Monday, July 21, 2008

Another cost of CAFE regulations

Regular readers here (both of you?) know well that I'm not exactly a fan of CAFE regulations. One reason why can be brilliantly illustrated by visiting most any campground and taking a look at the vehicles, and then remembering what they used to be like.

Yesterday: station wagon after station wagon, some pulling a modestly sized camping trailer, and a few RVs. Maybe a few Suburbans as well.

Today: 3/4 ton pickup after 3/4 ton pickup towing camping trailers, and many/most campers with tents arrive in two cars or more. Why?

Today's sedans won't tow a camper easily, and they also won't hold enough "stuff" to make a comfortable campsite, as yesterday's cars would. Thanks again, CAFE, for killing off the full size station wagon and V8 powered sedans.

Especially lacking are hybrids; the very point of a hybrid, after all, is to reduce the engine size to the minimum needed for ordinary highway conditions. The cost is trunk space (the batteries eat it up), towing, and such. The result? Better take two cars to the campground, and even at 48mpg, you're doing about as well as a standard minivan--even if the battery recycling turns out not to be an environmental disaster.

8 comments:

Gino said...

i thought the minivan was the perfect improvement over the station wagon. (I grew up with a wagon. a few of them dad had.)

but again, now that you mention it, i dont recall ever seeing a minivan pull a trailor.

Bike Bubba said...

The newer ones do a good job of it....just about as good as you could do with a Roadmaster in 1996. One wonders what could be in existence if CAFE hadn't existed--imagine the Roadmaster with, say, the current 5.3 liter small block Chevy and a six speed transmission. You would get rid of an awful lot of those 3/4 tons, I think.

Shawn said...

isn't the dodge magnum pretty much the next-gen station wagon?

Bike Bubba said...

Yes and no. I'd argue that the Pacifica, along with the Taurus wagon and GMC Acadia/Buick Enclave fit it more closely. The Magnum (which Dodge is cutting, along with the Pacifica) lacks the third row seat and abundant room of true wagons like the Roadmaster.

pentamom said...

I have friends who bought an Acadia last year (and sold us their lovely Town & Country, yay!) for the express purpose of hauling a camping trailer. They like it very well.

And while it's arguable that we're all more spoiled today, an Acadia is a LOT more comfortable than a Roadmaster, for the people who have to ride in the back rows. It may be somewhat unfair that the change was actually forced by government regulation, but I'll be the kids in the back seat have trouble seeing it as a unilateral evil. ;-)

Bike Bubba said...

What are you getting at there? I loved those until I hit about 5'8" or so, and I'd have to guess that as the industry figured out (around 2000) that it wasn't just truck buyers who got taller than that, the head/leg room of the Roadmaster would have improved--and we would have had the Acadia equivalent around 2002, I'd guess.

But with 6000 lbs towing capacity and a small block V8....

pentamom said...

Well, maybe it would have improved. Probably, even. But I'm not sure it's fair to use what you'd guess the industry would have done as a basis of comparison, instead of what the actually Roadmaster actually was. That's all I meant -- a comparison of real Roadmasters to real Acadias, instead of theoretical versions of either one, comes out a lot nicer for the Acadia.

Bike Bubba said...

In the same way, is it really fair to compare a 12 year old wagon to a new one?

I'd still have to suggest that as the rest of the industry realized the need for resilient seats and decent headroom, that trend would not have eluded Buick, either.