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  • Waiting for a ride

Tuesday, August 3 The popular cars

Plenty of cars once again, and my ride today is an older Hyundai sedan. Driver is a big guy and the rear seat passenger is too. I feel small and squashed in the front seat, which has been moved forward to accommodate Mr. Big Guy in the rear. Traffic is plentiful, too, but all lanes are moving at 65 mph and then some. I put a dollar in the little tray under the dash (it doesn’t look like the other rider contributed, unless the driver tucked it away). It’s drizzly and grey and this morning’s local weather people say today will be the warmest of the week, with even cooler weather ahead through the weekend. We need a break! I’m sick of this.

We’re listening to KFOG radio and staying warm with the heater on (thank you!). The radio folks are talking about the most popular stolen car this year, which is the Cadillac Escalade, a vehicle I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in. I had to look up the Escalade and see exactly what it is – it’s a big, luxury SUV, that actually comes with a standard antitheft ignition immoblizer. Which should prevent it from being started without a real key. But thieves, ingenious devils that they are, simply put these vehicles on flatbed trucks and haul them away. Number two on the most popular cars to steal is the Ford F-250 crew 4WD (2008 and 2009 models). I was amazed to see the Hummer appear as Number six on the list – it seems like it would be quite a feat to steal a Hummer, and to keep it stolen! However, most car thefts are SUVs, especially the big luxury types, and large pickups. And most stolen vehicles are plundered for their parts, rather than for the ride itself; pickups are frequently stolen because they commonly carry tools and equipment, which can be sold.

The top ten most frequently stolen cars, then are:
1. the Escalade
2. the Ford F0250
3. Infiniti 637
4. Dodge Charger HEMI
5. Chevrolet Corvette
6. Hummer HW
7. Nissan Pathfinder Armada
8. Chevrolet Avalanche 1500
9. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew
10. GMC Yukon

So what do you think the safest car is (safe, that is from being stolen)? It’s the Volvo S80, followed by Saturn VUE, Nissan Murano, Honda Pilot, Subaru Imprez, Toyota Prius, Mini Cooper (a surprise to me!), Toyota Tacoma double, and the Toyota Sienna.

The car I drive, a Hyundai Elantra, made neither list. And most of the cars I carpool in frequently are not on those lists either, although I have ridden in three of the ‘safe’ cars – the Prius, the Mini Cooper, the Toyota Tacoma. I’ve had one ride in a Hummer (a real non-event) and I felt like I had betrayed humanity just by being a carpool passenger in one of those overgrown, ostentatious gas guzzlers.

With the exception, maybe, of the Prius, I would like to see all of those cars vanish and be replaced with cars whose lifeblood is not petroleum. And these cars are in the works. Nissan has already produced the LEAF, a little electric hatchback that gets 100 miles on a charge, and is a good little car for daily commutes. Chevrolet is about to launch the VOLT later this year, an electrical hybrid with a gasoline backup. Next year there will be more to choose from, and at better prices. These hybrids and electrics are still pretty pricey, however there are federal and some state tax breaks that bring the prices down a bit.

With the future of ‘popular’ cars looking smaller, less grotesque, and consuming little or no gas, I wonder what the the car thieves will go after then? Maybe they can just raid the salvage yards. That’s where those popular cars belong.

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