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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fear and Loathing of SUVs


posted by Orange
How do I loathe SUVs? Let me count the ways.

They use a lot of gas, which (1) exhausts the world’s dwindling oil supplies faster and (2) pollutes the air, thereby (3) contributing to the acceleration of global warming.

When I’m waiting to turn left at an intersection, there’s often an SUV in the lane across from me. (4) I can’t see through the fucker to know if there’s traffic coming from behind it, so I’m stuck waiting until the SUV turns or the light changes.

When I’m on the highway, (5) I can’t see the road ahead of me if I’m following an SUV. I’ll speed and change lanes less carefully than I should just to get past an SUV so I can see the road ahead. It’s not safe to drive at highway speeds when you can’t see any potential hazards or slowdowns you’re approaching.

When I want to turn out of a parking lot in the city, (6) if there’s an SUV parked to the left of the driveway, I have no visibility and can’t see if it’s safe to pull out. I nearly got hit by a minivan when inching out from the McDonald’s lot last week because of a stinkin’ SUV parked there.

Not only are (7) SUVs taller than cars, they also (8) usually seem to have tinted windows. WTF? Why do they need tinted windows? If they’re not hiding the pope or Brangelina in there, I think they could make do with clear windows so other drivers’ ability to see hazards isn’t obliterated.

And when I go into a crowded parking garage, you know what fills up the row of "small car only" spots? That’s right: (9) An SUV will take up two small spots rather than driving up a few more levels to find a ful-sized parking space that’s open. Doesn’t that just smack of (10) yuppie entitlement, taking up two parking spaces because you choose to drive something that’s ridiculously oversized for a congested city?

Now, I’m a reasonable woman. If you live in the snowy mountains, you can make an argument for driving a rugged SUV rather than a car (though a sporty station wagon with good tires might serve your purposes). A Hummer, though? Nobody needs a Hummer. You’ve got a muddy dog? Then you can get a small SUV like the Honda Element, or the boxy little Scion xB, or a sporty wagon. You don’t need an Explorer or Navigator.

If you need to transport a lot of kids in the suburbs, a minivan makes a lot more sense than an SUV. They generally accommodate passengers better and get better gas mileage.

You need to move a lot of cargo? Guess what—you can often fit far more into a minivan than an SUV. The athletic folks I know who need to schlep lots of bulky gear drive minivans.

You say you feel safer up high in an SUV than in a regular car? Well, knock it off! You’re making it harder for all the people driving those regular cars to safely see where they’re going, and the sheer size of your SUV poses more risk to car passengers when the two vehicles collide.

I’m not done ranting yet. Have you seen the latest way McDonald’s has sold its hollow soul to the corporate crossover devil? The current Happy Meal promotion is Polly Pocket dolls for girls (heavy on the pink, of course*) and toy Hummers for boys. I can’t believe General Motors passed up the chance to make pink flowered Hummers for little girls, to double the number of children lobbying their parents to buy a cool Hummer (as my son’s been doing this past week). But then, if Hummers weren’t so blatantly manly-man, the guys wouldn’t be so keen on them, and they’d buy fewer of these giant metal penises on wheels, so GM can’t risk diluting the brand by pinkifying it for the girls who get Happy Meals. No, the girls will have to be content with their dolls.

Now, I’ve been fine with past Hot Wheels Happy Meal promotions. Cars are fun. We all like to play with toy cars, don’t we? Smasho-bango! Zoom-zoom! But McDonald’s and GM have crossed the line by foisting Hummers on little kids in a naked attempt to build brand loyalty early and enlist children into GM’s marketing army.

Looking on the bright side, the Happy Meal Hummers are all made of plastic, so if I should happen to crush one (of the three that have entered our house) by stepping on it like mighty Godzilla…

* My son often reports his favorite color to be purple (though he’s fickle sometimes). We have several pairs of these clothespin chopsticks (which are great for kids and other beginning chopstick wielders). I asked Ben which color he wanted today, and he opted for purple. I might do a whole post on boys, purple, and pink, in fact. Maybe next week…

Cross-posted at Orange Tangerine.
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