SUVs and Trucks put to the Off-Road Test in Texas

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Image: Mercedes Lilienthal

If you want to know if a vehicle can handle serious off-roading, then you need to put it through its paces someplace where there’s mud and dirt and rocks. That’s exactly what the members of the Texas Motor Press Association did at its first annual Texas Off-Road Invitational. Of all the vehicles tested, two came out on top.

The event, which was held over the course of two days, was specifically designed to test each vehicle’s off-road mettle. It’s easy to take a car a car for a test drive on the road. You can simply head to a dealership and you’re off, but testing it off-road isn’t so easy.

A group of over 30 journalists assembled in Texas to focus on the off-road capability of trucks and SUVs and Mother Nature obliged with plenty of rain before the event. A few downpours and an off-road park provided all the mud, water, and slick rocks required to put each vehicle through its paces.

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There was a diverse lot of vehicles in two categories, each hoping to walk away with a win. The SUVs included luxury vehicles like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Lexus GX460, and Land Rover Discovery along with more affordable choices like the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition, Honda Passport Elite, and Toyota RAV4 Adventure.

Image: Eileen Falkenberg- Hull

On the truck front, there was an equally diverse group of entrants. Automakers brought out the most capable versions of their trucks for the competition including the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, GMC Sierra AT4, and Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. At the end of two days of mud-filled driving, votes were cast and two vehicles came out on top.

The all-new Kia Telluride took the award for 2019 Texas Off-Road SUV of the Year. This upscale, 8-passenger SUV may be new, but it impressed the judges. “Jurors were surprised how the Kia Telluride, billed as a family hauler, was able to navigate all the obstacles, keeping stride with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. They rewarded the new three-row SUV for its engineering, drivability, and upscale interior.” said Eileen Falkenberg-Hull, Vice President, Texas Motor Press Association.

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As for trucks, the Ram 1500 Rebel won 2019 Texas Off-Road Truck of the Year. “The Ram 1500 Rebel showed its prowess conquering tough conditions proving it has not just the good looks and fine appointments Texans appreciate but also the equipment and maneuverability that make it supremely capable off-road,” said Falkenberg-Hull.

If you’re planning on heading out past the pavement, this year’s winners of the Texas Off-Road Invitational are up for the challenge.