SUV Count Results

Thursday, August 02, 2007

We announce the results of our S.U.V. "crowdsourcing" project. Associate producer, Jim Colgan, lays out the numbers and highlights the blocks with the highest and lowest percentages.

Then we look at what the numbers actually mean with Jamie Kitman New York Bureau Chief for Automobile Magazine and U.S. editor of the magazine for the U.K. television show “Top Gear.”


Jim Colgan and Jamie Kitman

Comments [49]

Jeff from Kensington, Brooklyn

I know I heard a reference to a website with the best cars and SUVs for the environment, but I skim listened to the show and Fri follow up and did not hear it.

Where do we find this?

Aug. 07 2007 09:06 PM
superf88 from n

I GET this --

This was really a scientifically-gathered collection of excuses by NPR listeners defending their ownership of (so-called) SUVs:

5. Lots of kids!
4. I'm big!
3. So safe!
2. I'm handicapped
1. Need it for my work!

So NPR, I solved your puzzle -- now where's my prize?!

Aug. 06 2007 07:38 AM
dfga from SUVLand

What's the time of day reflected by your map -- work hours or non-work hours?

Weekend or weekday?

Usage of the SUV *might* skew the results unless all data was collected simulateously, LOL

Aug. 06 2007 07:30 AM
Terry McKenna from Dover NJ

i have an SUV, but a small forrester, which is really much more car like. and since l live in the "suburbs" and have real outdoor chores like taking 3 or 4 containers to recycling each week. and to be frank, my small SUV makes all these chores so much easier to so things. and.... since i am 6' 3" tall, it a car that i can easily sit in. the SUV makes a lot of sense, just make them more efficient (like toyota and subaru have. and by the way, i have a roof rack, but this summer and almost every summer, my wife and i haul loads of bags of gravel, sand, soil and mulch for our yard. again, efficient suv's are a dream for home owners.

Aug. 04 2007 11:51 AM
biker from brooklyn

Owning an SUV is selfish not only for the environmental degradation you force on the rest of us, but also for the increased danger the height of the vehicle inflicts on those not in them, including pedestrians, cyclists, and those in normal vehicles. We can't see over SUVs so even when they are not moving- even when they're parked on side of the road- they can cause accidents and deaths.

Aug. 03 2007 01:38 PM
Theresa from Kensington

I'm sorry I didn't get to enter my block in Kensington in time-- I couldn't believe Kensington had a "low" percentage. I live on a ten-house cul de sac. Right now I look out my window and see eight vehicles. Four on this tiny block are SUVs.

Aug. 03 2007 12:13 PM
Karen from Manhattan

Jean, my problem is that if I don't sit with an upright, long spine, I get severe neck/head pain. Every car (and SUV) I have ever sat in has a bucket-style seat with soft cushions, which causes the butt to sink down, a seat angle that causes me to fall back against the back, which is concave in shape, causing my back to curve incorrectly and makes it necessary to crane my neck forward to see where I am driving. In order to sit up straight, I need a firm, flat surface to sit on, and I can't lean back in the seat. So to avoid this collapsed posture, I have to put something hard and flat on the seat to sit on. This extra inch or two, plus my straight spine, makes me (at 5'6.5") hit my head on the top of all but the tallest vehicles, even when the seat is lowered as far down as it goes (though that exacerbates the bad, backward tilt of the seat). There's no reason a car can't be constructed to allow for better seated posture, but I haven't found it yet. At least with an SUV, there is room for my accommodation. Believe me, I have no love for SUVs in general, but avoidance of severe pain is a high priority.

Aug. 03 2007 10:45 AM
Rocknrope from Windsor Terrace

For many of the reasons already articulated, this was a pointless exercise, that provided niether quantitative nor qualitative data worth discussing. Just another excuse for your busybody audience to wag a superior finger and "Tskk, tssk" their nieghbors. Useless.

Aug. 02 2007 05:42 PM
Pete from Astoria

Not sure what they are trying to prove on this one? Environmental impact or space utilization? They should probably note that if they are concerned about SUVs taking up a lot of space that the two dimensions in which matter the most in NYC (length and width) many SUVs are better than cars.

Lets compare a Ford Escape (I own one) to a Toyota Camry (best selling car in the US I believe). Some people might be shocked to know that not only are they the same width but the Camry is over 14" longer than the Escape, so it takes up MORE space on the street.

Aug. 02 2007 02:51 PM
Seth from Manhattan

I'm intrigued by your crowdsourcing effort which I am confident will provide a fairly accurate estimate of the SUV count in the city. However, I am less comfortable that the results will provide any insight into how environmentally responsible/aware New Yorkers are. An SUV is essentially a body style that, despite it's recognizable shape and demonization in the press, should not necessarily serve as a sign that its owner is more or less environmentally responsible than the owner of the car parked next to it. Contributors to your experiment will flag many SUVs that achieve better gas mileage than many of the cars particularly luxury sedans and high powered sports cars.

Not to pick on any one brand but, for example, a BMW 5 series or 7 series will be identified as a car in your study. The 5 series may get worse mileage than a Ford Escape (smaller SUV) and the 7 series may get worse mileage than a Ford Explorer (larger SUV). Sure we love an easy target but those BMWs that are being overlooked in your study (and probably in the parking lots of theaters showing 'An Inconvenient Truth' and Al Gore fundraisers) are equally, if not more guilty, than the SUVs that at least provide more utility than these luxury sedans.

The environmental taboo has been placed on the SUV and that's a fine start. But an intelligent discussion on this topic needs to identify all gas guzzlers (luxury cars, sports cars, fast drivers, frequent long distance commuters, etc.)

Aug. 02 2007 12:47 PM
Eddie from Jersey Shore

On today's show someone stated that station wagons are not considered sexy. I drove a white Buick Roadmaster in the late 90's, and I thought it looked very sharp,cool,and yes, even sexy. Now I drive a 2003 cadillac cts and need I say more?

Aug. 02 2007 12:45 PM
Craig Bromberg from Brooklyn

What's an SUV? Are we in "I know one when I see one" territory? Is it any car with four doors and a hatchback? Does it need to be higher off the ground than a "regular" car? Does it need to be built on a truck body? Most garages, don't consider a Toyota Highlander an SUV, but do apply an SUV charge on the much bigger Toyota Sequoia.

Sorry to say, the lack of precision in your survey question has probably created significant respondent bias. Despite the relatively large number of responses (large for the Brian Lehrer show but statistically insignificant compared to the the number of blocks and cars on the road), such overly general questions can only lead to inaccurate results, from soup to nuts--including the reportage based on them. Sadly, the only thing this survey shows is the general shabbiness and inaccuracy so-called crowdsourcing is bound to create.

Aug. 02 2007 12:45 PM
chestine from NY

I grew up in a sea of children - 43 first cousins and loads of siblings - in the tundras of western NY - we got around in station wagons, and when there was a lot of snow, you put chains on the tires. I did have a jeep - but a jeep, not an suv with heated seats, at one point. Four wheel drive is a good idea for snowstorms, but not really necessary.

Aug. 02 2007 11:54 AM
Brent from West Virginia

In the midwest, I drive my family around in a small car while constantly dodging giant vehicles who can't see me. I took the below photo to document my frustrations.

Aug. 02 2007 11:49 AM
Lori Hurley from Kensington

I have a guilty conscience because I never communicated the results of my survey and I live in Kensington. there were at least 30% SUVs on my block the other night.

Aug. 02 2007 11:45 AM
Joan Rosenfelt - Important: Use Jonella, please! from New York

I have a house in the country and a small SUV - the Honda CRV - and I cannot praise this car enough! The amount of stuff it will hold is literally AMAZING! I have been planting my two acres with loads of trees and flowers - so I will drive to Lowes or Home Depot or other nursuries when the plants are on sale and buy much more than I planned to - filling two, three and even four carts! - and the guys who are supposed to help me load up the car just look at it like, you're going to have to take half this stuff back - BUT NO! - We are actually able to get it ALL into the CRV!
It's just a great car - it's not huge by any means - it gets excellent mileage - close to 30 mpg - I could not sing the praises of this car more!!! I'm only sorry that the latest models are larger than my 2001 model.
I also do enjoy the height because of visibility.
(P.S. I listen to your show most days up in the country, over the web... Love it!)

Aug. 02 2007 11:45 AM
Sammi from NYC

I do believe that ridiculously huge SUVs that look like mini-buses are unnecessary, but I drive a Honda CRV in Manhattan and my mother has a Honda Passport, neither of which are too large, and they are a god-sent in the winter. We are virtually the only people who can get out from under the snow after a storm, or can park in available spots after a storm that have piles of snow in the middle. Their usefulness is undeniable. We do, however, try to conserve energy and I wish I had a hybrid.

Aug. 02 2007 11:44 AM
Jack Green from Manattan, NY

People don't know they are driving a station wagon.

Although there are more SUVs every year, I do believe the design is changing. A lot of them are getting smaller and smaller, and are evolving into what is looking more and more like..... A STATION WAGON. My work just gave me a chrysler pacifica "a crossover vehicle" as far as I can tell this and the lexus SUV are just station wagons riding a little higher with a square nose. These things aren't designed to go off road. There is no "Sport" or "Utility" they are made for apart from picking up the kids from soccer practice.

Why don't we just give a new name to station wagons that sounds cooler? OR IS THAT WHAT'S HAPPENING..... (creepy music)

Aug. 02 2007 11:44 AM
Jean Gazis from Park Slope

Karen, what's your problem? I'm an above-average height woman (just shy or 5'8"), and I am quite comfortable even in the back seats of small cars.

I've heard the very tall Penn Gillette discuss, on this very station, the fact that the Mini Cooper affords him more head and leg-room than almost any larger vehicle.

Aug. 02 2007 11:43 AM
sawe from nj

People buy SUVs for safety or "status" (depending on their circles) but quickly become careless drivers who don't bother using their signals or even driving on only half the roadway. Cops don't stop them. The end.

Aug. 02 2007 11:41 AM
Joan from Garrison, NY

vw Beetle --love it or hate it-- is, for example, the roomiest car for my husband's 6'5" frame. To retiterate, one doesn't need an SUV.

Aug. 02 2007 11:41 AM
michal from brooklyn

love your show, tried to call, but all circuits busy.. I think thi discourse has slippe too much towards SUV versus Hybrid in terms of gas mileage, yet there are so many other cars that fly under the radar -like all the sports cars with mileage worse than SUV and no utility value, or all the limos in NYC with the same mileage as SUV and one person at a time in it..
I think the debate should be more about engine volumes, horsepower etc..

Aug. 02 2007 11:41 AM
perry from Manhattan

I got a Toyota Highlander Hybrid so that I wouldn't put so many miles on my beloved BMW 528 Station Wagon. I used to spend hundreds each year fixing the front air dam after winter driveway incidents. Mileage is essentially identical.

Aug. 02 2007 11:40 AM
Jean Gazis from Park Slope

Looking only at safety in crashes is FAR from the whole picture. What about increased illnesses like asthma due to pollution from vehicles? What about increased injuries from crime due to lead poisoning from vehicle pollution? What about pedestrian injuries? This past weekend, at my intersection (2d St and 7th Ave), a car went up the sidewalk, knocking down scaffolding, damaging a storefront, a tree, two parking meters, and a parked car. What if that had been an SUV instead of an ordinary sedan?

Aug. 02 2007 11:40 AM
Mimi Stern-Wolfe from Manhattan 12th street 1st & 2nd Avenues

I spend one Hour fifteen minutes looking for parking spot aound 12th street 1st-2nd av last night. I have a Honda Civic 1987. I look in dis-belief at these SUV's guzzling spaces--2 1/2 cars like mine can fit in one of their spaces. No room for a small car like mine. Between the real estate guzzlers, the NYU guzzlers and the SUV guzzlers, we old time lower east siders don't stand a chance.

Why not tax every SUV and use the money for better public transportation for the people. And include Mayor Bloomberg's two monsters!

Aug. 02 2007 11:39 AM
aaron from Astoria

In response to the caller and comment-ers talking about the ease of getting in and out of SUVs: I drive Toyota Echo, which was Toyota's smallest car when it was made, but the seat is high, I feel like I'm a full head taller than other drivers, and I don't have to stoop to get into it. I wish people would realize that many of the amenities they like in SUVs are available in smaller cars; you just have to look around a bit.

Aug. 02 2007 11:38 AM
Brian from Manhattan

One of the things that annoys me most (as a member of the armed forces) are those SUVs and especially HumVees sporting the "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon stickers, American flags etc. WHAT hypocritical irony--don't they make the connection!!!

Aug. 02 2007 11:38 AM
Jon Pope from Hewitt, NJ

SUVs are inferior in every way. They get terrible gas milage. They take up more room on the road and when parking. Plus thanks to a 1976 law to help out farmers, they have significantly lower safety standards so they can be more cheaply made. Fact: the deadliest accident you can be in is getting broad sided. You have a 30% chance of dieing in a passenger car. In an SUV, you have a 50% chance of dieing. You also have a more significant chance of flipping over in an SUV due to the higher center of gravity…

Jon Pope
Industrial Designer

Aug. 02 2007 11:36 AM
AWM from UWS

I'm 6'6 and don't like to drive with my knees. I have a CRV.

Aug. 02 2007 11:35 AM
Leslie McKinley

After listening to the mother talking about the ease of loading all the kids in the car and carting various equipment around -- that's why she has the SUV.

Until the advent of the SUV, there was a great car that did all that -- the station wagon.

Sadly with the SUV there are no station wagons any more.

Aug. 02 2007 11:34 AM
Ruth E. Ross from Maplewood, NJ 07040

And so the people who buy SUV are.....I will refrain from filling in. And there are cars that will accomodate knee, hip, back problems. You do not have buy an SUV.!

Aug. 02 2007 11:33 AM
Max Brimberg from Brooklyn Bridge....Gold Street(Frankfort to Fulton)

I just looked at the map with the numbers....oh dear....the person putting the numbers together doesn't seem to know the city.

My numbers are right on a street next to the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan and marked as Brooklyn and the street above mine was marked as being in Hollis, Queens. Oh well...I guess it's true...people here really never get to know the city.

Aug. 02 2007 11:32 AM
GL from NY

SUVs in the city may be a reflection of the abnormally poor roads as well. There are potholes out there that would crack the axle of the average subcompact. :-)

Aug. 02 2007 11:32 AM
Ruth E. Ross from Maplewood, NJ 07040

I am, admittedly, very anti-SUV. There are just too many issues that SUV owners advance to have a one - room, up high, safety, cool, security, etc., etc. Sorry - the environment, the space, parking spaces, time to get through a red light/green light, a traffic jam, etc. And the environment and our roads & bridges. I do not believe - at all - that SUVs are sfaer. No way!

Aug. 02 2007 11:30 AM
Andrew from brooklyn

Recommend Ford Freestyle - third row of seat, taurus chasis, better gas mileage. Rides higher than normal car but without stigma of SUV.

Aug. 02 2007 11:29 AM
Shannon Copleand from Edgewater, New Jersey

We have 2 Greyhound (dogs) and my husband is in a band (lots of gear/equipment). After considering a small SUV like the Honda CRV, I would up getting a Toyota Matrix. Tremendous Cargo space!! AND it gets 34 mpg on highway.

Aug. 02 2007 11:29 AM
Millie Niss from Norh Tonawanda, NY

I live part time in NYC and part time upstate at my mother's house. She uses a smallish SUV (Saturn Vue) with lots of storage space to drive me from NYC to her home, and it is always filled with my baggage and work materials. Because my trips last months, I cannot fit my belongings in a smaller car. Moreover, I am disabled and cannot travel by train alone with this baggage.

Aug. 02 2007 11:28 AM
Daniel Bavolack from Manhattan

We don't have any idea where these cars have come from: Outside Manhattan? NJ?

Aug. 02 2007 11:27 AM
Karen from Manhattan

So far, I have not heard anyone pointing out the reason I have an SUV: the seat allows me, with relatively little modification, to sit upright with good posture, with knees lower than hips, whereas every sedan I have ever tried forces me into a slump with my legs stuck straight out in front: there isn't even enough head room to sit up straight (and I am an average-height woman). Thus, I find it very painful to sit for any length of time in a sedan, whereas I can sit for several hours in my SUV without much trouble.

Aug. 02 2007 11:26 AM
anonymousbrooklynperson from Crown Heights, Brooklyn

There's also the neighborhood "bling" factor. Crown Heights has many, many humongous SUVs. I've even seen some called "Armada" (snork)

Aug. 02 2007 11:26 AM
Joan from Garrison, NY

Psychological shields of safety. They look tough. Higher up off ground. Their own battlefield tanks. Esp after 9/11. Marketers took advantage.

Aug. 02 2007 11:24 AM
S from rockaway

if you look out in belle harbor, neponsit, rockaway park, your numbers would be high but percentages low. most single family households out here follow the rule :"one more vehicle per home than inhabitant --- and at least one must be an SUV". so, you see driveways (and paved-over front lawns) with four or five vehilces only one of which will be an SUV.

Aug. 02 2007 11:20 AM
Leo from Greenpoint BK

profoundly stupid segment

Aug. 02 2007 11:16 AM
Teresa from Edgecombe Ave bet. 142nd St and 145th St, Upper Manhattan

Well, how come my neighborhood did not get a green car? I provided the correct information for this "groupsourcing" project. What's up with that?

Aug. 02 2007 11:16 AM
Brad from NYC

Does this SUV count include Minivans?

Aug. 02 2007 11:14 AM
Mike Drew from Work in Midtown

So, did you account for double- or triple-counting of cars on blocks with more than one responder?

Aug. 02 2007 11:13 AM
Joelle from Manhattan

The Manhattan results do not surprise me in the least. Within the past 10 years, Manhattan has become just another Westchester suburb with double-wide babystrollers and the SUVs that cart them off to the beach on the weekend. I think it speaks volumes as to the type of people who now inhabit our city.

Aug. 02 2007 10:37 AM
daniel from Park Slope

Why are there no results for Park Slope? I can see that there are dozens of responses for my neighborhood on the comments page but not a single SUV icon on the results map. What's the deal, eh!

Aug. 02 2007 10:25 AM
Andrew from Sunset Park, Brooklyn

The info is very interesting, but I think it might say more about where your listening audience is than about SUV ownership in NYC.

Aug. 02 2007 03:21 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.