So in the previous thread we've had a rather vigorous argument break out about whether or not SUVs are fairly or unfairly criticized as being bad vehicles that wreck the environment. I don't mean to usurp the thread but I thought it would be useful to have a lot of links to the EPA ratings of the top selling vehicles in this class and my computer skills are not up to pasting these links into a comment (sorry). I couldn't get the EPA website to give me perma-links for each car so you'll have to settle for this search page link. The numbers below are for the best available gasoline versions of each vehicle (so no hybrid, ethanol or mixed fuel conversion packages are compared).
Monday, August 03, 2009
The top ten selling SUVs in the United States for 2008 were (vehicles with an EPA "smart way" designation are indicated with *):
10) The Saturn Vue. Composite mpg: 22, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 6. *
9) Lexus RX 350. Composite mpg: 20, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 6. *
8) Jeep Wrangler. Composite mpg: 18, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 5.
7) Chevy Tahoe. Composite mpg: 16, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 4.
6) Chevy HHR. Composite mpg: 22, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 7.*
5) Honda Pilot. Composite mpg: 19, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 5.
4) Toyota Highlander. Composite mpg: 20, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 5.
3) Toyota RAV 4. Composite mpg: 22, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 7.*
2) Ford Escape. Composite mpg: 22, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 7.*
(if you get the 4WD package though the numbers drop to 21, 7 and 5)
1) Honda CRV. Composite mpg: 23, Air pollution score: 7, Green house gas score: 6.*
What does this tell us...
First, I have to admit that these numbers are better than I thought they would be. So LTG has some traction on the "SUVs are unfairly maligned" argument. However, if you compare these numbers with the top 10 selling sedans, you'll see that AS A GROUP, the SUVs do not perform as well. Sure, the best in the SUV class overlap with the range of performance in the sedan class but the sedans (even if you leave out the hybrid models) are generally better performers on these dimensions. All of the top 10 selling sedans qualify as "smart way" vehicles according to the EPA but only 6 out of 10 top selling SUVs do. So I have a point about SUVs as a group having objective characteristics that justify disliking them (not just annoyance at their drivers out of "prejudice"). So we both are being reasonable and neither of us is being prejudiced or unfair about this.
Second, the most notorious SUVs, the Escalades, Navigators, Silverados, Hummers, Yukons, Aspens, Explorers and almost anything made by Jeep are not among the top 10 sellers (the Jeep Wagoner is a top seller). These are the really big monsters on the road that stand out like sore thumbs. They are the stereotypical SUVs and among the worst smog producers on the road. While, model for model, they aren't in the top ten, together they add up to a huge number of vehicles - which is why SUVs as a class get such a bad rap I suspect. These are the SUVs that are essentially converted truck chassis. The trucks on which these designs were based were originally supposed to be work or even military vehicles (and I'm not annoyed when they are used as such). These are the ones mocked by the Simpsons with the fake ad "Canyonero!" (On a side note. What right wing maniac is in charge of naming the cars at Jeep? Liberty, Commander, Compass, Patriot etc? Give me a break.)
Third, the top selling SUVs that are the worst performers, like the Tahoe or Wrangler, are really really bad (far worse than the worst performing top selling sedan, the Chevy Impala: 22, 9.5, 6*).
Finally, US car makers aren't the only offenders. Honda and Toyota make top selling, gas guzzling smog monsters. Saturn makes a fairly green little SUV. And the Ford Escape isn't bad so long as you avoid the 4WD option.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:06 PM