Whenever I get behind some guy in a SUV/truck who slows way the hell down for railroad crossings, I give a snort of derision. Particularly if the truck in question is a high-dollar four-wheel-drive station wagon with leather seats (heated leather seats) and "dubs".
The Chicago Sun-Times has recently begun to include its "Auto Times" supplement just about every day of the week, repeating the same printings several times. I'm not sure exactly why, but it seems to make them happy. Today, there's a Saturn Vue on the front cover and they're talking about how it's "acting more Euro".
"Inside|The much-improved 2008 Saturn Vue, a compact SUV, has better steering, ride and handling, thanks to features like European-style suspension."
A quick skim of the article doesn't explain what a "European-style suspension" is. It does say that the Saturn Vue is "similar" to the Opel Antara, but so what?
Anyway the thing defaults to front wheel drive and its base model comes with 16" wheels. And looking at the options it's pretty clear it's never meant to go anywhere there is not some kind of road. When you can get 18" alloy rims with 55-series tires, that does not mean "let's go four-wheeling!" That means, "If you go over a rough railroad crossing too fast, expect to crack a rim."
Meanwhile, here's me in a seven-year-old Jeep, taking the roughest crossing in the area at the speed limit because I know that's not going to break anything.
I don't doubt that the Saturn Vue is a "nicer" vehicle than my Jeep is. You can pay up to $30,000 for one and the list of options is impressive.
Still, what's the point of having a 4x4 if you have to drive it like it's a sports car that will bottom out on a skid mark? If you want a vehicle that will handle like a sports car, don't buy a freaking truck, for Christ's sake! Buy a sports car.
Of course, the railroad crossing I'm talking about--I took that one at the same speed in my Escort, too, so having a Jeep hasn't really changed my driving habits all that much. I take corners slower because it's taller and has a much higher center of gravity, and I can't take the S-curve east of town at 60 MPH in this thing. (Yet?)