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De Soto Frank

"Progress" (?!!)

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Bruce,<P>Obviously we don't. What some of us do is save the use of heavy equipment for when it's needed, instead of driving it everyday. Even if you don't own one at all, you can always rent a suitable tow vehicle for the time it's needed, saving the extra $1000-$1500 in annual operating costs the typical SUV requires over a similarly sized car (i.e. Ford Taurus wagon, etc.). That makes the $20/day U-Haul pickup an amazing bargain.<P>The knowledge that we're contributing less than our share to the decline of the world ecosystem comes at no additional cost. <P>By the way, 21 mpg from a V6 Blazer is extremely good milage. My V6 S10 Blazer (1991), which was my old state car when I was an environmental inspector, strained to top 15 mpg, even on highway trips. I don't know anyone with a four-wheeler who can routinely break 20 mpg (although my brother's 5sp V6 4WD full-size GMC flirts with it on highway trips). <P>Are you just quoting highway figures, or is your milage typical? Either way it's very good. <P>(Since you asked, I do my hauling in a 2WD Ranger 5sp that gets 23/27 mpg, but often I get away with using my sub-compact station wagon which gets 31/38 mpg.)

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Up front I will admit I have a 4x4. It is a 11 year old Jeep Cherokee that still gets me about 20 mph in town and nearly 25 on the highway. I use it for backcountry access. For example we are going up to the mountains for cross country skiing tomorrow. I don't really consider the old Cherokee or the S10 Blazer mentioned above to be SUVs with capital letters. They are both tiny compared to the newer stuff.<P>My particular peeve is directed at Chevy Suburban drivers. But this all stems from July 4, 2000 when someone in a Suburban attempted to turn left from the right lane at the last moment with out looking. Unfortunately my 1933 Plymouth was in his way. The moron sped off before I could get the license number. Took over $1000 in body work to fix his mistake.

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Dave,<P>My Jeep Cherokee mileage is actual measured. Two things going for me: 1) It has a manual overdrive transmission. 2) I have a pretty light foot on the accelerator.<P>When we don't need the carrying capacity, four wheel drive or tow capacity, we generally drive the Toyota Prius. Our mileage on that is not as good as the EPA ratings. We are only getting 40 mpg in town. We do get the rated 44 mpg on the road.

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In general, I agree on the SUV/minivan/cellphone issue. There is almost no reason to use an SUV as a daily driver, and almost no reason to use a cellphone in a car. If you're not available, you're not available. Nobody should have to be accessible all the time. And if you need to haul that many people or that much stuff, a minivan should do fine. IMNSHO, SUVs should be specialty vehicles, and specialty vehicles only (a la Range Rover, search & rescue, etc.). People got along just fine before they came along.<P>As for SUV vs minivan, I think that minivan drivers don't tend to feel invincible like SUV drivers do, they just are a little more distracted (kids, etc.) and so still remain a menace on the road. Though not as much as an SUV. If kids would learn to behave, it wouldn't be nearly as much of a problem. Too bad parents can't punish their children anymore... A timeout or spanking always used to keep me in line.<P>Anyway, where was I? Oh yes...<P>I like the idea of bringing back the full-sized wagon. Maybe with a new image? A new name (station wagon isn't very "cool")? The strong and sleek look, perhaps... Could be good, I don't know. At least I wouldn't have to watch out for giant boxes trying to run me over.

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Bruce, Since you asked, my daily driver is a 1998 Ford E-350. I can reinstall all the seats and take 15 people to the races or car shows. It hauls all my carpentry tools, and a 1948 MG-TC will fit INSIDE. Try to equal that with any SUV.

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My work partner has had two Chevy ZR2 4X4 trucks, a 99 and now a 2002. He has never gotten better than 18 MPG with either truck, and thats CDN gallons. City mileage runs around 14-15 MPG, but he is a bit of a lead foot.<BR>You want good mileage, my 87 Jetta turbo diesel gets 57 HWY, 47 city and I average 825 Km per tank. My wifes 91 non turbo Jetta gets 62 MPG highway and 55 City and she gets over a 1000 Km per tank some times. When I explain to people what that kind of fuel economy is like, I say that some times I forget it even needs fuel. I go for at least a month before fill ups and have to remind myself periodically to check the fuel gauge. I hear the new Jettas get 70 MPG with a 2.0 Litre turbo diesel motor, I want one.<BR>Laserbeam, how about this for a new name for a station wagon, Extreme Sport Caravan. ESC for short, fits in with the Internet computer theme and they could put 50 coffee cup holders in it and sell a million of them.

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1937,<P>If I recall correctly, and I may be wrong, the Expedition actually has <I>more</I> interior volume than the E350. Or it might just be a longer load floor. Of course, when you're working with a dump truck chassis..... rolleyes.gif" border="0<P>I'll never forget when Autoweek reported Ford's first testing of the Expedition. They ran it on their humor page, believing it to be a red herring to distract Ford's competators. They refferred to it as Fords uber-SUV. <P>The next week they ran an short blurb explaining that Ford actually believed there was a market for this thing.<P>The sad thing is, Ford was right.

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A full size wagon?? I thought you were talking about using cars that get better gas mielage! Plus, I don't need the expanse of a full size car. The Blazer is big enough for my needs while being smaller than a full size car and I would think more fuel efficient than a full size car.<P>1937HD45,<P>I don't need anything as large as a 15 passenger van, nor to carry cars inside. An E350 van is a LOT bigger than our S10 sized Blazer. I am 5'11" and I can reach the center of the roof on the Blazer to wash it. I have to duck my head to get in. If I remember my 1987 1/2 ton Ford van right, it was a lot taller than my head (I actually stepped up to get in it) and a lot hard to see around than the Blazer. And a 1/2 ton van is not as tall as a 1 ton van. Plus, I don't imagine that an E350 gets 21 mpg very often.<P>If our Blazer makes such a sight problem for anyone traveling behind it, they are obviously driving way too close to be safe. Once I put the Model A on the car trailer, it sticks about 7 feet in the air, well far enough above the roof of the Blazer that the height of the Blazer is inconsequencial.<P>Laserbeam, <BR>The reason for choosing the Blazer over a minivan? The Blazer has a towing capacity of 5000 lb while a typical minivan (such as a Dodge Caravan) has an average towing capacity of about 3000lb. The Model A weighs 2335lb and the trailer is another 1000 lb., plus another 400 lb of people and 50 lbs of gear. Thats past the safe limits of a mini van. Just becaue a vehicle has a 3000 lb towing capacity doesnt mean you can take it to its max limit and be safe.<P><BR>Dave,<P>The mileage is typical for what we get without towing a trailer under optimum conditions. We live in the country so our typical driving is not all interstate.. but its not city stop and going either. One reason for the mileage may be because of the excessive "free wheeling" that the vehicle can do in OD. That is one feature of the vehicle I do not care for. Coming down a hill, I can let off the gas and drift for long distances on the open roads of our area even going up and down some small hills without having to push on the accelerator. Actually on hilly terrain you have to either ride the brake too much or take a wild ride with an accelerating vehicle that sometimes I feel goes beyond being safe. Luckily it doesnt do that in drive and has proven to be a good tow vehicle.<P>Dave I doubt that our Blazer is any longer and probably not much taller.. if any.. than your Ranger. I admit that the sub compact wagon gets much better gas mileage but I have to wonder at what capacity the vehicle is capable of safely towing trailers.<p>[ 03-07-2002: Message edited by: BruceW ]

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Ooops, I made a mistake!<P>I accidentally referred to Ford's uber-SUV in the last 2 posts by the wrong name. The "vehicle" (station wagon on dump truck chassis) that I was referring to is the Ford Excursion. <P>The Expedition, of course, is the light-weight, bare-bones, fuel-sipping economy model that no decent person of means would be caught dead in! tongue.gif" border="0rolleyes.gif" border="0

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Chuck - Heard a tale recently of a fellow that had purchased a Honda Insight hybrid car. This fellow was described as usually being "two sheets to the wind" and not always with it. In any case, apparently the tank of fuel lasted so long he forgot where the filler was. He had to take it to the dealer to have them show him how/where to put gas in it.<p>[ 03-07-2002: Message edited by: ply33 ]

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1937HD45,<P>You wanted me to compare your E350 with an SUV so I did. I compared it to our Blazer.<P>1998 E350 Van<BR>Length - 211.9" (17.6 feet)<BR>Width - 79.3" (6.6 feet)<BR>Height - 84.1" (7.03 feet)<BR>Curb weight - 5356 lb<P>1996 Blazer<BR>Length - 181.2" (15.1 feet)<BR>Width - 66.5" (5.5 feet)<BR>Height - 66.9" (5.57 feet)<BR>Curb Weight - 3814lb<P>Its true that you can haul more and tow more (up to 10,000 lbs max) but I do not need all that capability. Why would I want to add 2 1/2 more feet of length, another foot of width, over 1 more foot in height, and over 1500 pounds of dead weight when I do not need it?<P>Because of the posts suggesting the purchase of a full size passenger vehicle, I checked out the 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis, one of the last of the full size cars.<P>2002 Mercury Grand Marquis<BR>Length - 211.9" (17.6 feet)<BR>Width - 78.2" (6.5 feet)<BR>Height - 56.8" (4.73 feet)<BR>Curb weight - 3970 lb<P>The towing capacity of the Grand Marquis is rated at only 2000 pounds. <P>I also checked out the Jetta which Chuck always highly recommends(looked at 2002 model). I personnaly know that Jetta is a very well built vehicle (I used to work at a VW delership in my much younger days). However, under the heading of Towing Capacity, it said "not recommended".<P>Sorry.. but I won't put my family at risk by using an inadequate tow vehicle just to be PC.<P>Dave, out of curiosity, I looked up the Ford Ranger too. You didn't mention the year of your Ranger so I looked for a 2002 Ranger 2WD. Not knowing the exact model, some of the specs are in ranges:<P>2002 Ford Ranger<BR>Length - 187.5 - 202.9" (15.6 to 16.9 feet)<BR>Width - 69.4" (5.7 feet)<BR>Height - 64.9" (5.4 feet)<BR>Curb weight - 3085 - 3641lb<BR>Max tow = 1495 - 4145lb.<P>1996 Blazer<BR>Length - 181.2" (15.1 feet)<BR>Width - 66.5" (5.5 feet)<BR>Height - 66.9" (5.57 feet)<BR>Curb Weight - 3814lb<P><BR>Okay..I conceed that the height of your Ranger is shorter than my Blazer by 2 inches. Lets pray that those concerned about not being able to see over the vehicle in front of them are following you instead of me. wink.gif" border="0<p>[ 03-07-2002: Message edited by: BruceW ]

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Thank you Bruce, I'm sold on vans. This is the third one I've had, 223,000 on the last one. Perfect vehicle for me, dry and secue tools for work, flea market use, and family trips.

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1937hd45<P>I'm not saying anything bad against vans..Ive had a few myself..and if they fit the need great. I was just pointing out that your E350 would be an overkill for my needs.<P>On second thought....with all the bad hype I received on owning an SUV, I wonder if it would be more "acceptable" if I did pull my trailer with a van that is 2 1/2 feet longer, another foot of wider, over 1 foot higher, more than 1500 pounds heavier and got half the gas mileage..... hmmmmm grin.gif" border="0

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DugSin,<P>What are the HID lights you refered to<BR>Are that those real bright bluish headlights a lot of the imports come with?<P>Thanks.

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BruceW, I think you are taking this talk a little too seriously. Everyone here is making statements about the general public, not you in particular. <P>I owned a SUV too, a 84 Ford BroncoII. After driving it for 5 years and 100k I sold it and actually almost got what I paid for it, pretty good investment really. But in the end even though I lived 120 kilometers from the nearest city I might have used the four wheel drive 4 times a year. And that was to plow the driveway. I was not sorry to get rid of it because the crosswind stability was terrible here in the prairies and all my driving was on the highway. When I look back I would never buy another one although the waist high hatchback was nice for grocery getting etc. <P>I wish I had more choices for a people hauler than a SUV or a Minivan, with three little ones I certainly need more room. If the big three came out with a nice looking V6 powered, mid size, mid priced wagon that could tow I might buy one, if it had a 3.0 litre diesel 5 speed I might jump at it. SUV's are a craze that is peaking now, if fuel went to $1.00 a litre I would bet there would be a big sell off. Remember your fuel prices in the US are a fraction of what we pay here in Canada, I wonder how many SUV drivers would buy one when they get 15 MPG and it costs 120 dollars to fill it up once a week?<P>For me I am sold on the diesel concept because of the economy, the torque and the fact that tune ups involve changing the oil and filter and cleaning my K@N air filter. No emission controls means no electronics to die on you and no catalytic converter to plug up. The extra heavy duty driveline components also ensure extra long life, for example the brake pads on my Jetta are 1 1/8 inch thick! In Europe diesels outnumber gas cars for good reason, they are cheaper to drive and fill up. The only computer in my diesel is the one in my radio and I like it that way. Mechanical devices are inherently more reliable than any electrical device. <P>Now if we were talking sports cars, well.....Have you guys ever driven a rotary!! The only way I can describe it is as a cross between a 4 stroke and a 2 stroke dirt bike, lots of fun when your coming up on the pipe!! Yaa Hooooo! Crappy gas mileage though. Geez I think I just contradicted myself. rolleyes.gif" border="0

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Chuck,<P>Don't worry.. I wasn't not taking it near as serious or personal as you may think. grin.gif" border="0wink.gif" border="0 I never do.<P>The only rotary I have driven was the early (1979-80) Mazda RX-7 at the VW-Mazda dealership that I worked at after school when I was 17. I thought they were a blast.<BR>Is there any other current production cars besides the Mazda that uses a rotary?

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No, Mazda even dropped the RX7 series for a couple of years. There is a three rotor made in Japan that is supposed to make 400HP and weigh 175pds. If it wasn't for the nasty fuel economy of the rotary I guess the Mfg's would resurrect the engine. My bridge ported 12A rotary would get about 2 MPG on the track, the 4 stroke boys would laugh because I needed a half tank of fuel to do a 20 lap race. Made for a fast car at the last lap though, right when you needed it. Combustion chamber surface area is what makes them so poor, supposedly using propane instead of liquid gasoline really helps as it will burn right into the crevice volumes and won't drop out of suspension. The big problem is propane burns hotter, the last thing a rotary needs.

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Mazda is bringing the Wankel back in the RX-8, a 2+2 coupe with small rear doors like the Saturn coupe. The current craze of introducing "cross-over vehicles" is really van and truck based tall wagons. The disadvantage of such vehicles to me is the handling is still van/truck bad. The Chrysler Pacifica was originally to be based on the LH and would have been a larger wagon, but is now based on the minivan chassis.<P>In my opinion, the utility of an SUV/other truck is primarily as a tow vehicle. I've taken 5 people, a canoe, and camping gear for 2 weeks in a Taurus. Also 3 people on a camping trip in a Jaguar XJS, but I'll admit that's a little flaky. I don't see the need for all the bulk to carry 5 people.

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If I can add my 3 1/2 cents worth regarding driver and passenger comfort I have found nothing to equal the smoothness, silence,handling and sheer ease and comfort of a post'77 Rolls Silver Shadow 2, Maintenace? that's another issue complicated only by the sophisticated? hydraulic system and much of the bad rap that follows these cars results strictly from ignorance and improper maintenance of said system.

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LI I hope you have a SUV to go with that Rolls Royce. The only thing that would bug the ankle biters in this thread more than an SUV owner is a RR owner. Or for a pure poke the environmentalists in the eye, how about a motor coach with a wood burning fireplace?

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Actually it leaks so much oil that squirrels crossing the road drown in it, and nothing I like better than to drive down a treelined path and watch the birds fall out of the trees because of my exhaust fumes,at least my wife can keep track of me by the smoke trail and I sure keep the mechanics busy every time I drive just a mile.

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Now remember,suv's are considered trucks by the DMV thus the emissions standards are much more lenient and therefore more environmentally harmful.

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don't blame the DMV for the truck subsidy - light trucks are not held to the same standards as cars, even if used the same ways, because of political lobbying. Light truck sales are very profitable for the OEM.<P>Each can have his own opinion of whether this is appropriate or not.

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As long as we're going on about drivers that bug us. I have a new one. These are rare. Their habitat consists exclusively of long interstate stretches. Once they reach an urban area, they seem to seemlessly blend into traffic and dissappear.<P>You can almost always identify them though. They're the ones driving a brand new, but rough looking "You're-A-Peon" car. Frequently these are of German origin.<P>These drivers are the variety that believe that they purchased a special entitlement to drive at extreme autobaun speeds for their $75,000. You can immediately identify them by their habit of using "flash-to-pass" HID lights at the drop of a hat, usually to assert their frustration that the person in front of them is only doing 72 mph in a 55 mph zone.<P>One will encounter the occasional English variety of this type of driver, however he/she will rarely be driving a car that costs more than a BMW 8-Series. Jaguar would be the marque of choice for these specimens.<P>However, one should not forget that these drivers generally cut their teeth driving turbocharged Swedish cars. One <I>never</I> trains with the A-grade equipment! <P>There may be the occasional sighting of one of these drivers in a "Yeah, but it's only my company car" Taurus or other rental-friendly marque. These are usually only poseurs. I do not give them equal countenance. rolleyes.gif" border="0

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At least when I'm tooling down the boulevard in one of my brass babes and I notice some hoople tailing me and honking in a thoroughly obnoxious manner, generally in an suv or some such outrageously arrogant chariot I will cut to the center of the road and frustrate any attempts to pass me,one of life's more rewarding pleasures.

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