It took getting rear-ended on a highway for me to finally accept the fact that the overgrown SUV phase has gotten ridiculous. The funny part was that I was not driving an SUV at the time. I wasn’t hit by one either. My sensible minivan was rear-ended by an equally sensible Toyota Camry. What then made me then swear never to purchase a behemoth? Having to drive one for a few weeks while my minivan was in the shop. That experience brought home the ridiculousness of it all.
I was always a big vehicle lover. The bigger the better was what I believed. I learned to drive on a 15 passenger van. I drove large vans for a number of summer jobs as a teenager. I used to love the thrill of being high up, perched in a tank-like mass of metal that could crush those puny Civics like an elephant stepping on an ant. It was kind of like walking around with the biggest penis on the block, and letting it constantly hang out of your pants for all those around you to see. You don’t want to let me cut in front of you? That’s ok. I’ll make sure to send flowers to your funeral. However, thanks to Enterprise Car Rental, my mind has been changed forever.
The vehicle that traumatized me in such a fashion is the venerable Nissan Armada. According to Nissan’s website (www.nissanusa.com), this vehicle has a curb weight of 5,531 pounds. In case that doesn’t mean anything to you, let me tell you, this thing is huge. It’s like an Exterra gone horribly wrong, kind of akin to what has happened to Britney Spears. Overgrown, bloated, definitely put on a few pounds too many. The moment of truth came when I past a Chevrolet Avalanche on the highway and caught myself thinking about how small it was. The beast eats gas at a rate capable of funding the next terrorist attack by the end of the month. All that, and it still struggles to accommodate the amount of baggage that my minivan handles without breaking a sweat. The thing drives like a truck. It accelerates swiftly enough due to its mammoth V8, but don’t even think about attempting any swift maneuvers. And did I mention that the base price is double that of my MPV?
What draws any sane rational member of society to drop forty thousand dollars on that overgrown behemoth is beyond me. I guess if you desperately needed to get more beer after a fifty-foot snowstorm, you might feel vindicated after spending all that extra money. These vehicles seem to be a tax on the stupid, a form of social redistribution of wealth from suckers to those people smart enough to build such a monstrosity and convince people they need it. I used to always covet something cooler than my wimpy minivan that screams “whipped” when I drive it, but after this experience I am beginning to come around. A minivan seats 7-8 people, and due to the design, a hell of a lot of crap. The biggest SUVs seat 8, but at the expense of any decent cargo space. So everyone folds down the rear seat and ends up with a five passenger vehicle that gets 8 miles to the gallon. It also takes a lot longer to get places when your top speed is limited. The Armada has a speedometer that goes up to 140 mph, but its going to take someone a lot braver and stupider than me to even attempt to bring it over 100.
The funniest part about all this is that the Armada costs less to rent than the minivan. In fact, I could have driven a Jaguar for less than a minivan. So I spent my week driving a brand new luxury SUV, and the whole time wished for my Minivan. I guess it’s another case of “be careful what you wish for.” Lucky for me I found out before I went ahead and purchased one of these monsters.
DK is a 1L who gets good gas mileage.