Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do People with Bad Backs Really Need a large 4x4?

Did you ever wonder why so many 4x4s seems to be parked with blue badges displayed? We've heard from some people that they have a bad back, and a large 4x4 allows them to get in and out quite easily. But is that really a good enough excuse to drive a gas-guzzler?

Well, one of our supporters wrote to challenge this view. He writes:

"Having had the [Toyota] Prius for nearly 3 years, it is ideal. I have a serious back problem and it is the best car I have found to drive. Those that say that "I have to drive a 4X4 because I have a bad back" are talking rubbish. I have had 2 bouts of spinal surgery and so choosing the right seat and driving position is essential. I have tried almost every make of car including Mercedes, Saab, and Volvo. Cost has not been a restriction. The Toyota Prius is the best I have found because it has quite a bit extra head room when the seat is fully adjusted to its highest setting. I am 6 foot tall and adjust it up to get the hip/knee alignment right. Before I had the Prius I would drive for 3 hours and be unable to walk at the end of it. Recently I had to drive for 5 hours, do a job of work and then drive for 5 hours home with no problems.

I have tried 4x4's and I have to confess that they are better (for me) than a saloon or estate car - however, the Prius is better than all of them especially when you also take into account the drawbacks of a 4x4, such as lack of manoeuvrability. If you suffer from a bad back I would recommend the Prius above everything else I have tried. Claims that you must have a 4x4 if you have a bad back are just rubbish - another way of defending the indefensible.

I also live in a semi rural area, with muddy country roads. There are loads of people around here (South West) who move down and claim that they simply must have a 4x4 "for the country roads" - rubbish! The Prius is fine. We have had metalled roads down here for the last 70 odd years!

Growing up in a farming area in 70's no-one had 4x4s. OK, the farmers had a tractor but would otherwise drive around in an Austin Maxi or old Ford Cortina. I overheard an elderly farmer the other day saying that they could not see the need for all of these Chelsea tractors. "What if a field is wet then?" someone asked and the farmer just rolled his eyes and said "If the field's that bloody wet don't go into it" - which just about sums it up.

In the city the Prius is quiet, clean and, especially in rush hour, a joy to drive. I regularly get 60 miles to the gallon. I can certainly recommend the Prius to anyone. It is comfortable, quite, safe, a joy to drive and surprisingly quick if needs be. I regularly have to drive 20 odd miles between offices and I am always being held up on country roads by wallowing 4x4s.

Finally, a neighbour recently suggested that I traded the Prius in for a 50 grand Range Rover Sport - just like his. My retort was "Thanks...nice idea but I couldn't take the drop in status".