What Makes A Automobile A “Sport Utility” Automobile?


Of observe over the previous couple of weeks is the revelation that form issues on the subject of car effectivity. The opposite takeaway is that the plethora of SUVs — tall, boxy, and all pervasive — simply aren’t the fitting form to optimize efficiencies. Frontal space issues! And we don’t appear to be getting any options, at the very least within the US.


I confess that I take into account my present Mini Cooper Clubman, All-4 the last word “sport utility car.” Why? After all due to the AWD and the drivability. However much more salient is the peak. To make the most of our car for “sports activities,” we use the roof racks: to hold sea kayaks, bicycles (as many as 4), skis, and a rocket field, or any mixture of those. With a hitch-mounted bike rack, we will carry each the kayaks and our bikes. Positive, typical SUVs might have roof racks, however you additionally want a step ladder to place issues on the racks or take them off.

And for sea kayaks — lengthy, ungainly craft when out of their component — the peak is a large usability issue. With a chic 4-part hoist system (accessible from West Marine) we will again the Mini into the storage bay the place the kayaks are suspended, decrease them onto the Mini, and drive out with out incurring an insurance coverage declare!

Whereas the Mini is our “SUV,” our i3 is our day by day driver. Commuting, groceries — even hay bales for the gardens. However, catering to “American” tastes, BMW constructed this car to at the very least resemble “crossover” appearances. So, it barely matches beneath the kayaks. At the very least I’ve nearly a foot of (ineffective) area over my head when driving.

Sadly, this development isn’t trying to change anytime quickly. Tesla builds decrease sedans with too brief a roof or an SUV that’s too tall. Chevrolet is making large affordability and drivability strides with the Bolt, however “artificially raised the roof peak” to look extra like a CUV — to “enchantment to American tastes.” Its new fashions destined to look someday this 12 months are the Equinox and Blazer, each with promised reasonably priced pricing, and each perpetuating the ineffective over-height paradigm.

And Volkswagen, mother or father to the ever versatile Golf, has a superbly passable successor within the ID.3, however refuses to promote it in North America as a result of Individuals need SUVs. BMW took a flyer with the Mini electrical, however fell far wanting aggressive vary. Perhaps in the event that they electrified the Clubman physique model, that further wheelbase would have afforded greater than a ~120 mile vary?

Right here’s hoping the not too long ago “found” inefficiencies of the all-pervasive SUV physique model will “revolutionize” auto styling again to one thing that really works. I get it that folk like having the ability to “see over the automobile in entrance of you,” however how’s that working when everyone seems to be driving a too-tall rig? And that extreme floor clearance? I routinely drive my Mini with skis by deep snow and up forest roads for bike journeys. (Superb what AWD with acceptable tires can do!)

I recommend a “true” sport utility car is one which helps and encourages us to make use of our sporting gear often and simply. Having to search out area for the step ladder isn’t serving to. EV station wagons, anybody?

By Gordon Matthews

Gordon Matthews is an expert engineer and profession 45 12 months utility-industry skilled. He plies the Pacific Northwest with bikes, skis and kayaks, hoping he can totally electrify these journeys!

Associated Tales:

BMW Retires The I3 With A Golden Parachute (Kinda)


Photos courtesy of Gordon Matthews








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