Best Car for Houston Roads (2000)

High-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (Humvee/Hummer)

Elegance and efficiency. Durability with at least a dab of uniqueness. Houstonians aren't that different from drivers elsewhere. We want the best of all worlds: tungsten toughness combined with soft leather. Consumers pick the SUVs, the E-cars -- Ford Expeditions and Explorers, Caddy Escalades -- or the Suburbans, or even the Zee-Me-Now BMW sportsters. Others try to find the perfect pickup pick-me-up. The results? Before long, the most luxurious and badass behemoths have been battered by the beasts lurking beneath and above Houston. Roadway debris devastates undercarriages; sinkholes and chuckholes chew up finely tuned steering; high-water and higher ruts bring on the earliest of death rattles. So park those pathetic hybrid imitators. He-men and she-wimmen want the might of Desert Storm, the Hummer, the successor to the military jeep that went civilian in the early '90s. Houston cloudbursts? Hummers don't even fret until floods reach almost window level. Street sinkholes? This baby can barrel up the steepest of 60-degree bayou banks. The 3.4 tons of machine sit on a wheelbase as big as a semi's rig, with a hard steel body and full independent suspension. It can dance the orange-barrel polka around construction sites. As for creature comfort, options include automatic locks and windows, Monsoon CD audio system, armrests and other finery. Hummers aren't fast. But if the truck ahead causes problems, you're equipped with the perfect accessory for the job: a 12,000-pound front winch (that's winch -- not wench). All the extras might make that sticker price pass $80,000. Who cares? These vehicles kicked Iraqi butt. Of course, the package doesn't include machine-gun mounts -- yet. Charlton Heston's still working on that one.



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