Mark Morford nails it yet again with Do SUVs Make You Stupid? / Pointless, dangerous and vain as ever, land tanks still sell millions. Only one explanation possible:
You can see it in the eyes of most every new SUV buyer as they stare, wide eyed and overwhelmed, at the massive vehicles in the showroom: some sort of veil drops over their eyes, some sort of weird opiate pumps into their brains and they lose all sense of reason or common sense or environmental concern and their ego balloons and their testosterone kicks up three notches and they go into some sort of spasm of denial about how purchasing one of these things will, in fact, contribute quite heartily to the overall ill health of their own bodies and the planet as a whole, not to mention the very reason we are so desperately, violently at war.
Truth is, small, nimble passenger cars may not survive a head-on collision with a Freightliner quite as well as your bigass Navigator, dude, but they do a hell of a lot better avoiding it in the first place. Which is why rates of serious accidents and incidents of death are actually lower for smaller cars than almost any lurching monster truck on the road. Period.
And sure you can be cheered slightly at the news that SUV sales are slightly sluggish lately, down 2 percent, and that Hummer sales are way off and Prius sales are way up and there’s still a three-month waiting list for Mini Coopers.
Until you realize that 2 percent ain’t much of nuthin’ and until you read how the U.S. consumes 20 million barrels of oil each day, with passenger vehicles burning up three quarters of the total — and SUVs alone burn half the total for all passenger cars, far more than their fair share and more petroleum than our entire country produces in a year.
And then you learn how that little pip-squeak tyrant Saddam was sitting on 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves and that he might have once thought about threatening the nearby 60 percent owned by our buddies the terrorist-lovin’, women-slappin’ Saudis, and you realize that anyone who thinks we’re in Iraq for democracy or humanity’s sake is absolutely full of Rumsfeld.
But, really, we have to just admit it: the SUV is hypocrisy incarnate. It is the perfect emblem for the American view, for our position in the world: gluttonous, vain, dangerous to almost everyone else on the road, mostly useless (over 85 percent of SUVs never see a dirt road, much less need 4-wheel drive), ugly as hell and as graceful or practical as a school bus on an ice-skating rink.