all this content, as well as a new level in premium Jeep comfort, is the Grand Cherokee Overland Summit.
The perfect choice for TAWA’s first Luxury SUV of Texas honor, the Overland Summit retains the heart and soul (and capabilities) of the Grand Cherokee, but then adds further premium appointments like a chrome grille, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, and a model-specific cabin with Black Olive burl wood trim, two-tone leather accents and seating, and world-class craftsmanship.
2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Mid-size SUV of Texas
The Wrangler has long been a true icon of the industry, with unbeatable off-road capabilities, and recent enhancements have put it even further ahead of its rivals. The 2011 Wrangler received an all-new modernized interior that showcases increased attention to detail and more premium materials, along with amenities like heated seats, larger rear windows, steering-wheel-mounted controls for key vehicle systems, and a USB port, 12-volt accessory outlets and a 115-volt AC outlet.
Bigger changes came for the current model year, in which the Wrangler holsters its own Pentastar V6. The new powerplant delivers 285 hp (a 40 percent increase over its previous V6) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque (a 10 percent improvement), and it can now be mated to either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. As a result, fuel efficiency also has improved, with the Wrangler now capable of 21 mpg with either cog-swapper—representing a 10.5 percent jump in this measure.
2012 Dodge Durango: Full-size SUV of Texas
The Durango was reinvented for the 2011 model year, and while it still provides the versatility and capability customers expect in a seven-place SUV, the dashing Dodge carves out a unique place in the segment thanks to its unique ability to carve corners.
Thus, in addition to its 30+ storage areas, 28 seating configurations and almost 85 cubic feet of cargo space, the Durango also boasts best-in-class power in both V6 (290 hp) and V8 (360 hp) categories, steering that’s been specially tuned for dynamic driving (with an available electro-hydraulic performance steering system), particularly well-balanced weight distribution, and an enthusiast-oriented suspension.
Up front, the Durango relies on a short/long arm setup, while a sophisticated multi-link suspension, with isolated front and rear cradles, handles handling duties at the rear. Also in the mix: Aggressive shock and spring rates, Durango-sized sway bars and electronic stability control.
The short story from TAWA’s Herzing: “The 2012 Dodge Durango made quite an impression at this year's TAWA Truck Rodeo. With its spacious and refined interior, impressive driving dynamics, and class-leading towing capability, it's only fitting that the Dodge Durango is named the 2012 Full-Size SUV of Texas."
2012 Ram Power Wagon: ST, Laramie Models Debut
The Ram Power Wagon—“the most capable off-road truck on the market,” according to the brand—will expand its lineup for the 2012 model year by bracketing the Ram’s current Raptor rival with value and premium configurations.
Each model starts with the same foundation as the Ram Wagon proper, which means they’re based on the RAM 2500 HD 4X4 Crew Cab, and both brew up a proven recipe for trail eating, with:
• 14.5 inches of ground clearance
• approach/departure/breakover angles of 35 degrees/26.5 degrees/25.5 degrees
• 33-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires,
• A full complement of underbody protection, including a steering damper skid plate and fuel tank skid plates
• 383 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of HEMI V8
• Class-exclusive electric locking front and rear differentials
• The only electronic disconnecting sway bar in its class
The 2012 Ram Power Wagon ST then wraps all that power and capability into a lean package that will be particularly appealing to hard-working fleets from fire and emergency services, mining companies, oil explorations companies and forestry services. The Ram Power Wagon Laramie heads in the other direction, with premium interior and exterior content like leather seats, an up-level sound system, dual-zone climate control, woodgrain trim, body-colored fender flares, and chromed-out mirrors, bumpers and grille.
The Power Wagon ST and Laramie are slated to launch in December of this year with MSRPs of $42,620 for the former and $51,995 for the latter.
2012 RAM 1500: Mossy Oak Edition Continues Camo Partnership
Ram also is teaming up with noted outdoor camouflage and lifestyle company Mossy Oak for a limited-edition version of the Ram 1500, primarily targeting hunting and fishing enthusiasts.
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