Judging People By Their Vehicles

Recently I visited a new Blog Acquaintance. I scrolled through some of his posts until I came to a screeching halt. He'd posted a photo of a big SUV and a blistering rant. He'd been in the parking lot of a popular store when a woman drove up in a big SUV. After she had parked and entered the store, he'd photographed her vehicle. I suspect as he drove home, he was composing his ecological statement about her selfish excess.

Big Jack, Our Old Tahoe

As the owner of a big honking SUV myself, I immediately hit the comment button and wrote a hasty, though thoughtful, commentary on drawing opinions about a person's character, intentions, and/or environmental consciousness based on the vehicle one may drive.

Then I thought better of it. I'm not much for jumping into a mud wrestling contest, especially if it's in the arena of someone else's blog. That's kind of rude. So I just left a comment about the wrongs of stereotyping.

The whole thing bothered me though so I thought I'd elaborate in the arena of my own blog. This may not make me popular, but I feel it needs to be said. I once drove an even bigger honking Suburban than the old Tahoe parked in my porte cochere. If you saw little old me get out of either of these vehicles, you might have taken a picture and written the same thing.

What you might not have seen were the 4 teenagers of mine, all around 6' tall. Show me a fuel efficient car that will transport 2 adults and 4 teenagers that tall. That's why we had the Suburban. That's why we later traded it in on a Tahoe which we've now had 10 years. It's old, but it's paid for. It's also dependable, and it's 4-wheel drive. Something you occasionally need in Houston when streets flood or when the odd ice-storm hits every few years.

Just because the woman was the only occupant of the vehicle, as witnessed by my blog friend, doesn't mean she doesn't have other family members who require transportation or that she doesn't have need of a big vehicle to haul "stuff." (I've forgotten how many times we moved the kids to and from college dorms and apartments.)

It's not realistic to expect someone to purchase a vehicle for driving big groups and purchase another to be used for only one person. Most families don't have that kind of income.

Just about everyone I know has an SUV or a truck, and they all have kids, dogs, and sports equipment to cart around. We keep our old Tahoe for that reason. Sure, we've got two other vehicles, but the SUV is still here. We use it when our big kids come with their kids now, or we have "stuff" to haul. We're very popular with people who need help moving. If you see me over at the B&N, chances are I'll be driving Big Jack, and I'll be alone. So if you take my pic, let me make sure I have lipstick on.

All this is a long-winded way of saying no one should make a snap judgment based on outward appearances. It's far too easy to condemn others when one judges a book by its cover. We should always remember there may be extenuating circumstances.

Takeaway Truth

Everyone who drives a big vehicle isn't an ecological rapist just as everyone who drives a Prius isn't a narrow-minded tree-hugger out of touch with reality.


  1. And 10 years ago, gas wasn't $4 a gallon.

    Having traveled in South Africa recently, as well as England, though -- the SUV is non-existent. The car manufacturers can make fuel efficient cars that haul kids and cargo. It's just that here, they've never needed to.

    We've got a fuel-efficient Honda Fit and a not-so efficient Toyota pickup. No kids around anymore (we had 3), but in our schlepping days, we went through a Blazer and an Aerostar, but discovered we could squeeze everyone into a Datsun hatchback if we had to.

    But passing judgement on a first impression is never right, no matter if its cars, clothes, or hairdo.

  2. I suppose it depends on the type of SUV, too, b/c I could actually transport more in my old Taurus than my hubby's pal could in his Explorer.

    The old Suburbans I think, are a different breed of SUV than the plethora that came out five years ago. The two-door Explorer sport comes to mind-- honestly, I think a Cavalier could haul as much with twice the gas mileage.

    Not all SUVs are created equal. And what did people do before there were SUVs...? ;-)

  3. Clair, you're right about it depending on the vehicle. Some just aren't designed well. We've always bought GM because they do seem to do better for carrying well and mpg. Old Big Jack gets about 24 on the highway and 19 in town which is better than the new ones except for the hybrids. My wariness about hybrids is the maintenance issue. In the long run, I've read they will cost more than conventional engine.

    Just read in Business section a financial formula for cost of replacing gas guzzler. Price of Gas would have to be more than 5.00 a gallon to make it worthwhile and that's only if your vehicle is completely paid for and you buy a vehicle less than 20 grand. I think there's a similar formula online.