Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big-Dollar Big Butts

How can cars with no trunks have so much junk in the trunk?

The spore of the 1976 AMC Pacer has not only survived, it has multiplied to give birth to nearly one-third of 2010's new car line-up.

Some manufacturers of the season's new bustlebutts are taking pains to minimize the enormous derrieres of their debutantes, and major automotive magazines that want to be assured of at least securing a test car have been kindly insisting that somehow the best photographers and camera equipment of the day can't quite catch the handsomeness of these new designs. (The same photogs and cameras no doubt had difficulty documenting clothes on an emperor, once upon a time).

Acura's Flash movie for its new ZDX crossover shows a fast-paced montage of sexy concept car iterations, hoping to burn them into your retinas before briefly showing the pre-Subway-Jared rear of the actual production car.

Porsche has used desperate camera angles to hide the Rerun-from-70s-TV-sized bubblebehind on its new four-place, six-figure, full-figured Panamera.

But BMW has made no secret of the Beyonce-inspired gianorma-rump on its new 70k 5-series Gran Turismo. Munich's proud exhibition of this two-and-a-quarter-ton beast seems oddly the automotive equivalent of some proud Spandex-clad Wal-Mart-shopping babe rockin' the very tiny midriff-baring spaghetti top and the very large obesity problem. It's as if someone at BMW bet someone else at BMW that the blue and white propeller is so cool that the middle-manager masses will pony-up Porsche money for a decent-driving update of the 1982 Chevrolet Citation.

Two early scouts for this lard-assed scourge on the automotive landscape include the Pontiac Aztek and the BMW X6, both unibody trucks that preferred not to be thought of as lumbering sport utilities, lopping-off useful roof space in favor of sportback hatches but forgetting entirely about not weighing two tons.

As in none of the sport of a sports car with all of the weight of a sport utility with none of the utility.

To recap: No sport. No utility.

Neither the Aztek nor X6 lit up the sales charts, and the Aztek's claim to fame will not be sinking General Motors – rather letting the Edsel finally rest in peace.

This recent bold escalation of the Sport Rump is probably the penance we have to pay for rejecting large hatchbacks like the Saab 9000 back in the 80s when they were sporty, practical, and didn't weigh well north of two tons.

Make no mistake. The sedan is dead.

Even mobsters can go about their business without a trunk nowadays thanks to cargo covers ... and providing Sammy da Squealer doesn't spend more than 16 hours in the hatch during the summer months.

The three-box sedan, by all accounts, should be floating at da bottom of da rivah with Sammy.

For those who truly need one sensible vehicle with sport and utility in 2010, look no further than the iconic vehicles that have defined low-cost no-compromise sport and utility: the new VW GTI if you want to sit low and the new 3.0 liter Ford Escape if you want to sit high. Both of these cars haul butt and haul cargo without asking too much at the pump, and neither try to stuff too-big booties in the too-small jeans of a "fastback" design.

But for everyone else, especially every non-foreclosed McMansion owner with a three-car garage, consider that for the price of one insanely expensive and ungainly 2010+ Big Butt you could own two reasonably-priced purpose-built cars of classic proportion and never for a moment risk looking like a conflicted dork on the nation's highways.

Say, a Mustang GT and a 3.0 Ford Escape (why not cheat here?).

Or a Mini Cooper S and a VW GTI (let's cheat some more).

Or a Camaro SS and a Silverado Extra Cab if you must be bipolar. (And if you can find a stripped SS at list).

Once upon a time, like about a year ago, one might have felt guilty about owning, say, a hot rod and a pickup truck to satisfy two distinct transportation requirements.

But do the math.

Look at the future.

The Big-Dollar Big Butts are coming, and the only way a new car consumer can fight this threat is by ignoring these penny-unwise, pound-foolish new threats to automotive chic and buying two really cool vehicles that accomplish "sport" and "utility" for less money.

If you have a dubious spouse who thinks that for some reason just one practical car is enough for any one person, just show 'em this very convincing blog.

(And if they're still dubious, you can always mention Mesothelioma).


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