When the concept of the Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV as they have become known, was first introduced it implied a certain off-road ruggedness. With four-wheel drive they seemed to suggest the pursuit of The Great Outdoors.
Previously the 4×4 was the realm of people who worked rurally, towed horses about or enjoyed blasting wildlife to oblivion. They would often carry gun racks and have a bank of spotlights on the roof, the owners having a preference for camouflage trousers. They weren’t considered to be a family motor until the SUV arrived. Now they are tremendously popular. Every manufacturer has at least one in the catalogue, but is there still a reason in these clean, green days for owning one?
The Crossover SUV
These monster motors have become softer and smaller, sometimes morphing into something with a made-up name called a crossover; rather pointless cars that have become a trend thanks to the power of advertising; everybody wants one. Just recently I have noticed some people referring to them as CUV’s and I find it all rather hard to bear.
‘Sport Utility’ has at least some sense to it, at least in its original meaning. Crossover Utility makes no sense. What is it? They are no more convenient than a regular hatchback and few have any sort of off-road potential at all. I guess the real meaning is for it to be a Crossover Urban Vehicle because that’s where so many of these uninspired vehicles roam.
I suppose I don’t like them because I don’t understand them. An estate car or even a regular hatchback are usually better looking and just as capable. There are plenty of alternatives to the crossover out there and at affordable prices too.
My issue is with the marketing of vehicles as something that will change your life in some way. They won’t. They are cars. Given the current politically correct climate I wonder what will be the next big thing as brands strive to fill the next niche?
Where Does The SUV Go From Here?
I’d like to see a change. Car advertising today is like a form of propaganda; it is the art of getting people to believe a crafted message and knowing which buttons to push. That does not serve drivers well.
If the authorities and the manufacturers want us to drive, or rather ride in, autonomous cars then they can’t have it both ways. It’s a mixed message we’re getting. The thrill of driving versus automatons of the road. Ideally, for the sake of the environment, if we believe what we are told, we should all be driving low emission alternative fuel cars not gas-guzzling behemoths. Yet the industry has gone SUV crazy and even the expensive brands are getting in on the act with some really overblown automotive gin palaces.
Nevertheless I still rate a good SUV and they still have their place. They are cleaner and greener and more frugal with the fuel than ever before. Certainly they are a pointless buy if all they are going to do is a school run but otherwise they remain my favourite type of car. For example, a personal favourite is the good old Mitsubishi Shogun which remains true to the original concept of the SUV.
It’s for this reason that DriveWrite will be featuring quite a few of these big beasts in the coming months and properly putting them through their paces. Look elsewhere for crossover comment. I still reckon that for outdoor family use and for long distance travel the big beasts still fit the bill, just as originally intended. Long may they rule the road.
Meanwhile my 2018 prediction in this bizarre confused country is for the imminent announcement of the first TUV. That’s right, you’ve guessed it; the Trans Utility Vehicle. It will be the first vehicle that will be whatever you want it to be and will bring true meaning to the word ‘crossover’. Geoff Maxted