Compact Car Or SUV : Which One Should I Buy?

I recently saw a TV commercial targeted at college graduates. The ad showed a huge SUV for sale offering an attractive $10,000 cash rebate, or 0 percent financing for 6 years. The ad juxtaposed this offer to that of purchasing a compact car. Then the commercial intimated that if the college grad was smart as their college degree would suggest that they would take the SUV offer and if the college grad were stupid they would take the compact car offer.

Buy A Compact Car Or A SUV – Dah!
I really could not believe it. The question I asked was: “what is the better choice, buy a compact car that gets 30 plus miles per gallon, or a huge SUV that gets 18 mpg with some cash incentives?” In my world the answer to this question was a no brainer and what a ridiculous car commercial.
But then I got to thinking, the car dealer spent some serious marketing money to get this ad on national television is there any merit to it? I asked myself the question: “What is there to consider smart college grad with gas prices above $4.00/gal?”

China and India Gasoline Demand Is Catching On Quickly
I thought to myself I have my answer and I’m a college grad, albeit it was in another decade. My answer looked like this: “well, for starters, gas prices are hovering at $4.00/gal and China and India have a combined population of greater than 10 times the U.S. population and their demand for gasoline is only just getting started. It sounds to me like gas isn’t going to get much cheaper in the near or far out future the compact car looks pretty good for the future. And surely filling up a tank of gas at $100 a pop for a large SUV should be a show stopper for any college grad. Any smart college grad would pick the compact car.”
But back I went to the commercial’s message: the SUV getting the “Top In Class” 18 MPG is the smart choice for the college grad. Is there merit in their commercial? Come on car manufacturers; are American consumers really that out of touch to buy this line of advertising?
Perhaps maybe we are.
The evidence is in a news story I just saw a few days ago as gas prices started their slight dip down. A gentleman being interviewed by a reporter who was driving a SUV said that he had cut back his driving with the higher gas prices, but if prices went back down he’d start driving more. This to me sounds like a guy who isn’t getting the message. Is this guy alone? I dare say he isn’t.

The Cheap Fossil Fuel Fantasy Is Gone Forever
What I do say is our right in the U.S. to cheap fuel is a fantasy. Someday we’re all going to wake up from this fantasy one day when gas prices are $9.00/gal like they are now in Europe and ask ourselves “what happened?”
In the first half of 2008, Americans drove something like 80 million less miles because of higher gas prices. One could only hope that it was a start of changing habits for the good. Conservation of gasoline and fossil fuels is good in so many ways – global warming to name a big one. But, if the guy from the gas station is not alone, change is going to be slow to come.

What Do We Do If We Are Not Driving As Much?
Question is, “what were people doing since they weren’t driving as much?” Telecommuting, visiting with neighbors, cooking more at home, eating more hotdogs on the grill, getting into less traffic accidents, getting less traffic tickets, paying cheaper insurance bills are some options for what people did more of in the first half of 2008. Isn’t this more of what we want anyway? Paying less and having more fun?
Come on America, get in the Green Game. Do you remember the lyrics from a song that said something like: “get your game on, go play.” It’s time to get the Green Game on, pick the compact car for a change. At the very least please spare the rest of us, don’t complain about high gas prices if you picked the SUV. Remember you made the choice.