This article was updated on 11/28/2004, a year after its initial publication because of popularity and new gas prices. I would like to thank everyone who read this and sent me mail. I am overwhelmed that so many people even found it. If you would like to e-mail about this, please direct it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes a subject comes along that is of such grave importance, that even we must take a stand and make mention of it. Is Denzel Washington a robot?
No.... wait, that's not that. Oh right. Well this subject is a bit less important, but it still pisses us off to no extent. This fury was fueled by a recent launch of a parody website by the environmentalist group called the Sierra Club. No! Not the dudes that made Half-Life. The website makes fun of both GM and their new rolling yacht known as the Hummer H2. The website tanked recently so you might not be able to get on.
Obviously this action was met with the usual response of the car company. We're innocent, we're only giving people what they want... choice. Yea... you're totally innocent. Let's see now, who was it that decided it was a good idea to put a GAS engine in that thing?? Oh right, GM! Who's idea was it to even make it, oh, right again... GM!
GM is far from innocent in this debacle of a vehicle, but they aren't as guilty as Sierra would like to think they are. They are, in the end, just a company that must provide what people want or die out. No the real problem lies in the remarkable stupidity of the American public.
I'm assuming that there are a litany of reasons for people wanting a vehicle like this, but the only one that probably matters is wanting to have a more bad ass road hog than your neighbor who recently bought a Jeep. There is nothing wrong with this. Hell, jealousy is the only thing that keeps this country going! Your neighbor gets a cool thing and you want a cooler thing so you can be higher on the social ladder until it doesn't matter anymore and you die of old age.
This cycle has happened billions of times over the course of the last 5000 years and has resulted in the rise of countless economic powerhouses just like the US. So yes, it's a good thing. What isn't a good thing is when this friendly psychosocial competition becomes destructive. And the whole SUV thing IS destructive. SUV's get inferior gas mileage to cars and vans, no matter how you look at it that's the truth. SUV's also require a certain level of understanding about the dynamics of large vehicles to drive. This is knowledge that 99.9% of the public does not possess. The limits of most people's abilities when it comes to driving usually end with a tricycle.
I repeat, you can NOT drive an SUV like a car. You'll crash. Which is happening all to frequently. SUV's easily tip over. I should know, I drive a Ford Bronco II which was labeled a death trap for roll over accidents. At 65 mph, SUV's are remarkably UNSAFE. If you go head on into a wall, there is SO much force behind the impact you'd be atomized. The higher the speed, the safest vehicles are the lightest vehicles.
I know this clashes with what armies of mothers out there want to believe, but your child is just as likely to get it's head taken off in an SUV as any other vehicle on the road. SUV's driven by people who don't know how are also menaces of extreme caliber to other drivers in cars and other SUV's. If you mess up and slam into someone else at like 45 mph, you have done two things. You have wrecked both cars and you have broken your insurance agency. Because the medical bills for the people in the other vehicle are going to be through the roof.
SUV's are just vehicles. They're vehicles with advantages and limitations. If you do not heed these advantages and limitations you will probably die. Any accident, regardless of the vehicles involved, can be deadly. You are not safer in an SUV than a car, but other people on the road are put in danger compliments of your bad driving and your ridiculously massive vehicle. You are sucking up a LOT more gas than other vehicles on the road. That puts a strain on the economy, on the atmosphere, and your wallet.
Now let's look at the logic of SUV's. Sport Utility Vehicle is what SUV stands for because I'm SURE some of you didn't know. That means it must be both sporty and utilitarian in some ways. The hummer H2 fills this criteria, so it is actually a real SUV. XUV's and all those other buzz words that companies have barfed up are shit. Whatever they're calling them, they're all still SUV's. When SUV's first were invented, "sport" meant going off road and hauling the family along. And Utility meant acting similar to a pick-up truck as well. Hauling large amounts of gear, and frequently things like firewood.
"Sport" does not involve going on a dirt road every now and then, and "utility" is not hauling groceries. For that you need a minivan or a good sedan. That eliminates about 80% of SUV owners right there. Especially the weirdo yuppies whom I see driving around IN these H2's. So logically, you have absolutely NO need for that vehicle, and your owning it is nothing more than destructive to other drivers and the environment. Now don't you feel bad?
I'm sure you don't. Don't worry though! If I was driving an SUV I'd probably rationalize it to myself as well. But there are things you can not rationalize around if you never go off road, and only ever really haul groceries. You have eliminated the advantages an SUV provides and set forth criteria for use that a minivan or even a station wagon provides.
But my logic does not take into account status. Yes, SUV's are status vehicles and that is a damn good reason to buy a vehicle!! Status vehicles kick ass. It's the only reason Ferrari exists. So men with small penises can have sex with hot women. I know that is a crude simplification of the idea, but it really does cover it. There is no reason to buy a Ferrari 360 Modena when a Honda S2000 will provide you with a similar driving experience. It's not just about the driving, it's also about the looks you get when you drive by.
So if your desire for a status vehicle is high enough, then the purchase is a good purchase. Even though logically it shouldn't be a good purchase, it is, because you just "want" it. Now that's not a bad thing. Like I said earlier, that's a good thing. The purchase is made logical with the addition of an abstract variable. Who needs logic anyhow?
Now for the engineering logic. The H2 is an INSANE off-road vehicle, I've driven one and can speak from experience. But you will never take it off road so you'll never know. I had a better experience in a Wrangler though. Any place you want to go in an H2, you can go in a Jeep for half the price and twice the gas mileage. So right there you already have a superior vehicle. The other quandary is the choice of engine by GM. They chose gas for LORD knows what reason. When vehicles reach a certain size, Diesel fuel is the only way to go. You get more power and way better gas mileage. The real Humm Vee has only a Diesel engine in it. The Ford Super Duty F-350's star engine is a 550 lb/ft diesel. So why not the Hummer? I have no idea, but it makes it a horrid choice for anyone who wants a large vehicle and lotsa power.
On a side note, I find the commercials for the H2 funny because, as most SUV commercials show, the H2 is gallivanting around in places unknown with civilization far behind. This is bizarre for the H2 because you'd run out of gas before you got there. Let's face it, 10 miles per gallon or less is REALLY bad gas mileage. That's about the mileage of a Greyhound bus.
The hummer doesn't have enough space to haul a lot of people and lots of shit. For it's mammoth size the inside was comparatively puny. The engine is intrusively loud, and tire noise is deafening on the highway. From an engineering standpoint you get just as much sport and utility for half the price in a Jeep Wrangler or a Nissan Xterra.
Now I'm not trying to bash anyone who bought the H2... well I kinda' am. But I think to myself, "would I take one if it was given to me?" And my answer to myself is "no." When you think about getting something for FREE and turning it down, there's something tragically wrong there. I think about all the hidden costs. Let's say you drive around town for a total of 30 miles every day. That's 3 gallons of gas. The tank holds 32 gallons. so you'll go for about 10 days. A fill-up costs $64.00 with the average price at $2.00 a gallon for gas. that's $2336 a year in just gas on VERY conservative estimates considering that people with Honda's have a hard time gassing up less than once a week. If you gas up every 5 days that's $4672 a year in JUST gas.
Then consider other costs. The H2's curb weight is 6400 pounds. Toss in 4, 150 pound people and you're at an even 7000 pounds. Talk about tire shredding weight! Let's say you replace your tires once a year, the tires are NOT cheap. Mounting, balancing, and new tires comes to slightly over 1000 dollars, we'll even it out to 1000. With the miles stated above, and you changing your oil every 3000 miles like a good like driver, that's 3.65 oil changes a year. We'll round up to a 4th. Even Jiffy Lube will charge ya for this behemoth. I don't know the exact number, but we'll put it at 40 bucks. that's 160 bucks a year.
Insurance on this beast is another matter! I went to Progressive.com and got a quote for myself at ZIP 02852. My 6 month policy is $2,725. That's $5450 every year. Barf! Now remember, all this cash doesn't go to fun and cool stuff your neighbors ogle when you drive by. No, this is the shit no one sees nor cares about. My estimates also don't take into account other random bits of maintenance charges that might pop up and aren't covered by the warranty. (Which I might add costs extra if you want the good warranty.) All this totals $11,282 a year in hidden costs. You could buy a whole other car for that much money, you do realize that, don't you?
I hope information such as this gives people pause when they run out to buy a land yacht. They are truly destructive in just about every way imaginable. So please, think before you buy.