O.K., SUVs Aren’t Rice Rockets, but…

February 2004

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard the question, “What Would Jesus Drive?” The point of the question was of course to shame moms who drive SUVs. We say moms because any car dealer will tell you that women love SUVs, especially women with children. SUVs were originally designed for men who like to go off-road to do their guy things — hunt, fish, shoot, mountain climb, camp out, whatever. But it didn’t work out that way all that often.

It turned out that it’s the ladies who love SUVs, because they ride high up, which makes them feel safe and secure (being the shorter sex, they like being tall once in a while, especially on the raging road). Yes, statistics show that SUVs are prone to roll over — but who expects to roll over? Drivers worry more about head-on and side-impact crashes, in which case you’d want to be in an SUV.

So what would Jesus drive? He departed this mortal coil at a young age, so we fancy Him driving what a young fellow would want to drive, a Mustang or a Rice Rocket (a lightweight Japanese hot rod). Well, O.K., that could be a bit fanciful. But those who thought He’d be driving a diminutive electric thingamajig got it all wrong. It’s been established that Jesus would drive a giant SUV, not to ride high up, but so as to accommodate all 12 of His disciples. That “What Would Jesus Drive?” slogan totally backfired.

But still, the campaign against SUVs rolls on. More recently, in the California recall election, Arianna Huffington bitterly attacked Arnold Schwarzenegger for treating women badly and for driving the ultimate SUV, a Hummer. Arianna repeatedly let Californians know that she proudly drives an electric vehicle. But Arianna’s message was at cross purposes. Most women don’t like men who treat them badly, but most women would prefer to ride high up in a heavily armored SUV than be hunkered down in a tiny electric tin lizzie. Not surprisingly, Arnold’s Hummer destroyed Arianna.

We looked at our masthead, and we don’t know what our Contributing Editors drive, but above the list of Contributing Editors, no one drives an electric car (shame on us!) and only one of us drives an SUV — Maria Briggs, who drives a Chevy Suburban. Her husband lets her know the drawbacks: Because you can’t get a Suburban in a stick shift, and because of its weight and giant tires, its off-the-line acceleration and passing power are wanting. Even with a 285-horsepower V8, the car is so heavy that it tops out at only 90 mph, and if you’re going that speed you’d better leave lots of distance between you and the car ahead of you if you don’t want to plow into it in a sudden stop. And you can just forget about steering precision, aerodynamics, cornering ability, and roadhugging. So you can see why car-savvy guys don’t go for SUVs. But none of this matters to Maria. She loves her Suburban. (More recently, Maria’s husband has warmed to the Suburban because it’s great for towing his speedboat.)


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New Oxford Notes: February 2004

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