Thursday, April 28, 2005

SUV '05

A reader recently e-mailed me to ask: “So. What’s the deal with all those SUVs?”
What this person wanted to know is why people all over south-western Ontario – and everywhere else, for that matter – are buying vehicles designed to carry troops and supplies into war zones in Eastern Europe or Central Africa, but then using them to drive around suburbia, carting plants home from the plant nursery, or idling their 200,000 horsepower waterproof engines in rush-hour gridlock. SUV, by the way, doesn’t stand for Stupid, Ugly Vehicles, as the reader suggested, but Sport Utility Vehicles.
Well, it’s a good question. For reasons completely beyond the comprehension of those who don't watch Arnold Schwarzenegger movies or own Hummer dealerships, SUVs have become more popular than Viagra, and they apparently have much the same effects on their owners. People who look down their radiator grilles at those unfortunate enough to drive Gremlins and Pintos because those poor slobs can only dream of driving up Mount Everest or cross the Mississippi underwater, think nothing of shelling out more for one of these gated-communities-on-wheels than they did for their first house. Their thinking apparently goes something like this: Do I pay off the mortgage, or do I buy a car that will carry me safely across the Gobi desert? Do I send my kids to medical school, or do I buy a vehicle with an optional machine gun mount? Do I age gracefully, or am I so desperate to appear young and virile that I actually believe anything with the word “sport” in it will somehow make me athletic?
I am just guessing about this, of course, because all attempts to interview owners of these tanks in limousine’s clothing were met with locked doors, darkened windows and rumbling engines.
It’s difficult not to think there must be some connection between the popularity of SUVs and life in the new millennium. Perhaps owners of these urban assault vehicles reason that if the doomsayers are right, and the world is going to resolve itself into chaos any day now, they at least will be able to get away to the cottage in air-conditioned comfort with their barbecues and bottled water, towing their jet skis, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves in our K cars and Ladas.
So gentle reader, I don’t know what’s up with all those SUVs. But my advise would be to make friends with someone who owns one in case you get a hankering to drive up Everest, or an earthquake suddenly levels the city and you just have to get to the mall anyway. Just don’t get in front of one.
Struggling along with only a safari rack on my hatchback, I’m Otte Rosenkrantz.
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