The world is full of ironies and the automotive industry is no exception. Over the years as I've observed the industry, I've noticed lots of things that didn't make sense, and nobody else was writing about them. So I have taken it upon myself to mention these so that you can comment on them.
Manual transmissions are more popular in areas of the world where traffic is more congested. - Within the U.S. manual trannies are more popular on the east and west coasts where traffic can be horrendous. You'd think drivers would change to automatics since they might get tired of clutching and shifting while inching along at 3 to 10 mph. In middle America, the open roads have drivers who prefer automatics.
Roof racks are almost always put on stationwagons and SUV's which have more cargo room than sedans. - Since the box in the back has so much room, you'd think the cargo rack would rarely get used. If you think about it, sedans need roof racks more since they have less space for stuff inside. But, that's not the case. And roof racks create unnecessary aerodynamic drag, thereby further decreasing fuel economy.
The decklids on some sedans are becoming shorter, approaching hatchback decklid length. - Most car buyers in the U.S. feel that hatchbacks are "unbuyable" but some of the sexiest looking cars have really short decklids. This makes the trunk less acceptable and it also makes the car look more like a hatchback. The Scion tC takes the opposite approach. It's a hatchback that pretends to look like a notchback coupe.
Some sports cars get worse fuel economy than SUV's, but little of the scrutiny. - Lamborghinis, Ferraris, even souped up Audis and BMW's get really poor fuel economy, lower than some SUV's yet, people tend to criticize only the SUV's. Sure SUV's obstruct your viewpoint and roll over more, but environmentally speaking, a 600 horsepower super car is just as irresponsible as a large SUV. And a large SUV might actually be used for its people or cargo-carrying capability.
I don't know how many others have noticed these peculiarities, but we would be interested to know your thoughts. I may write more about each of these topics individually in the future, especially if we see comments about them.
Ahhhh…Driving in America. The land of wide open spaces, Big Macs, Big states, and BIG CARS! Where else can you be a single male and drive a Chevrolet Suburban and be seen as a hero like you are saving the American Dream? Is this a dream…or a NIGHTMARE?
They are everywhere…these big, 6,000 pounds goliaths (and even mid-size SUVs), and the only thing worse is the fact that most don’t even need the space. Yes….you families with ranches and boats are off the hook here. Confront those drivers who are guilty of waste, and they will often say that “they like to sit high up” or “they like to haul things from time to time”. I must say, this is absolute RUBBISH, especially when you consider the trade-offs.
SUVs are styled like appliances, heavy and clumsy, bouncy, hard to get in and out of, hard to drive ‘round corners, hard to park, hard to maneuver, expensive, have poor resale value, and get poor fuel mileage. I can just hear it now…..the cries from all of the SUV owners this summer as fuel hits $3.00 a gallon……again!
In Europe, yes….there are a few SUVs, but people make do with vehicles that better suit their lifestyles while taking size, practicality, and economy in mind. Instead of driving a Ford Explorer which handles like a drunken Hippo, single people drive VW Golfs and Seat Ibizas. Yes, they still carry as much as we might on a weekend holiday, but they make better usage of the vehicles space. OK, to be fair, a European family may have to drive a Renault Modus or Grande Megane Scenic to get the space that an American family may use in an Explorer, but they will be getting at least 30% better fuel economy to boot!
I know….”fuel is more expensive there”, you say….”so they NEED to drive smaller cars”. This is true, but we could learn from our European neighbors to use vehicle space better and be more efficient. How can we do this? Here are some ideas…
-Don’t buy more car than you need. There are several hundred choices out there, so pick a vehicle that is “just right” for your needs. If you are single and carry stuff occasionally, try a small wagon or even a Prius and use a roof carrier. If you are a family of four and want space, try a Mazda 5 with three rows of seats and get 27mpg instead of 17.
-Go after vehicles that have better fuel economy and may have a better impact on the environment
-If you can, drive a vehicle with a manual transmission and you will get better fuel economy and performance
-Look for vehicles that use technology to save fuel like hybrids, diesels, direct injection, and cylinder deactivation
-Look for vehicles that use maximum efficiencies of interior packaging.
-Support car makers who are serious about their global footprint, their commitment to advanced technologies, and environmental outlook.
These are just a few ideas….please feel free to write in with others.
Lest you think I don’t ascribe to any of these myself, I do. My wife drives a Scion xB, which is a very efficient vehicle in terms of economy and space. The vehicle gets an average of 35mpg, and has 2 cubic feet less of total interior volume than a Ford Explorer. Me? I drive a 1998 BMW 323 ic which gets 33mpg as well, and is about the largest vehicle I will ever drive…
In the face of looming fuel hikes and environmental regulations here in America, we should do our part and buy vehicles that are more efficient for our needs. As I have just brushed across this subject one thing is clear: we could learn from our European neighbors….
Let me start by staying that the pickup truck is a great vehicle.It has served this country very well, in fact, it has built most of it.Pickups from Ford, GM and Chrysler have served their owners with loyalty over the years and should be commended for their duty.
I appreciate that the pickup is an invaluable tool for professionals such as builders, plumbers, carpenters, firefighters and rangers.These tradesmen use their trucks to haul 100% of the time.They are true work trucks.
I am perplexed by the pickup’s recent popularity a household vehicle.As an everyday vehicle, they waste fuel and space for what?The occasional run to the hardware store, or even the thought of doing so.In most cases, we really are purchasing the ability or fantasy to do such things, while most users find they rarely do them.Household pickups which operate 98% of the time with nothing in the bed are owned by people who like the allure of hauling things, and don’t want to cut off that possibility.
Well, I have the perfect solution for such weekend wannabe’s!Instead of buying a huge, wasteful truck for 2% usage at best, buy the car that you want, and a utility trailer.Store the trailer vertically in the garage, and hook it up to your car with a proper hitch when you need to carry something tall or extremely long.A utility trailer can be had from Costco for $500, the hitch will cost you about $250 installed for a “hidden hitch” which you can’t tell is there untilyou attach the tongue and ball to haul, giving you a clean look for most of your driving, plus you’ll save a ton on fuel.Not to mention, you’ll be in a vehicle that has much better performance than any pickup.
This is even a good solution for the more active handyman.My neighbor built a 1000 square-foot finished garage on his own.He hauled all the supplies needed with his Chrysler Sebring convertible.Pretty amazing, huh?Well he used the Sebring and of course, a utility trailer.In fact, depending on the equipment, a utility trailer may be even more handy than a pickup.Rare these days are the 8-foot beds on pickups that were truly useful.As pickups have become fancier and their interiors longer, most pickups now have short-beds, with cargo length less than 6-feet.That’s not even enough for the obligatory 4X8 sheet of plywood.Get yourself an 8-ft trailer, and you’re good to go.Plus you don’t have to worry about scratching paint in the bed or denting the thing.It’s only 500 bucks, so who cares how you treat it.Now that’s starting to sound like the old pickup that we fell in love with.
Lesson learned?Don’t drive some expensive, cumbersome vehicle 100% of the time for utility that you may need 2% of the time.Put your utility to work only when you need to with a simple hitch and utility trailer.