Defending the Sport Utility Vehicle
Date 2004/4/3 0:00:00 | Topic: Miscellaneous
|What can a 2-year old article teach us about why we love SUVs?|
Reason Magazine, a monthly print magazine of free minds and free markets" recently (well, not exactly - more like July, 2002 - but we just stumbled across the piece the other day) published a "defense of the SUV". While it doesn't completely fit into the category of "current news, information, and rumors about present and future Jeeps" that we like to try to stick to, it was a very interesting read and provides ample reasons about why we love our SUVs.
Here's some snippets:
What do sport utility vehicles say about us? First, they say weíre herd animals. The latest numbers from the auto industry say that every other new car driven off a dealerís lot is a "light truck," the category that includes pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs. Five million new SUVs are sold every year. And the numbers keep growing.
If we are what we drive, SUVs have some interesting things to say about us. Some things they say may be ugly: We are excessive, solipsistic, wasteful, indulgent, egotistical. Some of what they say may be noble: We are free; we are individuals; we want access to wilderness and new frontiers; we are self-reliant. Taken as a whole, the qualities of the SUV are quintessentially American. Although there are certainly more remote and rugged nations than the U.S. -- even in the industrialized West -- the SUV could not have originated in any other country.
The Rubicon Trail in the Sierra Nevadas is often described as the worst 12-mile stretch of road on the planet. To call it a road is a bit wishful, since even horses and mountain bikers have been known to balk at the rock-strewn mountain pass just outside Georgetown, California. The Rubicon is both Mecca and Medina to serious off-roaders. Hundreds go there every year to test their skills and their rigs against the Rubicon. Countless groups hold 4X4 driving camps here, including the U.S. Army.
Critics are fond of pointing out that only one in 10 SUV owners actually takes his vehicle off road, and this is true. But that misses the point, as far as that 10 percent is concerned. Those who canít tolerate the recent growth in popularity and upscaling of SUVs might be surprised to learn that people have had the sport utility impulse for a lot longer than SUVs have existed. Just 10 years after the first Jeeps were built during World War II, a chapter of civilian 4X4 enthusiasts was chartered by a Rotary Club in California. Their purpose? To coax their decommissioned Jeeps over the Rubicon.
Extreme times accentuate our faith -- and our foibles. The SUV, with its origins in war and its maturation in peace, is a powerful synecdoche. The artifice of these cars -- the rugged look, the impression of self-reliance and security they give -- is complimented by real brawn under the hood and on the chassis.
While the "defense" of the SUV isn't going to win any converts, the author makes some valid points. Check it out here for a good read.