The epidemic of the “pretty” SUV

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Houston, we have a problem. Actually, it’s not limited to Houston only, it’s a global epidemic.

It was confirmed on a recent trip to some popular sand dunes, and our steed was a Toyota Prado. We were set to see how well it handled to soft, hungry sand.

While letting down the tyres in the allotted area, there were several SUVs parked up at the base of the sand hills. Each of them looked ready to go. Ford Rangers, Toyota Hiluxes and others, all with gleaming chrome, huge lift kits, bolt on flares, massive wheels and chunky tyres.

The paintwork on each of them was immaculate and with their snorkels, light bars and bullbars, there was no doubt they were certainly kitted out, and ready for action. Problem was, none of them was in action.

We played around, got ourselves stuck, dug ourselves out, used our MAXTRAX and had a ball for a few hours. But heading back toward the parked cars, none of those pretty-boy four-wheel-drives had budged. Worse still, the owners were hanging around just chatting.

While we can’t speak to the reasons they were there, it did seem a bit odd that in an environment where a car like that would shine, why not use it for what it was built for?

Thing is, it’s not an isolated incident. While driving along on the weekends, you see far too many of these road warriors which look like they could come from the set of Mad Max, but rarely do you see them on Stockton Beach, or on the Mundaring Powerline track.

One was beside us the other day. Matte wrapped in black and white vinyl, with huge “RANGER” lettering plastered across the tailgate and down the side, it made a real humming noise with its massive mud terrain tyres.

But close inspection revealed it hadn’t done a day of off-road work in its life. Matte vinyl is easily marked, especially white, and where anything brushes up against it, it leaves a glossed patch. So, a bush trip would leave quite a few marks down the sides. But this one? Nothing. It was immaculate.

Given the work done to it, there’s no doubt it has some serious ability up its sleeve. But being able to do something and actually doing it are two very, very different things.

Ford Ranger FX4

It’s a bit like the Range Rover Sport – amazing capability, but does anyone take it bush? Same goes for the Vogue. That’s bad enough.

So, you can understand that the people dropping upwards of $150K on a car like that don’t want it wrecked, and it’s a very nice car on the road.

But are people seriously spending $50K on a dual cab ute, then another $10-15K on accessories, purely for them to just look good?

Are we that obsessed with image that we’re willing to drop a load of cash on something we’ll never use?

People have every right to spend money how they choose, but when you see something go to waste, it just makes you sad.

After all, they’d get the same (if not better) drive experience out of a Mazda CX-5, because if all it’s going to do is spend its time on the road, you may as well be comfortable.

It’s time to start calling people out on this. We don’t need more monster trucks clogging up our parking spaces. If you’re going to get out and get your machine dirty, then more power to you.

But if you’re just doing your 4×4 up to be a pretty SUV, then it may be time to start re-evaluating your narcissistic priorities.

About Karl Peskett 431 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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