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Published February 24, 2023
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Just like everything else in Texas, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, aka RodeoHouston, is big.
Considered the world’s largest indoor rodeo, tie-down roping, bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing are among the competitive events for the 20-day event held this year from Feb. 28 to March 19.
Food, shopping, wine tasting and nightly concerts featuring stars like Machine Gun Kelly, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Stapleton, The Chainsmokers, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan and New Kids on the Block are planned for 2023.
Attendance reached more than 2.4 million in 2022 and now’s the perfect time to buy a new-to-you ride sure to turn heads at the social event of the season. Need inspo? We have some ideas, with our picks ranging from versatile pickups to luxury models. Read on.
A compact SUV that loves untamed terrain but has refined on-road manners, loads of tech and nostalgic good looks? Giddy up, we’re in.
We think the Ford Bronco Sport is a fine choice for commuting to downtown Houston during the work week, and then kicking up your heels (and some dirt) on the weekend. The base engine is a peppy-enough 181-horsepower 3-cylinder engine, but for extra kick, opt for the turbocharged 245-horsepower, turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
With its off-roading capabilities, the Ford Bronco Sport offers as much action as a night at the rodeo. On the Outer Banks trim’s list of G.O.A.T (Goes Over All Terrain) modes are normal, sand, slippery, eco and sport modes. If you want to do some serious rock crawling or mud-bogging, the Badlands edition, the highest trim level, will take you there.
The Bronco Sport’s cargo area is large enough to accommodate gear for your other favorite outdoor activities too. Stash two mountain bikes with 27-inch tires in the back, then wash down the easy-clean flooring after a day in the mud.
After a day playing outside, the Bronco Sport can also treat you to some luxuries. The Outer Banks trim features leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, remote start and rear parking sensors.
How could we ever talk about the rodeo without mentioning an American icon, the Ford Mustang?
Think of the Mustang as a barrel racer – fast out of the gate and sure footed around twists and turns. Pick your pony power: there's a turbocharged 4-cylinder with up to 330 horsepower, a 460- or 480-horsepower V8, or a brawny V8 with 760 horsepower available with the GT500 model.
With supportive front seats and a smooth ride, the Mustang is comfortable enough for the daily commute, and fun enough for a Saturday at the track. Personalize your pony with numerous performance and appearance packages. Feel the wind in your hair with a convertible top, or stick with the standard fastback. After a day at the rodeo, pack your souvenirs and ten-gallon hat into the Mustang’s ample trunk – cargo area is considered tops in the class.
For a futuristic take on the traditional Mustang, take the reins of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, an electric SUV with up to 480 horses under its hood.
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in the country, and it’s no wonder.
This pickup is a versatile workhorse, with 2021 models available with several bed and cab sizes, and 7 trims, with 7 appearance packages and 7 powertrains, including a hybrid for the first time. Engines available are: 290-hp 3.3-liter V-6; a 400-hp 5.0-liter V-8; a 325-hp twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6; a 400-hp twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6; and a 250-hp 3.0-liter diesel V-6 (discontinued in 2022).
But since we’ve got horses and other livestock on our minds, yes, a Ford F-150 has enough power, when properly equipped, to pull a two-horse trailer with two steeds inside – up to 14,000 pounds.
It's not all work and no play for the Ford F-150, either. Fully redesigned in 2021, this pickup has an attractive interior, insulated from road noise, with plenty of space for everyone to ride to the rodeo. And if you’re into those big, shiny buckles, we suggest the King Ranch appearance package, with chrome everywhere you look – on the door handles, bumpers, tow hooks, skull caps on exterior mirrors and 20-inch aluminum wheels fitted with all-season tires.
The Ram is rugged yet refined, perfect for an event like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which features down and dirty events like steer wrestling and bronc riding AND a wine show. When it comes to refined, Ram bests competitors like Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado for its interior, with Car and Driver calling it “lavish,” and U.S. News describing it as “elegant and spacious.” It offers a pampering ride, with critics hailing the Ram as the most comfortable pickup on the market.
Now for the rugged part. The Ram 1500 is capable of towing up 12,750 pounds and hauling a payload of up to 2,320 pounds, so hook up your horse trailer for weekend trail riding. The Ram is a champion off-roader too. Hit the dirt, rocks and sand at several off-roading parks and trails within a two-hour drive of Houston. The Ram Rebel model includes hill-descent control, an electronically controlled locking rear differential, and skid plates for the front suspension, steering gear, transfer case and fuel tank with its Off-Road Package.
Do those timed rodeo events get your heart pumping? Consider the Ram 1500 TRX, which can do 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds with its 702-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 known as the Hellcat (yes, the same Hellcat available in the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger muscle cars).
With its chiseled good looks and spacious, upscale interior, the Lexus NX is a compact luxury SUV that’ll stand out from the herd.
Redesigned in 2022, the NX’s cabin is roomy, with plenty of room for cowboy boots and hats in the front and back seats. Two configurations are available for the 2022 model year: the NX 250 with a 203-horsepower 2.5 liter 4-cylinder and NX 350 with a 275-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. Handling is described by U.S. News as composed sure-footed, and you’ll have no problem easing the NX into tight parking spots at all the rodeo events. Standard safety features include rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, front and rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist and forward automatic emergency braking.
Load your bags from all the rodeo shopping (300+ vendors featuring Western décor, clothing and more) into the cargo area with the ease of an available power liftgate.
The NX scores points for being one of the lower-cost offerings in the compact luxury SUV class, and you’ll save even more when you shop for your see-and-be-seen SUV at EchoPark.
Another head-turning luxury car on our list, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class was redesigned in 2022, with Car and Driver calling it a “winning formula of luxury and prestige at an affordable price.” (And remember, that price gets even more affordable when you buy from EchoPark).
The 2022 C-Class is available in Premium, Exclusive and Pinnacle versions. All are powered by a 255-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder enhanced by a 48-volt hybrid system that can temporarily provide up to 20 extra horsepower, according to Car and Driver. Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel drive is optional. Handling is described as confident, and you’ll love the sporty acceleration and posh ride of this compact luxury sedan.
All models come standard with a large infotainment display, a digital gauge display, heated front seats, automated high-beam headlamps, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a sunroof and much more.
Who’s ready for a coddling ride over to NRG Stadium? Put on your sequined cowboy hat and fringe denim jacket and take in some fast-paced competitive events, then visit the rodeo’s Wine Garden, with 75+ vintages to sample.
The whole family is sure to love the exciting competitions of the rodeo, but all ages will also love The Junction, featuring games, rides, animal exhibits and Mutton Bustin’. (I mean, what kid DOESN’T want to try to hold on to a rambunctious sheep for 8 seconds just like their cowboy heroes?)
Enter the Kia Telluride, one of the larger family haulers out there. Don’t let the term “midsize” fool you – the Telluride has room for up to 8 passengers, and even adult passengers and their Stetsons will have plenty of room in the third row.
Since its launch in 2020, the Kia Telluride has received much critical acclaim for its bold exterior and spacious interior loaded with luxuries at a great price point.
Standard infotainment the fam will love includes a 10.25-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth, voice recognition, a six-speaker stereo, and six USB ports. It also comes with a long list of standard safety features including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and a rear-seat alert.
OMG, country music heartthrob Luke Bryan gives the final concert of the Houston rodeo on Sunday, March 19. You know what that means – girls’ trip!
Maybe instead of the blue oval, the Ford Expedition Max should have an “XXL” badge on its grille. Load up your gal pals in this comfortable and spacious people hauler. Roomy seating is available for up to eight, and there’s enough room for taller adults (or your friends wearing cowboy hats) in the second and third rows.
Hit highway cruising speed with ease with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine with 380 horsepower. Keep everyone safe in heavy traffic with standard advanced safety features like rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.
For those pre-concert singalongs, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, so start building your playlist. The SYNC 3 infotainment system is responsive and user-friendly. To make sure everyone’s phones stay charged for those OOTD pics and other Instagrammable concert moments, standard infotainment also includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and four USB ports. Superfans can upgrade to wireless device charging, navigation, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, two more USB ports, and a rear-seat entertainment system with two screens.
Whether you’re looking for a workhorse pickup, a family hauler or a luxury car, EchoPark can help you find it. Our Experience Guides will wrangle all of your questions about our cars and car-buying process. Y’all come see us at our two EchoPark locations in Houston and test drive your next ride today.