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Silly Urban Vehicles

Web posted on November 16, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Now we come to SUV's or as I refer to them, Silly Urban Vehicles. I have yet to figure out what is sporty about these things. A sports car is a small two seat convertible with sleek lines and great performance, preferably in British Racing Green. Right hand drive optional. The truck that the hydro people use to service the power lines is a utility vehicle. No matter how hard I try, I fail to see how you can combine these two and get "sport utility vehicle." Where are the sleek lines? How do you put the top down? Where is the boom arm? Ok, they have four wheels an engine, and seats. I guess I have to admit they are vehicles. There is absolutely nothing sporting or sporty about these things, unless you consider the "mudders" (see my column on pickup trucks). Nor do they server any useful purpose unlike real working pick up trucks. Sport Utility Vehicles may very well be the mother of all oxymorons.

These things appear to resemble the off road exploration vehicles of the 1950s. One well known former British brand comes to mind. You know, rugged, well built vehicles you could drive anywhere, through anything in any weather. Another one would be the civilianized version of the United States Army General Purpose Vehicle used in World War II. Comfort was not an issue, getting you there was. The descendants of these vehicles have lost most of their original purpose over the years.

It would seem a large percentage of owners think that because they have a four wheel drive vehicle they are invincible and can drive through several centimetres of snow as if they were on a dry summer road. For many of these drivers, off road driving means passing on the paved shoulder. I wonder what percentage of these drivers have ever been off a paved road? Most of these alleged vehicles would be road kill on the back roads of Costa Rica (I have been there, and trust me the term road is wishful thinking in many places, and the back roads), the Australian outback or the middle of some out of the way desert. They certainly don't have the storage capacity or the ease of loading of a van or mini van where the side doors slide open and don't ding the car in the next parking space. Comfort is still not an issue. I have sat in the back seats of some sub compact cars with more comfort and are easier to get in and out of. They range in size from the fourth attempt at a really awful vehicle, to one almost as big as the territory in the arctic it is named after. It's a race to see which is the ugliest. No matter how much they dress these things up, no matter what fancy name they come up with, these things are nothing more than trucks.

The only reason I can think why they are used in law enforcement and politician protection is that are just trucks, and they can put large engines in these things and add lots of armour plating. Yes, some of these things can look rather intimidating.

Ever notice the number of people in TV shows and movies driving silly urban vehicles? Once again the marketing types are trying to convince us that it is cool (there is absolutely nothing cool or sexy about any of these things) to drive strange useless vehicles, I mean silly urban vehicles. The almighty product placement at work. Yes, the manufacturers pay a lot of money to have their brand of vehicle on the screen. I really don't blame the producers, they do have to pay for unneeded digital effects and untalented insipid script writers without an original thought. They will take any money they can get. It's marketing thing, and we don't understand. Remember what I said about URVs (Urban Redneck Vehicles, aka pickup trucks) and product placement a few weeks ago?

Both URVs and silly urban vehicles are nothing more than vision blocking, road destroying, gas guzzling ego vehicles. As with URVs, the bigger they are the more the owners are compensating for something. The drivers all think they own the road. What they lack in brains they make up for in arrogance. They should be banished to far end of parking lots, with no yellow pavement markings because they don't know what they mean and not be allowed near cars. Ever end up between a couple of these things in a parking lot? It's like being in a canyon. These things cause more wear and tear to our roads than the average car and use a lot more gas. Again, the environment is the last thing on the minds of the owners.

What exactly is a Crossover? I guess it could mean that it has crossed over the boundary of good taste. How did they ever come up with a term like that? It makes as much sense as sport utility. For the most part they look like bloated hatchbacks on steroids, and that's being kind and generous. I have a name for these things, unfortunately my editors won't let me use it. Once again the marketing people are preying on the weak minded.

That gets us past the most ignorant and arrogant drivers on the road, there is still a lot more to come. There is still a lot to be said about other vehicles, distractions of all types, impaired drivers and all sorts of other issues including the latest attempt at photo radar. There is lots more to come.

I have not forgotten about the election down south. As with our own election last year I need some time to read and analyse the "black boxes," and come up with my spin on things. It was certainly a shocker, or was it?

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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