Own a Gas-Guzzling Vehicle? Cry Me a River

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Own a Gas-Guzzling Vehicle? Cry Me a River

Last week, this is how Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) explained the congressional leadership's mad rush to do something in response to rising gas prices:
"Nobody has any sympathy for oil companies on Capitol Hill right now. You talk to someone driving to work in an F-150 pickup and paying $75 to fill up his tank, and everybody's on his side."
Speak for yourself, congressman. I'm no fan of the oil companies, but that doesn't mean that I'm crying in my breakfast cereal over the person who commutes to work in a Ford F-150 pickup.

Those who drive F-150 pickup trucks wouldn't have to shell out $75 nearly as often if they'd bought other more fuel-efficient vehicles. Consider the 2005 model year. Not a single one of the eight versions of the F-150 truck had an estimated MPG that exceeded 20 for highway driving. Even worse, only one F-150 model got better than 15 MPG for in-town driving.

And, as most drivers know, it's rare for any vehicle to actually achieve its industry-estimated mileage levels.

Consumers can't claim to be unaware of a vehicle's MPG. The MPG estimates are posted prominently on all new cars. If purchased as a used vehicle, a car's MPG can be determined through a quick Web search.

Consumers can't claim to have been caught off guard. Anyone who has bought an F-150 pickup in the past few years did so knowing that gas prices could rise. After all, we've had several spikes in gas prices over the past several years, beginning in the summer of 1999.

Republicans love to talk about "personal responsibility" when they need cover for why they support cuts in social service programs. But if you're one of his constituents and you drive an F-150 pickup, Rep. Kingston believes the government should help cushion you from the decision you freely made to buy a gas-guzzling vehicle.

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