Top Ten Reasons Americans Like Our Cars So Darn Big

Cartoon about big cars

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53 Responses to Top Ten Reasons Americans Like Our Cars So Darn Big

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  5. 5
    Lee says:

    Amp, I really like this one. Unfortunately, I have heard almost all of these reasons coming out of people’s mouths. *Sigh* I still think Chevettes are about the best snow cars ever.

  6. 6
    gengwall says:

    Amp – you must really be trying to get me in trouble. Last “ten reasons” I responded to everyone went all serious on me. So I’ll be clear. This is funny. I have no other input from a straight right-wing religious zealot republican perspective than that.

  7. 7
    gengwall says:

    I should add – the best snow car I ever had was a Yugo. No kidding. It must have been the extra weight that the tire under the hood provided. Of course, when the car burned to the ground, that flamable tire right on top of the engine was not such a desireable feature!

  8. 8
    Robert says:

    “Liberals have been telling me all my life that fossil fuels are evil. I figure, the quicker we use it up, the sooner the evil will be gone!”

  9. 9
    ScottM says:

    I like it– had me smiling as I read along.

  10. 10
    emmetropia says:

    geng-

    Maybe my Yugo needed snow to optimize it’s performance. The San Diego sun burned a hole in the engine block at 49,000 miles and I junked it. Just as well — the broom handle I had propped at an angle to get the driver’s seat upright, dug a nasty hole in my spine…. Ahh, such fond memories of my college days.

  11. 11
    Q. Pheevr says:

    I call a foul on #10; you’re hitting below the belt there. Okay, part of the point is that big vehicles are surrogates in an inane size competition; but by making the inference you make, you’re also perpetuating the arbitrary male beauty standard on which such competitions are based.

  12. 12
    Lu says:

    from a straight right-wing religious zealot republican perspective

  13. 13
    Elena says:

    A real reason people like SUV’s is car seats. If you have more than one kid, you can’t even fit a dog into most cars unless it’s a minivan or an SUV. OF course, minivans are a more ecological choice, but they used to be horrible in snow. I understand they are better now, but I remember getting stuck 8 times in one on a snowy day once.

  14. 14
    Lu says:

    That was supposed to be the beginning of a joke, but the supposed-to-be-funny part got cut off. (I was gonna ask you for supporting evidence, geng. As a joke. Really.) C’est la vie. Love the cartoon, Amp. What Lee said, though, complete with sigh.

  15. 15
    Lorenzo says:

    An amusing cartoon.

    I think one major reason that SUV’s are so popular is because drivers in the U.S. and Canada have an irrational love for “all-season” tires which just means they are equally worthless in the summer and the winter. People think any other kind of car is bad in the snow when, if they would just put some bloody snow tires on the their cars, they would notice that virutally any car (with the exception of mid or rear engined vehicles) is fine in the snow provided you don’t drive like a complete idiot.

    A front wheel drive car with snow tires will have no problem in snow less than 6″ deep. Hell, most modern rear-drive cars will be fine to the same depth with snow tires.

  16. 16
    maribelle says:

    I call a foul on #10; you’re hitting below the belt there.

    Hmm. Why is that one more worse than the others? Especially since you concede the point here:

    Okay, part of the point is that big vehicles are surrogates in an inane size competition; …

    Yes, the SUV’s size is part of not only the appeal of the things, but the dangers of them–especially to other cars. I can’t believe how many times I can’t see out of a parking space as I’m backing up, or on the road and have my sightlines blocked by these uneccessarily huge vehicles.

    …you’re also perpetuating the arbitrary male beauty standard on which such competitions are based.

    Arbitrary male beauty standard? With respect, I wouldn’t call it a “beauty standard.” The male obsession with the size of thier member is a MALE one, not a female one (talking hets here for a second). It has to do with domination of females, and (perceived) ways of accomplishing this. And don’t tell me it’s about “pleasing” a female, although that may be what they tell themselves.

    Earth to men…No woman cares about the size of your Hoo-haw. She sooo doesn’t. If you have the moves, honey, you are rocking the boat. If not, you can be piloting the Queen Mary and you’re never going to leave port. (Unless you’re too big…in which case she is miserable and in pain. Why would you think that was fun for her?)

    If there is one area in which men and women are on polar opposite sides, it’s this one.

  17. 17
    ErikaGillian says:

    Loved the comic, Ampersand.

    Elena – “A real reason people like SUV’s is car seats. If you have more than one kid, you can’t even fit a dog into most cars unless it’s a minivan or an SUV.”

    Station wagons.

    And for snow, Subaru used to make a four wheel drive station wagon, you still see them up here in the mountains.

    The main reason the SUVs were *made* to be popular is because the ‘light truck’ is exempted from at least the mpg rules, and maybe from some of the other environmental and safety rules.

  18. 18
    Simon says:

    “A real reason people like SUV’s is car seats. If you have more than one kid, you can’t even fit a dog into most cars unless it’s a minivan or an SUV.”

    I’ve got two kids and a small cheap car, my parents had four kids and we fitted into a succession of small cheap cars, I don’t get the argument at all…

    But I love the comic. This is my first visit but I’ll be back!

  19. 19
    FurryCatHerder says:

    #11 “The other cars are blocking my view!”

    (Sorry — I just had to!)

  20. 20
    Rebecca E says:

    ErikaGillian wrote:

    Station wagons.

    And for snow, Subaru used to make a four wheel drive station wagon, you still see them up here in the mountains.

    Heck, I drive a Subaru station wagon (with so-called “all wheel drive”) and it’s excellent in snow, at least for what we get here in Ohio. Not sure why station wagons get such a bad rap…maybe they’re not as “cool” as SUVs, but getting more than 12 miles per gallon is a bonus both environmentally and budget…ly.

    Yet my sister “had” to get an SUVto cart around her two kids…I love her dearly, but good god, it cost her 50 dollars to fill the tank BEFORE 2005.

  21. 21
    Q. Pheevr says:

    maribelle wrote:

    Arbitrary male beauty standard? With respect, I wouldn’t call it a “beauty standard.” The male obsession with the size of thier member is a MALE one, not a female one (talking hets here for a second). It has to do with domination of females, and (perceived) ways of accomplishing this.

    I agree with you completely here, except perhaps on the relatively trivial question of whether to call this a “beauty standard.” My point is that the cartoon, by suggesting that men who drive SUVs have “tiny, tiny wee-wees” (and implying that this is a bad thing), is only reinforcing the obsession.

  22. 22
    gengwall says:

    I can settle all this “good for snow”/”bad for snow” debate. I live in MN. We know about driving in snow. It isn’t the size of the car but how much of a run you get at the drifts that matters. Hit the gas and hope no one else is coming through the intersection.

    BTW – up here, we don’t even consider it a snow storm until it passes 9 in. Most cars can handle up to 12 inches if you get up enough speed. I made it into work after the 1991 Halloween blizzard where we got over 30 inches. Of course, once I got to the parking lot, it was “drive as far as you can until the car stops”. We had a mass “pushing out” party at the end of the day. What a blast.

    Of course, I would much rather have snow to deal with than the ice you probably get in OH, Rebecca. On ice, it’s all in the tires. *drifts off into thought* If only we could get broomball shoes for cars. Oh sorry. Y’all probably don’t know what broomball shoes are. But that’s another post.

    Drive on!

  23. 23
    acm says:

    A real reason people like SUV’s is car seats. If you have more than one kid, you can’t even fit a dog into most cars unless it’s a minivan or an SUV.

    in addition to the station wagons already mentioned, just about everybody now has some kind of 5-door wagon, from the compact Mazda 3 (seats 4 adults comfortably with room for luggage in the trunk) or Suburu Outback to wagon/SUV hybrids — all of which get better-than-average gas mileage without being road-hogs, gas-guzzlers, or hazards to everyone around them. But, of course, less of the neon flashing ‘I’m an asshole” advertising, so I guess some people will never see the light…

    ;)

  24. 24
    RonF says:

    I drive a minivan. Given my activities in the Scouts and other such things, it spends a fair amount of time hauling gear, supplies, or other people’s kids. I used to drive a Toyota station wagon, which I loved and drove 240,000 miles. I don’t even bother to think about plowing my driveway (it’s 120′ long, I don’t shovel it) unless there’s at least 5″ of snow.

    I live in an affluent area in the Chicago suburbs (well, quite near an affluent area). Lots of SUVs. The funny thing is that in the cartoon above and in some of the responses, people seem to think that SUVs are a guy thing. But where I live, I invariably see women driving SUVs. The guys are driving regular sedans; or, if they can afford it, small/fast/nimble sports cars. The reasons every gives for the SUVs are 1) keeps the wife and kids safer, 2) good in snow, 3) hauls a lot of stuff/kids.

    Not that these folks have that many kids, Catholic though they may be. The one woman I know that has 5 kids drives a Suburban, which is pretty much an out-and-out truck. She had one kid, then couldn’t get pregnant, then fertility treatments resulted in triplets, then the doctors told her “you’ll never get pregnant again without intensive medical intervention”, and then she got pregnant with no medical intervention whatsoever, surprise surprise.

  25. 25
    carlaviii says:

    Of course, how “good” a given car is in the snow can be completely counteracted by the lack of experience in the driver…

    I’m a former New Englander living near DC and they don’t get a lot of snow here. However, their snowplow “fleet” is also on the incompetent side. And nobody here seems to have the first clue about driving in the snow, in an SUV or otherwise. I’m pretty confident in my ability to dodge *them* in my little Neon, but one day I may end up with a Hummer in my lap.

  26. 26
    stay-at-home-dad says:

    saying it’s the car seats is probably close to the point. the seats in an suv are comfy. especially if you’re big & have a bad back. sitting in a seat that puts you in a chair-like position rather than a chaise-lounge position (with legs stretched out in front of you rather than bent down at the knee) feels really good on the back. i get some of that feeling in my minivan, but more when i’m driving my dad’s F-150 and when i had a series of smallish sedans (cavalier, lumina, some ol’ little blue dodge) just getting in and out was a chore. then sitting in them to drive distance ached.

    so i’d love to trade in my caravan for a big ol’ suburban. there’d be room for me, my wheelchair, my 2 kids, the dog (but she’s a min pin & doesn’t take up too much room :) )and all my wife’s rocky horror props/costumes/sets that she has to haul to every show because, you know, no one else in cast can help shlep stuff (don’t get me started!).

    only problem is, the gas bill would bankrupt me, much less the car note.

    as for snow driving. nothing funnier than watching people from new orleans trying to drive last christmas (04) when we got a whole maybe 1/4″ of snow. i grew up in chicago for the winters (nola for the summers… something just *wrong* about that!) so i was like the only person on the road who knew how to drive.

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    Of course, how “good” a given car is in the snow can be completely counteracted by the lack of experience in the driver…

    My brother’s first marriage was in Little Rock, Ark. in January. They had 2 inches of snow just as we were driving down from Chicago. Once my other brother and our wives and I got into Arkansas, we pretty much had the roads to ourselves. What was apparently every other car in Arkansas was on the side of the road in the ditch or up and over it, including police cars and tow trucks. The other way everyone could tell we were from out of town was that we were dressed for the weather; I thought people in the South were supposed to be polite, but we sure got stared at when we stopped for lunch.

  28. 28
    RonF says:

    We had a cold snap up in Chicago last night. There was water already on the roads, and it created “black ice”; a condition where the ice is not very reflective and is hard to see. There was a 19-car pileup and a 30-car pileup within about 20 minutes of each other in one particular suburb, and nothing other than the usual 1 or 2 car fenderbenders anywhere else.

  29. 29
    kactus says:

    I personally go with the tiny wee-wees scenario. I’ve always said, “the bigger the truck, the smaller the dick.” Unless it’s obviously a working truck by people who use their trucks for their jobs, in which case it’s a necessity and not a penis-enhancer.

  30. 30
    RonF says:

    I’d like to hear from others on this thread; who do you see driving SUV’s? As I say, I invariably see women driving, often with kids. The only time I see guys driving SUV’s is in commercials. Who do you all see driving SUV’s?

  31. 31
    gengwall says:

    About 50/50 up here in MN. Guys prefer real trucks whereas SUV’s are the new “minivan” for suburban soccer moms.

  32. 32
    Lu says:

    I live in an upscalish suburb, prime SUV territory. I see everyone driving them, but you are right, RonF, a lot of women with kids. In my neighborhood generally the men leave early (and singly), driving smallish, newish cars, and the women ferry the kids in minivans (mostly) or SUVs. My DH and I are peculiar, as we leave together in our elderly Saturn (we work about a mile apart, about 14 miles from home) after getting the kids off to school. (We also have the only clothesline in the neighborhood.)

  33. 33
    carlaviii says:

    See? All I can see is the grille aimed straight at my head…

    Actually, it’s a pretty even mix here in the DC area. Though, thanks to the excess of money, there’s a disproportionate number of Hummers and Land Rovers. (and Jags and Ferraris and Porsches… )

  34. 34
    RonF says:

    Earth to men…No woman cares about the size of your Hoo-haw. She sooo doesn’t. If you have the moves, honey, you are rocking the boat. If not, you can be piloting the Queen Mary and you’re never going to leave port. (Unless you’re too big…in which case she is miserable and in pain. Why would you think that was fun for her?)

    Hey, maribelle, the problem is that these guys haven’t studied their basic rock ‘n roll. If they had, they’d know that “it ain’t the meat, it’s the motion that makes your (daddy/momma) wanna rock.”

  35. 35
    RonF says:

    Lu, I’ve got the only clothesline in the neighborhood too. I never hang clothes from it though (tossing them into the dryer takes a lot less time). I use it to dry tents and patrol flys and the occasional sleeping bag. I’m sure that pleases the neighbors ….

  36. 36
    gengwall says:

    carlaviii – don’t you mean

    “Ferraris and Porches and Jags…OH MY!”

  37. 37
    Lu says:

    I hang clothes from mine. The dryer leads a contemplative existence unless cloudy weather lasts more than 3 days. Good thing we don’t live in Seattle.

  38. 38
    Mendy says:

    I live in the deep south, and in my area I tend to see men driving trucks (mostly large) and women with kids driving SUV’s. I think it is a shame that my neighbors are engaged in “keeping up with the Jonese” and all seem to drive large gas guzzling vehicles.

    I drive a smallish PT cruiser, and my husband has a mid-sized pick up. When I don’t have to ferry children, though I ride my motorcycle to save on the cost of gas.

  39. 39
    Jake Squid says:

    A PT Cruiser? Consumer Reports says that gets 13 mpg. I’ve been wondering about that since I saw it… does the gas tank have perforations that slowly empty the tank of pre-used gas? I can’t imagine that such a little car gets significantly worse mileage than my van. So, what mileage do you get in it?

  40. 40
    carlaviii says:

    Consumer Reports says that gets 13 mpg.

    No way. The DH’s been driving a PT Cruiser for a few years now and it’s never gotten mileage that bad. I want to say mid-20s, but we haven’t calculated it in a while.

    Then again, it’s a stick shift.

  41. 41
    RonF says:

    Everyone I know that drives a truck uses it in their job. The one guy who owns the biggest truck 1) got it as a diesel and 2) uses it on occasion to pull our Troop trailer, for which he definitely needs the power.

  42. 42
    Mendy says:

    Jake,

    My PT gets about 24 in town and about 35 on the highway. But, I’ve got a 6 cylinder. There are a few people I know that have the four cylinders that get about 18 mpg average, but that is because the engine is seriously underpowered for the car.

    But I didn’t buy it for the mileage. If I’d wanted a vehicle with great mileage I’d have bought another motorcycle. I don’t like driving anything that sits as high as a truck, and so I got what I liked driving and would seat two adults, three kids, and a saint bernard.

  43. 43
    RonF says:

    carlavii, one thing that I’d change about cars if I could would be to have manual transmissions as at least an option on every car on the road. It would save gas and save huge amounts on money on transmission repairs.

  44. 44
    carlaviii says:

    RonF, I wish. My car-shopping is currently defined by which models I can still get a manual transmission with. We thought about getting a hybrid, last time we were in the market, but when we did the math vs. the mileage we get in a small manual car, it wasn’t worth the higher sticker price. Maybe next time, if the technology gets cheaper…

    My DH used to prefer automatics. After a couple years on a manual, he rented an automatic while on a trip and kept complaining that the engine was revving way too hard all the time. :)

  45. 45
    Elena says:

    I actually drive an Outback and it’s great in the snow, but I have one kid, 1 husband, and a 1 huge dog. Station wagons don’t give you anymore seating space than sedans. You cannot fit three car seats in the back seat of most station wagons, so I repeat: more than two small kids means either a minivan or an SUV. Remember, you can’t all “pile into” cars anymore; everyone has to be properly seated and belted. Also, even sedans were humongous back in the day.

    When I was a kid, we had a Suburban. There were 7 people in my family and back then vans really did suck in the snow (not heavy enough) so that left my parents with few options. We never had two cars, so it had to be big.

    I hate SUV’s, and I think people are fools to think they are safer or better, but I just think that it bears mentioning that big families really do have less options.

  46. 46
    gengwall says:

    I remember the days of our family trips when we jammed 9 people into our big ol’ station wagon. Man those things were huge.

    “Remember, you can’t all “pile into” cars anymore”

    Makes me laugh. I also remember driving in those big station wagons seat belt free. We have a radio anouncer up here that refers to the days when kids were “floaters” in the car. The seat belt was dad sticking his arm out between the seats to prevent anyone in the middle from coming through to the front on a quick stop. I remember our dad would have us all crash in the back of the wagon on the way home from our grandparents and he would face us with our feet forward so we wouldn’t break our necks in the event of a head on collision. Boy, those were the days.

  47. 47
    Shannon says:

    My dad got an Infiniti SUV. He uses it to haul everything from 2x4s to bricks to my crap to even a whole drum set(he dropped it off in Atlanta with my brother- good riddance he said). He doesn’t need a SUV, but apparently he finds it easy to deal with, and plus, driving a big pickup truck in TN? a fashion no-no :D

  48. 48
    Helen says:

    # 12: “If there’s a collision, I want your kids to die, not mine. I realise this is a strong possibility if you’re in a small car, and it doesn’t bother me at all.”

  49. 49
    RowanCrisp says:

    I’ve got two kids on a full-time basis and a third who spends summers with us – my station wagon handles it just fine, really. And because I do my own engine work – can we say 35 MPG?

    The husband wants to sell it and buy a hybrid, which I’m all for so long as he finds a four-door one that will fit the girls.

  50. 50
    Mendy says:

    My Dad has always driven suburbans, even before they became fashionable. Back then the only people that used those things were ATF, FBI, and the Highway Maintenance people. I think that SUV’s got to be so cool because they’ll carry as much as a minivan or stationwagon, but those of my generation don’t feel the “stigma” of driving “Dad’s Car”.

    I know that is a stupid reason, and you just about couldn’t give me an SUV. But I stand by my husband’s need for his pickup. You just can’t haul off four hundred pounds of junk to the recycler in a PT cruiser or a sedan. Country living requires a pickup, if for no other reason, than helping your relatives and friends move. ;)

  51. 51
    hippie says:

    I love this!! Thank you :)

    hippie x

  52. 52
    M says:

    OK, so I’m British. We do small cars. But WTF with not being able to get people into cars? Are all people in the USA that enormous? I’ve got five adults into a Fiat Punto, two of whom were over six foot, three of whom were on the ‘ample’ side. I’m over six foot, and I’ve been one of three people in the rear seat of a Ford Ka. I can think of few cars that don’t have three seatbelts in the back seat; fitting child seats into all three will depend on the design of the seat, but probably not impossible. You could certainly do two and a booster seat. More children than that is ecologically unsound to start with anyway :)

  53. 53
    Lee says:

    M, most American car seats must be designed to hold children that weigh up to 40 pounds. Then in many states, the booster seats must be designed to hold children that weigh up to 60 pounds. Some states are trying to increase that to 80 pounds. These standards assume that 40 pounds means 4 years old and that 60 pounds means 6 years old, but if the child is tall and slender, they must still be able to fit into a car seat with a 5-point harness or a booster seat until well after these ages. So a child’s car seat typically takes up at least as much room as an adult. Also, because of the “egg carton” design of these devices, it is frequently difficult to arrange the seat belt buckles so that three seats fit side-by-side on the back seat and can be properly strapped in. In addition, Infant car seats must face backwards until the child is one year of age, and I have rented a number of small cars that don’t have enough room behind the front seat to allow an infant car seat to fit, especially if the adult in the front seat is tall. Call it doofus car design or overly protective nanny-state safety law if you like, but I assure you that if you can’t show the hospital a car with a properly installed infant car seat, you can’t take the baby home, and you can be ticketed or even jailed if for some reason a police officer discovers your children are improperly restrained in your vehicle.