The industry calls it “impact incompatibility” and it translates into the corners of your car not lining up with the corners of my SUV. This phenomenon was limited to tall trucks and oversized pickups until the 1990s when the Sport Utility Vehicle ruthlessly captured the American market.
The statistics state that you are three times more likely to die in your car when hit by an SUV than you are when hit by another car. Because traditional SUVs are built on tall truck frames, they simply roll up and over your crumple zones and engine compartments rendering them useless to protect you. Moreover, unless you’ve been living under a sound proof rock for the past 20 years, you know that putting your fellow motorists at a disadvantage on the motorways is not the only downside of driving an SUV. High center of gravity leading to roll overs, poor visibility leading to back over deaths, poor handling and extreme weight leading to lumbering performance and poor gas mileage are just a few of the ‘features’ you can expect. So who the hell buys SUVs and why are they still popular?
Well, they might not be. In 2008 during the great recession, SUV sales plummeted and stayed there through the high gas prices of 2011 and 2012. To those that consider these vehicles an example of consumer excess and short sightedness, it looked like the end was finally near. Then why are auto manufacturers saying that the SUV’s demise was greatly exaggerated and numbers are ramping back up? Simple, the big players in the SUV market, who started making crossovers about 5 years ago, continue to call this new platform an “SUV”. This of course skews reality, as a Crossover is no SUV; it’s a car. Semantics aside, Crossovers contain the undercarriage and drive train of a sedan rather than a truck. This results in better handling, gas mileage and overall drivability. So call them what you will, their popularity is considered a strong indicating factor that the American buying public is demanding a more reasonably sized vehicle and they’re leaving their truck-based SUVs behind.