It’s a beautiful ‘SUV day’ in The Villages

Sedans fade to the background as SUVs continue to be a resident favorite.

Sport utility vehicles are still seen frequently on America’s highways and byways. U.S. households owning or leasing a sedan and looking for a new car are getting an SUV about 40 percent more often than a few years ago, auto industry reports say. This trend is abundantly evident in The Villages.    

Another industry report says drivers remain loyal to sedans as they get older. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Villages residents. There are no published statistics; however, an unofficial check of two parking lots on Villages property found that 53 percent of vehicles were SUVs, particularly midsize models.

Car ownership and leases often are subject to fads. Back in the 1970s, when gas prices began to soar thanks to OPEC’s desire to squeeze every nickel they could out of America’s drivers, fuel-saving compact and subcompact models were the rage. About 20 years ago, minivans became the popular choice of “soccer moms,” who scurried about their hometowns transporting kids. 

Today, SUVs, especially the smaller types, rule the roads in The Villages. Technically, an SUV is any car with a tall body, a hatchback, and elevated ride height. 

Their selection is made here for three reasons: ease of entry and exit, a ride height that improves vision of surrounding traffic, and extra interior cargo capacity. Mobility problems associated with age cause Villagers to choose the comfort of climbing up to enter an SUV rather than having to painfully bend down for a sedan. 

Slower reflexes among golden-agers make it important to have an SUV’s better view of the road that provides a little more time to react to traffic conditions.

An SUV’s larger cargo capacity also is attractive to Villagers who still make frequent long-distance trips to visit faraway family and friends. 

The one benefit that SUVs don’t offer compared to most sedans is excellent gas mileage. A quick review of most mileage specs for mid-priced SUVs shows a lackluster city-to-highway average of about 18-26 miles per gallon, whereas the typical mileage range for a sedan in the same price category is between 26 and 35 MPG. 

I’m told that thrift is an important virtue among Villagers, but maybe not so much in how they spend for their “rides.” But what the heck, “you only live once.”