The humungatron

It bugs me sometimes to see those huge 4WD/SUVs rolling down the road, like every other car carrying the average 1.1 persons, and burning up way more petrol than is necessary and blocking everyone else’s view.

So it’s somewhat comforting to read this followup to the article in The Age Good Weekend a few months ago, about them. Oh, wait a minute, is it the SAME article? Or a US version of it? Whatever, a good read again anyway.

One of Ford’s senior marketing executives was even blunter: “The only time those S.U.V.s are going to be off-road is when they miss the driveway at 3 a.m.”

(via Scoble)

Equally fascinating is the same author’s piece on shopping malls.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “The humungatron”

I feel the same way about the increasing amount of Range Rovers I see on the road. I know most if not all of them have never seen anything other than pavement. Not even a dirt patch

Not that I’d ever admit to watching “Hey Dad”, but there was a line in an episode once that has stuck in my head for years. The “Dad” of the program was being encouraged to buy a 4WD, and his response was “The only time I’ll go off road, is when I park it on the naturestrip!”

I wonder how true that line is of a lot of 4WDrivers….

I fully admit mine won’t often go off road if ever. But to buy a stationwagon of equal size and capacity was going to cost me more so 4WD it was. Of course mine is only a 2.5 litre and not a gas guzzling monster like some are

Rather than assume an SUV is for off-raoding (and maybe the bush is better that they don’t) it would be easier to see large cars/trucks for what they are: large trucks that are comfortable to drive, carry lots of stuff, fit 7 people so the kid’s friends can be carried safely, have better fuel economy than 1960 vintage cars and are safer than a small car (okay that’s a slippery slope).

Having lived in Texas where everyone has an Expedition or Suburban I hadn’t heard this rant first hand. Now we are in Connecticut there is a little more of a concern – but more about the cost of gas/petrol. Of course everyone has a large car/truck, we are just the dopes that don’t have 4WD/AWD for the snow. So maybe the all-road ability has it’s merits?

Now railing against Hummers is another story, with fuel economy at 12mpg even they are complaining with gas at $2/gallon.

Glenn, if you haven’t already, have a read of the article. If it’s right, the safety of 4WDs is way overrated for two major reasons:
– they roll very easily
– many drivers overcompensate because they think with 4WD/AWD they can automatically take on any terrain they like

Very interesting, including the shopping malls. Can’t think what we call them. Shopping centres? I like strip shopping streets, so that I can complain about the heat/cold/wind. The purchase of these SUVs or 4WDs as we call them, for city driving defies logic……but many human things do. Daniel, you should start a poll. Which Melbourne suburb has the most. I would vote Malvern.

So do you also despise vans, trucks, buses, semi’s, etc, for gussling to much fuel, and blocking the view of the road? What is with people’s irrational fear of others choice of vehicle? I hate Mercedes & SAAB drivers, as they drive like they own the road. I also hate people talking on the mobile while driving. In my mind they are a greater risk on the road than a 4×4! Probably doesn’t help that I drive a 4×4, and I DO use mine off road.

I have no problems with vans, trucks, buses, 4x4s or whatever driven by people who need to use them, ‘cos they need the capacity or regularly go off-road etc. But we all know there’s heaps of people with 4WDs who buy them for all the wrong reasons.

Mobiles while driving? Absolutely agree. As for the dickhead tailgating me tonight who beeped ‘cos he thought I ought to have queued across the level crossing, then dangerously overtook me, well all I can say is what a moron.

If I ever buy a 4WD, I’m welding great big metal spikes protruding from the body in all directions, filed down to razor sharp points. That should keep other cars away from me, making the vehicle safer. Oh, and spinning blades on the wheels, and the front ‘bumper’ bar (I’m not going to have much stuff bumping into _my_ vehicle!

This used to worry me, but I realized that as long as the owner wants to pay the higher fuel costs, it’s entirely their business what kind of car they drive. The only thing that worries me about it is if smaller cars get into accidents with larger cars, are they more likely to suffer more damage? It seems like they would, but are there any figures to back that up? Other than that though, it’s a free country, drive whatever you want :)


Whenever it snows here, it seems that almost every car that winds up in a ditch is an SUV or a 4X4 pickup. A set of decent tires on a Scooby will allow it to do a lot better than just about anything else in the snow.

Brian, good point. Freedom of choice good. BUT… the AU tax break for 4WDs is ridiculous. It was an attempt to subsidise vehicles for farm use, but the bulk of vehicles getting the tax break never go anywhere near farms. I think this is encouraging purchase of vehicles that are unnecessarily large.

As for accidents, the article linked in this post talks about incompatibility with crash points in other vehicles due to the height differences. Figures looking at this are here: – choose your favourite vehicle and look at the Aggressivity ratings.

Charlie, someone told me of driving on slippery roads and colliding with a woman in an SUV who was clearly driving too fast for the conditions. Her reaction: “But I don’t understand! We have four wheel drive!”

Unfortunately, “four wheel drive” typically means “terminal understeer in all conditions” on the handling front. If you can’t get the car rotated, you can’t get the rear tires to help you round the corner.

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