Automakers make SUV engines bigger, less efficient

Under heated criticism for making SUVs that are unsafe and grossly fuel-inefficient, American automakers are responding the way any responsible industry would: making their SUVs even less safe and less fuel-efficient. General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford are all cranking up horsepower in their SUV engines, in some cases to the point that behemoths like the Jeep Grand Cherokee will go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds, rivaling most sports cars. Though concerns about high gas prices, dependence on foreign oil, and global warming — did we miss any? — have heightened awareness of fuel economy, 84 percent of large-SUV owners still rank horsepower as an important vehicle attribute, compared to 45 percent who say the same about pinko-commie fixations like fuel economy. Of course, with their high centers of gravity and propensity to roll over in crashes, SUVs “were never designed to be driven as sports cars,” says David Champion of Consumer Reports. So watch out!