Readers Consider SUVs and Gas Prices

ByABC News

April 25, 2005 — -- ABCNEWS.com asked readers how they felt about the idea that SUVs and pickup trucks might be hit harder by rising gas prices.

Readers responded by the hundreds, with a full range of opinions reflected in the excerpts below. ABCNEWS.com has edited them for length and clarity.

"I am less than secretly glad when I hear the agony of the SUV people paying $60 to $70 a week to fill their tank," wrote Bernard K. Addison of Los Angeles. "We do not need the size, we do not need the inefficiency, and we do not need the attitude of road ownership and invincibility that reflects in the driving patterns of the majority of SUV owners."

"It's good to see all these arrogant drivers of gas guzzling road machines end up paying half a week's pay to fill up their monstrous machines," wrote Brian Silver Fox of Hammonton, N.J. "I am far from an environmental activist, but there is no reason why anyone needs these vehicles, ESPECIALLY Hummers (which, like assault weapons, should be reserved for the military). I truly enjoy seeing all of them driving around with their jingoistic little magnets on the back, supporting our troops, who are dying simply for their 'right' to own these stupid machines."

"Why, yes, I do gloat at the SUVs paying higher gas prices!" wrote Maureen North of Syracuse, N.Y. "The last car accident I was in was due in part to SUVs blocking my vision of the oncoming small car that totaled my Honda Accord. But now I have another Accord, and am considering a Prius."

"I admit I do like to listen to the woes of SUV drivers filling up their tanks," wrote Carolyn Busch of Trenton, Ga. "Their explanations of why they need their gas guzzling barges aren't quite as 'convincing' now."

"I think that it's hilarious that SUVs are getting in the shorts for a change," wrote Mike Nielsen of Salt Lake City. "Never forget that the road is theirs. Those of us that drive economical-type cars are but the peasant trash -- villagers that have no right to use their roads. After all isn't ostentatiousness the rule of the road? … Although I must agree that I don't like higher fuel prices either, it is somewhat psychologically reassuring to know that the 'fat cats' are in fact paying lots and lots and lots more money at the pump. Hooray for some justice!"

"Much as I hate to pay the higher prices, I do (I have to admit) secretly gloat at the money it takes to fill up an SUV tank," wrote Gail Walpole of Tallula, Ill. "I drive a VW diesel Beetle, which when new, got 50+ miles per gallon. It now needs tuning up because it is only getting about 45 or so miles per gallon. … Yes, I admit, people made fun of me when I used to drive my little [Geo] Metro and to a certain extent, my Beetle -- but now, I am the one laughing! :)"

"I have hated SUVs and the mentality that gave birth to them since the early '90s when I was in high school, and will continue to hate them and the people that drive them with a righteous anger for as long as I draw breath," wrote Andy Bliss of Los Angeles. "On a daily basis, I let these people know my feelings with my car or a few fingers/choice words. I despise their selfishness, avarice and soul-less need to endanger others for their own comfort. I laugh as I fill my economy car for a fraction of what they do, watching them wallow like the pigs they are in their putrid opulent consumerism."

"Although [it is] somewhat painful to pay more than double the price for gas than I did a few years ago, high prices definitely have a silver lining!" wrote Grant Comer of Indianapolis. "In fact, nothing seems to encourage talk of alternative fuel research more than high energy costs. … My gloating lies in the fact that persons who have the political and economic power to finance and approve alternative fuel research are feeling the pinch of high gas prices personally and from their constituents. If they happen to drive SUVs or other poorly fuel efficient vehicles, then that pain is just magnified."

"I love it that the Hummer owners (and other SUVs) are paying out their noses," wrote Wade of Los Angeles. "I was at the pump the other day and saw a guy shaking his head after filling up his Hummer. I walked over to the pump after he left and he had paid $92.00! I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day!"

"I don't like having to pay the high gas prices, but when my sons and I go on are fishing trips I wouldn't trade my SUV for anything," wrote Lonnie Mueller of Lincoln, Neb. "There is no greater pleasure in the dead of winter, with four-foot drifts and 20 degrees below zero wind chill, than to drive by someone in one of those foreign-made compact cars, stuck in a snow drift. I just honk, wave and drive on by."

"If I get hit by another car or truck, I will most likely survive where the [Volkswagen] Beetle will be smashed," wrote Linda Ridgeway of Joliet, Ill., who drives a 2000 Ford Expedition. "I have a lot of friends with small cars, and when they need something moved who do they call? Me or my husband, who drives an F250. They don't seem to mind us having big vehicles then!"

"I live on a hill and need the 4-wheel drive to get to my house on snowy days," wrote Jim Downey a Chevy S-10 Blazer driver from Dunbar, W.Va. "I kinda enjoy driving up the hill in the snow, passing the passenger cars sitting at the bottom of the hill that can't make it to the top. It's a small price to pay in my book. The small car drivers can gloat at the pumps, but they cringe in envy when the SUVs pass them in the snow."

"Small car drivers can laugh at me at the pump, but I laugh at them at the home improvement store when they try to shove 10 pounds of lard into a 5 pound bucket," wrote Kimi, a 2005 Ford F150 driver from Baraboo, Mich. "It all works out in the end."

"People shouldn't judge you for driving a SUV," wrote Jerry Mangiameli, an Elmwood Park, Ill., who recently bought a Nissan Armada that costs $55 to fill up. "If we stop buying them what would happen to our auto industry? How many people would lose their jobs? We buy 'em, we pay the price, people keep their jobs. Nice trade-off."

Dick Hynan of Monarch Beach, Calif., who said his SUV gets better gas mileage than his car, said those who gloat about SUVs should think more about who's really getting hit by high gas prices. "Airlines, trucking companies, small businesses with trucks, vans and automobiles are very concerned about these increased costs since many times they just can't pass these costs onto their customers," Hynan wrote.

"My friends and I laugh at these women who are driving these chariots to get a Starbucks or groceries," wrote Cherie Celeste of Spring Valley, Calif. "No-interest new car loans that are paid for by cash-out home-equity loans don't buy gas or common sense. Someone should tell them that."

Joe Hernandez of Riverside, Calif., said he had a chuckle during the recent heavy rains in Southern California when he saw the driver of a large SUV turn back as cars of all sizes ripped through mud and water on a roadway. "She literally made a U-turn, stopped all traffic because she didn't want to get her shiny, big wheels dirty," Hernandez wrote. "People, if you are not going to use them right don't buy them at all."

"The SUV I hate the most is the Hummer H2," wrote Scott Cohen of Melvindale, Mich. "Every chance I get, I will flip them off, regardless of whether the driver sees me or not. Hummers are the most obnoxious and rude vehicles for people to use to show off how much money they are making, and that they stick their noses up at the rest of us while driving their $65,000 SUV that is a gas hog and is no good for the environment. I do smile when I see them pulling up at a gas station and spending over $60 on one tank of gas, though."

"What I don't like about SUV drivers is their reckless and negligent way they drive," wrote Judith A. Gill of Baltimore, "as if to say 'I do whatever I want on the highway because you can't hurt me but I can demolish you, so get out of my way.' They don't care about gas prices. They think they are superior to everyone else on the highways and roads of this country."

"What many SUV drivers may fail to realize is that the reason for high gas prices now is the massive demand for gasoline, spurred in part by people like them," wrote Daniel Smith-Weiss of Bedford, N.H. "SUV drivers have in part brought these high prices on all of us. So I do get a small sense of satisfaction seeing them pay so much more."

Julia A. Jones of Tacoma, Wash., said she bought her 2000 Chevy Tahoe after nearly being killed when her minivan was hit by a delivery truck in 1998. "I gimped away from that accident feeling lucky with only a severe brain injury and permanent limp, rather than with the loss of my life entirely," she wrote. "I did thorough research to find the highest safety rated large vehicle out there for 2000 (the year I replaced my totaled minivan). So all the SUV haters can sneer, snicker, and gloat all they want. At least I have piece of mind to be able to get out on the roads and drive without terror -- and have a far better chance in any accidents than those snickering with the smaller gas economy cars."

"Being a big guy, I enjoy, and indeed have become spoiled by, the room in my SUV," wrote Ralph B. Perry Jr. of Wilson, N.C., who also believes his SUVs bulk keeps his family safer. "Once you have experienced the room and view of the road offered by SUVs, it is difficult to go back to a car."

"People, mainly the liberal types, don't appreciate why there are Suburban-type vehicles," wrote David Beach, a Chevy Suburban driver from Sacramento, Calif. "My guess is, that liberal types don't have the families and the activities that Suburban owners have. Also, they tend to live in large coastal cities and rarely venture out to the outback. Until you've seen all eight seats filled with Little Leaguers or Boy Scouts, gear in the back, and pulling a large size equipment trailer, you may not understand what Suburbans were made for."

"I drive an SUV because I believe its safer for my family and gives me much better drivability as I go to ski country in the winter," wrote Larry Ackerman of New City, N.Y. "Thankfully, I can afford it. When we start targeting one income strata against another, hostilities will always exist -- which is what I believe is driving this SUV target, not the environment."

"I drive a gas-guzzling pickup," wrote David Lewis of Kingfisher, Okla. "It is all I can afford, and there are not too many fuel efficient vehicles around that can tow a boat. I assume that the rich use more gas and do more driving than they need [because] prices don't bother them. They probably wear two pairs of underwear at the same time just to show off that they can afford to do it."

"My husband and I have an SUV," wrote Cyndi Ingle of Asheville, N.C. "The SUV haters are annoying -- we have many in Asheville. They think it's OK to violate your property and are constantly putting hate notes on our vehicle. What many people fail to recognize is that some of the working class drive what we can afford. Our SUV is a '93 model -- i.e. CHEAP. They don't post thank you notes on my little Honda Del Sol, which, by the way, I am loving in light of the gas price hike!"

"I hate SUV owners," wrote Donna Bijas, a Nissan Altima driver from Middletown, N.J. "Not only are they the leading contributors to air pollution and acid rain, but try to back out of a space in any shopping center and it is near impossible. Small family style SUVs are reasonable, but do they need to be the biggest vehicle on the block? I hope gas prices send them to the poor house. I pay $25 to fill up and it lasts all week. I can't imagine having to pay $100+ per week. Good for them."

"I don't feel sorry for drivers of SUVs paying huge sums to fill up their gas guzzlers," wrote Peter Bowler of Dallas. "They are half the reason the gas prices are so high and our air is so polluted. I hope the high prices will keep these enormous pieces of crap off the roads."

Dave Conna of Stow, Mass., said he can get as much as 50 mpg in his 1993 Honda Civic VX, and objects to SUVs for environmental and safety reasons, and because they "fill the coffers of terrorists with funds." "If the owners say that they are not experiencing any more hardship than car owners [as a recent ABC News poll suggests], then the price of gas isn't high enough yet," Conna wrote. "High gas prices are one of the best things that could happen to this country: that we might finally get our energy house in order and stop acting like we are entitled to abundant energy at absurdly low prices. In fact, it is the ONLY thing that will save us from environmental and economic destruction, since appealing to people's logical and ethical side does not work enough."

"Japan was ready in 1974 with fuel-efficient cars," wrote Doug Ryan of San Gabriel, Calif. "Thirty years later, they have hybrids. Detroit has learned nothing in 30 years. Good riddance the makers of gas dinosaurs. The dinosaurs themselves, the SUVs, will stay around until gas prices rise so high the SUV driver, a brain-dead humanoid glutton of gas and asphalt, has to think twice about burning his money -- if he's capable. No resale value for that kind of dinosaur. They all get what they deserve for jacking up gas demand and gas prices. No tears for the SUV makers and their suckling gluttons."

"Although I don't like the high gas prices that I have to pay for my cars, I don't mind a bit that the SUVs, full-size vans and pickup trucks get hurt by the high prices," wrote Ed Caldwell of Bloomington, Ind. "Some of the drivers of those vehicles drive as though they are above the law. The police are afraid to stop them because they can't see their hands or glove compartment."

"I am gloating a little, but more importantly hope that this sends a message to Congress that they should have passed those laws that push automakers to make all vehicles more energy efficient, and a message to automakers that they should be more proactive about improving fuel efficiency for all vehicles," wrote Heidi Lovett of St. Petersburg, Fla.

"My wife and I just recently purchased a 2001 Ford Expedition," wrote Sean McMahon of Virginia Beach, Va. "Soon after, gas prices went upward. That does not bother us for the fact that there are not many vehicles that are much bigger or safer on the road, so the SUV haters can go on hating, and me, my wife and child will drive safely down the road."

"I do not resent the feelings of others," wrote William Jackson, of Fort Madison, Iowa, who drives a GMC Suburban, but also has a Honda Accord for his teenage son. "They have a reason to believe the way they do and a right to express themselves. I hope they respect my rights to conduct my life and manage my affairs as I see fit."

"Frankly, I don't really care what hostiles think about my gas guzzler," wrote Tim, a Dodge Durango driver from Denver who did not give his last name. "All they need to do is stay in the right lane and yell expletives as I pass on the left."

"One single airliner flying cross-country burns far more fuel than our motor coach will ever use in my lifetime, and a Uke dump truck hauling ore in a strip mine uses 1,800 gallons of diesel per 8-hour shift," wrote Craig Ueltzen of Pasco, Wash., who owns a 40-foot Safari motor coach and two SUVs. "Therefore, I cannot understand the misguided thinking of 'SUV haters' in the first place. There are far bigger consumers of fuel than Humvees and SUVs in America, so why can't they get off the never-ending SUV complaints and move onto something more important?"

"I will not give in to all the hype and gripe and drive a cracker-box no matter how good the fuel mileage might be," wrote Gregory L. Carr, a Chevy Tahoe driver from Salina, Kan. "My Chevy has a bi-fuel engine that lets me burn E-85 fuel or regular unleaded gasoline. The problem is that there are only two refueling stations in Kansas. The closest one is 72 miles away. … SUVs aren't the problem; it is big oil keeping the alternate fuels from the public that is the real problem."

"I own an eight-cylinder SUV," wrote Deborah Orr of Rohnert Park, Calif. "We get 18-20 mpg on the road and about 14 in town, more if out of California. Not much different than a lot of cars. … Would hostile comments about my SUV bother me? Nope. They just show the ignorance of the speaker."

Several people responded to the findings of a recent ABC News poll that suggested SUV drivers are not suffering more from gas prices than car drivers, because the poll found no difference in reported hardship even though SUVs tend to get low gas mileage.

"The reason that people with SUVs are not suffering more from high gas prices has got to be because they are wealthy to begin with," wrote Scott Hartman of Toledo, Ohio, who said he drives a small pickup truck and feels the pinch. "You have to be rich to be able to pay $40,000 [to] $50,000 or more for an SUV. They have money to pay for the gas."

"If the American people are moaning about gas prices they should try living in England," wrote Graham Banks of London. "The price of gas here compared to the USA is $6.08 per U.S. gallon. Still fancy running a Hummer?"

"I would like to see gasoline prices rise to $4.50 a gallon or higher," wrote Richard Lane of Prescott, Ariz. "I would like to see a stiff tax levied to bring up the price to what people in Europe pay. This is the only way that Americans will change their gluttonous habits."

"It's amazing all the cars that I see with one person driving in a SUV on the freeway in Houston," wrote Debbie Mejstedt of Friendswood Texas. "I hope the price goes up to the same that it is in Europe. Maybe then people will think twice about their selfish gas guzzling tanks."

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