High-rolling chicane

If you have to drive, but you really, really hate cars, this is what you’re probably driving:

That class of vehicle is the CUV, or compact utility vehicle. “Cute-ute” for short. It’s the perfect car for people who hate cars. It doesn’t handle worth a damn, being basically a short-wheelbase compact car jacked up on tall shock absorbers. It weighs a thousand pounds more than it should and usually has less interior space than one of those wacky Tercel wagons with the single reverse light from the Eighties. It costs more than the mid-size sedans with which it shares showroom space and to which it is inferior in every measure from the quarter-mile to the fuel range. It is worthless off-road and feckless on-road.

The cute-ute exists for one reason and one reason only: to let you “sit high.” It’s a clown car on stilts. If you are ever asked to name the vehicle that is the exact spiritual opposite of the Challenger Hellcat or the Lamborghini Huracán or the Mazda Miata, there’s only one answer, and the cute-ute is that answer. Their drivers are, by and large, slack-jawed pseudo-passengers whose rapt attention to their iPhones or AM radio stations is only occasionally interrupted by a Pequod-worthy swing of the helm or an ABS-squeaking random stab of the brakes. Of the last five vehicles to run my motorcycle out of a freeway lane, three of them were Honda CR-Vs.

I once coveted one of those wacky Tercel wagons, which should tell you how questionable my automotive tastes are.

That said, if I may twist up an observation by young Dashiell Robert Parr: if everybody sits up high, then nobody sits up high.





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