The National Car of Texas
Friend of rancher, mother, and lobbyist, it’s the Suburban.
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Have you ever found yourself in the grip of relentless historical forces, driven to actions that at previous stages of your life would have seemed totally out of character? Powerless to resist the spirit of the times, ordinary people find themselves doing the strangest things, like wearing punk haircuts or voting Republican. I found myself buying a Suburban.
Though the Suburban looks like a station wagon that has taken steroids, it is officially classified as a light truck. For most Texans, buying a truck is nothing unusual. Texas is the biggest truck market in the nation. Our ratio of trucks to cars is a third higher than the rest of the country’s. But I grew up in Galveston, where one acquires a very fine sense of such things as who should buy a truck and who should not. People from Texas City should. OKOP (an old Galveston acronym for Our Kind of People), never.
Never, that is, until the birth of our third child last fall precipitated a car crisis. The modern automobile is a response to two of those historical forces I was just talking about. One is the energy crisis of the seventies, which made smaller cars desirable. The other is zero population growth, which meant that as long as families produced no more than two children, smaller cars were practical. Pretty soon everybody was buying imports, General Motors was scaling down its fleet in a desperate attempt to compete, and the phrase “family car” had disappeared from the automotive sell.
Like millions of American driveways, ours was occupied by two products of the zeitgeist: a small Buick sedan and a Toyota station wagon that was even smaller than the Buick. The Toyota didn’t even pretend to seat five; it carried only four seat belts. But the Buick, at first glance, looked adequate for our enlarged family. At least it had a fifth belt. On closer inspection, however, I saw that one seat belt was inadequate. It covered the middle of the back seat, an area so closely set above the drive shaft that there was no room for springs between the seat and the floorboard. To sit there, even with the car at rest, was to reflect upon what it would have been like to ride in a buckboard wagon. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had started down the road to discovering the national car of Texas.
REQUIEM FOR A CADILLAC
You can tell a lot about a people by what they drive. The Rolls-Royce is priced so that no ordinary man can aspire to one; it identifies the British leisure class. Who but the Germans would create cars as solid as the Mercedes or as revealing in name as the Volkswagen, literally “the car of the people”? Californians, always ahead of the trends, embraced small Japanese cars even when oil was cheap. And naturally, the Italians make what the automotive magazines consider the sexiest car, the Ferrari Testarossa. It even sounds like a sex hormone.
In the fifties and sixties, the car that defined Texas was the Cadillac. Not just any Cadillac, either, but the biggest one money could buy, replete with chrome and tail fins. The Cadillac was the oilman’s car, and the oilman personified Texas to the nation. He was thought of as brash, unmannerly, nouveau riche, a social climber, but also as someone who had to be taken seriously. The Cadillac represented the instant respectability Texas craved. In the humor of the period, the rich Texan with a Cadillac was a staple joke. You’ve heard, of course, about the two oilmen who met for lunch and afterward went to look at Cadillacs. “I’ll take that one,” said the first oilman, reaching for his wallet. “No,” said his friend, reaching for his own wallet. “Let me pay for it. You picked up lunch.”
In the seventies, the era of the oil boom and Texas chic, the pickup supplanted the Caddy. We didn’t need cars for status symbols any more. We were the status symbol now, Texans and our blue jeans and our boots. The pickup was a rancher’s car, and everybody whose banker thought the oil business was a snap was going out and buying a ranch.
Then, as rich folks have a way of doing, we got uppity and forsook our roots. The Mercedes briefly became the national car of Texas—so briefly that the oil boom was over before most of them were paid for. The reign of the Mercedes was a dark chapter in the history of Texas. While the Cadillac had been a badge of wealth, the Mercedes was a badge of sophistication. It appealed to our worst side, the side of Texas that, deep down, harbors the fear that we are still small-time and backwater. How cultured it was to talk about 450 SLs and 380 SELs, to drive an automobile so coveted that it is the most stolen car in America, to ooze a little Continental polish. The Mercedes was a mechanical security blanket.
Now the Suburban has replaced them all, and for the best of reasons. It is the most Texan vehicle there is. It’s big, it’s strong, it’s fun, it doesn’t put on airs, but it doesn’t keep you from putting on a few.
Statistics aren’t necessary to prove the case, just a pair of eyes; but the numbers are overwhelming nonetheless. Of the ten biggest markets for Suburbans, five are in Texas. Houston and Dallas rank first and second Detroit and Chicago are next, then it’s back to San Antonio, fifth, and Fort Worth, sixth. Another interloper, Minneapolis, ranks seventh, but Austin is eighth. Phoenix and Los Angeles round out the list—but if only retail sales are counted, yet another Texas city Amarillo, replaces Phoenix in the top ten. In the first nine months of 1985, 9724 Suburbans were sold in Houston, compared with just 3384 in the California zone and just 1865 in the New York—New Jersey zone. Nationally, about one Suburban sale in every three occurs in Texas.
It’s not just how many are sold that makes the Suburban the national car of Texas, but who buys them. On the national sales list, Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis turn out to be impostors. In the North, Suburbans are sold primarily in fleets for commercial deliveries. In other words, they’re considered trucks. In Texas they’re considered cars, and not just cars but luxury cars.
Suburbans even look different outside of Texas. Most of ours sport two-toned paint schemes in vivid colors, accent by fancy striping. In the North, the Suburbans used in delivery work invariably come in drab solid colors, and many of them bear the scars of double-parking. I saw one such victim in New York; the sides were as crinkled as aluminum foil. Even in the western desert cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix, the biggest market for passenger Suburbans outside of Texas, the dimension of Suburban as luxury car is missing. In Phoenix, for example, almost all of the Suburbans I saw were either towing boats of trailers or bore the battered, dusty legacy of too many hours spent off-road in the desert. Instead of bright contrasting colors, they were painted in monochromatic earth tones. Not by chance is the less plushly appointed version of the Suburban named the Scottsdale.
You can find Suburbans anywhere you would find Mercedes. Fancy restaurants: Valet parking attendants at Tony’s in Houston have noted an upsurge in Suburbans lately. Suburbans are a familiar sight in the parking lot of the Argyle Club in San Antonio, which is not surprising since it’s hard to drive a block in surrounding Alamo Heights without seeing one. Private schools: At the end of a school day in North Dallas, Suburbans line up outside Hockaday and St. Mark’s. On weekday mornings Memorial Drive in Houston is a processional of Suburbans hauling children to private schools. A Houston Cadillac dealer recently confided to a Chevrolet colleague that the sight of Suburbans on Memorial Drive offended his very soul. Sports events: If you take an ordinary car to a University of Texas baseball game, you may have trouble locating it afterward. The parking lot is so full of Suburbans that all sight lines are blocked. Places of power: Around the Capitol in Austin, Suburbans are so popular with the influence-peddling crowd that they are known as lobby wagons. A single lobbyist can take as many as eight legislators to lunch, while tinted windows all around and running boards for quick ingress and egress ensure the anonymity of his passengers. Society events: The Suburban has been embraced by women in a way that the pickup never was. It has become the car of choice at meetings of the Houston Junior League.
But you can also find Suburbans in places where you would never find Mercedes: at lakeside ramps, putting boats into the water; on rugged ranch roads scraped out of the soil by bulldozers; anywhere people hunt and fish and camp—in other words, anywhere a car is expected to work instead of merely show off. Last year when the season opened at the venerable St. Charles Bay hunting club, there were twelve vehicles in the parking lot—every one a Suburban.
The roster of Suburban owners is practically a who’s who of Texas: Stanley Marsh 3 of Amarillo, who commissioned the monument of buried cars that is the inspiration for our cover illustration. H. Ross Perot. Secretary of the Treasury James Baker. Former Secretary of Energy Charles Duncan, now the chairman of Rice University’s board of governors. Athens rancher Ed Cox, Jr., chairman of the state parks and wildlife commission. U.S. senator Lloyd Bentsen. Congressmen Albert Bustamente of San Antonio and Tom Loeffler of Hunt. Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines. Danny White and John Dutton of the Dallas Cowboys. Roger Staubach. Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros. Tio Kleberg of the King Ranch. Houston banker, developer, and power broker Walter Mischer—and Walter Junior, too. Austin developer John Watson, and for that matter, probably half the developers in Texas. And while the state-official license plate SO-1 is, as always, on the governor’s limousine, SO-1A is on Linda Gale White’s Suburban.
The rest of the country just hasn’t caught on. Car and Driver magazine, published in New York, takes a thoroughly Yankee attitude toward the Suburban in its 1986 Buyers Guide. The Suburban’s powerful V-8 engine, it says, “should give some lucky deliveryman something to talk about.” If you’re looking for status, the magazine suggests Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer, noting that “from the high-stepping world of the civilized Jeeps, you look down on all those around you.” Exactly. And the Suburban is half a foot higher than the Grand Wagoneer.
I wish that I had known about the honored place of the Suburban in Texas iconography before I set out to buy a car. It would have saved me a lot of time and trouble. But I’m one of those people who is not very observant about cars—I think the last one I could recognize instantly was the 1955 Chevy—and the only time I had really paid much attention to Suburbans was a few years ago in Colorado. I didn’t get to see much of Colorado, because my view kept getting blocked by one Suburban after another bearing Texas license plates. All I knew about Suburbans was that I didn’t want one.
It was too big. My wife comes from a small-car family (her dowry consisted of a Volkswagen Beetle), and I had known nothing but small cars since 1974. We were determined to find the smallest car that could comfortably accommodate the five of us.
Since I had a Buick, we started our search with the big Buicks. The biggest sedan was the LeSabre, but it was already a dinosaur, in its last year before being shrunk and converted to front-wheel drive. After driving it I could see the wisdom of the decision: the combination of rear-wheel drive and a six-cylinder engine was just too sluggish for so much car. We looked at the station wagon but never got beyond the sticker price: at $17,700 it was priced far beyond the cost of a minivan. The wagon also had an odd and awkward method of seating seven people. A two-seater bench unfolded in the cargo area to face backward. The driver could neither see nor hear what was going on back there—though I admit that where children are concerned, this layout could have its advantages at times.
Of course, we shouldn’t even have been thinking about seven seats. We were just five, right? But what about transporting baby-sitters or going out to dinner with relatives or carpooling? Without realizing it, we had lost the discipline that was keeping us and the Suburban apart.
But first there was Lee Iacocca’s ballyhooed minivan. It seated seven, still had a little room for luggage in the back, and looked as if it would not require us to replace the garage with an airplane hangar. I peered at the sticker price: $13,300. That sounded good. I said so.
“Did you see the other sticker?” the salesman asked. He pointed to apiece of paper about a quarter of the size of the familiar sticker. Under the heading of “Dealer Prep,” it listed a few things like paint protection, undercoating, and other things that I thought cars used to have as a matter of course. Those came to $795. It was the other line, though, that really got my attention. “AMV,” it read. “$895.”
What, I wanted to know, is AMV?
“Adjusted market value. It means that these are very popular.”
We drove it to a nearby highway. With every rotation of the wheel I worried that one of us was going to fall in love with the minivan and end up paying Lee Iacocca $895 for air. Then I turned onto the road well in front of an oncoming truck. I floored the accelerator. The four-cylinder engine labored mightily, but the truck quickly overtook us on the left with a great roar. The minivan shook. So did I.
Nissan was the next to be eliminated. Its Stanza wagon is a cross between a station wagon and a minivan. It seemed to have everything—right size, right price, right seating—until we took it out to FM Road 2222 west of Austin, a demanding, curving road that leads to Lake Travis and always seems to be banked the wrong way. Every time I brought the car broadside to the wind I felt as if I needed to raise the mainsail to get it back on course. Discouraged, we returned the car and went in search of a consolation hamburger. The place where we came to rest was one block from a Chevrolet dealer. “Say,” said my wife, “do you want to go check out the Suburban while we’re here?”
Our salesman had a unique line as he gave us the keys for a test drive. “Now, don’t you worry ‘bout getting’ in a wreck.” He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a Polaroid snapshot. A smiling woman was standing next to a mangled Suburban. “That’s my wife,” he said proudly. “Happened last year. A drunk in a pickup ran a red light. Totaled both cars, ‘bout totaled him too. She walked away without a scratch. I show this to all my customers. Safest car you can drive.”
I had a more immediate concern. What had begun as a mild February day had turned into a record-breaking scorcher that topped out at 97 degrees. Through the tinted glass, the interior of the suburban looked as hot and dark as a smokehouse. We climbed in, left the doors open to disperse some heat, and turned on the air conditioning. It seemed adequate to cool us in the front seat, but what about the Sahara behind us? Just then, our salesman reached in through the open door and flicked a button on the dash panel. A blue norther lashed the back of my neck. “That rear AC sure helps on a hot day,” he said, waving us on our way.
The rear air conditioner, like the Suburban itself, is a simple but powerful machine. It has no thermostat, just a switch for high and low fan speeds. The vents are located above the third row of seats, and on high speed they discharge air with sufficient velocity to stir the hair of the front-seat passengers. We were cool before we left the parking lot.
The exit opened onto a freeway frontage road, which was crowded with an endless stream of cars disgorged from a nearby interchange. My wife spotted a tiny opening in front of a blue Honda ad stepped on the accelerator. Instantly G-forces pressed us back into our seats as the V-8 propelled us into the vacancy. Of course, the Honda responsible for leaving the small gap didn’t seem eager to contest the issue.
We had just discovered the basic appeal of driving a Suburban: To you it seems like a car, but to them it seems like a truck. Hop in a Suburban, and the whole world acts as if it were in defensive driving class. Nobody honks at you, nobody cuts in front of you, nobody tailgates you. My wife said more cars pulled over to let her pass during that test drive than during the ten years she drove a Beetle. For the first time, I began to understand the mentality of the Houston freeway diver. High above the peons, in a Suburban or its cousins, from the Blazer to the pickup, the thought inevitably invades your mind: out of my way, bud.
Our test drive lasted an hour, and the more we drove, the better the Suburban looked. We drove onto the same twisting highway where the Nissan had fluttered like a flag in the wind. The heavier Suburban shoved its way through the breeze without a quiver. The Suburban clobbered the minivan. It carried more people more comfortably and still had far more cargo room in the rear. It was more powerful. It was safer. It seemed more natural to drive, with its steering wheel situated behind a full-fledged hood instead of right up front. And the price was in the ballpark with everything else we had looked at. We were driving a holdover from 1985, with a sticker price—just one sticker too—of $17,075 reduced to $15,150.
But most people do not buy cars for purely rational reasons, and I was no exception. I was smitten. The Suburban had awakened within me the primeval Texas instinct to drive as far as possible as fast as possible. Before the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, $1-a-gallon gas, small cars, and Southwest Airlines, this unrestrained love for the open road used to be one of the things that set Texans apart. No one would have dreamed of disputing that speed and power were necessary elements of Texas driving; the distances were too great and the eighteen-wheelers too menacing. Old-timers in Texas politics tell the story of the time Governor Price Daniel invited 250 people to a traffic safety conference in Austin. Dozens were caught in a radar trap on the outskirts of town and cited for speeding. A long-ago Dallas Morning News editorial explained that the state’s high ranking in traffic accidents resulted from “the same human qualities that made America great—willingness to risk, driving energy, rugged individualism.”
Reluctantly, we returned the Suburban to the dealer. But not for long. The next day we drove it out again—this time as its owners. To celebrate, we headed promptly for a barbecue lunch in the country, just the way Texans used to do.
As much as I love it, I have to concede that the Suburban isn’t perfect. Some of its problems, such as a turning radius that wouldn’t fit in the Astrodome, I expected. Others I did not. But before we get to those, let’s dispense with a couple of supposed drawbacks that aren’t really drawbacks at all.
There’s design, for instance. Or the lack of it: Suburbans don’t change from year to year. This is anathema to drivers who insist on owning a car that stands out as the latest version of its kind. Back when the Cadillac ruled the Texas roads, a Dallas dealer estimated that 20 per cent of his customers bought a new car every year. To cater to such vanity, manufacturers annually tinker with headlights, grills, chrome, and other minor features. But status-seekers of this sort are doomed to frustration where the Suburban is concerned. The current model has been around for an eternity in the ephemeral world of automobilia. Designed to provide more passenger amenities, it came out in 1972, a year before the oil embargo, and has survived two OPEC price hikes, the small-car trend, and several death sentences pronounced by Chevrolet itself. For that matter, the basic idea of the Suburban hasn’t changed much since the first version was introduced fifty years ago. The 1936 Suburban Carryall was a half-ton truck built to look like a station wagon, with removable seats to facilitate carrying large loads.
Then there’s the danger of obsolescence, created by the manufacturer’s occasional self-doubts. Back in 1969 Chevrolet brought out the Blazer, which is a Suburban that has been amputated—two side doors instead of four, five seats instead of nine—with the idea of phasing out the Suburban. When the price of oil was at its peak, Chevrolet joined the downsizing frenzy and brought out a smaller version of the Blazer that became the most popular four-wheel-drive vehicle on the market, but it didn’t diminish the Suburban’s sales. More recently, Chevrolet announced that it will make a four-door Blazer, setting off more rumors that the Suburban’s days are numbered. Last spring, however, Chevrolet assured anxious Texas dealers that the Suburban would remain unchanged until at least 1990.
Exactly why Chevrolet would tamper with the Suburban is something of a mystery. You may have noticed that while it is next to impossible to escape advertisements for Chevy cars and pickups, you seldom hear a pitch for a Suburban. It would be as superfluous as advertising to sell dollars in Mexico: the market already absorbs everything there is to sell. The factory produces at capacity and sells out. (General Motors’ GMC trucks division also makes Suburbans, identical to the Chevrolet version in everything except cosmetics, and accounts for 18 per cent of the market.)
Now for the Suburban’s more substantive shortcomings:
- Parallel parking. Forget it. Fortunately, the shopping mall has made parallel parking as obsolete as the hand calculator has made the multiplication table. If, however, you find yourself on an errand that requires this vestigial skill, here’s a tip. Ignore every parking place on a block except the first and last. They give you the necessary room to establish your approach and glide path. If you want better odds, stick to one-way streets, which offer not two but four eligible places.
- Gas. The window sticker claims that Suburbans get 17 miles per gallon on the highway, 13 in town. Sure. I’ve done as well as 15 mpg on the highway (no AC) and as poorly as 10 mpg in town (both ACs blasting); 12 mpg is typical. Back in the days when oil was $35 a barrel and gas was $1.30 a gallon, the Suburban’s thirst for fuel was too much even for Texans. Following the 1979 oil price increase, from 52,000 to 19,000 in two years. But as soon as the price of oil began to fall, sales began to rise. Besides, don’t think about how much it costs to fill your tank. Think abut how you’re helping Texas by increasing the demand for oil.
- Automatic car washes. Discrimination, that’s what it is. Trucks can’t use those free thirty-second car washes that are supposed to make you forget that service stations don’t have service any more. Anything taller than a station wagon is banned, and the Suburban towers over the big Chevy wagon by a foot and a half. Instead, you have to pay to use a self-service stall equipped with a hose and, if you’re lucky, a brush. Separate but unequal. The timer eats quarters faster than a slot machine, and the surface area of the Suburban is so big that if you could flatten it out, all you’d need for tennis would be a net. It takes me nine quarter to finish—when I’m in training.
- Drive-up machines. Getting out of a parking garage or making a drive-in bank deposit in a Suburban requires the maneuvering skills of a tugboat captain. The machines that bar the way squat low to the ground as if they were designed exclusively for Japanese cars. Unless you press your tires right to the curb, the machine’s slots and buttons will be so far below the driver’s seat that you’ll need Akeem’s reach to transact business.
- Backing up. I’ve seen so many Suburbans with a rear-end dent that I’m beginning to think it’s original equipment. The problem is the combination of a high rear window and low obstacles. I learned this the hard way after overshooting a friend’s house by a few feet. Backing up, I checked the rear window. All clear. Then, crunch! It seems that I had deviated slightly from a track parallel to the curb. My wheels were still in the street, but there is so much Suburban behind the wheels that the rear end was well over the lawn. Indeed, it was in the space that had only moments earlier been occupied by a curbside mailbox set in a stand of bricks.
- Overconfidence. As Motor Trend magazine puts it, “the Suburban is so rockstable, surefooted, and easy to maneuver” that you tend to forget that “this is a big machine.” Trying to bring one to a stop will remind you in a hurry.
THE NATIONAL CAR OF TEXAS
A few days after we bought the Suburban, I called an old friend in Houston to try to set up a lunch. In answer to the usual whatcha-been-upta question, I said that I’d bought a new car. I didn’t say what kind. He is a staid Harvard graduate, a partner in one of the big Houston law firms, and, I recalled, a man who drove a BMW to the opera. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he had never heard of a Suburban.
He pressed on: “What did you get?”
“My car!” he exclaimed excitedly.
Why, I asked, did he have a Suburban?
“Sometimes,” he said, “you’ve just got to rhino.”
With that conversation, I dispensed with any residual doubts I had about the wisdom of buying a Suburban. I had chosen a Suburban partly because it seemed to be the perfect car for a Texan. So had he. And it is. I stopped thinking of the Suburban as a truck and began thinking of it as the national car of Texas.
Even my two-year-old son is swept up in the Suburban mystique. His infatuation is total. Joel is one of those two-year-olds who sleeps surrounded by piles of cars so vast that they violate the city junkyard ordinance. The only thing he likes better than cars is trucks. Coaxing him to leave the Suburban under his own power would test the persuasive powers of Racehorse Haynes. When at last he surrenders to superior force, he constantly inquired of its whereabouts the moment it is out of sight. Hence, the crisis:
We were on an after-dinner outing at a neighborhood Little League game. Momentarily distracted by the promise of popcorn, Joel suddenly remembered the object of his affection. “Daddy,” he shouted in a voice that pierced the air, “where’s the ‘Burban?”
In the stands, forty heads swiveled. Eighty eyes left the game and fixed themselves on me.
“It’s what we drive, not what we drink,” I explained.
Since then there have been numerous “Burban incidents. There was the time at nursery school when he told his teacher, “Like the ‘Burban.” And the time at the restaurant when I tried to forestall embarrassment by sitting near a window where we could keep an eye on the you-know-what, only to have him tell the waiter, “The “Burban is outside.” Now, I have conceded to him. In our family, “Burban it shall forever be.
The ‘Burban has changed our lives in other ways as well. We have rediscovered driving as a family pastime. We have taken a “Burbanful of friends and kids to the San Antonio Zoo with enough strollers in the back to open our own rental stand. We have picked up burgers and parked near the airport for a family tailgate party while jets whooshed nearby.
With a ‘Burban there are no limits to one’s ambition. In 1984 two Canadians set the world north-south driving record by traveling from South Africa to Norway in a Suburban, overcoming attacks by bandits in Kenya and guerrillas in Ethiopia. And that was nothing compared with what I did after owning the ‘Burban for two weeks. We found ourselves in Abilene visiting friends for what promised to be a long weekend. Instead, on Saturday morning, our host and I gathered his four-year-old son and my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter and set out to drive to the nearest interesting place. Try finding an interesting place near Abilene. We ended up at Carlsbad Caverns, toured the cave for three hours, and returned in the same day—a 628-mile round trip with two toddlers. I know people who would rather be attacked by bandits in Kenya.
It was a cinch. First we put the two kids in the third seat—our family name for it is the “way-back,” concocted in the hope of establishing a special allure for the children. (In the way-back, they’re a car length behind you, and the combination of distance and fan noise from the rear AC absorbs all sounds except extraordinary conflict.) We stocked the area with boxes of animal crackers, bags of chips, and cartons of juice. Whenever the noise reached audible levels, we flipped vanilla wafers over our shoulders to restore peace. Despite stops for potty, lunch, and gas, we covered the 314 miles in 315 minutes, mainly by setting the cruise control on bleeped-five for 200 miles across the empty oilfield roads.
What does this have to do with why the Suburban is the national car of Texas? Everything. The Suburban makes driving fun again. It restores a Texan’s birthright to the open road. Remember the days when the speedometers had buzzers to warn that you were going over the speed limit? You don’t need buzzers any more. The modern car shakes and quakes like an out-of-balance washing machine at speeds above 65 mph. But the Suburban hasn’t even reached cruising speed.
It’s Texan too in that it’s the perfect car for xenophobes. Here is one American vehicle that the Japanese don’t even try to compete against. The Suburban’s generic category, light trucks, is an area where the imports are actually losing ground—down 16 per cent in the first nine months of 1985, even though the total light truck market has more than doubled in five years.
The Suburban brings us back to our roots. It is so good for ranching that the King Ranch bought a fleet. Country roads present no obstacle; the ‘Burban is as efficient on a cattle guard as on a freeway. Yet it is a more accurate reflection of modern Texas than the pickup: it’s country, but it isn’t rural. And it’s the right car for the times. If you can’t afford a ranch, buy a Suburban, and maybe folks will think you have one anyway.
All these feelings that the Suburban inspires have one thing in common. They speak of better days, in the past and in the future. What more could Texas ask of its national car for the eighties?