View Full Version : Sport Utility Vehicles: Why?

06-03-1999, 10:16 PM
Can somebody please tell me what is the fascination is with these over-priced gas-guzzling monsters?

Sitting on New York Avenue this morning I couldn’t help but notice a virtual sea of them on their way into the city. If I remember correctly, SUV sales figures were excellent last year and are getting better. It can’t be a family or safety thing, because I remember hearing that they tend to roll over more easily than just about any other vehicle. It’s not a cargo issue either, if you were hauling firewood constantly then you’d probably opt for a less expensive flatbed pickup, which would offer a bigger payload anyway.

The commercials always show lumberjack-type guys driving over boulders & jumping canyons, but the nearest rugged terrain I can think of is the unpaved alley that runs behind my house. Surely all of these people didn’t buy this thing so they could make it through my alley in a pinch. Even if you do go to the mountains on vacation, would you spend all that extra $$ on an SUV for a once-a-year event? “What about the beach?” my friend said. Well, okay but you’re not really supposed to be driving on a public beach now, are you? “What about when it snows?” he offers. Okay so when there’s three feet of snow on the roads, you’ll be able to make it to work while I’m stuck at home drinking brandy by the fireplace? I must be missing something.

So, does anybody out there have any ideas why these things are selling so well?

06-03-1999, 10:56 PM
, you saw it on TVPeople buy them to make themselves feel rugged, rebellious and outdoorsy. The bigger the better. Remember in the 50's and again in the 70's whan HUGE cars roamed around? Well, they're back. Problem is, most of the SUVs sold won't see much backwoods action-especially not the Caddy and Lincoln models. They also give owners a feeling of invulnerability. After that last blizzard (Oct 97, you saw it on TV) most of the cars that were buried were new SUVs driven by folks who thought they would make them better drivers. I don't like SUVs much, because they clog I-25 and Arapahoe every damn day, and I can't park anywhere, they take up 2 spaces. They should be outlawed in the city.

"On the edge of sleep, I awoke to a sun so bright..."

06-04-1999, 12:16 AM
I don't like 'em either, but perhaps because they're the only vehicles for sale without that rounded, wind-tunnel look. They're generally squarish (except for recent FMC models), and you can certainly tell one from another - the same can't be said for most cars. Cops used to be able to recognize "1972 Chevelle" or whatever, and now are left saying "late model Sentra-Escort-Accord-etc."

If anyone thinks there's something to this, do y'all think there is any iconographic (?) importance to square vrs. rounded shapes ?

06-04-1999, 12:19 AM
I think a lot of them are bought by people with children who just can't bring themselves to buy a traditional family vehicle, such as a minivan or station wagon. I've often heard references to soccer moms in SUVs, so this theory seems to be popular, even if it's not true.

"It is more from carelessness about the truth than from intentional lying that there is so much falsehood in the world."
-Samuel Johnson

06-04-1999, 12:38 AM
Mine wasn't overpriced (picked it up used); and while it does burn more gas than a four cylinder compact, the added advantage of additional legroom and covered cargo capacity are worth it.
And who says you can only go camping up in the hills once a year? It's at least once a month for me and my friends, and the rugged suspension and ground clearance are necessary for getting into some of our favorite fishing holes.
As far as SUV safety goes, yes, they are more prone to roll-over due to their higher ground clearance. If those very same statistics you're quoting are the same ones I heard, then the vast majority of roll-over accidents are occuring in the smaller "economy" SUVs driven by the least safe segment of American drivers: Males age 18-25.
I guess the term "Sport" in SUV leads them to believe they can sling those trucks around corners and curves like a low-slung sports car with adequate suspension.
If you drive sensibly and are at all aware of the handling characteristics of your auto, then SUVs are by far safer vehicles due to better visibility and greater structural strength.
The greatest danger to all drivers on the road are people who buy SUVs and then automatically assume that it makes them a better driver, or that the SUV grants them immunity from the laws of physics as they go carreening through rain and snow at twice the speed of everyone else, thinking, incorrectly, that their Quadr-trac FWD is going to keep them from losing traction or some such.
My Jeep is a 2WD, as I bought it used down south where 4WD isn't needed or used much; but I've driven safely through mud, snow and ice, and gone up into some rough country where some four-wheelers have gotten stuck.
4WD and butt-loads of torque are still no match for driving skills, common sense and a little terrain analysis.

[i]"Your Hyundai would make a real nice hood ornament for my Jeep!"

06-04-1999, 06:15 AM
I have to agree that anyone heading for rough country with any frequency would be better served with an SUV, however I doubt very much that most people ever take their jeeps off the tarmac, and to be honest I can get around in my little compact even when it snows, careful driving and front-wheel drive make the biggest difference.

It only hurts when I laugh.

06-04-1999, 07:32 AM
I have a guy here at work who is going round and round with his wife. He wants an SUV (Ford Explorer), she wants a mini-van. He's trying to convince her that they are basically the same thing, but she's not buying it. He doesn't want the mini-van because, in his words, "its too family".

Carpe Diem!

06-04-1999, 08:25 AM
It's mostly a macho-testosterone-bragging-alpha male sort of thing. Kind of like having the best set of golf clubs even if you couldn't golf a round under 500 if your life depended on it.

When women buy them, it's usually because they see it as a protection thing, mostly, since a person sitting high up has a better vantage point from which to avoid accidents and all that ruggedness seems (and maybe is) more protective than an ordinary car in case an accident does occur.

Chaim Mattis Keller

"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

06-04-1999, 08:40 AM
I bet my All-Wheel-Drive Subaru Legacy L wagon (the standard model, not that overpriced "Outback" crap) can go just about anywhere a Ford Explorer can go, with just as much cargo space, plus it gets 25 miles to a gallon (instead of 17).

What cracks me up is when I see an enormous $60,000 Range Rover, with headlight guards and brush bars and everything, in pristine condition, driving down the highway with a 35-year-old yuppie mom sipping a double decaf latte behind the wheel. What, is she going on a safari later in the day?

"For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes" - Francis Bacon

06-04-1999, 09:10 AM
I personally hate mini vans with a vengence and the soccer mom image that it evokes. I hate the SUV's because no one uses them for anything like camping or cargo. It's just mobile storage unit. People who own hummers should be sterilized.

I have two neighbors who own the big ass pickups...one Dodge Ram, the other Ford something .. Both top of the line. Neither of these guys are in construction or haul anything except their asses to and from work. One has a 50 mile one way commute, the other about 35 miles. They always bitch about money...gee...I wonder why? I honestly believe the trucks to be a pseudo dicks for them because 1 guy is much shorter than his 6'2 wife ( who earns more than him) and the other guy is incredibly threatened by the fact that his wife is nearly finished with her masters and just received an excellent job. (He's just turned 30 and thinks that because he earns more money than her she should do all the housework. Yes, he is a part of the stone age.)

They are ego mobiles.

If I ever win the lottery, my dream vehicle has been for years the Ford 350 desiel crew cab pickup. Four doors to seat the whole family and the cargo space in back for hubby for his contruction stuff. (we would finally be able to retire the 1984 dodge ram with 260k on it) Plus, the added bonus of crushing the soccer moms on the road. It would be like driving a freighter on the highway.

Until then, I think our next car will be a Buick Roadmaster station wagon with fake wood paneling.

06-04-1999, 09:43 AM
Out here in Colorodo, SUV's are a blight on the land. People buy them because they think that they will suddenly be spending weekends on four wheel drive roads in the mountains. And, of course, the snow excuse - they drive SO MUCH BETTER on the snow.

I'm not in the mountains in Colorado - I'm outside Denver, where it's very, very flat. We get maybe 2 snowstorms a year where the snow actually sticks on the road. We're not talking a lot of snow here. But.... people "need" SUV's because they live in Colorado. They like to be pompous about it "he he, I can drive in ANY weather, because I have FOUR WHEEL DRIVE."

I spent Christmas this year back home in Upper Michigan. Now, we're talking SNOW here. Amazing amounts of snow. 6 foot drifts, snowing for days on end, you get the idea? You'd think everyone would have SUV's, or at least four wheel drive trucks. Nope. Everybody up there drives late-eighties American sedans. I saw maybe 3 SUV's in the whole week I was there. Don't let anyone tell you different - except in VERY rare conditions, a front wheel drive car is 95% as good as a four wheel drive in the snow.

06-04-1999, 11:03 AM
It's not just that they have bad gas mileage, but since they are classified as light trucks, rather than the passenger vehicles they actually are, they are held to lower emission standards. Therefore, they can pollute more per gallon than a car is allowed to. (I have heard that some of the manuafacturers are voluntarily trying to mitigate this factor.) Also, while they don't protect their occupants siginificantly better than a heavier built car during an accident, they are way more deadly to the occupants of the other cars. That's because their high clearance makes the bulk of their mass come right at the window level for most cars, where the cars are the least protected. I read that a consumer group was trying to mandate having a grill structure underneath these monsters, but the manufacturers were resisting because nearly 8% are taken off-road at least once a year. Tells you something doesn't it?
It's twelve yards long and two lanes wide. It's 65 tons of American pride.

(From the "ad" for the Canyonero SUV on the "Simpsons".)

06-04-1999, 05:44 PM
My biggest pet peeves about SUV's: 2 of 'em:
1) SUV's with protect the environment bumper stickers. Why not start by using less fossil fuel and releasing less exhaust?
2) SUV tailgaters. I've heard that insurance rates in general are going up because of the increased presence of SUV's and heavy pickup trucks on the road. It makes sense to me; if a small car hits a small car... but if an SUV plows into it? I'm a lot less worried about the idiot in his Z who tailgates me then the SUV so close that all I can see is its grill.

06-04-1999, 05:46 PM
Whoops, forgot to add that I drive a station wagon which does quite a nice job of hauling things.
And I thought of a third pet peeve somewhat alluded to earlier: parking. A good number of people seem just to not understand the concept of getting between the lines, with adequate clearance on either side. And the bigger their vehicle the more blatant and inconvenient thier ineptitude.

06-04-1999, 05:48 PM
dangit, misspelled their in last post. most sincere apologies to all copy editors.

06-04-1999, 06:59 PM
You're wrong there. A cherry-red Camarro with a gunrack and a "Honk if your horny" bumper sticker might fill the bill, but not an SUV. An SUV is just that; A sports utility vehicle. There's so many of them now, that I hardly think they're anything to brag about. How can something that 30% of the people on the road are driving be called a status symbol?

At work, where everyone is swimming in stock options, I swear there are at least a dozen Eddie Bauer Explorers, and at least a half-dozen each of most of the other ultra-hip SUVs. (There are even at least three Cadillacs.) Someone buys a new one, people look at it and grunt.

I bought a '99 Intrepid. People look at it, and want to see under the hood, and look inside it. Only reason I can come up with for this is that if you want to buy a new Intrepid, you're liable to have to wait even if you'll take the first one off the lot... whereas SUVs are like flies on shit.

And I have the last laugh, as far as I'm concerned; I got leather seats, and a great engine, a damn fine looking piece of machinery, and female co-workers oohing and aahing for about $10K less than my co-workers are paying for vehicles that get them no attention whatsoever. :)

I don't like 'em either, but perhaps because they're the only vehicles for sale without that rounded, wind-tunnel look. They're generally squarish (except for recent FMC models), and you can certainly tell one from another - the same can't be said for most cars. Cops used to be able to recognize "1972 Chevelle" or whatever, and now are left saying "late model Sentra-Escort-Accord-etc."

No mistaking a '99 Intrepid for anything else... heh!


06-04-1999, 07:08 PM
I wholeheartedly concur with the anti-SUV posts. In the Yukon, from whence I came, only the lawyers and other yuppy types drive SUVs. Now, granted they DO take them skiing and camping etc., but they only go to places that are guaranteed not to scratch, dent or otherwise harm the finish on their precious little SUVs.

One of my ex-boyfriends (a civil servant, for the record) bought an SUV. Theoretically, it was intended for when he "had a family" (I was not consulted about this; it seemed to be just generally assumed that I would fulfil a certain role in that little plan, but that's beside the point). He was always a bit into penis-extension vehicles - his previous car was a Nissan 280ZX. He did not ever use his SUV for its intended purpose, and in fact my decision to break up with him was made definite after I observed him change lanes to avoid a puddle in the damn thing.

Serious bushwacking types drive pickup trucks. I have owned two little Datsun pickups and I loved them to bits (not literally - one's still kicking around) and drove them places 99% of SUV drivers would never even contemplate. I learned to drive on a huge Ford F250 with optional 4-wheel drive (the kind that you have to get out to switch into) and that thing was a true bush vehicle. It also had the advantage of being able to carry loads of wood and a camper (not at the same time). You can sleep in the back of an SUV, sure, but it's nowhere near as comfy as a nice camper.

Ok, I'm getting all teary and nostalgic now. I'll forgive PapaBear his SUV, but anyone who uses theirs for less than he does should be condemned to the deepest pits of driver hell. TRUCKS RULE!!!!

06-04-1999, 07:34 PM
Another problem with suv purchases is that the automakers are dropping production of true sportscars. And I don't mean those dinosaurs, the camaro or mustang. I mean the Supra, 300ZX, and RX7. These are beautiful sports cars that are no longer made because companies can make more money selling testosterone fueling suvs.

06-04-1999, 08:03 PM
You get to squish little cars.

Work like you don't need the money.....
Love like you've never been hurt.....
Dance like nobody's watching! Source???

06-04-1999, 08:17 PM
Hell, I'll change lanes to avoid a puddle. Little puddles can conceal humongous potholes, as I discovered to my cost one time. Not gonna make that mistake twice.

06-05-1999, 12:08 AM
It's mostly a macho-testosterone-bragging-alpha male sort of thing.

You're wrong there. A cherry-red Camarro with a gunrack and a "Honk if your horny" bumper sticker might fill the bill, but not an SUV. An SUV is just that; A sports utility vehicle. There's so many of them now, that I hardly think they're anything to brag about. How can something that 30% of the people on the road are driving be called a status symbol?

I have an Explorer. Absolutely necessary for surf and ski trips. The SUV isn't all that dissimilar to the old woody station wagons that surfers and other outdoor sportsmen drove in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Granted, if someone buys one just do get them to and from their office job; then they are an idiot. But, most people buy them for utilitarian uses and not for any "I'm better that you are" statement. That's what Mercedes' and Beemers are for!

If you want to talk about a car that there's no practical reason to buy, why not pick on the new VW Beetle?

06-05-1999, 12:08 AM
Basically, lots of ads selling to the right people. Excellent market research which pointed them to the right market.

Funny thing about SUV drivers is, in the commercials they drive them on rocks, thru rivers, etc., but when they come up to a little speed bump in reality the driver slows to a crawl :-)

06-05-1999, 12:31 AM
A cherry-red Camarro with a gunrack and a "Honk if your horny" bumper sticker

So you know my brother-in-law?

Seriously, though, I have a Cherokee and I use the hell out of it. My family owns a piece of property in the U.P. and I pull snowmobiles in the winter and quads in the summer. I also use it for camping, hunting, etc. Simply put, I couldn't find a car that would do all that for me.

06-05-1999, 10:04 AM
SUVs exist so that I can't see when they park next to me and I have to back out blind. Someday these fool things (and those mini-vans) are going to get me in an accident. Also, even if they aren't tailgating, they are up so damn high their headlight light up your whole car at night. Where I live, there is almost no "wilderness" that you'd need a SUV for. Mostly, it seems people need these safari cars to go to the wilds of the mall.

06-05-1999, 10:23 AM
It's mostly a macho-testosterone-bragging-alpha male sort of thing. At the risk of being taken to the pit, hasn't anyone noticed a higher percentage of the angry - aggressive drivers these days are women almost invariably ensconced behind the wheel of one of these behemoths? A three-ton bustier, maybe?

06-05-1999, 03:06 PM
"He doesn't want the mini-van because, in his words, "its too family".
---Bunny Girl
I'm a, so far, happy owner of a Windstar.
Plenty of room for either set of grandkids and their (yawn) parents. Beats my old Subaru.
Plus , I get to squish little cars.

06-06-1999, 01:54 PM
Someone in the PR department at Ford must have been reading this thread...
I saw a television commercial last night from Ford talking about how they love the outdoors and blue skies and so they VOLUNTARILY keep their emmissions 35% below federal standards.
Someone give them a cookie.

06-06-1999, 08:16 PM
SUV's are indeed minivans in disguise. Just another lame attempt by car companies to create one vehicle they can market as being "all things to all people." Even the name betrays this.

In theory, there's no difference between practice and theory, but in practice, there is.

06-06-1999, 08:32 PM
It's mostly a macho-testosterone-bragging-alpha male sort of
thing. Kind of like having the best set of golf clubs even if you
couldn't golf a round under 500 if your life depended on it.

I really think that's correct it the same as the guys who wear their c-phones on their waist like there constantly receiving calls on a hot-line or something. What's with these people? Everyones got a c-phone these days why do they need to advertise it ?
Same goes for these people that drive the SUV's like look out I'm coming thru.
Oh well everyone to their own thing. I don't have an SUV but I do have a c-phone and keep it in my pocket out of view and also because I don't wanna lose the thing.

06-10-1999, 11:19 PM
hmmmmmmmm........well I don't have a cell phone nor do I want one. If you can't wait till you get to a pay phone or your own home phone to make a call, your in sad shape. Besides, I don't want people to be able to reach me where ever I go. As far a SUV's go...I have a Ford Explorer XLT that I love. It is not an SUV. SUV's are for women....Explorers existed long before anyone ever heard of an SUV. As far as I'm concerned, an Explorer and a lot of those other big vehicles are Trucks. I use my truck to go skiing in the winter, and to the beach in the summer. There is so much room in my truck for all the things I travel with. I've been told that I always over pack and so what if I do. It's my truck. It also does very well in the snow. If you know how to drive a truck then you have nothing to worry about as far as rolling over goes. I also didn't pay a lot for my Explorer. I paid only $12,661 in cash in one lump payment. I also get a minimum of 260 miles out of every tank of gas. To me, that's great. The last car I had didn't get half that far on a bigger gas tank....it was a 72 Olds Cutlass. I'm very happy with my truck and I wouldn't give it up for anything.....well, I would give it up for an Expedition or the brand new ford truck that I can't remember the name of. They say it's the largest SUV ever but to me it's a truck and I love trucks......

Visit Spedrick's Playground @ http://members.xoom.com/Spedrick/

06-10-1999, 11:50 PM
I want a cell phone, but they still cost more than I think they're worth. I also want one of those Hum Vee things.
I'd like a cell phone because they're handy (Shaddup, handy :) ). I want a Hum Vee so I can squish SUV's...and ford Explorers.

06-12-1999, 02:48 AM
Out here in Cali these things are loading the road. Basically the most ppl we see driving them are women. I do not doubt there is some sort of thing with safety but I tell you its a power thing with them now.

Example..I saw the tiniest Asian women climbing (and I am talking climbing) into a 40k SUV. She could see over the steering wheel but for a minute it looked like a kid. She then proceeded to floor it out of a parking lot, nearly tbone a few ppl and generally make a nuisance.
Now this is not a slight on women or Asians for that matter, but the consensus out here is that the ppl driving the SUV's seem to basically force their way through traffic because of the SUV sheer size. Sure ppl say I am getting it for safety bt I swear I think they may cause more accidents than prevent them. The lvl of driving here proves that.
Of course, I believe that the other half is caused by what I like to refer to as Assholius Mercedeas Cellius- Mercedes idiots with cell phones grafted to their ears. These guys make drunks look like Indy race drivers with their stupidity

06-12-1999, 06:15 AM
Gracie has it right. I heard of a Subary with 2 kids in the back being squashed by a SUV. The kids are dead.
Dave Barry describes the Chevy Subdivision:
www.herald.com/davebarry/ (http://www.herald.com/davebarry/)
Click "Road has a new Hog"
"these people often purchase just a couple of items ... which they put into the back of their Subdivisions, which have approximately the same cargo capacity, in cubic feet, as Finland." No Dave, it would take at least two SUVs to squeeze in Finland.
Read the Tonka article too.

06-12-1999, 11:21 AM
Another quick comment about SUV's is that the moment the economy starts it's downward slide ( It will , you know, it can't be good forever) I can't wait to see all the SUV drivers putting their lease vehicles in the paper to unload the high monthly payments. Heh heh heh

06-12-1999, 01:28 PM
Or possibly repairing their vehicles and keeping them in good running order, as that may be more cost-effective than replacing their vehicles every few years, as some people like to do.
I'm driving my Jeep until the body falls apart.
I'm then going to replace the body.
I buy things to last a while, from my computer to my stereo, TV and my auto.
I figure that a person gets what they pay for; so I'll spend a little more now to save a lot more later.

But then again, I'm considered by those who know me to be fiscally conservative to the point of eccentricity.
It comes from having a [financially] humble background, and not a macho-testosterone-bragging-alpha male kinda thing, as CMKeller believes.


06-12-1999, 02:06 PM
I can't entirely knock SUV's--they look cool, they're generally dependable, they're roomy, and gas is cheap right now.

My biggest problem, though, besides the environmental hazard, is the safety issue. Studies have shown that SUV's are safer in collisions--for the person in the SUV. The person in the smaller vehicle is in fact much worse off that he would be otherwise. This makes sense from a physics standpoint.

This presents a variation on the Prisoner's Dilemma--that is, the best thing for one person often leads to disaster if everyone does it. If everyone drove an SUV, the collision safety factor would be negated.

Before then, some soccer mom is going to plow her Ford Canyonero--I mean, Excursion into my Beretta, and I'm done for.

Dr. J

PS: I'm just glad that SUV has become the common abbreviation, as opposed to the one the early commercials were trying to push--"sport ute". A "sport ute" is someone who plays for Rick Majeirus.

06-14-1999, 04:16 PM
You can have my SUV, and I will listen to you about getting run over, as soon as you get all of the semis off the road. Until then I would like all of the advantage I can get against you or a truck.

06-14-1999, 07:40 PM
You get to squish little cars.

Before then, some soccer mom is going to plow her Ford Canyonero--I mean, Excursion into my Beretta, and I'm done for.

You can have my SUV, and I will listen to you about getting run over, as soon as you get all of the semis off the road. Until then I would like all of the advantage I can get against you or a truck.

Putting the obviously tongue-in-cheek aside, the next logical step in road safety by the SUV logic are 11 mm cannons, tire-piercing road caltrops, and perhaps extendable saw blades. Or maybe those neat little mini-cars that roll under your car and fry your electrical system.

Seriously, though, I don't want the roads to end up looking like Along The Scenic Route by Harlan Ellison.

06-14-1999, 08:24 PM
bet my All-Wheel-Drive Subaru Legacy L wagon (the standard model, not that overpriced "Outback" crap) can go just about anywhere a Ford
Explorer can go, with just as much cargo space, plus it gets 25 miles to a gallon (instead of 17).

I sure ain't gonna bet against you! In 1973, we took a rear-wheel-drive Datsun 510 as far into the back country as the rest of the "see-the-property" caravan (long, irrelevant story) and parked it at the top of a hill, at the bottom of which were mud flats, talus slopes debris, and running water rivulets. A 4WD Bronco bolted down and started back up and started spinning all fours, peeled off sideways, and mired. A Chevy CustomDeluxe 4x4 pickup owner got out, twisted the wheel locks (remember when you had to do that?), went at it in lo-lo-4, bogged down in the trough before even hitting the midpoint. A WW II Willys Jeep sashayed through without incident. An International Harvester full-time 4WD managed to follow with a lot of twisting and squirming. The rest decided to stay on our side and walk the rest of the way in.

I've personally driven a low-slung rear-wheel-drive massively ostentatious family-car 1967 Pontiac Bonneville through the Jemez mountains of New Mexico in late December with chains on the back tires, and, with adequate caution, managed to traverse a route officially closed off to anyone without dedicated 4WD vehicles with chains.

If I knew I had to face challenging terrain, I'd be happy to have a vehicle fully suited to face it, preferably something agile and 4WD and equipped with a winch and well-balanced. Maybe a Humvee with chains and hydraulic winch and serious roll bars and reinforced nylon web seat belts. But at best it gives you a significant edge; it doesn't say you can go anywhere or that you don't have to worry about getting stuck or losing control due to the terrain.

Designated Optional Signature at Bottom of Post

06-14-1999, 09:14 PM
I remember seeing VW bugs, the old ones, chug through snow that stopped 4WD's cold.
I worked one winter at a filling station on the Grapevine (a high altitude freeway between Bakersfield and Los Angeles), and these little buggers would come put-putting in for gas.
They were not much appreciated by the guys in their big 4WD pickups.
Kinda amusing, actually.

06-14-1999, 11:13 PM
Ahhh....mangeorge, you bring back some memories. Many a time I drove my little '69 bug over the Grapevine. While truckers were forced to hibernate for the night in the cruddy little town of Gorman (worst chili in the country!), I was was able drive right through with a $100 set of snow tires! Alas, the tires lasted longer than the chassis.

06-14-1999, 11:29 PM
ManGeorge, a VW Bug has several major advantages that most 4WD pickups don't have: 1. An engine (or the majority of the vehicle's weight) over the drive axle.
2. A fairly well distributed mass.
3. Narrow tires; exactly what you want on snow.

Your standard 4WD pickup with AT tires will bog down in snow in a heartbeat, even with chains, unless the driver is reeaallyy careful with the throttle.

During the one serious snowstorm I had to take my Jeep through, I put about 300lbs over the back axle, broke out my roadside air compressor and put about 5-10 additional psi in all my tires, put on my snow chains, dropped it in LO and kept my foot off the gas and feathered the brakes when I needed to stop.

I laughed my ass off at all the 4WD pickups slipping and sliding off the road as I passed them at 10 mph.

Goes to prove a maxim I live by: all the fancy hardware in the world can't compensate for the laws of physics, common sense and a touch of skill.

"Beep Beep, Jeep Jeep!"

06-16-1999, 06:26 PM
I don't know about 180 mph, but with a little rework and a little bolting-on you can have a Beetle that'll do a 1/4 mile in 14 sec. That's with a VW engine!
Add some more stuff and you can get into the high 12's and low 13's.
Wanna drag?

06-17-1999, 12:03 AM
My pet peeve: I own a Dodge Ram Van. Yes I use it. I haul horses, go camping, skiing, road trips, etc. I don't care if it gets dirty, or even scratched. My problem is parking. When did everyone start owning "compacts only"? I swear they must come out every night and make the spaces smaller. I think I live in the SUV capital of the world, and I totally agree with the assesment of latte drinking yups being the primary owner of these vehicles. They wouldn't dream of even letting their precious cars get dusty! As far as safety, Volvos are very safe, I hear!

06-17-1999, 12:38 AM
This is third hand, but it's a good story if you add salt.
The VW bug was designed by the same guy that designed the Porsche. Lots of parts can be interchanged (or could with the 60's models anyway) I am told. There was a fellow who took a Porsche 911 engine and put it into a bug, with just a little modification (apparently there was a hump sticking up, partly obscuring the view out the rear window; otherwise it looked like an ordinary beetle).

His habit was to roll up to stop lights in southern CA and challenge the sporty cars to drag race. The drivers of those mustangs, trans ams, etc. were mighty surprised to find themselves left in the dust by a VW beetle going 180mph in about twelve seconds.

06-17-1999, 02:00 AM
Jeep Cherokee....old beat-up thing was used to haul a huge german shepheard. Now gets to go to bush roads. I love the 4x4. But I am falling in love with a Subaru GT2.5 Sedan. Please don't tell my Jeep.

Cogito Ergo Vroom
I think therefore I ride fast...

06-17-1999, 08:35 AM
I'd say maybe 30% of SUV owners actually use them as a "sports utility vehicle." The remainder are a combination of soccer moms seeking new options to a minivan, egocentric men seeking new options for a behemoth truck, and moneyburners seeking to be a part of the latest trend.

I find them to be a most unattractive and impractical vehicle, both for its awkward size and gas-guzzling habits. I did find it somewhat amusing when gas prices shot up out here in southern CA to around $1.75/gallon; SUV owners were the ones complaining the loudest, whereas I was paying maybe $3.00 more per fill up in my little 30mpg Civic. It will be interesting to see how popular SUVs are should the economy turn around, as another predicted.

I don't like them because, well, I drive a Civic. I already had my last Civic totaled by an 18-wheeler, and my fortune in that accident actually has me paranoid that next time I will not be so lucky. I won't win a battle with an SUV, and tend to drive very passively around them.

And parking! What is REALLY stupid is while these SUVs have gotten larger, parking spaces have shrunk. Every time I go to Kaiser, I swear I am cheating death--their parking structure is so compact, not to mention the spaces themselves, that I struggle just to fit my little car in the spaces--nonetheless next to a large truck or SUV. Then, of course, I'm blind backing out. Stupidstupidstupid.

Oh, and someone said a SUV is a woman's car. Naw, the supreme "girl's car" is that new Volkswagon Beetle. How many straight men do you see driving one of those things, with its built-in flower vase?

And on that note, I'm off to work. Avoiding SUVs all the way...