By on July 22, 2008

Can you name the truck with four wheel drive?  Smells like a steak, and seats thirty five?  Canyonero! Canyonero!  Twelve yards long, two lanes wide, Sixty-five tons of American pride!  Canyonero! Canyonero! Canyonero!... Whoa, Canyonero! Whoa!All across the nation, SUV Sally's and Sam's are cussing at the pumps. They're watching the readout with mounting horror: $80, $100, $120+ per fill up. The automotive source of this pain of portly plenitude is has become the pink elephant of the American lifestyle. And it's true: SUVs suck. Not just gas. Depreciation, insurance and street cred. And so, the "Livin' Large" folks of the Oil War Era are giving up their SUVs en masse. Which brings us to a simple question. Should you?

The first thing you should consider is whether anyone wants your SUV. Really. That's not a misprint. The purveyors of maximum mass, maximum profit vehicles have been overproducing these beasts for nearly a decade. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyondissan, Audi, Porsche, Saab and even granola-happy Subaru joined the fray of seemingly endless profit and demand. And now we have the Mother of All Gluts. On EBay, you'll find a 2006, 23k-mile Ford Explorer Limited ($33k new, at least in theory). The owner's asking $23k. Good luck with that; there isn't a single bid on the vehicle. Not one.

We hear reports that some dealers won't take your SUV in trade. Period. Of course, everything sells at a price. So take four good pictures of your vehicle. Write a glorious soliloquy of its qualities. Price it according to the completed items section on EBay. Put ads on Craigslist and Autotrader. Once you get two serious inquiries on your vehicle that don't involve low-balling, you'll see how bad things really are. And they are very bad indeed. And getting worse.

OK, so, you sell X. You buy Y. The cost to trade is pretty easy to determine (if hard to stomach). The hard part: take into account all the other costs that go into the equation. Depreciation (again), insurance, maintenance, even the ungainly pitfall that is financing are part of the wallet-draining process. These "hidden costs" determine the real cost of escaping your Escape.

A buyer of a Mercedes 320 CDI may love to brag about their outstanding fuel economy– until they start paying for the outstandingly expensive blue urea fluid that can only be had at the dealer. Likewise, a friend of mine absolutely adored his Jetta Diesel– until the dealer billed him over $1300 for 'regular maintenance.' One call to a dealer (or independent shop), a quick visit to an enthusiast's site can add an awful lot of wisdom to your final decision.

When it comes to car buying, knowledge is more important than imagination or instinct.
Along the same lines, you have to be honest with yourself, and God forbid, your spouse. Would either of you really feel comfortable making a leap from Canyonero to Cobalt? Safety, interior quality, and dare I say it, the pleasures of driving these money-suckers should be given weighty consideration over the course of weeks.

In my experiences, folks who drive Suburbans rarely fit in Fits. But they can be more than fine in a Camry hybrid or Malibu. By the same token, drivers who own and enjoy a compact SUV may be perfectly happy in a compact car. My wife went from Volvo wagons and minivans into a Honda Fit without any regrets. However the Scion xB and xD were rolling Edsels in her eyes. We all have our likes and dislikes. Be true to them.

Finally don't be sold on being sold; $2.99 gas, free maintenance programs and lifetime warranties may be a dream come true. But the car behind the fine print 'bling' may be a rolling shit can. When you drive away from the lot, the car will determine the quality of your "ownership experience." If you decide to buy used, it will be the prior owner. And if you keep what you have, it will be your own driving style and maintenance regimen that will likely have the most impact on your satisfaction.

It's true. In these days of $4 gas, many of us have been able to achieve fuel economy figures which exceed the EPA ratings by anywhere from 20 to 30 percent, just by changing the way we drive. Learn to coast. Keep the rpm's low. Pay attention to the traffic. Turn that cell phone off and make driving a 'mileage' game. Hypermiling– within reason– can put dollars back in your pocket and add years to your SUVs life.

In an SUV buyer's market, it's best not to sell an SUV. So how long before the market recovers? At best, two years. At worst, never. If it galls you that you're now an SUV owner for life, don't panic. Drive less. Drive more sensibly. And relax. It still beats walking.

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84 Comments on “SUrVival Guide...”


  • avatar

    SUVs can probably be converted to drive water pumps, sawmills, etc. It’s been done before. :-) Willy’s Jeeps did serious service as powertrains for lots of different applications post-WWII.

    The depreciation on SUVs is incredible – I had one which this spring lost value with each tick of the clock. People were standing in line for them a few years ago.

    Makes you wonder about the latecomers to the SUV “party.”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Amusingly enough, I’m freakishly tall and fit in a Fit but not in many larger cars and trucks. The above article makes a good point about challenging vehicular assumptions.

    I’d have to say that walking beats driving, at least for commutes. When I lived within walking distance of work, it was a nice way to get my thoughts in order before the day starts and to decompress on the way home. I can bike now, but you don’t get the same “zen” factor.

  • avatar
    plunk10

    A Suburban owner can probably fit in a Fit. After all, what did people do before the SUV craze? They drove cars.

    When autoblog posted about that Geo Metro fetching $7300, I did an eBay completed items search and found the following:

    2002 Honda Insight with 45,000 miles sold for $18,000

    2005 Hummer H2 (loaded, LCD in headrests, etc.) with 35,000 miles sold for $18,200

    Most know that the original MSRP differs widely between the two vehicles, not to mention the age difference.

    Times, they are a changin’

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    So, why not keep the suv and buy a Fit or Yaris as a commuter? Keep the suv for weekend trips? The depreciation of just selling the suv almost equal the entire purchase price of a small car. In short, you don’t gain any money by selling the suv.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    In Europe, Renault have released the Koledos, a 4×4 SUV.

    Brilliant timing, Renault!

    Personally, I never saw what the fuss was about with SUV’s. I drove a Lexus RX400 and while I liked it, I felt dirty after driving it. It was so dripping in gadgets, wood veneers and high quality materials, that I felt bad about how many resources were used to make a car which you don’t really need. I really fail to believe that families NEED an SUV. I think it’s more a bunch of “soccer moms” who want to protect their “babies” no matter what the cost. Even though a well built VW Golf or Accord would protect just as well.

    It’s just people buying cars (and other stuff) they don’t really need. If you live in the mountains or some other rugged area, then fair enough. If you live in a suburb, then get a proper car, you stupid tools!

  • avatar

    Amusingly enough, I’m freakishly tall and fit in a Fit but not in many larger cars and trucks. The above article makes a good point about challenging vehicular assumptions.

    I sat in a Hummer 3 recently and said “well, this doesn’t seem any bigger than my wife’s Hyundai.” Did some checking, and yup, my wife’s Hyundai actually has an inch more shoulder room than a Hummer 3. Incredible.

    So what is the point of driving this big tank if it has no more room than a Hyundai? It’s all show and status and marketing. We can all fit in smaller vehicles, we just have to get used to it.

    John

  • avatar

    Unless one is wealthy people should always carefully balance need versus want. You can always splurge a little but I have no sympathy for someone making a vehicle purchase that can’t afford the gas now. If a extra hundred dollors a month is going to break you then you have no business buying the vehicle.

  • avatar
    plunk10

    It was never cool to drive a Minivan, or even a wagon like the Mazda5. This adds to the hype of a “tough, rugged” SUV that the carmakers had marketed very successfully.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Great advice from Steven, as usual.

    I suspect that many SUV owners are in trouble becuase they are underwater on their purchase, and have trouble paying for gas. These are likely the same people who pay more than they earn in interest every year, what with the balances on their credit cards and 2-3 mortgages on a single home they never could afford in the first place.

    The gut reaction from these people is, of course, to go shopping. Rush to the Toyota dealer who will helpfully get you into a new Prius for just $4K over list, and be happy to help you roll your current debt into a new car payment.

    Which will fix things. Until the next invented crisis, the next self-created drama.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    A Suburban owner can probably fit in a Fit. After all, what did people do before the SUV craze? They drove cars.

    That was before obesity became so normal. The proportion of the US population that is severely overweight or obese is growing (no pun intended), and yes, some drivers really do have difficulty fitting into regular cars. I would not be surprised if this weight factor played a role in some proportion of SUV sales.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Pch101,
    If you are obese, at least you don’t look as ridiculous getting out of a Suburban as you do getting out of a Mini.

    I am guessing the over-shopping for SUVs and the over-eating are somehow related.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    I agree with SherbornSean,

    This article illustrates a symptom of what’s really hurting most modern economies (not just the US) and that is a lack of financial dicipline combined with a sense of entitlement and instant gratification.

    Don’t like your house? Buy a bigger one! Your current vehicle not working out for you? Trade it in! Sunday shopping! Open all night! Instant approval!

    Once upon a time, people got a loan or a mortgage, made payments, paid to term and then made their next financial decisions.

    People need to be re-educated that financing something or getting a loan is a responsibility and a millstone. That’s why our parents endeavoured to pay them off as fast as possible and made every short-term sacrifice in the book to do so in order for long-term success.

    We seem to be in a place where the opposite is true (and I have been guilty of such).

    So keep your SUV, tough it out if you can, if you can’t, take the hit and chalk it up to a valuable learning experience.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I own a 6 cylinder F-150 I am contemplating selling only because I never use it. Although pickups are out of style, full size work trucks with the big six are sought after by tradesmen who can’t use a Fit to get to work. I steered clear of V-8s when i bought this truck 5 years ago even though gas was cheap. It gets 20MPG on the highway and that bests a V-8 4WD monster truck by a lot.

  • avatar
    John The Accountant

    I never understood the SUV craze, but I don’t have kids either. I work with a lady who just has two kids and owns a 7 passsenger Expedition. Why?

    I’ve driven SUVs a few times and they all feel the same, very fat and heavy, sluggish steering, and most have bad interiors (even the new Fords). We saw a brand new GMC Denali the other day being advertised for $56k!! You could get an awesome luxury car for the same amount with plenty of room for storage, such as a used 7-Series or a newer 5-Series!

    My fiance and I both have Civics, and occasionally we have a storage issue, but 99.9% of the time we have no issue driving smaller cars.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The proportion of the US population that is severely overweight or obese is growing (no pun intended), and yes, some drivers really do have difficulty fitting into regular cars.

    I’m six foot nine and two hundred and fifty pounds. I can drive a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris. I can also drive an Element, Matrix or Rondo easily. I can drive a Mazda3, 5, Corolla or Malibu. I can drive any minivan and any Volkswagen.

    I can’t manage a Miata, Civic or Accent, mind you, but I also can’t fit into a 4Runner, H3 or Grand Marquis, so car size has little to do with it.

    If I can do all this, some pipsqueak that’s a foot shorter can do the same, even if they’re about my weight.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    People who made some bad choices are looking for an easy way out of a bad situation. Dealer are still doing 100+% of value loans, so they may find that they can dig in deeper, if they like.

    But it’s lifestyle changes that can make a bigger difference. Carpooling, mass transit, walking, biking, whatever, requires no up-front investment but a new way of thinking about getting around and a new appraisal of what’s one’s “needs” and “wants” really are.

    However, our king-size lifestyles close off some avenues for many… urban sprawl makes mass transit infrequent and inefficient, walking and biking become very time-consuming (and unpleasant, these streets aren’t made for walkin’).

    We never did think ahead, collectively and (mostly) individually, to what life might be like if oil got expensive. Now we pay for that failure.

  • avatar
    Axel

    @ psarhjinian

    I can’t manage a Miata, Civic or Accent, mind you, but I also can’t fit into a 4Runner, H3 or Grand Marquis, so car size has little to do with it.

    Six-three, 185 lbs here, and I’ll admit the Civic gives me trouble, too. It’s a hoot to drive (and it’s just an LX) but my knees have nowhere to go with that stupid hand brake. We bought it for my wife, who finds its proportions to be ideal, though.

    Foot room is a disaster in the Fit. No left dead petal, no place to rest either foot when cruising. No place to rest elbows. I’d much rather drive the Civic.

    My Chevy Malibu Maxx is the ultimate tall person’s car. I actually adjust the seat several clicks forward from the full-back position. And my six-three brother-in-law can sit behind me and not bump his knees. I will reiterate my assertion that GM needs to give this a quick styling touch and bring it back to market ASAP.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Hmmm, Kia is just launching a full-sized SUV with the V8 from the Hyundai Genesis. *sniff* I smell a huge freakin’ bargain coming.

  • avatar
    miked

    Steven – I have one issue with your first paragraph, and it’s not you, it’s really everybody. Who cares if it costs $120 to fill up your SUV, it’s the frequency of fillups that matter. It only costs me about $30 to fill up my CJ, but I have to stop to fill up everyday I drive it because of the tiny gas tank. People need to stop looking at how much it cost to fill up and only look at how much it costs to drive on average, you know, MPG? (Really we should all switch to miles per dollar, MPD, beacuse of E85, Diesel, Biodiesel, Hydrogen, PHEV, etc) I know the best and the brightest know this, I just feel like ranting about it. My ’07 4Runner which is a pig gets 20MPG in use as my daily driver, that includes rough dirt roads and lots of A/C usage. My Subaru got 25MPG under the same use. That’s not a big difference considering that the 4Runner is much more comfortable to drive and handles the rough roads much better. Now the 4Runner has a much larger gas tank than the Subaru, so it looks terrible when I put $100 into the gas tank, but I’m only doing that every 2 weeks. So it’s not a big deal. If people thought more about it, they wouldn’t be buying $2500 bikes after one $70 fill up :)

  • avatar
    Ronin317

    KatiePuckrik: It’s just people buying cars (and other stuff) they don’t really need. If you live in the mountains or some other rugged area, then fair enough. If you live in a suburb, then get a proper car, you stupid tools!

    yup. I’m guilty of it on a few levels. I think most people are.

    I listened to my cousin’s wife complain about gas prices over the 4th…she just sold her ’02 Jetta and bought a Honda Pilot. They have no kids, and my cousin works construction, so he has a Silverado. The reasoning? They were moving, and the new house has longer, uphill gravel drive. Plus, she said she needs it to go to work in the winter.

    This is a common excuse, at least around the north east. I had SUVs for 9 years, and upon moving back to a sedan, promptly purchased a set of steels and dedicated winters. The TSX with winters is MUCH better than the SUVs with all-seasons ever were. And I don’t think people are understanding of that, or willing to spend the extra $500 for a set of winters that they have to get changed out with 2 half hour visits to the garage. Now, I’m sure there are people doing off-road stuff, and I’m sure 4WD is better if you’re stuck in the mud, but most people that think they need it do not.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m six foot nine and two hundred and fifty pounds. I can drive a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris. I can also drive an Element, Matrix or Rondo easily. I can drive a Mazda3, 5, Corolla or Malibu. I can drive any minivan and any Volkswagen.

    You sound as if you’re tall, not fat. That’s more easily resolved — you shove the seat back, and turn your four-passenger car into a three-passenger with extra room for a hat.

    Since I can’t offer up myself as an example, I’ll use instead a friend of mine who is quite obese — about 5’10″ and very, very heavy. He can barely fit in a normal car as a passenger, let alone as a driver.

    He needs to tilt the steering wheel in order to reach it properly. Since he has a waist that is not proportionate with the length of his legs and arms, he needs a vehicle that allows him to both reach the controls and fit behind them, simultaneously. In his case, the seating position and width make a lot of difference in whether he is comfortable or not.

    I doubt that his weight would be particularly good for a vehicle’s suspension, either. Since he’s the weight of at least two regular-sized adult males or three women, that’s quite a lot of weight to put constantly on one side of a standard car.

    My friend is not alone. Much of the population resembles him in some way. They would not do well in your average Accord or Camry for long periods of time. They truly don’t fit very well in them.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Dear Honda: the next Ridgeline needs to be based on a stretched CRV chassis, with a 4, 6 and hybrid option. Keep the styling somewhat normal and you’ll sell as many as you can make. Please keep the new Pilot’s stylists off the project.

    Meanwhile, my 16 mpg SUV sucks $75 of gas a week out of me, but is paid for, comfortable, and serves my needs. Down the road in 4-5 years when it is time to replace it, I look forward to seeing the number of choices (roomy hybrid wagons would be ideal) I’ll have.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    If I had an SUV now and was feeling the pinch of fuel costs, I would probably consider buying a more economical vehicle but NOT selling the SUV. Yeah, you have to do the math, and the math probably doesn’t work out for most.

    But if 75%-90% of my driving could be done with a smaller vehicle and if I had room to store the SUV, I’d probably go for it, and just keep the SUV for that remaining 10%-25% of my hauling needs.

  • avatar
    geeber

    John The Accountant: I work with a lady who just has two kids and owns a 7 passsenger Expedition. Why?

    Child-safety seat laws, that’s why. Children must use child-safety seats until they reach a certain height, and many children don’t reach that magic number until they are 7-8 years old. Granted, an Expedition is overkill, but jamming two kids in the back of a Fit or Yaris is not much fun.

  • avatar
    bleach

    Good article Steven. A buddy who works for a dealership has been talking about the same thing. Eighty percent of the trades he’s seeing are SUVs and since they don’t want any more, he’s been offering the most intentionally low insulting trade-in values he can. Even then more than half take the offer and turn themselves so upside down that they are paying thousands more for the new car. There is simply no way this can be a cost savings over keeping the SUV.

  • avatar
    Steve_K

    For those of you who have paid off your SUV, for pete’s sake don’t trade it for an econobox (unless it’s an even trade)! Raise you deductible or drop collision insurance if you want to save money! If all you want to save is gas, walk or ride a horse.

    For those of you who still owe on SUV loans, my condolences. Maybe part it out? I’ll give you $500 for your Vortec V8.

  • avatar
    Ronin317

    geeber, they can’t fit in the back of a Camry, Accord, CR-V, RAV4, Sonata, Malibu, Vibe, Matrix, etc?

    A friend of mine has a huge chevy minivan that she bought used (it’s a lemon too, but that’s a story for another time) and loaded. She had such problems with it, that the dealer offered to buy it back from her for what she paid, and get her what she wanted. It’s Pontiac dealer, and they have Chevy, across the street. I told her to get a Malibu or a Vibe, and she immediately says “but it won’t have the DVD player and sit up high. My son likes the dvd player and it keeps him quiet while I drive”

    I bit my tongue…

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    There is some good news. Scrap metal prices are at an all time high.

  • avatar
    Axel

    Dave M.:

    Dear Honda: the next Ridgeline needs to be based on a stretched CRV chassis, with a 4, 6 and hybrid option. Keep the styling somewhat normal and you’ll sell as many as you can make. Please keep the new Pilot’s stylists off the project.

    Addendum: Give us your new diesel as a fourth drivetrain option.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Axel,

    I’m with you on the Malibu Maxx. I have two tall teenagers to chauffer around and there is no problem with the backseat in the Maxx.

    I was disappointed when GM didn’t revive the Maxx for this generation of Malibu. Not like it would be hard, just sneak the Opel dies over here and stick a bowtie on it, and we’re good to go.

    I guess I will keep the Maxx forever. Maybe someone else will come up with another long wheelbase hatchback midsized car… Or I’ll have to move to Germany to get a REAL 5-door Opel, not a Saturn…

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Axel and Dave M,
    How would you feel if Honda took the Element, turned it into a small, short bed pickup, maybe with an Avalanche-style midgate. Add a 2.2L diesel for good measure.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Steven Lang:

    Why did your friend take their Jetta to the dealership for work? Apparently some edumacation needs to be completed. VW dealers are not your friend. Tell your friend to go to tdiclub.com next time before the stealer bends them over and find a qualified local mechanic.

    To stay on topic, SUVs are useless, but if I owned one, I’d likely keep it as well. There’s no point in trying to sell one right now. Might as well drive it until it’s dead and then downsize.

  • avatar
    rmlindsay

    Regarding the need for a huge vehicle to fit child safety seats:

    I find this frequent argument to be a little self-deceptive. My wife and I are successfully transporting our two small children in safety-seats in a 4dr ’03 Passat. No, we can’t take grandma and the whole pre-school class with us, but putting people the back row of an SUV with car-seats in the middle row is a PITA – even with LATCH anchors. At least most mini-vans have a walk-thru to the rear. We recently took a week-long trip to the beach and rented a Sienna. 330 bucks once, vs. the sunk costs associated with driving a more expensive vehicle that gets ~10 fewer mpg on a daily basis. I expect to continue renting rather than buying for a while yet.

    Also, after the kids are out of infant carriers, the regulations for seats are age and weight related. In NC its 8 yrs or 80 lbs. Your kid will likely have 3 different size seats by the time they are done… ($$$)

    -RML

    (my first post by the way. long time lurker..)

  • avatar

    I’ll gladly swap my ’03 S2000 for an ’07 or ’08 GXL 470, R-Class or GL-Class.

  • avatar
    Axel

    SherbornSean:

    Axel and Dave M,
    How would you feel if Honda took the Element, turned it into a small, short bed pickup, maybe with an Avalanche-style midgate. Add a 2.2L diesel for good measure.

    My primary purpose for wanting such a vehicle would be to tow stuff: a small camper, a boat, or a cargo trailer. Therefore a bed isn’t all that important unless it’s big enough for stuff like full-sized refrigerators, couches, or maybe an ATV. Otherwise, the bed is just wasted space that could be a fully enclosed cargo area.

    Main point is, a sturdy unibody with a 2.2L diesel would be highly useful as a high-MPG vehicle that can still do real work.

    If Subaru were to license Honda’s diesel and put it in the Outback, that would be twelve kinds of win. The H6 gas engine is rated for 3000 lbs already. Beef up the body and the tranny and it could probably take on 7500 with a diesel.

  • avatar

    Hmmm never thought of it before but this is actually a real opportunity for non traditional truck companies like Honda and others to put into priority developement light 4 or 6 cylinder Element type vehicles to capture some of the former truck market which they could never hope to get before. Whoever gets there first and does it right wins.

  • avatar

    Before you trade, do the cost-benefit. How much are you going to spend on trading vehicles vs how much will you save on fuel.

    After one of the oil embargoes of the ’70s, Tom Schelling, the winner of the 2005 Nobel in economics, traded something or other for a Pinto. My father asked him if he’d done the cost-benefit. He hadn’t. He did it. He found the savings was not going to offset the cost of the trade (showing that even the brightest of the best and brightest isn’t immune from these mistakes).

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    SherbornSean Says:

    How would you feel if Honda took the Element, turned it into a small, short bed pickup, maybe with an Avalanche-style midgate.

    Ford have a small pickup (Courier) that is based on the Fiesta and is sold in just about every country but the US. I imagine it would suffice for 90% of contractors’ needs (and 100% of pickup-poseurs’ needs).

  • avatar
    WildBill

    To stay on topic, SUVs are useless,…

    Not exactly, as a strictly passenger vehicle I might agree. But try towing a 16 ft. livestock trailer full of critters with your CRV or Element, or even your Explorer; and carry 3-4 people. That’s when you need the big iron. Useless, no. Just for limited, specialized uses when nothing else will do. (I drive a Matrix back and forth to work, 80 mile round trip a day)

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    How would you feel if Honda took the Element, turned it into a small, short bed pickup, maybe with an Avalanche-style midgate. Add a 2.2L diesel for good measure.

    Works for me. I really like the current Element except the bus-upright windsheild and sunroof in the rear. What that about?

  • avatar
    Bancho

    “Tell your friend to go to tdiclub.com next time…”

    Excellent advice.

    That’s what I did when I had my TDI. The dealer never touched it and I did all the work myself or with some guidance from that crew. It definitely made owning a TDI much more rewarding and less expensive.

  • avatar
    bleach

    rmlindsay,

    I would agree that in general a car has no less room for car seats than a SUV. The one difference that was relevant during our infant seat days is the lower height of a car if you have a bad back. It was much easier for my wife to get that into her old SUV than my sedan where she ended up throwing out her back.

  • avatar
    crc

    rmlindsay Says:
    Also, after the kids are out of infant carriers, the regulations for seats are age and weight related. In NC its 8 yrs or 80 lbs.

    They must also meet a height requirement.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    Can’t believe nobody answered this yet…

    Can you name the car with four-wheel-drive?
    Smells like a steak and seats thirty-five!
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down.
    It’s a country-fried truck endorsed by a clown.
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Twelve yards long and two lanes wide,
    sixty-five tons of American pride!
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Top of the line in utility sports!
    Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts.
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    She blinds everybody with her super-high beam.
    She a squirrel-squishin’, deer-smackin’ drivin’ machine!
    Canyonero! Canyonero!

  • avatar
    NickR

    In all honesty, not a single person I know who drives an SUV has ever used it for its supposed intended purpose (going off road and towing). Not one. Everyone I know that does serious offroading uses old pick up trucks that they don’t mind knocking the crap out of and for which parts are comparatively cheap and plentiful. The few people I know that tow bigger boats and horse trailers drive real pick up trucks. The SUV does not need to exist…at all. In the vast majority of cases a good wagon would do and in rarer cases it can be replaced with a pick up.

  • avatar
    macarose

    I misplaced my ‘Steven Lang’ moniker so for all intensive purposes, this is me when I’m not home (I mentioned this in one other comments section).

    Stein… you’re right. Many SUV’s can be converted in one form or another but the laws of physics are still on a car’s side. One of the hidden costs of most conversions is that the quality and craftsmanship involved can be anywhere from world-class (usually $$$$$) to below Chinese (Reminibi, Reminibi)

    Ingvar… everyone has a ‘unique’ financial situation. Crunching the numbers and determining whether it’s worth the lifestyle change is what every SUV owner who is considering a replacement vehicle should do.

    To the Big and Talls… cars like the Fit, Rondo and Mazda 5 are more like minivans than SUV’s. Regardless it’s not so much the driver/passenger dimensions that will change but the actual cage that’s around you. Very high strength steel will likely do more to change the automotive landscape during the next couple of years than hybrid technology. In layman’s terms… smaller cars nowadays are far safer and more fun to drive than most 1990′s SUV owners can imagine.

    To the towers/family haulers… it may make more sense to keep an SUV or pickup amongst four or five families for occasional use than to keep one for the daily jaunts. If there’s any lesson to be learned from the current market drama it’s that ‘specialized’ vehicles like SUV’s and pickup’s would liked be better off rented or shared than owned and regularly driven over the long run.

    To the TDIowners… I’m actually a huge fan of the A3/B4 TDI’s. One of the most difficult decisions I had this year was selling a 1998 Jetta 5-speed with 109k that I bought at $2870 and sold for $7000. The A3 Jetta really suits my driving style very well and hypermiling happens to be one of my favorite on-the-road hobbies. Two other auctioneers in my area now drive diesels thanks in good part to my zeal for them.

    My bet for right now is that Honda will offer an outstanding package that will greatly reduce the value of the TDI’s in the used car market. Even if it happens though, I still will have fond memories of the Jetta. In fact out of the hundreds of cars I’ve had the only two I’ve had any regret in selling are the 98′ Jetta and an 01′ Prius that had been dealer maintained since Day 1. The later car I bought for $6650 back in 2006 and came with a new battery to boot. That would have been the perfect car for my wife.

    On the other side of the coin, the three Mercedes diesels I’ve sold over the years I really couldn’t give two flips about. Just please don’t the folks at mercedesshop I said that.

    I sat out the SUV craze during it’s peak due to what may be called ‘philosophical’ reasons. But I also believe the free market is far smarter than any government decreed measure that’s pushed by the proverbial nanny brigade in this country. If a Ferrari can be enjoyed on the road, so should an SUV. I just won’t be driving em’.

  • avatar

    re child safety seats, regulations, and the need for a bigger, higher, mult-door something.

    geeber: the thing is that getting your kid in and out of small cars should not be a problem for parents after their kid turns 3. My daughter’s almost 5 and she’s been buckling herself in for almost 2 yrs now. so, YOU may not be able to bend way down or squeeze through the tiny opening between the front-seat back and the B-pillar in your yaris, but your 4 year old better be able to. given that, who cares that child safety laws require kids to be in the “boosters” until their 8 or 9. the last 5 years of that time you’re not doing anything anyway.

    pch101: there are a lot of obese drivers who “need” to lose, i mean need to drive a bigger car. now, if someone’s got a 4 yr old that is immensely obese and requires a full sized door in order to facilitate ingress and egress . . . too bad, you’re screwed, you should have been buying fruit at the grocery store rather than chips (incidentally fresh fruits and vegetables are multiple times cheaper than unhealthy processed foods too).

    re SUrVival

    my wife drives a V6 explorer and somehow manages to only get about 14 mpgs out of it (“turn off the AC and roll down the f-ing windows, damnit! we live in Hawaii for God’s sake!!!”). i don’t know, she’s just an amazing woman. but the thing’s paid off so it’s going to be cheaper to keep than get anything else unless its a beater like an early 90′s honda or toyota. in that case, i’d rather her keep what she’s got. lucky for me she’s not into trading in the old reliables in her life for newer models . . .

    as for me, i drive an 03 protege that gets 30 mpg. i’d like something with a little more power and better dynamics (like a cooper S or GTI), but given our financial situation, i’ll probably be floggin’ the mazda for another 5 years. until then, i plan to drive it like i stole it . . . i can afford new tires.

  • avatar
    wludavid

    Once you get two serious inquiries on your vehicle that don’t involve low-balling, you’ll see how bad things really are.

    I’d argue that there’s no such thing as low-balling in such an uncertain market. There are people who still want SUVs and there are people who want to give them up. It’s the potential buyers who determine the market values, not the seller’s idea of what a serious offer is.

  • avatar

    There is a problem with the “keep the SUV because you’ll get killed when you try to trade it it” argument.

    The problem is that the value of a given used SUV is only going to get lower. A 2005 H3 with 30K miles might be worth 18K now, but in 2011 when it has 60K it may only be worth 3K.

    So do you want to take that 6K a year hit on the H3 for the next 3 years, or buy a comparable 2005 car that may only lose $2K a year in value?

    Gas prices are going up and we’re going into a very deep recession. While now is not a great time to sell an SUV, it is a much better time than 2, 3, or 4 years from now.

  • avatar

    Here in California, even in most suburban areas, the vast majority of people do not have extra off-street parking to store an SUV while using a car as a commuter. I imagine the same is true is much of the east coast and in urban areas everywhere.

    And storing an SUV on street parking is a good way to damage your vehicle, get parking tickets, and annoy your neighbors.

    Also California and several other states tax the value of a car. Not a huge deal, but the yearly tag fee for a $25,000 SUV is about $270. Plus $40-70 more for a smog check every other year.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    there are a lot of obese drivers who “need” to lose, i mean need to drive a bigger car. now, if someone’s got a 4 yr old that is immensely obese and requires a full sized door in order to facilitate ingress and egress . . . too bad, you’re screwed, you should have been buying fruit at the grocery store rather than chips (incidentally fresh fruits and vegetables are multiple times cheaper than unhealthy processed foods too).

    The implication of my point is that there will always be a market segment for these vehicles that caters to the big-and-maybe-not-so-tall crowd. Six-cylinder versions that can tow humans inside of them may have a future. (Note that I am not one of those people.)

  • avatar
    50merc

    Steve, thanks for the article.

    So may I infer that minivan sales demand is falling somewhere between SUVs/Pickups and ordinary sedans? That is to say, are the used Odysseys, Windstars, T&C’s, etc., suffering low but not terrible resale values? Most minivans are too bulky for my taste, but provide a good balance of utility and comfort. Maybe they are good bargains nowadays.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    I say wait till December before you decide to trade the SUV for a Civic- especially if their smug satisfaction seen in the midst of high gas prices is reversed as they wait for a tow truck to pull them out of a ditch.

    You’re much better running through the life of your S.U.V. than getting hosed on a trade-in for a car you don’t want to drive. If you live in California (where I see “nobody ever uses their S.U.V. blah blah blah”) it might be a tough pill to swallow. If you live in a plethora of other states, I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad come winter/moving time you kept your SUV, and it’s a great time to recoup your gas costs by towing the naysayers out of the ditch.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad come winter/moving time you kept your SUV, and it’s a great time to recoup your gas costs by towing the naysayers out of the ditch.

    This myth needs to die yesterday

    I spend a lot of time in Northern Ontario in the winter. Front-wheel drive and good snow tires is more than enough for most plowed roads. If it gets really bad (ice, deeper snow), studs or chains will do you fine. If the road is unplowed, well, nothing without treads is getting through in some of these places.

    Four wheel drive does not help you stop, and it doesn’t help you steer much, either. If nothing else, the ability to start out without slippage results in an unwarranted sense of self-confidence, one that can get many drivers in serious trouble. A high centre of gravity just makes matters worse.

    Traction or stability control I can see, but a truck? Heck no…

  • avatar
    roar1

    I was talking to the local Saturn Retailer last weekend and for the 1st time in his history used large SUV’s that sell for over $18,000 are the second best selling used vehicle for his company. I think he said his company delivered 25 in the last 30days, Tahoe/Suburban/Escalade/Outlook and Vue seem to move well. Looks like for the right price people will still buy them.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    What about the smug satisfaction of being a AAA member?

    If you really need a truck, get a truck. If you really need an SUV,get one. Of course, most people don’t need them. They WANT them, they might even be nice to have, but don’t need even in a very loose definition of the term.

    But I see a ton of people who are driving this hulking beasts of burden as daily commute cars. They couldn’t really afford the truck in the first place (high interest & 72 month terms), and the gas prices are killing em. So all in all its just bad decision making; if you’re in the financial position that an extra 200 a month is killing you, you shouldn’t be buying a vehicle that makes 10000 for the manufacturer. You’re leaving way to much cash on the table.

    If you want a vehicle with family/carry/tow capacity & the ability to do really well in bad weather, I heartily recommend a Subaru Outback. If you have spawned more than 3 kids, you could always go with a minivan or full sized van. Don’t know how many times I easily passed some SUV spinning its wheels on icy days in that thing.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Come on people – $4 / gallon is not expensive. Try the $9 /gallon that it costs in Europe. I know people there already drive smaller cars and diesels are more popular but there are still plenty of Range Rovers or X5′s with gas engines on the road..

    The difference is you don’t get kid in college or single parents on low income driving SUV’s.

    So to my point…..

    Does anyone else think it’s a good time to buy an SUV? Look on Auto Trader and you’ll find Range Rovers for under $20,000 or BMW X5′s for under $15,000

  • avatar
    rmlindsay

    Re: child seat regs.

    With risk of going too much off topic…

    Kid seat regulations are set State by State. I checked NC law before posting previously and they are weight and age dependent. I’m sure that some States include requirements for height as well.

    Some height and weight limits are set by the seat manufacturer rather than the relevant governing body. For example my Graco infant carrier is rated for 20# or 26″ – reach either limit and you move to the next size up. My four year old is in a Britax thats rated for 40 lbs. When she hits 40, she moves to a booster seat so the car belts land in the proper place on her body.

    I accept that lifting a toddler into a car seat with a bad back is a good reason for a vehicle with a higher rear seat hip point. I would maintain that a mini-van is the better tool for that job. Sliding doors are outstanding from the bad back perspective. Opinions vary – mine is that in many cases SUVs are the triumph of style over substance.

    My older (4 yrs) kid has been climbing in by herself for a couple years and would be offended if I tried to help…

    -RML

  • avatar

    Another ditto on TDIclub.com and/or self-service rather than taking your VW to the Stealer. VW Service departments are mostly a form of organized crime. They have stolen so much that I’d venture a guess that VW’s reputation for “unreliability” is really just a result of the Dealer Service departments ripping off just about every VWOA customer over the past 10 or so years. The cars are fine, the ‘service departments” are just licensed thieves.

    As for SUVs, who cares? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    pman

    Last month my friend’s mother, retired, age 72, 5’0″ tall with orthopedic shoes on, widowed and living alone, needed a car to replace her 1991 Olds 88. It’s not an SUV, but from a gas mileage standpoint, it’s not far off. So, my friend takes her out to car shop. She wants a new Olds. “Olds isn’t around anymore, Mom”. She says, “How about a Buick?”. My friend says “How about a Civic, maybe even with leather. It’s good on gas and it’s a nice ride.” She says it’s too small without even looking at it even though she moves the seat up so much she could honk the horn by taking a big breath, change the radio stations with her elbow, and nobody will EVER be in the back seat EVER. So over to the Buick dealer they go to buy a CPO 2006 Lucerne CX that costs the same as the Civic EX, sans leather. A month later she’s bitching about the cost to fill the tank and how it’s hard to park at the grocery store. Lots of people had the same mentality when they bought their Hummers, Excursions, and F350 duellies that they didn’t need.

  • avatar
    morbo

    I must be the only person left in America capable of driving heavy, low clearance, rear wheel drive cars (think old T-Birds, Caprice’s, Diplomats, etc.) in the snow. The ‘SUV is needed for bad weather’ argument is the most bogus argument for SUV ownership I’ve ever heard.

    Drive an SUV because you like the ride height and apocalypse enduring style/utility, and do it proudly. We’re Americans gosh-durn, we don’t need to rationalize our actions. Don’t lie that it ‘s for safety, or the children, or towing that one 10-foot boat you borrow to the lake once every two years. It’s about being the biggest and baddest MF on the road.

    Now I return to my 26MPG Mitsubishi and 20MPG Ranger.

  • avatar
    macarose

    “So may I infer that minivan sales demand is falling somewhere between SUVs/Pickups and ordinary sedans?”

    Nope, they’re getting creamed because many of them don’t have much better mileage than an SUV while offering an ‘uglier’ look.

    Case in point. Bought a 2005 Ford Freestar SES w/68k miles and already reconditioned by a VW dealer (who lamely tried to retail it for two months) for $4750. That’s nearly 80% depreciation in only three years time… and the Freestar didn’t have a single ding on it and was carpet cleaned.

    Bought a 2000 Olds Silhouette with Leather and a TV/VCR and 103k for $1300. A 15 year old Geo Metro ratbox at the same sale was bought for $1600 while there was a loaded 1999 Durango with 150k that went for the same price. Right now the small cars are being bid up regardless of whether the model in question has a good or bad question. Heck, I sold a 2000 Neon with 170,000 miles and a rod knock for the same price I paid for the Silhouette if that tells you anything.

    Overall, minivan sales can be ‘broken down’ this way.

    The GM and Ford minivans are mostly as bad as or worse than their SUV’s in terms of resale.

    The Dodge minivans are obviously doing better (as is the Kia Sedona), but the strangely optioned ones from a couple years ago are another story.

    The Odyssey and Sienna aren’t as strong as they once were. But comparing those two to their competition for resale value is like saying that football is a bit more popular than baseball in Europe. A comparably equipped Sienna would have literally doubled the price of that Freestar. Although my buy was the best in the last three months if the Manheim Market Report is to be believed.

  • avatar
    rtz

    Park it and keep it for weekends or when you really need it.

    All those people at work who recently used to drive crew cab dually diesel trucks to work as their daily commuter all now drive the biggest pieces of junk you’ve ever seen.

    Seeing some redneck get out of a dirty grand prix or some other junk car one wouldn’t expect to see them driving is quite a sight.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I’d bet Ford is glad they still make the Ranger 4-cylinder pickup. Try and find one on the lot with a 5-speed box. Most of the Rangers around here are 4.0L V6 4×4′s that get 17 MPG. That’s not much better than a V8. The local stealers said they wouldn’t stock standard shift 4-cylinders because nobody wanted them.

    I kept my Nissan Frontier 4×4, for when I need a truck, but my daily driver is an aging 94 Sentra that gets 30mpg. I just cant justify taking a loss on my truck to save money on gas…

  • avatar
    p00ch

    If you park the SUV and commute in an econobox, you’re still paying to insure, license and maintain the truck. Those costs alone can run over $1,000 per year, and that’s not including continued depreciation.

  • avatar
    gibbleth

    Aw, come on, some of us bought our SUVs because the price was depressed due to high fuel prices. I imagine that’s why certain types of retailers are moving these; they’re priced way below the utility cost for such a vehicle.

    Every time I see some idiot shelling out $25,000 for a Prius because it saves him fuel, it makes me smile. Heck, I get a good belly laugh. For me to trade in my SUV (Chevy Suburban Z71) on a Prius, fuel would probably have to be north of $10 a gallon. Even then, I’d probably buy another, more fuel efficient car rather than trade.

    I do cost-benefit analyses on a regular basis to double-check my math, and a lot of it has to do with driving style. My Suburban mostly does grocery getting and kids to karate. I can put all their gear, all the groceries, all the kids, whoever happens to be visiting, and still have room left over. Its fuel mileage is only half that of a Malibu. The cost of trading in the Suburban easily offsets any fuel mileage gains and I get to keep the Suburban.

    I’m one of the big guys y’all are talking about, 6’3″, 300 pounds. Played nose tackle, if you know what I mean. The Tracker (wife’s car) that I drive as a commuter because it gets 3 more mpg and the wife can haul the kids around when I’m gone on my biweekly trips to work, had tires that wore funny and now pulls badly when I hit the brakes. Every ‘car’ I’ve ever owned eventually did this, even the Isuzu Pup my dad used to drive. A shade-tree mechanic shimmed the Pup to fix it so my dad or I could drive it but lighter people couldn’t.

    One thing I like about the Suburban is that it doesn’t do this. Another thing is that I can sit in the back seat. I’m big in every dimension, longish legs, tall sitting down, heavy. However, I have short little arms which make it hard for me to drive with reclined seats, which caused no end of elbow pain in my old v6 Camaro. I can sit upright in the Suburban and drive it with bent elbows. This is also true of the older Dodge Neons and some other cars, of course, but none of them have the capability of the Suburban.

    I will agree that the larger SUVs are horrid in snow and get lots of yuppies and those they hit killed, but in mud, water, sand, whatever else, they are pretty good compared to compact cars. I recently had to negotiate flash-flooded roads to get home, with as much as two feet of water to wade, driving past subcompacts stalled in the shallow end as i crabbed to keep on the road in the deeper end fighting the current despite 3 tons of SUV. A car stalled in Taco Bell and I had to get out in a hurry. Low range and a little deft footwork and I was on my way. An S10 Blazer tried it and got stuck with one wheel on the grass and one on pavement, spinning his tires.

    And, yes, it can tow. Not only can it tow, but its greater weight makes it more stable than a pickup and the interior room means long trips with a family towing something are far more comfortable than in a pickup. If you have dogs, you know what I mean.

    Mine is the seven seater with the walkway to the back seat. The toddler’s seat is silly easy to get into compared to every car I’ve ever tried with.

    It has an entertainment system which is essential, but, more than that, it has room for each kid to have his/her stuff right next to him/her. There’s room to spread out and play.

    As for safety, the misconception that small cars are safer is laughable. Small cars are safer to other cars. There is so much steel in this beast that it takes quite the impact to make it deform in an injurious way. On top of that, passengers are well away from most body panels, allowing for greater deform distance. The roof is stronger than most cars. On a front-end collision, there’s tons of hood to absorb the impact. Rear end has even more distance to absorb impact.

    As for the comment about station wagons being just as useful, heck, what do you really think the Suburban is? It’s simply the latest iteration in the station wagon. It’s a large, body on frame vehicle just like my dad’s old Estate Wagon that I passed so many happy hours rolling around the fold flat seats with my toy cars while he drove in snow and ice, with nary a child safety seat or even seatbelt in sight. Ah, those were the days…

    Sure, I admit to some chagrin as the beast eats a hundred dollar bill twice a month, but that’s less than a third of the total cost of ownership. And, to us at least, it is worth it.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I say get a bargain used Suburban/Expedition/Armada/Durango and get a decent used camper. Go camping, have fun. Cheaper than airfare/hotel/rentacar

  • avatar
    DearS

    I was riding in my friends Tahoe just now. It was a fun ride. Not enthusiast sporty but fun. The high view was fun, the up and down motions where fun. The peace and interior space was enjoyable. Although I have my enthusiasts needs and I will need my E30, I happy to lighten up and hop in an SUV, its all about balance ironically.

  • avatar
    capeplates

    Try filling up the tank at UK prices – at 9 dollars a gallon it would soon make your eyes water!

  • avatar
    crc

    re booster seats

    I was trained in child safety seats by the NC Highway Patrol. The NC child passenger safety law is way too vague. Height is a requirement stated here “Children may be secured in a properly fitted seat belt at age 8 (regardless of weight) OR at 80 pounds (regardless of age) – whichever comes first.” Properly fitted, are the key words.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “I would not be surprised if this weight factor played a role in some proportion of SUV sales.”

    Most of the fashionable ladies I see driving Escalades, XC90s and Cayenne’s around here are so skinny they would fit three across is a Smart forTwo.

    Around here at least, the truck craze was driven by the fickle finger of fashion.

  • avatar
    cleek

    A UK gas price of US$9 per gallon is self inflicted, but it doesn’t stop my Brit buds
    from whinging about it.

  • avatar
    ttacfan

    A UK gas price of US$9 per gallon is self inflicted

    They should drop that imperial gallon nonsence and switch to the US ones. That would shave at least a buck off the gas price!

  • avatar
    50merc

    gibbleth, thanks for speaking up. No doubt the big SUV craze was faddish, but it’s good to be reminded there are people with sound reasons for choosing a Suburban. Like Yamaha used to say, “different strokes for different folks.”

  • avatar
    barkleyfan

    ” own a 6 cylinder F-150 I am contemplating selling only because I never use it. Although pickups are out of style, full size work trucks with the big six are sought after by tradesmen who can’t use a Fit to get to work. I steered clear of V-8s when i bought this truck 5 years ago even though gas was cheap. It gets 20MPG on the highway and that bests a V-8 4WD monster truck by a lot.”

    I get 18 MPG in my 1998 Dakota R/T with not just a V-8 under the hood, but a 360 cubic inch V-8 and that big motor is topped off with 3.92 gears which is geared for accelleration, not economy. There’s a big misperception in the gap in fuel economy.

  • avatar
    mikeolan


    I spend a lot of time in Northern Ontario in the winter. Front-wheel drive and good snow tires is more than enough for most plowed roads. If it gets really bad (ice, deeper snow), studs or chains will do you fine. If the road is unplowed, well, nothing without treads is getting through in some of these places.

    Four wheel drive does not help you stop, and it doesn’t help you steer much, either. If nothing else, the ability to start out without slippage results in an unwarranted sense of self-confidence, one that can get many drivers in serious trouble. A high centre of gravity just makes matters worse.

    If you’re driving on flat streets with powder-grade snow, front wheel drive with snow tires will be fine. Hell, I won’t lie- I’ve seen honda civics tread fearlessly on packed snow.

    Try driving in the rust-belt snow/sludge (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania) , no matter of driver finesse will compensate for when your vehicle can’t regain traction from a stop or loses traction half way up a hill. Four wheel drive will make the difference between you getting halfway up the hill or through the bank. No questions about it, I used to have to help the drivers who’d get stuck going up the hill on my street in the winter push their cars out from my lawn. No all wheel drive vehicle (Subarus and SUV’s) ever managed to get stuck in the 6 years I lived there. Some were bad drivers, some were guys who thought their snow tire equipped BMW could go where the Pathfinder before them went.

    Yes, many SUV drivers get overconfident, and snow tires do narrow the gap, but as someone who tried to make it through winters with a snow-tire-equipped Jetta (and Volvo, and Honda), I’m going to laugh at every idiot who thought buying a set of snow tires (which they probably won’t have on their car for the first snowfall anyway).

    The extra ground clearance also makes a bit of a difference when clearing a pile of sludge that would otherwise drag along your undercarriage (a big problem with the Jetta.)

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    This is a great time to buy an SUV. I disagree with the idea that the depreciation trend will continue. If an SUV lost 6k in value this year, it will lose much less next year. In fact, I think it’s about over for the nightmare. Supply will take care of itself soon.

    OTOH, the idea that you can lose under 2k per year on a car is just silly. There were folks about ten years back that thought you couldn’t lose money in the stock market too. Good luck with that. They want 2k off the minute you leave the lot.

  • avatar
    M20E30

    KatiePuckrik
    “well built VW”

    ?

    That aside, I totally agree with this article. Very well written.

  • avatar
    barkleyfan

    Yes, many SUV drivers get overconfident, and snow tires do narrow the gap, but as someone who tried to make it through winters with a snow-tire-equipped Jetta (and Volvo, and Honda), I’m going to laugh at every idiot who thought buying a set of snow tires (which they probably won’t have on their car for the first snowfall anyway).

    I have to agree with you Mike. I made it successfully through 2 winters in the Iowa snowbelt in a 2WD pickup with a 360 and a posi with 3.92 gears. There were times when the rears woud start spinning as soon as I let off the brake. I could do it again, if I had to. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The best mod I ever did for my Dakota was the purchase of a 1992 S-10 Blazer 4X4 as a winter beater.

  • avatar
    Durask

    Thought I could get a good deal on a used BMW X5.
    No such luck.
    Apparently the SUV panic applies only to US brand SUVs. :-(

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I agree with a lot of what is being said to defend SUV’s, but the truth is that those attributes have little to nothing to do with what most people who are complaining use it for. Honestly, most of the weather issues, etc can be taken care of with a CR-V, Outback, etc with gas mileage in the low to mid 20′s. It is those who decided they need the biggest and baddest that are really hurting.

    I think my mother is the best example of the decision that many make when purchasing a car (often incorrectly). After her ’99 CR-V was totalled in an accident, she was down to two replacements: a new CR-V and a Murano. She chose the CR-V. Her reasoning was that she didn’t need to spend $6-8k more than a CR-V for the privilege of higher insurance rates and gas bills with the Murano. Smart woman…most people make the other choice. I have used the CR-V to move an apartment worth of stuff, a double bass, the coffee table I just picked up off of craigslist, etc. There is nothing that this thing can’t take care of with a thule luggage rack that two people could lift reasonably. The extra ground clearance helps in flash floods, snow, etc. I don’t think that driving a CUV/SUV is bad, but that does not mean you need a V-8 behemoth for less than four people. Aside from towing, what is it that a large SUV can do for most people that a smaller CUV or minivan could not do? Hummers are the biggest joke of all since they aren’t even as useful as traditional SUVs.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    “Aside from towing, what is it that a large SUV can do for most people that a smaller CUV or minivan could not do?”

    There is so much wrong with this question, that I don’t even know where to start. It sounds perfectly legit, but it’s not.

    The problem is that it presumes that people do or should buy a car based on “need”. You can’t get to where you did without that assumption. Everything you said flows from that worthless supposition. Knowing nothing about your mother, I would bet dollars to donuts she doesn’t need a CUV either. I don’t mean to make this personal, so please understand you are one of millions that falls for this line of thinking every day.

    Ask yourself, why did you leave out towing? Using your logic, shouldn’t you question what all this towing activity is about? Do people who don’t live on the water need those watercraft they are towing? Camper trailers? Need? And how about those landscapers and other workers who could likely get all the tools they really need in a van.

    Why are we limiting our scope to transportation? What about food, clothing, furniture, and housing? Why don’t we go after those choices as well. They all have an environmental impact. Everything gets shipped from somewhere.

    I have been over this a zillion times on this site, so I will zip to the end. Either you are for gas taxes (and other consumption taxes), or you are not. Nothing else will work, and most of it is really presumptuous and rude (like insulting hummer owners).

    Someone here recently stated quite succinctly that it’s no business of anyones how much he spends on gas. He was right.

    Gas is no different from any other good that we all compete for use of using our dollars. If I want to ride around in a Landcrusher, that is my business – whether I need one or not. Ask yourself why should you criticize my choice based on what you think I needed? Why is my choice of car a problem for you? What things do you have that I get to disapprove of?

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Landcrusher,

    I have no problem with anyone driving an SUV. What I have a problem with is people buying that SUV for no reason and then complaining to me about how much they have to fill up and how upside down they are now that they are trying to sell it. If they had been fiscally responsible in the first place, or had enough discretionary income to actually afford it, then they would not have this problem. Frankly, I don’t care if they’re fiscally responsible or not. I just want them to sit down and stop complaining about their bad CHOICE (and that is what it is) and blaming the market solely for a fiscally irresponsible decision on their part.

    The point of the story about my mother was that she chose not to overextend herself on the purchase of a car just because it was possible. She is not in bad shape now that gas prices, heating oil, groceries, etc. are higher and money is tighter in this recession. Again, I have no problem with anyone buying a Murano (or anything eelse) if they can afford it. However, many who buy these things can’t.

    If you have an SUV and can stand the fill ups put up and shut up. If you bought an SUV to be the biggest mofo on the road/ be a ‘baller’, then the joke is on you. I singled out the Hummer because the large majority of people in these vehicles due it to copy the celebrities that won’t have an issues with spending a bit more on gas. The Suburban that it is based on is a much more useful vehicle for people who need to use an SUV.

    I singled out towing because this is what large SUVs do best. Pickups move large cargo better and minivans move people more easily. People don’t only tow boats and personal watercraft. There are those who tow things that are needed rather than toys.

    Bottom line: If one needed an SUV or could actually afford one, then people would not be lining up in droves to trade them in at huge losses. This spiraling market trend is due to people who made bad fiscal decisions because they wanted a large car and are now paying for it. Those in the two caegories listed above are keeping their SUVs.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Sanman,

    Well, I agree with that. Sorry I missed your meaning.


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