Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

SUV's Safer, But Too Late For Buying Public?


After years of complaints, and clear cut evidence that sport utility vehicles are more prone to flip over in accidents, there is finally good news. Funny thing is, just as SUV's become safer, they've lost much of their appeal.

The National Higway Traffic Safety administration has given 4 stars to more than half of the SUV's it put through roll-over tests. A big improvement over last year. In short, the majority of SUV's are now less likely to roll over during an accident, mainly because most now have electronic stability control. "EBS" automatically apply brakes to individual tires when the suv begins swerving,..and this helps the driver stay in control. It's great technology that has made a huge difference, and is now part of more than 80% of the SUV's being sold.

Problem is, fewer big rigs are being sold. Blame it on high gas prices or perhaps the fact many of us realize we don't need a heavy, truck based vehicle for driving around the suburbs. Whatever the reason, sales of traditional suv's have cooled off.

Yes, more people are moving in to lighter, more fuel efficient crossover utility vehicles, and tall wagons are becoming more appealing.

I think this is all part of the natural rotation in tastes the industry goes through every 7-10 years. It may ultimately lead automakers to build the next generation of SUV's that are more intriguing, better designed, and yes, safer. At least we'll know they are less prone to roll over.

Tomorrow: Can Caddy regain its mojo?

Questions?  Comments?