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Roughing It with Style

Whether you call them SUV's, SAV's or sport-utes, off-road-capable vehicles are getting as luxe as their on-road cousins
Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Hopper, Jan/Feb 01

(continued from page 3)

That fact was driven home by the Ford/Firestone fiasco. An apparent defect with several Firestone tire brands, used on the mid-market Ford Explorer, has been blamed for more than 100 deaths in the United States and Latin America. While a specific cause has yet to be pinpointed, it appears that the tread can inadvertently shear off, sending the vehicle into a rollover. Barely six weeks after 6.5 million Firestone tires were recalled, Ford announced that it would also have to replace as many as 160,000 potentially defective Continental General tires used on its Lincoln Navigator. (Only a handful of minor fender-benders have been reportedly connected to the Continental tires.)

So far, these highly publicized problems seem to be having little to no impact on SUV sales. Indeed, barring the onset of a serious fuel shortage, or the passage of draconian federal regulations, few see the market cooling off for at least the next five to 10 years. So manufacturers will continue flooding their showrooms with new SUVs, crossovers and "truck/trucks" designed to redefine the definition of luxury on wheels.

Paul A. Eisenstein runs The Detroit Bureau, an independent automotive news service, and is publisher of

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