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May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan
May 24, 2007 9:01 AM   Subscribe

SUV sales are up. In spite of higher gas prices and concern about global warming, Americans still want bigger cars. It might not be enough to save the Hummer H2, though.
posted by 1f2frfbf (136 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I remember a short story where this guy drives his Cadillac down the street on a sunny Saturday morning, and everyone's envious because it's too expensive to drive anywhere anymore.

So he parades up and down the street for a few minutes, drives back into his garage, pulls out a ratchet socket and starts on hours of winding up his clockwork Caddy so that he can drive next Saturday.

I think that's where the story ended.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:13 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Heard a story the other day about the new round of MRAPs and couldn't but help but wonder how long until we see 'em on suburban streets.

OF course, for a while I've thought that the proper marketing campaign could convince the rich that cachet was to be had by driving around in dumptrucks, bucket loaders, and cement mixers. The Sport-Construction Vehicle: It's low-hanging fruit.
posted by Miko at 9:13 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Nonetheless, Fulford says there are many reasons why he bought the Expedition.

"I'm 6 feet 4 inches and I weigh 250 pounds, so for me, it's a comfort thing," he said. "It's a comfortable and convenient vehicle. I have a son who is 4 and a daughter who is 16, and we use the SUV to haul kids around, take them to parties. We use it to go to the mountains and we pull a water-skiing boat behind it."


Ok, at 6'4" I fit into a VW Jetta just fine. And I get two kids in it. So you don't really need a SUV to get kids to birthday parties. Nice try though.

And once you get to the water-skiing boat, well, it really doesn't matter what he drives. His lifestyle consists of buring gas for fun. Which is his perogative.

"It would be nice if they could get this fuel thing together," Fulford said of the Expedition's comparatively miserable gas mileage. "And as a citizen of the United States, I'm concerned about global warming. It's not that I don't consider those things. We try to do as much as we can. We try not to drive that far."

Uh-huh. Nice try. You don't care. Which is fine. But really, empirical evidence says that this man, and many other Americans, really don't care. They just don't.

The real question is, why do they bother saying otherwise?
posted by GuyZero at 9:14 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Try this the next time you see some schmuck driving a Hummer: Hold your thumb and index finger a few centimeters apart, put on a fake sympathetic face, and say "oh, so tiny...." This works best if you are an attractive woman, but it's a lot of fun no matter who you are.
posted by SBMike at 9:18 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]




GuyZero, sometimes people drive other people's kids around, in addition to their own. Of course, that's why they make minivans.
posted by The World Famous at 9:21 AM on May 24, 2007


Sounds like great news to me. These are the fools that are going to keep gas prices jacked up, which in turn fuels (ha ha) alternative energy research.

Keep the good work, idiot tax base!
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2007


I approve of people buying Humvees in the same way I approve of people who buy lottery tickets. It's a stupidity tax.
posted by ColdChef at 9:27 AM on May 24, 2007


LOLSUVS

Buy a minivan you insecure jerks.
posted by Skorgu at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2007


I approve of people buying Humvees in the same way I approve of people who buy lottery tickets. It's a stupidity tax.

So... there's also a stupidity jackpot?
posted by Tehanu at 9:31 AM on May 24, 2007


>>But really, empirical evidence says that this man, and many other Americans, really don't care. They just don't.

>>The real question is, why do they bother saying otherwise?


So that they don't appear ignorant. It's easier for them to do what they've always done, but lie to save face, than to do the hard work of making a positive change.
posted by SaintCynr at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2007


I fully believe many people are concerned about global warming and want to do what they can about it. People are generally good and honest and really want to do the right thing.

But people are fundamentally lazy, however good their intentions may be. I say this as the laziest fucker I know. If you could solve global warming by pushing a button from the comfort of the couch, that shit would be solved before it was even news.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:33 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


So... there's also a stupidity jackpot?

Well, of course there is. The same chance you have of getting laid for driving your tank-like, gas guzzling, earth-raping, teeny-weenie car is approximately the same as winning the lottery.
posted by ColdChef at 9:33 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


If a person can afford the gas a Hummer needs, and he is willing to pay this price, then why do you grit your teeth because you can not? You want to drive a mini, go to it; you want a hybrid, go to it. What we have here then is the paraodox of the public sphere bersus the private sphere. If those who can afford the gas buy gas guzzlers, then they eat into the available gas that those poorer folks need, and that then drives up the price of gas. So though you can afford gas, you sustain high costs of gas buy your "right to do as I see fit." note: don't make gestures at guys in Hummers. They are more likely to have a gun than the guy driving a Corolla.
posted by Postroad at 9:35 AM on May 24, 2007


I approve of people buying Humvees in the same way I approve of people who buy lottery tickets. It's a stupidity tax.

At least lottery money goes back into the state's coffers. According to the Slate article GuyZero linked to, SUVs get huge federal and state tax breaks - if you declare that it will be used "exclusively for work", you get to write the whole thing off, immediately.
posted by rtha at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


i propose that gas stations have big scales set into the concrete apron in front of the pumps. Gasoline tax would be indexed to the weight of your car and assessed at pump time. If SUV drivers had to pay $10/gal, with the difference between that and $2.50 going to public transportation and infrastructure, I'd say more power to them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:39 AM on May 24, 2007 [8 favorites]


At least lottery money goes back into the state's coffers.

On the other hand, at least Humvees are a stupidity tax on the rich, rather than disproportionately on the poor like the lottery.

Not that the two are actually related in any interesting way.
posted by gurple at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2007


I dislike the SUV craze, but for non-fossil fuel reasons. I'll admit that a 6 mile per gallon SUV burns more gas than my 25 MPG car does, but as long as we're burning fossil fuel it really doesn't matter that much if idiots burn more in their status symbols. We'll fill the atmosphere with carbon as long as we drive cars that burn fossil fuels, if we all drove hybrids it'd just take a bit longer and let us put off the expensive (and necessary) switch to non-petrolium vehicles that much longer.

What annoys me about SUV's is the fact they cost a lot to fix if they're in an accident, and the insurance companies are spreading that cost to me. People who drive SUV's pay more for their insurance, but the spread of SUV's has also driven up insurance for those of us who don't want giant status symbols too.

But what infuriates me is that SUV's are bloody dangerous. The mortality rate for accidents involving an SUV and a normal car vs. normal cars and normal cars is vastly higher. It's bad enough that I'm forced by my insurance company to subsidize the insurance for Joe Idiot's status symbol, but that isn't enough, Joe Idiot has to increase my risk of dying in an auto accident too.

Essentially when people drive SUV's they are saying "My status symbol is more important than your life, fuck you".
posted by sotonohito at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


say what you want about SUVs -- and people here mostly do -- I think the various Hummer models belong to an entirely different class; I can imagine someone living say, in the country or even in a farm, long winters and mud and all, actually using a SUV or a pickup truck because a regulra sized car would simply not run there.

but Hummers? they seem to me that, unless you need it for military use in Iraq (where apparently, looking at body counts, Hummers are a very successful tool to hit as many IEDs as possible) those monsters are really useless hunks of metal.

I'm not a SUV fan, but I have driven quite a few of them and they're big cars; Hummers aren't big cars, are a different, senseless animal.
posted by matteo at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2007


I hope non of you anti-SUV crusaders ever fly anywhere. :-)
posted by callmejay at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


bah:

...quite a few of them and in the end they're just big cars
posted by matteo at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2007


If a person can afford the gas a Hummer needs, and he is willing to pay this price, then why do you grit your teeth because you can not?

FALSE ASSUMPTION ALERT! BATTLE STATIONS!
posted by DU at 9:42 AM on May 24, 2007


matteo Don't forget the H2 is not, in fact, a Hummer. Its a posermobile. Its a shell that looks like a Humvee tossed onto a normal SUV frame, engine, and transmission.
posted by sotonohito at 9:43 AM on May 24, 2007


I think the federal government should pay some decent marketing firms to run ads that associate SUV ownership with impotence. Pay for the ads with a combo of DHS and EPA money.
posted by gurple at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Postroad - it isn't just what people use (gas) but also what they give back (CO2). For instance, a Ford Expedition emits 1.15-1.24 pounds of CO2 per mile; a Toyota Prius, < .45 pounds/mile. see here for more.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


at 6'4" I fit into a VW Jetta just fine

Some of us 6'4" people are built differently than you. I am all leg, and absolutely can't fit into a Jetta in any circumstances. And believe me, having worked for VW they had some amazing deals on these things and I tried to get in them with a shoe horn and a quart of oil (think $150 a month including insurance).

In fact, truthfully I cannot fit comfortably in most mid size cars. I even cannot fit in most small SUVs. When I went out to purchase my last vehicle, I test drove over 30 cars and had to strike well over half of them from the list because I could not fit in the cockpit comfortably. Either it wasn't wide enough or long enough--my knees would always be resting on something awkward on the door or god forbid the shifting column (which is a major design issue for me in many vehicles).

I ended up purchasing a Nissan Murano because it was the most comfortable vehicle I have ever sat in, and it was the least of the evils in the category of vehicles that I am biologically forced to choose from. So I can sympathize with this guy, although he certainly didn't do his due diligence to find a better option than the Expedition.
posted by fusinski at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2007


bad html - looked ok in preview - sorry!
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on May 24, 2007


SBMike wrote:

Hold your thumb and index finger a few centimeters apart, put on a fake sympathetic face,

I thought of a similar albeit not as comical idea back when these Hummers came out. Mine was to just give the thumbs down every time I saw one. I believe these kind of grass root shame programs would be the most effective ways to get people to stop driving gas guzzling cars because when it comes down to it people really only drive them for the status it affords them no matter what they say. Once they lose the status all they really have left is the low gas mileage. I have two children and can pack up my car just fine in my Honda Civic.
posted by any major dude at 9:49 AM on May 24, 2007


Talk about people not getting it--a couple of days ago I spotted an H2 sporting an Illinois enviromental license plate. Nevermind that those plates are supposed to be restricted to vehicles under 8000 lbs.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:51 AM on May 24, 2007


rtha You are correct, and as I mentioned earlier I dislike SUV's, but I think that your reasoning is bogus.

Even if everyone drove a Prius we'd *still* be putting too much carbon into the atmosphere. The only solution to the problem is to stop burning petrolium, coal, and other fossil fuels entirely. And even then we'll have to do a lot of work to start removing the carbon we've been pumping into the atmosphere for the past 200 years or so.

I don't argue that SUV's are asshole-mobiles, but I do argue that their fuel economy is not the reason why. Honestly, given that it seems like no one is going to bother solving our addiction to fossil fuels until they are priced out of the market, it could be argued that by burning a lot of gas in a short period and therefore helping to drive the price of gas up, the SUV drivers are inadvertantly making a positive environmental impact in the long run.

Which doesn't change the fact that they are directly costing me money (in the form of higher insurance rates) and making it more likely that I'll die in an accident.
posted by sotonohito at 9:54 AM on May 24, 2007


in the country or even in a farm, long winters and mud and all, actually using a SUV or a pickup truck because a regulra sized car would simply not run there.

I hear this a lot but I am not sure how true it is. I live in Saskatchewan where we get very very cold winters (-40 c sometimes) and the winter is long enough that we get some pretty good snow accumulations.

I live in the city, but most times the city has a snow removal plan I think must be titled "April" and drive a '97 Honda Accord LX - entirely problem free last winter - never got stuck bad enough where I needed a push and it started everyday (and the winter before that was just about problem free - this year I sprang for a block heater and new tires). A front wheel drive car with good tires probably gets better traction in snow than a pickup because of weight distribution (the rear end slides a lot - this happens in increaingly rare RWD cars too - but if you are into "feature creep" the four wheel drive will correct that) - the only problem you run into driving a car in snow is clearance (and that would normally require a metric shit load of snow). I know people who have put snow tires on Miatas and Del Sols and been just fine using them in the winter.

Anyway, my two cents.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:58 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


As the established and supreme ruler of the internets I'm now issuing yet another rare decree:

From now, henceforth and forever, Sport Utility Vehicles will be renamed to Fuck You Vehicles.

For clarity we will retain the acronymic "U" for indicating the word "you", giving us the tidy "FUV". Yes, it's stupid, using "U" for "you". Shut up or I'll redirect your DNS entry for MetaFilter to Fark.
posted by loquacious at 9:58 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Ok, at 6'4" I fit into a VW Jetta just fine"

I don't. I feel like a cramped rat. Then again, my "SUV" (94 Explorer) beats the pants off of most new SUVs in gas mileage... which is scary. (15/20 with "new" guidelines, 17/21 with "old")

Then again, it spends quite a bit of time in places that you could never go with a Jetta.
posted by drstein at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2007


Even if everyone drove a Prius we'd *still* be putting too much carbon into the atmosphere.

True dat.

But it's a silly reason to just sit around with our thumbs up our butts and do nothing. Most major changes (political, social, economic, etc.) come about not in one swell foop, but incrementally. Just because we won't see dramatic change each time we make small sacrifices/adjustments in our actions doesn't make those actions worthless.

I do agree that pricing gas higher - and my commute is ~60 miles/day - will force people (and car companies) to change. I support raising taxes on gas; if gas cost here what it does in Europe, the Big 3 would suddenly discover whole new ways to make their fleet more efficient. It's amazing what "incentives" will do!
posted by rtha at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


we use the SUV to haul kids around

Uh, kids are not furniture or lumber that you "haul around" in the cargo space. Cripes, he makes it sound like with kids you need to fold down the seats, open up the back, and load them in.
posted by deanc at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


H2 owners repsond to Metafilter:

FUG AWF, YA FUGGIN' NERDS, YA.
posted by The Straightener at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2007




If a person can afford the gas a Hummer needs, and he is willing to pay this price, then why do you grit your teeth because you can not?

High school physics time: F=ma.

Sotonohito said pretty much all I had to say. See also this Malcolm Gladwell article from a few years back (that seems to get linked here on occasion).
posted by kableh at 10:10 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


And, of course, oil money funds terrorism.

Which is ironic, considering many Hummer/SUV drivers consider their conspicuous gas consumption to be a big "fuck you" to the Middle East. (No, doesn't makes sense to me, either, but it's something like, "You can raise our gas prices, but we still won't give in!!")

Support our troops; ride a bike.
posted by LordSludge at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Uh, kids are not furniture or lumber that you "haul around" in the cargo space. Cripes, he makes it sound like with kids you need to fold down the seats, open up the back, and load them in."


Have you seen American kids these days? Some of em, you do...
posted by stenseng at 10:12 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are legitamite reasons for owning SUVs. Granted, many of them aren't used for those reasons, but the blanket assumptions in this thread are laughable.
I have two vehicles: a full-size pickup and a tiny economy car. For long trips I cram myself into the little Yaris, but there are too many things I use my truck for to give it up entirely. If I only had one vehicle, it would have to be the truck.
When you see the SUV driver, why do you assume that he's a small-dicked uncaring asshole, instead of someone who needs a utility vehicle once in a while, and can't justify a second car?
posted by rocket88 at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2007


I wrote out a biting and articulate response-slash-my-two-cents on the subject, but then remembered: You really can't fight internet dogma.

So, uh... you're all right. Or wrong, depending.
posted by ImJustRick at 10:18 AM on May 24, 2007


On preview, what Rocket88 said.
posted by ImJustRick at 10:18 AM on May 24, 2007


From GuyZero's link:

Why not classify SUVs under 3 tons as passenger cars and regulate them accordingly? Make them meet car gas mileage and safety standards, and let them drive anywhere cars can drive.

For vehicles over 6K, classify them as trucks, pure and simple. Let their drivers use more gas, roll over more often if they want, and take tax breaks. And ban them from residential streets. Make them stick to the truck routes, including truck lanes on highways. (Heck, maybe even require a truck driver's license to pilot one.)


I think this is a damn near perfect idea that addresses almost all my complaints about SUVs, specifically that they are not built as safely as cars, and that because of greatly increased size and weight, they might require additional training to operate safely.

Heck, the fact that it would also reduce the wear and tear on residential streets and improve the gas mileage on sub 3 ton models is just icing on the cake.
posted by quin at 10:18 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


When you see the SUV driver, why do you assume that he's a small-dicked uncaring asshole, instead of someone who needs a utility vehicle once in a while, and can't justify a second car?

I'm going to pull a number out of my ass. That number is 3. That's the percentage of SUV drivers that I would guess actually need to be driving SUVs.

It would be great if all those people got together and decided on a bumper sticker or some other way to communicate to the rest of us that we shouldn't make little-weenie signs at them.
posted by gurple at 10:20 AM on May 24, 2007


The carbon footprint from jet travel is enormous, but you never see the Eco Morality Patrol come out in such force in posts about travel. Where is all this vitriol when people talk about flying around the world on non-essential trips? Or do is that truth conveniently forgotten when you book your flight to Costa Rica?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:21 AM on May 24, 2007


The carbon footprint from jet travel is enormous, but you never see the Eco Morality Patrol come out in such force in posts about travel.

a) sure there is, more and more, but more importantly
b) if we accept that there should be more outrage about air travel than there is, how does it follow that there should be less outrage about SUVs?
posted by gurple at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2007


When you see the SUV driver, why do you assume that he's a small-dicked uncaring asshole, instead of someone who needs a utility vehicle once in a while, and can't justify a second car?

Because then they would buy a truck.
posted by drezdn at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bringing up the jet travel thing is just a way to rationalize the SUV issue, and a playground rationalization at best.
posted by hexxed at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2007


If a person can afford the gas a Hummer needs, and he is willing to pay this price, then why do you grit your teeth because you can not?

How many soldiers per mile can a vehicle consume before we're allowed to grit our teeth Postroad?
posted by three blind mice at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


I finally bought myself an SUV last week so I can take it four-wheeling. I couldn't afford the $750 a month for a full-sized new one, though, so I paid $300 cash for a 20-year-old Isuzu Trooper II. At 3700 lbs., it's pretty heavy for its 2.6 liter four-cylinder engine, but it averaged 20mpg out of the last tank (combined highway/city) and if I'm driving it I'm not in much of a hurry anyway.

The really cool thing about it is that if I dent it, scratch it, gouge it or roll it over, as long as I can get it back on its wheels in running condition it's still going to be worth at least $300.

Plus it has air conditioning that works. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2007


As far as I can tell, most people I know who actually need a 4WD utility vehicle (they're all New England farmers) have a small-to-mid-sized pickup, usually dirty and battered to shit.

Pickups are cheaper than SUVs and far more practical if you actually need to "haul" things around. For the money that you'd pay for a mid-range SUV, you can buy an old beater Toyota pickup that will run forever and still have money leftover for a Subaru.
posted by xthlc at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2007


if we accept that there should be more outrage about air travel than there is, how does it follow that there should be less outrage about SUVs?

I'm suggesting the outrage is motivated by more than just environmentalism. There seem to be other values at work here -- maybe it's a class-based prejudice, I don't know -- that blind people to their own actions and let them moralize against others when they're often just as guilty of this "crime".
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:39 AM on May 24, 2007


I'm the guy driving the CRX that gets H2 drivers to roll down their windows at stoplights, just so I can tell them, "sorry about your penis". However, also have a truck. Full size, pick-em-up truck, from when I had to haul stuff quite a bit. Past six months, I've had to drive the truck exclusively, because the CRX has needed a lot of work. Unfortunately the gas money in the truck has kept me from getting the crx (220k miles, still gets 35mpg highway!) fixed in a more timely manner. When I get that look from Civic drivers, I just have to nod and shrug.
posted by notsnot at 10:40 AM on May 24, 2007


The carbon footprint from jet travel is enormous, but you never see the Eco Morality Patrol come out in such force in posts about travel.

This is because there are few efficient alternatives to air travel for trips over 350 miles or so. I'm not going to take anyone to task for taking a 2-hour plane trip when the only alternative is a 12-hour car ride. By contrast, there are plenty of alternatives to driving an SUV.
posted by deanc at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2007


Bringing up the jet travel thing is just a way to rationalize the SUV issue, and a playground rationalization at best.

Ad hominem. Ignoring reality can also be considered childish.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:42 AM on May 24, 2007


I'm not going to take anyone to task for taking a 2-hour plane trip when the only alternative is a 12-hour car ride.

What about when that travel is totally unnecessary?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:43 AM on May 24, 2007


I used to go off-roading in my '99 Jeep Wrangler. It was a good time, and it was fun to learn how to do really cool stuff with the vehicle.

Looking back, I think of that as a pretty irresponsible hobby. I still have that Jeep because I've been too lazy to sell it, but I only put a few hundred miles on it per year (go bus commute!). When I do sell it I'll have to try not to think about it running around out there in the woods burning oil.
posted by gurple at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2007


The carbon footprint from jet travel is enormous, but you never see the Eco Morality Patrol come out in such force in posts about travel.

Travel is a rare occurence. If you look at the footprints, I'm willing to bet that an SUV driver will still net more emissions than a small sedan owner, even if that sedan owner jets off to the Carribean twice a year. Those daily commutes add up in a way that air travel doesn't. Of course, I haven't looked at the numbers, and I could be way off. And obviously, what you drive matters a whole lot less than how often you drive it. I could own a Sherman tank and burn up less fossil fuels than my neighbor if I used my bicycle to get around most of the time.

I'm not saying air travel isn't a problem, clearly it is. But there's also the matter of benefits. Both driving a large SUV and flying somewhere on vacation use a lot of gas. But for many locations, there aren't a whole lot of alternative options for how to get there besides flying. If you want the benefits of travel, there is an associated cost to you and the environment. In the case of SUVs, there are many other practical alternatives that can still get you to work every day, bring groceries back from the store, and even haul stuff (hell, my dinky little Toyota Corolla made it across the country carrying a big U-haul with almost no problems). Even if you view cars as more than just a way to get from point A to B, there are much better choices for status symbols. Remember when small, sporty, fast cars were considered cool? I think a Miata makes a much nicer status symbol than any gigantic SUV. Even if you have 4 kids, minivans have worked just fine for decades. With SUVs, you pay the personal and environmental costs, but with no benefits other than feeling like a big man driving around 3 ft. taller than everyone else.

With air travel, you get to see new places, learn about new cultures, make new friends, and enjoy yourself thoroughly. Not to say we should always burn gas for our personal enjoyment, but there is at least some value to what you get in return. Not so much with SUVs, which is perhaps one source of the outrage gap.

On preview: what deanc said
posted by SBMike at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2007


One fantasy I have about SUVs is that buyers will have to take classes and pass a test showing that they know how to drive something that can be 18 feet long and weigh four tons. A vast majority of the SUV drivers I see apparently have no idea where their vehicle starts and ends; they seem to have no idea what the stopping distance is when traveling at 70 mph (hey you, tailgating asshat, I'm talkin' to you!). I watched a guy recently tryning to parallel park his (large) SUV in a space that was more than adequate. He had at least two feet of clearance on either end; I watched for at least five minutes, and when I left he still hadn't managed it.

Now, are there asshat drivers of vehicles of all types? Yes. But I'm less likely to end up dead if I get rear-ended by a Yaris than I am if I get rear-ended by an Expedition.
posted by rtha at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2007


Sometimes I just don't "get" people. So many folks are anti-WalMart because they don't provide a living wage or benefits, etc. WalMart bad. General Motors pays its workers an excellent wage with state-of-the-art benefits. When the H2 was selling well, it prevented layoffs and also kept auto-related businesses flush, and thus supported the families of those workers. When those workers were earning steady paychecks, they spent money and kept other local businesses in the black. But I guess that's not crunch granola enough to matter.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2007


6mpg? Some of you anti-SUV loons need to get your facts straight. The SUV I've been eyeing lately is the jeep liberty which gets 18/22. My 4-banger crap economobile gets +2 or 3 mpg better than that in the city and 5 on the highway. Not exactly a big loss and the room and power gains are incredible.

Not all SUVs are hummers. Modern V6s are not your dad's big V8. And for kicks i'll mention that the few people I know who are extremely wavy-gravy are also extremely poor and drive beaters that pollute and burn quite a bit of gas. Hell, coming back from the gym I saw a Sierra Club sticker on a V8 1980's Caddillac. When I walk past 'hip' stores like the Apple store or various clothing outlets, I find that the shoppers inside have no problem with these companies leavign their front doors wide open while blowing the AC out into the street, which is just a big f'u to the environment. Yet, Im sure if I pulled up in an SUV i'd get dirty looks from the macbook crowd in an instant.

Things really arent as cut and dry as some suggest.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2007


Also, is the carbon footprint of flying larger than the carbon footprint of 200 people all driving their own cars to the destination?

What about when that travel is totally unnecessary?

Create a tax on travel that can make up for the externalities imposed by such travel and then allow the travelers to make a rational decision about the necessity of the trip, knowing that he or she will be shouldering the full costs of the trip. Meanwhile, create incentives to use less carbon-releasing options (eg, building a rail system that, you know, people might actually use).
posted by deanc at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2007


"One fantasy I have about SUVs any wheeled vehicle is that buyers will have to take classes and pass a test showing that they know how to drive."

Better.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2007


There's at least a partial counterweight of justification for air travel in that it imparts cross-cultural education, helps keep bonds between friends & family strong, is necessary for business, etc.

on preview: What SBMike said.
posted by LordSludge at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2007


Now, are there asshat drivers of vehicles of all types? Yes.

If we don't like SUVs just because SUV drivers tend to be jerks, then in fairness, there should be a national crackdown on BMWs. Especially the 3-series.
posted by deanc at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2007


According to this calculator, driving a large SUV 15,000miles/year emits 8211 kg of CO2; taking 3 flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to the U.K. emits 3900 kg of CO2.
posted by rtha at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2007


So, I guess you don't live around here...

beaters that pollute and burn quite a bit of gas

which is why the government makes them get annual emissions tests which is really just a way to force old cars off the road.

I find that the shoppers inside have no problem with these companies leavign their front doors wide open while blowing the AC out into the street

Every summer the municipal government mentions stopping this about a dozen times a day. Though it's electricity and not oil per se. But yeah, we know.

And as far as I can tell, you're the first person to mention 6 mpg.

But personally, I don't care if people drive SUVs. I just don't like their false contrition. If you tow your water-skiing boat with your Explorer, you don't care about how much gas you use. Please stop claiming otherwise.
posted by GuyZero at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2007


General Motors pays its workers an excellent wage with state-of-the-art benefits.

No one gets the excellent wages and benefits if the American auto industry fails because its fleet can't compete on the world market, because it's building cars for last century. Hell, it's practically a patriotic duty to American industry to pour shame on these vehicles and get Detroit to refocus.
posted by gurple at 10:56 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


In a country in which "he who arrives first at the red light wins," I'm bemused by how, as I drive more every day like my father did -- valuing safety and efficiency over stopping and starting in a hurry -- I get dissed for it.

I drive a five-year-old Nissan Sentra, a modest economy car that certainly accelerates like one. I don't even bother trying to jackrabbit off when the traffic light changes from red to green because the drive train just wastes engine power in low gear. There's no zip to this thing at speeds below about 40 mph. And I decelerate fairly smoothly once I see I'm heading into a red light or a STOP sign, so I don't burn extra gas flyin' right up to it and then slam on the brakes as other drivers typically do.

I'm trying not to be a jerk about this: It's not like I'm driving especially slowly once the car finishes accelerating; I'm typically going at five to ten over the limit and keeping up with traffic when it's moving at speed. And I stay out of the left (passing) lane unless there's an a left turn in my immediate future, too.

People routinely zoom around me in order to arrive in front of me at a red light 100 yards in front of us. You would not believe the dirty looks and middle fingers I get, notably from people who look to be easily old enough to remember having to wait lines half a block long at gas stations once upon a time.

And damned near all of them are driving luxury sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks.
posted by pax digita at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Even if everyone drove a Prius we'd *still* be putting too much carbon into the atmosphere. The only solution to the problem is to stop burning petrolium, coal, and other fossil fuels entirely.

Counter-productive reasoning, and probably mathematically wrong besides.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The perfect is not the enemy of the good. And in fact one of the most esteemed emissions-reduction number crunchings - the "Stabilization Wedges" scenario formulated by Socolow & Pacala of Princeton's Carbon Mitigation initiatitive - determined that the implementation of any seven of its proposed strategies, each of which would reduce global emissions by a gigaton per year, would stabilize the climate.

One of those wedges: a doubling of the average fuel economy of the world's motor-vehicle fleet, from 30 to 60 mpg.

Toyota's aiming for 100-mpg-plus for the '09 Prius
, in which case buyers should be getting offset credits to sell to the Expedition drivers of the world, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by gompa at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


According to this calculator, driving a large SUV 15,000miles/year emits 8211 kg of CO2; taking 3 flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to the U.K. emits 3900 kg of CO2.

A flight from the east coast to the UK is about 7000 miles round trip. So two round trip flights is about 2600 kg of CO2 for 14000 miles. That makes flying better than driving, no?

Of course, driving to the UK isn't an option, but just by way of illustration, it does show that driving an SUV is much, much worse for your carbon footprint than flying when placed side-by-side.

But maybe flying is worse for the environment than taking the train. In which case, I'm all for spending money to upgrade the rail system.
posted by deanc at 11:07 AM on May 24, 2007


Ok, at 6'4" I fit into a VW Jetta just fine

Aye. You just need to be willing to do a little investigating. My 6'5" of mostly-leg fits perfectly well into most European sedans (American and Japanese manufacturers seem curiously impassive about the comfort of their taller customers), as long as there's no sunroof and the steering column is either adjustable or mounted sanely. There's not a whole lot of correlation between a vehicle's size and its capacity for big people; some of the the biggest problems I've had were with with those big ol' Jeep Liberties, and with minivans.

If we don't like SUVs just because SUV drivers tend to be jerks, then in fairness, there should be a national crackdown on BMWs. Especially the 3-series.

And how. My kingdom for a 'sport package' that includes caltrops.
posted by Mayor West at 11:09 AM on May 24, 2007


which is why the government makes them get annual emissions tests which is really just a way to force old cars off the road.

Emissions tests don't fail your car for having bad gas mileage.

Hell, it's practically a patriotic duty to American industry to pour shame on these vehicles and get Detroit to refocus.

You mean these vehicles?

Why do people think that American companies are the only ones making gas guzzling cars and SUVs? I don't see anyone posting on the blue or anywhere else about how people are still buying BMWs and Mercedes that get crap gas mileage. Why don't we have a patriotic duty to pour shame on Toyota for trying its best to sell more trucks than the American companies, or on BMW for having crappy gas mileage across the board?

Toyota's aiming for 100-mpg-plus for the '09 Prius, in which case buyers should be getting offset credits to sell to the Expedition drivers of the world, as far as I'm concerned.


Toyota currently sells six different models of SUV and two models of truck.
posted by The World Famous at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2007


...driving an SUV is much, much worse for your carbon footprint than flying when placed side-by-side.

Right, except all that driving is probably fairly productive -- commuting to work -- and most people fly for recreation. And just a few recreational trips adds up to a year's driving.

If somebody were to post a question in Ask Me about which Hummer they ought to buy, you can bet there would be some moralizing comments about the poster's wastefulness.

Yet we never see those ideas applied when people post Ask Me questions about flying somewhere for a holiday.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:15 AM on May 24, 2007


Toyota currently sells six different models of SUV and two models of truck.

This affects the fuel economy of the Prius how exactly?
posted by gompa at 11:18 AM on May 24, 2007


And just a few recreational trips adds up to a year's driving.

Oh, yeah, I fly back and forth to England a few times a year for fun! :) We're Americans. We don't get that kind of vacation.

The moralizing comes because people generally have alternatives when it comes to which car they choose to buy. With travel, not so much. As I said, you can't drive to England. And even when you can drive to your vacation destination, it turns out that flying is more efficient than if all 200 of those people in the airplane drove. I think you're just making an attempt at being provocative.
posted by deanc at 11:19 AM on May 24, 2007


Why do people think that American companies are the only ones making gas guzzling cars and SUVs?

That wasn't my point at all. Oriole Adams talked up the great wages/benefits at American auto plants. Sadly, those things were built on a success that was doomed to be short-lived, because the only thing the automakers had going for them was the cachet of SUVs.

The Japanese automakers build monstrosities that are just as bad, but they've also been improving the gas mileage of the rest of their fleet considerably. When the air finally leaves the SUV bubble, what does Detroit have left?

The government should have been nudging them in the direction of better fuel economy this whole time. I don't necessarily blame the American automakers; they were just building the products that sold best at the time.
posted by gurple at 11:20 AM on May 24, 2007


I'm currently working part time at a non-Ford related job in Dearborn, MI. One day I found my Civic parked next to a Navigator that carried this bumper sticker: "Got a Job? Keep Buying Foreign."

Were I not at work and concerned that someone would see me, I would've left them a note on their windshield: "Got a Job? Keep Making Gas Guzzlers." Because in the long run this is definitely not good for US automakers. (D'oh!)

(Disclaimer: I work mostly in nonprofits. The sucky Michigan economy hurts all of us because when the Former Big Three burps, every Michigander gets heartburn. [/BitterAtMoronicShortsightedUSAutomakers])
posted by NorthernLite at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2007


According to this calculator flying 2,000 miles twice a year (so 8,000 miles total, including returns) is equivalent to commuting 40 miles a day for a year in a compact car.

Flying is really, really bad!

All this travel is good propaganda really has to stop. It is one thing to go and work for a couple of years somewhere, that is really learning about the place you are visiting. A week long trip to Italy is just consumerism.

Also important to note, reducing driving speeds really does have a huge impact on fuel consumption. I'm not sure why nobody talks about that anymore, but the speed limit reductions in the 70's were actually quite sensible. The wind resistance at 55mph is about half of the wind resistance at 70mph - fuel consumption per mile at 55mph is probably 40% lower than at 70mph, overall.
posted by Chuckles at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2007


gompa: Toyota's aiming for 100-mpg-plus for the '09 Prius, in which case buyers should be getting offset credits to sell to the Expedition drivers of the world, as far as I'm concerned.

me: Toyota currently sells six different models of SUV and two models of truck.

gompa: This affects the fuel economy of the Prius how exactly?

It doesn't. But perhaps buyers of Priuses should get offset credits to sell to the world's drivers of Toyota's eight earth-wreckers.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on May 24, 2007


I walk and take the bus. I spit on all of you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2007


My '92 Ford Taurus only gets 19 mpg (city), probably less.

It's not much of a status symbol either.

I fail the internets highway.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2007


My bike, however, gets ∞ mpg.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


"hummers ... your dad's big V8 ... wavy-gravy ... a Sierra Club sticker on a V8 1980's Caddillac .... 'hip' stores like the Apple store ... blowing the AC out into the street ... the macbook crowd"

Amusing to note how "hip" and "environmentalist" have become entirely indistinguishable to some of the (we can only assume) universally misguided Jeep-driving, WalMart-loving, rabbit-hunting dupes of the oil industry conspiracy to suppress the truth about global warming.

I'm bemused by how, as I drive more every day like my father did -- valuing safety and efficiency over stopping and starting in a hurry -- I get dissed for it. ... I drive a five-year-old Nissan Sentra

A Nissan Sentra! If there's any car that inspires me to loathe it more than I do the Hummer H3 (by contrast, I rather like the H1,) it's that one. Safety and efficiency are fine, but hard to get emotional about. The H3 is big, ugly, and badly-designed. The Sentra is small, ugly, and badly-designed. They're a fine match, both entirely unsuitable for human conveyance. I for one refuse to let my environmentalist principles get in the way of my small-minded automotive snobbery.
posted by sfenders at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2007


Right, except all that driving is probably fairly productive -- commuting to work -- and most people fly for recreation. And just a few recreational trips adds up to a year's driving.

Kraftmatic:
According to this calculator, driving a large SUV 15,000miles/year emits 8211 kg of CO2; taking 3 flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to the U.K. emits 3900 kg of CO2.
posted by rtha at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2007


@sotonohito: "I'll admit that a 6 mile per gallon SUV burns more gas than my 25 MPG car does..."

I hate it when people condemn SUVs unilaterally based on gas mileage. SUVs come in all sorts of sizes. Let's compare mine to a minivan, a station wagon, and a sedan.

Honda CR-V        : 19/23 (city/highway)
Mazda MPV         : 18/23
Ford Taurus Wagon : 17/24
Subaru Impreza    : 19/25

"People who drive SUV's pay more for their insurance..."

My 2000 Honda CR-V costs significantly less to insure than my 1995 Geo Prism did.
posted by CrayDrygu at 11:50 AM on May 24, 2007


BMW for having crappy gas mileage across the board

Tell that to their 300hp engine that can get 30mpg on the highway (according to owner reports). My 160hp 4-pot can't even come close to that. The people who want luxury cars don't want luxury cars that are slow. The battle for these guys is in making powerful, efficient engines, and BMW (and VAG) are doing a pretty good job of it. That's neither here nor there, though, for those not looking for a luxury car.

I do think that people who need to haul other people ought to be driving minivans, which provide much better utility (and, usually, better economy) than SUVs.

In my neighborhood, all the giant SUVs are driven by tiny women. What few minivans remain are almost always driven by men. I think suburban moms have been cowed into this sense of impending doom and prefer the high vantage point and passive safety (that is, crushing anything they hit) of an SUV to the more car-like ride of a minivan. Which is a shame, as everyone has pointed out, for a variety of reasons.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2007


Hummers are loathsome because they are fake. They're just styled to look like the military vehicle of the same name. Look at them side by side and a civilian hummer looks like a hot wheels.
People justifying their SUV purchases always rings false to me. If you really had things to haul, you'd have a truck. Have to shlep kids around? What did people do back when they really had big families? Station wagons, minivans, trucks. i think the real reason is there's a tv in back. to shut the kids up.
posted by Miles Long at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2007


According to this calculator, driving a large SUV 15,000miles/year emits 8211 kg of CO2; taking 3 flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to the U.K. emits 3900 kg of CO2.

Just to complete the circle, a full commercial jet is roughly CO2-equivalent to a single passenger 26-29 mpg car. Commercial jets appear to emit about 0.65-0.70 pounds of CO2 per person per mile (according to top google hits [1] [2] [3]).
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:59 AM on May 24, 2007


My bike, however, gets ∞ mpg.

You realize, of course, that the food you eat to provide the calories to pedal your bicycle was grown with petroleum-based fertilizer, don't you?

Don't mind me, I'm just trying to be irritating. :)
posted by deanc at 12:00 PM on May 24, 2007


If a person can afford the gas a Hummer needs, and he is willing to pay this price

Externalities, Subsidized Consumption, Tragedy of the Commons

The Hummer is the poster child for these concepts. It's a mobile "Fuck You" to the rest of humanity.
posted by uri at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2007


You realize, of course, that the food you eat to provide the calories to pedal your bicycle was grown with petroleum-based fertilizer, don't you?

I only eat cows. Cows that fed on other live cows. They aren't slaughtered and driven in a gas-guzzling truck to the supermarket either; I saddle and ride them straight into my kitchen, and eat them. Whole.

Fear me.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:13 PM on May 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Is there any sign that Detroit will get a clue and offer a diesel engine smaller than 7 liters in displacement? I know for a fact that a nice 3 liter v6 diesel would satisfy 80% of truck owner's subjective performance desires and generally be vastly more suited to truck duties than your average 350 small block.
posted by well_balanced at 12:24 PM on May 24, 2007


Station wagons, minivans, trucks. i think the real reason is there's a tv in back. to shut the kids up.
Some minivans have TVs in the back, too, probably for just that reason.
posted by Godbert at 12:29 PM on May 24, 2007


According to this calculator, driving a large SUV 15,000miles/year emits 8211 kg of CO2; taking 3 flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to the U.K. emits 3900 kg of CO2.

Right, and my point is that the average person driving 15,000 miles in a SUV is probably doing something productive and necessary, like going to work. But the average person doesn't need to fly to London for work three times a year, so those trips are needless and wasteful.

Few people here wouldn't think of mocking a recreational flier as an "earth-wrecker", while it seems very easy for them to happily bash SUV drivers.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:49 PM on May 24, 2007


You realize, of course, that the food you eat to provide the calories to pedal your bicycle was grown with petroleum-based fertilizer, don't you?

So I should kill myself then? Because the only way I can truly emit 0 carbon is to stop breathing out. Except for that tricky question of my corpse decaying, of course.

Don't mind me, I'm just trying to be irritating. :)

Mission accomplished.

I agree with you that energy subsidies of agriculture are a massive problem. Walking and biking are good environmental choices, and in some places even working out at the gym reclaims some of the energy we gain from our food supply.
posted by Tehanu at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2007


my point is that the average person driving 15,000 miles in a SUV is probably doing something productive and necessary

Necessary to use an SUV? Almost invariably not, which is precisely the point we're all discussing. The idea of the availability of alternatives is something you are inexplicable unable to understand here.
posted by deanc at 12:58 PM on May 24, 2007


The carbon footprint from jet travel is enormous, but you never see the Eco Morality Patrol come out in such force in posts about travel.


Erm, that may be the case over there in the US, but here in Europe air travel is getting into increasingly hot water, with low-cost airlines attracting particular vitriol (which, personally, I find a bit unfair, since actually consume less kerosin per passenger than other airlines: it's like criticising small, cheap cars for "popularising automotion").

Anyway, as a mechanical engineer, I'm offended by most SUVs and, I'm afraid, American SUVs in particular. They are technically crude, inefficient, a waste of resources both during their production and later use, and a pure marketing phenomenon. Moreover, they are more dangerous (both for its passengers and for bystanders) onroad and often not much more able offroad than regular cars. The absolute pits, of course, being blinged-out luxury SUVs riding on low-profile tyres: totally useless both on- and offroad.
posted by Skeptic at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2007


my point is that the average person driving 15,000 miles in a SUV is probably doing something productive and necessary

Also, in most areas driving 15,000 miles per year in anything is well into the realm of unnecessary. Not everywhere, of course -- the SF Bay Area, LA, etc., are very difficult to live in without a long commute. But a 50-mile-a-day commute just for the purpose of living far away from where you work is hard to justify.
posted by gurple at 1:21 PM on May 24, 2007


I hate burning fossil fuels and exhausting CO2 as much as the next granola eater, but that's not why I hate SUVs.

I hate SUVs not because they are poorly built or engineered (though many are) but because by its very nature an SUV is trying to be all things to all buyers. It is a jack of all trades, master of none. There are exceptions (real Jeeps for one) but most SUVs are only marginally less useless than a car in any off road situation more complicated than a gravel driveway. They aren't inevitably any bigger inside either, my sister's old Pathfinder is about as big inside as my slightly less old Accord, yet it's something like a thousand pounds heavier and rides like a boat.

Like many have said, there are very very few people who need an SUV, and most SUVs are totally unsuited to those needs. Need to haul your spawn to $SPORT? Minivan. Need to move big, heavy things? Minivan. Need to pop to the store? Compact car.

The obvious argument is that not everybody can afford two cars, but that's where 80/20 comes in. 80% of the time you need one car, a minivan or a compact or even a family saloon sedan, so you spend your buck on that, get a good, high-quality and reliable just-off-lease model. Then you drop a few hundred bucks on an old beater for your 20% needs. Since it'll get used rarely it burns less gas and needs fewer repairs.

Buy things because they're good at what you're going to use them for and you get efficiency for free.
posted by Skorgu at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, this really takes me back to the golden days of 2002 grrr SUV fights.

The airplane stuff is inapposite. If all new SUVs were super hybrids that got 60 miles to the gallon, I'd still be annoyed at them, for the danger factor, marvelous sight-blocking qualities, and brute square-footage take on "luxury", which gets silly because a lot of the things are surprisingly un-roomy in the areas that count. Yes, if half the SUV's on the road were replaced with '50's automobiles, I'd be ever so much happier.
posted by furiousthought at 1:24 PM on May 24, 2007


The idea of the availability of alternatives is something you are inexplicable unable to understand here.

People have the alternative of not flying for recreation -- not likely, nor pleasant, of course. People also have the option of understanding that they themselves are often thoughtlessly wasteful and that it's silly to condemn others for the same vice.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:34 PM on May 24, 2007


People also have the option of understanding that they themselves are often thoughtlessly wasteful and that it's silly to condemn others for the same vice.

That way, nothing at all changes. Everyone's a winner!
posted by you just lost the game at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how heavy all vehicles are nowadays compared to their predecessors. My MGB, ancestor in spirit to a Miata, is almost 1,000 lbs lighter. The original Mini was under 1500 lbs, almost a ton lighter than its predecessor. My full-size old Ford F250 is lighter by 1,000 lbs, at least, over its modern progeny.

Mostly this is safety and luxury stuff. Never mind that 2 - 2000 cars colliding at 30 have much less energy to dissipate than 2 - 3500 lb cars do.

All of this weight means my inefficient F250, with a 6.9 liter engine, gets the same gas mileage as the 2000 F150 I had for awhile, with a 4.6 V8. My 45 year old MG gets better mileage than a Miata does today.

The other contributor is the horsepower wars. Even middling sedans today have power outputs that are ridiculous for what their task is. I'm a car guy and like power, make no mistake, but I don't need bags of it in a commuting car.
posted by maxwelton at 1:53 PM on May 24, 2007


Wouldn't it be a hoot if the Bush administration were to sponsor a series of ads linking excessive fuel consumption with funding terrrorism?

Sort of like those ads linking drug use with terrorism?

I mean, you know, they worked so well.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:57 PM on May 24, 2007


So I should kill myself then? Because the only way I can truly emit 0 carbon is to stop breathing out.

Naww keep living, the carbon cost of processing your corpse is incredible!
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2007


On the absolute opposite end of the spectrum, I'm 5'3" and most of that is torso. I went car-shopping once, and could not for love or money get my feet to touch the gas pedals in... whatever giant SUV it was they had on display. It was something Toyota, and I climbed into the biggest one for shits'n'giggles. I looked like a kid behind the wheel of Daddy's car. The salesman was laughing with me, especially when he realized the last time he'd been 5'3" he was ten years old. Contrariwise, the MR2 fit me perfectly. I could see and reach everything.

When I am out driving, which these days is in a mid-nineties Corolla, and I'm stopped at a light, I look around me. All I see are bumpers and grilles - huge stainless steel and chrome monstrosities. I know exactly what would happen if one of those T-boned my tiny car: my skull would pop like a cantaloupe. All I can do is drive defensively, in small cars that maneuver better than these behemoths, and hope that someday someone will pass the anti-cellphone-while-driving law so that I can fear just a little less for my life.

For me, it's very much a case of "screw you, my image means more to me than your skull." I can't wait until the SUV fad is over. It'll make my life much less frightening.
posted by cmyk at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2007


Terrorism commercials?
posted by maxwelton at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2007


for a while I've thought that the proper marketing campaign could convince the rich that cachet was to be had by driving around in dumptrucks, bucket loaders, and cement mixers. The Sport-Construction Vehicle: It's low-hanging fruit.

Where I live, most of the kids drive expensive cars bought with mom and dad's money. It's not uncommon to see teens driving huge jacked-up trucks.

Less common (though still not uncommon) is seeing these kids crash these vehicles.

One kid, driving a HUGE truck, the biggest thing on the road, somehow managed to not only find, but drive into the ONLY thing on the road that was bigger - a dump-truck. The pickup was totalled, and the dump-druck? Well, you couldn't even tell that the dump truck had even been hit. The sides of those things aren't "panels" or "body", but thick plate steel designed to hold tonnes of rock and earth.

Don't mess with dump trucks. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:07 PM on May 24, 2007


Kraft, you still haven't explained why someone driving 15k miles/yr in an SUV is "productive." The very point is that it is an inherently wasteful enterprise. Few people commute to work with a cargo of lumber every day. There's the contradiction in your example, which you stubbornly resist realizing. You're just being ornery. I mean, I support that and everything, but I admit it when I am.

Someone could be driving to work in a fuel efficient car, but they choose not to. Or, like me, they could choose to use public transportation to get to work. Why do I choose that? Mostly so that I can lord my righteous moral superiority over the rest of you SUV-commuters.
posted by deanc at 2:09 PM on May 24, 2007


You're right, deanc, driving an SUV can be a wasteful choice, but I'm not denying that. I'm just pointing out that so many people are eager to bash wasteful SUV drivers when they themselves are also quite likely being wasteful, although in a way that's usually overlooked and often even encouraged. I guess I'm being ornery in that I'm pointing out hypocrisy here, and that's not very productive, I admit.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:16 PM on May 24, 2007


Everyone is wasteful, and even my Prius-driving self is guilty of hypocrisy. I used to rant about people who lived Some Large Number of Miles from their work, and how they should move, blahblahblah...and now I'm 30 miles from my office. And there's no way I'm moving to Redwood City or Menlo Park.

What drives me insane about arguments like "SUV drivers suck!" "Oh yeah? Well you fly too much!" is that it boils it all down to all-or-nothing, and that's not how it works. In the industrialized world at least, it would be nearly impossible to live a completely carbon-neutral life. Saying that hybrid drivers who also take plane trips are just as bad as SUV drivers is a false dilemma, and just encourages a mindset of "oh, well, it's all useless, and since I can't change everything, I won't change anything." No single person has to (or can) change everything, but a lot of people making small, individual changes can have a big impact.
posted by rtha at 2:46 PM on May 24, 2007


But if everyone stopped snarking at each other for fear of being hypocrites, then nobody would be insulting each other on the internet, and the world would never get better!
posted by The World Famous at 2:51 PM on May 24, 2007


-harlequin- : Don't mess with dump trucks. :)

Damn straight. When the End comes and everyone else is racing around in supercharged muscle cars, I will be well protected from the nuclear mutant zombie bikers gangs by my armor reinforced dump truck.

Have you looked closely at the tires on those things? They could go over a whole army of post apocalyptic monsters and never even slow down.
posted by quin at 3:01 PM on May 24, 2007


drstein wrote: Then again, it spends quite a bit of time in places that you could never go with a Jetta.

I call BS. I take my '91 Accord down almost anything that even remotely resembles a road without any trouble. It does take a bit more thought when navigating enormous ruts and water filled depressions in the so-called road, though.

I grant that there are some trails with large boulders I could not safely navigate in it, but none of the people I know who are serious about taking their old beater Jeeps into the woods go down trails like that anyway.

If that wasn't enough, despite having over 200,000 miles on it, it still gets 28mpg in the city with the a/c on, and 32 on the highway with it on and 35 without.

The other car I have, a '98 Escort ZX2 also gets decent gas mileage, but not as good as the older and far more worn out Honda. It gets a little over 30mpg on the highway with the a/c off.
posted by wierdo at 3:07 PM on May 24, 2007


Metafilter: Your vehicle sucks.
posted by drstein at 3:09 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


All I can do is drive defensively,

Phew, I hear you! My first car was an Rx7 and driving the freeways of California was a challenge-- truckers in particular never seemed to see me. I quickly learned to drive defensively: if there was a truck in the next lane I made sure I could see his face in his side mirror; if I could see him, he could see me.

Now that I drive a Jetta, I don't have that particular problem but I do have the problem of backing out of parking lot slots with SUVs on both sides-- you have to keep your fingers crossed and back out slowly because there is no way to see what might be coming. I keep thinking some company should design a periscope for us little guys.

Also, as a woman, I can tell you I felt very different about driving my old Jeep to driving our Izuzu pick-up. In the Jeep, I sat up high which gave me more confidence as did the heavy body. I'm not saying I was more aggressive in my driving-- but I felt like the Jeep could take a punch or two. Also, it had air conditioning, leather seats, and power steering-- none of which the stripped-down Izuzu has. I really, really miss the power steering! But I guess my priorities are different because I don't like spending a lot of money on gas. The Izuzu is perfect for hauling mulch and lumber and that's all we need a truck for.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:11 PM on May 24, 2007


I keep thinking some company should design a periscope for us little guys.

That, and a pair of bright lights mounted on the rear dash so we can get some sort of comeuppance when the sixteen-foot-tall SUV behind us has its brights on and they go right into our mirrors. I had to adjust my side mirror, once, because of this, and the dimwad behind me upped the brightness of his lights.

I've ridden in plenty of large vehicles, and they feel less safe, somehow. I'm so used to small, road-hugging cars, all the boatlike side-to-side drifting and shaking trucks and SUVs do only reminds me of how easily they roll over. I'm seriously uneasy in vehicles taller than they are wide.

When I drive - god, it's a strategic operation. I make sure there's space behind me, if someone cuts me off and I have to brake. I make sure that at least one lane to either side is clear, so if I have to dodge someone I can. I let the fast cars pass me so I can have maneuver room, because maneuvering is the one asset my tiny cars have. I'd love to be able to just amble mindlessly down the road, but my fellow drivers make that impossible.
posted by cmyk at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2007


All I can do is drive defensively,

My first motor vehicle was a motorcycle. I learned the rules of the road at the same time I was trying to get my head around moving on two wheels at 70mph.

It taught me one valuable lesson that I still use every day, almost two decades later: Every single other driver on the road wants to kill me. They may not be acting like it, but they are just waiting for their chance to take me out.

Whenever I pull up to a four way intersection, I'm looking for the guy that is going to run the stop sign and t-bone me. When I'm along side a semi on the interstate, I am waiting for him to try and take me out with his rear tires. Whenever someone is riding my ass, it's because they are looking to ram me into something.

It's kind of like taking defensive driving to the next (psychotically paranoid) level. The end result is that I have been in very few accidents, and I've been told that I am an excellent driver.

When dealing with SUVs, I just get out of their way. It makes them feel better, and it puts them in front of me where I can keep my eye on them.
posted by quin at 3:45 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yo from down here in south Florida.
Whew. Just got back from my informal survey.
Live in a gated community within a gated community. Yeah. I know. Boooo.
There are forty eight homes in here.
This is a breakdown of some of my neighbors that I have some personal knowledge of.
1. Couple in 50's. She Escalade. He Jag and Vette.
2. Couple in 60's. She Escalade. He Benz.
3. Family of four. She huge Lexus suv. He Lincoln. Daughters one each BMW's.
4.And my fav.
Couple. 50's. She a Miata conv. Him a Porsche and a Harley.
Last week he went by with the top down and a big picture perched precariously aboard.
And finally us. The neighborhood black sheep. A Civic and a Celica.(84 restored)
The point?
From my perspective their is damn little NEED for the suv's.
More status and false security me thinks.
I know. At 70 we need two vehicles like a hole in the head. But we are not the 'bashees' in this particular thread. Try to remember that.
posted by notreally at 3:49 PM on May 24, 2007


quin-
I used to ride a Kawasaki down here. I finally gave it up after 50 years of scooting. Why? I could no longer see the eyes of the car drivers who, like you, I always assumed were trying to kill me. Everyone down here (including me) has gone over to this tinted window thing that makes it impossible to see inside other vehicles.
posted by notreally at 3:56 PM on May 24, 2007


I do have the problem of backing out of parking lot slots with SUVs on both sides

That one is easily solved.
posted by sfenders at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2007


You're right, deanc, driving an SUV can be a wasteful choice

It would be far more honest to say that it is usually a wasteful choice, i thik everyone knows that most SUV drivers aren't "hauling" anything that wouldn't fit in a far smaller vehicle most of the time.

I'm just pointing out that so many people are eager to bash wasteful SUV drivers when they themselves are also quite likely being wasteful, although in a way that's usually overlooked and often even encouraged.

Perhaps, as has been mentioned, here in Europe the airline industry is coming in for more and more criticism.

I think one of the main reasons it isn't attacked more than it is, is that environmentalists are starting from an unpopular position. Trying to get people to change their habits is always tough, they feel like you are trying to boss them around and limit their freedom.

So the focus is on things like driving gas guzzlers because an alternative can be offered that is far better for the environment without any real negative effects. Who honestly needs an SUV, and could not get by with a smaller vehicle?

You go after air travel and you take away any chance people have of taking a holiday in another country, which for most peple is a once yearly event, a little luxury that gives them something to look forward to and gets them away from the drudgery of everyday life, you try to take that from people and they are going to tell you to fuck right off.

The fairest system, i think, is allowing a single journey (including a return obviously) at the standard going rate for a flight, then taxing the ever loving shit out of further flights. That way you are only realy hitting those that can afford it.

But i don't think it hypocritical to aim more firepower at something that is purely wasteful the majority of the time and that we already have the means to replace.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2007


I do have the problem of backing out of parking lot slots with SUVs on both sides...
That one is easily solved.
Parking backwards in a spot is against the rules and/or law in some places. It's sometimes impractical because of traffic or space. It doesn't really solve the problem anyway, it only mitigates it somewhat; you still have to pull out into traffic before you can see that traffic.
posted by Western Infidels at 4:33 PM on May 24, 2007


I'd actually prefer an SUV to a truck. Most of the big things I haul around I'd rather keep in a lockable enclosed space. And the space can be converted to passenger room as needed, so its a nice flexibility.

And I actually use the Jeeps I own for off-road use; to get to the trailhead near my house, I have to take the Jeep, So it gets used for this every day.

And with me running a business from the home, and being too busy to travel more than the trip to the daily hike, I'm probably putting only 4k on the two jeeps combined. The Rubicon was purchased a year ago and has around 2200 miles on it. (So much for the regular trips to Moab I had planned.) I'm using less gas than the smug Prius owner with the 15k commute.

But I don't entirely understand the hatred of Hummers. I kinda like the H3, even if I'd never buy one due to their terrible off-road performance. Didn't anyone have a Tonka truck when they were kids? The H3 reminds me of that and I love the angles on the thing.
posted by pandaharma at 4:38 PM on May 24, 2007


Metafilter: Your vehicle sucks.

God, I love this MetaThingy. Any time reading causes me to laugh out loud, not LOL, but truly bark - that's good.
posted by mmrtnt at 6:37 PM on May 24, 2007


I love how everyone shakes their fists in the air at every SUV and I can drive by in my 750il 12 cyl. sedan and no one bats an eye.
posted by wfc123 at 8:00 PM on May 24, 2007


Don't worry, wfc123 - I shake my fist at you too!
posted by rtha at 8:07 PM on May 24, 2007


I ride my bike or walk every day to work/school and have for the past two years. I have a 94 Explorer that my grandfather sold me for $1 and I rarely drive it. I am planning to drive across the country and back this summer to see the 'Merica.

I'm bad like Jesse James.
posted by pwedza at 10:09 PM on May 24, 2007


hey, 1f2frfbf: Nice job with the nice Job quote in the title.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:33 AM on May 25, 2007


Metafilter: a gated community within a gated community.
posted by NewBornHippy at 3:44 AM on May 25, 2007


Erm, that may be the case over there in the US, but here in Europe air travel is getting into increasingly hot water, with low-cost airlines attracting particular vitriol (which, personally, I find a bit unfair, since actually consume less kerosin per passenger than other airlines: it's like criticising small, cheap cars for "popularising automotion").

Aye, but there is something obscene about flying to Amsterdam and back for £1 just to get bombed off yer tits for a weekend. Still, guilt is the most expendable of my emotions so I'm over it now.
posted by vbfg at 6:18 AM on May 25, 2007


Pater Aletheias: hey, 1f2frfbf: Nice job with the nice Job quote in the title.

Honestly, that's the only reason I posted this. I'll show myself out now...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2007


From a Smart Car Driver: GROW UP!!

I use my Smarty for work and back, groceries and occasional trips. It puts out less than .45lbs / mile of CO2 and NOx emissions which are lower than most diesels out there due to common-rail injection technology and catalyst reactions. My environmental footprint is now equivalent to a bus load of passengers riding a 40' clean diesel bus.

You can make a difference if you want. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you have kids, keep a small 4 door car, or have two small cars if you have the money.
posted by pezdacanuck at 11:34 AM on May 25, 2007


You're right, deanc, driving an SUV can be a wasteful choice, but I'm not denying that. I'm just pointing out that so many people are eager to bash wasteful SUV drivers when they themselves are also quite likely being wasteful, although in a way that's usually overlooked and often even encouraged. I guess I'm being ornery in that I'm pointing out hypocrisy here, and that's not very productive, I admit.

There are many reasons non-SUV drivers don't like SUVs; the environmental aspect is just the easiest one to bring up because it's theoretically the one that:
1)everyone should care about,
2)seems most likely to be guilt-inducing, and
3)is hardest to deny the validity of (although clearly it's not that difficult).

For example.

*SUVs are more dangerous to get into wrecks with, because of their mass.
"But I'm a great driver! I'll never get into a wreck!"
*SUVs drive up insurance costs for other people.
"Why should I care?"
*SUVs' size means you can't see around them enough to be sure you aren't pulling into traffic when pulling out of a parking space next to one, making a right turn when to the right of one, or making a left turn at a light with no left turn arrow when there's one in the left turn lane across from you.
"But surely you can just wait for them to leave if it's that big a deal."
*It's harder to pull in and out of parking spaces between SUVs, because they go all the way to the edges (also making it more awkward to open one's door) and overhang the ends of the parking spaces, decreasing the available manuevering space (have to pull out farther before you can begin to turn).
"Parking spaces are just too small! That's not my fault."
*SUVs tend to have their lights right where they'll shine into your eyes if you're driving a shorter car.
"But that's just a minor thing."

Etc etc etc. How are you going to make someone actually care about those things? Answer: they don't care if they make driving/being on the roads more dangerous and difficult for everyone else.
posted by Many bubbles at 4:24 PM on May 25, 2007


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