SUVs and the environment

Statistics on US oil production consumption.
The US consumes 19,761,000 barrels of petroleum/day.*
    42 gallons per barrel, 7.33 barrels/Metric Ton*
Of that, 5,746,000 barrels of crude oil is produced domestically.*
Of the 9,140,000 barrels crude imported*,:
4,083,000* come from OPEC
The single largest supplier is Saudi Arabia, 1,519,000*. 1,505,000 come from canada*
The only other middle eastern country in the top 15 suppliers is Kuwait, at 282,000*
Net Foreign dependence is 53.3%*

*Source for all the above Statistics is the Department of Energy.
Also, this DOE page has additional information.

The conclusion is that the percentage of imported US Crude Oil coming from the middle east is roughly (1,519,000+282,000)/9,140,000*100=19.7%

Quick Fact: the US thus imports (1,519,000+282,000)*365=657,365,000 barrels of oil per year. The 2004 Toyota Prius, gets 61mpg city, 51 highway and 55 combined. If all vehicles in the US fleet averaged that mileage, it would save the US 1.5 billion barrels/year, according to the Scientific American in Sep. 2003! That's 2.3X the oil imported from the middle east!

So if we could reduce our consumption by 19.5% we wouldn't need to, say, spend billions in Foreign Aid to support Israel, thereby inflaming the rest of the Moslem world. We wouldn't need to invade Iraq (twice), or turn our heads away as the Saudi royal family takes all the wealth, and has laws allowing the execution of women for driving! Last time I checked the news (2-Jul-04), there have been 980 total coalition deaths; 862 Americans, 60 Brittons, 18 Italians, 11 Spaniards, 6 Bulgarians, 6 Poles, 6 Ukranians, 3 Slovaks, 2 Thai, one Dane, one Dutch, one Estonian, one Hungarian, one Latvian, one Salvadoran have lost their lives fighting in Iraq. 5,394 Americans have been wounded. This doesn't begin to cover the Iraqi military, police and civilian death.

How do SUVs fit into the picture? Let's do some comparison of gallons of gas used by a few vehicles where one could buy a car of similar capacity instead of an SUV. Below that is a table comparing various vehicles to the Prius at the good end, and the Hummer H2 at the bad. I assume manual transmission at all times, unless one isn't available, and the smallest engine available. All mileages used are from the company's web sites and have links, except for the Hummer (see note below table). I take the midpoint of the range for the delta calculations on emissions unless I have the precise #, which means there is an integer in the emissions column, not a range. Where multiple state versions are available, I take California. Where there are multiple California versions, I gave up and took an average.

General Facts:
Better fuel economy means lower CO2 production. A 5-mpg difference equates to about 2,800 pounds of CO2 a year.

A note on Small SUVs, which some people think are "OK" because they're small: Smaller, yes, than the big ones, but thirstier than cars of similar size. A few specific examples follow:

Honda Civic vs. CR-V
Mileage is 32/38 vs. 21/25 (4WD).
100,000 Civics driving 10,000 freeway miles/year would use 100000*10000/38=26,315,789 gallons of gas while CR-Vs would use 40,000,000 gallons. A difference of 13,684,211 gallons. Or CRVs use 152% or half again the gas a Civic does.

Civic Hybrid (46/51)* vs. CR-V (21/25)
Hybrids use 19,607,843 gal. Difference is 20,392157 gallons. CRVs use 204% the gas of a Civic Hybrid.
*5-speed manual

Toyota Corolla (32/40)vs. RAV-4 (21/26)
Corolla uses 25,000,000 gal. RAV-4 38,461,538. Difference: 13,461,538 gal. RAV-4 uses 154% of Corolla.

Toyota Prius (60/51) vs. RAV-4 (21/26)
Prius uses 16,666,666 gal. RAV-4 38,461,538. Difference: 21,794,871 gal. RAV-4 uses 231% the gas Prius does.

Just for kicks, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL vs. Hummer H2, Honda Odyssey, Subaru Outback, Volvo V70, Accord, Camry, Corolla, Prius, Civic, Civic Hybrid (all in the city)
Gals/year @
delta vs.
delta vs.
$ gas/yr @
Tons greenhouse
vs Prius
delta vs. Yukon XLPounds of
/15,000 mi
Hummer H210*1000833 2861500 >12.8 >366% ?
Yukon XL14/18714 547-1071 12.8366%- 7.9-36.3**
Yukon14/18714 547-107112.8 366%- 7.9-36.3**
Odyssey18/25556 3891583389.1 260%71% 20.8-25.0
Outback21/28476309 2387147.9 231%63% 5.3-6.3
V7022/30455288 2596837.7 220%60% 2.8-4.1
Accord26/34385218 3295786.6 189%52% 5.3-6.3***
Corolla32/40313146 4014705.4 154%42% 7.9-11.8
Civic36/4422760 4873415.6 160%44% 7.9-11.8
Civic Hybrid46/5121750 4973264.1 117%32% 0-1.0****
Prius60/51167- 547251 3.5-27% 0-1.0

* Hummer doesn't report mileage on their web site - the car weighs >8500# when loaded (6400# empty), and thus doesn't have to report its mileage to the EPA (neither does Ford for the Excursion!). 10 is an average reading opinion web sites from a Google search for "Hummer H2 gas mileage".
** All 2003 Yukons, XL or not, with 4.8 or 5.3Ls, 6 and 8L, get around 3, or 27.4-36.3 #/15,000 mi (some versions get 0, 1 and 2, which are 63.8 to 121.1, 43.7-58.8 and 39.0-40.6). For whatever reason (if you research and find out, let me know), there are 3 Label ID versions of the car; 4GMXT06.0187, 4GMXT06.0187, and 4GMXT06.0187, which get a 7 (7.9-11.8#/yr). If you're buying one used, look for it! 2004 versions average 7 (!), but again, there's variation. If you buy one, check out which labels are good on the EPA's page.
*** Accords can vary from rating 6 (12.3-12.9 #/15,000mi) to 10 (0-1.0). As with Yukons, check the under hood label ID.
**** Civic Hybrids vary from 6 (12.3-12.9) to 10 (0-1.0). The CA versions are 7 and 10, 7 being "lean-burn" and 10 being normal - I don't know what this means.

Yes, yes, but I want Four Wheel Drive! So go trade your Envoy (15/21 mpg) for a Subaru Outback (21/28). Your Hummer (10ish mpg) for a 4WD Porsche Carrera (17/24). Note that 4% of SUVs ever leave the road.

Yes, but I want to seat more than 5 people so I need a Yukon! So consider a Volvo V70 (22/30 for V70 2.4 through 20/26 for V70 T5 with 247hp), where you can seat 7 (2 adults, 5 kids with 2 facing rearward), or 4 adults 2 kids. Yukon is ~2.8X more likely to roll over. Consider a Honda Odyssey (18/25), which seats 8, has 146 cu. ft of cargo volume (compared to 104 in Yukon) and 170 of passenger. Odyssey is less likely to roll over than Yukon, though more than the V70 (see main SUV page).

But I want to tow a boat and need lots of horsepower! So buy a Subaru WRX with 280hp, that still gets 19/26 mpg. It (like all Subarus and most small cars) can tow 2000#. A Honda Odyssey can tow 3500# on top of having more interior volume, better mileage and better rollover resistance. A Volvo V70 can tow 3,300.


DOE general Stats:

DOE Breakdown by country:

Assuming it's still there, Toyota has a fuel cost calculator: type in your current mpg, your cost/gal and your miles/year.

The EPA has a fuel and emissions calculator where you browse by type of vehicle and it lists that category in declining order of efficiency.

Here at another EPA page, you can browse by year, brand and model and find not only the mpg for a car, but the weight in greenhouse gases emitted. (A Yukon XL emits 12.1 tons of greenhouse gases per year! A Prius emits 3.5.

At (EPA) are some links to tax incentives for Hybrid/Alternative Fuel vehicles, hybrid car information, etc. has information on environment, operating costs, and safety.

Tow Ratings: has them.

Other things of note: