October 03, 2002

Trojan Horses

Don't get me started on Sports Utility Vehicles ... Oops! Too late...

The government rewards the manufacturers of these amazingly incompetent and dangerous machines by exempting them from the same pollution standards almost any other road vehicle available to John Q Public has to meet. The same safety standards obviously don't apply as evidenced by the approval of lap belts and less effective brakes. The bumblers who design the rigid mount bumpers don't seem to be getting too worked up about impact absorption figuring Joe's family sedan can soak up all the momentum in an accident. With a nod and a wink to the federal inspectors, they proudly display their product with a standard tire to meet the bumper height requirements, and then ship them out the door with rubber that would look ridiculous on a tractor.

- Braking. The average SUV needs approximately 20 more feet than Joe's family sedan to stop safely. That extra car length makes a difference. A side impact from one of these things almost guarantees serious injury and they'll roll right over you taking the roof and your head with it given the right circumstances. The fact that these bohemoths can outweigh a car two to one decreases the survival chances of the innocents around them by an astronomical factor.

- Visibility. Joe's trying to see around something several feel taller and wider than his practical vehicle. Less seen, more surprises. Don't even bother telling me about safe following distance. It may be theoretically possible to maintain the recommended interval, but this is the real world. You leave a hole big enough for safe braking distance to allow for something you can't see happening two vehicles ahead, and someone WILL slide in. Build a safe interval and traffic will increase to defeat it.

- Power and Handling. As a rule, SUVs aren't even living up to expectations off the road, much less on the highway. Those big tires coupled with overloaded suspensions look really kool and sell a lot of units but are a recipe for disaster. The average driver just does not and probably never will have the expertise and superior handling skills necessary to control a vehicle this size in a sudden stop or turn.

- Economy. In order to get satisfactory performance (as in trying to justify the incredible sticker price), these big boys are pushing up to 350 horses and getting 12 miles to the gallon. Get one stuck in rush hour traffic, and you can almost see the world dying around them. Greenpeace should consider going after the auto companies and let the whales take care of themselves for a while.

- Safety. Would you believe shoulder belts are still considered optional equipment in many SUVs? And who hasn't caught a rock in the windshield thrown by one of those mammoth tires sticking a foot out of the wheelwells? Factor in everything else mentioned before and nuff said.

- Add to all this the fact that the insurance on these puppies due to the incredibly high sticker prices and cost of repair could buy may small countries, and you wonder how Mad Avenue can get away with calling an SUV a "practical" vehicle. Someone ought to sue these clowns for false advertising. The "practical" result of all this is the worst the weather gets, the slower they go. After all, wouldn't want to scratch the status symbol, would we ??

The government rewards the manufacturers of these amazingly incompetent and dangerous machines by exempting them from the same pollution standards almost any other road vehicle available to John Q Public has to meet. The same safety standards obviously don't apply as evidenced by the approval of lap belts and less effective brakes. The bumblers who design the rigid mount bumpers don't seem to be getting too worked up about impact absorption figuring Joe's family sedan can soak up all the momentum in an accident. With a nod and a wink to the federal inspectors, they proudly display their product with a standard tire to meet the bumper height requirements, and then ship them out the door with rubber that would look ridiculous on a tractor.

Posted by NIFAIRIOUS at October 3, 2002 06:26 PM