• Mar 12, 2006

It's no secret that SUVs (and their owners) have been vilified at a rising rate roughly commensurate with the escalation of gas prices. No strangers to this debate, most Autoblog staffers believe that they occupy a valuable niche for owners who use them regularly in a manner consistent with their construction (read: hauling all and sundry over hill and dale), and champion the arrival of improved and new models regularly.

That said, we're also firmly of the mindset that a goodly number of consumers fell under the spell of the SUV's charms without issuing themselves a reality check vis-a-vis their daily needs. As such, we welcome the market correction that has seen owners moving to vehicles that more accurately meet their needs-- be they spatial, dynamic or social.

As a result of all this, the SUV segment has been under tremendous social and political pressure as of late, but a champion of the genre has arisen in the form of the web-based SUV Owners of America organization. The San Francisco Chronicle's Vicki Haddock takes a look at the group and its goals, and it's a worthwhile read regardless of which camp you pitch your tent in.

Have a look here

 

 



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      ANR

      That may be the most irrelevant post I've ever seen.

      Does anyone really say "Wow, I have 8 other people I need to move around on a daily basis. Should I buy this Suburban or just take 2 Focuses everywhere I need to go?"

      Back to the side discussion on miles/gallon vs other measures, the biggest problem with miles per gallon is that it actually hides the exponential curve in its presentation of numbers.

      Much better would be gallons per 100 miles, similar to the liters/100Km used in metric measurements. The figures are easy to convert: (1/mpg) x 100.

      Current mpg figures don't take into account the difference of 1 mpg in different mileage ranges.

      For example: A 16 mpg Toyota Sequoia doesn't seem much less efficient than a 19 mpg Honda Pilot. After all, what is 3 mpg? How much does that matter anyway?

      Well, 16 mpg is 6.25 gallons for every 100 miles. 19 mpg is 5.25. 3 mpg makes a 1 gallon difference over the course of every 100 miles. Figuring on 12,000 miles a year (we'll lowball this one), that's an extra 120 gallons throughout that year, which at current prices would amount to a $277 difference (depending upon your location of course). If keeping the vehicle for, say 5 years or so, that's a difference of $1,385 over the life of the vehicle; think of it as a sort of hidden depreciation.

      Looking at 3 mpg in the upper range now. That 3 mpg that was so impressive in its scope. Lets look at a Honda Civic (34 mpg) vs a Mazda3 (31).

      The Civic uses 2.94 gallons/100 miles. The Mazda3 uses 3.23 gallons for the same distance. A difference of .31 gallons. You're looking at a difference of 37.2 gallons throughout the course of a year assuming the same 12,000 miles/year. Assuming $2.31/gallon, that's a difference of $85.93 a year. Keep the car for 5 years, and you're looking at a $429.66 difference.

      The difference between 10 and 11 mpg (10g/100 miles and 9.1g/100 miles) is almost the same as the difference between 16/19.

      I'd much rather see posted on the window:

      Gallons/100 miles
      gallons/year at 15,000 miles
      • 8 Years Ago
      On another note, I find it fascinating (if a bit sad) to watch the logical dance that SUV advocates do, specifically, with the "this is America, we can buy whatever we want, because we feel like it... it's a capitalist system" talk.

      It's interesting because many of the same people yell 'till they're blue in the face about "foreign competition" and the "traitors" that buy Hondas and Toyotas because of their superior assembly quality, resale value, and reputation for reliability versus the domestic brands. Hey guys, I thought this was America? Where we can buy whatever we want, for whatever reason we want? Money talks, after all, doesn't it?

      I'm not trying to beat this point into the ground. It merely reveals the "I buy what I want" argument as a thinly-veiled facade for some peoples' need for a "sexy" vehicle to create and/or reinforce their self-identity.

      Like I said... sad.
      • 8 Years Ago
      verdegrrl,

      The 6,000 pound restriction is not in place to limit road damage. It's in place to restrict commercial traffic through the residential streets. The curb weight of a honda mini van is 4600lbs. Should we ban them? By your argument (and Slate.coms) the minivan does more damage to roads than a lighter vehicle. (Which is a false argument.). The authors nothing more than an idiot.

      Also, SUVs get poorer gas milage and thus pay more gas taxes. So they do "pay their fair share" for the roads they use. Hybrids, and other so-called "fuel efficient" pay less in road tax and use the road more. So in the long run these fuel efficient vehicles will end up causing more wear and tear damage and paying less than their "fair-share". Witness articles in the past mulling additional taxes on hybrids because of this tax gap.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ...and God bless the Autoblog staffers, one and all.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I told Autoblog that the SUV Owners' Association could likely have industry shills behind it!

      As for the SF Chronicle article itself, that's relatively balanced. The main problem is that many SUVs just aren't used the way they're supposed to be. You don't need a Honda Pilot to haul a lot of people; you can often do that in a minivan! I find that the main problem is a lack of sexiness to the SUV alternatives, a problem which is only now being addressed (look at the Mazda 5 as an example of how to give a people-hauler some cool).
      • 8 Years Ago
      I notice that the blog talks about how SUVs for off-roading is so cool, but then the photo shows a stretch limo SUV. Of course, most SUVs are used as passenger vehicles. Around here (Research Triangle, NC), the most aggressive drivers on our suburban streets are generally soccer moms in giant SUVs. This just epitomizes the self-centered, environmentally unaware, conspicuous consumption attitude that makes it unpleasant in our communities and especially on the streets.

      You ranchers, construction folks, and even true off-roaders...have at it. Soccer moms and suburban insurance salesmen that want to feel powerful...I wish you would grow up.

      As for paying their own way, when the SUV buyers pay the same gas guzzler tax that would be applied to a passenger car that gets 10-12 mpg, then I'll believe they are paying their own way.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gallons per... miles per... now THIS is an irrelevant discussion.
      Fact: new vehicle stickers DO show annual projected fuel cost- a direct funtion of Gallons/year.
      Fact: Modern vehicles are engineered to perform well on the EPA drive cycles. So much, in fact, that the EPA adjusts its test findings to allign the fuel economy with what it feels it should be.
      Fact (based on my own survey): (the majority of) People have no clue what sort of milage they actually get. And they dont really care. There are some ways (legislatively) that could get some better milage vehicles to market:
      ->Re-define what a light truck is- require that it have at least a 1500lb payload (and pass all safety standards loaded as such) rather than the current flat-floor discription, which allows for any wagon (focus, magnum, vibe, outback, HHR, Caliber, etc.
      ->Gert the EPA to hold its breath for a few years on tightning the emissions standards on Diesel vehicles. Most of the manufacturers do not want to invest, because of the uncertainty in a continuing market.
      ->Cut the excise tax on the non-mineral portion of alternative fuels (for a period) to promote growth in production of vehicles (diesels, E85 flex cars, H2 powered) Fuel production and infrastructure.
      ->Impose fuel economy ratings (not standards) for HD pickups, Vans and SUVs. Maybe the sticker shock will be enough of a warning. Theyn again, maybe not.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gallons per... miles per... now THIS is an irrelevant discussion.
      Fact: new vehicle stickers DO show annual projected fuel cost- a direct funtion of Gallons/year.
      Fact: Modern vehicles are engineered to perform well on the EPA drive cycles. So much, in fact, that the EPA adjusts its test findings to allign the fuel economy with what it feels it should be.
      Fact (based on my own survey): (the majority of) People have no clue what sort of milage they actually get. And they dont really care. There are some ways (legislatively) that could get some better milage vehicles to market:
      ->Re-define what a light truck is- require that it have at least a 1500lb payload (and pass all safety standards loaded as such) rather than the current flat-floor discription, which allows for any wagon (focus, magnum, vibe, outback, HHR, Caliber, etc.
      ->Gert the EPA to hold its breath for a few years on tightning the emissions standards on Diesel vehicles. Most of the manufacturers do not want to invest, because of the uncertainty in a continuing market.
      ->Cut the excise tax on the non-mineral portion of alternative fuels (for a period) to promote growth in production of vehicles (diesels, E85 flex cars, H2 powered) Fuel production and infrastructure.
      ->Impose fuel economy ratings (not standards) for HD pickups, Vans and SUVs. Maybe the sticker shock will be enough of a warning. Theyn again, maybe not.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Response to Mike #6

      So are you saying that smaller residential streets are built to the same standards as larger streets that were intented to carry commercial traffic from day one? I don't know, they redid the street outside my house and it's built nothing like what I see when they build a main road.....

      A 4600lb minivan still isn't a 6000lb Hummer.

      As for fuel, you'll find that many of the taxes attached to gasoline and intended for roads in California has been re-directed for other projects - especially education. You have only to drive in the slow lane on highway 5 through the central valley to realize what a toll heavy vehicles take on a road, and that little is being done to correct it. Now those are commercial vehicles, but it shows an accelerated view of what is happening to other roads throughout the state - and that heavier vehicles play a major role to road deterioation.

      I'm no tree hugger and I don't drive a Prius, but I do see plenty of people driving huge vehicles all by themselves. I work in the automotive industry, and it's pretty common to have people buy the largest vehicle they think they might need, only to find out they use that capability maybe a couple of times a year. Renting the appropriate vehicle would be much cheaper for everyone.

      http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=89540

      http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/article.cfm?archiveDate=03-05-02&storyID=10537

      http://www.transportationca.com/