By on December 3, 2018

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

Automotive Twitter really is the worst Twitter, for many reasons. First of all, it’s not very “automotive.” With the exception of our dear friend, Bozi Tatarevic, who is a must-follow for his encyclopedic knowledge and Holmesian sleuthing skills, nearly every other autowriter on Twitter views the platform as an opportunity to share the wonkiest political views possible. When they aren’t doing that, they’re all sipping from the same “I am an expert on financial matters but I also dress like a flood victim” Kool-Aid, chanting the same mantra over and over.

Last week was particularly objectionable, what with the GM decision to mostly abandon passenger cars in favor of light and heavy trucks. “People are buying the wrong cars!” they shout to their literally dozens of followers. “Crossover bad! Car good!” they shriek, neglecting to share with you that nearly all of them are childless and nary a one of them has ever tried to fit a collapsing stroller, a diaper bag, and a breast pump into the trunk of a Miata. One particularly stupid individual compared the nation’s overwhelming preference for crossovers to its preference for superhero movies over art films. Sigh.

It takes roughly three functioning brain cells to understand that crossovers are a better fit for the majority of flyover country than small cars are. Of course, once you understand that the majority of the major digital automotive press in this country is based in New York, then it’s not hard to understand that they can’t see outside of their bubbles. You certainly don’t need something like a Chevy Traverse if you are a childless man with a domestic partner who lives in a third-floor Brooklyn walkup with no available parking. But when you live in suburban Indiana with your three kids, all of whom have multiple after school activities, well, crossovers make a little more sense. And since childless couples in NY don’t buy cars and soccer moms in Indiana do, well, it only makes sense that the General is gonna listen to Jennifer from Carmel.

I, however, tend to think that there is an even more sinister goal behind the switch from cars to crossovers. I think it’s to prepare people for the (possibly never) upcoming switch to self-driving cars. Allow me to elaborate.

For those of you who have never driven a crossover of any type (hard to believe that such people exist in 2018, but this is TTAC), let me briefly explain the driving experience that you’ll get behind the wheel of the average RAV4/Rogue/CR-V/Tucson/Sorento/Equinox/Escape:

It’s mindless.

There’s nothing about driving your average small to medium sized crossover that requires much engagement from the driver. Steering motions are soft and willowy. Acceleration is muted. Braking is firm but forgiving. Cornering is stable, safe, and prone to understeer. They’re largely well-engineered. Most of them have very solid reliability records.

They are simply tools used for a job, much like any other large instrument that one uses in daily life. For example, I used my stove to make scrambled eggs this morning. They were not artisanal. They were not haute cuisine. They were just eggs. My stove, which is roughly 11 years old and has no special features whatsoever, was more than adequate to the task. I gained no particular sense of pleasure from making the eggs, but they needed to be made, and so I used the tool at hand to make them. This is what driving a crossover is like. No expertise or significant driving skill is required to pilot one, nor can any particular driving-related joy be derived from one.

My own mother required that my first car be a stickshift, noting that driving a car equipped with an automatic transmission was simply “pointing, not driving.” Most crossovers don’t even point particularly well. There’s not much about driving a crossover that one would call, well, driving. One might determine that the word “operating” would be more appropriate.

Of course this is all intentional on the part of the automaker. Toyota could, no doubt, make a more interesting version of the RAV4. Honda could make a CR-V Si. They don’t. They have no interest in it. Ford does make an Edge ST (which is nearly offensively priced) but it’s more of a top trim package than a truly sporting vehicle (it doesn’t come with a stickshift and it’s far, far too heavy), which just allows Ford to push the transaction price of its stuck-in-the-middle SUV a little higher.

It used to be that automakers spent time, money, and effort into making their cars more engaging and fun to drive. They now do the opposite, focusing on numbing the steering, deadening the noise, and softening to springs. While not every car should be (or needs to be) tuned on the dreaded Nurburgring, mainstream crossovers seem to have been tuned on I-70.

So when it comes time to relinquish those last few vestiges of human-directed car operation, crossover drivers will assuredly be among the first adopters of the technology, if and when it becomes affordable and mainstream. They’ve already demonstrated a lack of interest in driving. If I could have my eggs made automatically by my oven, you can be damn sure that I’d do it. Crossover drivers, who have roughly the same amount of interest in driving that I do in egg-making, will feel the same way about giving up the wheel to the magic box behind the dashboard in favor of more time spent Instagramming their food.

Why do this? Automakers need to have justification for the vast amount of cash they are relentlessly shoveling into the self-driving fire. They need to give us the soma we need in order to have our driving rights taken from us. Crossovers are just what the government-regulated doctor ordered. Make us all forget that driving can be fun, so that when you tell us that we can’t do it anymore, we won’t mind so much.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my tinfoil hat is getting a bit tight. Time to make a new one.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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108 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Crossovers Are the Gateway Drug For Self-Driving Cars...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “One particularly stupid individual compared the nation’s overwhelming preference for crossovers to its preference for superhero movies over art films. Sigh.”

    Why was this a stupid comparison? Hey I liked X-Men too but the superhero movies have gotten stupid of late. If one equates the Homer Simpson ‘Murica mentality of the masses to the faux SUV, I think it may be an adroit comparison.

  • avatar
    darex

    Well, just from personal experience, my 2018 MINI Countryman S All4 MT is pretty damned engaging to drive, but of course I very deliberately sought out one of the few crossovers with an available manual transmission.

  • avatar
    make_light

    I’d argue that it’s more about image. Originally crossovers were marketed towards people with the facade of being outdoorsy, fun, and spontaneous. People want to give off the vibe that they are active and spend their weekends hiking or kayaking. It didn’t matter how well crossovers drive, because people don’t care, they want to project the image of adventure.
    It’ll backfire. Now every mom in the world drives a crossover. Their kids won’t want to be seen in one, and eventually the tide will turn towards sporty, enjoyable sedans and smaller cars.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This is the kind of stupid and baseless anti crossover trope Bark M. was speaking to.

      When we bought my wife’s crossover, it was in anticipation of kids we were going to have. No need for a 210″ long minivan for one kid, but we were not going to deal with the inconvenience of a sedan for the approval of names on the internet. Turns out our MKX is a perfect fit for our small family.

      • 0 avatar
        make_light

        If you want to talk stupid and baseless, maybe start with the thesis of this article.
        Anyway, I’m far from a crossover hater. I’m young and I’ve leased two- I completely understand the appeal. I think that crossover hatred is absurd, and people should buy whatever car fits their needs.
        But I also can’t tell you how many friends I have who drive crossovers, and they hardly ever even have anyone in the back seat, never mind cargo in back. Just about any other car for them would be more efficient, comfortable, and affordable, and yet they chose a crossover.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Not sure why crossovers have to meet some minimum standard of usage to spare their owners of ridicule. We don’t do the same for sports car owners who never take their car to a race track or S-Class drivers who rarely carry any passengers.

          How about people drive what they want and we stop judging them for it?

          • 0 avatar
            make_light

            Aaaaand we’re back to my original point. People buy crossovers for the image, not for practicality. When the image shifts, so will buying habits.
            I’m not judging. Just about every purchase we make comes back to image in the end. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. My point was that I disagree with Bark that crossovers are paving the way for an autonomous future.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            The whole premise is that these vehicles are needed because of the space they offer. People who don’t need this space buy them and, well, what do you have then? A trend is what you have. And I would say the majority of the buyers of these things do not need the extra space they may offer over a sedan.

            Many popular ones also offer less space than a Golf SportWagen which is bolted to showroom floors. And as overweight as Americans as a whole are, I do not buy the argument that their creaky legs and fat torsos cannot get into a sedan. This is a trend which will pass.

  • avatar
    jmo2

    “It takes roughly three functioning brain cells to understand that crossovers are a better fit for the majority of flyover country than small cars are.”

    It’s 90% fashion an 10% practicality. When people begin to associate SUVs with old people fashion will tilt to something else. Who knows, the personal luxury coupe could make a comeback.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      jmo2 has it right. If it was merely practicality, my wife and every other soccer mom (& dad) would still be in the ever-useful minivan. While I don’t think that the PLC is ever coming back, I do hope for a day when the blessed miracle of the sliding door comes back into style in some acceptable vehicle package, just like the hatchback. At least then I would not have to worry about someone banging a Traverse door into the side of my M3 in the garage!

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        The minivan is still wasteful if you have less than 3 kids. The crossovers, more specifically the compact Rav/CRV/whatever are really good at squeezing midsize sedan seating space and almost minivan cargo area space into the footprint of a compact car. As the US becomes more urbanized(ie tighter streets and smaller parking spaces) and people have less kids, driving around a minivan is less wasteful than lugging the kids around in a Sequoia or Armada but the compact crossover does it better for small families while being easier to maintain, park, drive. I have driven the Rav4 on a long term basis and there is no way any sane person can say it is less engaging to drive than minivans.

        I frankly found it quick on its feet and easier to drive in the city than a Corolla with the shorter overhangs and better visibility. Does it body roll at freeway speeds? Sure. But if I were someone spending most of his time in a big metro area and traffic is chronically under 55 and have to go in and out of tight parking lots/garages with small spaces, I can see the appeal.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Are we beginning to split hairs when we’re calling minivans wasteful for anyone with less than 3 kids and claiming all of their needs can be met by a compact crossover? How is this not a rehash of the familiar “crossovers are wasteful, buy a hatcback” or going in the other direction “SUVs are wasteful, buy a minivan.”

          It’s all on a sliding scale, which varies based on the income and personal politics of the person espousing the advice and “guidelines” on wastefulness.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          HAving a Rogue and Avenger that are a year apart I can tell you that we can fit all the same luggage and coolers in the Avenger that we can in the Rogue. There is more legroom in the Avenger and it has 100hp advantage, better ride and 32mpg compared to 27mpg in the Nissan.

          I get it comparing a compact car and a Rav4 but comparing a larger car you have to go to a 3 row CUV/SUV to beat them for space. At that point the minivan has the space and better mileage. Unless you need to tow, then get an Aviator/Durango/Suburban.

          In all honesty I thought we would have more room in the Nissan, but you really don’t.

          I would argue that a minivan is less wasteful since they have the best space use of any and they get as good or better mileage of any CUV/SUV with similar space available.

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      +1. The fashions have changed before, from convertibles to sports sedans to minivans, now to S/Cuvs and trucks; no reason to believe that this, too, shall not pass.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Wow, same stupid baseless trope back to back.

      By this logic sedans are fashionable too, as they signal to people who care about cars that you care about cars too.

      And lol @ cognoscenti’s minivan mandate. Of course, a 17 foot long minivan is more practical for a family of four than a 15 foot long crossover, because crossover bad! Crossovers turn the B&B to D&D

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        “Are we beginning to split hairs when we’re calling minivans wasteful for anyone with less than 3 kids and claiming all of their needs can be met by a compact crossover?”

        We are way beyond of point of splitting hairs when the internet is full of people railing against full size crossovers that get better MPGs than minivans of just a decade ago, it’s only reasonable to look at what segment of the population is over-buying when they sign on the sales contract for a minivan.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          ” people railing against full size crossovers that get better MPGs than minivans of just a decade ago”

          Just so we’re on the same page, what constitutes a full size crossover, something like a Traverse?

          If so, they are just now scratching mid 20s on the highway, which certainly a decade-old (2008) Odyssey with dreaded VCM could eke out and beat, and more or less on-par (but I doubt better) than other vans of the era. Around town, all of these things are in the high teens or maybe 20.

          I had a new Pacifica rental that got me an indicated 29 mpg after hours of 75-80 mph cruising on I80/I74. I was truly astounded and impressed. Between that and how it drove and how comfortable and roomy it was, you’d have to pry it from my cold dead hands to get me to downgrade to an equally priced CUV (like the atrocious 2.5L Acadia I had recently).

          I don’t needlessly bash crossovers, but unless you’re that hard-up for space and truly do need the extra bit of ground clearance and AWD, I will continue to believe that minivans in the US offer a superior value as described above. But not everything is bought on some kind of pure value equation, some people just hate the extra length and constraints on parking lot maneuverability that imposes.

          • 0 avatar
            TwoBelugas

            i got 28mpg in the Durango I rented on a 750 mile highway trip.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Sounds like the FCA 3.6L Pentastar is quite deserving of praise then (and the transmissions it is harnessed to). No DI or turbos, sounds good at revs, and delivers great power and fuel economy no matter the application it seems. My brother drives a WK2 Laredo 4wd for work, long highway trips, it consistently impresses.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            We had a rental Pacifica for a few days and it showed 24mpg mixed. They ride and drive much nicer than my parents minivans to boot. I think that is our next vehicle if we can find a decent price on one.

          • 0 avatar

            My brother in Florida drives a 2015 Charger SXT, 3.6L 8-speed. He regularly sees 32 mpg averages on the straight, flat run between Orlando & Miami.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    I think you are spot on regarding driving one of these things. Pretty similar to driving my Sienna.

    I am tempted, though, to trade the Sienna in on a 6 speed Challenger Scat Pack. Nothing about that makes sense but I have been thinking about it, especially since snagging a year end deal makes it all the more attractive. I think what you referenced in your comments about Crossovers is one of the reasons the Challenger continues to sell so well. It is one of the few remaining automotive middle fingers left to fly.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “It takes roughly three functioning brain cells to understand that crossovers are a better fit for the majority of flyover country than small cars are.”

    The hatchback provides the same for less money. I must have grown a fourth brain cell to realize this.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    “Driving can be fun.” Yes, but possibly around less than 10% of the time. The remainder of the time it is drudgery, tense, stuck in traffic, or with a vehicle full of squabbling children.

    Just like cooking can be fun, but only under the right circumstances.

    So for 90% of the time the consumer requires an appliance, be it for driving or cooking. And the CUV is more practical/utilitarian than a sedan, but less so than a minivan. And in the snow belt, or for those with child seats or for ‘older’ adults, even more than a hatch, because of (in most instances) the higher road clearance, and ease of exit/egress, due to the higher roofline .

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This is what I came in to post. I had a fun sedan. In order to “have fun” while driving, I drove like an a-hole.

      If you drive on the street like a responsible adult, there’s little to no difference between a sedan and a crossover.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        I agree accordy, when you follow all the traffic laws, be considerate to other drivers, and drive like an adult, you are literally a rolling irony in a Mustang, M3 or WRX. You gave up comfort, utility, visibility, etc etc for what exactly?

        Even in my full size Ford that everyone says is obsolete, wheneven I come close to utilizing more than 30% of its detuned V8, I look like a gigantic douche in traffic.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          Sigh…’tis true. Presently commuting in a “secretary-spec” Mustang. Had a kid who no longer wanted it, so now I’m driving it. Occasionally I get onto a back road where I can leave the sedan-trucks and big SUV’s behind for a mile or two, but mostly I’m holding it back in traffic, and trying to find a place to park where its long doors will open enough to let me out.
          I live in a smaller metro in flyover country, and I can’t imagine trying to live with it in the middle of a larger, older city back east (it’s quite do-able in Midwestern cities such as Dallas, as I’ve done it).
          This sucks. I’ve loved the automobile all of my life, but what I need right now is something that creeps through constant traffic, leaves me plenty of interior room, and allows me to Bluetooth all the things. As soon as the kids back off my car insurance I’ll have a Miata-like escape vehicle in the garage slot for Saturdays. Meanwhile the Mustang itself may soon find a High School kid to better match itself with.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Nailed it, sportyaccordy. Driving an engaging car on public roads made me a worse driver and a worse person. It wasn’t fun, or at least the parts that were fun weren’t memorable enough to stick. What stuck was the was road rage towards the slow drivers in front of me and the pits in my stomach from the blue lights behind me.

        I disagree, though, that there’s no difference between a sedan and a crossover. Driving a taut car that could, and therefore should, take every road at twice the posted limit brings the frustrations above right back. Floaty and numb doesn’t tempt you to drive like a sociopath.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I’d say most mainstream sedans don’t goad you into driving faster, so to that end they are like crossovers.

          And for what it’s worth, there are plenty of crossovers that goad- if you’re willing to pay for it.

          Ultimately though, with road, traffic, safety and courtesy concerns, the fast street car is a pointless tease.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Floaty and numb doesn’t tempt you to drive like a sociopath.

          No, but it might turn you into one!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      But that 10% is why I get up in the morning.

      I tried the “boring, comfortable” car thing when I had my Lucerne and I didn’t care for it at all. Going forward I’m either driving something that can accelerate hard or something eligible for collector car plates.

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        Seriously ajla, I never looked forward to hopping in my V8 XC90 for the commute home. Now I have a split personality luxury car with 640hp. I’ve owned it for 3 months now and ironically, I let all of the speed demon Altimas and Audis pass me. Just knowing I can crush them from a stop (or a roll or 70mph) is enough for me. Besides, we have 80mph toll roads where I live if I want to open it up a little.

        Walk softly and carry a big stick I say. And leave the crossover to my wife and kids. Dad ain’t done yet.

  • avatar
    gtem

    “My stove, which is roughly 11 years old and has no special features whatsoever, was more than adequate to the task. I gained no particular sense of pleasure from making the eggs, but they needed to be made, and so I used the tool at hand to make them. This is what driving a crossover is like. No expertise or significant driving skill is required to pilot one, nor can any particular driving-related joy be derived from one.”

    can’t this whole thing be applied to most sedans on the road as well, for most drivers? They just want to get to work in a drama-free fashion. Then they think, to haul stuff from Costco, maybe a big screen TV once in a while so the crossover’s big cube of space with the seats down seems like a practical choice. Add in that higher seating and AWD, and even a “car guy” like me who “knows better” truly does feel more safe/secure in a situation like strong rain on the highway when I was in a rental Edge this summer driving through a narrow and twisty section of I75.

    I get them, but for my personal intended uses I prefer the higher value factor of modern minivans: same higher seat height, but with a standard V6, with more interior space/comfort, for less money. We have friends down the street with a ’14ish CRV and a 2 year old and it’s a perfect sized family vehicle for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yep. Google “boring”, “Camry”, and “Corolla”, and you’ll get about a jillion hits just on TTAC alone. But now CUVs are the flavor of the week, so we to whinge about how boring they are. Fact is the vast majority of cars have always been pretty dull. Yes, even in the 50’s and 60s, they just threw some gingerbread on them to bling them up. Some cars are fun toys. The vast majority aren’t and never have been.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Exactly. Would anyone ever confuse a four-cylinder Camry with a BMW M5?

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Well, when stuck in bumper-to-bumper commutes for an hour or in exurban weekend congestion, the difference between an M5 and a Matrix is minimal at best. At that point both become just tools to get from point A to B. For folks who are stuck in traffic 90% of the time, the type of tool doesnt matter as much as getting the job done.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      +99 every best-selling vehicle over the last 60+ years has been a mindless appliance to operate. It’s always been like this and it always will be. That’s what people want. Crossovers are nothing different and something else will take their place

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    ” tried to fit a collapsing stroller, a diaper bag, and a breast pump into the trunk of a Miata.”

    This is only a result of the model bloat that has affected the size of strollers over the years! A 2018 Graco Aire3 is nearly twice the size of the equivalent model in 1979, which would have easily fit in the trunk of a Miata! These draconian government safety regulations are killing the fun-factor of today’s strollers!

  • avatar
    George B

    I sometimes borrow my girlfriend’s 2013 Ford Escape. It has the larger 2 liter turbocharged 4 and has more than adequate power. Most of it’s limitations are due to its height and higher center of gravity, but that tall boxy shape is really useful for hauling furniture. The driving experience is better than that of a body on frame pickup truck when driving around the suburbs. The main negative I’ve experienced is high cross winds can try to move it around in the lane at 80+ mph during rural interstate driving. It’s much more relaxing to drive a lower height vehicle under the same conditions and the fuel economy is dramatically better.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    It’s CAFE. Just like under the old rules where minivans and PT Cruisers were cars that could be classified as “trucks” and therefore have a lower CAFE bar for fines. Crossovers are “cars” that can easily be classified as “trucks” for this generation of CAFE rules.

    With the fuel economy gulf between “cars” and CUVs (light trucks) shrinking, and the cost of CAFE compliance increasing significantly, margin evaporates from “cars” while relief can be found in crossovers. Therefore a disproportionate amount of development/marketing/incentives is put towards crossovers/suvs instead. Unsurprisingly, people buy more of them.

    Self-driving is just a side bar.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      Yup. A great example of self-defeating government regulations. “Force cars to become more efficient” turns into “force everyone to drive ‘light’ trucks instead.” Even those people who might want a car at this point will think twice about living in a world were 70% (and increasing) of vehicles around them are towering and heavy — not what you want to be hit by.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    I like driving and manual trannys most of the time, but with the advent of smartphones, tablets, etc., I suspect that a great many would rather be driven.
    As for the sinister conspiracy stuff – oh, brother.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I don’t “Tweet” or “Twitter”, so I guess I’m eternally out of the loop as to what’s “good” or “bad” in this world *sigh*

    If you need me I’ll be on my “My Space” page

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I think it’s a chicken-and-egg problem, and you’re looking at it backwards, Bark.

    Your thesis seems to be, “Cars are more boring, making driving less fun.”

    I see the exact opposite, to wit: Driving has become less fun, so it doesn’t matter if cars are boring.

    I rarely get up to the 65mph speed limit on my freeway commute, so it doesn’t matter if my car can do the 0-60 in 2 seconds or 12. The twisty scenic route is full of gawking tourists going slowly so they can ooh and ahh. What’s the point of having a fun car?

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Our government is skilled at boiling us frogs for our own good. Manufacturers look at their wind socks to gauge the hot winds of government that boil the water and adjust to regulations and initiatives as required to maintain profitability. The appearance of safety nannies, the disappearance of small pickup trucks and manual transmissions, the loss of an owner’s ability to perform any sort maintenance outside a repair shop other than changing a dome light – all of these and more came on that hot government wind that heats our boiling water. Self driving may never be realized, certainly not in my lifetime, but the offshoot tech from the experimentation will certainly add more and more heat to our soup because our government just cannot pass up an opportunity for our own good.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “the loss of an owner’s ability to perform any sort maintenance outside a repair shop other than changing a dome light”

      Things have certainly gotten more complex and less rebuildable (see proliferation of “modules” in place of simpler/cheaper relays), but car’s aren’t THAT different: you can change your own fluids and belts and filters, wrench on the suspension, etc all you want.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’ve found that cars built in the last few decades are easier to diagnose and repair than cars built in the 80’s and possibly even 70s.

        With the advent of OBDII and the ever increasing amount of diagnostic information available at one’s finger tips, it’s better than ever if you know what you’re looking at. Maintenance requirements are far less, and it’s still a simple process to change the oil on nearly any modern engine.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          Agree completely – the “cars are harder to work on” deal has been done completely to death…belts, filters, fluids, tire changes, brake jobs, wipers, etc. – any consumables and maintenance items – those are all just as easy (some cases easier) to do as they ever were.

          And since all fluids have a longer life and all filters also do, those things need to be done less frequently.

          Big picture – I can get way deeper into my car’s odometer travel without having to get anyone other than myself working on it than I ever used to. Can I expect to have to pay a pro big dollars at some point? Yeah, but that’s largely because my newer car’s life expectancy is 250k miles instead of 150k.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          I 100% agree Danio. On 3 of my 4 cars, when the rare issue crops up I plug in the Blue Driver to the OBD II and voila I know what is up with the CEL. I head down to O’Reilly they look up the part I need which I either purchase immediately or order on Amazon depending not the situation. Again, this is pretty rare but I do DD two 10 cars that are greater than 10 years in service.

          Now, on the 4th car equipped with a SBC 327 that has an Edlebrock 600 CFM. WTF, is all I say when it inevitably goes weird. Pops and burps emit from the car every now and then, sometimes requiring a quick adjustment and you are good. For awhile….

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            ” I know what is up with the CEL. I head down to O’Reilly they look up the part I need ”

            Nothing like loading up the old parts cannon :p hey if it works it works!

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Last week I did the 30k mile CVT transmission fluid change in my 14 Accord. It was easier than changing the oil because there was no filter to change. Dealer wanted $16 per quart for the tranny fluid. I ordered 4 quarts from an Amazon vendor for $48 including tax and free shipping. All in all, about an hours work that saved me about $140 over the dealer’s price. So, no not everything about new cars is difficult.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Bark has just become even more of a cartoon character since Jack’s departure.

    That said, even broad stroke clickbait Bark is 10x more enjoyable to read than any of the current generation of TTAC staff.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    “No expertise or significant driving skill is required to pilot one, nor can any particular driving-related joy be derived from one.”

    I don’t know about you, but I count “the kids are watching the built-in entertainment and not hitting each other” as a driving-related joy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    There’s one huge gaping hole in this argument….

    Self driving cars are nowhere near ready for prime time.

    There’s a second, slightly smaller one out back….

    Most manufacturers have no idea how they are going to monetize autonomous driving.

    Auto industry makes some mistakes, but I don’t think they are rushing the buying public into a future they themselves are nowhere near ready for.

    Also, lol @ something like an Altima being more engaging to drive than a Rogue. News flash, most mainstream vehicles- crossovers, pickup trucks AND cars- are not particularly thrilling to drive, because most people don’t care about driving thrills. We as enthusiasts have to stop projecting our ideals and preferences as objectives and standards everyone else is required to live up to. It’s becoming infantile at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Certainly, the vast majority of the buying public never gave a sh1t about performance driving. Not in the 70s when the most popular cars were wallowing yachts with <200hp. Nor in the 80's when they were <100hp econoboxes. Nor in the 90's with the popularity of minivans, SUVs, FWD family sedans and real performance car options pared down to near extinction.

      Truly, we're in a golden age with the high quality options available to us today. Will it last? The options might dwindle with the Baby Boomers, but who knows. The masses will always choose boring and practical. Station wagons, minivans and now CUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yes, this too. If you can live without a third pedal, the options under $50K or so are pretty much endless. And the aftermarket can turn up the level of engagement a few notches without completely killing livability.

        In 2018, being a car enthusiast = being the loudest crybaby.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll “lol” right back at ya. The V6 Altima is a hoot to drive, as are the Accord Sport and Camry V6 XSE.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        And what percent of mainstreamers do those trims represent? 1%?

        Bottom line, most people don’t give a sh!t about driving, which is why the market has moved away from fun cars, and which is why when autonomous vehicles are truly ready- which is decades away- the movement will be swift. It has absolutely nothing to do with manufacturers offering crossovers. You have put the cart before the horse

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Bark’s description of the driving characteristics of a crossover also describe the driving characteristics of a Corolla perfectly.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    While I sympathize with Bark’s struggle to get his breast pump into a Miata, there are some factual inaccuracies in his slam of urban elite car writers. Last I checked: Automobile was HQ’ed in carcentric LA along with Motor Trend, Car and Driver and Road & Track are in decidedly non-coastal Ann Arbor, MI.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Interesting take. I found myself in agreement on many points. Where I might differ is that Americans, for many years, found sedans and station wagons to be more than adequate for their needs. In fact, Americans used to have larger families than they do now, but yet they managed without these semi-autonomous blobs that everyone has convinced themselves they need now.

    So while CUV enthusiasts (TTAC being the only one I know at this time) will argue to the death that they make a lot of sense, we got along without them for most of our automotive history.

    Why is that relevant now? Well, I think the thing that’s going to do the CUV in is their boring universal styling. Yes, their driving experience is utterly bland, as I learned driving a last-generation Highlander earlier this year, but Americans are individuals at heart. And someday soon, somebody’s going to make something that looks way cooler and is practical. And Americans will shift to that.

    People in this nation just do not like looking like everybody else. This is why we have trends that rise and fall. And this one will fall too.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      ** Correction. It was the last generation RAV4 I drove. Whatever, these blobs all look the same to me. And it was still utterly lame.

      I also found it in a lot of ways less practical than my sedan because you have to lift that huge a– back liftgate to get into the back. That proved problematic at least a few times after parallel parking, when the gate would hit the car immediately behind me.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      I agree to it being part of a trend, but I think the period of the trend is quite long… I look at CUVs as the trend shifting away from the influence of the likes of the step-down Hudsons, Forward-Look Chryslers & 1958 GM models back to the prior era where cars were more upright.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Hoping for CUVs to go away does not mean they will. Even if this is a trend, historically speaking it’s a trend that will probably outlive you. Low cars were the trend for about 40 years, and high cars were the trend for about 60 years before that. We are about 20 years into the high car cycle again, and it seems to be intensifying.

      Better course of action would be to enjoy the cars you like, and not get angry and judge everyone and everything that doesn’t jive with your preferences.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    My crossover experience was a RAV-4 we rented in Iceland last year. My Audi would certainly not have been an appropriate car to ford all of those off-road streams, but the RAV-4 did not make me feel very confident either. After fording six or seven, each getting progressively deeper, and realizing that there were still six or seven more streams between us and our destination, we decided to turn back. I did not want to be that city guy that drove out into the wilderness and got stuck. The only vehicles we saw coming back the other way had tires almost as tall as the RAV-4.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    In the early 1950’s, some group in Argentina claimed to have fusion power figured out. In the mid-70’s, when I acquired a copy of LISP, solving the Turing test was right around the corner with real AI to follow shortly. My fusion-sourced power is still right around the corner and so is AI. I think we’ll get net positive fusion power before the AI for self-driving cars.
    This will not stop the marketing a$$holes from claiming other wise. Relying on self-driving systems is like relying on a ladder instead of stairs in a 2 story house. You still must pay attention or dire consequences will result.

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    “…nearly every other autowriter on Twitter views the platform as an opportunity to share the wonkiest political views possible.”

    Bark complaining about writers using their automotive-oriented platforms to push their political views? What the heck’s happened to TTAC while I wasn’t looking? I’ve been too busy to visit the site with any regularity and now I find Bark’s suggesting automotive writers shouldn’t foist their politics on readers and someone else’s comment indicates Jack is gone. It’s like I’ve returned to an alternative universe :-)

    I’ll second others’ comments that the vast many of vehicles have always essentially been for people who don’t care about driving (witness the land barges that reigned in my youth). Also that driving has become less fun. My current car has a semi-auto tranny that I reluctantly took because the stick-shift versions of the car were slow to arrive, but as it turns out I was very lucky it worked out that way as I ended up changing jobs and incurring a drive into a dense urban area in the process. Driving a stick every day in my typical commute traffic would suck. An appliance would be fine for my daily grind as there’s simply no scope for having fun with a vehicle on it.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Just as one minor point of contention, I’d almost wish any subcompact crossover had its suspension softened up a little. Most seem to be similarly stiff to my lowered Mazda, while being out of character with how the things are actually used. Although, I assume with such a small footprint, if they were brought up to rolling sofa levels, they’d either horrendously fail the moose test, or require a lifetime supply of Dramamine with purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Maymar I think ride stiffness is one of the biggest and most legit bones to pick in this class, and you’re right the stiffness is mandated by the roll center. Things have gotten a lot better (IMO Subaru does a good job, the last CX5 I rented was surprisingly compliant), but there’s inherently more to overcome to achieve a good ride while maintaining acceptable levels of lean in a crossover. My in laws’ ’13 Rav4 XLE is an absolute abomination in terms of ride quality. Just plain horrible over bad pavement.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I got my license in the mid-’80s. Many of peers and I were as passionate as could be about getting our licenses within hours of eligibility and then driving the wheels off of anything we could get our hands on. It made no impression on us that most of what we could get our hands on was absolute garbage from an era that would become known as Malaise. If you think an Equinox lacks in any performance parameter, I invite you to compare it to a 1980 Monte Carlo or Cutlass Supreme. Within two years I’d be driving my employer’s W124 Mercedes-Benz 300E, a car that made every other car I encountered appear to be stuck in sand. A 2014 Acura RDX would run rings around it, and a 2012 CR-V would match its dynamic capabilities. EPS is inferior to the good hydraulic systems of fifteen years ago, but nobody getting out of a PLC would notice a loss in feel when they twirl the wheel on a Rogue.

    Mass market cars with handling feel have always been the exceptions. If you want something to worry about, give a second to consider that we’re almost being forced into direct-injected cars that will be legislated out of use as soon as voter demographics allow under the pretense that they emit particulates like the diesels that were forced on and then taken from Europeans.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I kinda get where you are headed with the whole CUV thing Bark in terms of the tongue in cheek gubment intervention, but I think you may be giving the gubment too much credit for forward thinking.

    People like CUV’s largely for one reason. The height of the seat creates for ease of ingress and egress. Period.
    We are a vast land that has a lot of folks who would rather not address their burgeoning waistlines, so the natural progression is a car that we can scoot in and out of versus lift our fat selves off the floor. Heck even those that are not overweight like the scoot in and out factor, but obesity makes the height of the entry point more of a necessity, especially as one ages.

    Honestly, thats it. CUV’s are easier to get in and out of. The trunk is a flat floor hatchback, which again is easier to foist things in and out of. The CUV craze and the ‘death’ of the sedan really should not be this much conundrum. It kinda makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      How much easier are they to get into though? Personally, I didn’t see that with the RAV4 I rented for about a week as compared to my Accord. But then again, I’m in shape. Maybe I would feel a more of a difference if I was overweight with bad knees and a bad back. But still I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel that hard to get into and out of my Accord, and it didn’t feel overly easy to get into and out of the RAV4.

      I think the lot of this is just people convincing themselves they must have these things. The perception is aided by automakers and the automotive journalists who get free trips and lodging from them to attend “test sessions.” I just think it’s another excuse to justify an expensive vehicle purchase, as Americans have been doing for decades.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I’m in great shape too, probably better shape than you. So ingress/egress is no issue for me. But it’s way easier to load my infant into her car seat in our crossover than sedan. Do we need that ease? No. Does your current vehicle have anything more than what you need? I’d bet no. So why should everyone else be limited to only the excesses you approve of?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Dude, since when did the Civic-lowering, engine blowing sportyaccordy become such a catty, argumentative CUV-defender? What happened man?

          B&B is always going to find something to crusade about, just accept it and move on.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Nothing happened, I have always been this way. Just accept it and move on :D

            You are right though in that it’s pointless to question the baseless beliefs and moral judgments of people who don’t even live up to their own standards. Superdessucke dumps on CUV drivers but drives an equally massive and admittedly unnecessary Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Can we post pictures of our biceps ;-) Actually I only mentioned it to show that I don’t have problems getting in and out of a vehicle. I guess you don’t either so that’s fine.

          Anyway, my ’15 Accord Sport (6-speed) is about 5 to 10% larger than it needs to be. And the ’19 Accord 2.0 Sport I will probably get next summer will also be 5 to 10% larger than it needs to be. And I have a pretty active life.

          But what choice do I have if I want a sedan with a manual? As someone who likes to shift his own gears, my choices are limited in general. And thanks to this trend they get more limited each year.

          I really dislike CUVs. No amount of animosity from you is going to change that and I freely admit it. I view them as wasteful, boring, and unnecessary for probably the majority of people buying them. I also question their actual practicality. But my prediction is not based on that. It’s based on history. This trend will pass.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            I agree that the Accord’s a little bit too big. But equally massive to a CUV? I don’t think so. The car’s saving grace is it weighs about 3,275 lbs. I don’t know how many CUVs which can say that.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Minivan seats are butt height also. People buy a CUV for the same reason people buy Starbucks coffee.

  • avatar

    Question I’ve asked a couple of folks in the field,and never got a straight answer.
    If autonomous cars become reliable and safe,does an adult need to be in the car?

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    I hate crossovers because they are a scam. Here in Argentina automakers will stop to make C-segment sedans, the only decent cars a person who isn’t filthy rich can buy, to make B-segment crossovers instead because people buy them. So now if you want to buy something that isn’t third-world garbage that doesn’t meet crash test standards, you must spend a fortune on an import…

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Tell me again what a crossover is. This article seems to describe it as an SUV Lite. I have one of the many, many copies of the Pontiac Vibe. I see it as a small station wagon that I don’t have to get on my hands and knees to climb into. I thought that -that- was a crossover.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Come now children, the SUV/CUV is a GLOBAL trend for the last 20 years. More people around the world are realizing just how worthless sedans and hatchbacks really are.

  • avatar
    AKM

    My dream garage (in relations to my means) would be an autonomous pod for all commuting and even travelling, and an older miata or equivalent for weekend fun, preferably on tracks for the safety. YOu get all the fun, and the computer handles all the dreary moments.

    Until then, I’m fairly satisfied with my stick-shift wagon, which does everything crossovers do, while being more fun and using less gas. I still remember renting out a peugeot 3008 (compact crossover, supposedly on par with the mazda CX-5 for handling dynamics), and being shocked by how boring it was to drive

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    This side of the pond is similar, everyone wants crossover SUVs.

    Though with high fuel prices there is still a market for small hatchbacks.

    Unfortunately the market for sedans is rapidly shrinking.

    We had a child, I bought a Skoda Octavia hatchback. Basically a VW Jetta but with a long fastback trunk.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    TL;DR

    Seriously how did you come to that conclusion? Are you generating click baits?

    People get what they want for comfort or convenience, self driving or not. More than likely self driving for hired vehicles like Uber will be using the most fuel efficient vehicles (Prius or the like) + a small fleet of special purpose ones (luxury, big cargo space, more passengers), like how Uber does now.

    You do not need a one size fits all approach.

  • avatar
    jatz

    I for one feel no shame in desiring autonomous cars.

    They’re impossible in my lifetime for a number of reasons but what’s not to like about endeavoring to delete the consequences of stupidity, distraction and aggression from the cursed daily commutes we must all make?

  • avatar

    People buy crossovers because they are the same price as a “car”, but they are bigger….let us not over think this. Oh, and roads suck, so low profile tires and low chassis are NOT the hot setup.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Meh! At this point I’ve owned sedans, coupes, a BOF SUV, a crossover and a BOF minivan. I swear no particular allegiance to any specific type.

    I’ve waxed and waned regarding what my preference is, but far be it for me to dictate what others drive. My driving habits aren’t conducive to determining a vehicle’s dynamic characteristics and driving on freeways and surface streets is just as easy in any of the vehicles I’ve had. It helps that I aggressively seek to stay in the suburbs where parking is ample and space is, well spacious.

    Life is all about tradeoffs. Stay in your own lane.

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