The Pros and Cons of Sport Utility Vehicles for the Homestead

The benefits and drawbacks of sport utility vehicles for the homestead, including their usefulness on the farm as well as environmental harms.

| October/November 1997

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    The hauler that started the entire SUV (Sport-Utility Vehicle) Craze, the 1984 Jeep Cherokee.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    GM's new Ranger EV, powered by an electric motor.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Sensible, relatively inexpensive, and tough. The 1997 Cherokee has little reason to stray from its roots.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Diagram: Major components of the GM's new Ranger EV.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    NEVCO's single seat, electric Gizmo has a range of 25 miles and a top speed of 30 mph.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Getting into the Gizmo is nearly as much fun as driving it.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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If you keep your wits about you, sanely priced and dependable sport utility vehicles are still out there. (See the sport utility vehicle photos and diagram in the image gallery.)

"Wish a buck was still silver And a man could still work . . . and still would.
Wish a Ford and a Chevy Would last ten years like they should."

—Merle Haggard: "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?"

There's good news and bad news. Which would you like first? Okay.

Don't know that the greenback dollar or blue-collar jobs are a whole lot better off now than when ol' Merle penned his mournful lyric back in the early '80s. But the last part of his wish has come true and then some.



Because Fords and Chevy's (and Toyotas and Volvos and Hyundai's and practically all the motor vehicles made around the globe today) will indeed . . . and finally . . . "last ten years like they should"—and longer if given a little care.

MOTHER'S staff, and just about everyone else who needs a car to get around in the vast distances of North America, complained for most of a generation in order to get Detroit and Yokohama to upgrade 1940s-era auto design and production technology to satisfy car buyers, meet requirements of the frequently-updated 1970 U.S. Clean Air Act and the 1975 CAFE (fuel-economy) standards, and wrestle with the mixed challenge and opportunity posed by computer-tech, space-age materials and an interdependent global market.






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