The Right Coast

February 18, 2004
In Defense of SUVs
By Tom Smith

So now Steve Bainbridge wants to attack SUVs, apparently because they slow down his BMW convertible or Porsche Boxster or whatever he's driving these days. Enough is enough.

As to social responsibility: who cares about social responsibility? People who don't like big vehicles usually live in bigger houses which use up more electricity, oil, gas and so on. Nobody is asking them to live in smaller houses. Oh, no, it's all, your slate master bathroom is just so fabulous, Amanda!, and where did you get that counter material?! People who can't afford real estate need a way to puff themselves up too, you know.

As to safety. This argument really bothers me. I'm supposed to drive my precious children around in a small car so some idiot can kill them because he's talking to his broker on his cell phone, all so two hundred years from now you won't be able to grow palm trees in Minneapolis? Well here's the news. I don't care. I would be happy with a law that said people who can't spell SUV (and there are plenty in my neighborhood) can't drive them, but responsible people like me should be able to get a Ford F-350 crew cab with all-terrain tires and the optional V-10 if they want to. And I want to. In the meantime, as the bumper sticker says, go ahead and honk again, I'm reloading. Oh, OK, I wouldn't really shoot you. But don't be too sure. You know what kind of people drive those things.

Did I mention this interview I heard with Royal Robbins or some other ultra-rich founder of a climbing gear company? He was all about, oh, those nasty people who drive SUV's. They don't care about the earth. What was he doing in a few days? Flying his private jet down to Patagonia to climb and commune with nature. One trip like that in a jet burns up more fuel than hundreds of SUVs in a year. When every rich Hollywood liberal gives up their jet, I'll give up the SUV I am going to get someday.

The real reason SUV haters hate SUV's is they can't stand the symbolism of it. 5000 pound Mercedes are fine. Have you ever heard anyone say, oh, those movie stars' cars are so long. Nope, limousines are fine. But if it's boxy or you can actually haul something in it, oh, dear, the masses are getting above themselves. Too many children. Why can't they just have one or two like Nigel and I. And those big dogs! What's wrong with a Bichon? If I can't have my suburban then every LA entertainment industry flea shouldn't be able to have his or her Lexus either. It should be about mass, not style. Michael Moore is traveling around promoting his book, a terrible waste of trees, with an entourage in SUVs. No doubt his bodyguards are armed as well. When he writes, "Dude, who took my SUVs and guns" I'll give up my vehicular ambitions.

I've rented an Excursion. They're great. They drive surprisingly nicely. You put on your left turn signal and you see people start to slow down two blocks away. They call it "road presence." I like that. This is America. If we start to run out of air, we can make the French ride bicycles. They look cute that way.