Things that go Bump
The SUV and Mini-van are inescapable in America – you cannot go one damn mile without seeing one, or in most of my instances with them, having them attempt to run you off the road. I am not a fan of either of these machines. The SUV rarely sees mud – it is Detroit's way of getting the road going American back into the silohuette of the Station Wagon. That is all the SUV is – a jacked in the air shill of a station wagon – with 4x4 capability to make you feel less wimpy about driving the family Truckster.
When I worked for Ford; in a survey of Explorer users – less than 5% of owners had ever engaged the four wheel drive – of those; 50% said they did not know how to! The next year – most models became full- all – time all-wheel drive; with a consumer up-charge for the event. So I don't like them, because they are poseur-ish, you are not taking the thing off road – and you certainly aren't with the more expensive models – like the Navigator, Tahoe or Jeep Grand Cherokee. And you are definitely never getting them full of mud, and hosing them out after the event. Which for me, is a REQUIREMENT of a good off-road vehicle. It needs to play in the mud well – and clean up easily afterwards. But my full angst against the machine is centered around the attitude that most drivers of these rides think they are invincible, and that because of their size – that the world is to give right of way to them.
The MiniVan is the nearly the equivalent of the Murse for the Vehicle world. Nothing says – "I lost my testicles and have a chain around my neck to cart and tow kids from place to place", than a Mini-Van. You can try and tell yourself that it is cool, or hip, or has 'swagger' – let's face it – it is the trophy for being shackled in a marriage and the consolation prize for having to sell your fun convertible or muscle car to get something "practical."
The drivers of these baby barges are no less problematic. The vehicles are full of blind spots, handle poorly for acceleration or lane changes, and usually full of kids that are distracting the driver. If I have ever seen an accident, or have nearly escaped one – it was always at the threat of a Mini-van or SUV. As I motorcyclist – I loathe them both and give each car lengths of space, as I trust neither the driver, passengers, nor vehicle characteristics. Neither driver seems capable of operating turn signals and doing a proper head check for a lane-change. I don't know if they are distracted by their phone, kids, latte, in-car entertainment systems – or if they are just ignorant to the notion of the reason that there are orange reflectors and lights on every corner of the vehicle and a magic stick on the steering column that makes that light blink.
In Ukraine, there is a different beast of burden that is the Scourge of the Road. Here the most common ride is best described as a 'CaddyBack'. It is a utilitarian / delivery van that is slaved for professionals and errand-getters alike. The cargo space is perfect for the swap meets, bazaars, and open air markets that are prevalent here in the summer. As in America – the small pickup truck is almost non-existent on the road anymore – and it is extremely rare to even find one at a dealer, as manufacturers are clearly focusing more on luxury than work trucks. (maybe a large indicator why the economy has still not recovered – nobody is supporting the independent handy-man with a capable and affordable small truck to get business DONE) For the handyman – carrying tools and locking up your supplies has a distinct advantage over a pick-up truck's open bed. Thus enter the CaddyBack and why it seems so popular here. There were attempts to bring this concept to the U.S. Driving market with the Chevrolet HHR and Chyrsler PT Cruiser – but both were more style over function – and more a rendition in nostalgia than utilitarian ideals. The CaddyBack is no less dangerous – and the drivers are no more attentive; more and more – I miss riding off road, off grid and away from traffic / people. It finds itself somewhere between the size of a minivan and a station-wagon – but all of them have a tall cargo rear section. Rarely have I seen them hauling kids – they are mostly slaved for getting things done.
The ZaZ Tavria