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The popularity of the SUV fascinates me.  The size of the average family is smaller today than at any other time in American history.  Yet, our houses and our cars are bigger.  A family with two kids barely needs a small hatchback, but a great many of them are driving around in massive SUVs that seat 5 or 7 adults, with enough storage space for a small army.  A great many single persons I know drive SUVs.  Many couples with grown children or no children have SUVs.  They are more popular than simple reason would suggest.

Modern SUVs are very versatile passenger cars.  They can tear down the freeway at 85 miles an hour, then turn and go off road and then back onto the freeway, all the while cradling its passengers in leather seated comfort.  Over the last decade, I've driven a variety of SUVs, mostly company cars and a rental or two, ranging from a basic GMC SUV manufactured in the late 90s to a brand new top of the line Nissan Murano, a Mercedes G-class SUV (which I referred to as the "Invade Poland on the weekend" car) and a Land Rover that felt like it was going to tip over every time you turned a corner.

Although some SUVs are two wheel drive, most have four wheel or all wheel drive, which makes sense in locales that have snowy winters.  But in the South and Southwest, which receive occasional snow storms?  Not so much.  Even in snowy winter cities, SUVs only make sense a limited number of days per year.  And yet, look around you at a stoplight.  Something more than simple safety and practicality is at work.

SUVs evolved from the army Jeep but the average SUV is far removed from its vehicular ancestor.  Modern suspension and steering alone so far exceed the original as to render it little better than a cart pulled by a mule.  The interior of even a low-end SUV is far more comfortable and equipped than people driving those army jeeps could have ever imagined.  A small SUV - for example Nissan's Juke or Volkswagen's Tiguan - comes with an array of features and creature comforts that used to be associated with extremely high-end luxury  models.  Salespersons report that its not uncommon for buyers to step into a vehicle and check first for the cupholders before looking for anything else.

In the early 90s as a senior at Grinnell, I wrote a senior thesis on the impact of cars on eating habits in the US.  At the time, I read an article in which a bemused car company executive reflected on the fact that car buyers expected their cars to have cup-holders and that engineering, quality parts and even safety features were considered so necessary that a cup-holder could make the difference between a sale and no sale.  The article reflected on the fact that traditional expectations about cars were now the cost of entry.  Reliability, good gas mileage, comfort, and practicality were simply expected and if a care maker didn't offer those, buyers wouldn't even slow down.  Creature comforts were becoming the distinguishing features on cars.  For this particular executive, cup-holders symbolized the change.  Try finding a car without cupholders these days (I'm told SmartCars don't have them).  Even my very basic 2002 Hyundai Elantra had four cup-holders (two in the front seat, two in the rear).  It sounds trivial but a cup-holder symbolizes an attention to detail and a careful and intentional approach to passenger safety and comfort.  More than that, it represents a recognition that we spend significant time in our cars and many of us eat and drink in them, many of us leave the house holding our travel mug of tea or coffee and it needs a place to rest in the car that doesn't become a distraction or a danger.

The SUV may have evolved from the Jeep, but it is essentially a grown up version of the classic station wagon.

At its most iconic, the station wagon era of American life was expressed in the absurdity of The Brady Bunch - two parents, six kids, and Alice cramming into a station wagon and heading off for various adventures.  At least some station wagons of the era could hold nine passengers; the actual comfort of said passengers is up for some debate.  (They were designed with two bench seats - front and middle, with a fold down seat or seats in the luggage compartment - three person per seat; some models had rear seats that faced backward and others had two seats in the rear that faced inward.)  With its large cargo area in the back, the station wagon could hold a week's groceries for the family.  Built on a basic car platform, station wagons were easy to drive and park.  They were practical vehicles intended to haul kids from school to baseball practice to dance to the grocery store and to church and back and on family vacations.  It was a single car intended to meet many needs.

A cousin of mine tells the story of going on a family vacation in the 70s.  She recalls four kids jammed in the backseat while my aunt and uncle rode up front with the youngest child asleep between them.  The back end was jammed with luggage and pillows and all the detritus required for a weeklong family escape.  While my aunt recalls it as a wonderful idyll, my cousin remember being hot, cramped, uncomfortable and wearying.  By contrast, today's family vacation requires four seats (one each for mom, dad, kid #1 and kid #2).  Although the average car is more than spacious enough, today's family is in their SUV, their luggage safely beneath a net in the back.  They ride in comfort to their destination, drinks nestled in their individual holders, each person seated comfortably in his or her personal bucket seat.

The SUV is the iconic vehicle of our era.  Some full sized SUVs seat 9 passengers.  The small SUV seats four comfortably while a mid-sized SUV seats 5 to 7 people.  SUVs are distinct from station wagons in being built on truck platforms rather than car platforms, although the "crossover" SUV is built on a car platform.  They range from stripped down to absurdly luxurious models. At this point, I think every car manufacturer offers some version of the SUV; Porsche offers the Cayenne for a modest seventy-five thousand dollars (Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen all offer an SUV using the same platform).

I'm basically a hippy. But for some reason, I love tooling down the road in a luxury SUV.  I keep my house warm in the summer and cool in the winter, I minimize my carbon footprint, I save water in every way I can, I recycle, and  yet, give me a giant SUV with leather seats and navigation system and multi-zone air conditioning and crappy fuel economy and I'm happy as a clam.  I know it's a moral failing.  And yet . . .

Well, there were a few nights last winter when I watched my coworkers drive home in their SUVs and I found myself wishing I had one.  It was snowy and my little Beetle convertible isn't really a foul weather car.  Sure it goes okay in the snow but it's lacks the SUVs sure footed all wheel drive security.  A friend of mine commented that "I can't make my Murano slide."  On snowy days, as people in SUVs drive past me in my little car, I find myself feeling a bit of envy.

The SUV is more than a car, a mode of transportation.  It's practicality is a selling point but it offers a security, safety and all season usefulness.  It's a psychological product as well as a material good.  Buying an SUV is buying security and safety.  I think that as much as anything else is the secret to its appeal.  All the other accoutrements, leather seats, storage space, cupholders, reinforce that underlying notion.  They're not selling us a car, they're selling us a feeling of safety.

Crosspoted at One Utah.

Originally posted to glendenb on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I want a Subaru (21+ / 0-)

    Impreza.  I want the practicality of AWD (I need it for the hills and curves I drive on) but I'm trying to go as small as possible to have relatively better gas mileage.  

    If I had been really smart, though, I would have kept my work at home job as a medical transcriptionist; that way, the snow and the oilmen could do what they want and I could stay out of it.

    Alas, I'm not that smart.

    Until I read this diary, I hadn't stopped to think about the psychological importance of cup holders.

    Do cars in other countries have them?

    •  nice car (13+ / 0-)

      I am sure you'll like it. Subaru was once notorious for lack of cup holders. At one point they jammed a pop-out cup holder into the dash which couldn't hold much more than a can and blocked the heater controls. Now they have caught up.

      I have had people from Isreal and Germany mention the idea of eating and drinking in the car is unheard of, but I don't know if that is reflective of reality in those countries or just their opinion. Of course, people in those countries generally don't have 50 mile commutes, either.

      •  Or if they do, they take a train. (13+ / 0-)
        Of course, people in those countries generally don't have 50 mile commutes, either.
        My son has lived in Germany for five years and has yet to own a car.  He borrowed a friend's pick-up truck when he moved, but other than that he gets around on foot, by bicycle or takes trams, trolleys, busses, subways and trains.

        No upfront costs or loan, no auto insurance, no fuel costs - plus he lost about 40 pounds from walking and biking.  He's spending less and living more healthfully than when he was in the US.

      •  I had that Subaru! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, RudiB, Olds88, varro

        1998 Legacy.  Flimsy cupholder in front of the heating/Ac controls, above the stereo.  Two weeks after I replaced the car's recently-stolen stereo with something really nice, I hit a bump in the road with the top off a coffee mug in the cup holder, coffee went everywhere and stereo went bye-bye.  Eventually, the cup holder stopped popping out and that was that.  We loved that car--great driving characteristics and extremely practical.

        We replaced with a 7-seat Mazda CX-9.  It is a blast to drive (relatively speaking) but gets not-so-great mileage.  However, we can now take kids + friends or + grandparents in one car instead of two.

        •  I Did Too (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, Olds88

          Well, it was a 1995 Impreza wagon. Just those two little cupholders, which actually wasn't a terrible place most of the time. It's more convenient than having to reach down beside you. They were just too small to be really useful. It was a real improvement over my previous car, which was a 1980 Volvo 240 wagon with no cupholders.

          Like others in this diary, I would really like a new Subaru. However, they keep making the Outback bigger and I think it's really too big these days. Not sure if I would like a Forester, so I think it might be back to an Impreza wagon for me.

        •  They still had that cupholder.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....in the 2001 Subaru Impreza Outback - well-positioned, so that when you have hot coffee, the A/C cools it down to room temperature just like that.....

          But otherwise, a great, durable car.

          9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

          by varro on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:50:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I have one of those pop-out cup holders (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Olds88

        in the dash of my '99 Audi. It's a nice car for a long trip, but it has a poor excuse for a cup holder. It's flimsy and it won't hold anything fatter than a 12 oz pop can. Even worse is the pop-up cup holder between the front seats. I grips a container between two plastic clamps, but the slightest bump tips the container over. It's useless.

      •  Most of my Saabs had no cup holders at all, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Olds88

        although they were superior cars in all other ergonomic aspects.   My last one, a 2002 Saab Viggen, had a very flimsy pop-out cup holder in the dash which blocked the radio & heater controls.

      •  driving in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Olds88

        Israel is a contact sport requiring both hands, as one is usually on the horn at all times.

        Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

        by KibbutzAmiad on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:45:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We have an Outback (12+ / 0-)

      Despite it's size, it gets 30+mpg, it holds 8' lumber when I'm playing carpenter, and it climbs hills in snow when I'm too lazy to dig out the Volt.

    •  I have a 2001 Forester. Best car ever. (4+ / 0-)

      And I plan to keep it until they pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hands.

      Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

      by semiot on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:46:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I once owned an Impreza Outback. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, US Blues, ladybug53

      Maybe the most fun car I've ever had.  Stick shift, of course.  We called it the "zippy car".

      You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

      by rb608 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:49:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dunno about other countries, but... (10+ / 0-)
      Do cars in other countries have them?
      ... my German spouse is perpetually bemused/amused by the American obsession (his word) with having cupholders. Lots of cupholders. That and substances one can spray. He says those, plus a gun, are all you need to keep an American happy. ;)
      •  I think a (4+ / 0-)

        preponderance of options to put in them may have a lot to do with that. What do they do with all those water bottles? Toss them on the seat their spouse is never in for all their grumbling, I guess.

        and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

        by le sequoit on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:26:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Americans have a special relationship with (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, theano

        cup holders. When I was shopping for a stroller, the product reviews went on and on about them.

        Never mind how heavy the stroller is or how it handles rough terrain or even whether the sun-shade keeps the sun out of baby's eyes. The ultimate test of a stroller seemed to be: does it have at least three cupholders (for mom's drink, baby's drink, and baby's snack)? How large, stable, and ergonomic are they?

      •  I think it's a peculiarly American thing. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radical simplicity, theano

        I completely agree with the diarist on the cupholders being the determining factor in buying a car, silly as that sounds.  Three years ago we were looking for a nice car to replace our 9 year old Infiniti.  My husband did his research on safety, reliability, etc., and then we went to test drive the ones that met the requirements.  We drove an Audi, which was very nice, but had one pop-out cup holder.  Completely inadequate!  The salesman was a bit condescending when I expressed my concern on that subject.  European cars, I guess, they don't drink & drive!  I don't eat in my car, usually, but I do almost always have water, or tea, or a Diet Coke.  So we got another Infiniti, which didn't have cupholders as good as my old model, but they were at least adequate.

        We recently replaced our old Dodge minivan with a Buick Lacrosse.  The mileage is disappointing, but the fit & finish (& cupholders) are all very nice, as is the reliability and safety.  I look forward to the upcoming new CAFE standards so I can get a car I like which also has decent gas mileage.

    •  was in final three (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeekCa, GreyHawk, ladybug53

      but went with a Focus hatch.  Have had a Focus and Impreza, the first two cars I've owned where nothing broke. Nothing. Basically preferred the Focus interior and electronics.
      You left out the DVD screens in the back of the front seats for the kiddies. Big.

      and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

      by le sequoit on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:21:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I figured the comments would bring up Subaru. (8+ / 0-)

      I wish they didn't keep making the Foresters and Outbacks bigger & bigger, but the AWD platform is hard to beat on any road condition.  You can't swing a dead cat in Vermont without hitting one.

      My wife and I just ordered a 2013 Forester XT.  The Outbacks are just too big.  We have one vehicle between us, a Mini Cooper S.  It's about as impractical as one can get for anything but short trips.  It's a blast to drive, though.  We'll sell the Mini when we know when to expect the XT.

      •  That is probably (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, wonderful world, ladybug53

        the major reason I haven't replaced my outback. The new ones Really are an SUV now. They look like one and are way too big for my liking now.

        Keep moving. Its harder to hit a moving target.

        by KatGirl on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:08:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have a 2004 Outback w/105,000+ miles (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, maryru

          that I will NEVER trade in. I love it and while I only get 27 mpg, it has never needed anything but basic maintenance, and I never need to plow the driveway!  The handling is fantastic and I have driven it on some very bad roads.   The new ones are huge.  Why, oh why, did they go that route?   I could never bring myself to buy anything that big.  

          "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

          by Most Awesome Nana on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:07:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We had a '97 Outback (0+ / 0-)

            I drove it on a closed road once.  Mud season in Vermont.  When I got home there was mud up over the fog lights.  I was judicious, and the car never flinched.

            My wife went through another dirt road/mud pit that stranded a guy in a 4x4 pickup. She gave him a lift to get his tractor to tow the truck out.  He was suitably impressed

            Something about the Soob's AWD platform makes it a mountain goat.

            I had an '02 WRX as well but I never abused it like that.  It feels good to get back into the brand with the Forester.

            •  I'm impressed with your wife! (0+ / 0-)

              And mountain goat is an excellent description for an Outback.  I went over Donner Pass in a blizzard with snow over the hubs.  Not so much as a slide (of course I drive very conservatively).  When I reached the other side, the crews were going out to close the Pass.  Every year I take the grand kids on a road trip - off the interstates - and about the only thing we haven't asked the car to do is float!  But I do wish it had a little higher ground clearance.

              "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

              by Most Awesome Nana on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:29:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've driven icy roads (0+ / 0-)

                all my life. So, my reaction time for slides and skids is pretty fast (I think).

                First time I started a right side drift from the rear, I was starting my correction when the car corrected itself. So, I  had to change to stopping my correction. That actually scared me, as I may have been able to put myself into a really bad spot.

                I slowed down to reduce my chances of over correcting myself into a ditch or worse.

                Keep moving. Its harder to hit a moving target.

                by KatGirl on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 12:37:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Know the situation. The first year I had the (0+ / 0-)

                  Outback, I needed to relearn skidding/sliding/panic stops.    I have been driving a long time so the reactions were instinctive.  But this car's handling is much different, and it is quite heavy which also makes a difference.  

                  "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

                  by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 02:43:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Don't be scared of the size (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maryru

          As a fan of small cars and a long time Subie driver, I was also put off by the ever growing outback. When we parked our old outback sedan next to the new one, the difference was intimidating.

          But the new vehicle handles well, has been reliable, and has averaged 5 mpg better than the old car.

    •  They do in Europe and the UK. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bmcphail, FindingMyVoice, JeffW, ladybug53

      We had a Subaru in The Netherlands, and we have a Vauxhall (Chevy) in the UK and both have cup holders.

      Regarding eating in your car, it's plenty common in the UK, although I didn't notice it quite as much in The Netherlands.  I suspect that great American export, McDonald's has had something to do with it - let's face it - what else is the purpose of a drive-up window?

      I'm one of those lucky homos in a bi-national relationship - at the age of 49, all I had to do was give up my career, leave behind my dying father, my aging, diabetic mother, my family & friends and move to Europe. Easy peasey!

      by aggieric on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:37:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  2012+ Impreza is much improved (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, ksingh, ladybug53, maryru

      The new Impreza is very nice.  The big difference is in the mileage.  They improved it by something like 30% vs. the 2011.  Now it's competitive with other compacts, much better than any SUV or other AWD car.  This comes from going to a 2 liter engine (vs. 2.5), using lighter high-strength steel, better aerodynamics, and a very effective automatic CVT, which gets better mileage than the manual.  And it doesn't feel sluggish at all.  Not that I get the rated 36 MPG on the highway, but its trip computer did show me getting that when cruising on a highway on cruise control at about 61 MPH.  It averages 27 in mostly-city driving.

      And it has cup holders.  Two in the middle of the front, plus one in each door (a bulge in the map pocket).  Amazing how useful they can be.

      I really don't like SUVs; I don't get the appeal.  American car makers always treated compacts like trash, for trashy people to buy when they couldn't afford a real "full size" car.  They're finally getting over that, three decades after Japan ate their lunch by showing that a small car could be a good car.

    •  "I can't make my Murano slide." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mentatmark, riverlover

      I think that comment from the diarist's friend explains why I see so many tipped over SUVs whenever I'm back in WI or MN and the roads get icy.

      AWD is great for accelerating but can provide false confidence when it comes to turning and stopping.

      Much cheaper than a Subaru: snow tires!

    •  I have one (0+ / 0-)

      bought a new 2012 Impreza to replace my 1997 Legacy wagon, retired after 210K miles.
      I live in the snowy, frozen north, 1/2 mile off the road & have relied on Subarus for the past 25 years to get me home. No need for a hulking SUV.

    •  Try studded snow tires (0+ / 0-)

      We live in the mountains in northern VT, where it [used to] snow[s] all the time. (Global warming is rapidly changing the whole snowiness equation.)

      We have only ever use 4wd once, and that was during a flood event that washed out a bridge behind us, and the other side of the road we were driving on to get out of there. If I'd been driving my current car, we wouldn't have needed to use the 4wd.

      In my experience, small, lightweight, front wheel drive, cars are really good in bad conditions, because you have less inertia to deal with.

      The very best vehicle I have ever driven up here: a 1986 Toyota Celica. It's got high enough ground clearance and is light-weight enough that it never, ever bogged down during mud season, and it handled snowy mountain back roads like a trouper.

      Right now I drive a small front-wheel drive Honda. I would never invest in an SUV. Every time I've borrowed one, it felt unsafe in tricky places - especially the Jeep. Holy cow! Give me something that hugs the road and for which I can afford a set of really, really good sticky snow tires with studs.

  •  The plan had been that... (9+ / 0-)

    ...when we finally moved out to our 40-acre farm, my wife would sell her 1998 Honda Civic 4-door, and we would buy a pickup. Oh, my 2001 Ford Focus might make it out there, and maybe we'd use it for a while and then sell it or trade it in. But fate had other plans.

    First, in 2009, someone stole and stripped the engine and a few other items out of the Civic. Eventually, my wife bought a used 2004 Focus that was a bit snazzier than mine.

    Then, in March of this year, she mistakenly ran a red light whilst on her way to go with her 95-year-old father to the doctor. Car totalled, and she received two broken bones in her left hand. Pins were soon inserted, and the insurance dance began. One thing Calamity Jean learned was that her poor, totalled little silver Focus had been totalled once before, in 2005. No more used cars.

    She did her homework, consulted Consumer Reports, and bought a nice, new white Volkswagen Golf 4-door hatchback. Meanwhile, my old Focus is showing its age, and we are no longer using it to drive to and from the farm, which is a 240-mile round trip.

    So, what does this have to do with SUV's, you may ask? Well, while we were waiting for the dealer to finish up the paperwork for her new Golf, I was developing a serious case of lust for a 2012 Touareg hybrid SUV on the showroom floor. You see, one can't park a pickup overnight on the streets of Chicago, where we currently live, but you can park an SUV. And this beast will haul up to 7700 pounds, which would handle stock trailers or just about anything else we'd use on or about the farm (comes with a trailer hitch tube already installed). Alas, it also costs ~$64K, not counting title and taxes, and the only way I could afford it is to win $130K in the Lucky Day Lotto.

    Ah, well...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:09:46 PM PDT

    •  Can't park a pickup? (0+ / 0-)

      Because of local laws or because stuff will get stolen from the back?

      If you believe that ALL criticism of Israel is antisemitic, you're an idiot.
      If you believe that NONE of the criticism of Israel is antisemitic, you're a fool.
      If you call EVERYONE who criticizes Israel antisemitic, you're just an a$$hole

      by A Gutin Daf on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:46:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Local laws... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreyHawk, ladybug53, A Gutin Daf

        ...there used to be an exception for pickups with RV plates and a cap, but I don't know if they're still in force. It's mainly to keep small-time operators from having their trucks on the street in front of theri houses. Theft of stuff may also be a consideration in that case, although the City has a law that some small-time operators can buy a sticker in some wards that allows them to do just that. My ward isn't one of them, and even if it did, I'm not a tradesman. I am proud of that sticker, though: I drew up the design, a van parked in front of a Chicago bungalow, back in 1985!

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:36:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Consumer Reports is great for car info. (3+ / 0-)

      Making reliability information available to consumers was a big factor in making American cars more reliable. In the '70s and '80s, American car makers spent their money on marketing instead of quality control. When you bought an American car, you bought a kit. After multiple trips back to the dealer, you hoped they finally got it all put together so it worked right. The invasion of Toyota, Honda, et. al. fueled by good CR reliability ratings finally forced the Americans to compete.

    •  TDi turbodiesel Toureg (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ksingh, ladybug53

      Gets better mileage than the hybrid, with more torque, and can run on biodiesel.

      "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

      by US Blues on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:47:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I drive a Jeep. (6+ / 0-)

    A Cherokee Sport 4x4. It is eighteen years old and very dirty. The air conditioning doesn't work. It has a mainseal leak. It has three bullet holes in it. It doesn't have a cup holder.

    I love my Jeep. :-)

    "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

    by Lorinda Pike on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:10:16 PM PDT

    •  I love my 1997 Dodge Ram, Lorinda Pike (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lorinda Pike, ladybug53

      the 'cup holder' is above the radio in the top of the dash for the front seats, which means if you put anything in it you're going to wear that as soon as you stop... but everything else about this truck endears it to me a little more everyday.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:15:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You Cherokee begat my Liberty (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lorinda Pike

      Mine is a 2007, no mechanical problems, lifetime warranty bumper to bumper even if I did. No bullet holes yet, but that may just be a matter of time for an activist.

      I concur;

      I also love my Jeep :-)

      Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

      by Mentatmark on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:30:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Years ago, one explanation I heard for the (5+ / 0-)

    roll-over problems of SUV's that necessitated the Fishhook Test (NHTSA 49 CFR Part 575) was that the car companies had designed the SUV suspensions so they handled like cars and people drove them as such, instead of as the light trucks they are.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:13:55 PM PDT

    •  Most SUVs are on car chassis and can't be used as (6+ / 0-)

      Light trucks. I have an SUV built on a truck chassis because we take it off road, haul around stuff, need high clearance,  etc, and I tell you, after a long drive, you KNOW you've been riding in a truck.  

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:50:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  define car chassis? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, dinotrac, ladybug53

        Got a mini SUV, a 97 Jeep Wrangler, 4WD, no unibody construction (unless you count the tub), just a steel frame with a tub body and running gear.  Does what U need it to do.  Also have a 11 Mustang convertible and a 12 Fusion hybrid.(so that makes, what? one for the fun, one for the sun, and one for the mon(ey)).  

        we take it off road, haul around stuff, need high clearance,  etc, and I tell you, after a long drive, you KNOW you've been riding in a truck.  
        Pretty much describes a Wrangler (esp. the kidney pounding part), although had to build a bed extender to haul anything too big with it.  Almost like those silly 4 door "trucks" with 4 foot beds.  :P

        Oh! Almost forgot, real jeeps have doors and tops that come off!  :D

        ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

        by geekydee on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:13:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Recced for real jeeps have doors and tops that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53

          come off.

          My wife's dream car, should we ever emerge from our financial morass, is an old Wrangler with doors and a top that come off.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:18:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I've never understood (9+ / 0-)

    why all-wheel drive is supposed to prevent accidents. Every accident I've ever been in, my foot was on the brake. All cars have all-wheel brakes.

    Now, I've used all-wheel drive to get out of being stuck. But that's not really the same thing.

    Yes, it really is mostly about perception. But if you have unlimited resources, you can behave as though perception is reality.

    Most Americans behave as though they have unlimited resources. No surprise - even I, a poor little county employee, have available credit on my credit cards amounting to a year's salary.

    •  My cousin Joan... (6+ / 0-)

      ...who owns an SUV she calls the Urban Assault Vehicle (don't remember the brand, but she bought it new this year), says the all-wheel drive gets you going, but doesn't do much to help you stop. YMMV.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:21:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  AWD / 4x4s, my Dad used to say, just let you (10+ / 0-)

        get further from help before you figure out you're in trouble ... the most spectacular "stuck" vehicle I can remember in my life, and I've been driving for nearly 40 years, is a FWD Reliant wagon, which I successfully crammed nose-first into a baby lake on my way to work one morning, thinking that the unpaved road which did not appear much more than wet would be ok. Walked about a quarter mile in knee-deep goo because I'd misjudged that mudhole.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:18:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My favorite (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1

          Was one guy who passed us on the highway during an ice storm. We found out later that the road had been closed about 10 minutes after we got onto it.

          We were doing 40, which was the right speed to keep enough momentum to get up the mountains without the engine automatically kicking down a gear, revving up the torque and causing the tires to lose grip.

          Well, this guy whipped past us at 60 or so. Several minutes later, we came across him with the entire truck, except the rear driver side wheel, on the other side of the guard rail. I have never been able to figure out how he got there, unless he rolled over the rail or became airborne.

          The worst I've seen was someone trying to pass all the traffic coming up to the Eisenhower tunnel on I70 in Colorado during a blizzard. He was driving past everyone in the breakdown lane. Then he was gone. He lost traction and went off the side of the mountain. There was nothing anyone could do.

    •  How AWD helps. (13+ / 0-)

      On a dry road, AWD only helps if you're driving way too fast for a public road. E.g., back in the late '80s Audi had the only AWD race cars in some race series...I think it was the Trans-Am series. The Audis had way less horsepower than everyone else, but they dominated the series so thoroughly for a couple of years that the series then banned AWD. The difference between races and public-road driving, of course, is that in a race the object is to go around EVERY curve absolutely on the edge of sliding off the road. In that situation, maybe only one or two or three of your tires has traction available for forward motion; AWD delivers power to that tire, whichever one it is.

      On a wet or snowy road, AWD for regular old public drivers means you get less side-to-side variation in power, thus you're less likely to veer unexpectedly sideways...which means you're less likely to need your brakes for a panic stop or panic correction, and less likely to slide out of your lane. If you only have 2 drive wheels and one loses traction, then your power is suddenly coming 100% from the other side. But if you have 4 drive wheels and one loses traction, you still have 1/3 of the power coming from the other wheel on that same side.

      And modern electronically-controlled AWD can vary the power to each wheel even more precisely, maintaining an overall power balance that keeps the car doing what the driver intends--some systems can even send 100% of the power to any one wheel, when called for.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:12:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The first Audi Quattros were the street-legal (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, bigkens, Dr Stankus

        version of that car - I remember them vividly, because as a college student, I totally lusted after them. I thought they were beautiful cars.

        I'm one of those lucky homos in a bi-national relationship - at the age of 49, all I had to do was give up my career, leave behind my dying father, my aging, diabetic mother, my family & friends and move to Europe. Easy peasey!

        by aggieric on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:44:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I never felt that much more in control (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, radical simplicity

        with AWD. Of course, the AWD I am most familiar with is my dad's 1975 Dodge Power Wagon pickup - you have a stick on the floor to choose between 4WD and locked AWD - no differential, just 4 wheels churning like an ATV...lol.

        I used to drive a full-sized Bronco from time to time in bad weather. But really, any decent FWD seems about as good, driving reasonably for the conditions, as that old Bronco in 4WD ever did. Now, once you're in the ditch - different story. Maybe.

        Of course, some Maserati AWD might be different. How would I know? I don't know that many millionaires. I do know one, however, who buys 4 new Yukons (or similar) every couple of years to outfit the family. But he says he buys them just to fit in, in the small Georgia town where he lives.  

        •  Can't imagine why anyone would need (0+ / 0-)

          AWD in Georgia.

          "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

          by Back In Blue on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:36:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Electronic Traction Control is amazing. (0+ / 0-)

        Not only does it send power to individual wheels in an AWD system, it also applies breaks to individual wheels.

        I had my first experience with that in my 2001 Audi Allroad (used).   I came down a hill with a curve a little too fast (and i mean a little), just enough or the back-end to let go and begin to slide out.  But before I could break, the traction control took over, applied breaks to front left wheel (I was turning right) and sent power to whichever wheels had any traction.  I never touched the break and didn't need to correct much.

        Since then, I will not own a car without AWD and ETC.  I've only had one true SUV (Nissan Pathfinder with traditional 4-WD).  I've mainly had station wagons (the Allroad and the Volvo that replaced it) and two sedans.  The main reason is that I live in a very hilly area and getting around in the snow can be impossible even with FWD.   Funny, the best FWD car I ever had was a VW Rabbit from the 80's.  That was a great tin can.

        As it is, once the kids are gone, I'll still have one car with  AWD/ETC but it'll probably only be used in winter and for utility and the other will be electric or bio or something that I'll use the rest of the year—assuming we still drive cars by then...

        However, if didn't live in a hilly area with snowy winters, I'd never have 4wd.  It'd be RWD, period.

        "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

        by Back In Blue on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:50:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Give me a mini-van any day. I have never (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, IreGyre

    understood an SUV's appeal. We have had min-vans since our first Colt Vista in the 80's. We have had caravans for the past 20 years. The one we have now we bought in 01. It is a great dog/kayak/hiking/golf car. Haven't had the seats in it in a year or two. :)

    For transportation I have my Nissan Altima which is cool, fun to drive, with cup holders and all, plus gets 35 mpg!

    •  Mini-vans are good as far as they go, but ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, ladybug53

      if you have to regularly drive on steep, rocky, uneven, and seasonally muddy off-pavement roads, or pull trailers on either muddy, steep, or icy roads, you would sell your one wheel drive minivan in an instant for a properly equipped high clearance 4 wheel drive truck or SUV. If you don't ever face those types of conditions, then you are much better off in your mini-van.

      So if you see me in town in my 4 wheel drive SUV, perhaps you should entertain the thought that I am driving it because it will get me where I need to go, and where, if you tried to take it, your mini-van would just get stuck and block the road.

      Eradicate magical thinking

      by Zinman on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:11:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can buy an all-wheel drive minivan (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, boji

        Toyota makes an AWD Sienna for sure.  Minivans are definitely built on car chasses, not truck.

        In capitalist America, bank robs you!

        by madhaus on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:23:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But mini-vans don't necessarily (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, Zinman

          have the clearance to get over road obstacles-- frost heaves, or rocks/roots on camping roads. But yeah, for what most people in the city use SUV's for, a mini-van would be practically interchangeable.

          But mini-vans suffer from an image problem: the image of stodgy domestication.

      •  which most SUV owners never need to do... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boji, Odysseus, radical simplicity

        Sure plenty of folks actually make fairly regular use of the off road or rough road capabilities... but the truth is they are a minority and always will be... for the rest is is a mix of power and insurance while taking up more room and burning more fuel than otherwise plus... Insurance? No, not that kind... the other very remote bonus which is just the slight possibility of an SUV owner being able to maybe escape if the rapture or Armageddon or disaster strikes... when again... the truth is they will just be fighting all the other SUV owners in the mega traffic jam to escape...

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:11:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  i don't get this obsession with comfort. (18+ / 0-)

    Ergonomic seats and controls, adequate heat & AC to cope with local temperature extremes, and an AM radio for road condition reports, are quite sufficient for safe and comfortable driving.  

    Cup-holders are simple plastic moldings and shouldn't be a big deal either way.  

    Beyond that, I don't get the whole obsession with "creature comforts" in vehicles.  

    Leather seats?  Who cares?  Car seats tend to get dirty, so the smart thing to do is cover them with plain cheap towels that can be put in the laundry from time to time.  Seems to me the thing with leather seats is all about a status symbol, or wanting something that's a stand-in for actual wealth.  Phooey.  

    Video for the kiddieos?  That's absurd: emblematic of a brain-dead culture that's destroying the planet for the sake of baubles.  Raising one's kids to have enough imagination to keep themselves amused on the road, solves that problem at zero resource cost.  There was also something called "conversation."  

    A motor vehicle is transportation.  Keep it safe, spartan, and fuel-efficient, with enough carrying capacity for its typical load of passengers and cargo, and that'll do.

    Save the "creature comforts" for the living room, where they can be enjoyed without having to split one's attention to keep track of other hurtling masses of steel nearby.  

    But there's one vehicle accessory that I rate as a necessity that's absent from most of the cars on the road today: a miles-per-gallon meter.  However for this we have ScanGauge, which can be bought online for less than $200, plugs into the data port (below & to the left of the steering wheel on 1996 and later vehicles) and pays for itself in fuel savings as you learn all the clever driving tricks to increase fuel efficiency.  

    It's also the permanent cure for speeding.  Very quickly you discover that slowing down gets you 20 - 30% better than your vehicle's EPA rating on the highway.  Slowing down & taking it easy also reduces stress on the road.  And that's worth more in terms of comfort, than a long list of expensive extras.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:40:50 PM PDT

    •  Well, shows what you know (5+ / 0-)

      I have a 7 year old Honda SUV and it has taken me and my family across the entire country.

      My family being myself, my husband and my 5 dogs.

      Leather seating is not ideal as it is prone to getting very hot.  But it wears a lot better under 20 sets of claws than cloth does.

      So much for leather seats being a status symbol.  

      And I challenge you to drive 300 miles in one day without cup holders.

      See, not everyone is like you.

      •  The leather wears much better than cloth (6+ / 0-)

        and is easier to wipe clean. Better value.  

        Remember where you put the coffee cup before cup holders came around? One of two places: on the dash or in your lap.

        •  i never had to worry about coffee cups... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, bluedust, marina

          ... because I don't drink coffee.  

          However, a safe place for a water bottle is a useful thing, and it's always better for safety to be able to stow objects that might otherwise cause messes or get under the pedals if they got loose.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:42:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I favored the groovy and ultra-modern combination (6+ / 0-)

          cup holder / trash bin /  tissue dispensers that straddled the transmission hump. One up front, one in the back.

          Left plenty of room in the middle of the bench seat for the box of 8-tracks :)

          Romney/Ryan 2012: "We're running from precedent, for Pete's sake!"

          by here4tehbeer on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:46:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I must be old! (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, JeffW, ladybug53, bluedust, Odysseus

          I remember having plastic gadgets that slid down between the window and door and had a holder for your drinks.  Many companies would put their logo on them and give them out for free.

          We've had a Pathfinder and a real sweet Honda Pilot. When our girls were born, I got tired of load crap on the roof of the Pathfinder for vacations. (With strollers and baby gear, not much storage left in a Pathfinder!). Finally I said next car is a minivan, to the horror of the wife!

          Once she experienced the ease of the sliding doors opposed to normal doors on an SUV, and the lower cargo loading level of the minivan, she finally agreed I was right! (Probably a feat to be never repeated).  Now with two girls and a dog, the minivan is a valued member of the family.

          When I grow up, I'd love to have another SUV though!

          In an insane society, the sane man would appear insane

          by TampaCPA on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:24:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I use the plastic gadget! (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marina, TampaCPA, JeffW, ladybug53, bluedust

            We have a 1990 Volvo that was gifted to us by my father-in-law, and the only way I can drink anything on a 3+ hour trip is by inserting the gadget into the window. I actually prefer the angle of reaching for a cup in the gadget to other cupholder locations.

            If you believe that ALL criticism of Israel is antisemitic, you're an idiot.
            If you believe that NONE of the criticism of Israel is antisemitic, you're a fool.
            If you call EVERYONE who criticizes Israel antisemitic, you're just an a$$hole

            by A Gutin Daf on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:49:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  nor is everyone like you: (6+ / 0-)

        Five dogs?  

        Seems to me the best configuration for dogs isn't seats that are designed for bipeds with butts, but a flat floor area where the doggies can lie down, sit up in the way they normally do, or stand in order to stick their noses near the window and enjoy the symphony of smells on the trip.  (Consider that dogs' sense of smell is 30,000 time as sensitive as humans', and imagine your dogs playing "cows and graveyards."  They'd beat the humans at it every time!)

        For which purpose a plain minivan or a station wagon with all seats folded down, works best.   And can be covered with carpet, thereby capturing dog hair and being easy to take out and vacuum later.  

        I have nothing against cup holders.  Arguably they improve road safety by keeping beverages in a secure location.  But what I don't get is why people think they're so extraordinary: they are simply plastic moldings in surfaces whose designs are arbitrary to begin with.  Making those surfaces more functional is a good thing.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:40:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unsecured dogs become projectiles (9+ / 0-)

          In an accident. Even if the dogs are not injured, if the owner is injured, they may prevent first responders from attending to the humans-- yes, even the most docile dogs may become protective of an injured owner-- forcing paramedics to delay treatment until the dog can be removed or sedated, or a LEO can shoot it. And yes, this does happen.

          In the best of cases, dog is not a projectile that injures the owner, does not prevent care for the owner, he still can bolt out of the car on to the roadway and cause additional chaos or even more accidents. At the very least, the dog may run off and never be found, causing heartbreak for the owner.

          Dogs should NEVER ride in a car unless they are properly crated in travel crates secured to the vehicle or wearing strong seatbelt harnesses. Cats should never ride unsecured either, but most cat owners tend to put their kitties in carriers for car travel.

          No loose dogs in cars. Ever. And dogs in laps in front seats simply become an additional airbag in a front-end collision.

          It's not "normal" for canids to ride in cars. If we put them in cars, we must protect them, same as all other passengers.

          And both our  8 year old and 6 year old Nissan SUVs have MPG counters. These are hardly uncommon.

          © grover


          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:09:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  tell that to Romney (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53

            and Obama.  I would rather they were inside, than on the roof...

            ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

            by geekydee on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:34:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't know what arrangements are made within (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW, ladybug53

              The presidential limo, except that I'm pretty certain that secret service is going to make sure BO is not a danger to the president in the event of a collision (the odds of which are less than for the average vehicle, public or private).

              And Romney's treatment of his dog was monsterous and inhumane. Putting a dog outside the support structure of a vehicle ensures his grusome death in case of a rollover accident, likely injury in a collision with heavy impact, and terror in regular traffic.

              © grover


              So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

              by grover on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:21:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (6+ / 0-)

        The cloth seats in my old car were nasty within a year.  But the leather wipes clean and doesn't leave any gross stuff on my clothes.  Plus my wife and I use our SUV for our business...we'll log 1,000 miles driving on a weekend.  Things like a good stereo, nice cup holders, heated seats, and a comfortable ride are nice.  Plus I'm 6'4" and headroom is a problem...I can't fit in a lot of cars.  

        The above posters statement is one of those things that actually gets up my ass in a big way.  I might be a liberal, but I'm certainly NOT any kind of neo-primitivist.  I like business, I like capitalism, and I frankly enjoy buying and selling things.  If you like a nice car and can afford a nice guy...buy a nice car.  I bought one I knew was made in America.  Done deal.  

        No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

        by CrazyHorse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:55:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The computer in my wife's new Golf... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, ladybug53

      ...can help you do the same thing, except it may lead to distracted driving, what with watching the display screen on the dashboard! I actually like my wife's Golf a bit better than the Touareg, and if we didn't have the costs of getting the new house up, I'd buy one in a New York minute, and get a pickup later on.

      Ah, but that Touareg, what a technological marvel...!

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:52:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's cool, maybe it's a sign that these... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, marina

        ... will become more common as the price of gas increases.

        Yes, admittedly one does tend to glance at the display more often at first.  But over time it becomes like the speedometer: something you check occasionally as you drive.  

        If you're building a house, you need a pickup.  Better for hauling all kinds of building materials, especially sand & gravel for masonry.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:45:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  US obsession with pick ups. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW

          Instead get a diesel panel van with a tow hook for a trailer for the occasional sand or gravel.

          •  Pickup will mainly haul the cow trailer... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, marina

            ...for bringing in the large animals, and taking them to the vet. It will also serve to bring in seeds, fertilzier, etc., and haul garbage to the transfer station.

            Construction will be handled by a contractor: a 48' ferroconcrete geodesic dome is a bit bigger than one might want to do DIY. We have considered a van as well as a pickup. But like I said, I'd rather we each had a small car of our own. We just can't afford it.

            Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

            by JeffW on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 10:59:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i see the words "preparedness" and "resilience"... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW

              .... in those plans of yours;-)

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:01:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah... (0+ / 0-)

                ...we're two years (at least!) behind in getting the new house up, and next week the dome kit will be delivered to our property. Calamity Jean is sweating bullets on this, and so am I. We've had too damned many crises in the past year to suit either of us, and I want to get the hell out of Chicago, if only to not see a traffic signal for a while!

                Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

                by JeffW on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:27:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  depends on the load. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NoMoreLies, marina, JeffW

            Cargo that comes in discrete units that can be picked up and moved by hand, and that isn't noxious in some way: sure, a panel truck is the solution.  I use a micro-van for my work (PBX engineer), and I wouldn't trust a load of PBX equipment in a pickup truck in the city because it would be stolen within five minutes of parking.  

            But cargo that's bulk material or noxious in some way, and/or that is loaded & unloaded by shovel or tractor: those types of loads favor pickups.  

            The advantage of trailers for bulk loads is that they can often be tipped in some way to empty: either with a basic hydraulic hoist or by simply unhitching and overbalancing to the rear.  But the disadvantage is that the trailer is additional weight to haul, it tends to be swervy at certain speeds, and it's difficult to back into an area, particularly where the ground conditions are rough such as on a construction site.

            Despite the use of pickup trucks by suburban commuters who never haul serious cargo, they still have valid applications for trades workers and for rural families.

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:59:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A cubic yard (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW

              of gravel/sand/dirt weighs about 3000 lbs. Most small single axle trailers will not even come close to handling that kind of weight, because of the load limits of their tires and axles. In most states, any trailer over about 2000 lbs. is required to have brakes, which most don't have. It's rare to see anyone hauling sand, dirt, or gravel with a small trailer. Most common pickup trucks--especially the "grocery getters" favored by suburban housewives and weekend handymen--won't haul more than 1500-1800 lbs.

              "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

              by happy camper on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:03:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oops. Should have said (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JeffW

                "won't haul more than 1500-1800 lbs. in the bed of the truck".

                "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

                by happy camper on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:07:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  People are often amazed (0+ / 0-)

                by what can be done with just a 4cylinder Ford Ranger. I love mine. The booger is nigh indestructible, and can haul a ridiculous amount of weight well over the 1200lbs max suggested by Ford, especially if you tinker with the suspension. The gas mileage on the Ranger is quite good as well. I get about 27mpg driving in town/city and closer to 50 mpg if I'm doing long distance highway treks. Built by unionized workers in the USA and she handles well too. My only real complaint is that the single cab can get a little crammed at times with me, the misses, and the 70lb dog in her seatbelt safety harness enjoying all the smells.

                My ranger is getting close to a decade old and approaching 200,000 miles. I had to replace a coil pack last year and the transmission is starting to act like a rebuild is in the future. I can't decide if I should bite the bullet and get another Ranger, a Subaru, or just rebuild the tranny on my old Ranger. I live in the fingerlakes of NY rather than the gulf coast and have to deal with hills and snow now and my current Ranger is just rear wheel drive. :/

                •  Keep in mind (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  fuzzyguy

                  that the drive train and suspension are not the final determinant of your hauling capacity. It is the axle capacity, and the tire load ratings. Heavier springs will keep the bumper off the pavement, but they won't raise the axle rating, or save your tires from damage by excess sidewall flexing.

                  "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

                  by happy camper on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:40:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh I'm well aware. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    happy camper

                    I used to modify the Rangers a fair bit, which ended with a flat bed being put on them when the other work was finished. They were used for delivery vehicles and would be used to haul auto parts, including complete front ends from 1 ton trucks and passenger vans. I've sold a couple axles to folks who thought that putting heavier springs was all that was necessary.

                    The interiors and clutches were the most maintenance we had to do on them, and that was due mostly in part to delivery drivers not taking care of the fleet vehicles or knowing how to properly drive a stick. We'd put in access of 200k on the trucks before retiring them. With the Ranger no longer in US production there isn't really much of a choice in the small economical truck market in the US. They were excellent small fleet trucks. My experience with them as fleet trucks is why I purchased one for myself new in '04.

    •  I don't care so much about the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Stankus

      leather seats, but the comfort issue is important.

      In larger cities, a 50+ mile commute with frequent traffic jams is normal-- may as well be comfy, since everything else is going to be irritating... And then out in the less-developed areas, long road trips between points of civilization are also frequent. Again-- may as well be comfy.

      I have a Ford Escape SUV, which is fairly small as SUVs go. But it is comfortable (and easy on my middle-aged back) for frequent road trips through Idaho, Oregon or Washington; occasionally Utah, and often enough to be surprising trips to southern California.

      I'm not so concerned about cup holders (I only drink one thing at a time) as I am with a decent sound system for those long drives through nowhere (back-country highways running north-south in Nevada) where I can play my tunes instead of listening to static or AM gibberish. ;-)

    •  How true (0+ / 0-)

      had an MPG meter in our 99 Olds Bravada on the console and loved it; it really does help your driving habits.  Also have one in my Fusion hybrid, along with 10 minute graphing of avg fuel economy.  learning to drive her (yes, her name is Whisper, spouse loves Transformers, ergo all cars are thusly named) has gained about 10-15% boost in fuel economy on the other vehicles (use CC everywhere, slow and steady at lights, etc).

      As to the slowing down saving gas?  H3!!s yeah!  Sticker says 34 highway (I think that was what it said) but doing 75 mph v. 60 mph, made a big difference - 37 mpg v. 42; may only be 10-15% but on a 50 dollar fill-up, we're talking 5 dollarsor more.

      ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

      by geekydee on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:33:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My focus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      does have a mpg meter, along with lots of other stuff. It also tells me how ecologically I'm driving. And it talks to me, answers my phone, could (if my house was so equipped) turn on the lights from the driveway, and has four color options for inside ambient lighting.

      I'm like you, for the most part a car is transportation. But I got a deal on this, so...

      It is fun to have all the gadgets, but took me a month to get used to them--my old car had a heater and a radio, and that's pretty much it. Although it did also have cupholders. ;)

  •  My XTerra is my perfect car, but not luxurious (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaloAltoPixie, ladybug53

    I guess I may be one of the few people who ever bought a Sport Utility Vehicle for the actual 'Utility' part, and gave no thought at all to luxury. It does have AC, but I hardly ever use it. I needed an SUV to carry my equipment, but not to be obnoxiously large, and get acceptable gas mileage - and it fitted the bill perfectly. Of course I also wanted something to look oldskool 'Landrover'-ish, so I could feel like Dr. Qwest driving around the African veldt, which I admired so much in my misspent youth.

    Oh, and I've never even used the 4WD.

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - REPEAL OBAMACHAIR!!!

    by Fordmandalay on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:07:57 PM PDT

  •  Not an SUV driver, but I burn as much gas... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, skwimmer, ladybug53

    I drive a wagon. Rear wheel drive, four doors. 6.2 liter, supercharged V8, 556 horsepower in my 2012 CTS-V Wagon. About 12 MPG around town, 20 on the freeway, if I stay under 80 mph. I have the equivalent carbon footprint; and it's certainly comfortable - powerful, loud and fast. I commute it 80 miles round trip daily - sometimes my husband and I will carpool, but we're a modern American family - more often than not, he'll take his own car (even though we work 5 blocks away from each other)... the waste is tremendous.

    The luxury SUV is an American entitlement; a relic of Bush's America, the "Ownership Society", et al. I associate it with that period between 2001-2008 of relatively cheap (but escalating) gas prices, the easy credit, and let's not forget the SUV tax break that the IRS gave out - and the dealerships who would help you with faking a company to register the car to - something that in no small part fueled this SUV craze.

    As I drive to work, sometimes I think about the utter scale of the disaster in progress - the river of machines flowing upon the asphalt riverbed at 70 miles per hour; burning the refined juices of life long dead; sending gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere... the scale of the havoc we will unleash upon the planet isn't apparent yet, but will become even more clear in the next few years. The runaway greenhouse is here.

    And what are we doing as a society? Nothing. What am I doing individually? Less than nothing - I'm contributing to the problem.

    That said, I think the only way to fix this is a market based solution - gas should be a whole lot more expensive than it is now, and market pressures and prices would go a long way to forcing us toward 'renewables' and less damaging sources of energy. For what it's worth, I think it would be reasonable for us to be paying $10/gallon - parity with the rest of the developed world.

    •  Manual or automatic? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PaloAltoPixie

      The CTS-V wagon is on my short list of cars to shop when I win the lottery. But I doubt I could justify the CO2 emissions, so I'll keep it in my fantasy-fantasy.

      I'm a hardcore manual driver, which is one of the factors that keeps the CTS-V on my short list.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:18:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish it were a manual (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey

        Unfortunately, I can't drive one. I'm at the mercy of the slushbox...

        No, if I could do a stick shift, I wouldn't be driving the V - I'd have an older car - an E39 BMW M5 - 2000-2003 model...

        •  You just need somebody to teach you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53

          For the first few decades of the automobile, automatics didn't exist. And still today, all over the world, millions of people drive stickshifts, and they're no smarter than you, and their hand-eye coordination isn't any better than yours.

          (If you have a physical disability, please forgive my presumption.)

          If I didn't live thousands of miles away in Georgia, I'd offer to teach you myself.

          You might try looking at a high-performance driving school, like the Bondurant school. Most of them have a course aimed at highway driving, which includes learning to drive a stick. And you'll have a lot of fun.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:39:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I forgive your presumption :-) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HeyMikey

            Used to drive stick - Had a 1985 Porsche 911 I was very fond of. I learned to drive stick on a 2001 Audi S4...

            I'm very much info motorsport still - I took a number of car control clinics with the BMW Club at Laguna Seca a few years ago, and a few track days... it's a whole lot of fun dealing with the physics of 4,300 pounds of automobile at 0.9 lateral Gs...

            •  Thank you!!! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PaloAltoPixie, ladybug53

              And hey, the F1 pros all drive automatics now, so why not.

              I recently read that Ferrari has dropped its last offered manual, which was on the California, because in the entire production run the manual had been taken by...8 buyers.

              No more manual Ferraris. Wrap your head around that.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:18:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Some people are incapable of learning. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PaloAltoPixie

            I once tried to teach my girlfriend to drive stick in my Saturn.  The clutch was a foreign concept, and stayed firmly planted outside of any understanding.  Depending on how high she had the engine revved, she either spit gravel or killed the car every single time for four hours.

            Practice sometimes doesn't come anywhere close to perfect.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 08:27:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My wife... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus

              ...when she was a teenager, couldn't learn to drive a clutch despite much coaching from dad. Then her family moved to a place where she couldn't get to the mall or to see her friends unless she learned to drive her mom's manual-trans car. She taught herself, was a pro inside of a week. 35 years later, still drives manual only.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 12:27:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  The power of the reptilian brain .. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, Crider, IreGyre, ladybug53

    Thanks for the insightful car-related diary.

    There was an excellent episode on "60 Minutes" sometime in the 90's, focusing on US auto manufacturers' marketing depts., who regarded the work of a particular French sociologist/psychologist as gospel - wherein the appeal of a larger (ostensibly safer) uber-truck overcomes all rational thought in most consumers and results in their purchase of transportation with triple the size, weight and gas-consumption as needed - esp. soccer moms, IIRC, out to protect their baby cubs. I guess he couldn't find a job in compact-car-crazy France.

    I do, however, fondly recall dad's '66 Ford Country Squire station wagon (seated 3 + 3 + 2) as a particularly cavernous and comfortable road companion.

    Our current stable has 3 Alfas Romeos ('65 GTV, '74 Spider, & '93 164L) and the '85 Honda Accord for practical applications. Sports Cars Rule!!

    ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

    by FrankSpoke on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:41:14 AM PDT

    •  Exactly. SUVs = '74 Monte Carlo = BMW 7-series. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, FrankSpoke

      SUVs, and big BMWs, and especially BMW SUVs, are popular now for the same reason half-vinyl roofs and opera windows were popular in the 1970s: prestige. Image. They appeal to the part of our reptilian brains that started off with us croaking really loudly and puffing out the red skin on our throats to attract mates.

      When BMW first became popular, it was because their cars performed better with less--though smaller and more fuel-efficient than the average American car, they were just as comfy, went faster, and handled way better.

      But as BMWs became popular, speed and handling became a fetish. So now it helps your image to have a BMW that will hit the 155 MPH most Euro companies observe as the "voluntary" maximum for most of their cars, even though that's an absurd metric for 99.9999% of American drivers.

      Same with off-road capability, or the appearance of it, for most SUV owners.

      Speed and big wheels = off-road capability = half-vinyl roofs and opera windows = reptilian brain appeal.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:25:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's not forget profit potential (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrankSpoke

        One reason SUVs were promoted so heavily is that the bigger size justified a bigger price which in turn justified bigger profit margins per vehicle.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 08:13:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes! - and many pointed out that fragility .. (0+ / 0-)

          US carmakers were making minimal investments in development, and maximizing their profit - what could possibly go wrong? It would just continue forever..

          Even in Europe, pre-crash, many automakers had extensive plans for building out factories to increase their profits. Each one thought theirs would be the product every newly-minted Eastern European and Asian middle-class consumer would choose to drive.

          One U.K.-based automotive journalist (I wish I had the link - it was in CAR magazine) pointed out that if every car makers' production forecasts were accurate, the number of European-built cars sold worldwide would need to double within four years. He thought that was doubtful, and noted someone was going to be disappointed.

          Ya think?

          ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

          by FrankSpoke on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:21:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ha ha. I drive an EV and I have a minivan (7+ / 0-)

    that hardly ever gets used.  The minivan is for long trips out of range of the EV.

    You are making a big mistake in assuming that SUVs offer security.  They don't.  What they do is isolate you from your environment, in a way that you're not aware of driving conditions.  That's the problem with a truck chassis on a vehicle that feels like a car.

    You might want to read this article on SUVs by Malcolm Gladwell.  It talks about how SUVs are indeed marketed, usually to women, who don't drive very well and mistakenly think it will keep them "safe."  What it will do instead is make other drivers very unsafe.

    Big and Bad: How the SUV ran over automotive safetey

    In capitalist America, bank robs you!

    by madhaus on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:28:54 AM PDT

  •  No cup holders in back seats (0+ / 0-)

    We just bought a new Mazda mini SUV (CX-5?).  It was the stick version, very hard to get.  It had no cup holders in the back seat.  It does get 30 MPG average so far.
    We also looked at another low end Chevy car, no cup holders in the back.

    When the rest of the world decides to take care of the bully, I hope I'm not in Columbine.

    by georgeNOTw on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:02:08 AM PDT

  •  More like an illusion of safety, because SUV's... (9+ / 0-)

    actually cause more highway deaths than smaller "less safe" vehicles.

    Follow the logic here:
    1) The majority of fatal crashes are actually single-vehicle crashes rather than multi-car collisions. As in, running off the road or hitting a tree. And in single-vehicle crashes, SUV's are far more dangerous to their occupants than your VW bug. Why is that? Glad you asked. Big clumsy SUV's are much less agile than small cars. They don't corner nearly as well, they're much more likely to fail to negotiate a curve, have much more momentum, are much tougher to stop. Top-heavy AWD SUV's are much, much more likely to overturn than your basic small car. And rollovers are more lethal to occupants than any other kind of crash.

    2) In multi-vehicle collisions, SUV's still escalate the death rate. Not only do they crush smaller cars (and their occupants), they are so ponderous they are unable to avoid collisions smaller cars easily evade.

    Oh, and they burn a lot more fuel per mile. Just sayin.

  •  A family with two kids needs a hatchback: (8+ / 0-)

    Yeah, right. If you NEVER want them to have a playdate with another kid, or if you want to rent a car when the in-laws come so you can take TWO cars to dinner, or if you want to murder your own children when you have to drive for more than 40 minutes and they keep kicking the shit out of the back of your seat. (This actually happened to a friend of mine, I'm pretty sure).

    We did, however opt for the slightly less offensive, hugely less cool mini-van (seven cup holders), which we will promptly drive over a cliff into an abandoned quarry when the children grow up or run away.

    To conservatives, liberals are stupid. To Liberals, conservatives are insane. So..."Bipartisanship" is what happens when a lunatic and a moron find common ground.

    by PBJ Diddy on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:20:34 AM PDT

    •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

      We transport 6 people often enough (playdates or in-laws) but I'd gladly sacrifice that 7th or 8th passenger capacity for something else.  The only vehicle in the US market targeted for 6-passenger is the Mazda 6, which seems meh

    •  We're there too! (6+ / 0-)

      The kids are four, so those playdates are coming up fast, and with the occasional five-hour drive, not including traffic, we're crashing hard against the upper limits of what a Ford Focus should be asked to do. I'm thinking a used city cab or police car with the bulletproof divider still installed.

      •  if my parents could have gotten their hands (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        on an old police care with divider, I think they would have.

        we had a big ass 1973 Ford for about forever. 330K on the odometer before my sister finally wrecked it for good.

        Two parents, 4 kids and a full trunk of stuff. My dad had an expert level packing ability and knew where to put everything 'just so'.

    •  We had to drive our old 2000 Corolla VE (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, JeffW

      for a 9 hour trip once (I repeat, once!), with two adults, two girls, and a dog (plus luggage and Christmas gifts!)  Bought a minivan before the next trip!!!

      I think I'd rather be Romneyed before doing that again!

      In an insane society, the sane man would appear insane

      by TampaCPA on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:33:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Got the Dodge minivan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      when our two kids were toddlers.  Upgraded a few years later to the one with both automatic sliding doors in the back.  Best thing ever, for dealing with two kids in car seats!  We did not care that we looked like frumpy suburban parents.  We could load all the baby gear in the back, and still have plenty of room.  Kids are now teenagers (one in college) and we finally ditched the minivan for the somewhat cooler looking Buick Lacrosse.  Still, I think you can't beat the minivan for hauling kids & their friends & all their stuff.

  •  looking for a consult. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rightiswrong, wonderful world, JeffW

    Here is my family spec.

    one dad (me, 6'3") with a 5 mile commute to work
    one wife. a musician who occasionally needs to transport 3 other members of string quartet AND instruments including cello.
    one son, only 13 but tall...already playing a full-size double bass in youth orchestra.
    one daughter, age 9, big in spirit.

    We can't get by with only 1 car.  I can and do sometimes use bike and bus and walk to work, but kids' chauffeur schedule requires me to have a car to race home certain days.  And on weekends we are frequently in 2 places at once.

    In hazardous weather we stay home like sensible people.  we are walking distance from a grocery store and a hospital. AWD is not a big factor

    We need at least one vehicle that can accommodate 6 people OR 4 people and a double bass.  

    Our second vehicle needs to (at least in a pinch for short trips) accommodate 4 people  or 2 people with a double bass.

    Our current fleet is a 10 year-old Honda Oddysey and a 4 year old Honda Fit.  They're paid for and are yet to let us down.  But they are actually a little too much car (The Fit could actually accommodate the 4 of us and my son's old student scale bass and even now can hold 3 with the bass!) and as for  the 7 passenger capacity Oddysey, I'd gladly sacrifice that 7th seat for fuel efficiency or AWD or whatever.

    So, what 2 vehicle fleet would you recommend when the day comes we need to replace these vehicles.   Any interesting 6-passenger vehicles on the horizon?

    •  Some suggestions. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, JeffW

      Check out the Mazda5. It holds 6 people in three rows of 2 each. Not sure if the third row will be big enough for adults, though. (It's available with a manual transmission, if you're into that.)

      The Toyota Prius V is a 5-seater wagonny version of the Prius.

      Ford is about to come out with the C-Max, a 5-seater small van-wagon, in 2 versions: regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

      If you're feeling a little devilish, Ford also should introduce, in about a year, the Fiesta ST. Body similar to the Fit with about 50% more horsepower.

      Thanks to the rapidly escalating CAFE requirements, we should see a LOT of new small and midsize vehicles with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric-only powertrains over the next few years. I'd say subscribe to some car magazines or Consumer Reports or both, keep your eye on what's coming down the pike, and don't worry about making up your mind till you're close to buying.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:34:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  a 5-seater won't cut it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey

        I need 6. 5 is too few.  7 is too many.  Mazda 5 is really the only US model meeting that spec.  I don't think my Fit is underpowered. additional HP is not a priority.

        Ford did have a 6 passenger people carrier, a CMax or some such, but they've repeatedly delayed bringing it to the US.  and apparently, even if they do, they'll be losing the third row.

        •  C-Max coming, but only with 5 seats. Other stuff. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          champaigncarl

          In Europe Ford sells the regular 5-seat C-Max and a stretched 7-seater version. They were originally going to bring both here, but now they just plan to bring the 5-seater.

          I read recently that there's still ONE car in the USA available with an old-fashioned bench front seat: the Chevy Impala. But hurry! They're phasing the bench out in favor of buckets.

          You could also probably find a front bench in a used Ford Crown Victoria or Mercury Grand Marquis, driven low miles by one of the little old ladies who were their only retail customers. These were beloved by police departments and taxi fleets for their reliability and ease of service.

          You might also be able to find a low-mile bench-seat used Toyota Avalon, which is essentially a bigger Camry.

          Barring a bench-seat sedan or Mazda5, you're stuck with 7- or 8-seaters.

          Fiat is introducing a 500XL 7-seater, but probably not in the USA: http://www.autoblog.com/...

          Suzuki sold a Grand Vitara XL or somesuch for awhile in a 7-seat version. Maybe they still do.

          But if the Mazda5 is too small and you don't want a bench-seat sedan, then your best bet is probably another minivan along the lines of your Odyssey. I think the Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and the Nissan Quest are the best of the bunch. The Chrysler minivans are spacious and have a lot of nice features, but I don't trust their long-term reliability. The Dodge Journey is smaller than most minivans, bigger than the Mazda5, seats 7, and I don't trust its reliability either. The VW Routan is a Chrysler in disguise, built by Chrysler for VW.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:51:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I've had two Honda Odyssey mini vans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, HeyMikey, JeffW

      that I've leased over the years and I also drove a Civic. The mini vans were perfect for my growing family. My daughter is a musician playing viola and bass. My son played trombone for a while and plays guitar. In my opinion, you won't really find the space you need to lug instruments (and musicians) around in anything less than your Odyssey.

      I've been steadily downsizing since we traded in the Odyssey and the kids are getting older. We had a Honda CR/V for three years on lease. It was nice but a little undersized for carrying larger stuff, despite the hatchback. I did an art show recently and had to make two trips for all my stuff with the Honda. The 4' x 5' canvas had to be taken on a separate trip with the hatch bungee corded half open. We now get around just fine in a Nissan Leaf and a Toyota Prius. If I ever need to take that large painting anywhere again, I'm using a roof rack.

      •  that's the puzzle (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rightiswrong

        You say I "won't really find the space" I need with anything less than Odyssey.  But believe it or not my little Honda Fit offers an interior configuration that accommodates 3 adults an a double bass.  Much better than most smallish SUVs.   That's nearly all i need.   I just need to squeeze 1 more person in somehow. The car companies aren't fools.  It is no accident I have to upgrade all the way to a bloated Odyssey to meet my specs.  what I really need is something that splits the difference but (at least in the US Market) I have exactly 1 'choice', the Mazda 5.  Not a bad vehicle, but not enticing enough to rush me to abandoned the old Odyssey.

    •  Ford Flex (0+ / 0-)

      http://www.ford.com/...

      Seats 7, plenty of room, toys if you're into that, and a nice  car that doesn't look too 'mumsy'.

      A weapon that is also a treasure is certain to be used.

      by wonderful world on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:16:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My SUV story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Odysseus

    Several years ago, I needed to make a business trip to Syracuse, NY in the dead of winter.  Considering the possibility of lake effect snow, I decided to ask the rental company for a smaller 4WD SUV.  At check-in, however, they had none of the smaller ones, so they gave me a GMC Tahoe.  I got the kids in, then literally climbed up into the driver's seat.

    I'm not exaggerating when I say that the very first thing that popped into my head was "Wow.  How small does your penis need to be to want one of these?". The thing was immense compared to the family sedan.  To this day, more than a decade later, the kids still refer to that vehicle as "the great hulking beast."

    I confess that we have ourselves joined the mid-sized SUV set, but it's congruent with our family size and needs.  It's just a boxy station wagon, not a status vehicle.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:47:09 AM PDT

    •  Gol'dang, a person can't (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, marina, rb608, skwimmer, JeffW

      just like a large vehicles without having some sort of Freudian syndrome?

      The Tahoe is on the larger side of the SUV scale, but there are bigger. But I don't start wondering about the "inadequacy syndrome" of the driver until I see all the accessories. That, more than anything else, is the tell.

      The lifted suspension is a huge one. Tractor-like tires? Check. Lots of extra lights on the bumper and on the top? Yup. Sun visor, with sports logo on it? Lots of chrome, especially a --seriously-- chrome brush-guard? A winch? Shiny rims? Things besides brake lights that light up when stopping?

      A stock SUV is typically just a stock SUV. It's when all the crap gets bolted on that you can tell when a person is compensating for some lifestyle inadequacy. Especially when none of it is truly practical, or when it is all shiny, and never gets taken off-road.

      Those guys... I just gotta shake my head.

      •  Or, maybe they just really like cars and trucks, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb608

        And accessorizing them.  I'm not one of them, but I also don't feel the need to make my self feel better by denigrating someone who might feel like they're improving something they worked hard to get by accessorizing it.  It's comments like yours that remind me why people here in Texas virtually spit when they find out I'm a liberal.  

        Live and let live, no need to be so judgmental about a person's character based solely upon the level of accessorizing they've done to their car.

        "Kindly go render the fat in your head in a large kettle of boiling water. Thank you." - Bumblebums -7.38, -6.46

        by balancedscales on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:08:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Truck Nutz (0+ / 0-)

        ...are usually a dead giveaway!

  •  Or... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skwimmer, JeffW, IreGyre

    ...They're selling you an expression of a lifestyle.  My dad drives the biggest SUV on planet earth and it's just because he likes to look like a badass.  I really don't care for the things much, myself.  I feel safer sitting down lower on the road.  

    My wife and I needed one for our side businesses so we bought Infiniti's smallest model.  It has more space than many large SUV's, our model is built in America, and the price was right.  But minus the business need, I wouldn't have one.  

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

    by CrazyHorse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 04:49:59 AM PDT

  •  I have a Ford Escape SUV, one of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, ladybug53

    smaller SUVs for the class. It is perfect. I Have owned three cars in my life, all SUVs (Nissan Pathfinder, Isuzu Rodeo, and now the Escape). I do live in Idaho, and frequently go to rock-and-dirt camping roads with large dogs (I favor dogs in the 40-lb to 60-lb size). We get snow here too, although not so much.

    I also love long road trips, and frequently make long-weekend jaunts to the Oregon coast or, more rarely, Seattle. Sometimes I head to Utah, though not so much any more. Nevada is a regular "drive-through" state with gorgeous desert scenery. SUVs are great for this sort of stuff, and comfy for the long haul, and I have good visibility for the highway ahead.

    On the flipside, I also love motorcycles, and tend to have one of those as well for in-city jaunts as needed. Lately, I've taken to walking or bicycling to work as well, since it is only 3 miles and I have no excuse not to. Still, the wife and I are going to start taking mountain bikes to the foothills on the back of the SUV, since it is too far to bike there.

    SUVs are super handy. We've hauled furniture, make trips to Costco, and pack our 2 big dogs around in it. She has a little Mazda for her 40-mile commute, which is easy on gas; the Escape is the best fuel mileage for an SUV class (non-hybrid-- I really wanted a hybrid but found out their road-trip power, especially in mountains, is not up to the task... yet).

    We use the hell out of our SUV for things only SUVs, pickups or minivans can do.

    It is also worth noting that pickups actually have worse gas mileage than many SUVs. Counter-intuitive, sure: less weight on the back, right? But that empty space creates a wind vortex at highways speeds that eats into mileage, so you have to buy a shell to alleviate it. May as well buy an SUV at that point, since the fully-enclosed body will be more secure when locked and you'll have better all-round visibility.

    SUVs and motorcycles: the two indispensable vehicles in my world. :-)

  •  Try to fit 4 greyhounds ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world, balancedscales

    ... into anything other than an SUV. I have a 12 yr old Xterra with 230k on it. Yeah, fuel economy is on the super suck side driving in town but I get 22 hiway. I do animal rescue and can fit 4 large crates in the back. I also am on call for a local hospital in the winter when the rare MD snow messes up transportation. I put Cliffurd [red truck] in 4w-lo and can go just about anywhere.

    Yup. I love my SUV. [[Cluffurd]]

    Peace,

  •  Funny, we were talking about this yesterday (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world, JeffW

    My family has a couple Fords: A Taurus and a Focus. We call them the 'luxury car' and the 'sports car'. I have a serious backcountry habit of backpacking and kayaking, and we also have family in far-displaced New England locales. We've finally decided that an SUV is on the list.

    Now that we were interested in an SUV, finding every possible model and permutation has become easy. At the crowded Kittery stores yesterday, it was like being at a used car lot. "I heard about the Ford Flex... oh, look, there's one." "What about the Outback?" "Yeah, uh, over there... and there..."

    Now I LOVE the Outback. A lot of friends own them and they are truly amazing cars on Maine woods logging roads. Not bad on the highway either. But we need just a little more space, and a third row seat would be handy for kids who need to be separated from time to time, or to cart friends around.

    It is extremely hard for my wife and I to agree on what car looks good and is drivable. Hence the Taurus and Focus. I quickly looked up SUVs with third row seats, and gawked at the Mazda CX-9 for awhile, then showed my wife. She loved it. Within minutes, we found one in the parking lot.

    So the CX-9 is probably our next car, and our first SUV. It is very strange to know what car I'm looking for, a year or two before we need it.

  •  Cars... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world, JeffW, ladybug53

    Can't afford one right now... but my dream car is....

    Well I'm not sure it exists at this point. I don't like driving big (high) suv/trucks/vans. I'm just not comfortable with it, and I need to be able to park in town as well as in the driveway.
    BUT. I need room for three, well soon to be four my son is 17 and about 6' tall so may as well call it four adults and a 9 year old and also transport one wheel chair, one rollator walker, and groceries, as well as an assistance dog. Maybe a large five door? A station wagon would work if I could find one.

    Oh, and it needs to be accessible. This means it can't sit high enough that you have to hop up into it, because FloridaSNDad can't hop and I'm not so much for the hopping these days either. Even needing a step doesn't work well and risks a nasty fall.

    Optimally we'd have a car like that for family trips and something small and at least half electrically powered for when it's one or two people doing a run to the store and for Caedy to go to and from work. (Or a Cube, I have a love for the Cube.)

    Right now (and for the past 10 years) it's the bus, foot, or bike.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:45:37 AM PDT

  •  Let me tell you some "old Lady" features I look 4 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, JeffW, balancedscales

    Leather seats because with arthritis it's easier to slide in and turn around.
      Higher clearance for when the plow comes down the street and leaves that bump at the end of the driveway I want to drive though (I live in Vermont). Also requires less knee bending to get into car , also a consideration with arthritis, hey, I said I was old - 66 this year.
      I want power doors, power locks, keyless entry hell I bought the cheapest things on wheels when I was young I want the foo foos now.
      Front wheel drive or better yet 4WD because I live alone and have no one to call if I get stuck in the snow.
      HatcIh back or SUV because I make trips to the dump, buy second hand furniture to refinish and sometimes need that space to carry things.
      I have a dog so I have a harness set up.
      And yes I like the cup holder, it gets thirsty on long drives which in the US we do a lot, European countries are not only smaller, but their coffee usually doesn't come in giant cups like ours does.
      I had a VW beetle in the 70's before the redesign and I can assure you when the snow was down and schools were closed it was one of the few cars that could get out in the snow, the redesign changed all that.
      I now like MP3 capability becasure I download audio books from the library for my drives, and Sattilite radio so I don't lose the reception when I drive though the mountains.
       I'm looking for a hatchback /suv with hybrid / ev driving for my next car with all the other characteristics.  Any suggestions?

    •  Heated seats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      are also a really nice feature if prone to low backaches.

      Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

      by barbwires on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:57:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also nice if it just plain old gets cold where you (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barbwires, JeffW, balancedscales

        are. Heated seats (or as I like to call them, ass warmers) came with my car, they weren't something I sought out when purchasing a car and weren't ever something I thought I'd want. The only car the dealer had with the other options I wanted also had heated seats so I got them.

        After using them for the first time in the winter, I decided I'd never buy a car without them.

        "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

        by yg17 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:34:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I hate heated seats (0+ / 0-)

        For some bizarre reason, they make me nauseous.

      •  My Infiniti has heated seats (0+ / 0-)

        which, as I live in Houston, I have used exactly once in three years.  However, our new Buick Lacrosse came with heated AND cooled seats, which my husband tells me are WAY more useful.

    •  I was truly convinced that big gulps are an (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      American thing when I got my Volkswagen Golf GTI. It's a manual transmission, so of course I need access to the shifter for more than just going into drive and park. The cupholders are right in front of the shifter (or maybe right behind? Dunno what's considered the front of the shifter, but it's between the shifter and center console, closest to gears 2, 4 and 6).

      First time I drove the car with a massive 44 ounce gas station soda in the cup holder, I found that the cup blocks the shifter and makes reaching it very awkward, I have to reach up and over the top of the cup and come down on the shifter like one of those claw games to shift. It's anything but natural. I'm like "What the hell? The Germans are known for their attention to detail? Why would they design it so the cupholders  block the shifter?"

      Later on I had a much more modest sized drink in the cup holder, and the shifter wasn't blocked at all and when I had to change gears, it was almost as if the cup wasn't even there. The Germans didn't ignore that detail. They just didn't count on us Americans putting giant cups in there.

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:30:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's also scientific evidence that SUVs (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crider, Bob B, marina, JeffW, IreGyre

    are driven by assholes.

    http://www.sciencespacerobots.com/...

    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do. " Oscar Gamble, circa 1980

    by Spider Stumbled on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:29:08 AM PDT

  •  My family of 6 had one of those mid-late-60's (6+ / 0-)

    station wagons, with the inward-facing rear seats.  But you left out (or perhaps didn't experience) one of the best uses my family found for the cargo space, with the seats folded down:  the weekly family trip to the drive-in movie.  My sister and I are several years younger than our two brothers, and Friday or Saturday nights often found us in our pajamas, in the cargo area, with piles of pillows and blankets, falling asleep while parents and brothers watched the movie.

     

    I'm one of those lucky homos in a bi-national relationship - at the age of 49, all I had to do was give up my career, leave behind my dying father, my aging, diabetic mother, my family & friends and move to Europe. Easy peasey!

    by aggieric on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:31:17 AM PDT

  •  At least they let you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, JeffW

    carry the dog in the back..instead of strapped to the roof.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:49:57 AM PDT

  •  I Love My LittLE Kia SUV (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, greengemini, ladybug53

    but it's not for everyone.   Its a 2001 and it is tiny- I can park it in the parking spaces reserved for compact cars. The SUVs I see now look like motor homes compared to my car:)

    Turning radius is awesome and I have 4 wheel drive as well. We only have one teenage child, who is a size 2, so the back seat is plenty roomy for her

    I bought my KIA because is was 13K brand new and there was nothing on the market then that could compete with that price wise It also had a bumper to bumper 100K/10 year warranty, which was also unbeatable at the time.

    What I really love about my KIA is that the wheel cover over the back hatch makes a great place to display all my bumper stickers.  In fact, I had to get a new wheel cover after Obama was elected, so I could put new stickers on there.  It great to be stopped at a light and seeing the people in the car behind my either laughing or pissed as they read the bumper stickers before the light turns green.   I often find people milled arouind my car in parking lots, reading them.

    Right now I have a Dogs against Romney, a Romney is a serial killer and a Romney/Ryan 2012 one about strapping granny to the roof of the car.  If you dont read the stickers, it looks like i am supporting Romney, which is an asset in a small republican town.

  •  We bought an SUV (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, ladybug53

    in 2000 because we had 2 kids still at home. We also had custody of 2 of our grand children and my spouse's mother lived with us. (And, of course, we had a golden retriever)

    From your station wagon story, I wonder if the story teller was one of my siblings....
    We did that exact same thing every summer.

    The last car we bought was what I call, "My SUV in disguise". I drive a 2002 Outback. I needed the all wheel drive because I was commuting between Virginia and Denver by driving. I did this for almost 4 years. That little wagon is almost perfect. (If it had a diesel engine, it would be my perfect car) And, I'm still driving it all over the country.

    Next car I buy, if ever I do, will have to get Over 40 mpg, and be small enough to move easily in traffic.

    Keep moving. Its harder to hit a moving target.

    by KatGirl on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:03:00 AM PDT

  •  I wanted a pickup, but the spouse wanted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    a more comfortable car, so we compromised on a Honda CRV ("compact recreational vehicle"). It has good mileage and is great for carrying camping equipment, but I wish we could sleep in it. Well, one person can sleep in it, if they don't want to stretch out.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:21:18 AM PDT

  •  This is the best description I've ever read (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skwimmer, JeffW, greengemini, ladybug53

    of what we are up against.

    I guess it's time to throw the cat in amongst this yard full of dogs:

    if you can in any way manage it.....difficult although it is in the States with our sub-Bulgarian public transportation system......

     take the train.

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:28:00 AM PDT

  •  I just drove (4+ / 0-)

    from NJ to KY in a Honda CRV with only one kid...and one bird (had its own seat) and one aquatic turtle (had the front passenger well), all the comfort items my son requires to survive (autism being what it is), our luggage for a week, and all the household belongings that the moving company wouldn't take (batteries, cleaning supplies, jewelry, mom's silver settings, etc.)

    We could have fit another person, if necessary.

    I never thought I would like an SUV; I always thought the smaller the better.  But when my husband traded in for smaller to accommodate a longer, costly commute, I had to go larger for kids, their friends, their equipment, their animals, instruments, etc.  What was luxury room has become necessary.

    My CRV will never see an off-road adventure; an on-road journey with the kids and the animals is enough of an adventure.  But at least everyone has enough space and, oh yes, a cup holder!

  •  Actually SUVs (3+ / 0-)

    have a much higher tendency to tip over than lower profile station wagons.  So while they feel safe because of their size, their design defeats that.

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 08:02:35 AM PDT

  •  I strove for a balance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world, ladybug53

    Last month I realized that I needed to replace 2 aging vehicles. a 2000 Volvo S80 (250000 mi) and a 2000 MB SUV (175000 mi). My normal drive is a one a week 200 mile RT from South NJ to NYC. I was looking for a balance between the two..Room, a bit of height, the ability to carry the occasional thing 8' long. good hwy gas mileage. The dream car was a VW Diesel wagon. However the price point was not good, mid 4's on a lease 5's on a purchase..
    I was hoping for a lease in the low 3's....So I shopped around over two weeks...I was gravitating toward another used Volvo S80 after looking at a lot of new stuff. I decided to take another look at the new Honda CRV (owned two in the past)..When I spotted the Honda Accord Crosstour...It is a large hatchback. It was available in a 4, my preference for mpg. maximization..Had the room, height and comfort. Did a bit of intergoogling and found it the body style was either loved or despised...I liked it. Turns out the dislikes were winning...The sticker was discounted 5K and the lease price was in the low 2's...This was about $100.00/month less than the other models I looked at new or used....Bought it last weekend. Great car, excellent room and about 31-32 on the hwy. Much more comfy on long drives than my wife's Prius and the best auto sound system I have ever heard.
     

    Do something...marinedefenders.com

    by profewalt on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 08:05:25 AM PDT

  •  I'd rather push my car... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mnemosyne, SeekCa

    than drive an SUV.

    Shitty
    Ugly
    Vehicles

  •  We should be sharing trucks/SUVs, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    NEVER driving them for any commutes or errands not requiring the capacity or power.  It's wasteful and harmful.

    The fact that we don't manage transportation for efficiency underlines the fact that big vehicles are mostly bought to compensate for personality/social deficiencies.   Of course, compromise and sharing of resources would be SOCIALISM.

    I need a towing/large capacity 4X4 vehicle on about three to five percent of my trips to town year-round.  There is no public transportation where I live.  This does not justify full time use of something that requires four times the gasoline of my regular vehicle.  If we had a cultural tradition of sharing heavy tools, one SUV could serve many families, like a ZipCar does for city dwellers.

  •  I've never understood (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, Alice in Florida

    why people drive SUVs, unless it's some kind of compensation for whatever.

    They have a higher center of gravity than cars and are thus more prone to rollover, and most of them are basically a fancy body on a pickup truck. And they handle like trucks.

    They get lousy gas mileage, although that's true for most cars these days. 25/35 isn't nearly good enough.

    Plus, they're a hazard on the road or in a parking lot because they're so big that anyone in a normal-size vehicle can't see past or around them. The size seems to make their drivers think themselves impervious to danger, and they drive accordingly.

    And, really, how many people driving around cities in monster SUVs with full rhino pack on the front are ever going to be going off-road into the African bush?

    Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

    by Mnemosyne on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:07:16 AM PDT

  •  How confused are we? (0+ / 0-)

    We have a Toyota RAV -- which we delayed buying until the new model came out because the first one had no cup-holders. (The horror!)

    And a 2003 Toyota Prius...the one that looks like a Corolla not an egg from an alien chicken.

    We recently bought with our daughter a Subaru Impreza Sport because she goes to college in the mountains and wants to be an archeologist. We figure that car will serve all her purposes for the next 10 years; off-road, on-road, with friends/family or alone.

    I'm keeping my Prius for another couple years...though my middle-aged back dreams of the Lincoln MKZ hybrid.

    P.S. Any Top Gear Fans?

    A weapon that is also a treasure is certain to be used.

    by wonderful world on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:25:21 AM PDT

  •  Oh, the days of being crammed into the back seat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    18038, greengemini, ladybug53

    I'm the oldest of five, born in 1960.  I remember the days of taking long-distance trips with us all sleeping in the back.  On one memorable occasion, we got two adults, five children (one an infant on my mom's lap), two sets of scuba gear, swim clothes, a picnic lunch, and a playpen (on the roof) in a VW bug.  I can still remember the looks of the people at the beach when we started climbing out.

    In fairness, one cannot do that today.  I understand the eyeroll over "everyone nowadays needs their own space", but when you're dealing with mandatory seat belts and car seats, then the need for more seats becomes apparent.

    As the driver of a small, fuel-efficient car, I agree with your SUV revulsion (and your envy of snow-related driving ease).  My biggest peeve is not being able to see around those behemoths, whether in traffic to be able to see ahead or stopped at a light where I can't turn right because an SUV is blocking my sightline. Plus other people can't see ME in the SUV's shadow.  But I completely refuse to get one in self-defense.

    And don't get me started on SUVs taking up more than their one parking space....

    (aka NobleExperiments). ‎"Those who make a peaceful revolution imposible make a violent revolution inevitable" ~ John F. Kennedy

    by smrichmond on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:32:34 AM PDT

  •  Now that I'm back in Alaska (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, ladybug53

    I'm reminded that Subaru's are popular here and for very good reasons. Starting with winter.

  •  Comments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, IreGyre

    1. SUVs aren't usually about 4 wheel drive, which is not magic.  Most SUVs do not work well offroad; obviously they handle snow well but most drivers panic anyway (and you still need to know how to drive in snow).

    2. A lot of Americans are defensive about their demand for SUVs, which is cultural.  (The "crossover" segment was invented for the US market and is a way to sell an SUV-like vehicle and not call it an SUV.)

    3. There are fewer SUVs in Europe because station wagons are quite popular there.  (US and Japanese makers eliminated wagons decades ago.  European car makers occasionally try to market them here and give up.  There are a few ultra-premium ones left from Mercedes but BMW, Volkswagen/Audi, and Volvo are giving up with them in the US.)

    •  Reply to Comments (0+ / 0-)

      !) in general, it is true they are not about 4WD, but about size.  Ever notice how tall they are?  Also, just how many make it offroad, let alone get dirty even?  Oh, and it isn't the snow that gets those idiots, it is the ice beneath the snow...

      2) See Arrogance in the dictionary (and lets not get me started on the "crossover" rant, please)

      3) never having been to the EU, I can't really reply to your comment, except to say there probably is some truth there.  Owing to the american myth, we seem to want everything bigger, better, and more powerful; part of the american dream?  I am a little fuzzy on the dates, but I was thinking Ford had a Taurus wagon up to 09, while Dodge had the Magnum til 08 or 09.  No idea on the Chevy's, although they may get a Holden Commodore import and call it a Caprice here in the states (it looks like a minivan that got stepped on, just like the Dodge Journey; as I said, crossovers = ugh-ly).

      ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

      by geekydee on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:39:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Ireland the wealthy Farmers/horse owners (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      out in the country all seem to drive the biggest luxury Range rover at 80 miles an hour on winding country roads...

      Had to replace the windshield on my car from a rock thrown up by a speeding Range rover on a recently graveled and tarred road surface...

      They are all gas hogs usually driven by road hogs here...

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:26:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just looked in a Smart this morning. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, ladybug53
    (I'm told SmartCars don't have them).
    Two in-line beverage holders on the floor hump in front of the shifter.
    •  Stupid Useless Vehicles... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini

      If you can't survive without 4 wheel drive, you shouldn't be driving. I'm doin' just fine in rural Minnesota with a VW Golf TDI, the 4WD Ranger Pickup does maybe a thousand miles a year hauling stuff too big for the Golf. 4 wheel drive? Maybe use it for 10 miles a year.

  •  Most Subie owners don't need 4 WD... (0+ / 0-)

    4 WD for just rain? Heck, you could take the driveshaft out of the average Suburu and make it 2WD, and the average Suburu  driver would never notice the difference.

  •  Worked and lived in the mts of Oregon for years. (0+ / 0-)

    Hauling horses, construction equipment and fire fighting gear. I live at about 2,200 ft now, but can't get up the driveway a few days out of the year without all or 4wd. Just 100 ft high enough to catch the lowest early freeze. And I am just wired into having all the wheels working for the load if I need it, even if the load is just me and the dog. But even in the high country on dirt and gravel roads, you didn't always need 4wd. But if you really are in sloppy, rough, or steep terrain '2 legs good 4 legs better'!

  •  This diary does not describe me... (0+ / 0-)

    my ideal vehicles all have low weight, RWD, and a manual transmission.

    Let the hooning begin!

    In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

    by Cixelsyd on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:37:19 AM PDT

  •  My parents just bought one... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, ladybug53

    My parents and both siblings now all own SUVs of varying sizes.  I'm in NYC and own no vehicle at all.  I personally find all the tanks in the driveway to be overkill, but it's a subject I avoid.

    I do remember our enormous 1982 Chevy Caprice Classic Station Wagon very well, which became my primary vehicle when I got my license in 1991.  By then it was way past its prime and was like driving a clunky boat.  It had the rear-facing back-back seat.  I was just now remembering sitting in the back-back by myself at around age 10 or so, siblings in the middle seat and parents in the front, as we drove home from my Grandparents' house on Sunday nights along the Eisenhower Expressway in suburban Chicago in the mid-'80s.  I remember lying down on the seat as the highway lights whisked past overhead, in my own peaceful world tucked away back there in a different time zone from the driver's seat.

    Today I'd have a video screen to watch TV on.  Back then, I'd have loved it.  In retrospect, I'm glad I had the streetlights.  And the Magikist lips.

  •  Driving in snow? Get snow tires. (5+ / 0-)

    Years ago, I heard the car guys on NPR give this advice, and then saw it echoed by Consumer's Report magazine: if you're worried about slipping and sliding, don't get an SUV. Get snow tires for your car. I live in the western NY snowbelt, and that's what I do. Guys at the local garage put them on for me every fall, and take them off in April.

    From what I've seen, SUV drivers endanger each other and every one else on the road by driving too fast and following too close, especially in the winter. They think they're invincible and and don't need to adjust for snow and ice. 4wd won't help you when you hit black ice on the Thruway. . . But driving an SUV means you're more likely to kill other people when you start sliding.

  •  Jeep Grand Cherokee (0+ / 0-)

    I absolutely love how it goes up steep hills in deep snow without difficulty! It's very comfortable which is a huge plus for the spouse who has had major back surgery. Hauls furniture pretty well, too.

    But hate the MPG - usually in mid-teens. If Jeep would put out an electric version or a hybrid, I'd consider buying a new one!

    I assuage my carbon guilt by making my house as energy efficient as possible, and recycling as much as I can.

    If the fetus you save is gay, will you still fight for its rights?

    by WV Democrat on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:57:02 PM PDT

  •  Most SUVs get lousy mileage, and Ford no longer (0+ / 0-)

    offers the Escape Hybrid.  They also don't import the Focus Wagon offered in other global markets.  It frustrates me that options for a car that has the extra room I need are so few.  Subarus are a least common denominator, especially here in the Pacific Northwest.  I want a wagon, not an SUV, and I don't want a Subaru; what am I to do?  (I had a terrible experience with a Passat Wagon not long enough ago for anything from VW to be an option.)

    "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

    by Delta Overdue on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:46:58 PM PDT

  •  scratching my head (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    a diary in praise of SUV's? as someone said up-thread, they're a relic from the Bush era and symbolize a lot of what need's fixing in this society. a few years ago National Geographic had some lame photo article, I don't remember the title, it could have been "Things", but it quoted a woman who drove an SUV:

    "no matter what I hit, I win!"
    I'd like to think I could be more open minded in some areas, this is not one of them. I live in San Francisco, where there are no off road cliffs to climb or herds of cattle to chase down in snow, and the roads were not built in anticipation of these (less and less) metal dinosaurs.

    'sport' and 'utility' are two words I have a hard time juxtaposing

    "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

    by Xavior Breff on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 07:46:02 PM PDT

  •  Cupholders (0+ / 0-)

    I think my Tacoma has 9 cupholders!  (I suppose in case I get really thirsty.)

    The new Mazda CX-5 is a great crossover that averages around 30 mpg.

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