Sometimes the early bird not only misses the worm, it gets its wings clipped.
That's the lesson the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) learned this week at the organization's Texas Auto Roundup, its annual car and minivan shootout. Traditionally run the last Monday of April, the spring event was moved up almost two months - turning it into a winter program - so trophies can be presented March 25 at the DFW Auto Show.
Just one problem: Mother Nature didn't get the memo.
Showers wiped out virtually any hope that TAWA's media members could use Texas Motor Speedway's entertaining and challenging infield road course to test the performance wheels ? unless the writer was willing to ride shotgun with a professional driver.
But neither chilly temperatures nor showers could dampen the TAWA journalists' spirits or work ethic at the 13th annual Texas Auto Roundup. When the computerized balloting was completed, TAWA members had selected 2015's "cars of Texas" and a few noteworthy features. This year's field consisted of 54 vehicles to drive and three static display vehicles. Prices? Anywhere from $18,625 for a Toyota Yaris subcompact to a Bentley Continental GT that can be yours for a paltry $277,355.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles cleaned up, winning eight of the 20 categories, including the Chrysler 300 as Car of Texas. The Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe, which we have reported on, was named "Best Value" but it also came within one vote of its corporate cousin, the Chrysler 300. Toyota won Best Family Car of Texas with its versatile Sienna minivan.
Though not as well known as the two-day Texas Truck Rodeo, where the "Truck of Texas" is voted on each fall, the Auto Roundup has definitely grown as more vehicles and people (any from outside the state or even traditional/professional journalism) have joined the nonprofit.
TAWA member Natan Tazelaar, an independent automotive journalist who splits his time between the Netherlands and Humble, was attending his first Texas Auto Roundup and was impressed by its scale. "I didn't expect it to be so big or there to be so many cars," Tazelaar said the Chronicle.
Tazelaar has been a juror in Engine Technology International magazine's International Engine of the Year Awards, so it's understandable that the Dodge SRT Hellcat supercharged HEMI V8 got his attention.
"I drove the Hellcat and it's extremely impressive - especially at that price range. 707 horsepower? That's unheard of."
Category Vehicle As-tested price
- Subcompact Car: Kia Forte5 SX $25,090
- Compact Car: Ford Focus SE $18,960
- Midsize Car: Chrysler 200 $32,700
- Full-size Car: Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack $49,990
- Midsize Luxury Car: Cadillac ATS Coupe AWD Premium $50,990
- Full-size Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz 550 4MATIC Coupe $148,470
- Green Vehicle: Lexus NX 300h $50,523
- Minivan: Toyota Sienna Limited $47,705
- Activity Vehicle: Lexus NX 200t F Sport $44,880
- Performance Compact: Volkswagen Golf R $39,090
- Performance Coupe: Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat $65,870
- Performance Sedan: Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat $70,170
- Performance Utility: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT $76,465
- Supercar: Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible $277,355
- Best New Feature: Dodge SRT Hellcat 6.2-liter Supercharged HEMI V8
- Best New Interior: Lincoln MKZ Black Label AWD $56,415
- Best Value: Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe $69,945