BY BETH GALLAGHER (05/24/00)
SUV drivers mention that they enjoy the space for the family as well as being "higher up" and "safer."
Why have they not discovered the joy of driving a semi?
The space is unparalleled and infinitely customizable. And how many horrifying car vs. semi accidents have you heard of that end, "and the trucker walked away"?
Safety. Space. Personalized luxury! Come on, SUV drivers -- get on the trailer!
-- Amy Caron
Had Beth Gallagher ever been involved in a serious accident while packed like a sardine into her low-slung but oh-so-cool VW Beetle, she would have a clearer understanding as to why some of us drive SUVs. After being nearly beheaded by a minivan twice the size and weight of my Ford Escort 10 years ago, I bought an SUV and haven't looked back.
Now that yuppie/boomer road-raging soccer moms have given my vehicle of choice a bad name, I find myself having to defend that choice. My SUV is no larger than a full-size pickup truck, gets better mileage than a Cadillac and does one hell of a job getting me to off-the-beaten-path trout streams where I can get as far away from whiners like Gallagher as I possibly can.
-- Randy Hannan
I'm personally getting tired of being lumped in with all the yuppie, bobo idiots who bought their SUVs as a status symbol or because everyone else in their tony neighborhoods had one.
I'm a chick and I drive an SUV, albeit a small, two-door 1989 GMC Jimmy. I got it long before the current muscle-mobiles. I didn't buy it because it made me feel more powerful, or because I wanted to dominate the road, or because I wanted all my college-age friends to be mad with envy. I got it because it was the best vehicle to suit my needs.
The Jimmy allows me to go off-road when I visit my family's farm or when I'm trekking through rural, remote areas. It also gives me enough cargo room to haul sculptures and recording equipment, and I can tow a trailer behind it anytime I move from place to place. When I'm driving through city traffic, my short self gets a better view so I can determine which lane to switch to and which vehicles to avoid. And, with the flip of a lever, I can fit a couple more people in the back for company.
My Jimmy gets about 25 mpg, which is significantly more efficient than my former car (a '78 Oldsmobile). But it's a basic vehicle. No power windows. No butt-gripping, self-warming seats. Hardly what you think of now as an SUV.
There's another important difference, too: I drive my Jimmy mindful of its weight and its dimensions. I follow cars more than 7 seconds behind, and I take extra precautions on curves and in bad weather.
This is something that seems to escape the new SUV and big pick-up drivers. Male or female, I think we'd all benefit from having to get a different classification of driver's license in order to operate our vehicles. They are not cars and they do not handle like cars.
-- Melissa Gray