I had an SUV once, years back. A GMC Jimmy. I thought it would be an excellent combination of a car and a truck. I was wrong. It was an uncomfortable car that made an inefficient truck. I was afraid to haul anything with it because it had nice carpet and pretty leather seats; not exactly the type of vehicle you wanna throw cinder blocks into. As for the car part, it worked alright to haul people around, but so would a World War II era Land Rover. It was built on a truck frame. Basically in its design, GM grafted a station wagon body onto an S10 pickup chassis.
Anyway, my parents never had an SUV. Many times, my mom drove my brother and me to the store in a Mustang, a Cutlass, a Buick Electra Convertible, a VW bug, and various other cars. None of these cars even had four doors. We got along just fine.
My parents also didn’t have rear-facing, side-impact-resistant child seats that clip into impossible-to-find loops buried in the cushion of the back seat. My parents never had to figure out the positioning of said rear-facing car seat so that the front passengers and driver had enough legroom. My parents never had to buy a little mirror that attached to the rear seat headrest so they could check on their kid. My parents didn’t have rear seat headrests.
Nope, most of the time my bro and I just crawled around the back seat playing with whatever toys we brought along. Sometimes, when we had a station wagon, we’d fold the seats down to flatten the whole rear section and have a giant rolling playroom! We also rode on armrests, sometimes right up front, we rode in the back of pickup trucks, and we rode in the hatchback compartment of a ’78 Honda Civic my mom once had!
My wife and I have our legally-required rear-facing car seat is in the middle of the back seat of our Mazda sedan. It’s there because it’s the only place we can fit it and be able to switch drivers without going through hell. If the baby is behind the driver’s seat, my wife can drive… but me? No way. We have friends who have the same car but they are taller than us. They’re screwed. They never switch drivers mid-trip and they’re now desperately searching for a bigger car.
We have two cars, but the second one is a Honda Civic coupe. I think the baby seat has been in the Honda maybe three times. It’s a major pain in the ass to install a baby seat in there. Plus because of the design of the car, my daughter only has a choice of “sky” or “rear seat fabric” for a view. At least in the Mazda she can see stuff out the windows.
Getting the kid out of the Mazda is also kind of a pain. I have to lean into the car using completely improper body mechanics to lift my daughter out of the seat, and then remain stable as I thread my 20lb precious cargo through the obstacles of the baby seat handle, the dome light, and the overhead threshold of the door to get her free. The whole time my back screams in pain. My shoulder isn’t doing so great either.
My brother has a minivan. A Toyota Sienna. On a whim, he can pretty much open up both sides of his vehicle, revealing a gaping passage so big you could ride a horse through it! OK, maybe just a pony. Also, if he removes the seats, he’s got enough space to move at least a half dozen dead hookers and a couple of shovels. Plus, it has a really comfortable ride.
OK, maybe the dead hooker thing was a bit much. After all, he is a family man and I am sure he’s never going to need that cargo space for dead hookers. But he could if he needed to…
There’s only one problem with my brother’s vehicle of choice: It’s a goddamned minivan! I’ve told many people over the years that if they should ever see me perusing minivans at a car dealership to go ahead and run me over to put me out of my misery, because obviously my brain’s gone all mushy like Old Yeller. I’ve always thought owning one meant you might as well put your testicles on your wife’s keychain; you’ve resigned your masculinity. I’ve even seen guys try to compensate for a minivan with aftermarket wheels or even by painting flame graphics on the front. None of that works. It’s still a minivan.
Maybe it’s just that my brother has so much masculinity coursing through his body that he’s completely unaffected by his minivan. Maybe it’s like how Ryan Gosling can wear a velour suit or Jared Leto can dress in drag and nobody gives a shit because they’re so badass to begin with. Maybe the Toyota Sienna is my brother’s “drag”.
I do have to admit it’s a practical vehicle.
ARGH! …Muscle cars. Chainsaws. Barbecue. Playboy Magazine. Campfire. Les Paul Guitar. Bourbon. Man cave. Boobies. Farts. Harley. Tool box. Big speakers. Cigar. Double cheeseburger. Beer. Beef jerky. Trucks.
Trucks. Yes… the SUV, I suppose, grew out of the compromise of needing a bigger car and not wanting a minivan. You could get the bigger car without having to sacrifice your cajones and still be able to tell yourself you drive a truck. You could face your friends with that notion. Trucks are manly.
I mean, you could be that guy who says you just don’t give a shit what everyone else thinks and just drive a minivan anyway. But then, the guy who just doesn’t give a shit often ends up leaving the house in jean shorts, sandals, and socks. Black socks.
These days, many of the choices available aren’t even real SUVs. They’re “crossovers”. In otherwords, they’re basically minivans. If I’m going SUV, I’m not going for a crossover posermobile. Nope. I’d rather opt for an all-wheel-drive wagon instead, like a Venza or a Forester. However, the wife wants a seven passenger vehicle, so my choices are already slim. Since I don’t want to drive a behemoth, it seems the only SUV that fits my description if the Toyota 4Runner. I mean, I do like the new Ford Explorer, but it’s a crossover now, and as much horsepower and capability as it has, it’s basically a prettier version of the Ford Flex. Hmm…
The Flex is basically the modern equivalent of the Ford Country Squire. Black socks and sandals. But then… wood panel siding, hub caps, roof rack… how classic would that be?…