portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

energy & nuclear

An SUV Question.

cars vs. SUVs
SUVs have gotten a bad rap, and deservedly so, however if you go to the government's fuel economy website, you will see that they are no worse than some cars models, and in some cases better. This surprised me.

So, why aren't some of these cars on somebody's shit list?


homepage: homepage: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bestworst.shtml

here we go again 27.Oct.2003 21:04

potato salad

are you stupid enough to think that 'fuel economy' is the only thing wrong with SUVs? give it some thought why don't you.

Enlighten me… 27.Oct.2003 21:29


Unless its because of the safety factor, that they tilt over more than a car with a lower center of gravity.

It can't be because of people driving up mountain goat trails in Yellowstone, while the kids watch Spongebob in the back seat is it?

That shit only happens on TV commercials for bozos who never take their SUVs off road.

So what is it, just considering me an idiot, and we will call it even...

To the contrary 27.Oct.2003 21:57


The other cars are on my shit list. Most of the cars now get worse milage than they did in the early 90's, when they were trying to tell us we would all be driving hybrid electrics by now.

Where's my freakin' hovercraft, already? 27.Oct.2003 22:16


What the hell, we're still fighting friction with the road surface, are we? Hybrids are the next best thing? Goddamnit, the Jetsons promised us all hovercrafts forty odd years ago! What gives? Get real, the best personal transport technology already exists -- ride a bike!

bikes really fun, but... 27.Oct.2003 22:40


Bikes are a lot of fun, but don't expect them to take the place of a four wheeled vehicle in the US.

Bikes are too dangerous to ride in heavy or fast traffic, because of all of the idiots, blind senior citizens, drunks, teenie-weenie lead foots, etc. You can be the safest biker in the world, and it only takes one idiot motorist yakking on the cell phone, or putting their eyeliner in the rear view mirror, to end your life.

If I get hit at 20 MPH in my truck, by another truck, then my airbag deploys and hopefully I'll only need a few stitches. If I get hit by another truck doing 20 MPH while I'm on my bike, then at best, I'm going to need a feeding tube and a ventilator..

Bikes are fair weather vehicles, that can't be used in most North America full time.

Cities in the US are way too spread out in most cases to allow people to Bike to work, shop, etc. There are exceptions, but ...

Not Up To Snuff 27.Oct.2003 22:45

North Portlander

The biggest laugh I had recently was from a tow truck driver who told me that Range Rovers sold in the US were never designed to go off-road even though they are shown being taken off road on commercials. The vehicles shown in adventure and nature shows and on the commercials are specially configured to operate off road but do it with one bought off the showroom floor and it costs an average of $3,000 to put it right at the dealership. Guess if they can afford to buy a Range Rover they can afford the expense of getting it fixed. The same driver also told me that he wouldn't touch one of the new Volkswagens and a number of other new cars with a ten foot pole. "We tow more of those than anything else," he said, "And they are the biggest pain in the neck to hook up" apparently because you can't actually tow them. You've got to put them (carefully) on a flatbed or a truck and dolly because it's too easy to damage the body. The Cadillac SUV sent him into incoherent hysterics. He did admit that he did not know of anyone who had towed a Hummer yet.

as if cell phone divers weren't dangerous enough 27.Oct.2003 22:49


Aside from the usual complaints about them, why do they all seem to come with dark tinted windows....driving is more difficult for non-SUV drivers because visibility is decreased...it is as if everyone was driving a panel truck.

SUV problems 27.Oct.2003 23:04

Bison Boy

There are a few major classes of problems with the SUV.

The first and worst is that they only have to conform to the "light truck" standards for fuel economy / emissions, which are somewhat looser than the regs for cars. Some research along this line will be revealing for you, I should think; I don't have the facts you're looking for handy. While there is significant overlap in fuel economy and emssions between cars and light trucks / SUVs, generally the SUVs have worse fuel economy. Certainly some cars are worse than some SUVs, but it's the overall trend that is both alarming and easy to write sound bites about.

Next is that SUVs are generally taller and heavier than cars. This is related to the fuel economy problems, of course, but the real difficulty here is that in a collision between an SUV and a car, the occupants of the car are substantially more likely to be injured or killed than in a car-car or SUV-SUV collision. Rollovers of SUVs are also a bit of a problem, but that's far less significant in terms of annual fatalities.

Third is the perception, and probably the reality, that the typical SUV driver is hauling around hundreds of pounds of extra four-wheel-drive equipment that will never, ever be used off-road or in bad weather. (And heaven forfend that all the SUV drivers actually *do* go offroad! The added "safety" of four-wheel drive is also problematic: if the SUV can move but is too heavy to stop or steer well, it's not much of an advantage.) Again, all this is related to fuel economy, but I suspect is objectionable more on the grounds of conspicuous consumption than anything else.

And, of course, there is all the more outrage because they are, in spite of the above problems, trendy and selling like hotcakes. :)

It's not the cars, but how they are used 27.Oct.2003 23:07


Like most inanimate things ( guns, money, television monitors and iron pipes), the SUV is not evil. It is just how they are used (shooting people, paying off politicians, FOX news and clubbing people in the head). If you live in a rough terrain area, an SUV makes perfect sense. They get you from point A to point B, in a way no other car can.

But if you live in Gresham, and only commute to Portland, you have no need whatsoever to have an SUV as your primary commuting vehicle. The emmisions are bad (though yes, there are other things as bad), they really take up space (more than, say, a honda hatchback), they are often hard to drive (ever seen a soccer mom try to back up in a parking lot? Ever see people flee the area in terror?) and the people driving SUVs tend to be the only people in them, thus making our clogged highways worse (and yes, I know this is a stereotype, but it is true more often than not, like most stereotypes).

I owned an SUV, it was a great vehicle for what I needed (driving through the woods and swamps). It would be nice to have one now for my periodic hunting and fishing trips, and if I can ever afford to get one IN ADDITION TO my 4-cyl mitsubishi compact and my bike, I will. It will not, however, be used to drive around town (I live downtown), nor will it be used for a commute. It, like a boat, RV, dirtbike and jetski, would be a specialty vehicle for special occasions.

I accept the relatively few SUVs and pickups you see that seem to come from actual 4WD areas, ownign two vehicles is expensive and some people really do have to own 4WD vehicles, but the shiny suburbanite sleds that plauge our streets here should all be smashed to make bike frames.

Fashion victim 27.Oct.2003 23:53


>>>>SUVs have gotten a bad rap, and deservedly so, however if you go to the government?s fuel economy website, you will see that they are no worse than some cars models, and in some cases better. This surprised me.
So, why aren?t some of these cars on somebody?s shit list? <<<<
SUVs like pickups and vans are exempt from pollution standards like cars have. Gas-guzzling cars also have a gas-guzzler tax but SUVs/light trucks are also exempt from these because in the 70s they figured it was unfair for FARMERS AND CONTRACTORS. Now Bush has got his tax deduction for SUVs bigger than 6000 lbs for small business men! Incredible! It seems that small SUVs were starting to sell better but now the big SUVs are the rage because of incredible amounts of TV advertising and cash back incentives. In other words Detroit is bribing Americans to buy gas guzzlers because Detroits cars are very inferior to Japanese cars. Now the Japanese are getting into the act as well though. The huge Toyota? Armada is now for sale here.
The problem with small SUVs is they are very dangerously unstable and they contribute to promoting the SUV FAD most of which are unbelievable gas guzzlers and keep getting bigger and bigger. most comprehensive anti-SUV site>>>  http://www.suvsuck.org/

SUV's create blind spots for everyone in traffic 28.Oct.2003 08:46

shoulda gone with the convertible

GPFX I think you're right on.. it's the way people use them that's the issue. Personally my biggest beef with SUV's is the danger they pose by reducing visibility : mine as a auto driver or cyclist, and the SUV drivers' visibility, since the windows of these trucks are usually above the roofline of your average car.

I rented a Mercury Mountaineer last weekend for a camping trip into the mountains. It was barely decent offroad, but it didn't hold a candle in terms of stability to the ancient 4WD Subaru I use to haul around town. The scary part was when I realized that a simple head-check wouldn't show me all traffic anymore - cars in my "blind spot" were still mostly hidden when I was looking right at them. Lots of people drive using only their mirrors and never head check when changing lanes. SUV's are not "idiot-proof" enough to be safe for those people, and hence are a danger to everyone.

Because ... 28.Oct.2003 15:02


Because oblivious, stupid, bimbo-blond, barbie-doll conservative chicks drive them to the mall while talking on their cell phones and chucking half-dead cigarette butts out the window every other block. THAT'S WHY!

BilBo 28.Oct.2003 20:57


it sounds like you have a problem with the drivers,and not the vehicle?

the same blond bimbos will be doing the same thing from their VW bugs if SUVs weren't avaliable, right?

WEll. . . 28.Oct.2003 23:13


It is easier to ignore bimbos in a VW bug, they don't drive over you.


But seriously, I agree with BilBo a bit, the drivers of these vehicles are in large part the real problem. These things are not as menacing when driven the way they are intended, but become downright dangerous when piloted by Greshamites. At least in the areas these things were built for, there is nobody to run over.

jr is slave to corporate pr and lockstep mindset 28.Oct.2003 23:14


"bikes are fun but.." ; and he goes on....

You don't really get it, do you? Bikes ARE NOT toys, they are transporation. If cars and trucks were really so freakin' wonderful, why does a hefty % of the cost of each new vehicle go to advertising, to convince people to buy the latest crap pandered by Detroit, or that you 'made the right choice' when you sold your soul to the corporation for an obsolete and inefficient vehicle that essentially is fueled by the blood of many unfortunates in Iraq and other parts of the second and third world?

If it's so hard to live in today's Amerika without a motorized vehicle, it is only because of poor urban planning and design, that came about either deliberately or through massive ignorance, take your pick.

You don't have to accept this blindly or willingly; if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

The longer it takes us as a society to recognize the error of our fuelish ways, the harder the crash will be when it comes. Global oil production has peaked, and the end of the fossil fuel age will not be a pretty picture if we do not start changing our behavior soon...

My bike is a Toy. 29.Oct.2003 01:44


I own a nice Trek bike, I really like it, but it is a toy. I ride it on bike paths and around the neighborhood, but would never think of trying to ride it to work. Its too far away, and would take too long to get there. However my old boss loves to ride his bike 8 miles each way to work, during 3 of the 4 seasons. He has only been run over by a motorist once, and after he was released from the hospital, he bought a new bike and still rides it to work. But even he admits if it wasn't for the fun and exercise, he wouldn't ride it either, so I guess his is a toy too.

Once again, if you live in a mild climate, are in reasonably good physical shape, don't have to lug a bunch of groceries home for the kids, live close to work, live in a community that is not sprawled, don't have to give anyone a ride, then a bike is the perfect vehicle to commute with next to a good pair of Nikes.

Since most of the US is sprawled, and that is pretty much irreversible without a complete disruption, and enormous cost of rebuilding cities around bikes, we are just going to have to deal with reality and except that we fucked up..

In about 700 years when ALL the fossil fuels run out (thinking of coal, and sand tar, of which there is like 20 times more that all of the crude oil that ever existed on the planet) runs out, then I expect our geniuses to come up with some alternative fuel that runs our lighter, and much more efficient automobiles for another 1000 years or so.

The coal and sand tar with today's technology costs about 4 times what crude costs to make into gasoline, but if nothing better comes along, at least we know its there if we want it.

Or in the worst case, we just resort back to the horse and buggy, but whatever we end up doing, it won't be pedaling. Humans are just too lazy as a group to move under there own power if there is anything else available. You have to go back to before Mesopotamia was a nation state to find humans traveling without some sort vehicle powered by something other than human power.

If I'm brainwashed by corporate America, then I have a lot of company who I know all too well when it comes to human laziness..

Every car driver 29.Oct.2003 14:41

The Redcoat

Every car driver
Shows a potentially deadly weapon
In plain sight
Each time
They drive
Some of them
Are drunk
Some of them
Are emotionally out of control
Some them are arguing
On a cell phone
Happy Halloween

permits 29.Oct.2003 16:19

teddy ruxpin

Do I need a concealed weapons permit to keep my car in the garage?


One way or another, jr is working for the car manufacturers and oil companies 29.Oct.2003 21:06


That's right jr, you and the vast majority of the ameriKan public are indeed lazy. No one is telling you how to live your life, but what will it take to simply get motorists to drive safely and with caution when they encounter bicyclists on our PUBLIC streets? PUBLIC streets are for people, and not just for people with cars. Why does the average motorists' IQ seem to drop 50 points as soon as they get behind the wheel?

Bikes are emphatically not toys; they are serious vehicles; groceries and other things can easily be hauled by bike, if you put your mind to it, and it is entirely reasonable to use a bicycle all year 'round in Portland. If you can't figure out how this is possible, there are plenty of cyclists willing to give you a hand, but I'm not buying into your tired, cliched sorry-ass old arguments against cycliing; every one of them has been proved wrong time and time again. The only serious impediment to cycling is unsafe motorists.

Thousands of bicyclists prove the utility and usefulness of bicyles every day in Portland. If you don't want to join them, fine, but once again, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Maybe if you think of it this way, it would help: every cyclist on the road means one less car causing gridlock; every cyclist also means one more available parking space for some lucky motorist.

part of the problem then... 29.Oct.2003 23:01


I know you can haul enough groceries on a bike if you want to or have to. Just look at any third world country like Vietnam. They haul a ton of goods on a three wheeled trike. But if they can afford it, they get a mule to pull the trike, or slap a motor on it. They don't ride them to be trendy or to make a political statement.

Portland has a very mild winter. Try riding year round in the Midwest, or Northeast (minus NYC or Boston), try it in Fargo, or Billings, or Kansas City, or just a few hundred miles east of Portland in February and see how much fun it is.

If you want to ride all the time, fine, but it sounds like you are doing it to promote a political agenda and not because you have to.

The main reason I don't ride on city streets in heavy or fast traffic is because of the reason you just stated. Its unsafe because of idiot drivers. I couldn't agree more. Which was the point of my original post. Its just not safe, and its less safe that an automobile. It is much safer to be hit by a car, if you are in another car, than being hit by a car if you are on a bike. This should go without saying.

This doesn't make me a pro-automobile person, or someone who has been brainwashed by Detroit, It just makes me someone who didn't sleep during 7th Grade physics class.

I wish you and your friends many happy and safe journeys on your bike.

I'll stick with my horseless carriage until something better comes along.