When you think about what type of truck is more likely to win “Truck of the Year” in the Lone Star state, you probably think of a blue-blooded American model like a Ford, Ram, or Chevrolet. And most years, the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) does end up selecting a domestic during the annual evaluation of the large vehicle market (Ford F-150 won last year). But this year, for the first time, a Nissan truck won.
During the 25th TAWA Truck Rodeo from October 7-9, at the historic Knibbe Ranch near San Antonio, committee members and others evaluated lots of vehicles. Engineers from competing companies were available to help TAWA individuals make decisions.
One reason that truck people take TAWA seriously is that Texas is a huge truck market — despite the fact that Texans don’t tend to buy trucks more than shoppers in about 14 other states, the volume of sales in Texas are still far above those in any other state — IHS Automotive data, cited in articles like this one, show over 300,000 truck sales in Texas in 2014, which is about 15% of truck sales nationwide.
Also, despite criticism of the TAWA awards process by some bloggers, the Truck Rodeo win is something that automakers do want. In 2014, Ford Truck Chief Marketing Manager, Doug Scott, said the TAWA award was one of the “big three” that the company looks for annually.
After kicking the tires on 88 truck and large vehicle models with combined sticker prices of more than $4 million, the group identified the Nissan Titan XD as the winning, large, work truck. The Nissan Titan XD also won awards for “Best Luxury Pickup” and “Best Off-Road Pickup.”
The TAWA award is no small honor to Nissan’s top brass. Fred Diaz, senior vice president of Sales & Marketing and Operations for Nissan North America, noted in a press release, “Of the hundreds of thousands of miles driven during the development of the all-new 2016 TITAN XD, the miles driven by the truck experts of the Texas Auto Writers Association were the most critical miles driven to date as we prepare to launch our new truck.” He acknowledged the “tremendous validation” this gives Nissan as they head into the TITAN XD launch in December.
The Nissan XD’s engine design and powertrain technology was part of the advantage that the truck brought to the competition. Michael Marrs, TAWA president, cited “innovative powertrains, impressive designs and new technologies” in awarding the Titan XD the award.
The Nissan Titan XD ships with an engine branded by Cummins, the renowned supplier of large engines for work and commercial trucks. A Cummins 5.0 liter V8 turbo diesel provides “heavy-duty attitude” in the words of Nissan’s marketers, with 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. The Cummins engine and powertrain won an additional award from TAWA for “Best Powertrain.”
In addition to the “Truck of Texas” honor, TAWA awarded the 2016 Ford Explorer the title of “SUV of Texas” and the 2016 Volvo XC90 the “CUV of Texas.” TAWA also ruled on overall truck lineup, granting Ford the top status.
The best heavy-duty pickup was the 2016 Ram 2500; the Best Commercial Vehicle was the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo and Passenger van; and the Best Off-Road Utility Vehicle was, not surprisingly, the 2016 Jeep Wrangler.
A full list of awards as well as past results can be found on TAWA’s website.
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