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Well anyways, Doug...(3 posts)

Well anyways, Doug...Leisure
Sep 22, 2002 1:19 AM
Here's the issue, should people buy multiple cars so that they always are driving one no less efficient than necessary at the time? What if someone needs the large hauler several times a year, even if that means driving it every other day, wasting resources and suffering the wrath of every eco-minded SUV hater on the planet? What's a reasonable solution here?


Since I had logged off and haven't been back to work until a few hours ago, I never got to respond to this one. How rude of me to respond so much and then stop just when you were asking my opinion! Well, alright.

All we really need to do is be more friggin' responsible!

While some people will legitimately need a full-size truck or SUV for business or some other purpose, they are the deep minority. When I'm watching the majority of full-sizes going down I-15 with NO passengers and NO payload, there are obviously more economically and socially responsible alternatives for these people. You say it best yourself when you say "there are dozens of examples in between". I can't even remember the last time I saw a Suburban hauling a boat large enough to justify it. There are plenty of smaller SUVs perfectly adequate for the task that can also net mileage comparable to a family sedan...I believe you own one (well, at least the mileage is mildly less heinous, even if it still burns twice the gas my Integra does). Hey, my crusade isn't against all SUVs here; it's against buying something bigger than you need to where you're just being uselessly wasteful, just to satisfy some backwards idea that it somehow confers status or makes up for genital insecurity or small-man syndrome - or worse yet, just to push other drivers around. If people were to start paying more attention to more practical needs and responsibility (ie-mileage), many would no doubt realize their previous sense of "needing" these things was overblown and that there are better, smarter alternatives. I saw a Prelude towing a boat that looked even bigger than the car itself (by size, at least). It was getting on the freeway and didn't seem to be having any problem getting to the speeds it needed, and those things obviously don't have any of the special gearing an SUV of the same size has.

Let's say you can't do anything about it and still need a full-size. At least pay attention to mileages when choosing what to buy. This by itself may not help every individual find an alternative, but over an entire population some people will find better products, and over the course of time industry will realize this and start catering to it. Who says a Suburban NEEDS to weigh 6000-8000 pounds and have an engine that a lawn mower would be ashamed of? If you've looked at enough spec sheets on SUV engines versus their sedan counterparts, you know the SUV engines more often than not are operating on a very de-tuned level while trying to push more mass. The automakers do this only because they can get away with it and get ridiculous profit margins out of it. However if demand began prioritizing on efficiency, you'd start seeing SUVs that were lighter, with more advanced engines and drivetrains, able to do all the same things but be more space-efficient and higher mileage. Consumers would come out on top, we'd be more envirnmentally responsible, and automakers would have to start playing honest.

And since your original question asked about "how many cars", well most American families do have more than one vehicle. In my book at least, if you really need one of them to be a full-size (as opposed to being able to RENT one for those biannual trips to the lake) but move for something more economical and responsible for the other, and then prioritize on using that more, well that's okay in my book. A coworker of mine has some full-size or another that he uses to tow any one of his four boats with. The rest of the time he drives a Geo Metro! I asked him about that and he said, "I just
And the rest:Leisure
Sep 22, 2002 1:20 AM
A coworker of mine has some full-size or another that he uses to tow any one of his four boats with. The rest of the time he drives a Geo Metro! I asked him about that and he said, "I just couldn't stand the idea that I was burning so much so often, so I got the highest mileage car I could find for all my other driving to make up for it." I don't actually like the guy very much, in fact it would probably be fair to say I can't stand him most of the time. But here, on this one issue, I found something I could truly respect in the man.
Oh, and something that you probably wouldn't expect from me.Leisure
Sep 22, 2002 2:05 AM
I have in fact contemplated having an SUV. It would be an old Nissan Pathfinder. Now before you cry hypocrit and boot me out the room, let's get it straight exactly how I would do it:

First, I'd get rid of that inefficient tractor engine in favor of an Infiniti I-30 engine - same block, but at least has some half-ass effort at being tuned. That would raise the compression ratio and the engine would breathe considerably easier, dramatically increasing fuel/thermal efficiency AND power. I'd probably change the computer over as well for improved engine management - another power/efficiency bonus. I would then install a cold-air intake, high-flow exhaust, and probably a mildly lightened flywheel and maybe a sturdier clutch. Everyone knows these things increase performance, but not everyone knows they do just as much for Integra didn't go from 26 mpg to 30 just from "breaking-in". I would check into the drivetrain to see if it was considerably downgraded relative to Nissan's cars anywhere. Then I would strip the interior of unnecessary weight. If 400+ pounds can be stripped off an Integra for racing, I would guess a few hundred pounds can be taking off an old, heavy Pathfinder without too much loss in creature comfort. Heck, it would even tow a bit more. Only downside would be more interior noise, but it is an SUV after all; may as well be a man about it. Finally, I'd look into a catalytic converter (perhaps Honda's Accord cat would work) that would help garner "zero-emissions"-type measurements; granted, the title is a misnomer, but it helps nonetheless. All told, these changes would probably bring the mileage of that Pathfinder from maybe 17 mpg stock to the mid/high twenties, almost as good as my blasted Integra. And it would be quick, too. Ousting a V-8 Cherokee would be a casual affair. Acceleration under towing would also benefit, and if I did it right it could tow considerably more without longevity issues. You really can have everything and be responsible at the same time if you're smart about it.