They Want Their SUVs


A new survey suggests that car buyers have not taken to heart anti-SUV propaganda blaming the vehicles for pollution, global warming, and Middle Eastern terrorism. Most respondents said "the negative press around SUVs is hype," and "more than 70 percent felt that groups criticising SUVs ignored the vehicle's positive aspects." The survey found that "six out of 10 shoppers still feel positively toward SUVs."

[Thanks to Jim Nelson for pointing out the article.]

NEXT: Justice In Jerkwater

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. What benefit do SUVs have over say mini-vans or a pickup truck, or a standard car? Why do they need to be so high, have such high wheel height, and a “huge shell” design. Why can’t SUVs be designed with better feul miliage? Why don’t people care??????

    Not only that, but SUVs are not even safe.

  2. Why do people listen and praise Moby?

    Why is it your business?

  3. I’m not a fan of SUVs myself, but if someone else wants to spend their money on what amounts to an overpriced station wagon, who am I to try to tell them they can’t do it?

  4. Naw, SUVs are alternatives to minivans – which are overpriced station wagons. If you’re too hip for a minivan you get an oversized pickup truck without the pickup – the SUV.

    I know it’s not PC to feel so, but I loathe SUVs. Can’t see around the bastards. I do hope this fad fades away at some point.

  5. SUVs take up two parking spaces and therefore should be towed away if not parked in the BACK of the lot

  6. The lights are too high, and blind you. The bumpers are too high, so they’re dangerous. The drivers are too high, so they drive too fast.

  7. SUV advantages over,

    Minivans: ride height (visibility and ability to go off road)

    Pickup Trucks: enclosed cargo area, maximum number of passengers

    Standard Cars: crash safety, maximum number of passengers, cargo space.

    Take a look around. Most of the SUV’s being bought right now are of unibody construction, have V6s or small V8s, have about 17″ tires and get the same gas mileage (not ?feul mileage?, Blaine) as minivans, pickup trucks and full size sedans. They’re not really any different than a station wagon (except they’re mostly not ugly).

    Many of these mini- and mid-size SUVs are just as safe as most cars and some even safer (think Volvo XC90). Also, they’ll be the first vehicle type to bring hybrid power to the luxury market (Lexus RX330) in the US.

    I’d complain about them, but then I’d sound foolish.

  8. plus you support terrorism as they use internal combustion engines, unlike liberals’ cars that run on water

  9. Dude, it’s totally PC to loathe SUV’s (I don’t but that’s another story). But why not loathe pickup trucks, too. Same goes for you Warren, pickups are just as big, why not blast them?

    I’m with Brad. It’s their money, let them spend it how they please. do any of you NEED a big screen HDTV? For that matter, do you NEED cable TV. How about a computer. You don’t NEED it.

    On that note, Kiss my ass.

  10. “Why don’t people care??????”

    Ha, that’s my favorite line today. I don’t know why they don’t care!!1!!1!

  11. In Florida where I live, every dumbass has an SUV or a giant pickup. The reason I hate them is because the idiots driving them would have a hard time driving a go-cart; they are simply not good enough drivers to deal with the restricted view and overall bulk of their vehicles.
    That said, I have two kids, 6 and 8, and all four of us have no problem driving around in my geo storm, which gets 40 mpg. Although SUV’s may have some uses, I don’t see how they are neccessary for driving to school, around town or out to dinner.

  12. First off, I hate the damn things. See, I’m a biker (both motorcycles and bicycles, I don’t own a 4 wheeled vehicle). I wound up on sliding down 101 on my back about 6 months ago because some well meaning father gave his daughter a SUV to drive, and she did. She drove it right into another motorcyclist, who then hit my front wheel, causing me to do that lugeless pavement slide.

    I hate SUVs for the same reason I hated the football players in High School. They’re over sized and they act like assholes.

    But that’s just personal, it’s not important.

    What *is* important is that the people driving them should have to pay for the extra wear they do to the roads–remember as you double the weight of a vehicle, so too do you double the pressure/wear/damage it does to the road. SUV owners are getting a reduced-price ride and my expense AND endangering my life.

  13. Scott,
    You kind of nullified your argument by saying that these “dumbasses” would have a hard time driving a go-cart. Wouldn’t it be splitting hairs to try to differentiate between bad drivers in cars and worse drivers in SUVs? Both are pretty scary.

    Also, I would imagine there’s not a problem with toting four people around in a car. That’s what most of them are designed for. If you’re talking about moving 5-8 people around town, or 4 people and a week’s worth of luggage, then larger vehicles start to make sense. And, yes, a 7-seater SUV isn’t necessary for taking 2 people out for dinner and a movie, who’s to say those two people don’t have 5 five kids at home with a baby-sitter? Should they have to buy alternative vehicles for everything except hauling kids and cargo? The assumption that a majority of SUV drivers don’t ?need? their vehicles seems a bit overused and a bit unproven.

  14. joe, yeah! I forgot about those blinding headlights. I wish there was some sort of mirror package I could install on my bumper to reflect them back.

    Steve, testify brother! Those big-ass pick-up owners are every bit the assholes as their SUV counterparts

  15. joe, yeah! I forgot about those blinding headlights. I wish there was some sort of mirror package I could install on my bumper to reflect them back.

    Steve, testify brother! Those big-ass pick-up owners are every bit the assholes as their SUV counterparts

  16. joe, yeah! I forgot about those blinding headlights. I wish there was some sort of mirror package I could install on my bumper to reflect them back.

    Steve, testify brother! Those big-ass pick-up owners are every bit the assholes as their SUV counterparts

  17. DANG! sorry about that!

  18. Hmm, a couple of thoughts I have?
    1) If you?re complaining about seeing SUV/truck headlights in your rearview, then flip that little switch under it. If you?re seeing them in your side mirrors then readjust them or put some light, cut-out tint on them (green is the best if you can get it).
    2) Ground pressure is determined by vehicle weight and tire patch size, not just vehicle weight.
    3) SUV owners do end up paying more to drive at the time of purchase since a comparably equipped car would have cost thousands less; and thus, they pay more taxes.
    4) When I?m looking for bad drivers I see just as many cars driving horribly as SUVs but don?t NOTICE bad drivers is cars as much because the draw less attention. Same thing with cops; I ALWAYS notice when a cop breaks a traffic law, but then again, I ALWAYS notice the cop.

  19. Just because, as noted in a discussion below, I think something should be legal (buying an SUV) doesn’t mean I have to think it’s a good idea or that people should be fulsomely praised for buying into hype and stupid fashions.

    SUVs, despite their per-crash records, have much higher death rates than cars per mile driven. That’s reason number 1 it’s stupid. Reason number 2? I think it’s OK to drive something like that if a) you know the risks (the above post reveals that people don’t) and b) you need it for some purpose. As scott pointed out, it’s hard to go climbing a mountain in Florida. Or downtown Falls Church, for that matter. People who drive pickups tend to actually haul things in them–SUV owners don’t go offroad. And it’s not like people are filling these things to capacity. It’s just a fad, their neighbors have one and they’d better have one too to look cool.

    Sure, that’s legal, but it doesn’t make you any less of a dork.

    Despite claims to the contrary, they also get much worse gas mileage than current station wagons. You don’t have to be a commie pinko liberal to realize that a) we pay in blood for oil, rightly or wrongly, and b) the offensive little wahabi sect would be yet another backwater insignificance if it weren’t for oil, and b) even if switching from SUVs to Geos won’t cure the problem, it’s not gratuitously worsening it on a personal level.

    So yes, I’m not arguing I should be allowed to come and take your impotence compensation device away from you, but you’re still a dork. Deal.

  20. Hank wrote:”4 people and a week’s worth of luggage”

    A small 2000 Volvo 4 door coupe was plenty big for 3 adults and their luggage, and a cooler full of soda, on a 3 week trip from coast to coast and back.

    If it requires an Escalade to fit that 4th person, somebody needs to learn how to pack light.

  21. I’ve driven Minivans, large pickup trucks, and SUVs before and I gotta say I don’t like them, they just feel weird to me. So I drive a Mazda Protege – I don’t try to ban SUVs. Sure some people in the drive like assholes, but they’d probably do the same in a car too.

    One really nice thing about them though is that they’re really, really comfortable if you’re 6’3″.

  22. Hank wrote: “SUVs are just as safe as most cars and some even safer (think Volvo XC90)”

    Why not save thousands of dollars and just buy a spiffy Volvo wagon, instead?

    A fool and his money are soon parted – as true now as ever. The SUV is a stupidity tax for most owners who pay extra for features they have no use for. (I’m sure all those teenage girls I see around CT driving their giant steel protecto-wombs, er, I mean SUVs, have no intention of ever going off road.)

    The SUV buyers most mock-worthy have to be the people who drive those Hummer H2s. The things aren’t even
    real Hummers, they’re based on a pickup, and they
    have a pickup’s clearance, not the Hummer’s clearance, so they can’t do all that butch driving-over-logs stuff. Suckers. They’d get more from their money investing in Tyco.

  23. I can’t stand the damned things. They’re ugly as hell (can you say “toaster on wheels”), they’re hard to see around, their lights are blinding at night, and yeah, they pollute a ridiculous amount, since they’re not held to car pollution standards. But all that being said, the gov’t has no place messing with ’em. Just make ’em play fair with the clean air thing, and I’ll suck it up and deal with ’em.
    One funny thing is that the owners are generally so damned vain, and the SUV’s are such status symbols, that parking lots can be a lot of fun 😉 Just park a nice 6 inches from the side of an SUV and watch the owner squirm!

  24. Okay. Your typical SUV, a 4wd Explorer, gets 17/25 MPG (ci/hwy). If I can get my hands on a new RX-8, which is expected to be about the size of a Civic but is expected to get 30 mpg on the highway, then do I get to be only 13% more virtuous for fuel economy or 100% better for vehicle mass? Am I compensating for low self esteem or my mommy not loving me enough? Howabout I order cloth seats instead of leather, that way I win back some karma from the saved moo-cows.

    Really, the bile that SUVs generate (on either side of the issue) is a testament to the low relevance threshold any issue must scale to be the center of a pissing contest on the internet. This all is more proof that the terrorists have so not won.

  25. Oh, and I agree, the Hummers are super dum-dum dummy. Chevy Avalanches are no slouch(es), though.

  26. 1) Higher death rates per-mile driven probably indicates some combination of slightly worse driving (and how big is this difference? If it’s in the ballpark of cars than this is a moot point anyway) and slightly less handling. Per-crash records indicate a safer vehicle in a crash. So take your pick; do you want to be X% safer if you do get in an accident or have Y% less of a chance of getting in an accident depending on the vehicle (Note that not all accidents are under your control).

    2) Already covered how SUVs and trucks aren’t just used to climb mountains; and, ever carry a sofa in a truck in the rain?

    3)Lexus RX300: 19/23 mpg city/highway
    Honda Pilot: 17/20 mpg city/highway
    Nissan Murano: 20/25 mpg city/highway
    Toyota Highlander: 19/23 (22/27) mpg city/highway for V6 (I4)
    MB C-320 wagon: 19/25 mpg city/highway
    Ford Tarus wagon: 19/26 mpg city/highway
    Subaru Outback wagon: 20/26 mpg city/highway

    4) “It’s just a fad.” What a riveting and fact based arguement.

    5) “Dork.” That’s a good one.

    6) I agree on the fact that switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles is not a solution but a delaying of the issue. I am happily awaiting the arrival of fuel cells in the consumer market.

    7) I think everyone understands the “blood for oil” argument. But using tearjerker issues like terrorism to flame SUVs when there are such bigger issues like AIDS and cancer is just uncouth.

    8) I drive a little ol’ Nissan Sentra 4-banger.

  27. Interesting phenomenon: articles about war with Iraq – supposedly the big controversy of the day – get anywhere from 1 to 4 replies on Reason, while an article about SUVs quickly gets 26.

  28. Hey Hank, if every SUV were a Honda CRV, there wouldn’t be an issue except rollover rates. And idiot drivers–you’re right that most SUV drivers seem to be idiots.

    Ford Expedition: 14 city/19 highway (4×2)** (note not 4×4)
    Explorer XLS: 17 city/21 highway (4×2) (not 17/25)
    Chevrolet Avalanche: 14/18

    Whoops, there goes the “it’s not that much worse” argument.

    Oh, but if you believe the crash data over the death rates, be my guest. Funeral directors gotta eat, too. I recommend a Suzuki Samurai. Be sure to use that power to speed in icy conditions, and take curves really fast. After all, you’re invulnerable!

    “Dork” is an epithet, not an argument. Look it up.

    ‘”It’s just a fad.” What a riveting and fact based arguement.’


    You don’t seem to get that I don’t care if I convince you. I’m going to express my opinion, and if it mattered that much to me that you behave as I want, I’d be agitating for a law. I’m not. I don’t like SUVs and I say so. I say why I don’t like them. Some arguments are logical, some are just opinions. Like “I don’t like the color orange.” “People who wear lots of orange are dorks.” Wear orange, if you like. Drive an SUV. Just don’t expect me to not call you a dork.

    And it is just a fad. Wait ’till SUVs are considered by your kids to be just as “gay” as station wagons and minivans are now.

  29. I find it interesting that the author of the SUV study in question is Kelly Blue Book. The article does not adequately explain the methods and potentially inherent biases any study of this nature entails. For instance, asking a man who doesn’t watch much TV or see too many print ads, but who owns an SUV (reclusive Montana rancher) will yield much different results from an SUV owner in the city who drives for “practical” family or luxury reasons and who watches tons of TV, including pundit/activist hysteria around the SUV and its looming despoilment of the moral and ecological landscapes.

    What is the test audience and what are THEIR duly recorded biases? KBB must collect its subjects from warranty registrants or car-registration or other sources. So, a man who buys a car every three years versus me, who owns a fourteen-year-old car and could give a crap what it looks like parked on the street out front? Big difference in how we’ll feel about SUVs and how much we actually KNOW about them (him more, me less, his loathing low, mine moderate to high).

    Add to this the idea that the automotive industry shamelessly (and rightfully, for their own preservation) makes the idea of owning an SUV tantamount to arriving in life. This is really not much different than the scorn we all heaped on BMW owners when, in the oh-so-greedy 80s, they bought — how did Sandy put it? — “impotence compensation” Beamers in record numbers.

    Is this an argument about engineering and efficiency, or socioeconomics? It’s not that hard to disengage the two.

  30. I’m begining to regret sending Jacob that link, I’m somewhat amazed at the strong feelings this issue raises. Not sure where to begin here…

    I’ve read a lot of stuff about the relative safety of SUVs, and have come to the conclusion personally that SUVs are safer in some types of crashes, and cars are safer in other types. As it stands, the only type of crash that is a higher risk for the SUV is the roll over. However most roll-overs occur from people driving off the edge of the road, and then over-correcting and thus losing control of the vehicle. Therefore this risk is most likely in your direct control.

    SUVs tend to perform very well when impacted by other vehicles. Other vehicles, however, often do not fare as well when impacted by the SUV. Given that there are a lot of them on the road, it would be in your best interest to get the car with the best crash ratings or an SUV because you don’t have any control over what type of car is going to hit you. And lest we decend into a debate on the ‘cost’ SUVs impose on smaller cars, don’t forget that we all share the roads with a fair number of 80,000 lbs+ tractor trailer rigs that few passenger vehicles are likely to survive an encounter with. On the other hand, SUVs have poorer handling and take longer distances to brake thus making it more likely that you will be unable to avoid an accident than you would be in a smaller, more manueverable car.

    Thus, the safest choice of vehicle depends a lot on what type of driver you are and what type of road conditions you encounter.

    As far as wear and tear on the road, it is true that weight matters but also weight distribution and SUVs tend to have larger tires. In any case, to the extent that they do consume more gas than a comparable car (that difference being less than most imagine as some have pointed out above), the SUV owner pays more fuel taxes which presumably contribute to whatever additional road wear they may cause.

    Another issue to consider, is the opposite – the wear and tear the roads put on the car. To those who think owning an SUV when you never take it off of the road is stupid, have you looked at the roads lately? Especially in northern states where we experience the freeze/thaw cycle every winter, the roads are often in terrible disrepair. SUVs and passenger cars are all designed to last about the same amount of time, but SUV’s are designed for rigors of off-road driving. All other things being equal your SUV will last longer than a car driving over pothole filled highways because it was designed to encounter far worse. This is reflected I think in the fact that SUVs tend to have higher % resale than cars. And having 4wd is definitely a safety advantage in the winter (or in rainy weather), and your choices for AWD in cars is really limiting.

    The pollution thing is overrated. Many SUVs on the market now meet car emission standards and most will in the near future. To the extent that I would agree that it makes sense for the government to regulate air pollution, I do think SUVs should be held to the same standard as cars. Most car companies in the US are taking the attitude that they will be forced to meet it eventually anyway and and adapting accordingly, especially since they want to be able to sell these vehicles in California, which has pretty much the toughest emission standards in the world. A newer SUV puts out way less pollution than a 10 year old passenger car does anyway.

    Someone commented that the younger generation will associate SUVs with minivans and station wagons, eventually. Marketing surveys done by the car makers have determined that this is already happening. However they have also determined that younger buyers will still want the utility these types of vehicles offer, hence the ‘crossover’ vehicles now appearing that look like tallish station wagons or smallish trucks. It may be specific vehicles are fads (like the H2) but the desire to have vehicles with maximum utility seems like it’s here to stay.

    For the record, I’ve owned small cars, large cars, SUVs and one pickup truck. Currently my wife and I have a Mercury Sable, a Lincoln LS and a Jeep Cherokee. The Lincoln actually gets worse gas mileage than the Cherokee. The cars are quieter and more comfortable than the Jeep but the Jeep works better for winter driving and can carry large items (which occurs quite frequently in my household). I miss my pickup now and then because I could put oversized and/or dirty things in it and clean it out afterwards with a garden hose. I don’t think SUVs are the ‘be all and end all’ vehicle because they do have some disadvantages, but if forced to choose one vehicle that would best fit all my needs it would probably be a medium sized SUV of the type that are most popular right now.

  31. Are SUVs really safer?

  32. Sandy wrote: “You don’t seem to get that I don’t care if I convince you.”

    Ditto, babe. See you in hell.

    Your friend,
    Hanky Pooh

  33. if only the greedy oil corporations wouldn’t surpress the water-powered car that they have been hiding since the 1970s

  34. I just want to reiterate that all you assholes who think they’re better because they hate SUV’s are perfectly welcome to kiss my pickup-truck-driving ass. Come and see me when you don’t have anything you don’t NEED.

  35. I’m only guessing here, but since existing toll roads don’t already charge more for large pickups/SUV’s, I’m thinking new toll roads wouldn’t either. With the specs for building interstate highways (they were originally designed to carry military vehicles, originally), I’m guessing the 1000 or so lb. difference between SUV’s and tin boxes doesn’t make a lick of difference in road wear.

  36. u support terrist if you use the lights and drive anything!

  37. u support terrist if you use the lights and drive anything!

  38. I own a Ford Expedition. We have 4-children, 3-of them being triplets. I had a mini-van but it could not handle the strollers and three car seats and the rest of the gear just to leave the house to go to the grocery store. Lets see you intelligent economy minded people with your econo-cars fit in three car seats a double stroller and a single stroller. Then go grocery shopping for a family of six and fit your groceries in your car. Many of the people I know that own SUV have large families. I also am a hunter and a large vehical fits my gear and hunting partners a little better than a Geo would. Where would I put me two-deer, dear stands and guns? The AWD is wonderful in the winter months. I see as many small cars that can?t park in parking lot as I do SUV?s. They are safer in the aspect that you can see over other vehicles. Wouldn?t go without one. In fact I may move up to the Excursion next.

  39. What about school buses? These vehicles get horrible gas mileage. They’re much, much bigger than SUVs. They drive slow, and are always stopping. They’re a real pain in the ass to get stuck behind. There’s a lot of them out on the roads. They’re used for commuting, as are most SUVs. Do we want to outlaw these too? What about Semis? Even bigger yet. How many accidents are those involved in each year? Hey, lets ban them too. Bus drivers can pack as many kids as possible into tiny Geo Metros because they’re more fuel efficient and don’t blind people when they look in their rearview mirror. Truck drivers will set all-time highs for quantities delivered with their new Geo Trackers!

  40. I have an H2 and when Im alone or just with one other person I drive my BMW 328IC. Reading some of your comments which contain your stupidity and cheap ass cars, I’d say you just can’t afford to drive an SUV or even a new car for that matter. So shut the hell up.. LOL

  41. I am an SUV owner. A Jeep Liberty 2002. I live in the high country, and have serious snow issues which requires me and my family to not only have an SUV, but one in which we can control the 4WD instead if having an All Wheel drive. This ALONE makes choosing a new SUV very limiting indeed, but I will say that gas milage is my #1 problem with SUV’s. I would LOVE to be able to buy an alternative fuel SUV and would do so immediately if they were available, or even vote for a law requiring car companies to make 30+ MPG SUV’s. The only reason the car companies complain is because the need to satisfy investor profit margins and outrageous, unnecessary corporate salaries superceeds the need for efficient, safe automobiles and the congress backs them up on this because they are the same people that benefit from the high profits and salaries. I do not have any problems with people making equitable salaries and with money going to R&D in droves, but the obsession with profits, corporate rights and congressional leniency has to end before any real progress is made.

  42. Have you all heard the latest about the Yahoo/Google deal?

  43. i own an suv a 94 GMC Suburban its big but i still fill in all parking spaces and can back in between two cars in one try (i know people in cars that can’t do that) i drove a minivan before and i can’t see anything out of it, it has SO many blind spots i may as well be driving a cardboard box, yes i spend tons of money on gas but its a small price to put on happness, suvs are big, but if you know how to drive them there not a problem at all LEARN TO DRIVE BETTER!!!!!!!

  44. i own an suv a 94 GMC Suburban its big but i still fill in all parking spaces and can back in between two cars in one try (i know people in cars that can’t do that) i drove a minivan before and i can’t see anything out of it, it has SO many blind spots i may as well be driving a cardboard box, yes i spend tons of money on gas but its a small price to put on happness, suvs are big, but if you know how to drive them there not a problem at all LEARN TO DRIVE BETTER!!!!!!!

  45. i own an suv a 94 GMC Suburban its big but i still fill in all parking spaces and can back in between two cars in one try (i know people in cars that can’t do that) i drove a minivan before and i can’t see anything out of it, it has SO many blind spots i may as well be driving a cardboard box, yes i spend tons of money on gas but its a small price to put on happness, suvs are big, but if you know how to drive them there not a problem at all LEARN TO DRIVE BETTER!!!!!!!

  46. Sorry about the three posts my pc is slow

  47. my husband and i have one of each, a taurus and a cherokee. although i love my taurus, there just isn’t enough room. my husband is army so we live far away from the rest of our family and it’s just too little for the four of us on 24-36 hour road trips. the jeep is perfect. the jeep is also able to hold all of my husband’s army stuff (2 full duffle bags, full combat gear, etc.)and he still fits in it, too. the problem with suv’s is that they are being bought by people who are scared to drive big, powerful vehicles. most either end up too timid or they try to drive it like a small car. neither is safe. it’s not about the vehicle, it’s about the driver. and, yes, we are trading the taurus in for something bigger, probably a mid-size suv.

  48. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/25/2004 01:08:22
    If you save the world too often, it begins to expect it.

  49. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 09:11:33
    ‘May you live all the days of your life.’ – Swift

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.