The 1998 All American Mobile is getting a bit dodgy, so I am looking for a new vehicle. I’m probably going to go with a 1980s era Jeep. It’s something I can work on when it needs repair and from what I understand, is one of the best times for Jeep.

Plus, I need something that can get me through the snow and still not kill me on gas. It’s that last part that kept me from getting a full size pickup.

See how that works? That’s the free market. Here’s what I need. Here’s my choices. I choose the one that best fits my needs.

The federal government is limiting that choice with it’s requirement that vehicles meet a certain miles per gallon regulation. Because it now applies to pickups, car makers are having to purge their lineups of trucks that don’t make the grade.

Farewell, Ford Ranger. You were a good truck:

Ford has just dropped the compact-size Ranger from its U.S. model lineup — making it the first CAFE casualty — and I predict that larger trucks are on the endangered species list now, too. Just as large V-8/RWD sedans were almost completely killed off as mass-market vehicles by the original — and far less punitive — CAFE requirements that went into effect a quarter century ago.

Even a small truck with a four-cylinder engine will have a hard time averaging 35.5 MPG. To get there, the truck would need to be capable of 40 MPG on the highway and 30 MPG in city driving. There are only a handful of economy cars that achieve 40 MPG on the highway right now. Trucks do worse, MPG-wise, because they’re heavier (to be able to do work such as pull a trailer or carry a pallet of bricks in the bed), less aerodynamic, in part because they need to ride higher off the ground than a car — and often, ride on M/S-rated tires that have higher rolling resistance than standard passenger car radials. Fuel efficiency takes a back seat to capability.

The just-canceled Ranger managed 23 city, 27 highway — so, about 25 MPG average. For a truck, that’s not bad. But Ford would have had to get another 10 MPG out of Ranger to make the CAFE cut — and avoid CAFE fines. I suspect Ford dropped the Ranger from its U.S. product portfolio because it realizes that getting a truck (any truck) to achieve 40 on the highway and 30 in city-type driving will probably — almost certainly — require:

• A dramatic reduction in weight via the use of composites rather than steel while maintaining the same level of crashworthiness.

• Very high-efficiency turbodiesel engines or other advanced technology, such as a hybrid powertrain.

• Significant reduction in power/capability.

All of which will increase the cost of the vehicle, perhaps to the extent that it is no longer economically viable to manufacturer.

Once again, the moral busybodies in Washington are applying a cookie cutter formula for the entire country, not taking into consideration the needs of those in flyover country who need a vehicle that can drive across a muddy corn field, haul a trailer filled with 2,000 pound bales of hay, or get you to town in a snow storm.

No, in their minds, we should all be driving hybrids, even if they don’t exist.

Looks like I’ll be buying used cars for a while, since A) they are the only cars that fit my needs and B) the newer cars are far to expensive for me.

Thanks all-caring government.

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