Over the past few months, I have been brainstorming how to write this post. And that’s when it happened. I was inspired last week sitting in the movie theater. My wife and I went to see the movie titled, ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and when we were watching the previews, we saw the most unusual advertisement for cars. I forget the brand of the cars, but the commercial featured this overseas cars driving into the ocean and miraculously driving all the way (under the ocean water) until the came to the U.S. While somewhat ridiculous, the message was clear. These, compact (and what I assume to be fuel efficient cars) are now available in the U.S.
This commercial stood out to me because it fit with my perception of the recent trends in the U.S. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that car manufacturers are making automobiles increasingly fuel efficient. Part of this is due to consumer demand. With the increase in gas prices, more and more people are thinking about how much it costs to fill up the tank. What better marketing ploy than to build a car around this feature, right? This has many great benefits – the consumers get what they want and buy the cars, car manufacturers sell cars, and the environment is just a little cleaner (in theory). Yet, if this is the case, it also means the end of a trend – the popularity of the SUV.
While I don’t think that the SUV’s popularity will die out overnight, I think there will be a slow decrease in sales. If not, there should be. The SUV is an unnecessary feature of the American dream to have the fastest, biggest, and most versatile. While there are features that attract me, when I sit down an analyze the practical use of SUV’s, I can’t help but shake my head.
Reasons Why SUV’s Are Unnecessary
People often trick themselves into buying something they don’t need based on subliminal messages in advertising. There are many different myths that convince people that they need a Sports Utility Vehicle, when in reality they could get away with a small car (like the Honda Jazz Si). Below, I reveal reasons why most people should not be convinced to buy a SUV.
- Cargo Space – Many people buy a car that is at least $10,000 more expensive (brand new) than the car equivalents because of the cargo capacity. They believe that they “need” this space, but in reality, they could probably get by with a car or even wagon, which are more affordable and whose fuel efficiency is much higher. In fact, the wagon that my wife and I own has more cargo space than most small SUV’s. We often brag that we were able to fit our small couches in the back of our wagon. How’s that for space?
- AWD/4WD Capabilities – Another feature that people are convinced to pay more money for is AWD/4WD. It’s like marketers have swooped in and told everyone that if they have 4WD, they will become that much more popular because of the ability to go ‘off-roading’. In all seriousness, my parents had 4WD vehicles when we were growing up and rarely used this feature. Whatever you do, don’t buy a car for a feature that you will use once a year or less.
- Towing Capabilities – Another case in point. People think that they need a large SUV (or truck) so that they can tow whatever accessory they also have. The problem is that these trailers or boats are only used a handful of times. While a little less convenient, it would be more affordable to rent a vehicle for the few days that it is necessary to tow something. The truth is that people are getting these larger vehicles not because they are more practical, but because of the image associated with them.
While not a myth about SUV’s, the price of a SUV is significantly higher than the more affordable, more practical car alternatives. When you combine this with everything else, why would anyone want to buy a SUV? There are much more affordable and practical alternatives to the iconic SUV. Whether that is a minivan, sedan, wagon, hatchback, etc. Buying a minivan in today’s world seems just as impractical as buying a sports car (like the Honda NSX).
Many of you will remember that my first car was a Ford Mustang. I am guilty as anyone of getting an impractical car, but I have turned from my impracticality. After getting married, my wife and I ignored the stereotypes and got a wagon. While some people still laugh at the model, it has been a great car and is great for both gas mileage and cargo space. I can easily put the seats down to put my bike in the back of the car. Talk about versatility! If you are considering buying or leasing a new car, go the practical route and avoid the SUV.