Dear Tom and Ray:
I’ve always owned an “old lady” car (i.e., Pontiac Bonneville, Oldsmobile 88, Buick LeSabre). But I recently bought a 2007 Toyota Highlander. While I love the vehicle, I’m concerned about how easily
SUVs “tip” over. I know there’s a higher percentage of these vehicles that end up in the “turtle on its back” position. My husband assures me that my driving skills will not tip it over; it’s just the idiots who think they can do anything because they have an SUV. Am I worrying for nothing, or do I have to learn to drive all over again and not take corners like I did in my old-lady cars? Thanks. – Cheryl
RAY: I don’t think you have to worry, Cheryl. But I think Toyota might be concerned that its Highlander is winning the “old lady” market!
TOM: First of all, your Highlander is not a traditional SUV. It’s what is often called a “crossover.” Not to be confused with my brother, who is often called a “cross-dresser.”
RAY: The term “crossover” usually refers to a vehicle that looks like an SUV and has many of the advantages of an SUV, but is actually built on the underpinnings of a car. In the Highlander’s case, it’s based on the chassis of the Toyota Camry.
TOM: That means its center of gravity is lower to the ground, it handles better and it’s less likely to flip over. Think of it as more like a station wagon than a truck. And as an old lady, you certainly remember when station wagons ruled the earth.
RAY: Plus, the Highlander comes with electronic stability control, which is a wonderful safety enhancement that works with the anti-lock braking system to help prevent you from losing control of the vehicle, even if you do something stupid (up to a point), like turning too sharply.
TOM: Can you flip it over? I’m sure, given enough effort, you could – or given an unfortunate set of gravitational circumstances in just the wrong kind of accident. But that’s true of almost any vehicle.
RAY: But your Highlander is much closer to the old-lady cars than to traditional SUVs. So, drive reasonably – which I’m sure you do, Cheryl – and you’ll be fine.
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To buy or not to buy – options, that is. Are options worth what you pay for them, or are you better off just going with the basics? Order Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “Should I Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?” to find out. Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Next Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475.
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(c) 2007 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi
and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features