The Persistence of SUVs and Large Trucks

By: Art Gib

Around the roadways of our country, it seems that "bigger is better" is a common theme. Despite rising gas prices and fears across the nation of emissions causing environmental issues, it seems that just as many, if not more people are buying and driving SUVs and large Pick Up trucks.

It's also interesting to note that this affinity for large vehicles is occurring not only in urban areas, but also in areas that are laden with conservationists and environmentalists who would normally see them as disadvantageous because of their potential harm on the environment.

One reason for this is that in areas - such as New Mexico, for instance - with large populations of people who oppose emissions for environmental purposes are the same areas where outdoor recreation is prevalent.

Higher elevation areas are particularly flooded with larger trucks and SUVs, because of the power that they provide in steep, snowy and icy areas. Also, many people find them convenient for their towing capacity, attaching trailer hitches and a trailer lock and using them to haul boats, ATVs, and recreational vehicles.

Another major consumer of large SUVs, are the soccer mom types -- those who don't use them for their power or towing and likely have no idea what a rapid hitch is -- who find them convenient for hauling their children around town. Many family-oriented people are proponents of SUVs because of the extreme versatility and spaciousness. Their convenience in size is a trade-off, obviously, for their tendency to guzzle gas, and their higher levels of emissions.

Additionally, they tend to offer more safety -- due to their size -- than their smaller, more fragile counter parts (rollover tendencies notwithstanding). Safety ratings, however, are usually based on vehicle class, so it is difficult to compare a compact to an SUV or a mid-size to a sports coupe. But the general consensus is (particularly in multiple car accidents) that larger vehicles can better withstand accidents and therefore are more likely to protect the occupants within.

Many people would also argue that larger vehicles present more versatility than smaller ones. How often do sedan owners have to rent or borrow a truck to make a move across town? A larger vehicle allows for day-to-day transportation as well as the versatility to act as an emergency vehicle of sorts when more labor intensive tasks become necessary, the idea being that large vehicles can do anything that smaller ones can do, but smaller ones can't necessarily do everything that large ones can.

Whether or not you endorse or despise the "bigger is better" notion, it is becoming obvious that large vehicles are not going anywhere and that, despite absurd prices in gasoline and potential detriment to our environment, SUVs and Trucks are going to continue their influence as a major part of our roadway traffic.

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