The Land Rover, the Jeep, the Toyota Land Cruiser. Flagship monster off-road vehicles from Britain, USA and Japan respectively. Very useful for military and agricultural demands, great for towing caravans, hauling cars out of ditches, scaling rough terrain. But who the heck really needs to drive one of these beasts from A to B on Britain’s roads?
I spend approximately an hour and a half most days in the car, and unfortunately, this involves wading through school traffic. I haven’t tried counting yet (I will if I remember), but I guess i must encounter about 30 cars that fall into the SUV/MPV/4×4 category on my way to work.
But are they ever needed?
Aside from speed bumps, rumble strips and perhaps the odd pot hole, I never ever have to face any terrain that is a challenge to a normal car. Over the years I’ve been up and down kerbs in the Midlands, negotiated the steep hills of Yorkshire, and endured the horrendous stop-start gridlock that is London. I’ve carried people, guitar amps, furniture, bikes, bags of shopping etc and sometimes a combination.
The humble hatchback is well-designed for these challenges and does a pretty good job. Why then, do people need a heavy duty vehicle to take little Johnny to school? Why would anyone need to drive a farm vehicle to a supermarket? If Oak Tree Primary were only accessible via a mud track, or if Sainsbury’s was the other side of a mountain; then yes, a heavy utility vehicle is what we all need.
But the road taxes we pay (4×4 drivers a hell of a lot more of course) go towards making our roads as safe and usable as possible, so there aren’t really many scenarios that warrant anything more powerful than a normal car.
SUVs are too big, too thirsty on fuel, too expensive. Although I guess the extra road tax is handy for the roads.