A new automotive trend?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1990

TOM: My brother is always on the forefront of trends. Especially when it comes to buying cars. Let me show you what I mean. In 1984, he bought a Dodge Caravan.

RAY: Right. I knew that the mini-van craze was coming. Actually, credit here goes to my wife. We outgrew our station wagon, and I wanted her to get a full sized van so she could cart around the kids. She drove one, and said it was too big. As we were walking out of the showroom, she spotted the Caravan, and said "what's that? It's cute!"

TOM: Once around the block, and my brother realized that the mini-van craze was upon us. He made his down payment, and the rest is history. Then, sensing the arrival of another trend, he bought a Dodge Dakota pick-up truck in 1987.

RAY: Right. Even though I live near the city, I thought it would be great to be able to pick things up. I do a lot of weekend projects, and I knew the pick-up would be great for those Saturday morning trips to the lumber yard and the nursery.

TOM: Once again, my brother made the down payment, and millions of suburban Americans followed. Of course, my brother realized (as did millions of others) that lumber yards and nurseries all deliver...for free!

RAY: Right. It wasn't as easy as I thought to find things to pick up. So every month of two, I go out to the agricultural supply center and buy about ten bags of feed. I don't have anything to feed, but I think those bags look great in the back of my pick-up truck.

TOM: Anyway, whether or not there's anything to pick up is not the issue. The point is that my brother spotted another trend. He sensed that every American male had a deep seated need to own a pick-up truck at some time in his life. And he was right again. There are now more pick-up trucks driving around with nothing to pick up then ever before.

RAY: And I've just decided what my next vehicle is going to be.

TOM: Pay attention now, this is the official announcement of a new trend! What is it, brother dear?

RAY: I'm buying a Ford Explorer. The Explorer replaces the Bronco II as Ford's four-wheel-drive sport utility-wagon. It's better than my pick-up truck for several reasons. First, it has a back seat, so I don't have to tie my youngest boy to the gun rack when we take him to Grandma's. Second, the Explorer comes in a four door version. With four doors, my mother-in-law won't have to squeeze into the back seat and take all that weather-stripping off the door frame as she goes. It also has enclosed cargo room for that occasional Azalea I can't wait to have delivered. And with the "Eddie Bauer" package, it has every conceivable option you could want (except a height adjustable driver's seat). It rides very comfortably, and goes a long way toward bridging the gap between car and truck.

TOM: Well, there you have it. The next trend: comfortable, good-handling sport-utility vehicles. I would, however, like to be on record with my predictions for the future. In a few years, my brother will decide that he doesn't need a vehicle with four wheel drive (since he never seems to be out of milk when a snowstorm hits). He'll also decide that even though the Explorer is very comfortable, it's not comfortable enough. So next, he's going to buy a Chrysler New Yorker.

RAY: C'mon! I'm not going to go from an Explorer to a New Yorker!

TOM: Well, you may go through a few more cars on the way, but we all end up in New Yorkers eventually. You know what I mean?

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One