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    The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Market research shows that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are "insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills."

    This article is a must read from top to bottom

    Big and Bad. How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety

    And here is and interview of the author about the article:
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/content/?040112on_onlineonly01

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    If this guy tells me how to fit my wife, two little kids and tons of luggage in a sports car, compact or even a limousine, he gets thumbs up for the article. Just kidding.
    The truth is: this guy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. I always said that not cars kill people but people. Driver skills are very important and a SUV is a challenge for lots of people, like sports cars are a challenge.

    The problem especially in the US is SUV advertisement, this is where I agree. A SUV usually is much more difficult to drive fast than a lightweight sedan for example. There are very good SUVs out there like the BMW X5 and the Porsche Cayenne who have an excellent driving habit on the street too. But they're still having a weight over 2 tons and it shows, especially regarding braking (not talking about braking distance) and extreme driving maneuvers.
    Another problem in the US: tire pressure. People do not respect the recommended manuf. figures and don't understand that the tires are the most important part of their SUV. We had Ford Explorers with the same Firestone tires driving around in Germany at much higher speeds and as far as I know, not a single incident has been reported here.
    Low tire pressure kills tires and especially on SUVs when they're fully loaded. People also don't have a clue about load indexes. Driving a Cayenne Turbo with 22'' wheels and a tire load index of 102? Fully loaded, the car isn't up to factory specs anymore. People spend much more money on looks than on safety and sports car drivers don't understand that lowering the tire pressure for the track can damage the tire (because it takes time until the tires heat up and pressure rises) and when they drive back on the street, a blown tire is pretty possible. Pros usually have two sets of wheels, one for the track and one for the street. Guess why?!

    No, SUVs are not unsafe but the drivers are usually incapable or not used to them. I saw a soccer mom in the US trying to exit with the rear from a parking lot. She had a Ford Expedition, a pretty big SUV but not bigger than a Lincoln Navigator for example. She couldn't get out and asked me to do it for her (I was standing next to our rental Navigator). When she realized that I was a foreigner, she apologized and walked away. I wanted to help her but I knew it wasn't a good thing to go after her, people in the US, especially women, react pretty harsh and with fear (might be justified or not but Europeans usually aren't used to that fear) when foreigners approach them.

    I love my ML55 and so does my wife. We bought it mainly because of luggage and passenger room and because we sometimes have harsh winters in Bavaria with lots of snow and a SUV is just great in snow. Not to forget about our short ski trips to Austria from time to time.
    Another reason: me and my wife hate station wagons which are very popular in Europe. They don't look good in my opinion and even if the have enough luggage room, the interior room for passengers, especially the head room, is pretty bad. Ever tried to change the diapers of an infant in such a car? Good luck.

    Bottom line is: what this author is doing in his article is just sensational journalism to sell his stuff. Nothing based on real psychological, sociological or whatever scientific studies with thousands of participants. Does this guy have a wife and kids? I doubt it. And maybe he should drive a Cayenne to realize that 80% of his article is just 100% crap.

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    Bottom line is: what this author is doing in his article is just sensational journalism to sell his stuff.



    RC, did you actually read the article?

    Because the author made a huge distinction between unibody vans and SUVs and ladder body SUVs. I live in Texas where the ladder body Chevy Suburban is our National Car, and there's a huge difference in both the ladder body drivers' being able to either avoid an accident or survive one.

    The point of this article, as I read it, is that Porsche handling (including braking) was the most imporant factor in avoiding accidents.

    And unibody construction was the most important factor in surviving them.

    Ergo, the author would have loved the Cayenne, had he driven one, as much as he loved the Boxster.

    And didn't you love the way this guy, obviously not a car guy, fell in love with the Boxster and couldn't stop driving it?

    Fun stuff, and worth reading.

    Dain

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Well, there are some pretty big generalisations so there are exceptions to the rule. First a Cayenne or X5 is not the same as the typical truck derived american SUV, unfortunately the latter are the mayority. Second, there are good drivers which can "drive" and "control" a SUV or a GT" for that matter but unfortunately thats also a minority in the SUV class type drivers. And third, for some people a SUV is a good choice given the options and you listed some good ones yourself, but a lot of people buy SUV to take their kids to soccer practice or grocery shopping for fashion or false sense of safety.

    So if the SUV were bought only by people who really need them and can drive them its absolutely OK IMO, but the problem is, unsafer vehicles (for the driver and the pedestrians and other drivers) in unsafe hands (soccer school moms) bought for the wrong reasons (such as false sense of safety or fashion) and in extremly high numbers = not OK.

    Besides they take for ever to overtake and block the left lane too long and get in the way, of course, if we are talking about a Cayenne TT then I may be the one too slow blocking its left lane

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    The way I see it is that you can't sell tires when there are not enough cars to mount these tires to. Firestone just took the blame to maintain Ford Sales. It wasn't the tire company that should have been blamed, but was the ignorance of the average US consumers who bought these unsafe SUVs.

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    carrageous said:
    RC, did you actually read the article?




    Of course I read it. Otherwise I wouldn't comment on it.
    And of course he liked the Boxster.
    Yes, he didn't drive the Cayenne (and here's exactly my point) but his SUV generalizations sound pretty cheap to me.
    What is the problem with the Chevy Suburban? I drove it, I drove even a Ford Excursion and I loved these SUV. They provide less steering and braking response than my ML55 but they're fun and can be driven pretty easy. You just have to adapt, nothing more and nothing less. If I drive a 700 HP monster, I have to adapt too. Too much throttle and I end up kissing the next tree, right?
    For the past three years, I always rented a Lincoln Navigator in the US. I love this SUV, steering feel is pretty numb but it has lots of interior and luggage room and it feels safe if driven "right". Tire pressure is again the key word.
    I never really liked SUVs or off-roader until I bought the ML55 after a ML 320 and ML 430 testdrive. Compared to the Cayenne, the ML is really outdated, especially regarding steering feel, handling and even braking response.
    That said, I still think that journalist wanted to "ride" on the current anti-SUV movement in the US and a lot of newspapers are just waiting to publish such reports.
    Sex and crime sells, anti-SUV reports too.
    I agree only about two point: fuel consumption should be reduced on SUVs and the crash "compatibility" with footwalkers (I hope this is the right word in English...) should be improved too.

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Agreed to 90%.

    _________________________
    McDee

    5 Lakes Area, Bavaria
    Germany
    Cayenne S on order.
    Scheduled for May 2004.
    Factory delivery
    I can't wait ......................

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    RC said:
    Quote:
    carrageous said:
    RC, did you actually read the article?




    Of course I read it. Otherwise I wouldn't comment on it.




    No offense intended, just that your take was so different from the way I read it.

    Quote:
    What is the problem with the Chevy Suburban? I drove it, I drove even a Ford Excursion and I loved these SUV. They provide less steering and braking response than my ML55 but they're fun and can be driven pretty easy. You just have to adapt, nothing more and nothing less.



    I think that's the key. The way natural selection works in Texas is that pickups and Suburbans remove select individuals from the gene pool, specifically those who drive them inappropriately, which usually means too fast around here.

    Hit the brakes hard in a pick-up at 80 miles an hour (or a Suburban) and you may find yourself unable to stop in time and unable to swerve in time to avoid an accident. Then, as your life flashes before your eyes, you might see the truck body coming apart in ways that you would naturally hope it wouldn't.

    Drive it like a truck and you'll be fine. Drive it like a sports car and win a Darwin Award.

    Quote:
    That said, I still think that journalist wanted to "ride" on the current anti-SUV movement in the US and a lot of newspapers are just waiting to publish such reports.




    That's what I expected, too, which is why I was interested in the article. A lot of people like to complain about SUVs like Suburbans being dangerous to smaller cars. Some people use that as an excuse to buy a Hummer or Suburban, because they think they're safer.

    But it seems that one is really safer in a better handling car that can avoid the out of control Suburban. (Doesn't work when you're stopped at a light, by the way).

    Anyway, I liked the way he didn't want to get out of the Boxster, just wanted to keep going back for more to see how fast he could go before he lost control.

    I think the boy became a believer.

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    I think another factor is at play here also but not mentioned.

    The fundemental question of driver training in the US.

    There is none !

    Hardly suprising that the ones who don't succeed in "self teaching" themselves are a danger to everyone no matter what they drive SUV, Racer or Saloon car.

    Before you all scream at me I have not put down what % are good and bad, and I won't.


    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    Mick said:
    I think another factor is at play here also but not mentioned.

    The fundemental question of driver training in the US.

    There is none !




    I can confirm that. I see a lot of drivers on US streets and as a german tourist I sometimes ask myself: do they know what they're doing? Especially around Miami, driving habits are pretty weird. I sometimes get the impression some drivers think they're alone on the street, they don't care about left, right, front, they just press their foot on the throttle.

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    Mick said:
    The fundemental question of driver training in the US.

    There is none !





    No kidding!! When I was a kid in the Sixties, we took an entire semester, 50 minutes per school day from September through January, in Driver's Education Class with "Crash" McLain. The only class I EVER got an "A" in. How well I remember the day one of the other kids in the car drove us into a ditch and then, turning to Crash as the rest of us climbed out, asked "Should I turn the engine off?" But we learned how to drive and we learned the rules of the road, such as this little used one: "Always move over for faster vehicles."

    When my kids started driving, I was shocked to find out that their driver's education consisted entirely of "how to pass the written test." My first daughter took three times to pass her driving test. I took over and taught them (which usually ended in screaming and tears, me AND them!) But they learned.

    It's scary. Thus my comments on people who have no clue on the appropriate way to drive the vehicle their in charge of.

    From your comments, I take it it's different in Europe?

    (Someday, I'll post my research on the fundamental difference between European and American drivers.)

    Dain

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    I lived for 6 years in South Florida and this is what I observed as a driver:

    a) Drivers are generally clueless between safe and dangerous. People don't adapt their speed and distance between dry and wet (pouring) conditions. They are at best 3 feet behind you ....

    b) I have seen many times people taking the exit ramp the wrong way ... on I-95 just to avoid being trapped in a traffic jam or because they missed it. Another classic being a pick-up truck driver loosing its mattress on the highway.

    c) Turning signals are use with extreme scarcity in Florida as basically NO ONE is using them... you just change lane when you feel like it, you don't check your mirrors who cares. Or you make a U-Turn whenever you feel like it.

    c) Driving comes last when riding a car. First I make phone calls, second I eat, third I drink, fourth I fix my make-up, fifth I read the newspapers and if I have spare time I may pay attention to what I do while I drive....

    d) Senior citizens driving 30 mph on I-95 is a MUST SEE in South Florida and a must experience.... They are also excellent are taking the red or just crossing the street without checking....

    e) Miami isn't america any more when it comes to driving actually it's very close to a third world country .... with basically 50% of the drivers being uninsured !!!!

    During these 6 years, the fabulous breaking power of my 911 saved my life quite a few times ....

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    carrageous said:
    Then, as your life flashes before your eyes, you might see the truck body coming apart in ways that you would naturally hope it wouldn't.



    Mini vs Ford F150 in crash test

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    .

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    carlos fromspain said:
    Market research shows that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are "insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills."



    The above quote would appear to suggest that SUV's are bought by people who represent a pretty typical cross-section of the world's population, so what's so remarkable about that?!

    fritz

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    EricAlain said:

    c) Driving comes last when riding a car. First I make phone calls, second I eat, third I drink, fourth I fix my make-up, fifth I read the newspapers and if I have spare time I may pay attention to what I do while I drive....




    You left out "I smoke a cigarette...."

    fritz

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    "Market research shows that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are "insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills."


    The above quote would appear to suggest that SUV's are bought by people who represent a pretty typical cross-section of the world's population, so what's so remarkable about that?!




    True, same could be said about sportcar buyers

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Quote:
    carlos fromspain said:
    Quote:
    "Market research shows that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are "insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills."


    The above quote would appear to suggest that SUV's are bought by people who represent a pretty typical cross-section of the world's population, so what's so remarkable about that?!




    True, same could be said about sportcar buyers



    True, it just shows the dangers of trying to generalize!

    You can't put people into categories just because of what they drive, what they eat, where they happened to be born, or the color of their skin.

    fritz

    Carlito...

    Where those two test craches performed at the same speed and under the same conditions?
    If yes, then this redefines my perception of american SUVs!!!
    Seriously scary!!!

    Re: Carlito...

    Yes, its the same for both, its a 40mph crash test. BTW the Ford150 uses the same platform as the Ford Expedition & Excursion. Very popular SUV's and the majority of accidents involve only a single car, so...

    I wonder how many people would choose to ride in the pick-up/SUV agaist a wall instead of the little Mini before researching the crash tests results or simply taking a look at these pics? "If it big is must be safe"

    Full crash tests:
    http://www.iihs.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/0222.htm#1
    http://www.iihs.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/0110.htm

    Re: Carlito...

    Carlos,
    Thanks! Excellent illustration of the point I was trying to make, more eloquent than any words.

    And the Mini (or Porsche) also had a significantly better chance of avoiding the Ford truck in the first place.

    Damn! We lose more Texans this way!!!

    Dain

    Re: Carlito...

    Maybe you should have posted these results too.

    Here we go: http://www.iihs.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/summary_midluxsuv.htm#0125

    Re: Carlito...

    While the author of the article in the New Yorker made some interesting observations, the whole tone of the article was the typical SUV bashing rhetoric you would expect to find in the New Yorker. It is true about the body on frame construction not being ideal but there is the undeniable advantage the heavier vehicle has in a collision with a lighter vehicle. In the photos and tests above, these vehicles are colliding with stationary objects. If a Mini collided with an F-150 the picture would be quite different.

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article



    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    Can Porsche Exclusive paint me those wheels?

    Re: The truth about SUV's... The New Yorker article

    That paint scheme is very distinctive isn't it.

    Re: Carlito...

    Quote:
    RC said:
    Maybe you should have posted these results too.

    Here we go: http://www.iihs.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/summary_midluxsuv.htm#0125



    Definately. Non truck-SUVs (Cayenne, X5, ML, etc) are a different breed altogether when it comes to crash tests. I was only trying to ilustrate carrageous' point about making a distinction between truck derived SUVs and the other SUVs in the event of a crash.

    Unfortunately the Ford F150/Expedition/Excursion type SUV's are very common in the US and regarded by the average joe as safe because its "big", and even worse, its one of the reasons for people buying them. The don't think about single car accident crashes which are more comon than car-to-car crashes which is what people first think of instead, don't think about the 3 xtimes roll over rate and consecuent higher fatality rates, and don't think about their decreased ability of accident avoidance (active safety) in the first place, which is the most important... just that "its big", size does matter after all

    Finally, if you take into account in the average driver skills of the SUV drivers, which is also very important, then you have to agree that when because of a trend or fad, the masses jump to buying "Ford Expeditions" when they don't really have the need for such a vehicle type and flood the streets with them this becomes a safety problem, not only for SUV drivers themselves but for the other of the vehicles on the road and the pedestrians. If SUVs were bought by only people who really need such a car and for the "right" reasons, then the street would be a safer place for all of us.

    Who knows, I may be in the suituation one day were I may even have to buy one myself (though I doubt it because I don't get any snow here or don't need the ground clearance for the street/roads around here and sport sedans offer enough of lugagge space and rear seats for me in particular) And if I do, I guarantee you it will be of the Cayenne/X5/ML type which close the gap to sedans significantly in terms of overall safety. I know minivan can do the job just the same in some cases but they are so damn ugly and boring to drive

    Re: Carlito...

    Quote:
    If a Mini collided with an F-150 the picture would be quite different.



    http://web.archive.org/web/20020630231535/http://www.dailybreeze.com/content/bln/nma6brfs26.html

    (long live web-archive )

    Re: Carlito...

    Wow! Another great reason to drive a Porsche!

    Re: Carlito...

    Quote:
    brunner said:
    Quote:
    If a Mini collided with an F-150 the picture would be quite different.



    http://web.archive.org/web/20020630231535/http://www.dailybreeze.com/content/bln/nma6brfs26.html

    (long live web-archive )



    Yes, that was different. Sad too.

    Back to the F-150 (which is the top selling US vehicle, BTW), just when we all agree it's a death trap, here comes this news from The Car Connection (web page):

    Quote:
    F-150 Gets Five Stars

    Ford is crowing the results of the latest crash tests for its F-150 pickup. The new trucks have been awarded five-star ratings for both front-seat passengers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA tested both the SuperCab and SuperCrew models of the 2004 F-150 in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The '04 F-150 also has picked up the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) highest ranking of "Best Pick" for frontal crashes.




     
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