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SUVs: Suburban Monsters?

ford excursion 2000 suv sport utility vehicle
The suburbs would not even exist without cars. These days, everybody drives gargantuan sport utility vehicles.

But lately, CBS News Sunday Morning Correspondent Bill Geist has noticed that the neighbors' SUVs are bigger than his. That's not good, he says.
The station wagon, big enough to hold the entire family (and all its belongings), was always a symbol of suburbia.

But they were virtually subcompacts compared to today's humongously swollen sport utility vehicles, which just keep getting bigger and bigger.

The Ford Excursion is the biggest of them all. It weighs a little more than 9,000 pounds, about as much as two normal cars. This tank is 19 feet long and almost 7 feet tall. If it weren't for the running boards, you'd need a stepladder to board.

It eclipses every car on the road and is equipped with a sonar system that beeps to notify the driver that there is an object behind the vehicle.

As Doug Walczak of Ford Motors points out, the Excursion has roughly eight sedans' worth of cargo volume and 10 cupholders.

This boat has everything but a salad bar. You could show movies on its rearview mirrors.

But why do we want such gas-guzzling road hogs? We buy these big bad SUVs (with rhinocerous guards on the front) just to drive to malls and to McDonald's. The Excursion has a 44-gallon tank. And it's more of a mobile home, really. You could drive it and sleep in it. You could cook back there with the power points, so you really don't need a house anymore, do you?

What's next for suburbanites? Sport utility semis? Or are there limits?

While the Ford guy assures that Excursion will fit in a standard-size garage, it didn't fit into Geist's.

All the better for the neighbors to see.