Sometimes American are just plain stupid; SUVs

I almost thought it was a joke and then had to laugh when I read this article, that with a minor drop in gas prices Americans are flooded back to buying gas-guzzling SUVs. Do we have an attention span longer than a few weeks? For a nation that panics over four cases of Ebola I suppose not.

The drop in gasoline prices is small and undoubtedly will be short-lived. Can these people do math? Of course not, we don’t want to teach that any more since it’s too hard. For a brief time, due to bizarre circumstances and my desperation, I actually drove my parents’ monster Suburban. They’d outfitted it with an extra large gas tank since they hauled a trailer with it. But even back in those days the shock of paying $100 to fill the tank, once a week!, was just insane. The car, when I was lucky, made it all the way up to 14MPG.

I now have a Prius and a Subaru Forester. It’s fun to watch all the displays on the Prius and try to push the MPG above 54MPG. I drove the Prius to the football game in Lincoln and went just as fast as all the other cars in the traffic jam (even when I-80 isn’t busy the Prius can easily get me into speeding ticket range, plus even its sluggish acceleration is about the same as the Suburban since getting tons of metal moving even with a huge V8 is hardly supercar performance). And then there is Subie – a wonderfully nimble car with great AWD handling some of the worst roads and mud and snow I can throw at it, places I’d never have taken the Suburban. So even the SUV part of gas guzzlers can easily be achieved with a fantastic vehicle for twice the gas mileage.

So, Americans, let’s just figure it out. I recently took a 3000 mile vacation where I actually needed the Subie’s AWD. I averaged around 26MPG. A suburban which couldn’t even have gone where I took the Subie (actually no place I couldn’t have taken the Prius) would have averaged around 12MPG. So 3000/26 = 115 gallons of gas vs 3000/12 = 250. I probably averaged paying about $3.20/gallon, so something like $368. For the Suburban to match that price gas would have to drop to $1.47/gallon, something even the fracking in North Dakota isn’t going to accomplish. But let’s look at it another way, my vacation in the gas guzzler would have cost $800 and now that prices are down a bit, generously saying to $2.80 that would drop to $700 or a savings of $100. Terrific, I’d take it BUT my wonderful Subie did the trip for $432 less. So dumb gas guzzler buyer, you’re now saving $100 for a long vacation whereas I saved $432 – real genius, eh? And you want to race your gas guzzler against my Subie, on interstates, or ordinary roads, or especially on crummy roads – I’ll clean your clock in your tank vs my nimble machine.

So, why, stupid Americans are you buying such dumb vehicles.

And here’s the fun part. The gas price drop will be temporary. And when gas goes up to $4/gallon, tell me exactly how much fun you’ll have filling your tank. Oh, but you’ll just sell the gas guzzler – tell me how much you think anyone will want to pay for it when gas is expensive again. That Suburban I borrowed was in fine shape and was the deluxe model and had less than 30K miles – my mother sold it for $500!

So have fun in your expensive, clunky, sluggish gas guzzler and enjoy when gasoline prices soar again.

So why do Americans over and over get suckered into buying gas guzzlers? Having never seen any authoritative studies on the matter I can only guess, but what I have seen, as a silly part of our national character, esp. tied to our arrogant “exceptionalism” notion, is that we equate size of car and these days even more so blatant overuse of fuel as some expression of macho manhood, as well as ostentatious display of wealth. You really think 2+ tons of vehicle changes you? Fine, then blow your money on a good car, buy a supercar that actually can perform on all the gas it burns, buy an effective backwoods or offroad vehicle (actually good tires on 2WD will out perform your gas guzzling SUV with the tires you probably have on it). Buy a car that works and performs the mission you actually do in life.

I’m not impressed by your Hummer (an Audi i8, maybe). And your idiots who detune your diesels to do some coal rollin – real cool, I guess that makes you a real man and maybe makes you for your tiny shriveled little member.

Come on Americans, we’re supposed to be the people with some common sense – where is it!



About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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2 Responses to Sometimes American are just plain stupid; SUVs

  1. JTD says:

    I wrote this article not so long ago so I guess I’ll repost it here… It’s rather fitting…

    Why you have a SUV…(and I Don’t):
    Yeah, I know, the so-called Justification and Excuses. Please, spare me, I’ve heard them All…
    (1) “I have two kids and you’d be surprised how much junk they need to haul around…” – I knew families of 4 kids and they filled up a station wagon with plenty of room to spare. So Excuuuse me.
    In any case 9 out of 10 SUVs I see on the road have One Lone Driver and 0 passengers.
    My snobby entitled soccer mom neighbor constantly is going or coming from her driveway in her SUV every half hour: 0 passengers, 0 cargo, just her own self. She uses it for a 5 minute drive to the shopping plaza so she can shop at Kays or drink at Starbucks. Why she has to Climb into this huge monster rather than an ordinary car or, more ideally, a compact one…you tell me. Oh, yeah, forgot to add that her neighbors and friends do the exact same thing and they all own SUVs, too. So I guess majority wins again. The clique is so important. Because Status is more important than practicality.
    (2) “Suppose I want to pull my boat?” – You’d have to Have a boat first. Most people in this situation get other guys to haul their toys around like professional movers. How often do you haul a boat? How often do I see a SUV hauling a boat? Hauling anything? Zero Times. But you know, you Need this gas-guzzler, greenhouse emission monster just in case you get one.
    (3) “I feel Safer and more in control in a SUV” – You don’t read. They handle like bricks on the highway. They have poor stopping power. They Roll Over. You have Higher visibility (at the expense of Non-SUV drivers!) but still manage to hit pedestrians (and in some cases their own kids!) because they can’t be readily seen. They are also sheer terrors in crashes because of their high centers of mass smashing into ordinary cars. Oh, you might survive it better, but the other guy isn’t so lucky. In most cases SUVs Cause these accidents. Why? Because an ordinary asshole driver behind the wheel of an ordinary car is just an ordinary asshole driver. Put an ordinary asshole driver behind the wheel of a SUV or Hummer where they’re high-up and feel invincible on the road and he becomes a Super Asshole Driver! They think it handles like a sports car rather than a truck. Or they think they’re playing Arnold Schwarzhisname in some combat movie controlling a tank. Guess what happens next…
    (4) “Just in case I want to go Off-road!” – This is the basic yuppie excuse to own one, that Manly motive. You own a Hummer already and a luxury car (or two or three) but you Still want to have that extra inch below your belly button so you have a SUV to be like the Other guys… Yeah, you’re going to take a vehicle that costs This Much off the road to be dirtied up and dented by stones, gravel and mud. I’ll believe you when I see it. Something like 99% of SUV owners never do! That’s wise, since SUVs are basically Styled to resemble off-road “rugged” vehicles when they’re really Not.
    Now go buy an elephant rifle “just in case you want to go elephant hunting!”

    They can’t deny any of this shit when cornered. Next step is they start getting Offensive and that takes the form of “I earned my money and I have a right to spend it the way I want to on whatever I want to…” That’s obviously not under debate. The Why is.
    Or the “You’re just Jealous that you don’t own one–maybe can’t Afford one…” snob job.
    Well, If you saw my bank account you wouldn’t be saying that. I just happen to be more practical with my money, not wasteful. And I care about such things as the environment and don’t need a penis extension on wheels, nor need to fit into any elitist club. I don’t need a cannon to swat a fly, regardless of what the neighbors are doing.

    For an excellent summation as to why I Don’t have one, check out this excellent web page:

  2. dmill96 says:

    Thanks for your comment and I actually mostly agree with you.

    As to point 2 and 4 I actually do go off-road, places no normal car could go. I can’t afford to have a car for every purpose so, yes, I drive my SUV around town. But my SUV is not a huge monster for hauling kids or being a tank on the road, but a compact, fuel-efficient, well-designed, high safety ratings and the best AWD driver, i.e. a Subaru Forester. My other car, which is entirely used for ordinary city driving is a Prius and I’d be happy to have a pure electric once the range is adequate (actually I prefer the engineering model of the Chevrolet Volt over the Prius but I’ve had too much bad luck to consider buying GM product, even though Volt might be an exception).

    So as you say 99% of SUV owner’s don’t get their cars dirty, mine wears a thick coat on mud as a badge of honor. So if you want to criticize me, it’s not that I don’t use SUV for its intended purpose, but why am I using motorized transport at all. Guess what, I do that too. I use a mountain bike on rough roads in my mountain vacations and I use a street bike for city riding (used to even have a racing bike when I did that). And I’ve put over 2000 miles on these old feet of mine in the last three years. Yes, I have a carbon footprint and I’ll do what I can to reduce it, but I’m not quite prepared to cut out recreation I enjoy to go to zero.

    I can understand your hostility as I live in a place where people, who as you say, don’t actually use their vehicle for its design purpose drive monsters all the time and usually with one person. I could do most of the same rant as you do toward most other people.

    But in my case, I’ll claim you are off target and perhaps the other elements of my post might have revealed that.

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