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Science Technology

Engineers Design Safer SUV 89

vex24 writes "Engineers from the Union of Concerned Scientists have unveiled blueprints for a "safer, more fuel efficient" SUV using "off-the-shelf technology". Looks like good stuff if the big automakers decide to pay attention."
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Engineers Design Safer SUV

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  • I'm glad it was the Union of Concerned Scientists and not the Association of Technically Trained Busybodies doing this research.
  • Exactly... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by setzman ( 541053 ) <stzman@NOsPam.st ... sandremoveit.org> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:55PM (#6981442) Journal
    Now someone just has to take the plans and use them, not just have them in concept design only. Would the oil and gas industries try to fight something like this? You betcha. If we ever got to a point where reducing gas/oil consumption here was a priority, we could not only save people financially, but reduce our need for foreign resources. But, we have corporate fiends who want to exploit people for profit, so I don't see these designs being put into use for a while.
    • Re:Exactly... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by karnal ( 22275 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @09:11PM (#6981984)
      I do agree to an extent that some SUV's are gas guzzlers... I've never actually spec'd one (I don't like them for other reasons...) but I would guess some of the lower v6 models actually get resonable gas milage...

      I own a Camaro with a 350 under the hood. And while the city milage isn't the best (I average 18-20), the highway milage rocks (30mpg). And why this is relevant? Well, I feel that they could make SUV's that are gas sippers. Just like I could have bought a V6 Camaro.

      So we have 2 problems. First, the automakers don't see a problem with building gas guzzlers and placing them in a "truck" category. Secondly,

      *repeat after me*

      People want them.

      No matter what happens, until you hit someone's pocketbook hard, you will not change their spending habits. Even as gas prices have gone up, I'm sure people (myself included) have complained about prices. Still doesn't stop the twice a month fillup (maybe more for others...) And it doesn't stop the sales either. It will take a big hit to make some people realize that it may not be worth it.......
      • Re:Exactly... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bhima ( 46039 )
        I'm amazed at how large the US cars are.

        I don't think a SUV would see a great benefit to mileage as your more aerodynamic Camaro, with the smaller v6. Personally I'd really like to see the US join the rest of the civilized world's ideas of conservation and reuse.

        Incidentally I think your gas mileage is not that great, but then again I don't live in a county that uses their military to artificially lower their oil prices.

        Something I noticed when driving a US car: They don't roll as far when not in gear

        • Heh. I can explain all of that.

          Manual transmissions aren't prevalent in the US becuase drivers here are too stupid to use them. We are all too stupid to use them because of the poor drivers' education we receive in public schools. Most of the drivers' education in the US is taught by athletics coaches. These are mostly football coaches who aren't qualified to teach any subjects other than driving, yet are required to be teachers in order to coach. These are the same football coaches who are also instr
          • Manual transmissions aren't prevalent in the US becuase drivers here are too stupid to use them.

            I'm always amused when I see a comment like this on /. Did it ever occur to you that people simply don't want them? Not everyone is concerned with squeezing the last 0.1mpg out of a chassis/body/engine configuration, or with ultimate driveability. Some of us like convenience. I have owned to date 3 cars and 2 trucks, one of which is an SUV. All except the SUV were manual transmissions. I just wanted an automat

            • Correction: People are idiots. They are also assholes. You are both if you purchase an SUV when you don't need one to clear large road obstacles. Why? Because you are ruining the world both for you now, and everyone else now and later. You are consuming more than your share of fossil fuels. In addition, SUVs are more likely to be in single-car accidents than other types of vehicles. Given that you don't drive over large obstacles, you would be much better off in a minivan, but you probably didn't want to be
              • You are consuming more than your share of fossil fuels ...(edit)... Given that you don't drive over large obstacles, you would be much better off in a minivan

                Let's ignore for a minute the aftermarket items like 33"x12.5" BFG All Terrain tires, the auto-locking rear differential, suspension and body lifts necessary to fit such tires, and the higher-ratio gears for low-end torque for a minute and just ask how you know that my vehicles aren't used to "drive over large obstacles?" Actually, that's not too i

                • Well, okay, I was just pulling an assumption out of my ass, based on the average SUV driver. This is the sound of me backpedaling. What what I mean by share of fossil fuels is, you're driving something that gets shitty mileage. We should all be seeking fuel efficiency. By buying an SUV which is not a cute little fuel-efficient four banger or something (you know, like all those gutless four runners) you are consuming more fuel than is necessary. However, if you are actually using your SUV for offroading, the
                  • However, if you are actually using your SUV for offroading, then I apologize for my ranting.

                    I respect that you are willing to correct your assumptions, but the quoted sentence indicates the point I'm really getting at: only the owner, who fully understands the compromises he made, can justify the vehicle. This because it supposedly fits his needs. Anyone else's opinion is irrelevant. Any reason you can come up with to justify an SUV, a pickup, or a '69 Firebird with a 12mpg V8, someone else can point at

              • But what car can hande my 26" rims [giovannawheels.com]?

      • Re:Exactly... (Score:2, Informative)

        by lymond01 ( 314120 )
        "People want them."

        The point of this research is that people can HAVE them, basically the exact same car, exact same functionality...but it'll be safer and more fuel efficient, cost a hair more, and can be done RIGHT NOW with today's technologies.

        Why isn't it being done? Million dollar question right there.
        • The point of this research is that people can HAVE them, basically the exact same car, exact same functionality...but it'll be safer and more fuel efficient, cost a hair more, and can be done RIGHT NOW with today's technologies.

          Which certainly sounds good.

          Why isn't it being done? Million dollar question right there.

          Are you sure it isn't? The trouble may just be that instead of replacing, say, a 20mpg 200hp engine with a 25mpg 200hp engine, people will choose to go for the 20mpg 300hp engine instead. M

      • Given that you can get cars in the UK that do near 60MPG I think 30MPG is pretty appaling in this day and age.

        SUVs are purchased in this country by people who just want to buy into the sporty wealthy image. I look at them as people who can't drive though, needing a high viewpoint to be able to park.
        • Yea, but looking at the fleets offered in this country this day and age.... I was trying to show that you can have a car with some ass to it and get "average" mpg.

          Now, I could buy a more fuel effecient car. And I probably will for the next one. But if I have the choice over 30mpg highway/300ft/lb torque, and 35mpg/150ft/lb torque, and can afford either, I'd probably pick the higher ft/lb number.

          And that's what is wrong with americans like me.
          • VW Golf PD TDi has 225ft/lb 0-60 in 8 seconds and does well over 45MPG. It's pretty damn hard not to get 40MPG out of it regardless of driving style.

            Which when you contrast with a Shogan that's barely into 20MPG and takes mearly twice as long to get to 60. I know what I'd rather be driving.
    • Re:Exactly... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shihar ( 153932 )
      How exactly would the oil and gas industry fight this? Oil and gas industries don't make cars. Ford makes cars, not Exxon. If Ford could snap its fingers and make a car that ran off of happy thoughts they wouldn't think twice and the entire world (except for New York City) would have cars where alls you have to do is think a happy thought and it goes from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds. Oil industry be damned, Ford wouldn't think twice.

      Ford likes making money. There is a lot of money in making cars that have lo
      • we folks who dont live in america must be missing out on something..... I have a 975cc car, and i can cruise comforatably at 90-100 mph. sure the car is light, but i doubt many vehicles would survive an impact at that pace. I did however have a guy rear shunt me whilst i was going 60+ and there aint a scratch.

        Mebbe we have larger penises here and dont have a need to compensate? (apologies, for the blatant, but unavoidable trolling)

  • Safer? For whom? (Score:2, Informative)

    by GuyMannDude ( 574364 )

    Engineers from the Union of Concerned Scientists have unveiled blueprints for a "safer, more fuel efficient" SUV using "off-the-shelf technology".

    I didn't RTFA but I'm going to take a wild guess here that "safer" refers to improving the protection to the driver and not minimizing the damage/destruction/injury/death done to the poor, hapless soul who gets rammed by one of these overpowered vehicles when driven by a soccer-mom or yuppie chattering away on their cell phone.

    GMD

    • Re:Safer? For whom? (Score:3, Informative)

      by setzman ( 541053 )
      The article mentions safety features to protect not only the driver of the SUV, but other drivers as well (lower bumpers). It does not minimize the threat of a moron behind the wheel on their cell phone, which often happens in smaller vehicles as well. Today, had I assumed that a young female yapping on her cell phone and reaching for something across the car was going to stop and let me walk across the street (as required by drivers on campus), I would have been run down and unable to post this.
      • I'd design the new vehicle with a short range, directional cellphone jammer that would prevent cell phones being used from the driver's seat while the car is any gear other than 'park'!

        I'd also consider some kind of IR based ranging device that would make sure the person's head is within a certain location to ensure, at least, they their head is above the level of the dashboard and roughly centered with the steering wheel. If not, a very loud and obnoxious tone will be emitted from the sound system and the
        • I always wanted just one thing: One big neon sign on my rear window, that I can program with whatever message I wanted at the moment.

          My most used macro would probably be:

          HANG UP THE DAMN PHONE AND STEP ON THE GAS, YOU MORON!

          I *hate* people who get on the freeway at 40 MPH just because they want to concentrate on their phone conversation. And I can't even give them a dirty look, I got tinted windows!
        • Remove the magnetron and power unit from your microwave and mount behind the grille in the front of your car. Switch that on and you can jam just about anything with 800-1000W of 2.4GHz microwave goodness. You don't have to be too close to scramble their phone /car's ECU / brain with *that*! That'll fuck 'em!

          Caution : do not aim at face, or operate in any area where you could be mistaken as a SAM launch site.

          (Incidentally , I vaguely recall the UK police were trialling microwave 'guns' that would have the
          • 800-1000W of 2.4GHz microwave goodness. You don't have to be too close to scramble their phone /car's ECU / brain with *that*!

            You'll scramble the DRIVER's brain with that. Hell, you'll probably scramble your OWN brain when two-thirds of the wattage reflects off their trunk and back into your face.

            Kilowatt magnetrons certainly make for entertaining toys, but they are also a good way to win a Darwin Award.

            -
        • "'d also consider some kind of IR based ranging device that would make sure the person's head is within a certain location to ensure.."

          As in, not up their ass?
  • Canyonero ! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 )
    Can you name the car with four-wheel-drive?
    Smells like a steak and seats thirty-five!
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down.
    It's a country-fried truck endorsed by a clown.
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Twelve yards long and two lanes wide,
    Sixty-five tons of American pride!
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Top of the line in utility sports!
    Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts.
    Canyonero! Canyonero!
    She blinds everybody with her super-high beam.
    She a squirrel-squishin', deer-smackin' drivin' machin
  • by Syncdata ( 596941 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @08:00PM (#6981465) Journal
    It's called a Minivan.
    The lions share of SUVs are being sold, not to Off Road, not to climb every mountain, but to hold Mother and Child as they go to the market.
    This may get some traction for people who actually use 4x4's to go offroad, or the people that need the trendiest of the trendy, but the very aspect of Fuel Efficiency pretty much gaurantees it's lighter, which means it's not going to be as sturdy in an accident, and thus, won't sell to the soccer mom market.
    Safer to everyone else on the road, yes. Not the inhabitants however.
    • by mellon ( 7048 ) * on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @08:45PM (#6981815) Homepage
      This new design has pretty good features both for rollover protection and for protecting passengers in other cars on the road. You do know that most SUV deaths are passengers of SUVs, not the people they hit. SUVs are unfortunately quite dangerous vehicles to drive.

      Some of the major improvements - unibody design, with crumple zones. Lower bumper, which makes rollovers less likely since it will hit the bumper of the other car, not go over the other car. Better roll cage, so when it does roll the passengers are protected. Better seat belts. Lots of good stuff. You should really read the article before commenting on it...
      • You do know that most SUV deaths are passengers of SUVs, not the people they hit.

        I disagree, there are plenty of studies out there showing that two-vehicle collisions involving SUVs and regular cars have a higher fatality rate for the people in the cars compared to car-vs-car collisions. Shouldn't be surprising; the US Fatality Analysis Report explains this by pointing out the obvious fact that "People in lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage in collisions with heavier vehicles."

        Running a quick chec

        • That's a great page you pointed at. It explains why both of you are right.

          For each of the classes of vehicle, the number of deaths in multi-vehicle accidents was lower than the number of deaths in single-vehicle accidents. Light SUVs, in particular, have a huge number of deaths in rollovers.

          Bottom line: in a multi-vehicle, head-on, collision, I'd rather be in an SUV. If I'm in a car, and you're in an SUV, I'd rather you had lower bumpers. Those are rare, though; if you're in an SUV, you want a better ro
        • The lower bumpers are to protect other cars ... SUVs have a nasty tendency to ride over other cars in a collision and squish them. (A friend of mine had half his Japanese import squashed in a collision with an SUV.) Rollovers are typically single-vehicle accidents, caused by cornering too fast. SUVs are notorious for having their center of gravity too high.

          And notorious for having drivers too stupid to slow down to an appropriate speed too.

          Why else would they get one?
    • There are dozens of smaller safer alternatives available to the European market

      I think some of the are quite actractive

      Except for the French, they have a nack for building some of the ugliest cars around, I just don't get it!

  • Welcome! (Score:3, Funny)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @08:01PM (#6981469)
    "I, for one, welcome our new Hummer overlords"

    "In the Soviet Union, UAZ you!"

    "The new Suzuki Goatse. Your gateway to the back country".

    "What could you do with a beowulf cluster of VW Touaregs'"
  • "Concept-form only" means that we have no idea how safe this vehicle will actually be. SUVs are already safer than most vehicles. The rollover danger you hear about only make up a small fraction of accidents, and can be avoided by safe driving practices.

    The Government should not be making decisions about which vehicles consumers can choose to drive. Politicians get sidetracked about actual safety of vehicles because environmentalists spread misinformation about safety. This sort of thing kills people.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Rollovers are a small fraction of accidents, but they are also one of the most likely to kill or injure the driver and passengers in the car, truck, or SUV.

      "Although rollover crashes are rare as a type of crash, the death toll from these crashes accounts for a third of all highway motor vehicle deaths, and is sixty percent of the deaths in SUVs." - From Public Citizen's SUV Safety Page [citizen.org]

      Here is some more information about SUV's and Rollovers [citizen.org].

      Obviously, Public Citizen has an agenda, just like most anything
    • SUVs are already safer than most vehicles

      What part of "triple the fatality rate for rollovers", "poorer handling", and "longer stopping distance" did you not understand? SUVs are not safer than most vehicles, that's the whole point of all this madness.

      • The part that I do not understand is the "Occupant Fatality Rate lower than any other class of vehicle for large SUVs" part. The over 5,000 pound SUVs (e.g., Ford Expeditions, Chevy Tahoes, and Toyota Land Cruisers--the ones that guzzle gas) are the safest vehicles on the road when judged by the only statistic that matters: occupant fatality rate. Even when you include the fuel efficient small SUVs, the OFR for SUVs is slightly better than that for cars in general. As with other things in life, bigger is
        • SUVs [...] are the safest vehicles on the road when judged by the only statistic that matters: occupant fatality rate.

          This is exactly the mentality that angers me most about SUV drivers. The only statistic that matters is how likely are they to die. The poor stopping distance, poor handling, higher center of gravity, and larger blindspots on the sides of SUVs add up to a less stable vehicle that is more likely to get into accidents with other vehicles. Worse, their excess weight, high bumpers, and batt
          • Wrong. If they lied to you about occupant safety, don't you think they might also have been lying to you have crash incompatibility? Let me quote Sam Kazman from Reason:

            Crash incompatibility is not a phenomenon that arose with sport utility vehicles. Trucks have long been incompatible with cars, and cars are incompatible with motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. But while accident photos of subcompacts demolished by hulking SUVs grab attention, has the popularity of SUVs really changed the risks face

            • I'll see your pundit quote and raise you an article [suv.org] based on research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

              Federal information shows that although light trucks account for one-third of all registered vehicles, traffic crashes between a light truck and any other vehicle now account for the majority of fatalities in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions. Of the 5,259 fatalities caused when light trucks struck cars in 1996, 81 percent of the fatally injur

              • Of the 5,259 fatalities caused when light trucks struck cars in 1996, 81 percent of the fatally injured were occupants of the car. In multiple-vehicle crashes, the occupants of the car are four times more likely to be killed than the occupants of the SUV. In a side-impact collision with an SUV, car occupants are 27 times more likely to die.

                Your data is for light trucks which includes vehicles beyond SUVs. Moreover, if SUVs are safer, then the occupants of the less safe cars will be a higher percentage of

                • So, essentially, you're willing to take the word of one man referenced in a sound-byte in a Liberatarian rag with the usual anti-regulation bias over the word of two national safety organizations? The NHTSA is a government agency whose job it is to gather all the statistics that any research on the matter will be based on, and the IIHS is a statistic analysis group funded by auto insurance companies whose job it is to determine what provides the most risk for those companies. Since we have two people sayi
                  • Your data is true. It just does not apply for the reasons that I stated. Which makes it no good.
                  • You say my data is "just no good" and that yours is unbiased? Sir, I'm filing you under the same mental category as people who say that real unbiased research shows that cigarettes aren't bad for you and that global warming isn't real because the data from those other nineteen out of twenty scientists is "just no good." Much like those people, you're going to just latch onto whatever "researcher" makes an argument that comforts your present behavior and ignore the true body of evidence that points to the co
    • SUVs are already safer than most vehicles.
      Maybe for the SUV occupants, and even then it's debatable. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that they have higher single car accident rates (with more severe results), and are less safe than cars in accidents involving other large vehicles. They are safer in an accident with a car, but only at the cost of a vasting increased danger to occupants of the other vehicle.
  • New defenition for combining intuitively obvious, annoying, and foolish.

    Intuitively obvious: lower bumpers on SUVs, I didnt need to have my car totaled to learn that one.

    annoying: set-belt indicators that beep, its annoying enough when the indicator flashes at you.

    foolish: describing this SUV as more fuel efficient than the explorer (21.2 mpg for explorer, 27.8 for guardian).

    you are now free to mod me as flamebait.
  • Just making SUV's that weren't jacked way up would help a lot. There's lots of models of SUV's that are really tall but have the same or less ground clearance than a Subaru Outback station wagon--which is nice and low like a normal sedan. A taller SUV or truck is supposed to look intimidating, not add any real function. I am not always able to resist the urge to point and laugh at the grocery store when some slob's trying to load groceries into some huge "little dick compensator" SUV or fullsized Dodge p
    • I have never seen a vehicle for the general market that didn't have a ground clearance that wasn't a bit less than 1/2 the wheel diameter. The extra height does is help move the center of gravity up and anyone that passed physics would know what that means.
    • What about when black men drive SUV's? In our case it can't possibly be to compensate for little dicks...

      Also what about sportscars? Are they no longer little dick compensators?

      Or could it be, that the self-righteous think they know whats best for the entire world can't stand it when anyone chooses to drive a non-average car?
      • There is a very small segment of the population that actually needs an SUV. People like ranchers, who might live or work miles from the nearest road yet need to transport 3+ people and equipment. Fire and police departments in rural areas also might find SUV's on occasion usefull. Likewise Highway Department crews might find an SUV useful in transporting a work crew miles from the nearest road. But my sedan's seen much rougher roads than the vast majority of any SUV has ever seen and done just fine, and
        • Before we begin I have to ask do you get dizzy from being so high up on your horse when looking down on others?

          Ok how can you suggest a mini-cooper to somene who is possibly interested in a SUV? They're polar opposites. A Mini-Cooper is tiny and weak with the SUV being big and small. Subaru Outbacks look too much like station wagons. Not masculine enough.

          Next I have no problem with SUV owners being taxed and insured at higher rates due to their higher usage of gas and rates of accidents. No problem, I'll
  • Key paragraph (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @09:14PM (#6982006) Journal
    "If they can build this Guardian, why don't they do it?" said Shosteck, with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "It's nice to put something in blueprint form, but we have to build vehicles that go on pavement."


    That's really the key paragraph.

    Folks, it's easy to snipe at something you know nothing about [apa.org]. Thing is, it's one thing to design something on paper. It's quite another to have something that can actually be built and pass the stringent safety standards of both the US and Europe.

    That "efficient engine" may fail to meet acceleration guidelines, or noise guidelines, or emissions guidelines, or who knows what else. And no matter what, since a full car cycle from initial idea through design through testing to actual models in the showroom can easily be five years (and maybe more), this "blueprint" isn't really competing with the cars of today, but the cars of five(+) years from now. In fact, I would not be at all surprised that the cars entering the design phase now in the real automakers are superior to this group of "Concerned Scientists" in every significant way.

    There's no conspiracy in the auto industry; they are just selling the cars people want that meet government standards, and a whole lot of other concerns to. (A car is less complicated in most ways then the largest computer programs but they are still not trivial and require a lot more components to be working at ~95%+ of theoretical efficiency to function properly; cars have long since diminishing returns whereas software developers routinely accelerate their routines by factors of 100 or more with an hour's work.)

    It's easy to design a car that doesn't have to be driven and score rhetorical points. It's even easier to be a bystander that knows nothing about car design and assume that this new design is being "suppressed". Making cars that meet all of the requirements of the government AND the market AND making a profit, now that's hard.
    • Well, they didn't design anything.

      At $29,935, the base Guardian would be $735 more expensive than the 2002 Ford Explorer XLT, the model on which the Guardian was based

      They just took a Ford off the shelf, complained about the bumpers, asked for a stronger roof, and demanded some annoying features like a seat belt chime that won't shut up. If they were serious about this, they could open up a customization shop that converts your stock Explorer into a super fly street-cruising Guardian.

      Worried abou
      • A twin turbo kit will not give you better mileage. It will give you more power in the top end, without costing you any cruising mileage. It is also unnecessary, because in a truck you are not worried about turbo spool times, unless you're one of those jackoffs who bought the f150 lightning, which gets worse mileage than ANYTHING. Literally.

        Actually, the solution to fuel economy is to use a smaller motor, say a V6, with a low pressure turbo kicking out about 5 psi. Low pressure turbos do not require interc

  • One size fits none (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bluGill ( 862 )

    I read the artical. Not much there, don't waste time on it...

    That said, this appears to be a one size fits none situation. It assumes that SUVs are only about appearence and image. So it gives you a bunch of things that make the SUV useless off road. (as if most were not already useless off road, but that is a different topic). It assumes you only uses it for people or light cargo.

    Unibody has advantages and disadvantages. For a car the compromise is different than for a truck. SUVs sit in the mid

    • Never wear a seat belt while driving on a frozen lake.

      Which conveniently fits the law "never drive on a frozen lake".

      • by Psion ( 2244 )
        Um, in some places in Alaska and Canada, frozen rivers and lakes are part of the road in winter.
      • You must be a southerner. Up in the north many people drive on lakes. It isn't a big deal, but it isn't exactly safe. People die every year doing it, but most a being stupid. There are rules for how fast you can safely drive on ice. Smart people don't go faster than 5 mph and they rarely go through. Still more dangerious than solid land of course, but not much.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Never wear a seat belt while driving on a frozen lake.

      Yeah, and the other 99.9999% of the time, it's a good idea to wear your seatbelt. I hate when people come up with these oddball scenarios to justify their bad habits to themselves. If you don't feel like wearing a seat belt, just say it! Remove yourself from the gene pool and do us all a favor...
    • I agree the buzzer is anoying, but it's less anoying than the 50~100 Euro fine when caught without one on.
      or the increase in insurance due to the fools the don't use them!

    • Unibody has advantages and disadvantages. For a car the compromise is different than for a truck. SUVs sit in the middle, sometimes you need the full frame under for a task, and other times you don't. Guess what, you can already buy small SUVs with unibody construction. They are all image machines with no SUV abilities that I would want, but you can get them.

      The new Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg are among the most capable SUVs in the world, and they're unibody IIRC.

  • no problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jwriney ( 16598 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @11:22PM (#6982934) Homepage
    I've got it, here's how we'll build a safer SUV. Go get a pencil, I'll wait.

    We start with a ordinary huge ass gas guzzling urban assault vehicle. Lower it way down to the ground, put smaller tires on it, cut off the huge cow-catcher bumpers so it won't mangle the Pinto you just ran over, shrink the frame so it'll fit in a parking spot and save weight, and put in a smaller engine. Perfect!

    I call it a "car".

    --riney
  • repeat after me... the only thing that should replace those damned SUV are the smart [smart.com]...
  • He was talking about how his vehicle was safer for his family. I mentioned the Child Killers [google.co.uk] that he had fitted, and he never spoke to me again after that. However, with that kind of attitude, I don't miss him.
    • Why are bullbars called child killers?
      • Because a relatively slow collision with a car fitted with bull bars will kill a child. Normal bumpers have enough give in them to merely break bones at less than, IIRC, 20mph. Anything over 5mph with bull bars can be fatal. (numbers are off the top of my head, it was a while ago when I knew about this stuff).
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Wednesday September 17, 2003 @08:56AM (#6985206)
    Those of us that use SUVs for the 'U' part would prefer that you don't make them useless, thank you. When you can't afford to have multiple vehicles, it's nice to have a vehicle that you can fit either several sheets of plywood or four passengers in. You can't do that with a pickup (4 door extended cab with a 3' bed isn't a truck) or sedan, and you can't drive a mini-van at a job site (that's off-road, folks).

    Instead of phyhsically transforming SUVs into pure status symbols (instead of them just being such in practice), why not teach people how to drive them safely? Your vehicle weighs more than 4000 lbs? You should need special training and a special license. Your bumper more than 18" off the ground? Yet other special training and licensing. I'm sure states would love to collect the additional fees, and the need for the training will reduce the number of vehicles on the road while increasing (at least slightly) the safety of the ones that are out there. Best of all, those of us that do actual work with our SUVs won't be stuck in a world where an SUV is a station wagon with big tires.
    • You can't do that with a pickup (4 door extended cab with a 3' bed isn't a truck)

      Hey, I've got a crew cab and a 6.5' bed. I can get a load of hardpack from the yard and still have the kid in her carseat. Just don't ask me to parallel park it. :)

      If only it had GMC's Quadrasteer 4-wheel steering, but they cost 3x as much.
    • The politicians are afraid of the people who drive these things and they will do nothing to mandate more fuel efficiency nor safety (unless it's the SUV's occupants).

      SUV's have been around since the 60's. Chevy Suburbans and Blazers have been made for over 30 years, it's only when they've become some kind of bizarre status symbol has the popularity soared. I resist taking them off the roads because of the 5% that actually *need* these monsters.

      Makes you wonder the price of this status... while filling up
      • The politicians are afraid of the people who drive these things and they will do nothing to mandate more fuel efficiency nor safety (unless it's the SUV's occupants).


        This fear that you mention is strogest at a national level. Local politicians aren't typically afraid of they're consitiuents, in fact they're typically members of the vocal minority. That's why I think the training and license programs can work; they wouldn't be introduced at the national level. Of course, you'd have a problem introducing s
    • You can drive an AWD minivan off-road. My brother had a Chevy Astro AWD EXT with a V6 and it will go places that most stock 4WD trucks can't manage, because it has limited slip, making it better in the snow. It doesn't have a whole lot of ground clearance, but in most situations that doesn't matter much. A lifted truck is impractical for construction labor due to the height of the bed.
  • We live in the country off 2 miles of dirt road that tends to turn impassible in poor weather. A 4WD with high ground clearance is essential if we need to get to/from our home. Add to this that we often carry my brothers kids with us (his 3 plus our 3) means we need to seat 8 people for an average of 3-4 days / week.

    If my wife wants to do any grocery shopping while she is in town then nothing short of a suburban will do. The alterantive of making multiple trips is simply silly and would use more fuel an
    • Noone is saying that people in the country need to get rid of them. They wouldn't have been built in the first place if there wasn't a real use for them.

      It's just that these days, they've become a status symbol for some insane reason. Because of this, we have 1000s of dangerous SUVs in our cities.
  • "If they can build this Guardian, why don't they do it?" said Shosteck, with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "It's nice to put something in blueprint form, but we have to build vehicles that go on pavement."

    Because, your master will do to it what it did to mass transit back in the 50s, you corporate lapdog.
  • to the dangers of SUVs in accidents with little cars is to quit making miniature cars. ;)

    Seriously, the current "ooh, big" trend may have gotten out of hand in large cities, but there are many people with valid reasons to have SUVs in this country.

    Here in Appalachia, there are many sub-par roads, and much bad weather. It's amazing how all those people I know who think it's weird, impractical, or politically incorrect to own an SUV or truck mysteriously forget all their objections when they need

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus

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