Truck of the Year Awards: Are They Bogus?

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2015 Ford F-150

As many of you know, the truck competition is seriously heating up. Ford is still the king in sales, but Ram is making impressive inroads with their trucks. General Motors, not to be left out, has introduced two new small trucks into the fight.

While ultimately, the fight is held at the dealerships with sales, one tool in the manufacturer’s arsenal is the end-of-year truck of the year awards. As you may recall, Motor Trend snubbed the 2015 F-150 in favor of the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. For people who love Ford trucks, they start wondering if awards are bogus.

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, Motor Trend’s 2015 Truck of the YI’m a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, and every year we have an event called the Texas Truck Rodeo. Unlike some other auto association events, the Truck Rodeo is extremely competitive.

Why? Because at this event members vote on a best vehicle in a variety of categories, including the overall Truck of Texas. While not as big of an award as Motor Trend‘s in terms of nationwide recognition, Texas is the largest consumer of trucks in the country and an incredibly lucrative market for OEMs.

truck of year

Chevrolet advertising their Truck of the Year victory.

For the two years prior to this one, the Ram 1500 won the Truck of Texas award as well as the Truck of the Year award for Motor Trend. Having driven all the trucks during the last two events, I can assure you that the Ram was deserving of the victory, but also that the competition was fiercely close. There really isn’t a bad truck right now. Let me repeat that; nobody sells a truly bad truck.

This year, the 2015 F-150 won the Truck of Texas title. That’s important for Ford, because even if they didn’t win the Motor Trend award they’ll spend millions of dollars in Texas advertising that they are the Truck of Texas. If Chevrolet would’ve won with the Colorado, they would do the same thing.

With the Motor Trend award, the victor also will spend millions promoting the fact that they won. Not only does the manufacturer get to brag they won a prestigious award, but the giver of the award also receives free advertising in the form of name recognition.

One could argue that those awards are biased to who will ultimately spend the most money advertising. I don’t believe that these organizations are unscrupulous like that; I’ve never been offered consideration for my vote. With truck competition so fierce, it really can come down to personal preference on which truck is better.

I try to put myself into the shoes of a perspective buyer, but that can only go so far. I can see why someone would buy the Ram 1500, Ford F-150, and the Chevrolet Colorado. I also can’t fault anyone for buying either one of them.

2015 Ford F-150

As you can see, there is a lot of money in these big awards. But one thing you might not consider is how much manufacturers like receiving awards. At last year’s CES, I awarded the Chevrolet Corvette Performance Data Recorder the Best Car Tech of CES for the website I was working for at the time. Since it was developed by Cosworth, one of the Cosworth guys came over to accept the award.

He was so thrilled he made his boss hangup a phone call and the whole team came over to talk to me. They were generally thrilled that they were being recognized for their hard work. Rank-and-file employees, along with management, like seeing their hard work being paid off with award recognition. We are a naturally competitive species, so even the people who don’t win work that much harder to build a better product next year.

Is there potentially a lot of money in these awards? Yes. But do I think they’re bogus? No.

Join the discussion in the forum.>>

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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