Despite all the carping about gasoline prices these days, sales of Cadillac's new Escalade and their ilk are boomin' louder than the gigawatt stereos they often house.

So says MSNBC, which points out that despite post-Katrina price shocks and media outlets trumpeting hybrids and new small car offerings, U.S. consumption of unleaded hooch is actually rising. In fact, fully one-in-four new cars sold in America houses a V8 engine under its hood. SUVs outpoint hybrid sales 23-1. The 'King of Bling,' Cadillac's Escalade saw its sales jump a whopping 127 percent last month.

So what gives?

While it appears that MSNBC is basing its assertions about the surprising resiliency of SUVs squarely on the load points of General Motors' massively improved GMT900 trucks, it has a point. For all of the hype surrounding the newer generation of crossover vehicles and more fuel efficient body-on-frame SUVs, conventional cars and wagons with smaller displacement engines remain significantly better when judged by a fuel gauge. And yet a good portion of American consumers won't touch them, despite their inherently superior driving dynamics and often greater cargo capacity.

So... has the death knell of the SUV been prematurely sounded? Is the American motoring lifestyle inextricably linked to large, high horsepower vehicles? Or are GM's revised full-sizers riding a wave soon to reach the shore? Have your say in 'Comments.'

[Sources: MSNBC.com; Skeptically.org]