It’s time for a reality check in the automotive world…
Past time, actually. For years automotive journalists have deluded the public by ignoring the realities of energy consumption. As in gas mileage.
Oh, they’ve known better.
Car magazines grudgingly began putting a bit of emphasis on fuel consumption during the gas crunches of the late 70s. No way did they want to piss off advertisers – most of whom manufacture the gas guzzlers this country in known around the world for. But when you could barely even buy the gas, they had to do something. That emphasis on mileage has long since gone the way of the dinosaur. With rare exception.
The other day I passed a massive SUV with one of those Support Our Troops bumper stickers on the back.
Did it ever occur to the driver that getting 10 or 12 mpg – instead of 30 or 40 -might be the reason troops are dying?
Which brings us to the North American Truck of the Year...
A panel of so-called automotive journalists has named the new Ford Explorer the 2011 truck of the year. In case you haven’t been watching, Ford is headed by a former Lawrence man named Alan Mulally.
Here’s what Ford president Mark Fields said in accepting the award:
"We’re really reinventing what the SUV means and giving what our customers want,” Fields said. “It shows our plan is working, it shows that Ford can compete, not only here but around the world, and it shows we’re a country and a company that is falling in love again with bringing out fantastic cars and trucks.”
Hold it right there….
With India and China switching from bicycles and rickshaws to cars at a dizzying pace, world fuel consumption is spiraling upwards. Were it not for the worldwide recession, the $4 per gallon and rising gas prices of two years back might yet be with us.
Remember how car dealer lots were choking with SUV and pickups in 2008? You could barely give them away.
And now, as many experts look ahead to $3.50 or higher gas prices this summer and our troops flounder overseas, we select a truck of the year that gets only 2 miles per gallon more than its predecessor.
Frankly, that’s outlandish…
Don’t believe me. Check the numbers.
"Despite Ford’s claims that the new engine is 32 percent more efficient than the old V8, we only got 18 mpg out of the Explorer," Car & Driver magazine writes. "While that’s better than the 16 mpg we got in the previous truck, it’s still 2 mpg off the last (Honda) Pilot we tested."
Embarrassingly, Motor Trend bragged of taking the "first drive" in the Explorer then failed to even mention its gas mileage.
The bottom line: It’s high time to lose the bumper stickers and actually "support our troops."