Have you spotted any trends lately? People downsizing from the giant to the more reasonable vehicle, for example?
Locally, gas is up to $3.90 per gallon, which comes to $52 to fill each of our cars. Fortunately, we only fill each up about every 3 weeks, so we don't suffer too much. But how about people who have large cars and use them a lot. Well, you know the story. They're looking for any way to reduce their gas consumption.
A friend of mine was dropping his kids off at day care when he noticed how many people seemed to have switched over from big SUVs to cars or minivans (e.g., Honda Odyssey). My friend, who owns an Odyssey, gets about 19 city, 24 highway. Not fabulous, but his family outgrew a 4-door sedan and they get a lot of use out of the vehicle. They thought about an SUV, but in the end, they finally accepted that they were now minivan people, so they bit the bullet. And they love it. Funny how that happens.
BMW X5 gets 15 mpg / 21 mpg, per EPA mileage estimates. Chevrolet Tahoe gets 14 mpg / 19 mpg, per EPA mileage estimates. And EPA estimates are pretty unreliable since they're derived from perfect conditions. Real driving leads to significantly worse mpg performance.
Now I don't know if you remember, but I don't get SUVs. I figure if you need a large vehicle, minivans are much more logical because of how versatile they are (e.g., doors, seats). But SUVs are big, clunky and hard to drive. They use more gas than most cars, and honestly, I find the interiors aren't an improvement on cars. I figure people have chosen them for aesthetics and because they think bigger is safer, which is just not true. If you want a safe car, buy a safe car.
And don't get me started on the SUV hybrids. That's just a weak compromise.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are some places, circumstances, and people who genuinely benefit from an SUV. But by and large, the masses who buy them are people who think they look cool. And now that gas is climbing, climbing, climbing, looking cool is nowhere near as important as it used to be.
I'm just saying.