Gas prices down? Some SUVs still big? Back to connecting McMansions and SUVs

Here is a review of the 2015 Chevy Suburban that clearly ties the large SUV with McMansions. The headline? “Suburban: McMansion on Wheels.”

2015 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD ½ Ton LTZ: The all-new King of the Road.

Price: $72,835 as tested ($64,700 base).

Marketer’s pitch: “Built for everything and everyone.”

Conventional wisdom: A McMansion on wheels.

Reality: Ginormous on the outside. But the inside? Debatable…

The big fella: This is it, the beast, the mother (or father; the Suburban is all masculinity) of all family vehicles. With seating for up to nine and plenty of room for storage, they don’t offer more space than the Suburban, right?…
In the end: Sorry, Suburban lovers and minivan haters. Unless you’re towing or foraging through the muddy hills of the Dark Forest – or if you want something that lots of people will notice – a Sienna is a more versatile people mover. Still, the caché of the Suburban will keep this monster popular for years to come, I’m certain.

The main emphasis in this review is on the size of the vehicle: quite large. The reviewer compares this vehicle several times to his family’s Sienna which also offers a lot of cargo space but has some other features (even if the minivan is not as cool, it less like a “box truck” and has more flexibility with the middle seats). I have to wonder how much the recent story that SUVs have regained some popularity with decreasing gas prices influenced the connection here to McMansions. SUVs are large, McMansions are large – why not connect these two common items of large size as well as symbols of excessive consumption? The headline illustrates a journalistic shorthand: big consumer items are comparable to super-size houses.

Interestingly, yearly sales of the Suburban fluctuated quite a bit in the last 15 years. Sales peaked just over 150,000 in 2001-2002 but then bottomed out at 41,055 in 2009 before rising slightly to 51,260 in 2013.

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