I’m an idiot, don’t buy an SUV unless you have 2o kids or you’re hauling a boat every weekend. Even in that case, you probably still don’t need an SUV.
Prius owners and hypermilers, you’re not going to want to hear this. You should probably consider leaving now or at least scrolling down to avoid this post… I drive a Ford Explorer. It’s a mid-size SUV, weighing about 4,200 pounds. For comparison, a Honda Civic weighs about 2,200 pounds. I get roughly 17 miles per gallon in mixed (city/highway) driving. But I still like my SUV. That probably sounds odd from someone who writes a personal finance blog. I won’t pretend that SUVs are good for one’s finances (or the environment). They’re not. Even with that admission, I still feel confident that I’d buy another SUV, if I was in the market for a new vehicle – and could afford it! Humor me, if you will, while I try to justify my choice of automobile.
1. The Room! The front seats are ridiculously comfortable. There’s so much space! I have plenty of head and leg room, with no need for compromising. Although I’ve never ridden in them, I imagine the back row of seats is plenty comfortable. At least, none of my passengers have ever complained. While my SUV “only” seats five, it can also hold my friends’ book bags, gym bags, and all other types of bags. So if we ever want to go anywhere together, it’s nice to have the space for all of our stuff.
2. The Utility! I don’t tow a boat every weekend, but I do occasionally go biking with friends and we were once able to fit three bikes (and three people) inside my Explorer. I also needed to carry some supplies for a science project last year and there’s no way they would have fit in a typical sedan. I also use 4 wheel drive in the winter and it’s definitely an advantage.
3. The View! I can see everything! I’ve driven a friend’s Chevy Cavalier and I’m not a fan. For one, I felt like I was sitting just a few inches above the road. Then, I had trouble seeing out the back and the sides. And my knees were up to the steering wheel.
4. The Safety! Yes, I know large vehicles take longer to stop and aren’t awesome at quick maneuvers. But in an actual collision, I’d prefer to be in the bigger vehicle. You aren’t going to catch me in a Smart For Two when Chevy Tahoes are being driven by distracted soccer moms. The rollover issue is something I’m not too concerned about. Mainly because most rollovers occur because the driver did something stupid: turned too quickly, over corrected, or didn’t slow down for the curve. I can prevent all of those by driving responsibly. I can’t, however, do anything to stop another driver from t-boning me. About Those Environmental Costs…
It’s not that I hate the environment. I don’t. The pictures from the BP oil spill are horrible. But for now at least, I enjoy my SUV. If it makes those of you who are shaking your head right now at my gas guzzling tendencies feel any better, I will be paying out the ass for gasoline in just a week or so. Anyway, gas is expensive. In my area, it’s currently hovering around $2.42 a gallon and I’m filling up once a week. So I’m looking at an expense of about $150-$200 every month. That’s a decent chunk of change and I’m no doubt paying for the privilege of owning a big vehicle.