Sport Utility Vehicles: Why?

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?

, 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…”

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 ?

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

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.

*“Your Hyundai would make a real nice hood ornament for my Jeep!”

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.

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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”.)

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?

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 :slight_smile:

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.

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.

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.

dangit, misspelled their in last post. most sincere apologies to all copy editors.

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. :slight_smile:

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


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!!!