To say USA Today is mindful of advertisers might be an understatement…
Take its recent front page Money section story headlined, "Improved fuel efficiency leads SUVs to a comeback."
Oh sure, it’s based on the statistic that SUVs and crossover vehicles in November was the highest percetage of overall new vehicle sales in eight years. But clearly the headline and overall gist of the story was to spin what the money quote in the artical clearly stated:
"SUVs are getting slowly but surely more fuel efficicent," an expert was quoted. ""It’s just becoming easier and easier to justify buying them."
The migration from truck frames and lighter weight raising gas mileage, the story goes on to say.
Nowhere does USA Today give any breakdown of the gas mileage even smaller SUVs and crossovers get. Other than to point out a single example; the much ballyhooed new Ford Explorer (likely to be a plum advertiser in the national newspaper).
"the new Ford Exlporer, now a unibody crossover SUV, is rated about 5 miles per gallon better on the highway than the outgoing truck-based model," USA Today writes.
Hold it right there…
Car & Driver magazine – an auto industry institution that depends even more on advertisers like Ford – addresses the new Explorer’s gas mileage in its just out February issue.
"Despite Ford’s claims that the new engine is 32 percent more efficient than the old V-8, we got only 18 mpg out of the Explorer. While that’s better than the 16 we got in the previous truck, it’s still 2 mpg off the last (Honda) Pilot we tested."
Even the new Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 – a true baby SUV for young hipster family types only turned inan average of 21 mpg in Car & Driver’s long term testing.
Compare that with the 42 mpg the magazine got in the 2010 Toyota Prius.
With gas prices inching above the $3 level and a USA Today expert citing that $3.50 a gallon is the level that begins "dramatically crimping SUV demand," this could be a bumpy summer for Explorer and SUV and crossover owners alike.
I’m pretty sure we’ll likely only be reading those headlines in USA Today after the you-know-what hits the fan.
Speaking of the Toyota Prius…
Did you know that the current generation Prius is better for Mother Nature than sheep farts?
I’ll wager not.
But that’s deintely the case, according to Autoblog.com.
"The flatus of the Toyota Prius is less harmful than the flatus of a sheep. Who knew? Apparently, Toyota’s Israeli arm, that’s who," Autoblog writes. "As you can see from the advertisement above, the methane gas produced by livestock can indeed be worse for the environment (animal gas, including that from humans, is in fact a greenhouse gas) than the emissions from the ass end of an automobile, depending on what you’re trying to define – and that goes for any automobile, not just one that’s as popular in squeaky clean circles as the Prius hybrid."
Autoblog goes on to say they’re doubtful Toyota will be running the ad in the US market. I wouldn’t be too sure.