By on April 7, 2008

suv-bumperstickers.jpgThe reaction to my musings on BMW's X6 has been fast and spurious. TTAC readers do not want. Pulling out a random gripe from the comments gives us Pete_S4's take, "I still don't get this vehicle. It's absurdly heavy, very thirsty, and has little space for such a big vehicle. Like many recent German vehicles it's all justified by a pile of electronics. Briefly I can feel the seduction of such vehicles. But it only takes a weekend at the track to remind why we like to turn off all of these electronics." And while he's right, I would argue 99 percent of the time 90 percent of an SUV's utility is totally and utterly wasted. No one tows anything, the third row has a duffel bag on it and they (almost) universally suck eggs to drive. At least the X6 is honest in its dishonesty. Anyhow, gas prices have continued to increase, rising five cents in the last two weeks. So I ask you, are SUVs dead?

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95 Comments on “Question of the Day: Is There Any Good Reason to Buy an SUV?...”

  • avatar

    I think SUV’s as we’ve known them over the past 15 years are dead.

    The body-on-frame SUV will go back to what it once was, a vehicle that fulfills a very specialized need. That need will be for something that seats at least 4, has an enclosed, protected cargo area and retains a significant towing capability.

    They’ll likely fall into two categories: Wrangler class offroad units with limited towing and Suburban class “Texas wagons” with pickup-grade towing but gives up a bit on the offroad capability.

    All the current soft-roaders including most current compact and midsize SUV/CUV’s will continue to trend towards what they should have been in the first place: all-wheel drive station wagons.

    The AMC Eagle is laughing in its grave.

  • avatar

    I doubt SUVs are dead. They will get smaller, and lower, and more like the station wagons we grew up with. But even these need to get more efficient. And smaller.

    Remember when a totally stripped out car with a huge engine was the fastest, coolest thing? Well I predict the same, but with the most efficient engine. I wouldnt mind to get rid of all that sound deadening insulation, carpet, 6-CD changer, electric everything, and end up with a real usable, safe, efficient car.

  • avatar

    For sure the used ones are going to be around for a long time.The body on frame truck based are as tough as nails.The good news is that gas prices will put a limit on thier daily use.

  • avatar

    Yes, the vehicles still have a market and fit into certain niches. They weren’t terribly popular before the period between 1995 and 2005 and they are beginning to decline in popularity again, but there is no reason for them to go away. There is still a need to move people and tow loads. In my undergraduate geology field camp, we had 8 Suburbans and a couple of trailers moving about 45 folks thousands of miles through the West over rugged and unimproved roads. The Chevys excelled at both comfort and efficiency. SUV’s are fun, and useful unlike a performance car which is merely fun. Like the performance car, they are perhaps not practical as everyday transportation any longer. Make no mistake about it, SUV’s can be performance vehicles as well. Moab is to the Jeep as the Autobahn is to BMW.

  • avatar

    I think we will see the SUV branch fork into two:

    1. Station wagons will return (marketing weasels will probably call them CUVs or some such), some with AWD

    2. Small SUVs, like CRV will likely survive with minor modifications, more fuel efficient engines.

    The big SUVs will slowly wither away.

    And I agree, AMC Eagle was way ahead of its time.

  • avatar

    I do own an SUV (Isuzu Rodeo Sport, my wife’s actually), and it’s a great vehicle for its intended purpose. I take it camping off road, pull a trailer on occasion — its 3500# towing capacity allowed me to pull home an MG, and it’s great for a yard trailer — and handle the really big snow storms (I live in the UT mountains). Don’t want a pickup truck, and this works great for 4 people, and gets 20 mpg or so. It’s a bit of a pig to drive, but comfy, and hey, it’s a truck after all. I’m not expecting it to be a sports car. We carpool together to work in a small hatchback, so the gas mileage is not an issue.

    A small, strong SUV works nicely as a small pickup replacement, since most of the time I’d rather have the clean, enclosed hauling space. A cheap yard trailer handles the dirty jobs, and is only used when needed. Not sure what we’ll replace it with when the time comes, though, since they don’t sell this model in the USA anymore. Jeep Wrangler’s probably as close as it comes, but a bit pricey for what you get.

    All that said, if I didn’t need the off road ability, then I’d rather have something with better on-road ability. If I had kids, I’d just get a minvan — all the practicality with better road manners. Since I have no kids, I’d prefer a station wagon with similar towing ability (old cars and motorcycles pretty much require a trailer at hand).

  • avatar

    I second all the previous posts.

    Now for the sarcastic moment: SUVs are extremely useful:
    – they have poorer fuel economy and therefore help us reach peak oil faster
    – they sit higher on the road, thus blocking everybody else’ field of vision
    – while they’re not safer than passenger cars due to their propensity to rollover, they’re much more likely to kill the passenger of cars they plow into.

    What’s not to like? And you get all this by justifications such as “I need the room, tow often, and go off-road”, even though it’s untrue 95$ of the time.

  • avatar

    Of course there are good reasons to buy SUVs. But the X6, as far as I can tell, is not actually an SUV. It’s an extra-heavy, extra-tall hatchback.

  • avatar

    There is no good reason for buying an SUV just like there is no good reason for buying a sports car. Both should exist for the same reason, for people who want to buy them. And that is a good enough reason for me.

  • avatar

    I don’t own an SUV. I know some that own SUV’s their excuses are generally, kids, towing, room, safety, winter driving (LOL) and for clients.

    One one is really legit, my former co worker has horses and needs the towing capacity.

    OEM’s don’t want the SUV to die they make huge profits of them.

  • avatar

    It’s a somewhat ambiguous question as the term ‘SUV’ encompasses everything from a RAV4 to a Suburban.

    Small SUVs work well as tall hatchbacks – they are both practical and economical.

    Mid size unibody SUVs, like the CX-7, make no sense at all – they get miserable mileage while offering no more space or towing capacity than a wagon.

    The body on frame SUV has its place for those who need to tow or regularly drive on dirt roads that could damage minivans or wagons.

  • avatar

    A lot of people complain about SUV’s blocking their vision in front of them. I say it’s better than having one ride your bumper and taking up your entire rearview mirror.

  • avatar

    Nah…they’ve been around for 50+ years (I’m thinking that the old Carryall Suburban was the grandfather of the Tahoe, Sequoia, etc.) and I think they’ll continue on for a long while into the future. They’ll just be the exception rather than the rule. The parking lot of your local Target won’t be crammed with them anymore. Too thirsty, not practical. There are better choices for grocery getting and kid hauling now.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I see more utility and sense in a vehicle like the Chevy Avalanche than I do in something like the X6. It seats 5, can pull a big trailer, and has a larg-ish flat cargo area that can get dirty. Same goes for the Honda Ridgeline.

  • avatar

    Aside from towing or hauling heavy loads or routinely driving in severe road or weather conditions – no.

    Many truck-based SUVs have been watered down with low bodywork, lowered suspensions and other compromises that further erode their truck-based advantages to boot.

  • avatar

    The true SUV will always have a role in towing and off-road conditions. The CUV is for the people who must get a higher up view of the road to look down on people, but still want some fuel economy. SUV’s will never ever die completely but it wont be the future choice for soccer moms anymore, i think that niche will be filled with CUVs and Minivans. It will be interesting to see the OEMs have to cut back production of the SUVs as the cost of fuel continues to rise.

  • avatar

    Sure, there’s good reasons to buy SUVs. When gas hits $4/gallon, though, or, better yet, $5/gallon, people will tend to buy them only for the good reasons and stop buying them for the stupid reasons. We should have forced this point years ago with a sizeable gas (or oil or carbon) tax.

    Ever watch people drive these things in a parking lot? I swear, if I ever want to get my car totalled out, I’ll just pull up behind some cell-phoning soccer mom in her bad-ass SUV and let her back the thing into the side of my car. Not a one of them ever actually looks behind when they back up, they just pull out slowly, presuming whatever’s behind them will scatter when they see the behemoth moving. At $4/gallon, this sort of anti-social behavior will decline. Well, the driver will still be an idiot but the driver will be an idiot in a vehicle sized more competitively with mine.

    Here’s the bad part… at $4/gallon, people will dump these and they’ll become cheap wheels for teens.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    If driving (or getting from place to place) were about practicality, we would drive nothing but minivans and four-door sedans.

    Not to say that SUV’s aren’t practical. I know several (older) women at my church who have small SUV’s. They really do have them for the all-weather capabilities and even their somewhat limited cargo carrying capabilities. They are awfully handy when taking supplies to the food bank.

    I used to give SUV drivers hell until I pissed off a friend of mine for teasing him for driving an Expedition. He has a small printing company (he uses the Ex for pickups and deliveries) plus five kids and a boat for recreation. He doesn’t want to license, maintain and fuel possibly several vehicles when he can keep his fleet down to two vehicles, a minivan and a SUV. When I thought about it, that made sense.

    I have since changed my tune about each person’s choices, as if my choices were held up to scrutiny, I may not like it so much, myself…

    I think SUV’s will be around for a long time. Like another post-er here noted, probably not in the configuration we’re familiar with right now.

  • avatar

    My mother has a mid 90’s Chevy S10 Blazer. She lives out in the country, and she has horses. She needs something to pull the horse trailer, and about 20 times every winter the road gets snowed in. She has a Toyota Yaris as a daily commuter, and the Blazer when needed. For her, it is the perfect car, though I have always wanted an XJ Cherokee or classic Range Rover. For all other people that don’t have her needs, an SUV is un-needed and totally pointless. I guess about 95% of all SUV-owners could do with something else. And if you need to pull that boat-trailer twice a year, why don’t you buy an old pick-up truck for, like, nothing? Or perhaps rent a truck for those occasions? Driving an SUV to and from the job on the highway is just silly.

  • avatar

    Well it’s so uncouth to just literally throw money – but if you drop $150 filling up – everyone knows how you roll. :)

  • avatar

    I’d say that the Rubicon and Moab are to true off road vehicles what the ‘bahn is to German autos.

    I’m one of the few people in the minority who actually uses his SUV for its designed purpose. I choose my 06 Liberty because it was the only small SUV out there with a true, level selectable “4LO” range. I also live in an area with an abundance of off road trails (the eastern end of the Rubicon is ~1hr from my driveway) and 4-6 weeks of severe winter weather.

    Even still if I could go back in time I get a economical sedan like a Civic, Prius or Impreza as well as a 10 yr old beater Jeep Wrangler for weekend off road fun.

    Increasing fuel prices are making many people take a long hard look at their actual versus perceived needs in a vehicle.

    SUVs are retreating into the niche from which they emerged in the early 90s. Between CAFE and $4/gal gas I suspect that we will see less and less of SUVs and pickups being used a daily drivers.

  • avatar

    SUV’s will be around for a while. The large ones like Tahoes, Suburbans and such won’t sell as many but will still be needed for specific jobs. The Mid-sized CUV’s like the Murano, Edge, CX-7 are today’s station wagons. They may get more fuel efficient but don’t expect them to get much smaller. Gone are the days of one car families and road trips in big sedans or the Country Squire. Americans like room for stuff, in their houses and in their cars. There is also the mentality that still exists that bigger is better, safer, stronger and you are getting more for your money. It’s going to take a long time, much higher gas cost as well as taxes to changing that thinking.

    As to wagons offering the same space as SUV/CUV’s I’d have to disagree. My wife had an Subaru Outback at the same time I had a Nissan Murano and I had a ton more room for cargo and passengers than she did. She also only got about 3-4 more MPG too.

    Ideally people should just go back to mini-van’s of various sizes as they are normally cheaper and more fuel efficient than mid and large SUV/CUV’s.

  • avatar

    Towing your boat/ATV, or if you have more than 2 active, outdoorsy kids. Otherwise, it’s just to avoid being seen in a minivan or wagon.

  • avatar

    I like this question of the day thing…

    My good reason is I have three children and a boat/camper we like to take with us on summer outings. Yard waste and other dirty things to be hauled away from both our house and cottage. For that we have chevy avalanche. It serves as strictly a third vehicle racking up 5500 miles in the past 12 months. It fills a roll the Honda Odyssey can’t because the drivetrain would not stand the abuse. Were the automakers to build a station wagon that could actually tow I could definitely think of trading it away but they don’t and so there it is. The downside to this is that its a gm vehicle and true to form it has spent 24 days at the dealer in 11 months of ownership (purchased new) but i knew what I was getting into.
    Now I know someone will argue that my boat wastes precious petrol as does my avalanche and that having fun with my family isn’t a good reason. I am sorry for anyone that has such a dismal view.

  • avatar

    Reading this I had a Clarkson moment…

    …the best use of an SUV – driving as fast as possible around London without having paid the congestion fee :-) Freedom!

  • avatar

    I hope wagons make a come-back. With a wagon, you can have a decent sized cargo area without sacrificing fuel economy. I’m not too crazy about CUV’s, the raised suspension isn’t doing much good in a vehicle like that, and I’d rather have a lower center of gravity.

    We need both small and mid-sized wagons with fuel-efficient engines.

    The Prius is the most popular hybrid because it is a mid-sized wagon (or “hatchback”, the point being that its mid-sized). A lot of people think its because it looks green. That’s not it all. It’s an extremely practical vehicle — plenty of space for passengers and plenty of cargo space. There’s not many vehicles competing in the fuel-efficient mid-sized wagon category. And that is one of the reasons it made it on my short-list.

    The Hyundai Elantra Touring is an example of the type of vehicles we need, and its also on my short-list. I wish Honda made a Civic Wagon (not hatchback), I would have bought one. The Fit is nice, but I want something a little bit bigger than a sub-compact hatchback.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    What I really want to know is you plan to convince all these stupid suburban housewives to drive mini-vans.

    “Look lady, you are a mom. You will never be 19 again, ever. Deal with it. And stop talking on the phone while you are driving.”

  • avatar

    If you’re running a lodge in the mountains between Chile and Argentina, and you’ve got a three hour drive to the nearest large airport – on dirt roads, then you’ll need one.

  • avatar

    There are plenty of good reasons to buy SUVs, but none of them apply to me, so I don’t own one, and can’t foresee a need to do anything that a minivan can’t do.

    However, I’m bothered that they sold in such absolutely absurd numbers for the last 15 years. It has made my efforts to stay in more efficient cars less safe (statistically), and I don’t appreciate that. And, the good reasons also don’t apply to more than 2% of the SUV owners I’ve met (and living in Texas, that’s MOST of the people I meet). Anecdotal, yes, but shunning a van because it’s a “mommymobile” only to buy an SUV identical to all of the other moms is…flawed logic. But that clearly doesn’t drive American consumerism. Also, when did draping hundreds of pounds of steel and glass on top of a truck make it safer? And seeing further only provides more time to…wait for it…corral the weight penalty extracted by the height gain. Marketing won the psychological game despite common sense, statistical data, and arguably, better vehicles.

  • avatar

    if you think road noise isn’t a big deal try being a salesman faced with the jeep patriot/compass. The problem is people want cars that doen’t exist. Cars with amazing potential utility while getting unrealistic miliage with 5 star everything rating and total comfort with great performance in straight lines and handling. Thats the needs/wants list i get from everyone who walks in this showroom.

  • avatar

    I never saw the point in SUVs for everyday use. I’m a car guy.
    When it came time for the wife to get a new vehicle, she gave the following parameters:
    • Hold price to low 20’s.
    • Had to sit up high. Minivan? She’s been there, done that with 9 yrs in a Voyager. Truck? Nope.
    • No 4 cyl. At least a small V6. Has to be able to merge.
    • Good mileage. okaaay. I tell maybe 20 mpg, tops.
    • Good warranty.
    • Doesn’t want to feel cramped. Has to haul at least 5 at times.
    • Doesn’t want a truck ride.
    The list of potential vehicles has shrunk considerably at this point.

    We end up with an 07 Hyundai Santa Fe. Bought it just as they were appearing at dealers in late 06. I helped narrow the list but it was entirely her decision. She is very happy with it after 1.5 years. Therefore hubby is happy.

    It gets 18 mpg around town with the 2.7 V6.
    Surprising room in 2nd row.
    Very car like ride. Hyundai warranty is good.
    Small note – the doors on these close like a German car – very satisfying.

  • avatar

    SUV’s are popular because:
    1) You can haul a lot of stuff in them (more usable space compared to say, a Sedan)
    2) You can tow with them (I actually know of a few people who do)
    3) Winter driving (AWD + slightly higher ground clearance can make a whopping difference, especially in the rust belt.)
    4) Typically more comfortable for passengers (especially in the rear seat.)
    5) Shorter people really like the driving position.
    6) They tend to be heavier, so they are more comfortable for long trips over bad asphalt.

    Could most of these be accomplished with a Wagon? Well, yes, but that’s basically what those “crossovers” are. Now, I personally prefer wagons, and if you’re going to build a 400hp ‘beast,’ make it a wagon.

  • avatar

    Friends who have SUVs say they bought them because they need the towing capacity and the off-road abilities that regular cars don’t have. None of these people tow anything nor have they ever been off-road, on purpose. Advertising creates the perceived need to tow and go off-road and people want to be the type of person who engages in these activities. Most use the SUV as a commuter vehicle. Granted that some people actually tow with an SUV and may actually go off-road but I would wager that the greater percentage of SUV owners don’t. SUVs are status symbols and until they become too expensive or too much of a social liability they will be around for a while. They fulfill a need that advertising creates. The need to feel like you are the type of person who would need to drive a SUV. Advertising works that’s why they spend so much money on it.

  • avatar

    I needed an SUV (or truck) a couple of years ago when I was working in the oilfield. You just aren’t going to get anywhere on some of the oilfield roads during muddy times without a competent 4X4. I also needed something with enough space to carry everything I need to live in a rig trailer for a couple of months. I got a ’98 Pathfinder with a 5 speed, manual transfer case, and 31″ tires. I liked it, but didn’t like buying gas for it after I left the job that payed me to own and drive it.

  • avatar

    Agree that most people that bought large SUV’s in the last decade bought mostly on appearance/vanity. However, being very active in Scouts, we use one of our Assistant Scoutmaster’s Suburban on just about every campout we go on. His is one of the few vehicles in the Troop that can haul a trailer full of five chuckboxes, plus tents, 25-35 people’s worth of personal gear, dining flies, etc…does he drive it every day? No. Does it fit the use intended, absolutely. Is he justified in buying it? I think the kids (and adults!) would say so. Now, are 7/10ths of the Suburbans/Expeditions/etc…used as such? By my daily commute’s reckoning, not even close. I agree with the assessment here that purchases of such beasties will diminish back to those that truly NEED such a vehicle, as opposed to those that simply want to be SEEN in them.

  • avatar

    Fair disclosure: I hate SUVs. I, as an enthusiast, simply cannot abide them. I wasted a great deal of time attempting to talk my sister and brother-in-law out of buying one. I hate being stuck behind a brontosaurus going 58 mph in the left lane, I hate having to lay on my horn as some vacuous blond attempts to back over my car at the grocery store. I genuinely hate them.

    That said, I don’t understand the posts stating that X percent of SUV drivers don’t ‘need’ them. No one ‘needs’ a car, as evidenced by the fact that human civilization predates the automobile. No one needs a television, a computer, a cell phone or any of our modern conveniences. In a way, each of these items is just as wasteful as an SUV. Moreover, who are we to be the arbiters of what others purchase? If some still wish to buy the behemoths with fuel at $4/gallon, more power to them. Ultimately, as long as we wish to remain a prosperous society (please don’t cite the current recession, as these are of course cyclical and as inevitable as death) we need to maintain personal economic freedom. Which means that we have to live with the (stupid) choices that others may make.

  • avatar

    Luxury SUV’s should never existed in the first place. I think that is the main point of people critical of the X-6. On the other hand, the Suburban has been around since before WWII and still has some “utility” left in its design. They make more sense than a crew cab pickup with a five foot bed.

    My son-in-law bought a Border Patrol green used Suburban and its a hoot to drive it to Home Depot. You should see the day laborers scatter!

  • avatar

    That said, I don’t understand the posts stating that X percent of SUV drivers don’t ‘need’ them. No one ‘needs’ a car…

    I need some sort of vehicle to drive me around, it needs to be fairly practical, fun to drive and have at least some beauty and prescense.

    But say that it began to be fashionable driving around in trucks, and now I don’t talk about pick-ups, but real trucks, 18-wheelers. “yeah, need that towing ability” and “likes to sit up high”. “But how many times do you really need to haul a whole container?” one might ask. “Well, it’s not what I actually need, but that I actually can…” is the answer you get then…

    The point is, SUVS, as used by the majority, is a very unefficient and wasteful way of using resources, as they are practically never ever used for its made intentions. If you never actually go off-road, do you need to pay for the ability? If you never haul stuff, why drive around in something that big, wasting fuel just for nothing? If you want something to tow your boat, TWICE a year, does it pay to drive around in a truck the rest of the year as well?

    You can say you want to drive around in trucks and suvs, but if you don’t actually need them, say that you do it for fun then, and not because of all the stuffing/towing/boating/camping you never do anyway. Say: “I don’t care about the environment. I want to be seen as a wildlife explorer. I drive around in a gas-guzzling SUV just for fun !!!! And f**k you!”

  • avatar

    If you need a large cargo capacity, and have to deal with heavy show or poorly-surfaced roads, it makes perfect sense.

    If you don’t have any of these issues, but you just like to schlep around in a manly big truck, it’s your money and your gas money and if that’s how you want to spend it, it’s still a free country last time I looked. Me, I want four cylinders, five speeds, and six seconds 0-60.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My folks hsd 2 Suburbans when I was a kid, a 49 and a 54. In the 80s, when my own kids were little, I had a series of Jeep Grand Wagoneers. My wife liked them and we have a 700′ driveway. We used to take the kids to the beach and the wags are excellent beach buggies. When gas topped 1.25$ a gallon, I stopped using them as commuters. I still have one for occasional use. It sees about 1000 miles a year.

  • avatar

    Our Hyundai Accent (main car that complements a Rodeo Sport) replaced a Subaru Outback wagon 4 years ago. I didn’t need the space in the Subaru, and the Hyundai gets 10 mpg more. It’s a very efficient car, in the sense that I regularly use most of it’s capacity (speed, hauling). It’s the one we’ll wear out first. When we do drive the Rodeo, it’s for the things it does well, and the trade offs are worth it. The Hyundai can’t tow anything, and I’d rip it to shreds if it went on some of my camping trips. It will cruise at the speed limit, however, and handles the mountain grades just fine. I have great appreciation for a vehicle who’s full abilities you can use.

    I do hope that we’re getting back to where folks buy a SUV (or other car/truck) based on their needs, not just their image appeal. That’s a tough one, since we have such a culture of car-as-status here in the USA.

  • avatar

    thebigmass :
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    That said, I don’t understand the posts stating that X percent of SUV drivers don’t ‘need’ them. No one ‘needs’ a car, as evidenced by the fact that human civilization predates the automobile. No one needs a television, a computer, a cell phone or any of our modern conveniences. In a way, each of these items is just as wasteful as an SUV. Moreover, who are we to be the arbiters of what others purchase? If some still wish to buy the behemoths with fuel at $4/gallon, more power to them. Ultimately, as long as we wish to remain a prosperous society (please don’t cite the current recession, as these are of course cyclical and as inevitable as death) we need to maintain personal economic freedom. Which means that we have to live with the (stupid) choices that others may make.
    Thank you.

  • avatar

    They’re wounded, although not dead. I doubt that they’ll ever go back to their heyday, but I do see a chance for a bit of a comeback coming.

    I’m going to stick myself out on a limb here, and predict that oil prices are most likely going to start falling next year, particularly if the US shows signs that it is going to start withdrawing from Iraq.

    If I’m right, gas will find its way back to the $2.00-2.50/gallon range. Once that happens, SUV sales will start picking up again. It won’t be quite like before, but sales will improve from their present levels, and some of the hybrid chic factor will be lost in the process.

  • avatar

    I have a Volvo station wagon. It holds me plus six kids, or lawnmowers, bicycles, TVs, chairs, etc, and looks and drives like a car. And gets 25mpg. And gets out of its own way off the line. I never did get SUVs and I still don’t.

  • avatar

    I went from a Ford Explorer to a Ford Escape. Easier to park, but it doesn’t hold as much stuff. And I can’t tow generators with it. But it is easier to park.

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  • avatar

    More SUV bashing I see. Note that many of the minivans on the market, now that they are getting large engines, have mileage that is not much better than some SUV’s. My wife’s Odyssey gets that same actual mileage as my X5, and the X5 is not broken in yet.

    I am not sure how many more times I can rehash this stuff on this site. There are so many factors that go into such a choice and personal freedom is a big part of it. I have R70 insulation in my roof and my house is urethane insulation foamed to R30 in the walls (which cost a fortune.) This decision nobody will know about. The Prius owner up the street gets all the accolades yet his house is an energy pig.

    I only drive 8000 miles per year. The Prius does over 50000 miles per year.

    You can’t always judge a book by it cover.

    Also, just because a pick-up truck has the potential to be more useful than an SUV, doesn’t mean that it is often used to that degree. Most of them aren’t either. I have many construction contractor customers that use them, but they also would be better off with a wagon or minivan.

    I think that the next question of the day should be “Should we raise our gas taxes in North America?” (Yes.)

  • avatar

    Ultimately, as long as we wish to remain a prosperous society (please don’t cite the current recession, as these are of course cyclical and as inevitable as death) we need to maintain personal economic freedom. Which means that we have to live with the (stupid) choices that others may make.

    I agree with you to a point. However, economic freedom on the public roads (as opposed to one’s private property) has limits. We don’t allow the public to drive Kenilworths with cabs on the back. Even Texas doesn’t (I think).

    What surprises me is that the SUV backlash hasn’t manifested itself in any sort of tougher licensing requirements for vehicles over a certain weight. I don’t know the ins and outs of Cali politics, but with their liberal legislature, you think some tougher licensing restrictions would at least have been proposed.

  • avatar

    bigmass and trees,

    Bigmass, it sounds like you really hate SUV’s being driven poorly. Like lots of others here, I have lately noticed the Corolla is the more likely left lane bandit.

    Trees, If you have the proper license, you can drive a big rig to the grocery. However, you used to need a company sponsor to sign your commercial license application and state there is a business purpose for you to get one.

    I would like to see stronger licensing requirements for everyone, and I think using vehicle weight would be a valid way to classify the cars. That, or HP and/or Torque.

  • avatar

    SUVs don’t haul people nearly as well as minivans and station wagons, and minivans are also better for hauling personal possessions. . And they don’t haul awkward stuff as well as pickups. They’re 98% image, and its an image I wouldn’t want.

  • avatar

    When I was a kid, SUV’s were purchased by people who really used them as SUV’s. I remember the Bronco owned by my friend’s father. That thing was crude, it came equipped with rubber floor mats that could be easily hosed down when they got splattered with deer guts and fish bait. The owner of that Bronco used it the way it was intended to be used, hunting, fishing and camping trips, etc. Today the auto companies admit that 95% of the “off-road” vehicles they sell are never driven off road.

    Most of the SUV’s that I see on the road have one passenger, and are hauling nothing heavier than a Coach handbag. SUV’s are now nothing more than motorized bling for posers, much like today’s Harley Davidsons.

    Today’s poser utes ain’t utes. I don’t care if it does have 22 inch rims and you need a ladder to climb aboard. If it’s used like a passenger car, it is a passenger car, and it should be taxed and regulated accordingly.

  • avatar

    I would like to see stronger licensing requirements for everyone, and I think using vehicle weight would be a valid way to classify the cars. That, or HP and/or Torque.

    It’s amazes me that no legislature has targeted these vehicles using the ‘stealth’ method of licensing.
    A window sticker on all Expeditions/Suburbans/Highlanders mandating a $100 ‘licensing’ fee (with a road test requirement) would do more to kill off these vehicles than any lame CAFE style legislation.

  • avatar

    SUVs are for 2 groups of people: Cowboys and Suckers. There are definitely people who need serious off-road capability and the ability to store all sorts of things. Those people represent a tiny fraction of the population.

    The Sucker is the “me-too” image obsessed lazy American superconsumer who took out a HELOC to pay for a giant car so he could haul his 2 kids and a small trunk’s worth of stuff to the beach 3 times a summer. This economy was built on suckers, and we all better pray they don’t come to their senses.

  • avatar

    If people want to drive SUV’s that’s fine with me. Just don’t complain when gas prices go through the roof – after all, nobody put a gun to your head when you made the purchase.

    It’s kind of like big business railing against government regulation, but they are more than happy to accept gubmint subsidies.

    I have a saying for both situations:

    “If you play in the devil’s backyard, you gotta play by the devil’s rules…”

  • avatar

    I like the Jeep CJ type, and the original Land Rover Defender type. But for the rest, not so much.
    If we are what we drive, then an awful lot of us are stupid, thoughtless, and selfish. And in SoCal, the proverbial sole blonde driving the SubYukCalade (badly) while talking on the celly is way too commonly-occuring to be a cliche.

  • avatar

    It’s worth noting that although production began in 1933, the modern SUV did not really begin with the Chevrolet Suburban (or ‘Carryall’ or ‘Canopy Express’ as it was also known). Those early Suburbans had more in common with the cars of the era than trucks, and were more like extended, windowed panel vans. Technically, they were the CUVs of their day.

    It wasn’t until the fifties that the Suburban became based on a full-size truck, but it still only had two doors, and it wasn’t until 1973 when the Suburban got an additional two doors, continuing on to today in essentially the same form.

    The vehicle that can be considered the basis of the modern, full-size, SUV had been built 10 years before the 4-door Chevrolet Suburban in 1963 by Kaiser Motors (later AMC, then Chrysler) as the Jeep Wagoneer.

    But it wasn’t until 1966 when the version of that 1963 Jeep would be built that truly lays claim to being the first modern SUV in the ‘Super Wagoneer’ variant. Although based on the 1963 original, the Super Wagoneer came with a powerful engine and a long list of amenities which are now taken for granted in even the most rudimentary SUV. The Suburban never had these features until decades after it was introduced. Before the 1966 Super Wagoneer, a four-wheel-drive vehicle was truly designed for ‘roughing it’. The full-size Jeep Wagoneer sold well enough in its original form to stay in production virtually unchanged until 1991.

    I surmise that, eventually, the SUV ‘weeding-out’ process will ultimately leave only a couple of the full-size Suburban, Expedition, etc. variants as the sole remaining versions of the original that began with the ’63 Wagoneer. As shown by the iincredibly long run of that 1963 Jeep, there will likely always be a relatively small ‘niche’ market of people who truly have a legitimate need for that type of vehicle. And just like the original, there won’t be enough of a market to support but a couple of manufacturers.

    Likewise, CUVs (originated with the 1996 RAV4) will probably survive, as well, since they’re really mostly just tall, FWD hatchback cars.

    As someone else pointed out earlier, the SUVs that will most likely become extinct the soonest (and in their entirety) are the mid-size Explorer/Durango-type SUVs. They aren’t large or powerful enough to have the towing/load carrying capacity of a large SUV and the fuel economy isn’t that much better, and they aren’t nearly as fuel-efficient or carry that much more than the compact CUVs.

    In fact, the mid-size SUV segment is exactly the place where SUV sales have fallen the most dramatically with skyrocketing fuel costs. Full-size SUVs and CUVs haven’t really taken that much of a hit in sales.

  • avatar
    jd arms

    Good question. I have seen many points that I agree with already including arguments against.

    We own one, an Infiniti FX35; of course, my wife drives it. It gets crappy mileage – about 17 mpg in mixed driving. I’m more than willing to ditch it next time for an AWD wagon with around 170 HP and 24 mpg mixed, but I also like the FX a lot. The FX, if you can handle it aesthetically, is actually a pretty cool vehicle; it isn’t a run-of-the-mill SUV…FXs are mostly made for asphalt.

    However, we have a kid, two 30 lb. dogs, and need to get up to Truckee, CA (elevation 5840) multiple times a year – not to visit our second home, but because that is where her family (my inlaws) is. Like I stated, we visit often, but especially during the wintry holidays, namely Thanksgiving and Christmas, and when I have done my time and it is time for me to go home to my house and enjoy what is left of my vacation time on my own terms, away from the inlaws, I’m getting the %$#& over the summit and back down the hill to the central valley, preferably without chains.

    Should we have a Subaru wagon? Sure. But having grown up in Subie country, my wife doesn’t want one – she is sick of them. We could get an Audi, but I’m not owning another German car – how can I escape the inlaw visit if the car is broken down? Could we have a Lexus RX or Acura MDX? Yes – but the FX looks better and drives better (for an SUV) and here in California, those two are everywhere. A RAV4, Murano, or CRV? C’mon. We both like performance and in her case, what will the other mommies think in the ballet school parking lot if the two of them show up in something like those? And before you get all agro about the snob factor or perception factor, how many dads here arrive at Little League with Junior in the big Dodge truck or cool muscle car – you know who you are.

    However, I will willingly concede that she (my wife) likes the higher sight lines, the near-luxury branding “cachet”, the perceived safety, and the ability to get to her mom’s with the kid, in snow, without having to chain up. You can try to reason with her, but you probably won’t meet much success because the FX is her “favorite ‘car’ ever.”

    We also don’t drive much, under 20K combined, both cars, yearly, so until gas hits $6 a gallon, we’re in.

  • avatar

    In Phoenix last weekend I was following a AZ-reg Chevy Avalanche with the vanity tag “COMPNS8R”…and it was being driven by a male. Now that’s one dude with a good sense of humor.

  • avatar

    Not any more. The needs SUV’s used to fill 5 years ago, are now increasingly being filled by the Prius.

  • avatar

    Who cares? If you want it, and can afford the gas, more power to you. That’s the joy of the free market.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    For the VAST majority of drivers, the answer is “no.” I own an SUV, but like most owners of this type of vehicle, I don’t go off-road and don’t live in a part of the country where 4wd really matters. My next car? I’m looking at the hatch version of the Mazda6. Fold the back seats down and you have the same space as the CX-7. I just wish more cars offered this option.

  • avatar

    I sure hope SUVs dead. Or else I might be. And the NHTSA agrees.

    They found, in a 2002 review, that in a SUV vs car collision the person in the car is 340% more likely to die than if they were hit by a car.

    In the year 2001, SUVs comprised 37% of the registered vehicles but caused 2000 more deaths in collisions than cars did in the year 2000. This is evident in figure 2 on the report. (although the NHTSA does mention that there is negligable increased risk in “Crossover” vs car collisions, so buy a Rogue)

    I know people find life easier with lots of space. I know people like to go camping. And some might even tow their boats. But driving these beasts every day puts mine and my fellow car drivers lives at more risk. And if you buy a super-ute to be more safe than others on the road, shame on you. As confirmed by the NHTSA, its at the expense of car drivers lives. Shame on you I say.

    Have your SUV if need be. But only use it when you go to the cabin please. Im sure that if you can afford a King Ranch Ford, you can afford a civic for renting movies and going to work. Besides, my mom carted around 4 kids and baseball gear/football gear in a Pontiac Acadian…so the civic or hackback could perform “soccer and shopping” duty as well. It can be done. Enough excuses :)

  • avatar

    I saw the R-class SUV for the first time today. It looked like an E-class wagon that had been eating all its meals at McDonalds for the last month. Considering just how low the roofline was to the ground, though, I have no idea how they can still call it an SUV? Why? Is that still a perceived selling point?

    They need a new name, something cooler than wagon. I’m pretty sure that if they started calling them “estates” over hear, they would sell appropriately.

  • avatar

    over here

  • avatar

    I thought the only reason anyone had an SUV was because they bought/leased them through their business/llc and, since they are/were considered by the tax man as a “truck”, were able to write off much more than if they bought or leased a car.

    Who knew there were so many people towing boats to Moab?

  • avatar

    pft. I plan on buying a H1 Alpha hummer and then I’m going going to tow my yacht in the Dakar rally. And I’m going to put 22 inch spinners on it so I look goooood while doing it.

    I saw an FJ Cruiser with 21s on it. Chrome.

    I almost puked a little.

  • avatar

    You all missed one of the major reasons SUVs sell in bunches: the IRS.

    Yes, if you want a company luxury car, the IRS will only let you depreciate the first $30,000 of the cost of the car. $30k doesn’t buy much luxury anymore.

    For the executive who wants more luxo, he/she can turn to an SUV. Give a vehicle a GVWR of 6,000+ pounds, and the IRS says it’s a “truck”. Then your big company can depreciate 100% of the cost.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman


    Fantastic point

  • avatar

    Yes!!! According to the NHTSA I’m 340 percent more likely to survive a wreck with another car if I’m in a SUV. I’m certain the survival rate is also much higher in virtually ANY accident when compared to a car, especially the little 2000 pound coffins on wheels.

    But I’m confused as to why, in America, anyone needs to defend or justify their free choice to anyone else. The best reason to own one is simply, because it’s what I want to drive…

    My suggestion for the next Question of the Day. “Is there any justifiable reason for hating SUV’s and the people that drive them?”

  • avatar

    Its amazing to me that people will say they “need” an SUV because of dogs or kids or whatever, yet when i see these things blocking my sightlines they always seem to have one person in them. Never two or three or ever, ever a carload of kids.

    To say that they are needed for an occasional trip is foolish, rent one when needed. I rent trucks occasionally to move furniture. I dont need to buy one and have it at my beck and call.

    I want them to go away. Expensive gas should do that. It is a shame that it takes this to get these behemoths off the road.

    I like to drive for pleasure, you cant if you are dodging these ill handeling monstrosities.

  • avatar

    @ wolven

    If this is the land of the free, and you are free to drive whatever you want, why am I not free to hate you for wasting fuel, destroying the environment, and hogging the road?

  • avatar

    To eggsalad : You ARE free to hate me, and blacks, and whites, and wops, and spics, and Jews, and Christians, and… everyone that doesn’t agree with your personal beliefs. Unfortunately for you (if you live in the U.S.), in America, you’re NOT free to impose your personal religion on everyone else. Isn’t that a bummer…

  • avatar

    SUV’s are no more dead than the muscle car. I’m pretty sure Subaru,Hyndai,Honda and the like of 4-bangers can’t tow a 21 ft. bowrider.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    For the executive who wants more luxo, he/she can turn to an SUV. Give a vehicle a GVWR of 6,000+ pounds, and the IRS says it’s a “truck”. Then your big company can depreciate 100% of the cost.

    Interesting. How heavy is a Maybach? Maybe, if the 57 is under the 6,000 pound mark, the 62 would practically pay for itself?

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    Sure SUV’s have a great reason to buy. My wife and I recently ventured down the CUV road, with a Nissan Rogue this past december. Driving that vehicle all winter, I am completely sold on the benefits of such a vehicle.
    The AWD was unstoppable, even when the snow was so high it was coming over the hood. The 4cyl + CVT tranny allow it to get a respectable 24/30mpg. And it manages to hold just about everything I try to fit in it (A recent 3 seater couch was no problem.)
    Do I tow anything? no. Would I personally prefer a Passat 2.0T DSG 4Motion wagon? Oh Yes! But for the price, the CUV vehicles are fantastic.

  • avatar

    To those of us on this board who love to bash SUVs, I say we need to take Joshvar’s statement to heart:

    There are plenty of good reasons to buy SUVs, but none of them apply to me, so I don’t own one,

    If you don’t need one, don’t buy one. I own an older Nissan Pathfinder because I find it’s often useful. But it’s only one car in our garage. We also have a TSX and, hopefully soon, a Miata hardtop convertible.

    It may seem crazy to some if a person has a large SUV as their ONLY vehicle, but how do you really know what that person’s whole life is like?

    I don’t have a problem with people driving SUVs. I have a problem with people driving SUVs BADLY! Too fast, too close, not enough respect for 2-3 tons of metal under them…

  • avatar

    I don’t have a problem with people driving SUVs. I have a problem with people driving SUVs BADLY! Too fast, too close, not enough respect for 2-3 tons of metal under them…

    The biggest offenders I’ve come across are the suburban housewives – especially the short ones who can barely see over the steering wheel driving at 80 mph, while at the same time yapping on the cell phone and yelling at their 3.5 kids in the back seats.

    I make a point to steer CLEAR of these individuals…

  • avatar

    I don’t have a problem with people driving SUVs. I have a problem with people driving SUVs BADLY! Too fast, too close, not enough respect for 2-3 tons of metal under them…

    Well said.

  • avatar

    Its amazing how much fear the MSM has been able to put into us for ‘gas prices’. People trade in SUV’s with 15000 in negative equity and buy a smaller car to ‘save on gas’ when the real return on investment would take them 15 years to break even trading in the SUV. So many cars are 90% or more financed into a payment(often loaded with options added costing 3 years+ worth of gas $ from the base model) and yet the $60-$100 at a pump suddenly seems like INSANELY EXPENSIVE….

    And at the same time spending $100+ a month on Starbucks, a new LCD TV on the Best Buy credit card, buying Coach purses and $100 Nike tennis shoes some child in Malaysia makes 1500 pairs a day for $.75 pay. Its only expensive because the news is telling you it is, that or you are living beyond your means already.

  • avatar


    You said, “Most of the SUV’s that I see on the road have one passenger, and are hauling nothing heavier than a Coach handbag. SUV’s are now nothing more than motorized bling for posers, much like today’s Harley Davidsons.”

    Let’s take this apart, shall we?

    First, most of the SUV’s have one passenger. Of course, your anecdotal evidence means nothing. This would be true if every SUV spent every weekend full of 8 passengers while towing a house boat off road.

    Motorized Bling for posers. What, in your mind, are the following vehicles allowing their drivers to pose as?

    Land Cruiser
    FJ Cruiser
    RX 350
    Hummer H2

    We all know that the Harley poser is supposedly someone who wants to project a tougher image, or a cool one. I think Harley’s are obnoxious, uncomfortable, poorly tuned public nuisances. But some people think that they are some how “cool”. How did that ever happen? Was there once a “cool” person who owned one? Is that where it comes from?

    If so, then what kind of person are the SUV owners trying to pretend to be. I was unaware of my desire to impress people with some image of myself, so I await your learned analysis with baited breath.

  • avatar

    I don’t have a problem with people driving SUVs. I have a problem with people driving SUVs BADLY! Too fast, too close, not enough respect for 2-3 tons of metal under them…

    I think this is the key element to the equation of why I’d prefer not to have as many SUVs on the road. It’s not necessarily the SUVs themselves, it’s that drivers suck in general, and in turn, putting so many SUVs on the road is a danger to everyone, including the owners. Sure, injuries and deaths on roadways are continuing to drop, but making me, as a consumer who tries to limit my metal to less than 3000lbs and over 30mpg for my commutes, more than 300% more likely to get injured IS pushing your “religion” on me, and that’s where I have a problem.

  • avatar

    Joshvar: Agreed 100%. Some people fail to realize that freedom/rights applies to everyone. And that no one should exercise a freedom that violates the rights of someone else…namely car drivers.

    If that were not true, I would be free to walk around pushing people over. But I’m not allowed. And I would not even be killing anyone.

    The main problem is trying to convince some SUV owners of the possible danger they pose to others. Some people will ask for reports that prove dropping 10 pound weights on people’s heads can harm them, if said person had an investment in hanging weights from trees. And when you present that proof, they either dismiss it or simply say “I am free to do what I want.” *sigh*

  • avatar

    Jersey Devil,

    Have you actually calculated the cost of renting a truck “occasionally”?

    I have. It is cheaper to own an SUV if I need one more than 3 times a year. Of course it will vary by person, but I do not believe you are using all the actual costs in your decision making. OTOH, maybe you are one of those people who drives too many miles per year, but is concerned about how much gas I use. Or, maybe you think your desire to see through my car (as if I were not there at all) is somehow a higher priority than my reasons for having the larger vehicle? (Maybe what you would really like is for us all to just get out of your way, or behave just like you do?)

    Secondly, exactly how high and wide should cars be allowed to be? How will you decide who can have trucks and who cannot? Why do you need so badly to see around the car in front of you? Have you tried to stop tailgating? I think you will find that if you are not tailgating, then you will not have a need to see in front of the car in front of you. This is key to safe driving, because I doubt you want to eliminate ALL trucks from the road.

    As badly as you guys all want to think that the SUV owners are just a bunch of rude idiots, perhaps you should all think about the idea that there may be a reason so many people buy them that isn’t thoughtless.

  • avatar

    joshvar ok i understand that SUV’s are obnoxious and unnessisary, especially when 99.9% are never taken off-road. Also that they tend to be a 3 ton disaster on the road, when the 16 year old driving it, thinks its a sports car.

    The typical SUV driver scares the ever-loven crap out of me when it’s headlights are right about the level of my rear view mirror or above the roof (in the hick towns, but that is another type of fear) Its because i drive a sports car that weights less than 2600 pounds, which is like throwing spit-wads at a locomotive, when i am in an accident with a lifted excursion, towing a boat, with 19 passengers.

    I say get rid of them and offer a “pedal and trade” to all suv owners that are upside-down on their loans. Trade your suv for a bike for ever person in your family……whois the locomotive now?

  • avatar


    I agree that most SUV owners are not ignorant and selfish. Many SUV owners understand that a large SUV hitting a car will cause more damage than other vehicles. And they understand that they need more time to stop so they give themselves more room.

    Its the people that claim a large SUV poses no more risk to others in a collision that I worry about. Because its quite obvious that if they dont believe that (or simply don’t care), then its not affecting how they drive. And as a result they often drive too fast and too close. I had guy in a F250 ride my ass (about 5 feet away) on the highway going 140kmph (I had speed up to try and make distance, he just move right on up). If anything had caused me to slam my brakes, I would have died. If it was a car behind me, the drivers still an ass but death would not have been as certain. I would have been rear ended hard, but not driven over, big difference :) But I also know most people do respect what they are driving and what it can/cannot do. And my gripe is not with them in anyway.

  • avatar

    If so, then what kind of person are the SUV owners trying to pretend to be. I was unaware of my desire to impress people with some image of myself, so I await your learned analysis with baited breath.

    According to marketing, nature-loving outdoorsy types drive SUVs. Rugged folks. People who are manly (according to focus groups, no doubt). I’d say, as a consumer, that is the image that is sold, and why SUVs aren’t referred to as mommymobiles, and minivans are, even though that same demographic fled to SUVs.

    Based on your posts, YOU are not a poseur. You had good reasons to purchase an SUV, and bought one. The marketing works since people eat that shit up like a steak buffet, because it’s much easier to purchase a lifestyle, rather than lead one. It is much like those who claim to love camping, but rent cabins with electricity and running water and refrigerators and showers and beds and cable, and report back to their buddies that they were “roughing it non-stop for the weekend.” Image generation is our national pastime, not as an end to activity, but as a means for fashion. Watch any amount of TV and you’ll learn just how easy it is (and, well, it’s on there because it works). You can construct any faux-lifestyle you want these days with publicly-displayed products that can be financed for as long as you care to pay.

  • avatar


    Here is the rub. Sure, an SUV is more dangerous, all things being equal, to the other car. However, in the real world, all things are never equal.

    If we had better ways to reward good judgement, and punish the bad, then all would be fine. We don’t, in fact, our government consistently tries to reduce the outcomes of bad judgement, at the expense of good judgdement, at EVERY turn.

    I do not drive my crusher like I did my BMW. My BMW was rarely found on the right side of the highway, while my crusher is rarely seen on the left. Still, force is equal to mass times velocity squared. The BMW was more dangerous to others based simply on force of impact because it was almost always driven more quickly.

    Of course, that is with me at the wheel. There are plenty of people who have no business driving at all, and still more who badly need training and judgement. However, as a society, we have a hard time telling people they cannot drive, or that they need more training, or that they have poor judgement. We make rules for the least common denominator. Then everyone plays within the rule system.

    Anyone who wants to get rid of some or all SUV’s would do better to find a positive way to manipulate the rules of the road that would encourage owners to buy smaller cars. The quickest and easiest would be to regulate them like passenger cars. Good luck getting the Democrats to convince the UAW to go along with that.

  • avatar


    I would be in support of manipulating the rules so that someone has to take an “SUV Drivers Test” or something along those lines. To make sure the driver’s spatial awareness and defensive driving are up to snuff in a large vehicle. But you are right. The government is likely going to take no steps. And, unfortunately, the only thing driving the Mega-SUV popularity down is gas prices.

    But the licensing process has to be changed. There is no way a person who got their license by driving a civic is fit to go out and buy a (extreme example) GMC Topkick and not have to take any additional training. Being thats the case, I’m surprised more Mega-SUVs did not become bigger than they are. Perhaps they would have had gas prices not started to climb years ago.

  • avatar

    I just had to post this from a review for the Topkick from a SUV magazine:

    “There’s something gratifying about pulling up next to a Hummer in a factory 4×4 pickup and knowing the H2 driver has to look up to see you. That same feeling of utter superiority also shines bright when you cruise by someone in a big 4×4 dualie–and you’re the one towing a 30-foot trailer.

    Such are the joys driving one of the biggest, sickest four-wheel-drive pickups on the market–the GMC TopKick or its brand twin, the Chevrolet Kodiak.”

    Ahhh…the feeling of utter superiority. Sometimes, the Super-ute crowd do little to diffuse the general perception that their personalities are a touch on the abrasive side :)

  • avatar


    Actually, the Excursion got dropped precisely because it was too big. Once people started trying to live with it, they found out that the extra room inside came with too much size outside.


    I listed the different models of SUV for a reason. I doubt very much that mom’s in suburbans are trying to fool you into thinking they are macho, exteme sports types. Around here, most suburbans are used just like minivans, and in my mind have a similar image. Of course, this is Texas. Likewise, I don’t think the X5 and Cayenne buyers are going for those images either.

    Furthermore, there is nothing wrong at all in buying stuff that has a style you like. Just because you are not a hiker or soldier, you may like cargo pants. I wear cargo pants all the time, even when I don’t need to put MRE’s in them. For over a decade my old BDU’s have been in the closet, but I may bring them out again now that they are not the current uniform. Wonder if anyone will accuse me of posing as a soldier? That will be fun.

  • avatar

    I certainly don’t need an SUV but I would buy one if I could. A big one too, there’s something nice about a car that requires no effort to use and can do almost anything. If I could afford a big SUV I could also afford a Miata.
    Get both, there’s no excuse to have only one car.
    Anyone who says car enthusiasts don’t buy SUVs has never been to a racetrack or a car show.

  • avatar

    Momentum equations don’t say anything about bumpers coming through your rear window.
    If your BMW rear-ends someone, there’ll be two crumple zones working to absorb the impact.
    If your SUV rear-ends someone, it’ll be the tiny thing SUVs call a crumple zone and the passenger compartment and the top of the trunk absorbing the impact.

  • avatar

    Use of a maximum sized SUV as one’s personal vehicle will diminish as gas prices continue to rise. However, they will still have their uses. A Prius can’t pull a 2,500 pound horse trailer with two 1,200 pound horses inside.

  • avatar


    I have seen cars that had motorcycles go THROUGH them. At highway speeds, crumple zones generally do diddly. Force is ALWAYS a factor. Sure, at slower speeds the bumper height makes a difference.

    Fine, try and legislate bumper heights. Don’t squeel when every car looks stupid though. I will bring my bumper down when everyone else does. Oh, and yes, when the sports cars bring theirs up as well.

    BTW, I won this argument here months ago because once I pointed out that everyone’s suspension will have to be tightened to eliminate nose dive, and that the bumpers will need to be a foot high from bottom to top to ensure that the bumpers ACTUALLY meet in 80% of the cases.

    The result would not be to eliminate SUV’s but to eliminate cars. Everyone would need to be in an SUV.

  • avatar

    I think SUVs have done one thing…improved car safety. Side curtains and elevated driver positions being some.

    In fact, one thing the NHTSA report on SUVs showed is that in recent years, car vs car fatalities have gone down. In fact, a steady decline. SUV vs Car fatalities have remained constant since SUVs have established their 40% presence on roads. Is that the fault of car designers who are unable to keep up with the increasing amount of super-utes on the road? Or is it the fault of people who keep buying mega-SUVs? Despite the efforts of Volvo and other safety inclined companies, one can only do so much in 6000 vs 3000 pound impacts.

    The efforts of the NHTSA have made some impact. Look at the front bumber height of newer, normal size SUVs like the Grand Cherokee. Lower and with crumple zones. Greatly negating their effect on cars when they collide. But there is only so much you can do for a hummer or F150 without detracting from their advertised off road ability.

    I think we should keep in mind that the super-utes are the main culprits today. Thankfully, despite advertising, people realized that super-utes are really hard to drive and far too large…as LC pointed out. That, combined with gas prices, should make our roads safer.

    But, there are still some who are willing to suffer through high gas prices and the inability to park anywhere in order to get the feeling of physical superiority against other SUVs/cars on the road. And they dont seem willing to give that up any time soon.

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  • The_Imperialist: I’ve had my Venue since July and this review sums things up quite accurately. If I had to...
  • Diewaldo: That has to be the most ugly car of the year so far. It looks … just wrong from every angle. I have...

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